Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Bits of Oddness.

Sixteen weeks since the operation and I’m still terribly picky about what sort of food I want. Tonight’s supper was a can of John Smith’s Extra Smooth beer and a piece of toast and marmalade. They’re both good in their own way but don’t exactly match.

I’m trying to replace the missing muscle mass on my arms, chest and shoulders, you see, and I’m not having much success. I’ll try opening the scotch bottle next and see whether that works.

*  *  *

And on the subject of oddness, you might want to take a look at this Russian woman performing a traditional Irish folk song:

Pretty weird, eh, but she’s actually bloody brilliant. And what a presence. I wonder whether they’ve got any more like her in Russia – might be worth nipping over there to have a look while Putin’s in Helsinki teaching Trump the secrets of diplomacy. Shouldn't take long. I mean, Russia’s not very big, is it?

*  *  *

And now we’re into questionable geography, here’s a little ditty which I first posted several years ago when different people were reading. It can’t be called cheating because this is a portmanteau post.

There was a woman from Baghdad
Whose compass skills were pretty bad
She sailed one day for Mandalay
But ended up in Trinidad

Monday, 16 July 2018

A Question of Motive.

A little adjunct to the last post about losing and giving:

Today I decided to buy a new duvet cover to smarten my bedroom up a bit. I found exactly what I wanted and at a very reasonable price, but then I changed my mind because I decided I didn’t need one. After that I went and gave money to a charity and a small gift to a young man I’d never seen before and will probably never see again.

And so I was reminded of that curious trait inherent in certain people who find the act of giving money away to a worthy cause more rewarding than using it to buy things for themselves. Is that a good thing I wonder, or just an alternative form of self-interest?

*  *  *

Oh cripes, I seem to be doing the...

... thing again. Oh to get rid of the lion and bring on my loony friend...

Later, maybe.

On Legs and the Gain in Giving.

My walk back to the car from the town centre today brought me into close proximity with a crowd of upper high school students whose route coincided with mine. Approximately half the group were boys wearing trousers and the other half were girls wearing shorts or short skirts. It was a warm and sunny day, and so for a terrible few minutes I walked alongside a forest of bare ladies’ legs, all of them fresh, finely wrought and mind-numbingly unblemished. And when our routes diverged I had to walk through that forest to access the side street I wanted. It wasn’t easy.

I say ‘terrible’ for one simple and perfectly innocent reason: when you reach the age at which one of your major, lifelong aspirations is no longer available to you, the sense of frustration is keenly felt and the realisation of something lost most poignant.

This is nothing to feel guilty about, and indeed I don’t. This is no leeringly lascivious product of the Id, no Ageing Lothario delusion. Men sometimes ask the hoary old question: ‘Are you a breast man or a leg man?’ How does somebody like me answer that question? I’m an eyes man, a voice man, a smile man, a hair man, a mind man, a personality man. Most of all, I suppose, I’m a presence man. But yes, I admit it, I’m also a leg man, and in a crowd of young women it’s the legs which are most apparent. And so I feel a sense of sorrow which I expect will last as long as I do, and maybe even get worse as time goes by.

This is one of the very few things about which I feel a little bitter. I don’t generally suffer from habitual bitterness, but this is different. Why would any creator deity place a finely-honed instinct into the mind and then allow the tyrant time to prevent us from exercising it? Why do I have to stop seeking the opposite polarity at its most perfect so that the battery of personal life can be the best it can be? It’s cruel, no more and no less, and I do so abhor cruelty.

*  *  *

And yet, by way of contrast, I did make physical contact with two delightful ladies today, but they were not upper high school students. They were miniature Shetland ponies being shown off to the passing shoppers by the charity which uses them – among others, apparently – to give animal assisted therapy to disabled children. Cute-and-friendly animals are, after all, a good ploy to draw people in; and once in, people feel guilty about walking away again without giving a donation. But no matter the near-Machiavellian nature of the ploy. I talked with one of the humans at some length and learned a thing or two. That, the petting of the Shetland ponies, and a measure of sympathy with the cause led my donation to be bigger than most.

