Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Contemplating the Last Focus.

Ever since the distressing events of two Fridays ago it seems I’ve had nothing to say and no will to say anything. This is a problem because writing things to this blog has been my primary focus for some time.

I’ve had a primary focus most of my life. There was the fishing focus, the classical music focus, the history focus, the photography focus, the theatre focus, the fiction writing focus, and so on. The focus wasn’t usually the thing I spent most time doing, but it was the thing I most thought about and wanted to get back to whenever I was doing something else. It was the thing that drove me. And however insignificant the writing of a blog might seem to other people – especially since it’s never brought so much as a penny by way of pecuniary reward – blogging has been it for the past six years.

This is why I hope the condition is temporary. I have plenty to do at the moment, but there is nothing currently in my life or on the horizon that comes close to achieving the exalted status of primary focus. And it’s worth bearing in mind that I never chose my focuses; I might have chosen my activities, but the focuses chose me.

I suppose that’s why I’m writing this post. It’s being written for my sake, not anybody else’s, as most of them were. A blog of this sort doesn’t – or shouldn’t – aim to teach or preach or set the writer up on a podium. It’s essentially a reflective exercise, a medium for self-expression and learning with maybe a slight nod to entertainment thrown in. I do realise that the musings of one little guy sitting in a little house in the middle of England really don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.

So can I give it up? I don’t know, and maybe I won’t have a choice. That’s the usual way with focuses: one day they leave and never come back. And everything might change tomorrow.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Missing a Component.

It seems to me – and Freudian scholars will probably tell me I’m wrong – that vengeance resides with the Id and the concept of justice with the Ego, while the Super Ego permits only acceptance that what’s done is done and cannot be undone. That’s why I don’t understand what forgiveness means. Desire for vengeance is a knee jerk reaction. Justice is too vague a concept to be viewed with anything other than a modicum of suspicion. The only vehicle for sustained perception must surely be the higher mind, at least it is if that’s how you’re made.

The only time I have any concept of forgiveness is when I’ve done something for which I hate myself and can’t get past the emotional fallout. Does that mean I’m not forgiving myself? Am I getting close?

Friday, 20 May 2016

One of Life's Imperfections.

Anybody who’s familiar with this blog will have gathered that I’m manically compassionate about animals. The prospect of killing one, hurting one, or causing one to suffer distress is, therefore, a source of horror to me. But I had an infestation threatening to develop and needed to scotch it quickly before the attention of a specialist would be required and wholesale, painful death descend on a multitude of innocent creatures. It’s happened before and it wasn’t very nice. This time the solution would be humane.

And so I laid out the money for the right equipment. I was patient and observant. I exercised caution and intelligence in expectation of a successful outcome, but something went wrong and two innocent young animals went to a slow and stressful end. And there was nothing I could do to change it.

So where does that leave me? It leaves me languishing in a pit of self-loathing, angry that life seems not to reward kindness. There won’t be space for trivial matters on this blog today.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Where Captain Hook Went Wrong.

I read a news report today about a 72-year-old Australian man – out fishing in a small boat on a creek in Northern Territory (why do they do it?) – who escaped an attack by a salt water crocodile. Apparently, he fought off the reptile with a spanner and some spark plugs. According to the report he hit the croc on the head with the spanner, but it didn’t say what he did with the spark plugs. Neither did it say how he managed to subsequently escape to a mangrove swamp with a salt water crocodile in the near vicinity, nor why the croc didn’t follow him in there since mangrove swamps are one of its favourite habitats. And yet the poor guy’s ordeal lasted three hours. Mmm…

OK, let’s have a few facts about the SWC:

1. It’s big. Adult males average about 16ft in length, but they can grow quite a bit bigger.

2. It has the strongest bite of any known animal, being able to crush a cow’s head in one go.

3. It’s the most aggressive of all the crocodile species. I think that probably means it doesn’t give up easily.

4. It’s the apex predator of all apex predators. In Asia, even leopards and tigers avoid the reptile’s habitats because they know they’ll lose.

5. Salt water crocodiles eat sharks.

So, tall tale or true? You decide.

