Sunday, February 27, 2011

lost among the thickly wooded oxbows and levees of what his lordship is pleased to call his mind ...

Irrational Numbers.  For the last six years I have been getting up to go to work in the middle of the night.  Each time I leave the house, I stand inside the front door in the darkness, checking my pockets for six essential items.  Cash, Keys, Cards, Cameras, Glasses, Pens, Phones.  Each time, I leave the house feeling anxious that something has been forgotten, and I am compelled to search bag and pockets whilst I walk to the bus stop and wait.  Today I decided I really would have to write the list down as a checklist, and only then, for the first time in six years, did I realise there are SEVEN items on the list.  

Saturday, February 26, 2011

which reminds me

... the coalman's outfit wasn't dissimilar to that of the roman infantryman

Monday, February 21, 2011

3BTs to brighten this dark February

In the evening on Valentine's Day we went to the National Film Theatre to see Truffaut’s delightful Jules et Jim.  The large cinema was packed.  I had seen the film once before, over thirty years ago on a small black and white television with a square screen but I was too poorly equipped then, too poorly experienced and too poorly educated to enjoy and appreciate it.  And for so many reasons: one reason being that it had been gorgeously photographed using an extra wide screen format; another reason being my own lack of personal development, or rather my total maladroitness in the lovelife minefields of jealousy and possessiveness; a third reason being my inadequate understanding of French history and culture, having never visited the country at that time.  I feel guilty nowadays because I was so egotistical then and I had repeatedly failed to see the necessary connection between proper fun and proper freedom as a universal human right.  Now I think I nearly understand !  Some critics say it isn’t a perfect film but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a great one, and if I were running a film school it would definitely be on the curriculum.  At the end of the film the lights “went up” and those luxuriant wide red velvet curtains swished to a satisfying close, their deep folds classically illuminated from beneath, whilst a smart young couple who’d been sitting about three rows in front of us stood and kissed in a long unembarrassed embrace, beautifully top-lit in pale blue from one of the many ceiling spotlights juxtaposed against that blood-red background, a vivid and hyper-cinematic image to memorize with joy, and one that Truffaut himself might have enjoyed.

Dreaming vividly as I often do is still a delight and I enjoy time spent looking for clues about all aspects of real and imaginary life in those dimly recollected experiences.  Sometimes the past is re-invented with cinematic felicity in those few seconds before I wake.  For instance, just before waking on the morning after Betty’s funeral, I found myself lost and entering the vestibule of a darkened village school room and being asked by two lady teachers if I was “here for the funeral”.  I covered my embarrassment somehow and went outside on to the village green, darkened on a mid-summer night just before dawn.  It looked like a battlefield of freshly dug graves and through it moved the shadowy figures of countless schoolchildren in nineteen fifties uniforms.

Driving along the north side of Clapham Common this afternoon, my attention to the traffic was briefly distracted by the oncoming progress of an athletic Greek goddess who was jogging towards me wearing a pristine and loose fitting white rugby shirt.  I’m not sure which myth she represented, something to do with golden apples perhaps, although it might just have been her perfect rhythm and bounce that fragmented my deviant thoughts.  The opportunity for completing a detailed analysis of the phenomena was suddenly curtailed by the passing between us of a large white truck which inadvertently supplied the suitably fruity adjective I might have been searching for, because the name of the transport company was PEACHY.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

on guard ...

... she's trained to sniff out council members who've voted for the cuts in the library service

... the motto over the door at battersea is "not for me, not for you, but for us !"

for once, the loved one's made herself useful ...

... on a sunday spree at the charity shops

Saturday, February 19, 2011

a time and a place for everything

gentlemen of the jury

i gave her indoors two perfectly watertight reasons for being reluctant to do the compulsory hoovering

first, it is far too early in the year for spring cleaning

second, we can still see our skirting boards ( some americans call them mop-boards )

i rest my case, m'lud

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Betty Fry has passed away.

probably the last survivor from this group of ?pre-WWII? workers at Malmesbury Silk Mills

Friday, February 4, 2011

i cannot properly imagine blindness

At first light when the world is still bruised by the night, I look out to see a yew tree dancing in the storm like a black flame.

A friend nearing retirement has worked as a postman for nearly fifty years.  He has cataracts and holds each letter close to his face, interposing a magnifying glass as he struggles to decipher addresses as if through a smoke screen.  He works more than twelve hours to complete his tasks on most days, even in the deepest frosts and heaviest downpours, and yet his managers seem oblivious of his plight and simply give him even more work in order to improve their own reputations for “efficiency”.

Yesterday I glimpsed a blind man using one of the modern sticks, a straight and slender white cane, five feet or more in length, tipped with a ball.  He was finding his way briskly along a busy pavement with a chaotic border of gardens and hedges, holding the cane in his left hand, and a with a young golden Labrador on his right hand straining ahead on its leash.

I mused with some anxiety on how I might survive were blindness to afflict me and thought I might need to go back to my ancient home town in the Cotswolds, where I would arrive already knowing most of its walls and footpaths from childhood.  But who would know me ?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

the countless sods

I've never enjoyed digging in wet clay ... neither the gardens nor the graves.

It is written that the first British agriculturalists would have used antlers to break the ground ... and their backs, I'm sure.

Now I can only marvel at the plough that turns a whole field in a few mid-winter hours.

An aged friend, roughly built and spoken, and now long buried, told me how he was put to the plough, aged twelve, when all the men from his village had gone off to the Great War.

"I stuck to it all day", he said, and laughed mischievously, "though I only ploughed it to a finger's depth."