*  *  *

A little later I gave a young man a new pack of Rizlas because he said he’d left his own at home and was dying for a fag. He was a little rough-hewn and a little rough-shod and I surmised he hadn’t the 25p to buy a pack from the nearby store. And he had a good presence. Presence is so important to me when it comes to assessing people. And because he was a young bloke and not a young woman, his legs mattered not a jot.

*  *  *

And so it was a day of both perceived loss and the giving to worthy causes, which at least offers a balance of sorts. And giving does attract a certain measure of personal gain, don’t you think? I do.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

False Mirrors.

I’ve been made aware lately of one of life's odd little phenomena. Whether it applies to everybody, or whether it’s a personal thing exclusive to my withered mind, I don’t know, but it’s this:

When somebody gets under your skin to the extent that they’re re-arranging your heart rhythms, you start seeing their image reflected in perfect strangers. You see people you’ve never seen before and become convinced that they look just like so-and-so, even though there is probably no real resemblance at all. And that’s when you’re forced to realise that the person you thought you’d excised and shut away in a locked drawer is actually still alive and kicking enthusiastically in your head.

This little light bulb moment came as a result of watching the movie Rabbit Proof Fence last night. Anybody familiar with that rather touching film will know what I mean when I say that it wasn’t Molly I was rooting for, but another person with the same build and the same eyes and the same expressions and the same walk and the same determination to beat the problem no matter what. Or so it seemed to me at the time.


The dyed-in-the-wool Romantic spends his or her time wandering – sometimes compulsively and sometimes voluntarily – between everyday reality and other forms of reality which the non-Romantic predictably, but in my opinion erroneously, defines as fantasy. The lines can sometimes become blurred, but contrary to commonly received wisdom this is not an unhealthy position as long as the Romantic retains the wit to distinguish between the two. It’s just the way that some people are made. Should I quote again my favourite maxim?

Perception is the whole of the life experience.

(There now, I feel better already.)

The problem, however, comes when everyday reality produces obstacles which prevent the Romantic living in the alternative realities of his or her choosing. That's when severe depression can set in to stop them functioning effectively in either.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

The Gourmet Note.

Do you know what I had for dinner tonight? I had a large portion of chips (aka French fries to Russians who learned English the American way), two onion bhajis, a portion of coleslaw (from Sainsbury’s; their coleslaw is bloody awful these days and I definitely need a new coleslaw supplier), and a green salad. Oh, and a slice of bread and butter with which to make the obligatory and highly delightful chip butty. (Salt to taste.) The plate was so full that there was no room for the ketchup.

It weighed heavy all night, so heavy in fact that I couldn’t face a marmalade sandwich later. That’s a shame. I think the second onion bhaji was the culprit.

It’s odd that another one of my personalities is just as happy starving in a garret with only a bottle of scotch and a S├ími folk singer for company. That’s what I’m doing at the moment.

And just in case you think I’ve overlooked the ladies for a change, another question: Have you noticed how damnably good Chinese women are at telling you things with their eyes? What a shame no Chinese women read this blog because their government says it’s subversive and will undermine the integrity of the state.

Monday, 9 July 2018

The Woman's Place.

I take back what I said in an earlier post. I am obsessed with women; they are both my crutch and my cross depending on how old they are, what they look like, what kind of shape they exhibit, what kind of eyes they have, whether they can do the enigmatic look, whether they appear to offer a modicum of intelligence, how their sense of humour works, how they choose to relate to me, erm… well, you know, that kind of thing.

Take the nice looking one I encountered in Tesco today. She came to clear my self-service till because I had alcohol among my purchases and the till refuses to proceed until your age has been attested by someone deemed to be compos mentis. She paused briefly and said she wasn’t sure whether I was over 25 or not. It was a bit predictable I suppose, but still sweet. I would have been inclined to offer some manner of physical contact by way of honest gratitude, but realised that such an action would be both reprehensible and most unwelcome. Besides, I didn’t much fancy having my freshly laundered linen shirt liberally spattered with projectile vomit. But I did manage a non-committal smile.