I remember my geography teacher at school telling us how to handle a crocodile attack. He said that although its bite strength is enormous, the muscles that open the mouth are quite weak, so all you have to do is tape its mouth shut. Simple. He didn’t, however, tell us what you do next. Maybe you settle down and sing a lullaby until the croc falls asleep, and then tiptoe quietly away and hope the alarm clock doesn’t go off. He also omitted to mention either spanners or spark plugs, which just serves to demonstrate the inadequacy of the education system.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Becoming Quasimodo.

A major disaster has struck in the form of a thing on the side of my nose which is alternatively called a pimple or a zit in Britain. This is most uncharacteristic of me because I was around 25 the last time I had one. I just don’t get them, and I always feel a bit sorry for those who do because they make you look unhealthy. And when they appear on the face, well… I’m not much to look at as it is, but now I’m subject to the barking of dogs, the pointing of humans, and the mischievous grins of the heavenly host whom I can almost hear mutter: ‘You must have done something to deserve it.’ Or so it seems to me.

A case in point: There’s a woman I often see walking around Ashbourne. I saw her today and she smiled at me. She’s never smiled at me before and I’ve never smiled at her, so why today? Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it? She wasn’t smiling at me at all, she was suppressing a full-bellied guffaw at the sight of a little red protuberance glowing and pulsating and attracting the stares of people in precisely the same way that moths are unfailingly attracted to a lantern in the darkest hour before dawn.

And maybe it explains my latest curious experience in the coffee shop. The girl at the counter called out to the one making the drinks: ‘Small Americano with half a pot of cream.’ When I walked over to collect it, I discovered that the latter had heard: ‘Half a cup of Americano, black.’ It isn’t difficult to work out what caused the loss of concentration, is it?

I don’t expect it to last long – maybe a day or two at most – but it seems that, for the time being, the order is to stay indoors and keep a large paper bag handy, just in case I get a rash of people knocking on the door with some disingenuous excuse to want my attention. I’ll know what they’ve really come to look at.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Finding Something Worth Saying.

I’m finding it very difficult to come up with anything worth saying on the blog at the moment. Having suffered an attack of the garrulous version of gastro-enteritis following the Affair of the Computer Rebuild, subsequent matters have been relatively lame and would have been embarrassing to report.

(I suppose I might mention that the new girl in the chip shop continues to give me more chips in a standard portion than her predecessor did – which is good because I like chips. Then again, I might not.)

I was quite pleased by one of the minor matters I came across in the news today. Remember what I said about Boris Johnson and his assertion that the EU bears parallels with Hitler? Well, it seems that even some senior Tories agree with me. They’re muttering things like ‘Please ignore Boris, he’s losing the plot.’ And I’m not blind to the fact that this bears some comparison with matters affecting our American cousins, because I gather many senior Republicans are saying pretty much the same about Donald Trump. And to make the comparison even more tantalising, it might be noted that both men are still sporting the same hairstyle as they did when they were fourteen. In Trump’s case it’s a sort of exaggerated Beach Boys, whereas Boris’s mop is more a restrained Beatles. But it’s still a telling coincidence, isn’t it?

The big news, though, is some intelligence I received from an ex-pat Aussie woman with whom I’ve been corresponding on YouTube. She tells me that Australia (among other places down in that part of the world) is home to a very dangerous bird called the Cassowary, so I looked it up on Wiki and came across the following:

Of 221 attacks studied in 2003, 150 were against humans. 75% of these were from cassowaries that had been fed by people.

OK, so if ever I move to north eastern Australia (which is unlikely, but you never know) I give up feeding the birds. Got it.

 What was that you just said about my mother?

Monday, 16 May 2016

Laying the Amethyst Ghost.

There was a bit of a stir here recently when the Queen was caught on an eavesdropping microphone telling somebody that the recent Chinese delegation to Britain had been ‘very rude.’

Well, this is serious stuff – diplomatic incident stuff – HMS Amethyst trapped on the Yangtze under fire from big Chinese guns stuff – start of the 3rd Opium War stuff, according to David Cameron. (I made the last one up because it’s no better than he deserves.)

