Frictionless Motion (Paperback)
As life experiences go, few can be quite as unsettling as being schooled by someone less than half your age. Sure, while I can gratefully accept a millennial demonstrating a phone app to me, or easily appreciate the skill of a talented music teacher patiently placing my fingers on a guitar fretboard there are certain areas of expertise to which one may assume age alone confers a superior wisdom. This is not necessarily so, of course.
I met Ana in 2010 in the beautiful Andalucian city of Granada. I was in the midst of an emotional crisis, inexplicably living in a foreign land, teaching English as a Second Language. Ana was from the island of Lanzarote and was studying languages at Granada's university. We hit it off immediately and it quickly became apparent the teacher/student relationship we had was a two-way street. I advised Ana on her already very good English and she set me on track to putting my life back together by restoring my confidence and self-belief. Our relationship wasn't always rosy. She was often infuriating, and I'm quite sure that was also reciprocal. In essence, we had problems the other was able to help with, but we had aspects of our lives that were alien to one another. Often, our meetings would generate a mutual bemusement, but there was laughter and a sense of fun; there was affection and respect.
In 2017 I returned to the UK. My life changed radically once more. Ana and I stayed in contact though inevitably the physical distance between us consigned our relationship to memories of a precious shared past. It felt enough just to have had those experiences, to keep them in a box I could open from time to time. After all, life moves on. Another four years would pass before Ana came crashing unexpectedly into my world once more.
On my return to the UK, I trained as a bus driver, and in the summer of 2021, I relocated with my bus driving job to the Isle of Skye in Scotland. It had been a long-held dream of mine to live on the island, and certainly one I had talked about with Ana. She was an islander and understood the magic I felt about Skye. Ana had shared with me her dreams of travel too. She wanted to work abroad, see the world, and have her own adventures.
For various reasons the Hebridean relocation turned into a huge misadventure (I returned south to England in a matter of weeks) but one of the most difficult times I experienced came in late August. I woke one Saturday morning with an overwhelming feeling I was dying.
I had no clear symptoms other than I could sense my life force draining out of me. My mind was dulled and I was unable to leave my flat. I barely had the energy to get through the day. I retired early to bed, believing I might not ever wake up again. But before I shut my eyes, I read the sad news that Ana had died suddenly. At some level of being I immediately understood that her death must be connected to how I was feeling. There had been a soul connection between us. In the morning I woke with my health fully restored. I was shocked and saddened by Ana's passing but felt reassured that her spirit had moved on and she was now safe. I've no scientific evidence whatsoever to lead me to these conclusions, but I don't require any.
When I began to put together this collection, I rediscovered several poems that related directly to Ana and others that had been inspired by our relationship. These are now in the second section of this book, which is dedicated to her memory. I've always harboured a fascination for the metaphysical; since those events on Skye I've become increasingly preoccupied with exploring such themes. Inevitably, this fascination has bled into my poetry and Frictionless Motion marks that change.