Byron’s Pool

Dear Pogue,

You might know this feeling. Some days I just need to walk with nature as my companion. To leave behind all that life has put on me and immerse myself in a different vibe, a different vibration. Something restoring, something energising, something pure.

To this end I walked down to the river, a 20 minute walk, and stood and watched the water flowing after the recent rain. Debris washed along. Leaves silently descended to the ground to try to hide the path and tell of the coming winter. Another world.

Wandering slowly along the disappearing path I released my senses to engage with all that was happening around me. The aroma of the season, the watery, late afternoon sun, the chill creeping into the air as evening approached and even the sound of the supposedly silent leaves (they whisper don’t you know?).

All this brought me to a place known as Byron’s Pool which is reputedly a place the great man would come and bath with his friends. Here I found a seat and sat (you can’t get enough of this nature stuff) just letting thoughts come and go. It was a great moment for thought and I found my way to thinking about Byron.

He was a bit of a wild child if history is accurate. Reputedly he kept a bear in his rooms whilst he studied at Cambridge! His various escapades and romances are well documented but then, so are his creative achievements. Then I thought of other creative geniuses who, behind the products of their genius hide chaotic, wild, often troubled lives. Some plagued by addictions, others by tortuous relationships, still others by seemingly mental health issues. Some were social misfits, awkward or wild. Many died untimely deaths and more died paupers, not receiving the recognition they merited until years later.

Anti-social behaviour is a trait of intelligence in a world full of conformists.

Nikolai Tesla

There was a whole time when I would avoid reading about favourite musicians or authors because discovering a chaotic, damaged life somehow stole something from the product of their creation.

Watching the sun inch towards the horizon I began to wonder if there is a correlation between the creative element of our lives (if indeed we display one) and our behaviours. That those who live controlled, unemotional, socially acceptable lives, steering within the parameters of recognised behaviour do not venture into the creative realm? And those who bring art, music and literature are so often forced to the margins, are seen as misfits. There are always exceptions so this is no hard and fast rule I’m proposing.

Tell me, do you think that creativity flourishes outside the boundaries where the restrictions of acceptable behaviour have been fractured? Is that why children have no issues with creating stuff and the mess that so often accompanies this? They haven’t yet grasped that those who fit in are taught not to make a mess.

Where does all this leave me sat on my autumnal bench? I have spent many years conditioning against mess. Against occupying that space where creativity so often resides. Even now I cringe inwardly watching children paint as enthusiastic amounts of paint never find the paper.

When I was young it was: “Grow up”, that was, commit to behaving in a predetermine manner. Then it was: “If you want to succeed”, and more behavioural norms were presented. Next came: “You have responsibilities”, and so I was destined to perpetuate the model.

The problem is that we humans are deep conformists.

Robert Greene

Now, sitting on the bench I feel another world seeping in and breaking out. A world that runs in contradiction to what I have known. A world of walking by rivers and sitting on benches watching the sun go down. A world where the mess of fallen leaves is a thrill and an invitation to scuff along, not an issue to be cleared away. A place that knows no parameters and happily, even ignorantly, dabbles it’s toes in the waters of perceived poor behaviour. A world that see recipes as direction pointers to be played with and experimented with, not an end in themselves. If I choose to paint by numbers let me jumble the numbers. The seas been blue far to long! Let’s write not to the boundaries of the acceptable but lets go far beyond into untrodden territory. And if I find myself on the edges, so be it.

My weirdness is my magic.

Brooke Hampton

As Robert Frost famously wrote: “Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference” The road of non-conformity. A late starter but an enthusiastic explorer. Now lets get down to making a real mess!

Yours, shunning conformity,


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