So I read an article on the nature of Chinese rudeness, just for fun. It said that the Chinese are rude in two particulars:

1. They don’t stand obediently in queues like we Brits do, but try to barge in at the front – and there’s nothing more likely to raise a true Brit’s dander than a barger-in at the front. Barging in at the front is the very definition of rudeness in the Scepter’d Isle. Unfortunately, no explanation was given for this unconscionable behaviour other than ‘the Chinese have no manners’, which almost certainly isn’t true.

2. Chinese people talk loudly in public. This one was at least excused on the grounds that most Chinese people work in industry where there is a lot of noise from machinery, so they JUST GET USED TO SHOUTING.

Interestingly, the article went on to say that certain British habits are also deemed rude by the Chinese. These include our tendency to be economical in our responses, and the example given was our habit of answering a question with ‘No.’ The Chinese don’t like that, apparently. They consider it impolite (which, for any Chinese readers, is another word for ‘rude.’) So here’s a tip for anybody thinking of marrying a Chinese person (as I expect to do in my next life, just as long as the priestess is up to the mark with her timing.)

If you come home from the office and the little lady asks ‘Did you have a good day at the office, dear?’ you mustn’t say ‘No.’ If you do, she’s likely to be very upset and file for divorce – and the papers will all be in Cantonese so you won’t have a clue what she’s taking with her. You must say ‘Well actually, my dearest flower of the Orient, I did find today a little trying. (And thank you for asking; it’s very much appreciated.) You see, a spider crawled into the ink well, crawled out again, and then walked all over a letter I’d just written to an esteemed client in Barnsley. Don’t you think such a misadventure would be most upsetting, oh jewel of Guangdong Province? Your opinion would be highly esteemed. As indeed are you, precious Queen of Imperial Dragons. Since you did me the honour of accompanying me on this troubled path called life, never has my furrowed brow been so quieted nor my stiff upper lip made more wobbly.’

Heed this advice and you’ll never have to go to the most expensive florist in town and buy a bunch of flowers so big it’ll need a delivery van all to itself. And the ghost of HMS Amethyst will finally rest content.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

On Potty Politicians.

Boris Johnson, the ex-Mayor of London, is supporting the Leave campaign in the upcoming referendum on whether or not Britain should remain in the EU. In his latest speech he draws a parallel between the EU and Hitler, arguing that the aim of both was and is to bring Europe under a single authority.

But there’s a bit of a difference, Boris…

The EU has a council chamber which any member state can leave whenever they so desire. Hitler had a military machine, jackboots and a creepy moustache, a compelling combination which gave individual states little option but to toe the line.

Meanwhile, Boris’s old school chum, David Cameron, is supporting the other side. He says we should remain in the EU, since failure to do so might risk war and genocide in Europe.

What was I saying about we Europeans keeping our infantile ninnies hidden from view? Seems I might have been wrong. Either that or Trumpitis is worryingly contagious.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Envying the Land of the Free.

I gather Donald Trump’s long time butler – or senior aide, depending on which part of the report you take as being more truly representative of his erstwhile exalted position – has gone public with his opinion of the current incumbent of His Master’s Aspiration. He says that President Obama should either be ‘taken out’ by the military (one of those delightful phrases which he no doubt picked up from movies about US marines kicking ass) or publicly hanged in front of the White House. Only it shouldn’t be called the White House, apparently; it should be called the White Mosque.

This is what we Europeans so envy about American culture – that disarmingly childlike candour which we are quite unable to emulate in the higher echelons of public visibility. We, too, have plenty of people with infantile mentalities either seeking or hanging around the fringes of power, but we tend to keep them well hidden in order to protect what little reputation we might still have in the world. America, it seems, has no such reservations. Oh to be so free.

A Novel Discovery.

One night, when I was missing my dear friend Mr Comp most dreadfully, I re-read the first two chapters of my novel for the first time in several years. I was horrified. The writing style in the first chapter is so immature as to be almost unreadable (to me, that is.) The second chapter is much better.

