Wednesday, 20 March 2019

70 Joys of Eroticon: Part III

Despite the feeling of impending doom that always pervades in the final hours of Eroticon every year, this Sunday was one of the best Eroticon days I've had so far. I was a little less tense, and more relaxed, by that point, and determined to get as much out of the remainder of 'con as possible. I started my list of joys at 45 on Sunday morning, so it was fairly clear that even if I had the best day possible I wouldn't be able to make it to 100 (I was taking notes too, okay?!).

But I certainly enjoyed a lot of these things:

45. Christine being full of energy and enthusiasm on Sunday morning
46. Birthday wishes via Twitter
47. Birthday applause (thank you, Molly, from the bottom of my heart!)
48. CandySnatch recounting her social media abuse, but still being fairly blasé about surviving it
49. Amber's morning birthday hug
50. The devastating amount of raw honesty shared around the room by the Anxious Writers Club

For those of you wondering, I am fully intending to participate in Cara's "share a draft" challenge brought up during the AWC session. I'll just need to find all my old drafts, and that's going to take a while, and some digging around... but I'll do it, natch!

51. Ros Ballinger reading with a great turn of phrase
52. Amy reading with a kick-ass opening like, starting completely in medias res 
53. Joy as it Flies reading with a nice, resonant, strong voice
54. Victoria being ever so Northern during her reading
55. Bibulous One reading with a power and passion that made me start
56. GOTN being both cute and filthy at the same time during her reading
57. Myles Jackman's unexpected, and unintentional, intrusion, with accompanied laughter

I enjoyed the readings this year. Usually there are one or two that aren't my cup of tea, but this time around, I liked every single one!

58. Giving Eleanor a copy of the book I said she would truly love
59. Eleanor using the phrase "we stan a legend"...
60. ...and reducing herself, and the audience, to giggles when trying to discuss incels
61. "Readers are lazy. Really, really lazy." - Molly
62. Molly using the phrase "Google boner" (a compound noun, not an instruction!)
63. GOTN being wonderfully nerdy about content and stats

For anyone who was wondering, Blogger's own stats service is different from the Google one (even though Blogger is now owned by Google - it's been the same service for the last eleven and a half years, at least!), or the one intrgrated into WordPress. It does largely the same stuff, although in a relatively scaled-down fashion. I can still see all my readers in China, though, which is an odd thought.

64. Pathetic fallacy! Thunder throughout GOTN's talk...
65. ...and her classic art!
66. GOTN signing her book for me
67. Molly being sly and funny about the raffle
68. Hy taking a picture... of BOOBS!
69. Decompressing at the post-'con drinks at the hotel, and sneaking one final look at the Glass House. It's fitting, the most pretentious of me finds, to end 'con where it starts.

That's where the list ends. As you may have noticed, there isn't a number 70 in this list of 70.

Once again, I felt a litle bit ostracised at the final hotel drinks. Some people were beginning to trickle away, but a fair few of them were still in situ. I had something to do in London at 8:30, and there wasn't any point in going home only to come back straight away... plus, I'd promised myself I'd stay for as long as possible at 'con this year, as I always seem to leave a bit too early and miss something special.

But, once again, I sat in the corner, not wanting to intrude on any particular clique.

It wasn't until the last half hour, perched on the edge of a sofa surrounded by a tipsy GOTN, a loved-up Hy, an exhausted Molly, an heroic Michael, and an enthusiastically befuddled LSB (and her partner!), that I realised something. I may not be always welcome in every subset of people, but at least at 'con I am with my people, and as long as that holds true, there will eventually be someone left I can sit with.

So at the very end of my list, I suppose there is something else.

