Saturday, 26 May 2018

On Life and Small Things.

Being a confirmed devotee of the God of Small Things can have its down side as well as its up. On the one hand you can be thrilled by the sight of a moth feeding on a flower; on the other you can feel dreadfully hurt by the smallest perceived slight, like being summarily dismissed by the one person you really want to talk to. Brushed away like a speck of dirt on a new coat was how it seemed. It’s odd that I have often sailed through some big issues relatively unconcerned, but being brushed off by somebody with whom I have never had a true conversation, and who I only bump into about three times a year, bit deep. Oh, well; life moves on.

But today I received the long-awaited news: the Lady B has successfully produced the new life which she has been carrying, and mother and baby are said to be doing well, if in need of some sleep. And it was girl, as I always thought it would be.

‘You’re the only one who thought so,’ said the dear mama. ‘Everybody else was sure it would be a boy.’

Being right about something doesn’t inflate my ego as it used to. I suppose that’s about life moving on, too.

Friday, 25 May 2018

Musings from the Autumn.

Every time I think of something to write to the blog I get a voice inside my head telling me: ‘It’s too trivial. Forget it. Go back to being bored and unfulfilled because those two conditions are less troublesome than demonstrating the smallness of your mind by writing trivial nonsense.’ And so I revert to being bored and unfulfilled and the blog remains sparsely populated. Is this the end of my blogging days, I ask myself? I don’t know yet.

Or is it the end of me? I was ruminating recently on the nature of my various fixations in life. I’ve had several because I seem to be the sort who is given to monomania and rock hopping. But let’s have my personal definition to begin with.

To me, a fixation is something which drives you far beyond the point which a mere hobby or interest can manage. It’s something you love more than chocolate, something which fills your waking thoughts and sleeping dreams almost to the exclusion of everything else, something you can’t wait to engage with, something which can muddle your capacity for reason and even propel you to the edge of temporary insanity now and then. And so this is my list of fixations for the sake of adding another digit to the May total:

Romance, sex (usually working in tandem because they both have their root in the need to explore), the drive to understand the nature of reality, fishing, photography, writing, and hot bacon and tomato sandwiches (I think I can count that one because there was a time when the prospect of a hot bacon and tomato sandwich would have tugged me away from some of the others.)

Most of them have now either gone or shrunk to a mere minor obsession for one reason or another (especially bacon and tomato sandwiches since I became vegetarian.) Until a couple of weeks ago I would have said that writing was my one remaining fixation, but now I’m beginning to wonder whether that’s going the way of the others and being replaced by the contemplation of mortality.

And while I’m on the subject of mortality it occurs to me to say that if I’m to be remembered for anything – and I’m not terribly bothered whether I am or not – I should like it to be for my favourite philosophy which can be expressed two ways:

Perception is the whole of the life experience.

Everything of value ultimately distils to the abstract.

And another thing: I was listening to some people on a TV programme talking about their charity which sends volunteers to talk to lonely people. ‘Count me out,’ I said (even though I appreciated their effort and concern.) The last thing I want is to have strangers coming into my house – however well intentioned they might be – and trying to engage me in trivial conversation. That’s because I don’t get lonely. There are times when I feel depressingly alone, but that’s not the same thing at all.

And finally: There’s a woman I occasionally encounter in the coffee shop and she seems to like me for some reason. (Oddly enough, I seem to quite like her, too.) She was there today and we spent most of our time talking about operations, their complications and side effects, and the self-injection of Clexane. And her very small daughter, Cicely, smiled at appropriate moments. It was the most fun I’ve had for ages.

I think that’s more than enough for one day.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

A Note.

I’ve been silent this past week or so because the new health issue with which I’m now afflicted remains unexplained, and because everything I feel moved to say seems unworthy of the effort it would take to say it.

But how can I remain silent when this year’s show of May blossom is the best I’ve ever seen, and when I have three bats coming to pay their respects on every late spring twilit eve when I invite them to share my world?

The new spring growth is running rampant this year; my erstwhile and still much vaunted friend the Lady B is about to bring forth new life; the lambs are growing sturdy and the baby blue tits in the box behind my kitchen will be fledging any day. All is strong and new and beautiful and surging forth as it should. And yet I hear a whisper on the wind of change that this blog might be going out with the old order. I hope it is but the empty murmuring of a formless phantasm, and that maybe the old dog has life in him yet.

Meanwhile, here’s a simple little hymn to humanity. Whatever else we do, please let us be steadfast in consigning the hate, the prejudice, the abuse, the violence and the cruelty to the sewer where it belongs.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

A Taste for the Edge.

I still wonder about that innate sense of fascination which we feel for the shoreline and the sea. The littoral environment; the interface between worlds; the fleeting connection with some unknown traveller bound for a distant land. Maybe it has something to do with the irresistible pull of boundaries.

When I was eighteen I was watching the TV one evening and there was a shot of the moon over the sea with its ever-shifting, fragmented image being reflected by the waves. Within two hours I was in my car heading for the island of Anglesey some eighty or so miles away, desperate to see the moon over the water. There was no moon that night and in the morning I drove home again, not via the coast road that time but through the mountains instead.

I don’t do that sort of thing any more. How age does wither our will and suffocate our taste for the lure of impulse. But I still occasionally recall one of my favourite lines from Dylan’s Gates of Eden:

Upon the beach where hound dogs bay
At ships with tattooed sails

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Two Intriguing Notes.

