Category Archives: Sandhurst

d e v o i d

00:54 thursday 8 june – sandhurst , gloucestershire

the desk at the end of my parents’ sitting room . mum asleep upstairs . dad away in salisbury .

my powerbook sits amidst evidence of several weeks of my habitation . piled letters and documents . boxes of slides . a quarz-banded pebble from cornwall . a left-over ten dollar note from australia . were it not for these signs i wonder if i would believe in my travel , my activity .

this has been the longest interval between despatches since i began them sixteen months ago . several have been started and abandoned . i am not even certain as i write this that it will be completed and transmitted , but i hope both will be achieved .

perhaps i grow more self-conscious ? all the time i am over-brimming with thoughts and observations , things i yearn to share . yet i remain silent . impotent .

since my last words i have not been static . in cornwall i celebrated my sister’s birthday , met with warren langley and ann tonkin , walked gloriously free of my crutches . in glasgow i attended the launch of the latest school for social entrepreneurs and was newly inspired . in london i planned the next steps for the sse learning web and the circus organisation , caught up with friends old and new . in cambridge i discussed my potential involvement with virt-u , a project to develop a european virtual university . i also dropped in on ray jobling , my old tutor at st john’s , and on ann cotton , a fellow-student from the sse who runs a charity working to increase educational opportunities in sub-saharan africa . ann’s charity , camfed , is funding me to spend a month setting up a project in northern ghana .

indeed , i should have departed for ghana on 6 may . but my project is reliant on a stable electricity supply and that in turn is dependent on the completion of a new building . work on this building is somewhat behind schedule and the rainy season arrived before its roof did . consequently my project cannot begin until october .

it is odd how unsettling this shift has been . i have grown comfortable living with almost complete uncertainty about where i will be and what i shall be doing from month to month . but it threw me off balance to have something which i had regarded as certain suddenly become fluid .

the new timetable is a blessing , though . apart from my ongoing commitments most of my attention is now wrapped up in trampoline and there is a lot of work to do over the coming months. progress seems agonisingly slow , but probably my perspective is distorted . i am typically impatient . the truth is i feel greatly intimidated by the hurdles which lie before me . most of my weaknesses will be exposed by the kinds of task i face : distilling a set of concrete proposals from my maelstrom of ideas , expressing these proposals in a succint and accessible fashion , constructing simple financial models , undertaking structured market research . i have another mountain to climb in my learning about venture finance and investment . somewhere in the midst of this i must try to keep hold of the ideas which sparked the whole thing off . i am unquantifiably grateful to warren langley , james smith and everyone else who’s helping me proceed .

for the months before i leave for ghana i’ve been thinking about taking a house in cornwall , though i’m also considering spending the summer in milan . i’ve scarcely seen my friend bobo since he returned to his roots there and i’ve wanted to learn italian for ages .

in the meantime i’ve been very glad to spend these weeks here in gloucestershire with mum and dad . it’s a long time since i saw so much of them and i certainly don’t remember it ever being so harmonious in the past . the last year hasn’t been easy for them and they had some news from me about my sexuality just before i left for australia . so all in all it was a good time to be with them .

this feels complete so i shall send it before any second thoughts creep in
. i doubt it’ll be such a long time before the next one .

: cH

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b l i g h t y

23:27 easter sunday – sandhurst , gloucestershire

i arrived back in britain last tuesday . malaysia was amazing , different
from anything i anticipated .

finally some photos :

http://www.charlesarmstrong.net/2000-03-08
http://www.charlesarmstrong.net/2000-03-27
http://www.charlesarmstrong.net/2000-04-14

as i awoke this morning i watched a mosquito walking slowly backwards on my
ceiling for what seemed like ages . it struck me as strange .

happy easter everyone

: cH

j i n g l e

18:17 friday 24 december – gable end , sandhurst

the eve of christmas . my parents’ house . gusts of wind hurl hard rain against the glass and the floodwaters rise all about . by tomorrow the village may be cut off and once more i shall find myself on an island .

i made it to the mainland without hindrance . the seas were not too steep to reach st mary’s and the wind decreased sufficiently to permit flight to newquay . i was the sole passenger on the twenty-seat twin otter , heavily outnumbered by the three pilots . all the customary announcements were made but ” ladies and gentlemen ” was replaced rather self-consciously with ” sir ” . the view along the north cornwall coastline was tremendous , surf crashing on granite .