See what I mean about crutches and crosses? Sometimes they’re both.

Current State in Pictures.

I’m going through a lot of personality shifts at the moment as the post-operative phase enters its sixteenth week and the vicissitudes of the post-operative condition present their various faces. Some days I feel like this:

And some days it’s this:

Sometimes this is nearer the mark:

On days when earnestness raises its tedious head I'm one of these:

And at around 2am it’s not unknown for me to transmute into my literary alter-ego:

My current mood is being dictated by the return of that nagging sense that all is not right with me, that some further lamentable failing of my biological faculties lies waiting to be discovered, and that I will soon be sleeping well after life’s fitful fever. At such times I’m given to musing on where I should like my remains to rest. If I’m to be buried I would like it to be here:

This is the north-west corner of the churchyard in the village where I was happiest.

If I’m to be reduced to dust by the purifying flames of some municipal crematorium, I would like the ashes to be deposited here:

This is a tree in a local wood where I once walked with the Lady B and her little dog. The memory is a fond one and the spot, therefore, appropriate. The problem is I don’t remember which tree it was, but I don’t suppose it matters. Any tree will do as long as it’s close to the path and looks hungry.

And then comes the matter of my haunting style. Sometimes I’ll appear like this:

And sometimes this:

And this is probably the scariest of all, especially when accompanied by gurgling noises:

And when my spirit is lacking imagination I’ll revert to how I appeared in life:

Of course, it’s just as possible that I’ll carry on regardless and still be writing this blog in ten years time. I’m not sure which is the less attractive prospect.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Why Not Go Gentle?

I saw a dead butterfly on the baking tarmac of Church Lane today. It was a Small White with its characteristic grey wing edges and a single black spot on each. It was quite beautiful, quite undamaged, and quite dead. I found it surprising because I don’t recall ever seeing a butterfly performing the function of a road kill before. That dubious honour usually goes to rats, squirrels, badgers, pheasants and wood pigeons. And I think I’ve said often enough that I find the death of anything disturbing.

I’m not the biggest fan of the Dark Rider, except when he comes on a mission of mercy which he sometimes does. I know that his eventual arrival is normal and necessary and inevitable, but I have difficulty dealing with a life force being separated from its host. Nevertheless, I hope that when he rides up and faces me I will have the guts to engage in no pointless struggle, but will climb willingly up behind him to be taken wherever the road leads.

And maybe I will discover at that point that he is no Dark Rider after all, but a shining golden one come to lead me to a saner, more peaceful world flowing with milk and 20-year-old malts; where balmy evenings are still and misty, the predatory instinct is left far behind, and around every bend is an attractive and assertive young woman just itching to make my acquaintance. I’m not of the Germanic persuasion, you see; ‘bugger Valhalla’ is my watchword. Why spend your rest time feasting and vomiting in a smoky hall when you could be frolicking nicely in a woodland glade?

Proud to be Human for Once.

I just read that four of the twelve boys in the Thailand cave have now been rescued and the operation is ongoing.

Why is anybody bothering to report this? What are the lives of a mere twelve boys worth? Twelve is a very small number – a tiny drop of water in the vast ocean of human population. So why bother?

Because every individual matters. Because the fear and anxiety of every one of their loved ones matters. And it matters big time. That’s why no effort, expense or risk has been spared in trying to bring these kids out of a very complex and dangerous situation.

This is the point at which the human animal finally proves its worth and flies in the face of the ego-ridden psychopaths running the world. I wonder how much emotional effort Trump expended on this situation – or Putin, or Erdogan, or Duterte, or Assad, or Netanyahu (should I stop there?)

For my part, I admit to sobbing stupidly when I read the news report. Not very man-like, is it? But at least it’s human when human is something worth being.