70. Friends

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

70 Joys of Eroticon: Part II

Saturdays at Eroticon have always been, for whatever reason, a mixed bag for me. Often, the sessions are of varying quality, but usually pretty good; there's always a sense of community at the beginning and everyone is keen to learn. In the evening, the Saturday Social happens, and what with being (i) a teetotaller and (ii) a wallflower, I'm never actually sure if I should be enjoying it or not. The next poage and a half of my notebook continued the listicle for day two:

16. Morning banter with Hannah
17. Tea and coffee... and biscuits
18. If in doubt, add dragons
19. GOTN being the "spare brain"
20. Eleanor being incredibly funny and completely unabashed...
21. ...and recounting her academic journey
22. Amy showing her incredible enthusiasm and knowledge of the subject...
23. ...and her Sex Floof T-shirt...
24. ...and her kitty ears
25. "Porn 'for women'? What the fuck?!" - Amy
26. Getting a specific post idea, completely unexpectedly, from Amy's session
27. Kayla Lords fetishising 6 am Tumblr porn
28. Kayla identifying with everyone, being a procrastinator...
29. ...and evangelising about thirty minutes
30. A very satisfying, if limited, lunch - which came around at just the right time
31. Quinn's honest and forthright admission of her vulnerabilities
32. Quinn's teaching and learning simultaneously...
33. ...and encouraging us to reflect upon our own identities
34. Hannah making her own salient points
35. A funny, spunky, quick-fire session about memes with four bolshy ladies
36. Hy rhapsodising about boobs
37. Molly (almost) saying "circle-jerk"
38. Hy referencing a mothership of bloggers

There follows the Kink Lab and Saturday Social. As I said above, I usually enjoy the 'con up until this point, where I become a little uncertain. As it happens, I enjoyed both this year, but there were some moments wherein I felt as if I shouldn't be around... or wasn't wanted around.

Not coming as part of a group, I didn't really have anyone to hang with, so I had to spend dinner on my own. I also had to kill time wandering through Camden, wasted some money on a 'phone charger that didn't work (and failed to get a refund), and then when the Saturday Social started, I also spent most of that on my own, not wanting to interfere with any forming cliques or butt in on anyone's conversation. So, alas, I spent the last part of Saturday actually feeling quite lonely.

Some of the things that were better, though, were:

39. Hannah Witton showing solidarity with a fellow abdominal pain sufferer
40. Cara Thereon applauding her own rope suspension
41. Surprisingly in-depth philosophical discussion with Christine
42. Filling, indulgent solo mean at The Diner
43. Candy floss and popcorn at the Saturday Social
44. Evening banter with Hannah

I went home earlier than I had the previous day, although by that point I was flagging, and could have done with the fresh air. I got home, collapsed into a heap, and lay there in a state too hyped-up to sleep, but too tired to function. I had one more day to go, and that was what was driving me on.

Monday, 18 March 2019

70 Joys of Eroticon: Part I

So. I manage to survive my way through another year of my grinding existence and Eroticon rolls around at exactly the same time. It is, in fact, odd how this turns out - although fortunate because I get to have my birthday celebrations a few days beforehand and I quite like money - but it's also oddly gratifying, because Eroticon is so exhausting so you feel, at the end, like you've had a euphoric birthday.

Some of you may have noticed, throughout the conference, that I was writing a list in my notebook, as well as taking notes in the sessions. This was intentional - I was writing the basis for a listicle, which I will present here: 70 (I wanted to do 100, but I ran out of space!) little things that made Eroticon for me this year.

In this first post, I'll do the first fifteen: one entire page of my notebook, entirely things that happened on the Friday evening. These were written in chronogolical order, so if there's something lower down the list, it doesn't mean it's any less important - they all happened and they're all joyous!

