Fog on the Tyne

Richard Ashworth

Feng Shui Diary

for the month of the Wood Rooster

Wednesday September 8th 2010 02.41


Hour  Day     Month           Year
 Metal         Metal  Wood Metal
sun tsun yute Gung
chou yuw yuw Yan
Ox Rooster Rooster Tiger


Month:                 Yute yuw the wood Rooster
Solar Fortnight:   Mong chung  

 Fog on the Tyne.

The Banks of the Thames

The Autumn equinox; the last quarter of the year. Traditionally the day before the equinox is tricky. Many Chinese calendars mark the 21st as unfavourable but by my calculations, the day to watch is the 22nd. Still it’s history now as I write this diary: monthly from this one btw. I’m not complaining, but I’m so busy and I just hate failing to make deadlines. Sorry.

So if you calculate the year from Solstice to Solstice, this is the last quarter of the Metal Tiger. That image is clear, isn’t it?  This Tiger has jaws of steel. It’s like a JCB-size hole punch with jagged edges. We choose our realities and what we call good or bad is simply a matter of taste but the Metal Tiger remains for many a demanding year. Those of us who are on the side of the angels are here to meet those demands and close those jaws.

The most obvious Tigers are the banks. There’s been a lot written about them this year, little of it friendly. There have been calls for tighter regulation which is a good idea of course but unlikely to be accepted peacefully by the Tiger. This is a year in which some get away with murder but few realise it’s happenng. For the most part people, whether bankers, farmers or homoeopaths, are doing their best to pay the mortgage and feed their kids. As for the angels: I doubt they’ve divided the world into the The Good, The Banks and the Ugly although I have to confess that discovering the in-house Starbucks at Goldman Sachs was almost enough to draw me to the dark side but that’s another story. And of course there are people hurting at Goldmans too.

Right now, I’m outside Bank tube station on my i-phone. I don’t make mobile calls often, as my view of sticking even a small microwave up to my ear is that it’s not a great idea. If I make many I tend to develop mouth ulcers. Fire and metal: a lethal combination in the wrong proportions, the creation of wealth in the right ones. Here I am, though making however reluctantly, a mobile call, a material bloke living in the material world.

I’ve been surveying a Government office which I can’t tell you about except to say that it’s nowhere near the Bank of England. These are often cloak-and-dagger affairs which involve arriving very early in the morning, blurry with reluctant wakefulness and arranging computer monitors into complementary patterns in keeping with Sam He theory. Sam He is the name of one of the two main schools of feng shui which grew up along the South Eastern coast of China from the Song Dynasty onwards and means «Three Harmony». The trick is pretty much literally to get the desks (and thus the people sitting at them) into harmony.  Then I add a little mumbo jumbo. A little woo-woo.

Right now however, my attention is on getting my own bank to explain why the screen reads:

« Current Account Available Credit £263, Credit £54» 

while the cashpoint won’t give me any money. What I’m trying to do is transfer the price of a cup of green tea and a modest Starbucks salad from the other account.. In practice I’m listening to Richard Clayderman at over £1 a minute.

There are fewer people in Government Offices following the hara-kiri of the Coalition. They’re spick and span, not too hot, not too cold but even though the desks are spaced well apart, there is a feeling of over-use. That’s about all I can tell you. And that some of the feng shui – great squared-off pillars separating the desks, for instance – makes the Big Brother house look friendly.

 Peeking Daily.

Richard tweets on Twitter each morning (as FengShuiDiaries) with a summary of the day from the stand point of the Chinese Calendar. Don’t get up without it !

 Meet me on the Corner.

I’m flying to Newcastle. My son Jaime (33) asks about the fog. 

«Mine, all mine,»  I reply. He of course knows the Gazza version of the song and associates it with tears and the European Cup. I’m recalling the original by Lindisfarne (c 1971)

Its not quite that long since I was on Tyneside. I worked with one of the Development Corporations in the mid-80’s and I’ve been back once or twice but I’ve never seen the city from the air: the Tyne like a great winding sloe-worm, dividing the city and the surrounding green fields and putting the metal, glass and bricks into relief.

Newcastle like Bristol, is a place people visit and stay and to which they return even after sampling the world. And this until 2016, is the 8 Fate ruled by the North East. In the North East is the Mountain, the most enduring and the most still of the eight compass points. Mountains are hard to move.

Amy worked in London for a couple of years after graduating but she got lonely. She has been back five years but has not been able to pick up her life where she left it. She has read The Feng Shui Diaries and enjoyed the jokes and concluded from it that she needed professional help. Some more jokes won’t do any harm, I guess. Not that she’s solemn. She’s easily amused, pretty, leggy and blonde and and a startlingly youthful 30.

«1980, Metal Monkey,» I say. «Doesn’t like to get involved.»

«It’s not me that doesn’t want to get involved,» she protests, «I’ve been meeting guys with girlfriends, guys who live at the other end of the M1, married guys, guys who get posted to Afghanistan. I’ve seen ‘em all but none of them stick around.»

«If we keep driving into trees, the insurers raise our premiums not those of the trees,» I point out.

I actually say «thawse of the trays» and end the sentence a semitone higher than the beginning and she winces at my crap Geordie accent. We’re not all Cheryl Cole.

«I know it’s my life and I have to change it,» she says.

This is a bright woman. She asks good questions and listens carefully to the answers, some of which she writes into a ringbound notebook. She has a good degree in Social Anthropology from Durham. Her thesis was on «The different motives that bring men and women into relationship.» She holds down a demanding job in Social Services. Tyneside of course has a bit of a reputation in this area.

