Sunday, 21 January 2018

Facing Tuesday.

I’m scared, anxious and depressed. There now, I just admitted to being scared for all the world to read. Such an admission doesn’t come easily to somebody raised in the stiff upper lip tradition by people who still remembered the old days of Empire, but there you have it. And a psychologist might even tell me that while fear and anxiety are natural bedfellows in the same part of the brain, depression belongs in a different compartment. If such an august person did tell me that, I could attest to the fact that at least two parts of my brain are working well in tandem at the moment.

The fact is that I don’t want to face Tuesday on my own, but I’ll have to do it just as I’ve always faced everything of import on my own. I never minded before; in fact, I preferred it that way. This time is different; this time I feel the need of support such as I’ve never felt before.

And there’s one person I would like to have with me on Tuesday, but she isn’t available and never will be. I read some of our old correspondence tonight because I thought it might make me feel better. It didn’t. Being reminded of those green and pleasant days in a green and pleasant land only served to push my dolour further into the cold mud and slush that is currently covering our dear old Shire. What made matters worse was also being reminded of the gulf that was impossible to bridge and prevented any meaningful connection. ‘There is only one big difference between us,’ she wrote in one email… but I’m not going to tell you the rest.

I also watched a movie tonight which spoke to the bases of my fear and anxiety in such an apposite way that I was tempted to think it prophetic. I rejected the notion and ascribed the apparent coincidence to the neurotic tendency which has added itself to my personality traits over the past five years. I suspect it's here for the duration.

And I mentioned in my last post that I was seven short of a landmark. This is one of them, so there are six left. I assume Tuesday will determine whether there will be more posts and what direction they will take. Stay tuned if you like.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Blogger's Bane.

If I sit in my house I get cold. If I go outside I get colder. At the moment I’m leading a kind of double life because there’s a raw wind blowing and some of it is gaining access to my house. I usually manage to be warm in bed, but last night I woke up at 4am feeling cold. I needed to go to the bathroom and the bathroom is unheated, so guess what. I was still cold when I went back to sleep.

The two most exciting things which happened in Ashbourne today were: 1) Sainsbury’s had egg and cress sandwiches for the first time in several weeks. 2) I tried a different cake in the coffee shop and was unimpressed. There were no ladies in evidence to encourage a trickle of adrenalin, just lots of strange women who might have been transparent for all I cared or noticed. The only dog to which I made friendly overtures looked at me with suspicion and a hint of malice. Ashbourne was cold (and grey, damp and windy.)

The doctor I saw yesterday was pleased that arrangements for what should be a relatively minor operation were in train. He then delighted in giving me the results from my latest batch of tests. So good were they that I might have been forgiven for thinking myself a veritable Dorian Gray who was currently around age 25 and falling. But then he said: ‘But…’ There is something he is concerned about and is to order further, deeper examinations. That sort of thing causes me stress, which is ironic because stress is very likely the root of whatever potential malaise is concerning him. (Life can be playfully ironic at times.)

So tell me, what is a blog writer supposed to do in such circumstances? How does he find the necessary enthusiasm and acumen to pursue his desire to be amusing, sagacious, informative, silly, or whatever else he’s trying to accomplish in a cold world which isn’t offering very much inspiration? I need seven more posts to reach a milestone. Will I fall short?

Only the Lonely.

Strange as it may sound, the British Prime Minister recently created the new cabinet post of ‘Minister for Loneliness.’ It sounds a bit of a narrow brief, doesn’t it? You’d be forgiven for wondering whether you’d slipped through a time warp and landed on April 1st, wouldn’t you?

Ah, but here’s one fascinating statistic which I gather was in part responsible for this strangely humanitarian act: Some expert or other has posited the view that loneliness is as detrimental to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. I wonder who came up with that one; and I further wonder whether, since smoking in confined public places is now illegal in Britain, being lonely in confined private spaces might also soon be the subject of punitive legislation. And since I’m guilty on both counts, I don’t suppose there’s much hope for me.

OK, I do accept that loneliness is a problem in the modern world where family and community connections are not what they used to be, but creating a ministerial post to address such a narrow issue seems over the top to the point of being freaky. Isn’t loneliness the remit of community workers and charities? Besides, whoever heard of a Tory Prime Minister being in the least concerned about an issue mostly to be found among the hoi-polloi? (I gather loneliness is most frequently encountered by the more elderly members of the... erm... lower orders.)

I think this must be the biggest mystery in the political world at the moment, bigger even than Trump’s height and weight or the perennial question of how a man of his calibre managed to get America’s top job.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

A Rare Need.

I’ve been a loner all my life, or at least all the life I remember. I always thought it an honourable state and took quiet satisfaction from the fact. And yet, oddly, I also considered it my duty to help others when they needed it. (I’ve occasionally wondered whether that was due to some deeply hidden angelic delusion, a notion which I’m sure would elicit great amusement among most of those who knew me down the years.) And yet there it is: maybe a paradox or maybe not.

