My friend Dave Barnicle runs a bar in Liverpool. But he’s not your typical bar manager who hires and fires and shouts and chucks people out. In fact, Dave’s bar doesn’t even serve alcohol as it’s one of very few “dry bars” where addicts in recovery can hang out without feeling under pressure to drink. The place is called The Brink and, if you’re ever in Liverpool, I suggest you get some lunch there (the fish n’ chips are epic).
Dave is one of those people who’s searching for the meaning of life. Not satisfied with the Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy answer to this question (42) he reads all sorts of impressive books, teaches Qi Gong, runs events and is what I would call a Creative Project Manager.
He recently set up a podcast where he talks to people he thinks are inspiring. I found his first podcast really gripping, even though the subject might seem a bit esoteric. It’s a 90 minute talk with Phil Shepherd about how the brain isn’t the only part of the body with intelligence. It’s one of those life-changing resources that I’ll save and listen to again at future moments.
When Dave asked me if I wanted to be interviewed for his podcast I thought: “Great…Okay…Fame at last…Hang on a minute! Me? Why would he want to interview me?”
Dave answered this question by saying: “I’ll be asking about the journey through Tibet, about your time in Romania, about your time with the military and the subsequent book, your semi-nomadic lifestyle, the trials and tribulations of being an author and trying to get published and self publish.”
Then I thought about something which has been bugging me for over a year: Why haven’t I written any blog articles about what I’ve been up to? I spent much of the last year on houseboats, but not a word has been written about it. Who not?
Now I’m in Liverpool (about to do the podcast) and I’ve just been in Scotland and Romania — shouldn’t I write about that? Shouldn’t I tell people what I’m up to? Apart from anything else, it might help Dave an outline formulate some questions for our podcast.
I’d like to start using this blog as a place to record all the weird and wonderful things I do. I have an interesting life, I’m on the road constantly, working all over the place, and I’d like to share the best moments.
So, without further ado, let’s get on with it…
What have I been up to?
- About three years ago I moved from Bucharest to Liverpool and set up a PR business. But it didn’t work so I closed it down, learned from my mistakes and …
- Went to Scotland where I published my Tibet memoir and promoted it by cycling round the Highlands, selling copies (I had a bike trailer to carry them) and giving talks. I started writing another book on that trip and have been writing ever since (you might like my fairy tale).
- I then went to live with my parents in the Borders Region of Scotland. My mother had cancer and died about two years ago. That was a big blow as she was really the big love of my life — she inspired me and supported me and I still can’t accept that she’s gone. I did a wee book about her and this slideshow of photos celebrating her life.
- At the start of last year (2018) I thought I should get a proper job and ended up working for an insurance company as a copywriter. Needless to say it didn’t last and they spat me out as a misfit; as everyone had said it’s too late for me to change from being a freelancer to a company man. But I learned some interesting things (these companies are sitting on billions of pounds of unclaimed pensions). Also, it brought me down to Reading where I…
- Lived on a houseboat. I spent 6 months moored up in a huge barge (called Marge) in the centre of Reading, writing books and doing freelance PR for Castle Craig Rehab Clinic. Then I was asked to look after a small houseboat which was mobile and I moved down the Kennet and Avon Canal, spent the winter freezing near Devizes, and seeing a lot of my ex and my kids, who are located nearby, and ended up at Bath. I loved living on houseboats and recommend anyone who’s interested to hire one for a weekend. England has restored 3000 miles of its canal network, which used to be 5000 miles long, and there are 80,000 houseboats with people living on them.
- This brings us more or less to the present where three words summarise my recent life: Scotland, Wiltshire and Romania. Let me explain…
- My current job is in Romania where I consult for the EU on energy efficiency; we’re selling the family home in Scotland and I go up there as much as I can to help out; and whenever I go between these two locations I try and stop off in Wiltshire where my kids are located.
That’s it…that’s my last three years in 7 bullet points.
What’s next? My long term plan is to cycle round the world but I need to keep my nose to the grindstone as I’ve got to pay off my debts and that sometimes feels like it’s taking forever.
I’d be really grateful if you would leave a comment under this article. I really appreciate any feedback, even if it’s critical or inane…it’s just a reminded that someone’s reading this stuff and it encourages me to write more.