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wet leafThe evidence in support of Extra Sensory Perception (ESP) is such that, were it any other field of study, it would long ago have been considered proven, yet it remains controversial. It tells us we all have the ability to predict otherwise random outcomes beyond chance, some of us better than others – the turn of a card, say, or the roll of die. It’s just that in practical terms, since it’s not a reliable phenomenon, it’s not much use on a day to day basis, at least not for the majority of us, so whether we believe in it or not, we tend to ignore it.

Psychokinesis is another controversial topic, yet also well supported by the evidence. It tells us we can affect outcomes by thinking about them, such as interfering with the workings of sensitive machines. But like ESP, the effect is mostly too weak to be of any practical significance – you have bore deep into the statistics of a large number of trials in order to detect it.  It’s like radio signals from a galaxy on the edge of the universe – sure, you know it’s there all right, but you’ll never see it with your own eyes.

Then there’s precognition, the evidence suggesting we can tell in advance when something is going to happen, either through a gut feeling on the spot – and then it happens – or we might dream of an event which subsequently happens days, weeks or even years later. Again it’s not a reliable phenomenon, not something we can call upon at will. Most of us I think have experienced a few spontaneous instances of precognition, but if we try to call it up at will, we find we’re wrong more times than is useful and we look stupid so we discount it from our every day approach to life. Statistically speaking though, it’s pretty well established that we can sometimes see around corners.

But forget the statistics, forget the practical usefulness of these non-superpowers. It’s the existence of the phenomenon that’s the essential thing, because it tells us the mind is more than a product of the brain, that some aspect of consciousness is not confined to the physical body, that it extends out into the world. And cases of precognition tell us it is not confined in time either. The implications for our world view are profound, the science underpinning it as yet unknown and extremely challenging, yet I have no problem accepting any of this, but if we go the whole hog and accept a return to philosophical dualism, then what?

There are other anomalous phenomenon pointing in this direction – stuff  I’m less comfortable with, yet for which the evidence is growing. One of these is the study of near death, where people are resuscitated after suffering life threatening injury, or heart attack. The brain is starved of oxygen and effectively dies, flat-lining on the EEG, yet during this supposed dead period, rather than reporting oblivion, people, upon resuscitation, give us accounts of an intensification of conscious awareness, of visiting highly realistic realms, of speaking with other beings, with dead loved ones. The accounts are broadly consistent, across all cultures and are not confined to those of a religious bent. Such events are life changing for those who experience them.

And then we have the reincarnation studies, which I find even more disturbing to my worldview – in particular the work of Ian Stevenson, and more lately Jim Tucker, in which very young children report veridical details of a past life. Again, whilst controversial, this research is painstaking, and the evidence is very persuasive.

Yes, I’m uncomfortable with the idea of reincarnation because it doesn’t make sense to me, but having weighed the evidence I’m finding it’s something I must at least reckon with as a possibility. Indeed in any other field of scientific endeavour the case would by now be considered robust. That it isn’t, isn’t surprising to me, and I’m not expecting it to change any time soon. My own reluctance to accept such things perhaps speaks of a broader unease, because if they’re true, then what?

All of these phenomena are dangerous in that they threaten the underpinnings of both science and religion. If it were no longer controversial that the essence of the personality was an indestructible, non corporeal entity, unrestricted by the bounds of space and time, recycling itself through various incarnations in a more restricted form in the material world,… well,… yes,… indeed: Then what?

Perhaps it’s easier not to ask the question.

 

watchwordThe Watchword technique is method of self analysis. Its origins are obscure, but find themselves formalised in this 1990’s title by Michael Daniels, senior lecturer in what was then Liverpool Polytechnic’s Department of Psychology. The book has a very Jungian grounding, and aims to give the reader a clear picture of the forces at play in the currents of the psyche – where we’re going, what’s holding us back, what are the dominant forces driving us, what areas we need to work on, to let go of and so on.

If you’re of a New Agey, self analysis, Jung-fan bent, you probably already have a number of methods for getting inside your head. Tarot cards are popular, as are Runes. For a long time I favoured the I Ching but, like all oracular devices it can be misunderstood and, like the Tarot and Runes, is somewhat tainted by an occultish aura which does not appeal to everyone.

