Monday, 30 June 2014

Journal Entry and a Bird Issue.

Neglecting my blog is leaving a nagging gap in my life. I’ve had plenty of other things to keep me occupied over the past few weeks, like decorating, gardening, finalising Mr Nigel’s year end accounts, general correspondence, routine housework, and trying to Be There for a couple of people who have suffered bereavements… but the missing blog is still a gap.

The problem has been that I haven’t been in the right frame of mind to make blog posts (it does take a certain frame of mind) mainly because there’s something else missing and it’s bothering me. I won’t explain what it is because, although supremely important to me, it’s complicated. So…

I feel that I ought to put my other difficulty to one side pro tem and make the effort to re-commence communication with the ether. Here goes, then; I’ll try a simple one to start off with.

*  *  *

I saw a car sticker in somebody’s rear window recently. It was published by some company that makes feed for game birds, and it said:

Slow Down for Game Birds

Well now, it seemed to me that there is a second line conspicuous by its absence, which should read:

So There Are More of Them Left for Our Customers to Kill

And then, of course, there’s the obvious corollary to be recognised:

Don’t Bother Slowing Down for Wild Birds. They’re Not Important.

I’m inclined to say do not buy things from this company, but I don’t remember what it was called, so I can’t.

*  *  *

There now, will that do for the first day back at school? I would also like it to be known that Mistress Madeline of upstate New York is largely responsible for this change of heart. Thank you, Maddie; you’re a brick.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

A Quick Wave.

There have been a few times over the past couple of weeks when I considered making a post explaining why I haven’t made any posts for the past couple of weeks, but the very idea of feeling the need to explain seemed insufferably self-important.

Nevertheless, I am aware that a few people visit this blog regularly, and a few of those few might have a passing interest in knowing that I haven’t rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible yet. I haven’t, not yet. ‘More’s the pity’ you might say, and you might be right.

I expect to be back if and when the smog clears.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Apposite Words.

I don’t often quote other people’s writing on this blog, but I sent an e-mail to Ms Wong the other day in which I used the phrase ‘peering beyond the veil.’ She sent me this quotation from some work by Shelley in reply:

Lift not the painted veil which those who live call life

Isn’t that splendid? I think she was telling me that I think too much, but I like it, I really do. I had two pieces of buttered toast instead of one, in celebration. Now all I have to do is get through tomorrow.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

The Question of Junk.

In spite of all the best efforts of e-mail providers to apply filters, junk mail still arrives in our inboxes on a daily basis. It's readily recognisable as such, and we know that somebody out there is trying to manipulate us in some way. We know that there’s a good chance they’re trying to obtain money from us fraudulently, that maybe they’re even trying to steal it from us surreptitiously. Being aware that somebody is trying to con us has become a daily experience.

Before the advent of the internet, such an experience was extremely rare, so is this having an effect on the human psyche? Are we moving from a generally trusting state to a generally untrusting one? Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Is it teaching us a lesson about the level of rabid self-interest and capacity for deceit which lurks within the human animal? And will it help us change things for the better.

Remembering the Big Offs.

I’ve noticed that a number of the comments generated by certain pieces of music relate how some family member or other had it played at their funeral. The piece posted below (Karl Jenkins’s Benedictus) is notable for having several people comment that it’s what they want playing at their own funeral.

I wonder whether this means that a large number of people have an innate sense that they will be present at their leaving ceremony. Maybe their subconscious minds remember having been present at lots.

Picking the Wrong Provider.

The first of this year’s fledglings to make an appearance are the House Sparrows. There was a group of them on the bird table the other day, and one little female was doing the open beak and fluttery wing thing, begging to be fed. Problem was, the bird she was addressing was a Dunnock. After several minutes of being ignored, she finally got the message and started picking food up for herself. Lesson learned, nature’s way.

What a lot you do glean from watching birds.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Where Life Leads.

I was trying to think of a word to rhyme with ‘Zoe’ tonight (and not getting very far) when I recalled that I had my first doughnut at the age of 6. We were on holiday in Southsea, a popular resort in Hampshire on the south coast.

The B&B we were staying in was a large Victorian house, and it was run by an Indian woman who wore a sari and had a red spot on her forehead. That sort of thing was unfamiliar to me at the time, and the red spot brought the term ‘evil eye’ into my mind.

The door to my bedroom had an uncovered keyhole through which the light from the landing could be seen when the room was in darkness. The first night there I watched it for a while and became gradually more convinced that it wasn’t a keyhole at all, but an eye. The term ‘evil eye’ cropped up again. I became nervous when it blinked.

