Story: Abandoned

​Another monologue… This time from a suggestion of “Abandoned”:

IsolEx Arctic Base: Daily Log:

It’s been 16 months now. Not a word from anyone anywhere. When I signed up for this Arctic Isolation Experiment, I thought “how difficult could it be?”

It’s helped a lot just talking to you. I know you’re not real, but it’s helped. I like to think someone is seeing this, that someone remembers I’m here. I found a lot of the cameras put in to monitor me. It was weird at first, then was a bit comforting, then it made me angry. I resented being their lab rat.

There’s someone out there, right? Back at base? Back at home? I’ve been trying the radio ever since the experiment was supposed to end, nothing but static. I sleep in the radio room now… well, you know that…. No. You don’t… you’re not real.

I sleep in the radio room. I’ll wake up in what passes for night to what I think is a voice, but it’s just static. I’m trying to keep it together, but it’s hard. I’m tired of having to dig myself out of the snow, of the radio, of the endless whiteness.

Someone has to be out there? Right? They said 12 months. That they’d come and get me.
I keep trying to remind myself of Chris, of why I’m doing this. He won’t have forgotten about me. You remember… no. You don’t. We needed the money… I guess people do stupid things for money. Did the treatments work? I want to see him again so badly. He wouldn’t abandon me here.


Unless it didn’t work. What if he’s dead? What if all of this was just a waste of time? He died without me by his side. I could have been there. Make him feel better.

I don’t want to be here anymore. I’m sick of it.

End of Log.

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Story: Making Space

Having drawn blanks trying to write more for my blog, It occurred to me I could try and write a story from a one-word suggestion. So I did… Having written it, it feels like a monologue…

Suggestion: “Loving”

I met Lydia back when I first moved to London. We kept bumping into each other at the Starbucks in Liverpool Street Station. She with her Soy Latte, me with my Americano. She surprised me one Thursday, asking me to join her at her table. It had been a particularly bad week for me, the adjustment to London life, and a hard few days with the markets in Shanghai had given me pause to wonder if I’d made the right move coming to London, and if I’d be better off going back to Devon.

Something told me I should sit down.

She’d not long moved to London herself. Swapped a life in Glasgow to live with the Sassenach. We sat there and talked. On reflection, it seems strange to just talk openly with a complete stranger, but we did. We covered everything from how we regretted not making time for anything other than work, through to our mutual love of Matisse. It was intoxicating, making a connection with a total stranger out of the blue.

I didn’t see her for days after that. We’d not exchanged numbers, and all I had was her name and coffee order. I was bereft… I kept berating myself for not giving her my number… Then, I saw her again. Same table, same coffee, same smile.

We met regularly after that, making time for dinner or a drink. In such an isolating place, having that kind of connection to another person was incredible. It made everything so much brighter… the Overground bothered me less, grey skies over the City looked less gloomy.  I never pictured myself as a social animal, but she’d drawn that out of me.

People around us asked if we were dating. Until that point, the question hadn’t even occurred to me. I just loved being around her… anything beyond that seemed unnecessary. We talked about it after that, and I was ecstatic when she mentioned she felt the same.

We met up again a month or two ago. She’d been offered a teaching job in Singapore and was moving away. I was made up for her. Our last dinner together was bittersweet, and we made plans to meet up in the future.

Then, she was gone.

It’s been an adjustment not having her around, but I’m grateful for the time we shared. Going back to the old, gloomy world felt like death, so I’m embracing the idea of being open & present for someone else.

Which is why I’m here… what brought you to Liverpool Street?


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Wrapping up for Winter

I’ve written a number of times about knitting (see when I knitted a hatknitting handwarmers, all the way back to starting to knit my 9 1/2″ scarf).


The Salisbury A/W 2016 Collection…

Since then, I’ve been trying to pick up new skills & improving my technique. The two most recent pieces are my 2nd hat and a pair of handwarmers (in a lovely worsted yarn called “Purple Mystery” by Malabrigo).

The hat didn’t teach me anything particularly new, beyond the importance of reading the stitch counting guidance on the yarn’s label (the other attempt to make this hat ended up with something which was about 2x too big to fit my head). The handwarmers on the other hand (so to speak) was the first time I’d ever attempted to make a thumb gusset (which I’d built up in my head to be a massively complicated thing – which it isn’t, as it turns out).

Going from the first effort, the lack of a gusset added a whole bunch of stress to the hole, meaning it didn’t really do the job properly. Adding the gusset means there’s room for the thumb joint, which keeps things a lot tidier. I then picked up some more stitches, which means I was able to keep working up the thumb.

This time, I’d actually written down the pattern I’d used to make the first one, which meant repeating it in order to complete the pair was much easier.

My take-away from working on these was to not over think any of the techniques. Fear of making mistakes with it will hold you back from producing something you’ll enjoy.