«We teach best what we most need to learn,»

«That’s good.»

«Richard Bach.»  I always attribute so you’ll know when it’s me that’s clever.

It’s a West-facing 30’s bungalow, nicely done-up but difficult to work with in the 8 Fate.  Low houses are essentially Earth houses that is to say stubborn. And we’re in the realm of the Mountain, of withdrawal, of staying put. It’s water that changes houses and there’s no longterm place for water on this orientation unless I pull some serious strokes. And of course that’s exactly what I’m here for.

«Give me a brief,» I suggest.

«I want more life here.»


«Yes and friends and fun and progress.»

This calls for some serious mumbo-jumbo. I need to both bring some energy into this flat little house and make sure it’s the sort that will make it rock.

We talk about my work. I tell her about Rory who first asked his longterm live-in girlfriend to leave then asked her to marry him, receiving respectively a firm yes and a firm no.


«To misrepresent yourself and still lose is as hard as it gets.»

The Metal Monkey, I repeat is often not keen to commit. He or she is very suited to jobs where they can engage, comment and dip out. A tough thing to do when you’re dealing with the fate of other people’s children.

«One bloke, at the end of night when we’ve been flirting and laughing, tells me he has a girlfriend. We’d been talking for hours.»

« The end of the night or the end of the evening?»

She raises her eyebrows and tells me firmly: «The end of the evening.

I’ve done one-night stands and the short-term stuff and I’m fed up with it. »

«Did you read my last diary about the woman who kept meeting bad news men? Sherlock Holmes? The second taxi?»


«Like her, a beautiful woman like you is going to attract the practised chatter-up, the seducer. For the most part, men want conquest, women want direction. Hitler says in Mein Kampf that war is to a man what giving birth is to a woman.»

«Bit extreme. »

«Of course but you know what? Being practised and running from relationship often come in the same package. So do uniforms and extreme sports.»

She smiles. It’s only when I am very precise that I am 100% literal.

We mark a place for a fountain outside, just off the driveway in the West, an unusual location; this is a tricky house. Then we mark a place for bamboos to wave in the wind to the South East and for a statue in the North. She can do all of these right away but a further statue will have to wait until next year. It’s not safe to work in the North East till then. This is sam he and you have to get it exactly right. A statue in the North East properly timed and coordinated with water will see that the right things stay put.

«And if you’ll play along with me that we’re all responsible for the reality we appear to live in – which you don’t have to – that leads to the conclusion that you, Ms Metal Monkey, chose the procession of errant turkeys you’ve told me about and that like them you have, until now, been unprepared to get involved.»

We look at her living room with its 7:9 Flying Stars (or pockets of energy). It needs to be alive. The 7 is nasty but wants to sleep. The 9 is all sorts of good stuff and craves action. Simple as that: poster colours, bright as you like, lots of red. Pictures?

«Images of what you want,» I recommend, frowning at a drab abstract.» It’s in the North West. «Trouble in the workplace.»

She stiffens.

«You’re right there.»

She does actually say «reet» The room is still. The dust hangs in the air as a sunbeam strikes the wall. The small globes I see may be orbs or astigmatism.

«There’s been a series of incidents over a few months. Some staff disciplined,» she says. «Last month I had to write a statement. It hasn’t made me popular but I had to be honest. They talk about me but I’m not bothered.»

The room remains still.

«I’ve asked to be moved.»

This is a very painful case of not being bothered. I want to cry. I invite her to breathe.

«Right into your diaphragm.»

She breathes deeply. I can feel her deep hurt. This has been with her a lot longer than a month. Since she was little, I’d say. At least.

«Doesn’t bother me,» I mimic in crap Geordie.

«Their opinion,»

«Of course. But you’re talking to me.»

I never take tears for granted. I know they heal but I know it is an intimacy. It is a privilege not to be taken lightly. As a rule the more serious a conversation becomes, the more facetious I tend to be. But I have to careful. I don’t want to interrupt the flow before it begins.

«How long have you been trying not to feel?» I ask gently.

«Since I moved here.»
«Tell me a bit more.»

«The complaint’s right serious and I used to be friends with him.»

«You feel like a traitor?»


«It’s not fair and it’s not right but I think you do.»

The pain in her eyes deepens. And in my chest. Like everybody, if I will feel my own feelings, I can feel other people’s. Then I know what’s mine and what’s theirs. And of course if I did not know this pain for myself I could not feel it at all. It hurts. Despite Hugh Grant’s claims in About a Boy, to be Ibiza, the fact is as John Donne wrote : «No man is an island.» Don’t by the way, ask me about what Donne’s On St Lucie’s Day tells us about the precession of the equinoxes unless you have time on your hands.

We all live in halls of mirrors. This is very painful. This is the Tao.

«Breathe,» I suggest.

She breathes. She cries.

«That’s what you don’t want to feel. You’ve been carrying it a long time. And that’s what you’re papering over every time you meet a new man. So you can cut and be run from. No wonder they’re superficial.»

«What do we do ?»

 «Oh I think we’ve pretty much done it. »

 There remain bits and pieces of detail to attend to before I leave. «Have a party. In November.» I say. Technically this will activate human chi and bring the energy up to date. But that’s fine tuning. I’m ready to check in with God before take-off and see if  today is a good day to die. It hasn’t  been yet.

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