I remembered that the first chapter started life several years before as a short story in its own right, but wasn’t offered to publishers for superstitious reasons. I never noticed the difference in style when I was writing the rest, and that’s pretty bad. And it’s no consolation that the second chapter was the point at which a certain goddess took over…

Catching Up.

So, having failed to make most of the posts I should have made but couldn’t over the past couple of days, let’s skip forward to today and recount a few more things that are of no interest to anybody but me (because it’s my blog.)

1. I saw the first of this year’s fledglings this morning. Of all the fine feathered creatures which visit my garden, this is my favourite: the Robin. So alert, aware, positive and speckly-chested. Utterly delightful.

2. Today I did something I’ve never done in my life before: I parked next to HT54 in a car park. I noticed that the Lady B parks her car just as I do – perfectly. Midway between the lines, properly parallel, nose right up to the kerb but not beyond so as to avoid inconveniencing pedestrians. People who understand and respect space have my admiration, unlike most of the people who park in Sainsbury’s car park and have me wishing for the arrival of the spaceship that will carry me to somewhere further away than Jupiter (or even Australia, come to that.)

3. I went to the computer repair place this morning to check on the progress of my job and was approached by a receptionist who was small and pretty and who I hadn’t seen before. ‘I haven’t seen you before,’ I remarked. ‘That’s because I’m new,’ she replied.

At that point I was moved to want to say ‘My, you’re a pretty little thing, aren’t you?’ It seemed to me to be a perfectly reasonable observation, since she was both pretty and little, but of course she would have misconstrued it. She would have assumed me to be an aging, sexist, wannabee Lothario who hadn’t yet realised that this is 2016 not 1716, and who was last seen as the dim-witted, aristocratic, perennial fall guy in Blackadder III. Not wishing to give offence or be thought out of touch, I kept quiet.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Where Was I #2?

As I said earlier, post after post came running through my head during my period of absence, and I knew at the time I should have been writing them down longhand so as to transpose them via the keyboard once it was re-attached to a functioning computer. But I was too fed up… and it seemed like tempting providence… and, you know… but this was one:

I was walking along Mill Lane yesterday when I passed the field where the llamas live. (These are real llamas, you understand, not my mystical, know-it-all visitor.) One of them was standing close to the gate watching me, so I said ‘hello.’ Upon hearing this, another llama half way across the field got very excited and came galloping over, bucking like a prize steer as it did so. (Whoever would have thought that llamas gallop and buck? I wouldn’t, but anyway…) As it approached, the first llama also became excited and started jinking around, and then they faced one another and charged. So was there a cracking of heads? No. They lifted their forefeet and banged their chests together with a resounding thud reminiscent of sumo wrestlers, before intertwining their long necks in a seemingly affectionate manner. Isn’t that nice? I assume that chest banging and neck linking must the llama’s version of a hug, and JJ learned something new which can’t be a bad thing.

I was also enthralled last night by the sight of Jupiter holding station a little to the east of the moon. It seemed inconceivable that I was seeing something that is 400,000x further away than Australia. I suppose that means it must be a bit bigger than Australia, which I think I already knew anyway.

And now I’m convinced of the notion that I’m out of practice with regard to the making of blog posts and that none of the above is of the slightest interest to anybody, so now I’m going to have a cup of tea. I might make another deeply uninteresting post later.

Where Was I?

It's now Friday evening. I've been without a computer since Wednesday morning and it's been hell, it really has. I did know how much I rely on the old chap (who actually isn't that old) but the extent of my frustration surprised even me.

I found several historical documentaries to watch on the TV, and found them as full of speculation disguised as certainty as they've always been. I watched an episode of a favourite old TV sitcom which I've seen so many times I almost know the script. And I found an American real-life-ghost-stories shows which was tedious as hell (or maybe it just seemed that way because that's where I was at the time.)

Late at night I was reduced to listening to old albums on my crappy old audio unit, which brought back a few memories but lacked the quality of YouTube-with-headphones. And there were no visuals to compliment the musical experience. Oddly, I drank less beer but more scotch. I wonder why that was. As I said, hell on earth.