Now to look for the next thing…



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Let it go…

One of the benefits of moving house is it gives you a good excuse to think about the stuff you’ve got in your life and whether or not they’re still necessary. My Haclediad co-host Sioned (who is bloody brilliant btw…), introduced me to a podcast series at The Minimalists, who in turn got me thinking about all the stuff I’d spent time and effort in lugging across London. In particular, something called the sunk cost fallacy…

The sunk cost fallacy has been used by economists and behavioral scientists to describe the phenomenon where people justify increased investment of money, time, lives, etc. in a decision, based on the cumulative prior investment (“sunk costs”), despite new evidence suggesting that the cost, beginning immediately, of continuing the decision outweighs the expected benefit [Wikipedia – Escalation of Commitment]

An alarmingly large amount of the stuff I’d moved from one place to the next were things that were either not being used or weren’t of any further use to me. Things I’d bought for a project I had intended to start, a book I’d intended to read but never got around to, or equipment that had long since outlasted its usefulness. We’d (yes, I had help to move – my folks are really helpful) expended a massive amount of effort to carefully pack each of these things, label the boxes, move them across town, then unpack it and find somewhere to store it until the next move.

These objects no longer provided the benefit I’d imagined, and were now a burden.

Books, DVDs, toys, magazines, beer-making kits, old electronics, old chargers for long-lost devices, trinkets from trips I’d hated for my old job. These things had now passed the point of adding value to my life, to a point where I was having to expend more effort to maintain them than what I felt they were worth to me. Letting go of them would mean they’d potentially find use elsewhere (charity shops etc), and I’d not have to worry about having to look after them.

An interesting thing happened when I started looking at what I was keeping. As the junk disappeared, the stuff that mattered to me became more obvious. My flat was easier to clean, and was now filled with stuff that made me happy, rather than a hoard of things I’d acquired to try and make myself happy.

I started thinking about how this would apply to some of the themes I’d explored in my previous blog posts. I’ve explored the idea that horrid internal monologue, and I’ve been practicing some meditation & mindfullness techniques to manage it. It occurred to me that some of these issues were an extension of the same cluttering problem in my home. I wondered if it was possible to declutter my mind and be able recognise when I’m dwelling on useless things at the expense of the things that can bring me joy?


Let it go...

In short, is happiness found in learning to let go? I don’t really know, but I’m really keen to find out.


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Memory lane

Facebook keeps telling me I should share memories from my timeline. Some of them are pretty cool, some less so, but it’s got me thinking back on things.

For instance, 2 years ago this month, I handed in my notice at my last consulting job. In the lead-up to that point, I was a mess. I was barely sleeping, eating terribly, I had difficulties walking and thanks to a 60 hr week I barely had time to socialise. I’d crash into bed on Friday, wake up with no energy on Saturday (so spend most of the day indoors), get to Sunday and have to either get some work done for Monday, or have to catch up with all the other things I had to do ready for the week ahead. Quitting though was still a surprisingly hard decision.

“If you apply yourself, you could be a really great senior manager…”

Coming back after the holidays, I’d resolved to stick to 40hrs a week, which failed within days. Late one Friday, my boss told me I wouldn’t make the next grade, but if I applied myself, I’d make a great senior manager in the next round. I already hated what I’d let that job do to me, so the idea of having to double-down on it to make the next grade was just horrifying.

Now what?

Switching over, the next job was a bizarre change of pace. I had evenings again, and no work to do at the weekends. I started pitching around for stuff I could do. I’d already started knitting as a way to manage stress, so I worked on trying to do some more creative things (some of which worked, some didn’t). I did some paper crafting, even managed to make myself a Han Solo costume.

Bryn Solo

Bryn Solo – Kessel Run in 12 parsecs or less

Despite all this “recovery”, I still had a small voice in the back of my mind – a tiny scumbag voice that spent its time making me feel horrible about myself (and still tries/does on occasion). The pitching around doing random things didn’t do much to address health issues, and didn’t really do much to deal with the perennial enquiries. Helpful bits of advice was forthcoming… stuff like “If you lost some weight, then you’d be able to find someone” was great fodder for the scumbag voice.

Fast-forward a bit to January 2015, I was at a low ebb. I’d decided to stop taking some medication I was being prescribed for joint issues, and I’d moved into (what is to be honest) a fairly crappy flat in Hackney. I’d practically ruined Christmas for the whole family by being a miserable bastard the whole way through (I contend now that was largely a side-effect of coming off the medication). The scumbag voice pretty much called the shots. It kept telling me I shouldn’t bother my friends with my problems, that going to them was dumping my stuff on theirs and would make me a bad friend.

My therapist had suggested I look around for improv classes during our sessions. She’d suggested it’d be a useful mindfulness-type technique. I ended up booking one after a drunken evening online (“wtf lol you’re going to look like an idiot” was what the scumbag had to offer), and attended my first in early February. Something where you had to be present and in the moment, and where messing up is seen as an opportunity. It was pretty much the antithesis of the old “consultant” thing of hedging and risk assessment, and it forced you to say to the scumbag voice “I’m too busy doing this thing… bother me later”.