Oracles do not foretell tell the future. It’s a common misconception. Instead, they read the psychical landscape and make projections from it. They grant us a look inside our heads, revealing what might otherwise be hidden. All methods have their attractions and drawbacks and we should feel free to take them up and set them aside as and when the mood takes us, never adhering to them too slavishly, but rather listening to our own instincts for what’s right at the time. In this way the Watchword technique can be looked upon as another thing to try, perhaps when answers are failing you elsewhere. The method is direct, and carries none of the occult baggage associated with other methods, though this is not to say its intuitions are both startling and mysterious.

The technique involves writing down sixteen words – whatever comes into one’s head – then pairing them off and looking for an association with the linked words, then pairing these off. Reminiscent of a Jungian word association test, and dream amplification, what we end up with is a grid of highly charged words which, like dream symbols, represent the archetypal forces, or a kind of psychical weather forecast. As a method I find it very powerful, though as Daniels cautions in the book, it is not something to be read too literally or follow too slavishly.

So, our sixteen seed words are boiled down by a process of association into a square matrix which we then interpret using a form of directional symbolism. In short, the up and down directions indicate progressive and regressive tendencies, the left and the right involve the more subtle interpretation of inner (left) and outer (right) psychological urges. The overall balance of the square therefore comes to represent a map of the forces within us and the complex dynamical churn between them. A further pattern of three words emerges in the centre of the matrix, the middle one of these being taken as the ultimate direction implied from the interplay of all the other forces in the mix.

While this may sound dubious to anyone not versed in symbolic or archetypal thinking, I find the method has an uncanny way of homing in on the key dynamics. The answers arise from our own thought processes, it’s just that some of them are normally hidden from view and the method tries to tease them out. At its most basic level the Watchword technique can be treated as a word game, as a bit of fun, and when beginning with it, it’s perhaps best to treat it as such. But at its deepest level it can aid us in coming up with some profound insights into our own strengths and failings.

A more individual analysis of the words we’ve chosen can also reveal our Myers Briggs type, and the book goes into this in some depth, but I’ve found the technique less reliable in that respect, probably due to my own failings in grasping the symbolic significance of the words we use, better to use the Myers Briggs method itself, but in all other respects this is a valuable tool for anyone on the path towards self discovery.

 

 

 

 

 

on the beda fell ridgeNormal is whatever we are prepared to put up with, and whatever we are prepared to put up with becomes normal. I’ve witnessed a lot of stuff this week that strikes me as being symptomatic of a new normal, one existing on the surface of an anger that’s coming to the boil. I’ve witnessed bad tempered exchanges between usually placid individuals, I’ve received emails in SHOUTY CAPITALS. I’ve also been expected to laugh at racist jokes, and to share in racist opinions.

My resistance to all of this has been to meet grumpiness with calm. I respond to shouty capitals by not responding at all. As for the racist jokes, I do not laugh at them. But as a strategy, I fear such mechanisms are as effective as hiding my head in the sand. I can pretend all I like, but the world is still out there, and its normality is morphing in ways that disturb me.

To make matters worse, I’ve been accused of grumpiness myself. Perhaps it’s true. I excuse it by claiming the reason is I’m witnessing an eclipse of the sun by a giant, black, angry balloon pumped up by all this hot air spouting from a million snarling mouths. It’s not normal, this thing, and I want to resist it, because only by our collective acquiescence can it ever become established as the New Normal. If I am negative it is out of desperation, searching for the pin that will burst this vile bubble, and restore daylight to the world.

To push the metaphor a little further, the greater the eclipse, the harder it is to see the decay, in the same way candlelight will hide the dust and mould of the most toxic environment, render it normal, even cosy until it makes us ill. Daylight reveals the world as it is, reveals it lately as disturbing – disturbing also we risk no longer being disturbed by it, that we are so easily habituated, normalised to this thing, this tide in the Zeitgeist that is definitely not normal.

Contrary to all of this, contemporary spiritual belief speaks of an imminent awakening, a blossoming of consciousness, likening it to the exponential rate of change of technological development, at present bewildering and exploding wonders on a daily basis. Yes, our flowering is imminent, the gurus tell us, even though all evidence is pointing the other way, that we are returning to a state of unconsciousness, one our technology is aiding and abetting, as much as it is resisting.

I read back over my stuff and wonder if I’m all right, if I’ve simply grown too old to be of use any more, or if I’ve been crawling about on the plain for too long and need to haul my bones up a hill, gain some fresh perspective and some real oxygen, rather than hyperventilating on this synthetic stuff we’re all breathing now via online media. Maybe that’s it – only the dead-zones provide us with anything approaching the real normal any more, places where the Internet struggles and 4G is but a distant dream.