Yesterday I became very cross when the receptionist at the repair place told me my computer hadn't even been looked at yet because 'everybody was away on call-outs.' I was less than polite to her, poor thing, and I discovered something about myself in the process: when I get cross, I exhibit psychopathic tendencies. Fortunately they don't last long, and then I'm really, really sorry because I realise she's probably a very nice person who just happened to say the wrong thing quite innocently. But that's the problem with psychopaths: they're congenitally inclined to shoot messengers and be utterly intolerant of anything less than perfection. I met the receptionist today. She's small and pretty, a fact which I might turn into a post later.

And therein lies my problem. Now I need to catch up, but I've forgotten all the posts I wrote in my head while languishing in the hungry ghost realm. I suppose I could mention the llamas...

More later maybe.

(Oh, and I discovered something about the Lady Bella. Remember her? And I noticed that nobody asked me whether I'd died.)

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Savouring a Sea Dog's Blushes.

During my short time before the mast, one of my fellow cadets was an ego-ridden idiot who was full of stuff about how he knew all there was to know about the sea and sailing upon it because he was nothing less than a seasoned old sea dog.

One day we were heading out of the Dart estuary in a sailing whaler, heading for the open waters of the Channel (or La Manche as the French mistakenly have it), when he became most distressed about the white stuff forming on his lips.

‘It’s salt,’ said one of my less seasoned colleagues.

And so it was.

To Do With Advancing Years.

One of the impressions you get from watching Japanese ghost stories on YouTube is that all young Japanese women are drop-dead gorgeous with perfect legs and engaging mannerisms. But then you realise that casting directors are in the habit of selecting their female leads from the top 1% on the drop-dead-gorgeous-with-perfect-legs-and-engaging-mannerisms list. And therein lies the benefit of experience.

An Anxious Time.

Today I booked my computer in for his rebuild.

Yes, my computer is male and I talk to him. It would seem ludicrously inconsistent to talk to trees, my car, sheep, roadkills, stranded earthworms, a 2ft tall wooden statue of the goddess Guanyin, the little people, and Americans, and yet fail to include my computer. How strange would a person have to be to commit such an oversight?

So, I’m nervous at the prospect of being sans computer for a day or two. Now I know what it feels like to be a wife-dependent man facing the prospect of having his helpmeet taken into hospital for a couple of days for some minor operative procedure. I was never a wife-dependent man, but the computer is something else entirely.

My computer is my point of contact with the outside world, you see, because I don’t socialise. It isn’t that I’m socially awkward; I’m not. It’s just that I’m unusually intolerant of cultural expectations and the generality of human nature. Besides, what would socialising have to offer somebody who’s done everything he wanted to do apart from the things that were too expensive and still are? And the one person in my physical orbit who captured my devoted attention in the whole of the past ten years deserted me most indecorously, so I don’t bother any more. I find special people in cyberspace and talk to them instead, and for that you need a computer.

So that’s why I’m nervous, extremely anxious in fact. How will I face the lonely hours, and suppose something should go wrong with the minor operative procedure? The time set for admission is Wednesday at noon. High noon. Gulp.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Feeling the Sense.

This track by Maddy Prior and June Tabor - The Silly Sisters - has long been a favourite. The lyrics, melody and harmonies are relatively unimportant in themselves. What attracts me is something deeper, something you might call 'the sense behind the sound.' For me, the sense behind the sound is always what decides whether or not a piece of music earns a place at the top table.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

The Capricious and the Charming.

I have computer woes. I was shut out of it yesterday by a technician working remotely from ten past two in the afternoon until one o’clock this morning. At 1am I wrested control back so I could watch some Japanese ghost stories on YouTube, since my patience has limits. Eleven hours was quite enough, and my addiction to Japanese ghost stories was gnawing away at me mercilessly. Anyway, the technician didn’t find the problem and now it seems I need a rebuild, which means I face the prospect of being locked away in solitary confinement for as long as it takes, probably on Wednesday.


The past week has been delightfully warm, sunny and dry here in Blighty. Today it remained warm, but was a lot more humid, and this evening we’re having thunder and showers in consequence.