That led to a bit of self-therapy where I started keeping a diary, where I’d track positive events in green, so if the scumbag ever resurfaced, I could re-read it and the positive stuff would jump off the page to tell it to go screw itself.

That bit of self-actualisation took a bit of a back seat to recovering from a broken leg over the summer (I rather foolishly got knocked down by a taxi). Still, I came back and dove into things again (with the support of an awesome group of classmates and a cracking teacher in Maria Peters).

Long-form Improv Class post-show photo

Long-form Improv Class post-show photo

My take-away from it is to try and be open to new opportunities when they present themselves, and committing honestly to them. Whilst it may be scary at times, the alternative is just as bad, and in many cases worse… I’m reminded of what Amy Poehler said (Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls: Ask Amy):

“Opening your heart and being courageous and telling people that you care about them or like them or that you think they’re special only makes you a better, bigger, kinder, softer, more loving person and only attracts more love in your life”

Be Me


A timelord awaits… (Photo by Hannah Anketell)

So, in summary… go f**k yourself, scumbag voice. I’m me. I enjoy dressing like I’m from the 1940s, I’m confused by romantic (and beyond) relationships and I don’t care for sports. I’m going to screw up, and people will laugh at me. They (like you) are ass-hats, and no longer interest me. The people I’m interested are the ones who’ll be there to step into the scene with me (and for whom I can do the same). They’re the ones I want to play with. Not you.

Funny what a reminder about a throw-away post two years ago can bring out of you…



P.S – If you’ve read this far (kudos to you on that), I’m not fishing for “you can always call me”/”I’m there if you need me” or comments along those lines (welcome though they are). I’m trying to get this stuff out of my head, and pleading emails from WordPress to actually use this page were getting to me.

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Poetry Corner

Black Dog:
Dark and Brooding Nights,
Pining for a brighter day,
Forever waiting

Reluctant riser,
Intolerable mornings,
Coffee: essential.

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Yes, and…

The (ir)regular reader will have gathered that I’m on a bit of a “skills” kick at the moment, and would also have noticed (because you’re smart, handsome, and really switched on) that they’re not necessarily related. Yes! I’m working on gathering a bunch of (often) unrelated skills to form the most eclectic set of “other interests”.

Being smart and handsome, you’ll no doubt recall the knitting, yoga, climbing, sewing, silversmithing and costume-making to date (I want to invest a bit more time in the climbing, but that’s for a later date). For the next one, I decided to wander off in a slightly different direction, and for the past few weeks I’ve been taking a new class… Hoopla’s Improv Comedy for Beginners Course.

No, really…

Now, I can tell what some of you are thinking. You’re thinking “But Bryn, you’re terrible at jokes and stuff”. Firstly, shame on you! Being so rude after I’d called you smart and handsome and everything… Secondly, it’s not necessarily that important for it to be funny.

I sometimes struggle in rooms full of people. Some I’m okay with, others I find I’m sticking to the walls and searching for excuses to leave. I don’t know if it’s related to the difficulty I have at times hearing everything that’s going on, or if it’s a confidence issue tied up with poor self-esteem/image and fear of ending up looking like a prat (side note: therapists really are a marvel). Either way, it’s bugging me, and there must be a way to work on some of those issues…

This brings us to back the Improv

To be clear… we’re talking here about having two or more performers on stage building a scene from an opening line live with no prep time or rehearsal. Sometimes you’ll be funny, sometimes you won’t. You start with one line, then your fellow performers “Yes, and” (they accept what you’ve said, and build on it).

You have to put your trust into the person you’re performing the scene with, and you must accept what they say and build on it (and visa versa). If it involves falling to the floor or pretending to be a tree, you do that. You can’t worry about looking like a prat, because you’ve got a world to build with words and your body. You have to join in and maybe be one of a pair of trees arguing about philosophy, or you need to pretend to be a stuffed bear to help set the scene for your fellow performers (I watched one group go on from that to have the bear come to life and maul one of the other performers). If you start worrying about what you look like, you’ll miss an offer and end up leaving your performance mates hanging.

The good part is that it forces you out from your own head. You’re too busy listening to what everyone else is saying, remembering what you’ve said before and trying to think what you’re going to say next. In the classroom, everyone is in the same position. It’s amazing fun. You’re relying on the person you’re with to do some of the heavy lifting, there’s support there and it doesn’t feel so bad if things go wrong. Some of the reading I’ve done suggests that in most cases, what you improvise will fall flat on its face, with even the pros being happy with a quarter of the gags landing. Failure is expected, which makes succeeding even nicer. If something doesn’t work, bring it to a close and move onto the next one.

I’m half-way through the course now, and if I come away being able to apply that type of mindfulness into my life, then it’s all worthwhile. Do I want to get on stage and try some actual improv out? I really think I do… if nothing else, it’ll make a conversation-worthy addition to my collection of odd skills.

Imagination: +1
Improvisation: +1
Self-actualization: +1

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