I know of a few places like that, lost valleys, remote bays, high passes. Perhaps I should flee there and become celibate, in the literary sense I mean, shield my flame in the privacy of private journals, instead of standing out in the rain and wind all the time. Let me remind myself Normal is the sigh of the wind in the trees, the sparkle of sunlight on water, the sound of birds and the scent of the wild. Everything else, the good and the bad of it, is just the stuff we make up in our heads, reflective of all the ups and downs of the psyche.

If I am grumpy then, it’s because I do not accept any other normality as genuine, and reject it as unwholesome. Grumpiness feels like a pin to burst the balloon, but it’s not. It only adds to the pain of the world, just as every frown aids the eclipse, hastens the transition to the new, darker normality. I know, it’s just easier, when surrounded by frowny-faces to forget how to smile, how, when met with grumpiness, to respond with an even temper, and how when met with bigotry and racism, to call it out for what it is. This, this is the pin to burst the balloon, and we all posses it.

So breathe, relax, smile. At times like these, it is the opposite of what’s expected. It is the ultimate act of subversion.

barn

Rivington Barn

Friday, and a late lunch at Rivington Barn. It’s crowded, bikers slurping mugs of tea outside, and a clamour of woolly hatted conversation within, the place clogged with skewed  buggies and children whining as if it were a half term holiday, but it isn’t.

I order my egg and bacon butty and I sit, number poised clearly on the table’s edge. It is a long, raised, communal table, empty when I sit down but soon to be dominated by a nuclear family: corpulent dad, mute, invisible mum, and a pair of hyper-active pre-pubescent nitwits who enjoy banging about in their seats so the vibrations travel the length of the table and into the bones of any unwitting neighbour, such as myself. Notwithstanding this endless, tedious violation of my repose, there is also the threat of a sticky soaking from the pop bottles said nitwits take delight in shaking up into a fizz and from which they then squeeze off an ominous, hyperventilating hiss.

Oh, I know, long week and all that, and all I want is a bit of peace, sitting on the end of this table, first come, and already my body space is invaded by Corpulent Dad’s ever spreading bulk. Some people seem to take up much more space than others. It is a kind of biological imperialism. He pretends to take no notice of me, but he’s a nosy bugger and I can feel his eyes over my shoulder as I scroll the news on the delightfully ergonomic Washington Post app. Yes, I’m with Sheldrake on this one – the sense of being stared at is a reliable instinct.

I know, the Washington Post, it’s not your usual media for informing the rural north of England, but America appears to have gone mad and I’m trying to understand what archetypes are afoot here, if they bode ill for my retirement nest egg or not and if we’ll have Russian tanks across the Rhine again like we did in the bad old days, which curiously enough seem more and more like the good old days, days when there was at least a kind of certainty to world affairs, grim though they were. And my egg and bacon butty is taking an age, and my cup of tea is already half gone, and these kids are banging the table, cutting clean though my pre-weekend ease, and my desire to just settle in for a bit and think.

The Post, though earnest and informative is of no help to me, this lone Englishman, and only confirms his suspicion that even America cannot quite believe it. Jung would have had an insightful take on things, but voices like his are few. While the kids continue to fizz the life out of their bottles, I try Chompsky, a familiar guru in these troubled times, but there is little comfort there either. Corpulent Dad is talking, winding his kids up into ever greater heights of irritating behaviour. Mute mum says nothing. Neither make an effort to check their offsprings’ rudeness. I recall I made no effort with my kids either, but I could at least take them anywhere without worrying they’d annoy other people. But then again Corpulent Dad isn’t worried they’re annoying other people. We are the same then, he and I. We simply differ in our approach to life.

What?

My egg and bacon butty arrives and I wolf it down to the point of indigestion. This is sacrilege. These are the finest egg and bacon buttys in creation, not to be rushed. But I am rushing, a voice in my head screaming for air now. So I head out to the car, relieved to be shot of my obnoxious interlopers. Such is the lot of the misanthrope, I’m afraid. Nothing is resolved. For all the seriousness of my intent to understand, all I have now is indigestion and the first stabbing throb of a headache.

The weather had been clear, encouraging of a certain optimism, but during my brief stay in the Barn, it has clouded, the air turned grey and cold. I am not encouraged to don my boots and climb the hill, so I drive to Chorley instead, to the Autofit place. I have two nails in my tyre. It’s been holding pressure, but clearly needs attention if I am to avert future calamity. I am expecting it to be irreparable.