Rain is one of those classic cocktail ingredients, the effect of which depends on what they’re being mixed with. Winter rain is miserable – cold, spitting, nasty and uncomfortable – but gentle rain during warm spells in spring and summer is quite charming. It smells good and freshens everything. I remember watching Jiri Menzel’s classic Capricious Summer once, and what I found most appealing about it was the charm of summer rain.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Eerie Eastern Ears.

Now I know why Japanese lady ghosts always have long hair that’s so straggly you can’t ignore it. It’s there to hide the ears.

You see, it’s popularly supposed that the main difference between Europeans and East Asians is the eyes. It isn’t. It’s the ears. I’ve watched a lot of Japanese horror stories recently, so I know what I’m talking about. Japanese women have big ears. If their lady ghosts had short hair, we’d all be going ‘Yo! Look at the lugs on that!’ And then they wouldn’t be scary, and that wouldn’t do.

So now you know.

When Magic Turns Sour.

A character in a TV drama said something which touched a chord with me:

Quality time should not be measured in minutes, but in moments.

In my opinion, that thought is a bit above the usual sound bite statement that masquerades as words of wisdom. It really does say something, and it reminded me of one of my own moments many years ago.

When my daughter was 17 months old we were walking down the street one day and she trotted ahead of me. She was wearing a hat with a bobble that hung down on a short length of wool at the back, and as she walked it swung from side to side. I watched her and was struck by the immeasurable preciousness of what I was seeing: a beautiful, fresh little life walking confidently, if a touch unsteadily, through the early spring of being. And what elevated the experience from a passing observation to something rarefied and sublime was the swinging bobble. Don’t ask me why the bobble made the difference; for some reason it did. Something to do with the god of small things and being an HSP, I expect. Whatever the reason, that moment was very special – a precious work of art to which you give pride of place on the most prominent wall and admire over and over again as long as you have eyes to see.

A few hours later she was badly scalded in a kitchen accident, and subsequently spent a couple of weeks in a specialist burns hospital. It was Christmas; the world was replete with baubles, but all I kept seeing was the swinging bobble.

She pulled through OK, but I felt the sting of a harsh lesson. Magic moments can, and usually do, bring warmth and priceless memories. The picture sits proudly in its frame, there to be savoured over and over. But they can also haunt and taunt most cruelly when fate decrees.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016


As I approached the counter in the coffee shop today, the young-woman-who-treats-me-like-something-the-cat-brought-in-having-first-consumed-it-and-then-regurgiatated-it said: ‘One ninety five, please.’

My regular medium Americano is, indeed, £1.95, but come on…

‘You’re being presumptuous,’ I complained.

‘Well, am I right?’


‘There you are, then.’

See what I mean?

(She should have a ditty, you know. She should. If I think of one I’ll post it here later.)

Questioning Procreation.

I keep seeing a promo for a vlog on YouTube which shows a middle aged man and woman with their two grown up daughters. Every time I see it I can’t help reflecting on the fact that one day (or probably night) these two people did something rather messy and unpleasant, and around twenty years later there were two new adults on the planet.

It strikes me as a rather inadequate way to conduct a magic trick. I’m sure we could do better if we really tried.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

On the Poor Dying Earlier.

I read a news report today which said that the gap between the life expectancies of rich and poor people is widening. The author of the report was at pains to point out that the differential had nothing to do with the discrepancy in wealth itself, but rather was due to the poor lifestyle choices made by people at the bottom of the heap. Such people are the architects of their own misfortune, apparently, because they drink and smoke more. So says the author of the report.

This is not a logical extrapolation of the statistics, but rather a limited and subjective view. So let’s suggest a wider and more objective alternative:

Could it be that the reason poor people smoke and drink more is that they’ve been conditioned to a different mindset than the wealthy? Their perception of life is much more jaded – more likely to be apathetic and stressful because they see little in the way of prospects in a world where (a) there are not enough jobs to go around (b) pay at the lower levels are consciously kept as low as possible to fuel the consumerist addiction and keep the executives as rich as possible, and (c) wealth and material possessions are increasingly seen as the means by which we belong.

