Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Spring Matters.

I gather a Chinese supermodel has been hauled over the coals for referring to the Chinese New Year as the Lunar New Year on some social networking facility. She’s being accused of pandering to other Asian nations and turning her back on her heritage.

It seems we’re living in the Age of Walking on Eggshells, a time when everybody in the public eye has to be so, so careful with everything they say for fear that somebody somewhere will pick up a single word out of place and hurl house bricks at them. And the word doesn’t even have to be out of place. ‘The Lunar New Year’ is not only a perfectly legitimate expression, it also has the advantage of encouraging inclusivity.

It needs to stop because there’s a danger that a lot of serious angles on important issues will become lost in the gloopy stew of irrational political correctness. But, of course, it won’t stop because the human animal is just too dumb to make it stop.

*  *  *

Meanwhile, I saw some periwinkles blooming at the bottom of my lane today. I don’t ever remember seeing periwinkles blooming in February before. And a young wild rabbit has taken to visiting my garden at dusk, there to hop happily about and nibble things it can’t find in the field next door. I used to get wild rabbits in my garden a lot at one time, but I haven’t seen them for several years and thought they’d all gone. I wonder whether wild rabbits are a good omen.

*  *  *

And there’s been no word on either the latest scan or my prospective operation, so I still don’t know whether I’ll be spending the spring recuperating or packing my trunk for the one way trip to the terminus.

An Excuse for a Post.

I have nothing to blog about tonight. Today brought no welcome encounters, no unwelcome letters, no blessed sunshine, no icy winds, no flashes of insight or inspiration, and no ordinary people doing or saying extraordinarily funny things. Today was unremittingly flat.

So might I be permitted to say hello and welcome to whoever it is in the region of Krasnodar in southern Russia (a bloody long way from Moscow, note) who has adopted the habit of visiting me frequently. Whoever you are, sir or madam, your apparently dedicated attention to my little journal is much appreciated.

And did I ever post the video below? I think I might have done, but I don’t remember. If I did, excuse the repetition. It’s just that it fits me like a glove at the moment. 

Unfortunately, the institutionalised tendency to irritating imperfection for which Google are rightly renowned means that a Blogger search doesn't find it. Do follow the link. It's worth it.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

The Animal Trap.

I think it a useful faculty to know at least one Shakespeare play well because it will usually contain at least one quotation suitable for almost any circumstance. Today’s favourite is from Macbeth:

They have tied me to a stake; I cannot fly

Feeling tethered, fretful, dispirited; waiting for the next time that I’ll be pushed inside a cage and dealt the benefit of medical procedures. And I continue to wonder whether there’s a man approaching with a shovel to hit me over the head and leave me out for the crows to feed on. I wish they could just give me a pill and set me free to scuttle back into my wildwood.

This was going to be yet another long and literate whinge full of metaphors and similes and references to freedom, just because I can and because the creation of descriptive and sometimes even lyrical pieces of writing eases the mental nausea. I decided to watch an episode of Inspector Lynley instead.

*  *  *

I was wondering earlier where the term ‘piping hot’ comes from. I suppose it derives from the fact that certain foods whistle when air escapes during the cooking process. Isn’t there something in A Christmas Carol about the pudding singing in the copper? I expect that’s probably it.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Something in the Air.

Yesterday was really quite remarkable for being so consistently full of the energy of Something.

Something? What exactly is this thing called Something?

It’s hard to explain, but it’s that category of phenomena in which things like luck, coincidence, revelation and the unforced unravelling of knotty issues reside. If that won’t do, I’m sorry. It’s the best explanation I can manage, and yesterday was full of it.

It began for me while I was sitting in the Ashbourne branch of Costa Coffee at lunchtime, but I spoke to Mel later and she’d had a day full of it as well. And it was all positive and happy and uplifting, even though one aspect left me with a hangover. (You don’t want to know what that aspect is in any detail. Suffice it to say that the Lady B has a life to live in which I have no place, and my baggage is my baggage to carry, not hers. Sleeping dogs are best left undisturbed.)

There, now; that made a welcome change from health issues, didn’t it?

(I didn’t get a letter from the hospital this morning, by the way, just a mis-delivered postcard from a ski resort in France addressed to somebody in Borrowash, wherever that is. So if Carolyn and Russ {senders of the first part} or Fion and Nige {recipients of the second part} should happen to read this post, do be assured that the pretty picture of a snowy Haute Savoie is in safe hands and will soon be consigned to a proper British red pillar box, there to await the attention of the Royal Mail in the sure and certain hope of successful delivery at the second attempt.)

Poseidon's Hint.

I was reminded tonight of a basic nautical truism. If you get caught in a serious storm you don’t try to run away from it. If you do, chances are that the following waves will swamp the ship and you’ll perish. The trick is to turn the ship’s head into the wind and let its built-in buoyancy ride the swell. Maybe it’s worth bearing that in mind when the storms of life are trying to throw you off beam.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Another Day, Another Skirmish.

Today’s battle was pretty much the same as all the others – the getting there, the finding of a place to park, the struggle to accurately navigate the hospital complex with its bewildering array of twists and turns and levels, the anxious wait to be called, the irritating preliminaries, and finally the being pushed into a noisy machine and given orders. And at the end of it all there’s relief and the hope that you’ve pushed the enemy a little further back across the gain line.

