All Time High

Since the #MeToo Movement emerged in Hollywood (and beyond) the knives have been out for Ian Fleming’s secret agent. It is no surprise, on reflection: if you wanted a genre that had male dominance stamped all over it, here it is. Despite various attempts to shift emphasis (and a distinct move away completely from women as objects that began with the Casino Royale reboot in 2006) Mr Craig’s shower entrance in Skyfall gets an entirely understandable mention in that montage. What might once have been considered sexually charged gains a different hue when consent isn’t obvious, or indeed bothered with.

The people who make Bond quite obviously know they have a problem. A look at the @007 Twitter feed or the Official Website make this all too apparent: nothing controversial, a real emphasis away from the sexual and overly misogynist aspects of the movies, with shift towards what could be considered a more family-friendly outlook. To that end, I can now buy a Funko 007. There’s a 10p Coin of the Realm in a Bond stylee. At the weekend, a friend quite gleefully linked me a tweet which would appear to suggest the iconic DB5 is soon making a debut in brick format.

Those of you concerned that Danny Boyle’s gonna stuff up Bond 25 should bear in mind that there’s a lot at stake here besides the transfer of 007’s License to Kill. The world does need heroes, of that there is no doubt, but it is clearly time to ensure that diversity and respect get a fairer hearing than was previously the case. If the push into less controversial territory in terms of merchandising (and a new installation in the Alps in a location where SPECTRE was filmed that ignores all those scantily clad ladies completely) it’s a fair shout that you’ll be fixating on plot far more than has normally been the case.

The tabloids are full of casting rumours, we know when it starts shooting. Bond 25 has a lot to live up to, quite apart from public expectation. The groundwork already being done already suggests the direction that we’re heading may be distinctly different to those trodden before. Time will tell.


PS: I’ve written my own take on the current 007 and how there could be the means to introduce a female into the iconic slot on the MI6 roster. It seems like a good idea to shove some self-promotion in here…

 

Torn

It has always been the plan, as money allowed, to get a bunch of kick-ass artists to create self-portraits for the top-left hand corner of this website. Fortunately I know a lot of people plying their trades online, so it is literally the cash holding me back. The first of these was by @Goobijen and is now replaced by a piece produced by @byelacey. I’ve got one more in the pipeline and once that’s completed, we’ll crack on finding some new people to draw me.

I am beyond happy with the new header. Once there are enough, we’ll start rotating them on a monthly basis.

Sharp Dressed Man

I promise there will not be too much going on about The New Project this week, but as it all kicks off tomorrow, this seems like the correct moment to explain just how fucking important Arguto is. This is the means by which anything is possible and acceptable as a writer. Sure, there could be an extension of self in any one of the three existing places that are provisioned for writing, but all of them come with a measure of immovable baggage. This place is new, fresh: the most pristine of clean slates. Here can be written the part of me that’s been hidden for decades.

This is where I will finally be free.

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I expect the first steps to be tentative and cautious, but already ideas are germinating that will, in time, become brilliant blooms. Laying down a month of ambient vibes across the other platforms is a means by which brain relaxes into the grooves, and begins to run a better course. The plan, long-term, is to use a number of pre-planned projects as a basis for experience-based writing. This will begin with the ten days in August put aside for the road trip to Rome, ambition finally realised after several decades.

After that, there are plans to use London as a springboard but to also explore the place that is called home. Potentially there’s an infinite supply of source material at my disposal, what is required is the planning and organisation to pull everything together. Crucially, there will be physical evidence of all of this as a paper-based version of the online narrative is produced initially for free, but in time with the possibility of charging people to cover printing fees.

There, I said it.

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I’m grateful to those already preparing to make this journey because it is reassuring to know you are not alone. Rest assured, its already a roaring success without a word being written.

Freedom gives a sense of confidence I’ve never found anywhere else in my life.

Let Down

Next week, I start a new project on top of my existing workload. I have no idea how it’s going to go, but it gives an important space for my writing to evolve out of the place it now exists to become something better. I’ll be kicking off the site with the poems previously entered as contest work, but which failed to make an impression. After that, there will be photography, written work, music and art. It’s an online fanzine, which will be a combination (hopefully) of all the best bits of existence, as perceived from here.

It will also be unabashedly nerdy, but with a distinctly personal slant.

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It is time, I feel, to stop pretending my past never existed. Although I sure as fuck wouldn’t want to live there for any protracted period of time, there’s a lot to be said for having grown up during massive political and social tension, and then to have watched the last 40 years pan out from a female perspective. It is all useful and usable source material, which should give some interesting viewpoints.

This is something that I’ve wanted to do, off and on for decades. More importantly, I’ll be creating a physical version of the digital content, allowing an ageing brain to get to grips with new software. That part of things is still being worked on, plus there is some clever digital gubbins also on the page (as it were.) All of it will become clear starting next week. This time, I’m happy my plan’s gonna keep momentum going for a while. Plus, this year’s holiday becomes my opening subject matter.

No blagging whilst away from this influencer, don’t worry.