1. Seeing everyone I wanted to and hugging even more people than usual
2. An extra-long hug with Rebel while holding a complete conversation
3. Amy's beautiful smile
4. Buying GOTN a drink, one year after I initially promised to do so
5. Jayne Renault turning up and looking amazing 
6. Every single moment spent with the vision of loveliness that is Amber Mallory
7. Baby Martha grabbing my finger with incresdible grip, like my niece used to do
8. Dancing with Quinn
9. Talking to Ruth (formerly Ruby Kiddell) without it feeling super weird
10. Actual conversations about actual industries I've actually worked in... with actual Eroticon delegates
11. Oversharing with Sparrow
12. Nobody called me fat
13. Being able to say, "I'm Innocent Loverboy", and even occasionally getting recognition for the name
14. Finally asking Nick why he is a PTFE person
15. Eating a burrito on the way home and realising that I was really going to enjoy this year

And I did. It's an odd sensation travelling back home in between 'con days, because - since I've been to every 'con since the first one back in 2012 - part of the experience remains staying in a hotel overnight: full immersion in the Eroticon environs. It's just not practical for me to do that, so for the third year in a row (Lord!), I went home after all the shenanigans. Thank you, Night Tube!

As I said in point 15 above, I had a feeling of anticipation on the way home that I was going to enjoy Eroticon. It's not been an easy year, overall, but a better one than the last few. If Eroticon was the way to end it, it had better be a good one. And, if I was going to make it as memorable as possible, I needed to spend as much time there as I reasonably could.

So I got home, flipped open my notebook... and started to write.

Monday, 11 March 2019

Womanised

I didn't write anything for International Women's Day last week because I didn't have the time, really. To be fair, I didn't have a clue what to write, when there's so much already written about it.

One of the things I wanted to write about was my own woman - but, then again, I'm not entirely sure that my girlfriend is a woman. While 'she', and 'her', and 'girlfriend' are still in play, she is uncertain gender-wise, and if it turns out that she is anything else, writing a post about her on International Women's Day may have been jumping the gun a bit, when it's more fitting to do that on Bi Pride or... well, any day I like, really. She's in my life every day, so why not?

As a cisgender, heterosexual male, a lot of the choices I've made in my life have been - consciously or not - due to women. I stopped buttoning up my school blazer because a girl I had a crush on told me to. I grew my hair long because of a young lady, and cut it short again because of another. I stopped wearing my school trousers to Woodcraft. I pretended to believe in Hell (even though I never have) to conform with a group full of attractive women, and although most of my friends are female, sometimes I still feel like I'm not doing enough to impress them.

One of the consistent myths about teenage boys is that they are only after sex. I'm not sure that's entirely true - I, for one, didn't feel like I was ready for sex, and while my attitude to it probably wasn't healthy, I had plenty of crushes. The feeling in the pit of my stomach when it turned out that an attractive girl - not even someone I fancied, just any attractive girl - was an empty, hollow one. With Lightsinthesky, my token black friend, Music Man and the others managing to couple up, and my nascent relationship with Soldiergirl fizzling as soon as it started, I began to feel like the last man on Earth.

Among the things about my current relationship is that I don't feel like I need to change anything for her. She can take me for what I am, and although I'm constantly amazed that she finds me attractive, I truly believe she does. I think she is, as well.

As I get older, I'm finding the choices I make are more due to my own self-image than because of whatever I think women think of me. I've never really seen myself as physically attractive, so I try to appear erudite and witty, although I'm often nervous as fuck deep down inside. I like to think I'm kind and considerate, and will certainly present as such. I genuinely am actually quite intelligent, which comes with a whole host of issues, but it's overall a positive quality. I've been told, over and over again, that there are a lot of positive things about me.

It's genuinely hard to believe. The things young women used to tell me still stick. I'm fat, they told me. I'm ugly. I can't run fast. I can't play sports. I'm far too soft. I'm stuck up. I'm selfish. I cry too much, and anyway, boys don't cry.

I can't hug you, because you're crying, and boys don't cry, said one female friend. What do I do?

Going to Eroticon makes me nervous about my self-image. I always go, and I always enjoy it. But the week before, I'm wracked with paranoia. Eroticon is full of insanely hot people in a bubble of body confidence and sexual energy. ILB is losing his hair at the age of 33; his eye has a recurrent chalazion that genuinely won't go away; his nose is too big; his skin, too rough. He even had a plan this year, to do a planned diet and daily exercise so he could at least appear at a healthy weight by the time 'con came around, but then he fell down the stairs and smashed his face, and since then, he's been nervous about doing anything, in case he falls again.