And a temporary sense of relief does allow the inner self to reassert itself just a little. When the nurse removed the plastic thingy (blue one end, pink the other, remember?) which facilitates the pumping of dye into one’s bloodstream, I was struck by the fact that there was no blood on the puncture wound.

‘Where’s the blood?’ I asked the nurse.

‘What blood?’

‘The blood that should be there.’

‘There shouldn’t be any blood there.’

‘Well there was last time.’

‘That was last time.’

‘Are you having me on? The bloke over there had blood on his dressing, so why haven’t I got any?’

‘Believe me, there shouldn’t be any blood.’

‘Are you sure you haven’t made a mistake and drained it? Have I become a bloodless person and need to get used to the fact?’


‘Have I died and you haven’t told me yet?’


‘Then I suspect there’s discrimination going on.’


Meanwhile, a female fellow combatant sitting on a seat opposite began to titter, and I do so like it when people titter.

And so another battle is bravely met and now I wait for the letter, all the time reminding myself that I mustn’t engage in idle speculation as to what it might say. The possible permutations are many and varied as usual, and there’s no point in trying to predict where the enemy’s cannonball will land until it takes a chunk out of something.

One more battle is over but the war goes on. Waterloo is still some way down the line, dammit.

War and the Lady.

I suppose today’s first post should be a debrief on the latest battle in the War of the Cancerous (probably) Kidney. But something happened in the post hostility period which was of more immediate significance than the mere matter of whether I’m to live on or die soon: I had the first extended conversation with the Lady B for many a long year (I also talked to her dear mama and sister, but separately.)

She’s changed. She’s more relaxed, more self-assured; her voice is a little deeper and the quality of its modulation and diction grown even closer to perfection. Out has gone the fragile and eminently lovable deviant, and in its place has grown a mature woman of compelling poise and beauty. Whether or not she’s still possessed of that engaging feminine assertiveness I have no way of knowing, but I think it highly likely.

So what else could I do but be happy for her and offer congratulation, especially since she’s effected the change through determination and dedication. She’s beaten her demon, and few people can make that claim.  If she were my daughter and I were permitted the sentiment, I would say that I felt truly proud of her. The fact that she isn’t, and that her success has taken her beyond my orbit (especially at a time when I most needed her presence), is a minor personal tragedy which I have long grown used to dealing with. Is it not a fact that wisdom grows with the application of hard lessons and periodic trials? I think it probably is.

The biggest shock, however, took several minutes to become manifest. The Lady B is to become a mother in the merry month of May. How should I deal with that, except to instruct myself most forcibly that what happens on another planet is none of my business? Besides, there was never any prospect of she and I having that sort of relationship. Relative ages are usually a decisive factor in such matters, and I doubt I would have wanted it anyway. And yet it does matter because she has been so very precious to me for such a long time, and still is.

I have a feeling that the child will be a daughter, and I carry the hope that she will be every bit as appealing as her own dear mama. I also wonder whether she will be called Isabella.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

That Eve of Battle Feeling.

Friday looms, and all day today I’ve been hearing Sir Jacob Astley’s famous prayer uttered prior to the start of hostilities at the Battle of Edgehill in 1642:

O Lord, thou knowest how busy I must be this day. If I forget thee, do not thou forget me.

As far as I know, Sir Jacob survived the day. (But he still died in the end anyway, so what the hell.)

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Melancholy Matters.

I’ve just been reading some of my old posts which I made last year. It’s about the only way I can keep in touch with my blog at the moment and the dear old blog is so important to me. Presently I can’t hope to reach the upper echelons of mediocrity which was my stock in trade until only a few short weeks ago, since my gumboots are now trapped too firmly in the quagmire of anxiety.

Actually, some of my efforts weren’t so mediocre. One of them even made me smile when I was reminded that the odd bit of dry, oblique humour occasionally found its way onto the page. Of all forms of humour, I think I like the dry, oblique sort most of all.

*  *  *

The inclement weather made Ashbourne a miserable place to be today. Anyone familiar with the closing passages of Tennyson’s Idylls of the King will know exactly what I mean, and Tennyson described the whole miserable matter far better than I ever could. (Then again, Tennyson wasn’t – as far as I know – much given to dry, oblique humour, so maybe I might bask in the shadow of his presence after all.)

*  *  *

I’m nervous about going to sleep tomorrow night because when I next regain consciousness it will be Friday, and we all know what’s happening on Friday, don’t we? Some people have wished me luck and some people haven’t.

*  *  *

I made a comment on a YouTube video last night, and within minutes was accused of being a troll by a troll who evidently doesn’t know what a troll is.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Slings and Arrows.

Today was all a bit miserable because I spent a lot of it in cold, wet, windy places becoming so chilled that even ten hours later I’m still trying to remember what ‘comfortably warm’ feels like.

One such place was a car repair workshop – open to the elements at both ends – where I spent an hour waiting for my car to go through its annual test, and on the wall was a notice which said:

Will customers please note that cheques are no longer excepted

So how is a grammar Nazi like me, beset as he is by a combination of fine sensibilities and worrying health issues, supposed to repel such a twin assault on his perception of life as we know it.