I find it intriguing that the supposedly twin concepts of love and romance occupy entirely different parts of my brain and have never met during my current incarnation. If they had, I suspect the result might have been comparable with a collision of matter and anti-matter. I might be wrong, of course. I might instead have had somebody come visit me on a daily basis while I was in hospital and now be on hand to do all the housework while I’m indisposed.

And I was reading tonight about the mythical ancient rulers of Ireland known as the Tuatha de Danann. If you read the same account here, you might be as intrigued as I was to think that the famed Sidhe – known in common parlance as ‘the little people’ – might be descended from Vikings. The terms ‘Viking’ and ‘fairy’ don’t sit easily together, do they?

Harry and Meghan's Happy Ending.

I’m sick to the back teeth of seeing squidgy references to Harry and Meghan and their upcoming nuptials. (It has to be Harry and Meghan, of course, never Meghan and Harry. Harry’s superior position in the relationship is implicit because he’s male, white, and a member of the British royal bloodline. Meghan is merely the girl from LA who just won the world’s biggest lottery. No contest.)

I could write quite a lot about the different angles here, but I can’t be bothered. What I will say is that I would love to see a headline tomorrow which reads:

‘It was all a joke,’ says the prince.

And then there would be the interviews with Britain’s erstwhile favourite Beautiful Beloveds (who have vowed to remain good friends, as you would expect.)

‘Do you really think I would marry some backstreet floosie from LA?’ remarked the Prince with his typically boyish grin. ‘I mean, California, for heaven’s sake! She doesn’t even come from somewhere of substance in the north east. Do me a favour.’

And Mistress Meghan would counter:

‘You guys surely never thought for one minute that I would ever stoop to sharing my living space with this privileged plonker just because he’s got a palace or two,’ she said, aiming a dismissive thumb in Harry’s direction. ‘Gimme a break, will you?’

And then the no-longer-courting couple would exchange kisses to the cheek, stand for the adulation of the assembled audience, and make bows of well rehearsed equality of depth. And on just this unlikely eventuality I rest my sincerest hopes.

Essential Information.

The men’s toilet in Ashbourne Sainsbury’s is a very small one. It consists of two urinals, one cubicle, a wash basin and an electric hand dryer. And there is a single door giving access and egress to and from the facility.  A big new notice has now appeared on the inside of that door. It reads:


And so I went to the kiosk and made the earnest enquiry: ‘Is there a history of people getting lost in your toilet?’

Friday, 11 May 2018

On Darling Buds and a Gem.

The green growing things are running rampant in my garden this year, not least the bluebells in the semi wild part which have sprouted in at least a dozen places where they’ve never been seen before. But the nicest surprise came today.

I have a self-seeded hawthorn on the retaining embankment which runs along the top of my ground. I’ve been keeping it trimmed to the size of a shrub for the past twelve years in the hope that one day it would flower. Today I saw flower buds on it for the first time, which means that I will shortly have the delight of May blossom presenting its snowy countenance a mere ten feet from my kitchen door. Isn’t that splendid? It’s splendid.

*  *  *

And on a totally unrelated, but still positive, note, I had another example today of the NHS bending over backwards to accommodate my needs and make my life easier. The NHS really is an absolute gem, you know. When I consider the last four torturous months during which I’ve had tests, scans, procedures, a six hour operation, the dedicated care, support and attention of a whole host of doctors, nurses, administrators and ancillary staff - and all to save my insignificant little life - frankly I’m awash with amazement and gratitude. And it was all free, even the transport to and from home (once I was an inpatient) by the East Midlands Ambulance Service. I said as much to the pharmacist at my GP practice today. Isn’t that splendid? It’s splendid.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Secrets Waiting to be Heard.

The wild garlic plants clothing the steep embankments of The Hollow are in full bloom now, their white flower heads held high and just the faintest hint of their pungent aroma beginning to permeate the subdued light of the sunken lane. Above them the fresh fronds of resurgent bracken are curling outwards and upwards to augment the dense carpet of wild ivy hugging the invisible earth. And surging skyward out of this natural wonderland are the old trees at the top of the rise, multi-centenarians in many cases, proudly displaying their gnarled trunks and heavy roots encrusted with ancient mosses.

This is my world and these are my people, but their outward display is hiding something other than the tales they could tell of centuries past and people long gone. They sometimes whisper hints of their arcane knowledge to me in a language unknown to my human mind and unheard by my physical senses. One day, maybe, I’ll learn to hear and understand it.

On Being Missed.

In furtherance of my new-found resolution to be more accepting of my fellow creatures, I decided to walk over and talk to a man who was mowing his lawn at the bottom of the lane today. He told me that people had mentioned me. They’d said that I hadn’t been seen around for a while and wondered whether I’d moved. In return, I treated him to the story of my operation and a good time was had by all.

But what I don’t understand is this: I’ve had very little to do with the residents of the Shire over the twelve years I’ve lived here. They’re mostly not my type, just as most city and suburban dwellers are not my type. Very few people are my type, which is why I’ve evolved into being mostly reclusive. And I’ve been mostly a loner all my life. So why would they notice my absence, and why should it be of the slightest consequence to them?

Animals, on the other hand, are different, and I needed no new-found resolution to walk over and talk to the big, black, heavy-set gelding who sometimes occupies a field near here. He rewarded me with the grandest show of affection I’ve ever had from a horse. And even his shy little Shetland pony friend inched forward to have is muzzle stroked.

I wonder whether they’d noticed my absence, too. Or could it be that they recognised an injured creature and were offering sympathetic support? I settled on the likelihood of both.