Part of this is just me being me. I over-analyse myself and that's how I work. A lot of this, I think, is how I see other people. I try to think the best of people and I genuinely try not to compare myself to the people I know and love. It's difficult, sometimes, when family members are heaped with praise, friends do well in their professional lives and don't seem to have problems with money, or incredibly attractive women have equally attractive partners. Even as someone in a long-term relationship, that's hard to handle.

But, after decades of indecision, one thing is clear. How I feel about myself isn't the fault of women. It's my fault.

I won't be any thinner, or hairier, or any more handsome at Eroticon this year. I wanted to be, but I won't be. I'll try to dress well. I'll get a haircut, and a shave. I'll do the best I can. Next year, I tell myself; next year, I'll look better. Next year, I won't feel like the least attractive person at 'con. Every year, I feel like that.

But if my girlfriend can accept me for who I am, then I should be able to as well.

Let's work on that.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

World Book Day: #amediting

It's World Book Day and, appropriately, I've been commissioned to edit a book. So that's what I've been doing for the past few days: editing.

Well, I say editing.

Realistically, and with no disrespect to whoever wrote it (I only have a name and it's not one I recognise), it's more like re-writing the whole thing. Every sentence - maybe even every clause - needs to be altered... or, in many cases, replaced entirely. What should have been a simple spelling and grammar check has turned into a hellscape of fixing every word in a long, rambling text broken up into incredibly uneven chapters, with no apparent knowledge of full stops and capital letters (since I need to add all of those).

Worst of all, Word doesn't appear to be saving all of the changes I make, so every time I open it, I have to blitz through the entire thing to see if there are any sentences which have mysteriously reverted to ALL CAPITAL LETTERS or being typeset in light blue Verdana unlike the rest of the book. Then, and only then, can I get on with re-writing the actual text. I've done six chapters so far and I'm still not sure where it's going, or what it's meant to be.

I've turned off the bar on the side that lists tracked changes, as trying to read through that is turning into an adventure.

While this is eating up my free time, and probably is worth much more than the £55 I have been promised for editing an 18,000-word work of mystery, there are the occasional unexpected benefits, like tiny bits of the original text that I just don't seem to be able to let go.
Coming to a dead end, with a wall twenty feet high barring her way, she turned around, only to see twenty men coming on her. These men, all seemingly between 30 and 50, had her to their advantage. One of them, a brutish man, grabbed her neck, hard. Mary lashed out with her left hand, but then another of the men bit it, while yet another man, to her right, grabbed the back of her hair, and pulled it hard, forcing her head back.
I wonder how carefully this Christian publisher vets their authors...

Monday, 4 March 2019

We should all be mermaids

There's a scene in The Shape of Water where Elisa describes, through tasteful gestures, how she has sex with the Amphibian Man when he doesn't initially appear to have a penis. From what I can tell, some scales move aside and create an opening... from which a penis appears.

I'm going to assume, from now on, that this is how mermaids have sex.

I mean, if a penis can come out of an animal (and it's not only the fictional creature I'm talking abut here - many animals, such as dolphins, have retractable penes), then it makes sense, similarly, to think that with such an opening, a female (or somebody with a vagina, however they identify) could just as easily have a hidden, but controllable, opening, behind which the vulva is located.

And furthermore, if one is going to engage in mermaid sex, then that seems to be the natural assumption. It doesn't quite have the sexy connotations of spreading legs... but nevertheless, in my head, it still works.

I mean, it must be in my head, because in the dream I had, the mermaid with whom I was having sex most definitely had a vagina. And my penis - external genitalia in my case - was certainly inside it, so clearly I must have gotten there somehow. Not that the dream had a beginning or an end, however, so I've no idea how successful we were in our attempted coitus (or how she came to be in my bed, or... well, who she was, or anything. Or why I was having sex with a mermaid when my girlfriend - my real one - was also in the dream, and naked. Ay me.)

It's amazing how these revelations come about, isn't it?

