Tag Archives: writing

A sludgy whirlwind…

Cabin 01

   An improvised reenactment of a court case in front of an audience of lawyer students. I was one of the characters on a panel, representing someone in real life, and I’d just done my bit – been asked how I knew the suspect or whatever. I’d been instructed how to respond to help the story along. I did alright. The rehearsal had been slightly better but I felt like I was channeling the real person somehow. And then woke up in the cabin where I’m living, and started to write this… I’m tired…

cabin 03

   Someone wrote to me asking about the book last week and prompted this… it’s been a while. And I felt, well, I’ve had a recurring thought that I miss you, and I’ve wanted you to know that. This is an open letter to everyone – especially those people who’ve actually passed through my life. Who I’ve shared time with. How do I miss you if I’ve never met you? I miss the great embrace of everything, or perhaps I’ve never quite been there but would like to. To live brim full. I want five lifetimes – 100, and meet everything and everyone. And those of you who I’ve met along the way these last 41 years – I do miss you. I moved house, city, country – leaving trails of memories and connections. But I never felt like I was leaving, just going away. I disappeared to write, and at the beginning of this year – I joined my cousin and her feller on their permaculture farm. To build a retreat in a wood and get closer to the soil. To escape the mad economy and do something ‘real’ I suppose. While Rome burns I would plant things that will grow and build a community.

   Now I feel far away, but I never left you. Not in my heart.

   Isn’t it strange, this time we’re in? Yeah, corse it is. This underlying confusion and helplessness. The far away big governments who ruin our world, and media, the migration of tens of millions, species extinction, plastic, Monsanto, wars, climate change – everything so slow to change. Who is China? Why is Trump? Brexit. The rise of the far right. Corbyn, May and all those terrible people she works with. It’s a sludgy whirlwind. I’m fighting my ego in writing this suddenly. I want to let the morning sensitivity guide me in writing rather than – my ego wants to shape the words carefully. I’m enjoying writing ‘automatically’. Even if it’s a bit shit and disjointed I’ll post it regardless…

cabin 05

   Maybe you have the same experience – not in the detail, but the same feeling of being dragged by the background force of that whirlwind, and just trying to grasp details of living that make it ok, that seems to make it ok. Make the sixth mass extinction OK. Tweak the details. Focus on what’s in front of me to the detriment of all that goodness I’ve known. And what’s in front is all I have the energy for. Keep my head down as much as possible because all that big global stuff is exhausting. I’ve got to take the world in as I would a film. And then it’s nothing like that. I stare it dead in the eye and have the feeling of being swept away. And then I feel power for a moment and plan to face it with you. Face-off this stupidity/insensitivity in some creative way. With the growing movement. You and me and all of us. All the threads joined at last.

Cabin 02

   It’s cold. Last night the fire was going and I was creating again. I forget how much I enjoy making physical things – this time reimagining the tree prints for a Christmas market. I remembered that I’m a good artist. I’m blowing my own trumpet – not really… It really doesn’t mean much. Really – I’m so tiny. So, so tiny. But it helps to remember when trying to finish a book that many people are ‘waiting’ for – that I can at least please myself with my efforts. And I have been writing. Lost in it. It’s not writing like this here – a mess. I’m compacting and compressing ideas and thoughts. Trying to shape everything because I can’t seem to shape anything else. In the book, I talk about the world, but it’s in there on the page, on a screen, stored in the microchips, and not that real world out there, really. It’s not really real is it? It’s just an echo of that world in words. I feel like a crusher, crushing the echoes onto paper. And sometimes I let the pressure off and let them reverberate.
It’s the 3rd and a half draft. I’m getting close now to giving the stuff to an editor, and who knows what she will bring to it. That will be an adventure. Whatever I’ve been doing with this book, it’s pretty nutty. It’s the world filtered through me – as if there was a separation between me and the world. As if the echoes were not also the world.
It breathes in size. I’m trying to fit everything in. Say everything. Understand the bigger picture and the smaller one and piece it together, and lay it out which is impossible for me. I’m getting to the point where it doesn’t matter anymore. I mean, at some point it will be what it is, and that point is coming. Not quite yet. I hope I’ll get it to you. Next year.

cabin 04

   What a luxury. I am living in Utopia, on the backdrop of hell. I squander this luxury by worrying. By not being fearless. By trying to make the words count too much. By getting depressed because I’m uncertain and lonely (sometimes), and the sludge is too much. And I’m a failure. Jeez.