from the airport , a bleak semi-military concrete bunker , i was driven to truro by a cornishman who spent the journey berating london and its government . how remote , how arrogant , how uninterested in life outside the metropolis . i sat in uncharacteristic silence mumbling assent where it was required . there had been time only for three hours’ sleep , sufficient to dull even my sense of injustice .

the little website on which i’ve spent so many hours is at http://www.simplyscilly.co.uk . the text was written by the council’s tourism officer and only the three photos of st agnes are of my taking .

then london . my final week as a student with the school for social entrepreneurs . i spent the whole period feeling fatigued , sensing how much the previous month’s labours had cost me . i withdrew myself from the closing presentations and sat , a little ashamed , with my cameras . amongst the students there was a sense of beginning as much as ending . sometimes i hardly felt as if i were there .

there were other liaisons besides , friends and accomplices , many glad reunions . but i wanted nothing so much as to rest . by the time i left london , three days ago , i had the beginnings of the chest infection which remains with me now . i have slept almost constantly these last days .

yesterday i went to buy christmas presents for my family . the prospect repelled me but less so than the knowledge of the hurt which would be caused if i did not . this year of solitude has left me more fervently anti-consumerist than i reckoned . shop after shop sent me reeling with nausea from its piles of brazenly worthless trash , fighting for breath amidst the gleefully purchasing hordes . the solitary oasis was a sparsely-stocked interiors place where i spent quarter of an hour talking about travel with its young sri lankan owner .

london . what can i say of london ? the fever is at full flood . one friend commented ” it is germany in the thirties … everyone is clinging onto what they can ” . there is a relentless pre-occupation with trivia , a dangerously indiscriminate desperation for belief , a wilful abandonment of civilisation . but for all this there is hope too .

the scillonia digital wokshop was founded last saturday in my absence . fate determined it would be so . perhaps this was appropriate in any case . another association will come into being in the closing minute of this year , the votes to constitute it cast electronically . this the seas cannot interrupt .

i wish the world joy .

: cH

w r a p p i n g

990206.0116 sandhurst

i always hoped this adventure of mine would provide new experience , but this is being realised in unexpetedly strange ways . today was mostly spent in the garage covering cardboard boxes in shrink wrap .

it looks like conditions are going to be pretty grim early next week . the prospect of rain and spray-sodden boxes disintegrating as they are lifted onto the quay , depositing sundry computers and books into the atlantic , is quite sufficient to spur me to this bizarre behaviour . weird stuff , sort of industrial cling film . quite kinky actually , or is that just my warped imagination ?

other than that i’ve thrown out twenty-four pairs of socks , all riddled with holes . never had much luck with them . and my parents bought me a new pair of wellies as a present for the islands . i’ve booked myself onto next monday’s 1525 flight from land’s end airfield to st mary’s . all the luggage will be received on the quay at penzance on monday morning , hopefully to arrive at st mary’s sometime on tuesday morning . it’ll then be transferred to a launch for the crossing to st agnes . unless the weather’s too bad .

still a bit stressed , but it’s feeling close now .

: cH

f i r s t l e g

990203.1950 sandhurst

i sit here in an armchair . embers glowing in the grate , emiting an occasional snap . otherwise it is silent , except for the uneven beat of the ancient grandfather clock standing in the hall . the sitting room of my parents’ house . we moved here from cornwall when i was seventeen .

the walls bear testament to a love of that county . screen prints and engravings of favourite places . amongst these , three depict the islands . they were bought from helena wakeham’s studio on st mary’s one easter when i was in the islands with my parents . that must have been twelve years ago . helena and her husband humfrey still live there , looking out across the sound . humfrey is a potter , prodigious mead brewer and chairman of the islands’ environmental trust . i visited him with my friend gaz in the summer and got so pissed that i left my headphones in his studio . they’re still there , waiting for me to pick them up . soon now , soon .

everything worked out ok last night . i met the people from sony in a soho pub . some interesting possilities . then christian came round , helped me dismantle my futon and shared a final spliff in my room . it took me a while to remember where i’d left the van , so we had a pleasant wander round the back streets of kentish town . eventually we located it and took the furniture up to hampstead . then it was time for the big hit . matt came round and helped me load the bigger pieces , then i carried on alone . at half past five i left the house , locked the front door and was ready to go .

it was a clear drive . i had my minidisc recording for the first few minutes . seemed like an important thing to document . i was crossing the cotswolds by the time it started getting lighter .

i arrived here just before eight , passing my father on his way to work as i bumped along the muddy lane .

now i must start making detailed arrangements for the next leg of the journey . mum might come down to cornwall with me . i hope to see my sister anna , who moved back to the county with her husband adam .

: cH