Верю (I Believe) by Varlam Shalamov

Off once more to the post:
will I find your letter?
My mind races all night
and daytime’s no better.

I believe, I believe in omens,
in dreams and spiders.
I have confidence in skis,
in slim boats on rivers.

I have faith in diesel engines,
in their roars and growls,
in the wings of carrier pigeons
in tall ships with white sails.

I place my trust in steamers
and in the strength of trains;
I have even dreamed of
the right weather for planes.

I believe in reindeer sledges,
in the worth of a compass
and a frost-stiffened map
when there is no path;

in teams of huskies,
in daredevil coachmen,
in tortoise indolence
and the snail’s composure.

I believe in the powers
of that wish-granting pike
in my thinning blood…
I believe in my own endurance;
and in your love.


by Варлам Тихонович Шаламов
Varlam Tikhonovich Shalamov)
translated by Robert Chandler

Beneath is the original version in Cyrillic.


Сотый раз иду на почту
За твоим письмом.
Мне теперь не спится ночью,
Не живется днем.

Верю, верю всем приметам,
Снам и паукам.
Верю лыжам, верю летом
Узким челнокам.

Верю в рев автомобилей,
Бурных дизелей,
В голубей почтовых крылья,
В мачты кораблей.

Верю в трубы пароходов,
Верю в поезда.
Даже в летную погоду
Верю иногда.

Верю я в оленьи нарты,
В путевой компас
У заиндевевшей карты
В безысходный час.

В ямщиков лихих кибиток,
В ездовых собак…
Хладнокровию улиток,
Лени черепах…

Верю щучьему веленью,
Стынущей крови…
Верю своему терпенью
И твоей любви.

Additional information: The reference to a ‘wish-granting pike’ to the Russian folk tale ‘Yemelya the Fool‘ in which the lazy protagonist saves the life of a fish which grants his wishes.

Shalamov notes the poem was “…written in 1952 in Baragon, near Oymyakon airport and Tomtor post office. About this time I wrote another great poem ‘Tomtor’s Mail’ – a ‘paired’ poem for ‘The Hundredth Time’.”


Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove:

O, no, it is an ever-fixed mark,

That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wandering bark,

Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.

Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

Within his bending sickle’s compass come;

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,

But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

If this be error and upon me proved,

I never writ, nor no man ever loved.


by William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)

That Friday Feeling: Walking Home From Work

The walk home from school, university, or work always had some musical accompaniment for me. Not with an actual music playing device but more some ear worm or song that had been repeatedly demanding my attention at the time. I suppose you could say, in a movie going way, a song track of my life but that seems quite a trite concept… and yet here I am posting about such a thing. It’s changed over time how I felt with each step in life but here is a haphazard guess at what the key tone was at each point in life when making that triumphant beginning to the weekend. I recalled this advert and so it inspired this post:

These songs don’t necessarily represent themselves, as some would be quite anachronistic in that sense, but rather the frame of mind I was in when leaving ‘work’ on Friday and taking that walk home to begin the weekend.

When I was in school: The Cure – Friday I’m In Love

The walk would be about 15 minutes long. The weekend was an organic part of the week and as I had enjoyed time in school so came the time when school was set aside and endless hours enjoying life replaced classes. Certain days would be ‘bad’ because of certain classes occurring on those days. Not that I had any which I disliked as much as just the timing of them. For example Physical Education ending first period or fourth, with us only having five minutes between classes to get from one location to the next across the school’s horseshoe shape campus (along the single narrow pathways between the Upper and Lower School campuses, overfilled by 1000+ pupils at a time) was always bad as the teachers never gave a fair amount of time to change back out of the schools PE uniform (usually the school’s rugby jersey with shorts and trainers). Home Technology (Home Ec for any American readers) at the end of the day and being held back to clean the equipment because I was one of the few not to go home on the bus was also bad the once or twice I got made to do this which was unfair. But it was all organic. Just as we flowed from discussing works of literature to performing science experiments to speaking foreign languages from one hour to the next so the working school week drifting melodically into the weekend was a natural state and everything was good. Yes even with the weekly melodrama of being an adolescent life was good. So many things happening in so short a time life seemed to last forever. Though I spent no time with anyone outside school time It was a welcome break in which to recharge my batteries. Overstimulation numbs me and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

When I was in University: Redline OST – RedLine Day (featuring Rob Laufer)

I am cheating a bit by ignoring my first year of university. And the second to an extent too. None the less the lecture would end and I would begin the twenty five minute walk to the bus station going past the rugby grounds, Patti Pavilion with its garden, the prison, numerous hotels and (depending on the route) the theatre or a large Tesco next to the dual carriageway to arrive at the central bus station. Due to the timing I either had to stay waiting at the appropriate area for fifty minutes for the bus so I could be the first o or go around the shopping centre right by it for a while. Sometimes I waited and sometimes I went for a look around the shops. On the rare occasion I got to the bus in time and got a seat thus saving an hour. As I walked out of the university via the dual carriageway entrance, or out of Singleton Park, I would be daydreaming of fantastical things and laughing to myself full of joy. Life was good and the bus trip provided over forty five minutes of quiet reflection watching the scenes of South Wales fly by. Nothing could get me down and I didn’t mind that I never made friends as I didn’t stay on campus or in any halls of residence like many of the others.

However this ends the period of life when ‘that Friday feeling’ was always part of the week.