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I also have some serious aspirations with a camera, but we’ll come to that later.

Sail Away

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There is now no escaping the understanding that I am looking at things differently. My clothes fit differently too, body parts doing things that were never the norm before. The last 23 days are the base layer of something quite unique and separate to that which has come before, at any point in my whole life. I realised last night, as husband urged me to sprint to a new personal best on Zwift, this is no longer about proving I can. This new year is understanding what I really want. Previously after having done a leg day at PT I would have (sensibly) relaxed for the evening. Not anymore. If I have the energy to do it, that is what will happen.

It also means embracing what matters most in the projects I’m working on and listening not simply to body’s capability. This is also hearing and attending to inner desires.

When I started my drawing project the belief was that I simply needed to be able to reproduce what was in my head onto paper. As time has gone on, the subconscious has begun to sublimate that desire, reminding that my art is not solely reproduction. I love photography, and increasingly the use of collage to tell stories. In fact, the comic strip is heading that way so that when I start telling a story at the beginning of February, there’s the ability to back up my feelings with appropriate imagery.

I’m getting quite excited about the ability to draw what I see, however, and that the ability exists at all. There was a concern I didn’t possess that capacity to begin with, but now I feel I could make a decent fist of still life work with enough time and focus. The next step, therefore, is to make time, and the change in working practices that’s currently in progress should allow that to happen without too much fuss.

I am surrounded by artists on my Twitter feed, and all of that disparate (and very brilliant) creativity is undoubtedly aiding the evolutionary process. It is true what they say that conducive environments create more possibilities to be creative if you choose to take them. I’m confident at this point I’ll do a year of strips too, and maybe beyond because this is a part of the expression process that is becoming increasingly vital. However, what is apparent is that pictures won’t just be hand-drawn, but created from other materials.

This is a development I’m more than ready to embrace.

Try

As with all things, practice brings progress. That means I’m now using gears to cycle with instead of a ‘static’ bike for Zwift, and I’ve started imagining characters in my head and translating them to my sketch book. I get where everything needs to go on faces, and now need to begin to working out how I translate hairstyles, beards and accessories. How does a male face differ from a female one? How can I define androgyny?

How do I remember which gear when cycling makes it harder and then easier?

Why is my learning curve so fucking dreadful?

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Numbers are becoming very useful in helping me understand where in fitness I need to concentrate. That weighted power average would normally be up in the 120’s because up until yesterday I’ve been using a static bike setup that imagines every virtual road I ride on is flat, and adds difficulty via fixed resistance. Mr Alt and I swapped bikes last night: he picked up a Gumtree bargain before Christmas of a turbo trainer (which becomes the back wheel of the bike) which is able to simulate the ups and downs of the virtual course for you, forcing gear changes to compensate. That’s why I was at 73% intensity last night, half the time I did not have the first idea of what gear to be in. As I’ll need to learn this when I get on the road for real? There is no time like the present.

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Learning new stuff for me has always been difficult, and I am mindful at present of not being intractable. I can thrash and complain all I like but the only sure-fire way of making change is to do it. That means this morning I’ll sit and draw something other than faces for a bit, and think about how I make a diagram to stick on my handlebars to show what gear does what, so tonight’s trip up the hill is far more professional. If I give myself visual cues, things do get easier.

I suspect I have Warcraft to thank for that improvement in learning skills.

Design for Life

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Yesterday, I went out with husband and daughter for my first meal post-operation. I played it safe: nothing overly fatty, healthy choice, and only a single beer, and woke up at 5am with a hunger I can’t recall for quite some time. Yesterday’s PT was all that was hoped for too: weights were utilised, exercises suggested that put no pressure on my healing umbilical hernia, and once my daughter’s packed off for a sleepover with a friend, I’ll go and do 5 miles on the Octane. When I do that tomorrow it will be with press ups, TRX rows and single arm rows as accompaniment. This is maintenance mode for two weeks, so that the hernia gets a full month to heal. Then, we’ll go back to where we were.

I’ve put on half a kilo at weigh in time, which could be as much about the Gym clothes I was wearing or the fact I didn’t use the loo before I stood on the monitor. What matters below the weight, as I have discovered in the last few months, are the important details such as the percentage of my body that is fat, and how exercise translates to general body health. In that regard, owning the body of a 40 year old is something to be pleased about, and having lost 4% body fat thanks to the operation? Yeah, let’s take that as a win. The trick now, of course, is to make sure it stays that way. Doing the work has never been a problem. My PT yesterday made the point that she wasn’t surprised I was back in and exercising less than a fortnight after the operation, that was ‘just the way you are.’

You bet I’m going to take that as a compliment.

Poppies Wave

We also went as a family to see the installation of poppies that has been adapted from the original art at the Tower of London. Hopefully I’ve done the magic with the URL from my Flickr account to link that here so you can take a look. It’s on land that the MoD sold to developers about a decade ago, and the original Barracks were converted into housing. Needless to say, it was a lovely evening and very moving when, at 7pm, a lone bugler came and played the Last Post by the wave of poppies.

Without further ado, let us get on with the day.