Come to think of it, that was probably the first time I had Coca Cola, too. It became a special treat every holiday thereafter, and assumed identification with summer days, snorkling in the sea, watching ships passing the headland, and a general sense of freedom. Today's kids take it for granted, and I'm not sure we're doing them any favours.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Lucky Bird.

There’s a cock pheasant who comes and raids my bird table, devouring all the seed in one sitting. When I chase him off, he flies away a few feet and then squawks imprecations at me. He’s fortunate that I’m a sentimental soul who wouldn’t hurt a bird for the world, not even a pheasant. He is.

Being a Slob (Apparently.)

I went to Derby for coffee with Mel today, and got told off (again) for buying a vegetable pasty from Greggs. Well, what am I supposed to do? I went to the butty shop next door but the only vegetarian option they had was cheese and salad. How often do I have cheese? Five times a day? OK, exaggeration, but you know what I mean.

'What have you got against Greggs?' I asked her.

'Rubbish food!' she replied with not a hint of uncertainty.

So then she borrowed £10 off me to go and buy sundry bags of nuts, apricots and other diddly things from the nut stall in the market. Very noble…

*  *  *

And I nearly met a Jean Butler lookalike. Same red hair, same pale skin with a few freckles, same shape, same soft prettiness with just a hint of potential fire… But she didn’t make eye contact, so I couldn’t say ‘Nice hair.’  Close shave, that one.

Among Heroes, Dragons and Stone Lions.

(Oh, and goldfish.)

This blog has had a veritable rash of visitors from China today, and I have a theory as to why. I suspect that having read my eloquent waxing on the subject of Chinese dancing girls recently, the visitors are all members of a fledgling women’s movement operating under the working motto: JJ for Chairman.

This is most edifying ladies, but might you consider going one stage further and making it JJ for Emperor? As far as I’m aware, I’ve never founded a dynasty during any of my lifetimes and maybe it’s about time I did.

I see one possible impediment, however. I mentioned recently that my hair is thinning on top. It’s worse than that; it’s thinning unevenly, and this means that I shall soon resemble a moth-eaten rug. Could you tolerate the prospect of having a moth-eaten rug holding court in the Forbidden City if I promise in return to give Lin Chung a free pardon?

Monday, 2 June 2014

Hearing the Unbearable Silence.

I was going to make another post tonight about the magic of the English country lane on a damp summer’s evening. It was all in my head and ready to be committed to the blog, but it slipped away when I received news that yet another dog connection had gone – Galileo this time, companion to Melanie of Anthropomorphica.

So then I thought of making a different post about the special bond that grows between dog and human. That was all in my head, too, but what would be the point? Those of us who get it get it, and nothing I could say would persuade those who don’t.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Chinese Women Rule.

I’m coming to the conclusion that, for all its pretension to the contrary, Chinese culture is secretly matriarchal. You only have to watch clips from their movies to see that Chinese men have only two modes: fierce and simpering. The women, on the other hand, can do pretty, cute, scolded puppy dog, sagacious, determined, don’t-mess-with-me, you-asked-for-it, sensual, and supremely disinterested. On top of that, they can run up walls and fly without batting an eyelid (although, coincidentally, they are also the world’s best at batting eyelids.)

I reckon this is why the Americans are siding with everybody else in South East Asia and claiming that the Chinese are de-stabilising the South China Sea. It’s all the Lady Gagas in government. They’re turning a greener shade of pea.

Ms Wong had a moan at me tonight. She’s Chinese, you know.

Versions of 'Variations' and a Little Irony.

Probably my favourite romantic ballad is Ae Fond Kiss which is a musical setting of a Burns poem. Over recent nights I’ve been scouring YouTube for a version which pleases me. I haven’t found one.

I’ve also been scouring YouTube for what I consider to be the ‘perfect’ version of Elgar’s Nimrod from the Enigma Variations, and that search has been successful. It’s the version recorded by Sir Adrian Boult a long time ago, and is posted below. The speed is just right, every musical nuance is clearly stated, every crescendo is perfectly timed and given perfect weight. It seems that Sir Adrian had the perfect understanding of the Grand Emotion. This is just my opinion of course, but I’m sticking to it. None of the others I heard came close.

And I was interested to read what the uploader says in his introduction, which is that he can no longer reply to comments because he refuses to join Google+. ‘Hear, hear,’ I say. Isn’t it ironic that I can’t say ‘hear, hear’ in the comments because I, too, refuse to join Google+?