1. Heavy snow in K___. i’ve given up going for walks after falling once and nearly falling another dozen times. i now pace up and down my room listening to Wittgenstein podcasts, cursing and muttering to myself.

2. On Friday, after 3 days’ teaching, i asked my boss the usual “work next week?” He looked thoughtful and said “possibly…” which i took to mean “no”, correctly, it seems. i need about 80 hours a month to survive and am averaging about 25. i have just enough money to make it to the end of February, at which point i will have got to 34, unlikely and unnatural as that seems. And then i can either try to borrow yet more money or see what happens without the money to pay the rent or buy food, or cover my considerable overdraft and credit card payments. i feel capable of meeting that moment, without too much fuss.

3. i am using my free time to relearn Tai Chi (from video clips by a wild-haired Australian). i learnt about half of the Yang Cheng-Fu form over 2004 and 2005 but when i was temping at the Halifax bank, i fell into a spiral of diminishing energy and increasing horror and pain and debt and insomnia, and would return home to spend every free hour in bed, either asleep or trying to sleep. i fought but it was futile – if you spend most of your waking hours at work (or commuting), in a state of constant boredom and fear and despair, your so-called free hours are spent in a blank stupor, without the energy to do anything but dread tomorrow, and the tomorrow after that, and after that.

To my surprise i remember most of the form, even little details. As my original Tai Chi tutor used to say “if you’re doing it right you can’t do it wrong” – if you get something wrong you will generally feel it, as the wrong kind of tension. No doubt a master would see all kinds of errors in my form, too much stiffness and clumsiness, but i think, over time, “the form itself teaches you”, as my tutor also used to say – if you do it over and over again, you start shifting to more economical, fluid, integrated movements, because they just feel right. “The form itself teaches you” would also hold true of philosophy and rune studies – it’s interesting to see what other people have thought, but not really necessary (this being one of many reasons why Literary Theory is malign and false, and why i’m not interested in becoming a Grand Black Chaos Magister).

4.  i’m also taking the time to learn German (badly, on my own), and to rewrite my novel. i’ve been editing the novel since 2004 but always just superficial changes – cutting a scene, rewriting another, and so on. i always felt a fundamental unease with the beast, to do with the protagonist, who is a version of me – i couldn’t really focus on him properly, as if i write with my long-sighted eye and he was too close. i considered changing the character but i wasn’t sure how to change him without altering the logic of his relations to the other characters.

In the end i tried rewriting it in the present tense. So far this is working – i’m not sure why but i have a much looser, and so more flexible, hold on the narration, and can as it were see the protagonist clearly, from a distance – even though he is essentially unchanged. i’ve deleted a third of the novel and am steadily working my way through, rewriting in the present tense. i  can’t see myself having the time to finish it, as even in my present semi-employed state i can’t squeeze more than a couple of pages a day out of the old Elberry brain, but we shall see. The prose is every bit as purple as in the original, so i imagine it would offend the puritan sensibilities of today’s readers, if anyone read it, which they wouldn’t.

5. i can’t afford medical insurance so i have no way of getting asthma medication here. A friend in England posted me some inhalers a month ago – they haven’t arrived. i feel unusually isolated and outside of work don’t talk to anyone. However, i would rather be unusually isolated here in Germany than elsewhere. Email from one of my fellow cadets on the CELTA course last summer, now teaching in the Far East:

I’m feeling pretty culturally bereft over here at the mo. Though I did meet a 66 year old German guy the other day who by the end of our hour-long chat – or his hour-long lecture – felt comfortable enough in our mutual lineage to let me know that his girlfriend back in Bangkok (Yes, that’s what I thought. But apparently, in his own words, “she is not prostitute”), if he could only get her to piss outdoors, he told me, that would cure her never having had an orgasm problem. I declined to offer that maybe the problem didn’t lie wholly on her side of the bed if you know what I’m saying, but we both agreed that free expression was important in life and he upheld my long-standing experience of never having met a German that I didn’t think was bloody brilliant. Go Deutschland!