The guy does his plucky best, but pronounces it goosed. There’s a tone of apology I read as genuine. My shed of a commuter-mule wears Michelin Premiums. They come at a premium price: one hundred and nineteen pounds each. These are supercar prices for a car that has proved itself to be anything but a super car. I really must get rid of this thing before it bankrupts me. It is becoming my own personal financial crisis.

“Is that fitting and everything, I ask?”

“Sure,” says the guy, “we’ll even put air in it for you.”

There is the ripple of a smile about his lips as he speaks, as if trying to winkle out the humour in me. The place is grey and February cold, overhung with a century of grime, his overalls seriously besmirched with his labours, but there is also something Puckish about him, defiantly irreverent. He mends cars.  He smiles a lot, and jokes. I drive a PC. And don’t joke much these days.

But, wait. There it is. My smile comes up like something fondly remembered. At times like these we need a sense of humour. It’s just a question of having the courage, or the sheer bloody mindedness to let it in. The lid is off. The trickster is risen from the collective and is laying waste to the convention of entire continents, destroying the perceived corruption of the world with a less subtle corruption of its own, and we’d better get used to it because I’ve a feeling it’s going to be a wild ride.

I’ll see you on the other side.

 

 

 

Contagion

The Triumph of Death - Pieter Bruegel the Elder - 1562No matter how fortunate we are in life, it’s a challenge to be grateful, a challenge to be at peace. Rather, we seem programmed more towards irritation, scornfullness, and resentment of anything we perceive as threatening to our sense of control. The peace we crave is for ever elusive, and all we’re left with is the craving.

I’ve noticed this with older, retired people, people I look at and think: how fortunate to have left behind the day-job, the mind-numbing commute. Their kids have flown, they have all the time in the world now to simply be; they can lie in of a morning, shuffle round Tescos, or the garden centre, or read a book, watch TV. Heavens, how blessed to have all that time and space to finally decompress! But there can be nothing more ornery than the older, retired person, a person with nothing to worry about, because in the absence of real troubles, we invent them.

Me? I’ve had a choppy week this week. My vehicle was issued a recall notice by the manufacturer for transmission problems. I made a difficult journey to the dealership – time off work and all that – to be told the recall is not actually a recall, and though there’s definitely a problem with my transmission there’s nothing they can do without it costing me a lot of money. Then I was soldering a piece of wire, and a ball of red hot flux spat out, landed on my specs, crazed the lens precisely in my line of vision, so I need new specs and, in the mean time, have two weeks of squinting around this damned fog-patch while my new specs are delivered. And this is just the start. I could go on and on about all the damned stuff that’s happened this week, but it would only try your patience, and mine.

We all have weeks like this. And if I’m calm and rational about it, I can see how all of these problems are either surmountable in time, or more simply irrelevant in the great scheme of things. But still, the pain-body relishes them, creates out of them the illusion of things clustering, like pack-dogs, circling, attacking.

It was  Eckhart Tolle, who first coined the phrase “Pain body”. It exists not in a literal sense, but more as a psychological complex and therefore real enough to cause us harm if not checked. It thrives on negative emotion and is sadly the default state for most people.

At the car dealership, I regret being less than civil, regret expressing my exasperation. I regret also cursing on the way home, genuinely believing there was not one person of competence in the world willing or even remotely able to deal with anything I could not deal with myself. But this was stupid; it was arrogant. It was my pain-body speaking, my pain body thinking, my pain body being stupid. But this does not excuse it, for a man is no less a fool for allowing himself to be ruled by his pain body.

Stuff happens, sometimes even all at once, and we deal with it. Then something else happens – that’s life. But at times of sinking spirit, of flagging energy, we find ourselves braced, walking on eggshells, wondering, what the F*&k next? So here I am, nearly two decades of mindfulness, of Tai Chi, of meditation, of walking the path towards self awareness, whatever the hell that means, and it all falls away. Once more, there stands my hideous, wrinkled old pain body, unscathed, pleased by my suffering over nothing.

To subvert the pain body we must starve it of what it most craves. To do this we first make space within ourselves. A single breath is a start, we breathe in, and as we breathe out, we try to sense the energy field of the body. It sounds la-di-da fanciful, but if we can only imagine it this way, I find it’s helpful. And in rediscovering the spaciousness in the energy body, it’s as if we have dodged behind a tree, and the pain body can no longer find us. It’ll catch up with us eventually because it’s a dogged little parasite, but it’s helpful to know we can at least evade it from time to time.

