The Deckchair Diaries Part 1

Originally inspired by Tom Hodgkinson’s Country Diary and the excellent Orwell Diaries, this blog, when it was over at was entitled the “Deckchair Diaries” and was a more personal journal of my journey on the path to slowing down.

Some readers have requested a bit more of a personal touch on this site, with details of what I have been getting up to in my (mostly) slow lifestyle, to show “slow living” in action. So, I thought I would revive the style of a more personal journal as an occasional entry here on Tortoise Knows Best, sharing with you what I have been up to and how I have been implementing (or at least trying to!) the Slow Philosophy.

I have been doing a lot of staring out of the window recently. I have become a terrible “inside of the window” type of gardener, time, inclination and finances have stopped me getting out there and doing some much needed pottering around. I fancy growing some veg, but once again, left it a bit too late…

(Although I stumbled across this from the brilliant Hugh from River Cottage – the River Cottage cookbook is a must for any idlers bookshelf – and contemplating giving it a go – as a bit of cheat and headstart…)

I love this time of year, but nature moves fast, giving me a feeling that we are rushing towards summer. It is hard to take a step back and take it all in and so easy to get caught up in the torrent.

Every day a new plant seems to bloom, blossom, flower or grow leaves (sometimes all at once), it is too easy to miss something and next thing you know it has done its thing. I see plants and flowers and birds and insects, I notice new sounds and sights and smells. This time of year is really is an orgy for your senses if you switch on and stay mindful. I must learn the name of things.

Nature, being involved with nature and learning to flow with it (it’s changing weather and seasons) really is essential to the slow lifestyle.

I spend as much time as I can watching the clouds go by, trying to make shapes in them. Dali called this the paranoiac-critical method, which was his description of how we make shapes and faces in abstract images such as seeing Jesus face in a piece of toast. For more information on cloud spotting (an excellent idle pursuit), I highly recommend the Cloud Appreciation Society.

Although the time I have to give to Idle pursuits has been somewhat cut down recently. Work wise I seem to be working longer and longer hours, which is no way for an idler to behave!

Luckily I enjoy what I do to make money (and as Confucius said “Choose a job you love and you will have to work again”).

Like many self-employed people, the recession has effected my work. Although I have managed to weather the worst of the financial storm I have been forced (like those self employed people that have also survived) to be creative; developing different ways of doing things and alternative income streams. It is a bit like chucking mud at the wall to see what stick a lot of the time. So far I have had the most success (and fun) with teaching people to be “Psychological Entertainers” in the vein of Derren Brown, Banachek, etc as well as teaching the skills of those fictional characters Patrick Jane in the “Mentalist” and Cal Lightman in “Lie to Me” (although these are fictional characters, their abilities are based on real life skills), if you want to learn more about that, please feel free to visit the website

I am being philosophical about the whole thing, this recession has made me be much more aware of my financial situation and I have made the effort to live much more frugality (“just in case”). I am enjoying seeing how little money I can get away with spending and it is very illuminating seeing how much money I frittered away.

And things are looking up…

It has been a few weeks since the election here in the UK and I must admit to being optimistic of the result, we have an unprecedented and revolutionary coalition and I wish them all the best (more cynical – and revolutionary – friends of mine have already written them off, but, since this is the system we have right now, I am hoping for the best. Call me daft and optimistic if you want…).

Forgetting political ideology for a moment, I like David Cameron, he seems very “Slow” to me. I first warmed to him because of this chat that he had with President (or Senator, at the time) Obama, about how to govern, then in the run up to the election and in the Conservative manifesto he spoke about “Big Society“, community is a central tenant of the Slow Manifesto (I think the slow movement is essentially anarchic in its political viewpoint), and then when he became PM, the first thing he did was ban cell phones from cabinet meetings!

My right knee has been playing up which has curtailed my idle exercise routine. My daily Tai Chi and Chi Kung practice has been effected (and I have almost got out of the habit of doing anything) I have had to give up running. It has even started to affect my daily mediation practice, evening kneeling using a stool to support myself it really aches. I have been doing the manly thing and ignoring it, but I have noticed how easy it is to use it as an excuse to just sit on the sofa, and how much more twitchy, distracted and lethargic I have become in such a short space of time. So, I have begun a process of rehabilitation. Hopefully with a bit of rest and recuperation, skilful strapping and painkillers I will be back embracing the tiger and repulsing the monkey (as well as being able to sit without the distracting ache in meditation) very soon.

I am currently re-reading “How to be Free” by Tom Hodgkinson, I have to admit to not finishing it first time round, I got distracted by something else. It is a very interesting discussion of the Medieval lifestyle and how we can reintroduce and emulate that in current times to free ourselves from some of the bonds of modern living.

Anyway, I am off to watch the rain out of the window.

See you again soon,