Tuesday, 19 September 2017

The Cost of Ageing.

A pretty girl smiled at me as she passed me in her car while I was out walking today. She had dark hair – maybe even black – and her car was red. The combination of being pretty, having dark hair, and driving a red car was… what should we call it? Compelling, I suppose. It turned my head, which is unusual for me these days.

Pretty girls were always my weakness, you know. It started when I was age 10 and had an innocent fling with Elaine Bailey who lived a few streets from me. She had a friend called Janice Turner who I also thought rather attractive. Elaine had dark hair; Janice was a frizzy blonde. One of my most abiding memories of childhood was going to Janice Turner’s birthday party and knocking a glass over. It’s my earliest recollection of feeling embarrassed to the point of being mortified. I’m sure I squirmed in my seat, and I have little doubt that my face was the colour of the car which passed me in the lane.

When a pretty girl smiles at me these days, I go straight into an inner dialogue:

No point in looking longingly after her, JJ old lad.


No. When a pretty girl smiles at you now it’s a smile of congratulation that you can still walk unaided and manage to carry you own shopping.

‘D’you think so?’

I know so. If you dropped something she would probably hurry to pick it up for you and ask whether you need any help carrying it to the car.


Besides, remember all that trouble you used to get into? All that stress you used to pile on yourself?

‘I do.’

And you wouldn’t want all that again, would you?

‘Erm… well… erm… Suppose not.’

Well there you have it. Content yourself with marvelling at moths and beaming at bats during the magical hour of twilight. And remember this: the older you become, the less you know; and the less you know, the less you judge; and the less you judge, the wiser you are. Isn’t that a worthy substitute for the approbation of pretty girls? Isn’t it worth something very much deeper and more meaningful?

‘Like what?’

Er… mmm… OK, let’s leave it there for now.

The Dork in New York.

I see Trump has been doing his Muhammad Ali act at the UN today.

‘We are the greatest,’ he intones while the rest of the delegates exercise those muscles which make the eyes roll in cartoon circles. ‘We can destroy North Korea any time we like. Just try to attack us, Rocket Man, and see how many more minutes you’ve got left in this world.’

Do excuse the paraphrasing, but it’s all very Trumpian, isn’t it?

The trouble is that Trump might have an ego as big as Ali’s, or maybe even bigger, but he doesn’t have the wit, wisdom or sense of humour to go with it.

*  *  *

I once sat in that big chamber in the UN building, you know, when I was a naval officer cadet. Is that something to boast about? Not really. I was but a callow youth at the time and easily impressed. I even bought a postcard of the place.

I might buy a jar of marmalade tomorrow. It’s been years since I had marmalade.

Moving On.

I’m just listening to Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue again. It’s been a favourite of mine for a long time, and whenever I hear it I want to go to New York. But of course, New York isn’t the same place as it was when Gershwin wrote his tune, any more than London is the same as it was when somebody or other wrote A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Such is Life.

I just sent a really good email to somebody I haven’t seen or spoken to for twenty years. (I remembered it’s her birthday today, same as Greta Garbo.) It bounced, and I only did it because I couldn’t think of anything to write to the blog.

Lucy's Odd Line.

Remember Lucy, the ex-Head Nurse from my dental practice who is now a serving wench at the coffee shop which I frequent? I walked up to the counter today and she said:

‘Hi. How are things with you? Sorry, I couldn’t think of anything else to say.’

That’s an odd opening gambit from a serving wench, don’t you think? It is. I have several theories as to what it might have indicated, but I don’t suppose any of them matter any more than I do.

(It’s quite a sobering experience to realise that you don’t matter. It’s even a little depressing, but I expect to get over that in the fullness of time.)

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Being Ghost or Mortal.

The process of becoming reclusive is an interesting phenomenon. As you grow more distant from the people around you, you begin to lose sight of the reference points which others use to manage their sense of self so that it remains safely and conveniently in the mainstream. Your perceptions begin to wander off the cultural track and grow closer to who you really are. And this, in turn, changes your understanding of who you really are. You begin to see things you didn’t know were there before, and you become more honest about the things you did.

And there’s one thing about your sense of self which becomes ever more confusing. You find yourself pondering a difficult question: ‘Am I a ghost moving quietly among mortals, or am I a being of substance living in a world of ghosts?’

I don’t yet live in a cave and allow my fingernails to grow until they resemble claws. I still shop in supermarkets and talk enthusiastically to rare people of like or similar mind (I even talk unenthusiastically to people of unlike or dissimilar mind, be they the ghosts or the true mortals.) But it will be interesting to see how things progress.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Milly on Cue.

A day spent shuffling invoices which aren’t even yours and trimming garden hedges which really shouldn’t be quite that high and quite that wide is just what you need when your precious inbox is full of nothing but cobwebs.

So eventually I went for a walk around the lanes of the Shire, and who should I meet but one of my favourite lady horses. She nuzzled my ear as she usually does, and having your ear nuzzled by a filly called Milly is just what you really need when the spiders in your inbox are paying you scant attention because they’re too busy building cobwebs for the next generation.

A View of the Tram Lines.

This ad for equity release has started appearing on my YouTube home page:

Isn’t it hideous? I mean, just look at it. The characterless suburban setting, the wife who looks like she lives for tedious suburban dinner parties with robots who wax enthusiastic about the relative merits of Volvos and Audis, the guy with a sub-executive hairstyle and a chain store sweater which can’t wait to get onto the golf course where it belongs, the pristine furniture which has about as much soul as a squashed slug, the token books and pictures, the immaculately painted door with the B&Q doorknob, the floral cushion to represent nature in its wilder aspect, the grey and sickly smiles which speak volumes for the emptiness of tram line comfort… And nothing of any real value anywhere.

Why do they insist on showing me things like this? Is it because I don’t matter?

Friday, 15 September 2017

A Little Discovery.

I’m a little long sighted. I don’t need glasses for general work and driving, but I do need them for close work like reading and working at the computer.

But I made an interesting discovery recently. I found that if I apply a small amount of pressure to the outside of each eyeball with my fingers, my visual acuity at short distances noticeably improves. And I suppose it makes perfect sense. No doubt the pressure on the eyeball causes the lens to become more compressed so that incoming light rays are more acutely refracted. In other words, you’re doing the job the optical muscles used to do before they grew weak. I love making discoveries like that.

And I think this is probably the most boring post I’ve ever made. But at least it isn’t about America.

Noting America.

Ah, the land they call America. Where Gershwin and Disney share the same neon, where Liberty shares a home with a creature called Trump. How do you manage to enthral and repel so easily and in the same breath? Will you ever choose the virtuous and become great, for enigma you stand while you prevaricate.

I’m listening to Rhapsody in Blue, thinking of Venus, rueing a difficult day, and drinking India Pale Ale. I shall probably be almost normal tomorrow.