A permanent solution requires a more permanent connection, or rather it requires a particular kind of connection and, you know, I can’t remember what that is because it has no shape, nor any words to describe it. It is a state of grace, and I cannot find my way home to it. Nor does it help that the world today is presented as being so full of pain, that indeed even the leadership of entire nations is in the hands of Pain Bodies. Their sub-level vibrations are infectious, forming a global pandemic, a contagion to which we are all vulnerable.

Thinking of a solution only gets us so far. It brings us to a gate, and the gate is secured by a puzzling combination of locks. The locks draw our attention because the mind likes to solve puzzles, and we are programmed to expect to have to puzzle or think our way through the world. But what we fail to notice is there’s no wall either to the left or the right of the gate. We are too distracted by the puzzle – which is in any way unsolvable – to have noticed we can simply walk around it.

Faith in anything, in particular the supernatural, in magic, the esoteric might be comforting for a while, but it’s unreliable and without that connection it falls away at a moment’s notice, leaving us naked and vulnerable at a time when we think we most need it. Even memories of particularly charged and numinous past events fade, causing us to question our experience of the mysterious side of life, and before he knows it even the monk is shaking his fist at the moon.

the sea view cafe - smallSo,… what do we have so far?

Man leaves wife, flees his life and his dope-smoking offspring, wife has affair with her boss. Man meets woman, the woman meets a woman, the man discovers feelings for a woman-friend from way back. He loves all these women, even the woman who loves his woman, but he can only actually be with one woman because,.. well, he’s an old fashioned kind of guy. So who, among all these women will he choose? Or, more to the point, who will have him? Or,… actually,… does a man need a woman at all? Is he not better living on his own, sorting himself out instead of running round changing light-bulbs for women, arguing over the washing machine, and who makes lunch?

Given all the upheavals in the world and the stuff I could be writing about, this seems a bit trite, a bit “domestic”, and I don’t know what these characters are trying to tell me, if they’re trying to be funny, profound, or if they’re trying to tell me anything at all and I’m not just making stuff up as I go along, heading nowhere that means anything. It’s the usual creative impasse. To be original you have to write what you’re given by the voices in your head, not simply copy something else you’ve read. But to be original, doesn’t automatically mean you’re creating something worthwhile. I mean, after all, anyone can make stuff up.

But let’s think about it. No, I’m sure my characters are talking to me in the context of more weighty world affairs, and what they’re saying is this: our love triangles and love squares and love scares might seem trivial on the surface, but at least we’re seeking love in both its broad and narrow senses, rather than power. We’re also seeking a modest means of surviving these coming decades, rather than scoring grand fortunes at the expense of others less fortunate. And you know, it doesn’t matter to us, they tell me, what race or gender our friends and lovers are, or even if they’re like they say in the popular media: damned foreigners comin’ over ere and takin’ our jobs, because really that kind of language belongs to the stone age, and we’ve moved on, even if you haven’t.

My characters see through the machinations and the manipulations now; they laugh at the purveyors of “fake news” and “alternative facts” as at the antics of a newly discovered species which, although now the dominant predator on the planet, is actually of only passing interest because they (my characters) accept they cannot alter the way things are, that in order to survive they must make alternative arrangements than the ones apparently on offer which would otherwise do them harm. They are all refugees, economic migrants, waifs and strays, some native, some not, all washed up just the same on the shores of economic ruin, their hopes, their dreams, their aspirations gone. They are all stateless, in that the state on which they formerly stood is disappearing so rapidly beneath their feet it might as well not exist at all, and in any case will not be there for their children.

Yet, they do not turn to drugs, or violence – I mean not like they would in the movies. Nor do they tumble into a twisted aspiration of an Endtimes, where we shall all be saved by “The Rapture”, nor a post apocalyptic future where we shall be saved by nothing. They reject the language of hate and despair, they do not conform to the media stereotypes of the ruined middle class, nor the workless working man, nor any of the million vain conspiracy theories. Nor are they racist, bigoted misogynists, so whatever the world throws at them (and it’s thrown a lot) the Sea View Cafe dares to tell a positive tale of plucky survival against the odds, of cleanliness and dignity maintained against an oppressively murky background.