   What now then? I want all these different threads of my life joined up somehow. I’m remembering Richard’s face, or Liz, or Peter, or… joyfully laughing about a shared something ten years ago, or one year ago. I know you’re at the end of a phone. There are so many of you. All these threads. And yeah I can’t keep you all, all the time. Mostly almost none of you any of the time at the moment. It’s another life suddenly, here. Exciting, yes sometimes. Confusing. Uncertain. I sound a bit sad, or like a man who woke up from a fake court case in a real midlife crisis – and there is sadness, or rather melancholy in this morning drowsiness, in me… I could wake up tomorrow and write a very different post. Optimistic. Enlivened. I’d leap out of bed.

   I’m still not quite sure what I should expect from this life, even after all this time, but I don’t feel content. Should I feel content with Rupert Murdoch in the world? Or Tony Blair. Or the extinctions…  I want it to be a party though, or an open house all the time. I want… I want teleportation. I want the mice in the walls to stop eating the cabin. I want the face of a person who grew up in the safety of a wise and kind tribe. To feel like I am part of the land, and it is part of me. To feel comfortable in the world, neither ‘owned’ nor knowing ownership, but instead shared belonging and safety. And you will be there, in your fullness – fearless and joyful. You do appear in my mind, really, and I hope to see you soon. I hope we can clean or remake this sludge soon. And hang out in a jovial and meaningful way.

Art of Climbing Trees page 263

Yep. One entry from the book.

   With the sun coming up, and my alarm going off I end. But my ego wins and I edit this a little bit a few days later – because sometimes my ego knows best.

Ps. My knee is mostly ok thanks – much better. I can run without falling over in agony. And this is a painting on the wall:

cabin 06


story about Book

email story header

Old friends, acquaintances, crowd-funders and long lost cousins… 

I’ll get straight to this story about spinning the fading relics of a year* into something curious and useful. Searching the nebulous patterns in my head for inspiration, milking the web for its knowledge, squeezing the light out of the night or day and pummelling the stuff into a code on my screen. Hunching, stretching, pacing, lounging with my head angled towards a page of the book, a tree I climbed, a conversation or an idea I had and modified, cracked open, spat on, sang to, ran with, edited, laughed at etc.

After getting the cart a little bit in front of the horse, and crowd-funded for an unfinished book, I had to then kind of basically write it. I built a pretty nice room for myself in a London warehouse to get this done. Thanks to my house mates a kitten arrived, who quickly became a cat (Mayo). I began the project of writing here as planned but the city had a way of drawing me in, while also weighing me down. Who knows, but I wasn’t getting the book done effectively.
*that ended in 2011! 


Then Mayo, my writing companion and the best cat in the world died just before Christmas (2014). I reluctantly ran away to Norway which was the best thing I could have done…


Then I actually did what I said I was going to do. I did what I said I was going to do. I did what I said I was going to do in a cabin with a view over the Oslo fjord*. For four months I wrote every day, nearly. Nearly every day. And I chopped wood, and spent time with my brother, and we both needed it badly. Quiet. Fresh air. A beautiful view. Dumpster-diving for veg* Winter stews. Do it.

I din’t realise the stress I was carrying until I had a chance to put it down, and set fire to it in a wood burner. I couldn’t see the depression I was wrapped in until someone helped me unravel it. Making writing progress helped too.
*Thanks to Gisken and John and Magnus. **We ate very well out of supermarket bins which is unbelievable and fun to do. Please sign this food waste petition.

