I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
I re-comment on comments and re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
* One exception: short stories.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Stricken

Other dictionaries offer humdrum meanings for "epiphany". I prefer the longer, arguably more human, definition from the Cambridge:

A moment when you suddenly feel that you understand, or suddenly become conscious of, something that is very important to you.

● Note "important to you". It needn't be a universal experience. I was in my late teens before I saw my first car race. At Mallory Park circuit I stood on a earth bank overlooking a corner, quite close to and looking down on the cars flashing past. The sense of speed and of danger was, to me, epiphanic.

Rock climbing, my quondam enthusiasm as a youth, should have been a rich source of epiphanies but simply being afraid (a frequent state) didn't quite cut the mustard. Perhaps because I was mainly incompetent.

● My first controlled parallel turn in ski-ing was an epiphany. I was at the centre of the experience, travelling fairly quickly, employing little energy, touching on grace.

● James Joyce is famous for epiphanies although in his case the word's definition includes a rider:

The manifestation being out of proportion to the significance or strictly logical relevance of whatever produces it.

I like that. A third the way through Ulysses I found myself reflecting on the character of Leopold Bloom, recognising in him an exemplar of humanity, its failings and its magnificences. Definitely an e-moment.

● Making love? Not the first time but almost certainly the second. Important that it occurred in London.

● Music? The only endeavour where I anticipate epiphanies. A regular source: The Soave il vento trio from Cosi.

● The bursts of admiration and sympathy I feel for Gina Miller.

● Coming unexpectedly upon one of the Rembrandt self-portraits. Where? I can't remember.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Salt tears

Good on yer, Igor. Now his hair is fashionably short and he's bearded
I cried, yes I did.

Russian-born pianist, Igor Levit, played LvB's Third Piano Concerto at the start of the BBC's long-established series of summer music concerts, The Proms.

Then an unscripted encore: Liszt's transcription of the Ode to Joy theme from LvB's Ninth Symphony. Also known as the EU Anthem. Seems he feels that the European Union - created to stop european countries from fighting each other - was a cause worth celebrating.

As The Guardian headline said: Proms get political. Describes the piece as "a worldwide musical symbol of assertive unity".

Look, I know I'm a bit of a bastard, certainly cruel (as my previous post shows) but if I hadn't cried at that when would I ever cry?

A recording of the concert is available on the BBC's radio I-player service, alas only accessible to UK residents. You'll have to listen first to the Third Piano Concerto but you wouldn't mind that, would you? Link below.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08xyvdw/bbc-proms-2017-first-night-of-the-proms-part-1

Salt tears, I assure you.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Variations on an old theme

The News Reader
or
Does this make things clearer?


Some day when Kim Jong-Un acts childishly,
And purple clouds obscure the Golden Gate,
As heat and death flow down Ol’ Sixty-Six,
And Napa grapes show strange maturity.
When mutants shag high flies at Candlestick,
And bats out-number folk at San Berdoo,
As I routinely turn on News at Ten
And note apocalypse proclaimed by you.

Oh you, all textiles to your neckless chin,
Poached-egg eyes to lend a false solemnity,
Left arm outstretched to prop your gravitas,
Decay delayed with thickened maquillage.
A stuffy herald for our piping times,
World’s end described in awe-free, wearied words,
“We’ll analyse,” you say, but dust is dust,
And Bridgend lilt can only bring more dust.

As Californians curl up and fry,
We’ll need a Milton or a Stratford Will,
Instead there’s you and “What’s your sense of this?”
Dulling the edge of death with Gelusil.
This end, our end, should be both dark and grand,
An austere welcome to oblivion,
More than a kiosk and a rubber stamp,
More than the forming of an ordered queue.

And when your chalk-stripe suit is touched with flame
Will light obliterate more of the same?

Too tired to read it yourself? Click HERE and I'll do it for you.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Oh, not my nose!

We'd been shopping in Hereford. VR proposed we meet up in the bus station. I hate buses but today would be my lucky day: no buses.