They take stock, they brush themselves down, they bind their wounds, paint on a smile. Lacking kin they gather into improvised families, seek survival for themselves and the ones they choose to love. They remain steadfastly human in a dehumanising world, a world that sees people not as people, but as economic units of varying viability, to be switched on and off as the market demands, even if half of them starve to death in the process. They are Romantic figures, also pragmatic, but most of all they are Romantic. And I’m talking Samuel Taylor Coleridge here, not Mills and Boon.

Put it like that, the Sea View might sound like one of those worthy but laboured literary texts that’s trying to change the world, but it’s not. It accepts the world as its stage, even if it might not be the world you recognise, and it says: okay, so how do we work with this? And the characters do what they must in all stories, they start out in one place and end up in another, and in the process they either grow or they die, and the only weapons I’ve given them are compassion and a stubbornly infinite capacity for love. I know, I know, Helena Aynslea has just kneed Squinty Mulligan in the balls for being a lecherous misogynist, but no one’s perfect. And I’m sorry but he deserved it. And I rather like Helena’s fiery spirit.

We’re a hundred and fifty thousand words in, and there are doubts about direction as there always are at this point with so many threads running this way and that and all wanting their resolution before the novel can be steered safe into harbour and a new story begun. So I talk to myself, and I talk to my characters, like I’m doing here, and the way becomes a little clearer.

Hermione looks up from the counter as I walk in: “So, what can I get you darlin’?”

“Um,… Americano, please.”

She turns to the coffee machine, bangs the scoop works the levers, makes steam.

Whoosh!

Did she just call me darlin’?

Thanks for listening.

*The Sea View Cafe,… a work in progress. To be completed,… well,… sometime,… possibly.

From A to B

bernexMy apologies to the other bidder who was after this rather nice looking Bernex. I know it doesn’t help now, but I assure you I would not have bid any higher than the £22 it went for, so you should have kept going, added that extra 50p and clinched it. But that’s the curse of auctions, online or otherwise, isn’t it? If we’re not careful we get carried away, ego takes over, and we’re damn well going to have the thing, no matter what it costs. The only winner then is the auction house. So, in this case we both stuck to our limits and in that way we were both winners. I may have clinched the actual prize this time, but the goddess of restraint has had me miss out on it often enough in the past.

But here’s the thing: what I really wanted was the Montine that closed five minutes after the Bernex, and which I suspected most vintage horologists had taken their eye from in single minded pursuit of the Bernex, and which I’d therefore imagined I could nail pretty cheap. Sure enough, the Montine went for just £14 and would have made a more ideal tinkertoy, but by then my pocket money was spent and I had to let it go. From past experience I thought the Bernex would have sailed on up to £50 or £60, which goes to show you just never can tell with auctions. It comes down to the mood of the day, perhaps even the phase of the moon.

The seller said it winds and runs, and it does. The seller said the timekeeping had not been measured and in any case could not be guaranteed, but I find it keeps time reasonably well. There’s some wear of the plating on the case, and it needs a new glass, but other than that it has survived the years with dignity – except for that disgusting Fixoflex strap – remorseless nipper of the hairy wrist! Uggh!

Polished, a new glass, a decent strap, and professionally serviced, this one could sit happily in the vintage section of the posh jeweller’s window with a price tag of maybe a hundred, or a hundred and fifty pounds. I hesitate therefore to tinker, to strip it to bits, to clean and oil and regulate, to risk losing the screws to the carpet, or bending the balance, or marking this fine seventy year old dial with a careless slip of a screwdriver blade.

The rickety old Avia I wrote about a while ago, and which I’d not wanted to die on my watch, died on my watch. The balance jewels turned to dust when I cleaned them, and an intricate repair to the lever, carried out in the mists of time, and under the lupe of a man more masterful at the art than I, came undone. At best I now I have an Anton Schild movement as spares for the more robust bits that tend never to be needed. I don’t want the Bernex to go the same way, end its days in the ignominy of my bit-box. It is not a Rolex, just as it is not a Rolls Royce, but even a Ford Focus man like me can enjoy those rare moments when mass produced stuff has a quality about it that shines.

Anyway.

£22 is about the cost of dinner, an experience all too often questionable, and in any case gone in an hour, lingering in the memory only as indigestion. I do not dine out much these days, but for the same money I shall have many more hours of delicate tinkering with this old beauty, learning as I go, and this time I hope, another nice vintage gent’s dress watch to fill a gap in my collection of sensibly priced tickers – indeed a Bernex to add to my Avias!

Oh the joy of it.