What I now find interesting is that even the most perennial and committed of loners can reach a point where they need just the right person to step forward and say ‘I’m here for you. Count on me.’ It’s a new experience, and observing it is just as interesting as observing all the other weird little traits and sensibilities.

So why am I recording this on my blog when there’s nobody out there reading it who can fit the bill, or even gives a damn for that matter? Because that’s one of the functions a blog like this serves. Why else?

Monday, 15 January 2018

Rare Praise.

I was reading today about an interview a British politician gave on a political TV programme during which she talked about whether Trump should be allowed into the UK and whether Theresa May had been wrong to offer him a full state visit. It didn’t surprise me that her views largely accorded with mine, but what did surprise me was the language she used. She called Trump:

An asteroid of awfulness that has fallen on this world.

It has to be said that a purist might take issue with her knowledge of celestial bodies since, as I understand it, an asteroid is a chunk of rock flying footloose and fancy-free through the cosmos. If it skims the earth’s atmosphere and disintegrates it becomes a meteor. If it manages to get through and falls to earth it is then known as a meteorite.

Well now, for a start I might be wrong; I'm no expert on the lexicography of celestial bodies. But even if I’m not wrong, it would perhaps be an unnecessary example of nit picking to insist on correction. An asteroid that has spent a few million years being an asteroid is still one in all but name when it makes a big hole in the ground somewhere near Maryland and threatens the existence of civilisation as we know it. So let’s forget the mere matter of precise vocabulary and concentrate on what’s important to me.

Here is a politician not only agreeing with me, but doing so in a form which is concise and uses both metaphor and a hint of alliteration for effect. That’s unusual, that’s what makes it a red letter day, and that’s why I mention it on my blog. When was the last time I said anything complimentary about a politician?

Belated Felicitations.

I missed the anniversary of my blog yesterday. For some reason I had 15th January in mind, but I was mistaken. I made my first post at 10.48pm on Thursday 14th January 2010, seven years and a handful of hours ago.

I have every reason to be grateful to the dear old blog. It’s been my focus, my friend, my sounding board, my comfort blanket, my counsellor and my teacher, and it’s introduced me to a number of very remarkable people from various parts of the world, some of whom remain close. Whether it’s ever been of any real interest or consequence to anybody else is not for me to say or even speculate on. I’d just like to say thank you to whatever muse brought it into my life, and hope that it continues for little while yet.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

On Horseless Carriages and Hovels.

It’s interesting to recall that when I was a kid there were still plenty of older cars around which didn’t have heaters. It was common practice among the owners of such antediluvian vehicles to keep a car rug – a posh woollen blanket woven in tartan or some other fancy pattern – on the back seat for passengers who were either female, juvenile, aged, or male-but-of-lesser-fortitude, to drape over their legs on cold winter days.

It’s even more interesting to note that I could do with one in my office at the moment because my legs and feet are bloody freezing. (Admitting to being a male of lesser fortitude, not to mention living in a house with inadequate heating, is permissible on a blog because I never meet the people who read it.)

Sliding Down the Taste Scale.

84 Charing Cross Road is one of my favourite films. It tells the story of the friendship that developed between Helen Hanff, a New York bibliophile, and Frank Doel, the chief buyer for Marks & Co which was an antiquarian book dealer based at the eponymous address in London.

Well now, do you know what I discovered tonight? Marks & Co closed down in 1970 and 84 Charing Cross Road is now occupied by a branch of McDonald’s. Is that an example of sub-sublime irony, or merely Dame Fortune displaying a notable lack of good taste?

A Matter of Logic.

There’s an ad on YouTube for a 'Free Personality Test.' The text begins:

Over 7billion characters. Which one are you?

OK, let’s examine this. If the text had said: ‘There are 7 archetypes in the human race; which one do you represent?’ it would make sense. But 7bn is the approximate population of planet Earth, so the only answer to the question is: ‘Me.’

Saturday, 13 January 2018

A Neo-Pagan Note.

As a result of following up on something referenced in a DVD I’d been watching tonight, I discovered something I didn’t know about: the Triple Goddess archetype in history and myth. It led to a period of deep reflection, but little is yet fit to go into this blog since my mind is still too full of ill-formed notions. What I find interesting, however, is this:

1. I’ve mentioned here before that I’ve been fascinated by the three-woman motif all my life. I even made a family’s banshee a group of three women in one of my published stories. And in my one and only allegorical effort, three women escorted the protagonist to his death prior to rebirth. (My three women were sister, lover, priestess, which bears some correlation with the classical and psychological interpretation of maiden, mother, crone.) I wonder where it came from.

2. It was the view of Robert Graves, who made a study of the subject, that the triple goddess has always been, and continues to be, the muse of writers and poets. Might this be why I always felt that I was channeling the stories I wrote rather than composing them, and could it explain why the better of my ditties fell into my mind almost fully formed and required little thought or editing? I don’t know; I make no claims or assumptions. And there might be more on this subject at some future time, or then again there might not.