Beech hill

Then back to Devon, England where I joined the Beech Hill Community* for a spell. Chickens. A wind turbine. A walled garden of veg. A chunky wooden dinner table surrounded by lovely people. The first day I rescued a hedgehog from the broken swimming pool. The second, a field mouse. I feel lucky. I am easily one of the lucky ones who’s got to give nearly everything to writing ideas born out of an adventure.
*Thanks to my mum’s old friend Lucy and the Beech Hill Community. They do AirBnB, by the way.


My carbon bill is mounting up: Back in Norway, and here to help* build a wooden house in the forest. (It turns out you have to earn money to live). My home during the build was a wooden box usually used for art storage. Cute. With running water from a plastic container. Almost lonely at night sometimes, with my screen, and my body tucked into the corner under a duvet feeling a day of smacking nails with a hammer. So quiet save for great thumps of water battering onto the tin roof off the Norway Spruce trees glowing with moss. Brushing my teeth and pissing in the forest, waking to the surround sound of birds and occasional Greenland Husky’s mating, – which is quite a sound. I’m getting a taste for this pace and quietness. I’ve developed an allergy for too much city, – too often a crap example of what shared space could be. I’m dreaming about my own hideaway as I write here on the deck in the afternoon sun. I’m dreaming about taking on our corrupted leaders and running away from them. I’ve been having dreams of hot sand…
*Janicke, Torolf, Frid and Sol. Thank you all!

Look, I’m just telling you all this to clear my conscience:
I’ve been doing what I said I’d do.

I’ve gained new friends, and a richer sense of time and space,
but I’ve cropped most of my old world away for the time being.
What will be left when I come back to it?
I’ve sacrificed something here, possibly.
OK. Thanks. Please continue…

Then I had a holiday in Cadiz, Spain*, and found out playing in the waves is crazily fun. (Not all sacrifice). I haven’t felt like a pig in s**t like this for years, or a kid in a sand pit is perhaps better. Joy. Got to get more of this joy.

But of course, I also put finger tips to the key board and continued making that verbose music for you. That’s Professor Gauntlett below, looking for me at my desk. My desk that overlooked a surprisingly noisy street. Cadiz is bloody noisy, – just for the record. Quite a shock after the forest. At the same time the city has the most incredible and inspiring South American trees; I want one. And waves, bring me some waves**.
*Thanks to Jacob and Ross. **Said Climate Change to the Arctic.

cadiz 05

Have I tricked you to read thus far?

Above left: house in a place called Box thanks to Ross and the rest of the ‘Chequers’ household. Right: Bristol*, – where 5.5 years ago my life took a bizarre twist up trees, – is where I’ve finished this first draft. (I think that’s called coming round full circle).

The book is… NOT finished, but I’ve now got 400 pages of a first draft. All the recorded conversations I had in trees have been reduced, and all but the final family tree party tree has been edited. This is what I’ve been waiting for to tell you. Rather than give energy to updates I gave it all to the business of writing.

I’ve realised the tree climbing was paradoxically both integral and irrelevant. It has basically got me studying/researching: the biosphere, and relationships, and the properties of light, and quantum physics (a bit). Has given me a worthy focus. Made me (a bit) cleverer, – expanded my mind, forced me to slow down and get less pretentious on my ass. Has helped me stop smoking.

Tree climbing is integral because the body is part of the brain, and viscerally interacting with nature creates a bond with it. Play, sensitivity and a modicum of intelligence will help us climb out of the problems we face.

What’s it to you then? Sooner or later you’ll get to read it, then perhaps you can let me know what it is to you.

Thanks for your patience. Thanks for your interest. Thanks for leaving me alone. Thanks to everyone who made writing this last year possible.
I hope you are all well and inspired…

Henrik x

The End.
(for now. With tenacity – I plough on).

*There was an antique petrol pump in the living room where I wrote, – a sign of things to come. A symbol of hope? Thank you Woody.

Oh yeah. I did finish one book, – a children’s story I wrote for my niece Sophie, using photos from the tree project… 
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