Friday, 1 March 2019

Are you ready to be distracted?

I'm sitting in the chair, second from the right, impatiently tapping my pen against the wodge of paper I've been handed. It's a small room, because that's all they booked. It's full, because it's so small (and there's a huge table in the middle). It's hot, it's stuffy, it's uncomfortable, and the only drinks they have are tea and coffee, because the café is closed.

I'm on my third cup of tea.

The chap doing the work training session (which should, in the future, be me, because I have no fear of public speaking) is doing his best to make the whole thing at least a little entertaining for us all, and in fact, is managing to succeed. He's mostly bantering with my boss, with whom he appears to have a little 'history', but at least I'm learning something. And I don't have to take any notes, which is a bonus.

Except by this point I appear to have stopped taking anything in. He asks a question which would be the perfect opportunity to jump in with one of my smartarse comments. I made everyone laugh a few minutes ago when replying to "what is composure?" with "it's when you write a piece of music". I'm silent, all of a sudden. And sleepy. And I'm beginning to lose awareness of my surroundings. Am I falling asleep? Is this reverse-tea, containing whatever the opposite to caffeine is?

I put my hand up and ask to go to the bathroom. I step out into the lobby of the ultra-smooth corporate building and take in a few lungfuls of fresher air. This is a nice venue, I think to myself.

At this point, I realise that I've just become aware of the environment around me, and more to the point, that for the last ten minutes I've been fantasising incredibly vividly about being given a blowjob in a hotel room. A specific hotel room and a specific participant. And that's actually where I've been - miles away from this room, this training session, this building and this job. In a hotel room, in the middle of the night, with a pair of lips wrapped around my cock.

I push my glasses up to the top of my head like Captain Shame used to do in his Twitter avatar. Rub my eyes. Walk around in a circle for a bit, to the general bemusement of the receptionist. Amble to the bathroom, use the toilet, and stroll back, regulating my breathing. Sit back down. Take a cake. Listen to the trainer once again.

This will be something to blog about is the first thing I write down.

Sunday, 24 February 2019

Road Man

However you want to view it - as a spiritual experience, altered state of consciousness, or simple scientific explanation offering up something to do with a lack of oxygen and increased heart rate - the moments after orgasm are a blessed relief. I don't always have time to enjoy them; sometimes I have somewhere to be or something to do, and maybe there's a little twinge of guilt somewhere in there as well. If I have a lot of time to myself and I have a particularly huge orgasm, then I'll go and lie down for a bit afterwards. It's probably the only way I'll get any sleep.

Then there are the moments just after those moments. My late teen orgasms were always followed by incredibly increased hearing, to listen for footsteps. In university, I used to let the rest of the sceme play (if it was something I was watching) or play out in my head (if it was something I was imagining) before returning to whatever I was doing. In my twenties, it was a mixture, coupled with becoming a dab hand at the volume switch on the side of my laptop.

Now, after I orgasm, I enjoy the buzz for a while, then just get on with my day. And, of course, I clean up.

I live, and for the majority of life I have lived, relatively near (ie. within earshot of) a main road which is one of the primary routes into and out of London to the northeast. It's the route I take to get to work, and it's also the route via which most of my adventures (that is to say, the ones that don't involve London) have started. It's also the road I used to cross (via a big metal bridge) to get to school, so I know it well enough. At some points, in fact, it's the distant rumble of that A-road that makes me feel more comfortable. Weird, I know. But it's home.

Why am I bringing this up, when originally I started talking about wanking? Well, the other day I had a particularly large, and particularly pleasant, orgasm. One of the ones you have to wait for... and work for. Since I had time to spare that day, I took a moment afterwards to let myself re-acclimatise (as opposed to just jumping up and getting on with... whatever else I was meant to be doing). I had my eyes closed, my legs were bare, cum slowly working its way down from where it laid...

...and all I heard was the road.