I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
Excerpt from Invictus by William Ernest Henley

When I was unemployed but occasionally going out still: Nouvelle Vague – Making Plans For Nigel (Cover)

One day merged into the next so there was no true ‘end of the work week’ during these times. This was the first period of unemployment after university before getting the first job. There was a sense of sweet melancholia about the entire period. The walk home took about fifteen minutes. I was unemployed but so were many other people immediately after finishing university. You were looking for that first chance to make your stake in the world. Even if you were just one of the faceless number, as long as you had people you liked working with, then everything was manageable. Life was full of potential it was just a question of where it would take you. Times were a little daunting but everything was a silver lining and a step towards finding your place in the sun. This cover probably applies to nowadays while the original by XTC applies to Friday’s at the end of an intense week where things have had to be done with little margin for error so it felt like there was a set scheme to how things progressed.

Walking home from Work (the first job):  Mr Loco – Hombre Religioso

Simply getting the job was enough. The walk home took about fifteen minutes uphill. The people were nice although they all treated me as ‘the kid’. Things were steady and fun with a few conversations during the work hours and nothing stressful. High workload. Training people in using a newly integrated system. It was a learning experience and I enjoyed it. Except… I never felt a part of it as I was temporary. Eventually my contract covering maternity leave of two employees came to an end and there was no place available to me due to the economic down turn a month earlier… but I had faith it would all be okay.

Second period of unemployment due to the economic downturn in 2008: Rule of Rose OST – A Love Suicide

The second period of unemployment seemed to drag with no real purpose. In a house. In a room. Sign on. Repeat. There was no money to go do things and be alive. The rest of the world moved on but stagnation eventually set in. Something broke permanently now. The walk home took thirty five minutes. It was melancholy but unlike the first time now there were many others out of work and they had years of experience where I could only offer potential. Employers changed from wanting the potential of individuals to invest in and no long on the television did you hear constantly the vocal complains of middle aged people about how they were being overlooked for younger employment opportunities. No, now it was the ‘safe bet’ employers wanted. Employees with commitments already tying them down and more malleable to walking the line no matter the demands made on them. But there were moments of hope. It was more about the recruitment agencies petty attitudes at this time than employers being logical. With so many out of work they could treat you how they liked and if they didn’t like the cut of your jib it was a quick, unchallengeable, letter to the job centre and you had no benefits to live on. Many lived in fear. I find recruitment agencies to be filled with the cruellest bottom feeders of society but that is a story for another time. In short give up on your dreams, don’t even work on them in your personal time. You owe the world your life. You owe your ‘betters’ your life. You owe it to agressive people. You owe it to people willing to use violence. You are a cog in the machine and should accept you will never make anything of yourself. Anyone will be able to take your job and you should be thankful we are hear to put up with you and helping you find a job by supervising your activities to make sure you are not just slobbing about only applying for over 15 jobs a week… I mean how lazy are you? If you are unemployed you are scum and are treated as such.

Except you are not. But they will ‘break you down to build you up’… except by the point its time to build you back up the time limit has already expired. It is an industry meant to help people but instead it is populated by people kicking you when you are already down. One day one of the worst one’s I had the displeasure of having to deal with ( and who stopped me getting a job ironically) was stood outside the job centre and clicked her fingers at me as if to beckon a dog. Another kept telling me how it was a temporary job until she got on her training course in September as if to imply how easy it was to get a job by rubbing it in my face she had one. It is ironic an industry meant to alleviate pressures on social services in fact has generated far worse consequences through poor implementation and sub-contracting to third party private groups looking to make profit not provide a service to the individual. People don’t fear unemployment but the people they will have to deal with so I suppose it is a further irony that in fact the recruitment agencies are achieving what the Government wants if not by the method they wish it to be done in.

Walking home from work now: The Divine Comedy – The Booklovers

I don’t really have music playing in the back of my head walking home some days. The walk is twenty five minutes long. In fact it was the exact same walk as when I was unemployed but there is some purpose to it now as the weekend is finite. It’s more about making sense of thing now. There are other obligations now and not enough time to fulfil them all. Time management and prioritising what needs to be done versus what I would like to be done. I ultimately don’t feel there is a choice in anything as I put others ahead of myself though it is not acknowledged. The chorus is something I often quote to myself. I don’t know if it makes things better but there is hope in its lyrics. The greatest evil of Pandora’s box left behind when all the others had fled. The song is in the context (along with the album it is from) of a couple spending a day together and discussing their views (which in the case of this song is them discussing authors) and joking around.

Alternate ‘Friday’s walk home from work’ songs:

  •  Nobuo Uematsu- Terra’s Theme (with lyrics) from Final Fantasy VI:

Actually this is the song that often goes through my mind. When a lot has gone on but I look forward to resting in the knowledge the next week will be better. On such Fridays I probably dont have any plans and know not much will happen. Life is a journey and while this moment might not be all thrills and spills it is nonetheless one step closer to something good. one step further on the grand quest of life.

  • Jamie Lidell – Compass

When there is something to go home for. Unlike Terra’s theme getting home was the point and not just a stop gap to the next life event. Its hopeful yet a little melancholic because even looking forward there is a mild fear that when you arrive it may no long be yours… a beautiful song.

  • Jose Gonzalez – Far Away

This is perhaps the closest to a daily song although in a positive way. Tired from the day but going home to rest and repeat the same tasks tomorrow. A steady ongoing rhythm of life.

  • Mr Bungle – Pink Cigarette

… because there needs to be a joke entry as the ‘just-had-a-bad-day’ song in the mix too just for completeness sake. I like the song but definitely it would be worrying to be singing this to yourself walking home.

So what have we learned? I used to play a few classic computer games and am aware of anime. That I apparently don’t just live for the weekend, as some do, but for the next event however far away it might seem in hope. Really this tells you nothing specifically yet gives you a vague sense of everything all at the same time doesn’t it?

Next time… food or drink… Ooh wait no! Something else hopefully!