Such a mindset is more likely to encourage the need to take refuge in narcotics as the means by which they ‘get through’, and to fill the prospective void which they feel is their lot. And let’s not kid ourselves that reliance on almost universal tertiary education is the answer to the problem. It should be remembered that a free market economy is highly competitive, and only a small percentage of even highly educated people can rise to the upper levels in their chosen fields. Ironically, this becomes truer as high levels of education become commonplace.

So am I right? Well, I certainly believe I have a valid point. And if I am right, then there most certainly is a direct connection between wealth discrepancy and the widening gap in life expectancy. Unfortunately, the wealthy and those in government just don’t want to acknowledge the fact.


An owl flew into my garden this evening, just as I was retrieving one of the bird feeders at dusk. Within seconds a robin appeared on the hedge and began making his territorial call, but very half-heartedly. He looked discomfited, poor little guy, which isn’t surprising when you consider the stature of his adversary. And I know that there’s at least one robin’s nest in the near vicinity.

I spoke respectfully to the owl, explaining that his presence wasn’t really welcome during the birds’ breeding period. He stared at me for a few long seconds in the gathering gloom (while I remembered the story of how a well known British wildlife photographer once had an eye removed by an irate owl) and then flew away. The robin did, too, so I’ve no idea whether I did a service, a disservice, or neither. Probably neither, which is just as well.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Some Girly Trivia.

The problem with this blog is that it’s become a vehicle for trivia lately, so when I’m not in the mood for writing trivia I have nothing to say. But I suppose I should try to write something because, as my favourite TV detective said: ‘whatever gets you through.’ (It’s the second time I’ve quoted that line in the last week, so it must have some bearing on my current mental residence.)

OK, then: Trivia Time:

1. The four teenage girls on the other side of the aisle began to exhibit a state bordering on panic as the train pulled out of the station the other day. One of them leant across to me and asked:

‘Excuse me. Are you going to Uttoxeter?’

‘Yes,’ I said, at which revelation the panic subsided. I leant back and asked ‘Why?’

‘We thought the train was going the wrong way.’

Trivial as this might seem, there’s a point to be noted here. All four of them thought the train was going the wrong way, even though they’d come in from the same direction only four hours earlier (I was on the same train.) I suspect this might be a by-product of the poking and stroking era. All four of them did little else the whole time, so maybe the space between stations simply disappeared into the darkness beyond the divine light of four iPhones in worshipful employment. Whatever happened to books?

They went electronic, mate.



2. The young woman to whom I directed an enquiry in the Argos store today was friendly, articulate, clearly spoken, understanding and helpful. She got the problem in one and solved it with consummate ease. Being so unassumingly and unfailingly helpful is unusual these days, so I couldn’t help asking:

‘Where on earth did they find you? You’re good.’

She said nothing, so I continued:

‘Bet you haven’t got a degree.’


Make of it what you will.

3. And I had a missive from the priestess yesterday, apologising for the fact that she doesn’t love me. I was a little surprised because a) I never asked her to, b) I didn’t think she did anyway, and c) it really doesn’t matter. My reply was an attempt to reassure her by saying pretty much the same (only in rather more words) so she has no issue of conscience on her plate because of me. I’m much too fond of her to want that. And besides, I expect she’ll get a promotion to goddess one of these days, and then she probably will. (I like to think that goddesses smile on me. It’s my only vice.)

But then I had a thought. Somebody (dear Zoe, I think) once reminded me of a line from a movie:

The opposite of love isn’t hate. The opposite of love is indifference.

Makes you think, doesn’t it?

Trivia Out.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Abeying Beltane.

No Beltane Eve fire tonight (for the first time in several years.) I had no heart for it because it didn’t feel like Beltane Eve. This week we’ve had cold days, freezing nights, chilling winds, rain, sleet, hail, and a half hour blizzard on Tuesday. Winter merely depresses me; winter arriving deep into spring sucks the bloody life out of me, hence the dearth of posts this week. Maybe I’ll tell the story of the panicky girls on the train another time.

Meanwhile, this is what I’m listening to at the moment. I love music that paints the state of melancholy with an indescribable beauty.