Which, I've just realised, is odd. If I listen very closely, I can just about pick it up, but with the windows shut (and, since I was having a wank, the curtains were probably closed too), I can barely hear a thing from outside - much less the dual carriageway ten minutes' walk away. Yet there I was, sitting in my computer chair, and there was nothing else but the cars. The faint hum from the traffic increased rapidly to a deafening roar, and for a while, I just sat, still, sleepy, phasing in and out, car after car after car pushing its way through my consciousness, until slowly, gradually, my heartbeat came back in and brought me round.

Which is why I'm now going to start looking for houses near meadows with birds singing and slow bubbling brooks... because, if this is what's going to happen, I'll be able to have all my orgasms and then walk out cheerfully into a Disney film.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

~* eRoTiCoN 2019: MeeT & GReeT *~

I've been looking forward to doing this! Yes, for those of you who don't know, I'm attending Eroticon once again this year. That shouldn't be a surprise, really, since I go every year... but, unlike last year, I'll be there for the whole thing this time! A genuine shock, I know.

I was very sick last year, and as it turns out, I was sicker than I thought, since I thought I had a cold and it turned out to be bronchitis... this year, I'll load up on Vitamin C well in advance, to prevent that happening again. Yes, I'm aware that's not the most effective of methods.

In any case, there's a Meet & Greet to get cracking with, so what's the story, morning glory?

Name

Innocent Loverboy - still abbreviated to "ILB" if you're only capable of remembering three letters. That's "I'll be", by the way, not "illb". Sorry to spoil any fantasies, or anything.

You can find me on most social media using @innocentlb - confusingly not my blog URL. Isn't the internet fun?


Tell us 3 things you are most looking forward to at Eroticon 2019.

(i) Seeing my long-distance friends and spending time with them in person. Yes, I stole that verbatim from Molly, but I agree with her. There are multitudes of people I haven't seen at all since last year's 'con (in fact, I don't think I've seen any of them!), and this appears to be my annual opportunity to do so!
(ii) Hugs!
(iii) I don't know if this makes me sound self-centred, but it's my birthday (again!) on Sunday 17th. I'm looking forward to spending it at Eroticon!


We are creating a playlist of songs for the Friday Night Meet and Greet. Nominate one song that you would like us to add to the playlist and tell us why you picked that song.

Kremlin Dusk by Utada Hikaru. It isn't at all relevant to Eroticon, but it's one song to which I'm guaranteed to sing along!

Other than that, anything by Barenaked Ladies, Smash Mouth or Roxy Music will probably get me singing. And I'm seeing James the weekend beforehand, so anything at all from their 41-year back catalogue would do - might I suggest Curse Curse, since it's about listening to people having sex in a hotel room? (Or is that more relevant to Woodhull?)


What is your favourite item or book you’ve purchased so far this year?

I actually bought nine DVDs of soft porn earlier this year, so...

Okay, this probably needs a bit of context. None of the most recent Emmanuelle films are available commercially. Since Alain Siritzky's passing a few years back, his back catalogue is entirely in jeopardy, but the Emmanuelle Through Time series never got aired in its entirety, so there aren't even dodgy rips available to download.

In order to get legitimate, high-quality copies, I used my Christmas money to buy the whole series from the director Rolfe - who, kindly, sent me two bonus DVDs. Not bad for a little over a hundred quid!


You can have an unlimited supply of one thing for the rest of your life; what is it? Sushi? Scotch Tape?

I had to think about this. I've hit upon 'drinks' as an answer, and I think that makes sense - statistically, I think the most money I spend in my life goes on buying drinks. Cut out the need to stock up on bottles of Diet Pepsi and I'd probably be loaded!


What is your favourite quote from a movie?

"So you're telling me we're filming a music video for a rock star who's here but you can't find."
"Yeah..."
"Have you checked his trailer?"
"Yes..."
"The dressing room?"
"Yes..."
"Well, how many people have you got looking for him?"
"Well, just me. Aha! People!"
[Turns on megaphone.]
"People! I need a 20 on Alvin! Whoever isn't doing anything, stop what you're doing, and go find him!"

