Wednesday, 25 April 2018

A Random Thought.

I wonder whether the human race will ever get back to functioning as the minority forest peoples still do – living, and being comfortable with living, purely for the sake of living, instead of getting stressed near to perdition chasing trinkets, gadgets and an endless array of pointless diversions as dictated by a system run by clocks and corporations.


In referring to my health woes, the priestess said in her most recent email:

I wonder whether you feel quite astounded by the limitations of your body – that all this is not really your business, and why can’t you just be left alone to continue questioning life’s purpose in peace?

That’s it; got it in one. I suppose that’s what taking good health for granted means to me: I expect my body to be a faithful steed which performs unflinchingly and unfailingly, while I simply ride him along the road to pondering higher matters and trying to find the opening in the veil. It’s quite a shock when the old guy goes seriously lame and stumbles heavily.

(On which note, I have to go back to the Royal Derby Clinical Processing Centre tomorrow and climb onto another conveyor belt. You know what happened last time, don’t you? I’m nervous.)

But going back to matters corporeal and philosophical, I wonder what it means when you stop feeling sympathy with another person’s woes (not mine in this case) and instead find yourself becoming prey to full empathy – to feel their fears, their suffering, and their insecurity, and then to experience a deep level of sympathetic disturbance. Does it mean that there’s a bond in place, the like of which has always been a mystery to you?

And here’s something slightly odd: I watched the first of a series of historical documentaries last week and felt an increase in my symptoms the whole time it was on. I watched the second tonight and the same thing happened. So now it seems I’m suffering some sort of negative resonance with King Alfred and his daughter. Maybe it’s a past life thing.

Or maybe I need a Klingon cloaking device to shield me from influences. Maybe I should just give up altogether.

Another disturbing aspect of today was that my faithful old friend, the Feedjit stats tracker, appears to have disappeared for good. I loved my Feedjit; it used to help me identify certain known visitors to the blog and was a most welcome companion. And from what I’ve read on odd forums down the years, it appears there are very many bloggers across the world who also loved their Feedjit. This is clearly a bad day for humanity (or at least those who blog.) Maybe we should all just give up.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Something About Horses?

This is a song I was very fond of many years ago and discovered again recently on YouTube.

I find it most compelling with its vocal dissonances, haunting guitar riffs and general strangeness, but don’t ask me what the lyrics mean. They’re a bit of a mystery to me. I expect there’s an intelligent explanation for them which is just as compelling as everything else, but intelligent explanations were never my forte. I’m much more at home with atmospheres and strangenesses.

Monday, 23 April 2018

On Tolerating Imperfection.

I just read my last post again (When White is Winning.) Who wrote it, I wonder, because it’s terrible. I’m tempted to think that it wasn’t me because it’s not my style at all. It isn’t a writer’s writing, but the inept scribbling of a prep school essayist who’s taking his first teetering steps at beginning the process of becoming a writer.

But I suppose it must have been me, so where was my mind at the time? Am I entering the seventh age and becoming a child again? I don’t know, but I need to try harder to get back up to speed.

And the question arises: should I take it down? No, I don’t think so. If my ramblings are to serve as a portrait – and what else can they be? – then I must accede to Cromwell’s philosophy and insist that it should be painted warts and all. Anything other would be less than authentic. And when all you have to offer is your authenticity, you don’t have much choice.

When White is Winning.

Of all the colours that step forth to be admired at this time of year in the English countryside, white is the most prolific. Leading the procession at the moment is the ubiquitous blackthorn tree which proliferates in groups all over the Shire, and which flowers abundantly once the sun shows its face in April or early May. They grow in hedgerows and woodland margins and positively glow ice-white in friendly competition with the warming sun.

Down in The Hollow the wild garlic is spreading more than I’ve ever seen it before, even displacing the ivy in some parts – and ivy is a tough plant to be reckoned with. Some of the flower heads which I mentioned recently are now beginning to open, so it won’t be long before the white hanging drapery will clothe the steep embankments of our deepest sunken lane.

And then there is good reason to hope that the monarch of spring, the strong and spiny hawthorn, will burst forth in all his glory. Hedgerows and standard trees alike will be thickly iced with a shimmering mass of cream-white flowers, and there are few more compelling sights anywhere. It appears that a heavy fall of snow has descended in stark yet beautiful contrast to the high temperature and emerald fields, and Tennyson got it just about right when he famously wrote:

Blow trumpet, for the world is white with May.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

On YouTube Clichés.

I’m quite sure that all those countless people who comment on YouTube to the effect that some merely pleasant piece of music is ‘music to heal my soul’ wouldn’t know a soul from a sweaty sock. Neither do I come to that, but at least on the very rare occasion when I might use the term I do so either in jest or with qualification and a level of respect commensurate with the gravity of the concept.

And then there are the people who insist that ‘this woman sings like an angel.’ What’s interesting here is that, as far as I’m aware, all the angels in the Bible – which is the source from which the concept of an angel is indoctrinated into western peoples – are men. Now, if they were to say ‘this woman sings like a flying apsara’ I’d have nothing to complain about. Maybe I should try it some time and see what response I get.