- or alternatively:

"Ever since I was born... I was dope."


What is your word suggestion for next year's Eroticon anthology?

Wow, next year's. You're keen. In order to come up with something suitably pretentious, I'm going to go with "Light". I'm surrounded by light during sex, so it seems appropriate.


Complete the sentence: I feel...

...uncomfortable about my body.

Yes, that's a bit of a downer to end on, isn't it? There's a long story behind it this year, rather than just generic moaning, but I genuinely don't have the spoons to go through it all right now. Maybe being at Eroticon in less than a month will make me feel better about it all.

Here's hoping.

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Innocent Walkerboy

For the last few days, I've been experiencing a gradual return to work, which is the best they could give me following a relatively uncertain interview on Tuesday morning wherein my boss wasn't sure if she was comfortable with me doing any work at all (except washing up, which is something I have ended up doing anyway). As I reminded her, I have annual leave coming up next month (around the Eroticon weekend, naturally), and I really ought to get back to work before that.

Lies, of course; I just really need the money.

Although so much has changed in my life over the last decade or so, one of the things that has remained constant (and I just cracked open Google Maps to research for a comment on GOTN's blog, so excuse the massive nostalgia hit) is my appreciation of time to walk on my own. It's relatively limited now - it's not pleasant to walk around suburban North London in the winter anyway, and I often find time slipping away in lieu of domestic duties, pre-arranged attendances and general laziness - and it was, I tended to find, much easier when I was living in my parents' old house.

Before we moved, I was living with my family in a nice, large 1930s building with four bedrooms, adequate living space and a Jigglypuff painted on the wall of the converted loft. I was also single for quite a lot of that time (pretend girlfriends notwithstanding), and even for the bits where I wasn't, I didn't have someone living with me (Willow doesn't count; she's a cat). I was lonely, but adjusting to life after three relatively unpleasant university years; also, after having done so every single day for the final term of my final year, I had taken to having long walks in the surrounding area - often just me, my iPod and 'phone; no wallet, so I wouldn't spend any money and had to walk home if and when I got lost.

In the summer, this was a wonderful thing to do. It was exercise, of a sort, so I didn't feel guilty about it; there was a canal (and still is) nearby, so it was easy to find a waterside path to follow; I knew all the hidden entrances to the park which was officially closed after dusk (but was full of drunken teenagers having clandestine sex in the shadows, so much so that I started a tally); Tim Booth had just released a new album, so I had something fresh to listen to; most importantly, it was free. As night fell, I would find my way back to a main road, walk back to my house, let myself in using the keysafe, and then probably have a wank, since I... well... since I'm human, I guess.

These days - except for the wanking - I don't have that time, so I basically do all of that on my way to work (or, at least, on the way to the bus stop). I walk down the road, monologuing to myself - I do that a lot: usually stand-up to an imagined audience, answering questions that haven't been asked, or discoursing loudly about porn to a fictional cinema full of people having attended the film club I'm never going to start - before plugging my iPod in when I get to the bus stop and mainlining the odd mix of indie rock, musical theatre soundtracks and classical symphonies for the 20-minute ride to work.

It's not enough time, I know. It seems long in the morning - since my bed complains loudly when I get out of it - and even longer when I'm going home, the cool night air soothing but less and less welcome as you wait for a useful way to get back to your damn ass flat in order to access such luxuries as "food" and "shelter". I don't even really mind it, since I like travelling in many ways. It just doesn't have the same gravitas as purposefully getting lost in your leafy suburb, or walking down the riverside path in Oxford that the Seamstress showed me, or clambering up peaks with Woodcraft.

What I need, my subconscious tells me, is a nice, long and pointless route to walk down - one that involves trees, fields and water, none of which are immediately accessible from my flat (although there's a park fifteen minutes away; it's just not quite the same). I don't have any wish to run, nor do I have any money to spend so going to the local town is not really a useful option, but if I could just find the time to do so, maybe a stretch of my legs and a breath of clear air would do me at least some good.

Anyone fancy a stroll?