I re-discovered my love of marmalade sandwiches tonight.

Today's Fear and Yesterday's Vision.

So, now that darkness has settled on the Shire and it isn’t bed time yet, what should I write about at the near-closing of another uneventful day?

My fear, I suppose. The fear of next week came dropping suddenly and powerfully into my mind today. Wednesday is the day for my cystogram examination. What will it show, I wonder. And then I’m scheduled for another trial without catheter procedure, the last of which being what sent me into a crisis of pain, fever, cold air blowers and oxygen masks if you remember. What will happen this time, I wonder. Will it all go swimmingly, or will it represent another of the false dawns which have characterised this whole sorry business going back to early January? Should I now lay on the storms-and-ships metaphors with a shovel? I don’t think so. I’ll do as I’m told and report the outcome here, assuming I’m able.

The only other notable thing about today was the fact that the flower heads are appearing on the wild garlic in The Hollow. In another week or two the steep, 15ft-high embankments will be draped in a carpet of nature’s white. It will look very beautiful.

But let’s go back a couple of days to what I saw when I took a walk up the lane. There was a young Chinese woman standing alone and apparently unoccupied in the car park of the village hall. She had the air of a vision about her because young Chinese women are not in the habit of frequenting the Shire. I’ve only ever seen one other in the twelve years I’ve lived here.

I thought of approaching her and asking who she was, but decided against it. It occurred to me that she might reply with an enigmatic message which I would assume was being channelled from some denizen of a dark place; for who better to convey such a missive than a young Chinese woman with long black hair? And then I considered that she might say nothing, but confine herself to an enigmatic stare, the power of which might set me trembling uncontrollably. Or maybe she would simply vanish and reduce my mind to a state resembling festering custard. (It has been known.) And then I wondered whether I might have died and nobody had told me yet, and that the young Chinese woman might be none other than the priestess come all the way from Sydney to attend my memorial service. Maybe she was just early and was waiting for the other three people to turn up.

I decided that the most judicious course of action was to walk on, and so I did. And the weather has been beautiful and summery again today.

Friday, 20 April 2018

On the Cusp.

I just took a walk to the creepy copse in Church Lane for the first time since before I went into hospital. My, how it’s changed in four short weeks. Gone is the brown, skeletal starkness of winter; newly arrived is a greening woodland carpet dappled by the shadows of early spring leaves in the early spring sunshine. It will grow darker, of course, as the season progresses and the canopy spreads and thickens, but for now it’s wearing the best of maidenly livery and looks really quite splendid.

I find it odd that I complain so much – and with some justification – about the tyranny of time, and yet so love the regular changes of the seasons.

A Matter of Terminology.

Being more than a little interested in words and terminology, it intrigues me to note that the discharge reports sent by the hospital to the GP and patient never refer to me as having been ‘admitted’ to hospital. They always use the word ‘presented.’ Neither do they ever refer to me as a man or a male, it’s always ‘gentleman.’

This gentleman was presented to the Royal Derby Hospital on…’

There’s something oddly archaic about it, something almost Victorian in its linguistic sensibility, something which evokes images of the early days of modern medical practice. It’s why I can’t decide whether it makes me sound like some sort of prize or some sort of specimen.

On Being Unremarkable.

Apart from the weather which would have done full justice to a fine day in early July, and apart from the bewildering array of crossed wires and competing circumstances which fractured and confused what should have been a placid evening, and apart from being convinced all day that it was Wednesday which caused me to miss making an appointment for tomorrow, and apart from my first sight of the evening Venus for many a long year, today was too unremarkable to write about.

And yet write something I must. I’m driven to write. I’m not driven to write copiously in order to create volumes of opuses by which I might be remembered and through recognition of which I might be lionised. I have no desire to be lionised because I don’t see the point. Dead people are just dead people, whatever their name was when they were living people. And besides, I have a short attention span which marks me out for a place among the detritus at the bottom of the measuring jug in which human beings are allocated their worth.

That’s OK. Seeing the glorious evening Venus descending imperceptibly from the darkening azure to the russet-fringed skyline reminded me of those times when I used to take winter walks after dark – when I used to wander deserted lanes through the snow and frost and mist, when I used to look heavenward through steaming breath to learn the names of the constellations, when I used to listen for strange nocturnal noises in the distance or just beyond a hedge and make unsuccessful guesses at their origin, when I used to stand and marvel at the Lady B’s pale-painted cottage made mystical by a full moon beaming weakly through the translucent air. Such insubstantial recollections mean more to me than merely being lionised.

And so I write meaningless fragments like this in the absence of something better. And eight or nine people might read them, or they might not. And they might judge me by them, or they might not bother. It really doesn’t matter because the source of the drive is a bedraggled mind which has to constantly observe and perceive and question and come up with theories which are unprovable because I don’t have the patience to be academically inclined. It’s all about releasing pressure.

But now I’m rambling beyond the point, so I can allow myself to shut up shop and drink more Jameson to match the music.

(I have my first insect bite of the year, by the way, which I do consider worthy of mention.)