As I arrived VR sat squeezed on the bench waiting for the Number 75. She hailed me and the woman beside slid sideways to allow me space. Genteel and quick-thinking. Three steps away I fixed my eyes on my benefactor intending to thank her. I should have looked to my feet.

I tripped on the kerb and fell flat on my face. Literally! My nose resting on the paving stones. My glasses, secured by a granny-string, tinkled somewhere.

I lay tranquilly, mentally palpating myself for injuries. Both knees abraded despite trouser protection. Left big toe compressed half a centimetre; I must have kicked the kerb. A circular flap of skin hanging from my right little finger. Left wrist strained slightly. Other minor pains.

Two women said “Oh! Oh! Oh!” and rushed over, their heads appearing inverted from where I lay. Behind, an elderly – even old – male grasped at my shoulders, pulling vainly. I assumed a kneeling position and stood up. The women said “Oh! Oh! Oh!” albeit more slowly. One gave me tissues; I dabbed at my nose and saw gratifying blobs of blood.

I explained I’d been intending to thank the tissue donater for sliding aside on the bench, looking at her not the kerb, falling as a result. “I have that effect on men,” she said. That’s pretty good, I thought. VR said we would take a taxi. I dabbed and said “Alas, my nose, easily my best feature.” The women laughed.

At home it was diet day. VR served my Braeburn apple cut fan-shaped on the plate. I watched the Tour de France live. Life resumed its predictability.

Friday, 30 June 2017

Going in harm's way

It's unfashionable (and dangerous!) to admit to hatred. Yet, it seems, I - alone in the developed world - was born with this capacity. Should I suppress it? Freud would say no. I may examine it.

Cucumber. Neural reaction between the vegetable's juices and my fungiform papillae which sickens me. No further explanation needed.

Orff's Carmina Burana. Similar to cucumber. Music seeks to stir emotions; this work's insistent rhythms, plus the sentiments of its libretto, does so admirably. Hatred is an emotion.

Austin Cambridge (an inadequate car). As an owner I endured its shortcomings. In retrospect I hate the fact that it was possible to sell it as adequate.

Margaret Thatcher. Not her, as such, but her willingness to reduce complex human relationships to gross over-simplification in order to support a harsh ideology.

A nameless living comedian. Unexceptional humour underlaid by an obvious, perhaps pathological desire to be loved. Better jokes might help.

Those who hate "pure evil". Their target is non-existent and an intellectual affront. Time spent in refining this claim might remove its supporters from this list.

Unthinking nostalgia. Frequently an enemy of rational thought.

Trump. Not him, as such, but those who support him merely to stay in power. Watch DT closely and you may detect pathos. Lear brought up to date. All we need is another WS.

The mis-selling of Brexit. Through gritted teeth I can – just about – admit Brexit offers certain attractions. But even now its risks and, especially, its costs remain undefined. The lying (which I truly hate) was predominantly by omission; by the time these omissions have been filled in it will be too late.

Long-distance flying. Resembles an extra period of National Service - a subtraction from the life I prefer to lead.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Crowning is bad for you

I'm not against DIY. How would I dare? - I'm so bad at it. But the sanctimony it tends to generate among its practitioners can be a turn-off.

Years ago I bought 20 m of garden hose spooled on to a wind-up pulley. But the pulley's lack of stability and the weight of the extended hose undermined winding-up. Any attempt at speed and the pulley "walked" leading to hose tangles and user irritation.

The pulley came with a mounting plate for attachment to a wall. This was supposed to promote stability. But the irregular forces generated by winding always unshipped the pulley from the plate.

I attached four eyebolts to the wall and used wire to hold the pulley in a fixed position as it sat on the floor. It was difficult to tension the wire which, in any case, quickly broke.

So I wired the pulley to a heavy paving stone and this worked for a year or two until the wire broke. This weekend I drilled holes in the paving stone, introduced bolts to which I attached wire, knowing before I'd finished, that this would fail. It did.

Yesterday I used three metal "laths", bolted down at either end, to hold the pulley's frame to the paving stone. This worked. You can see a "lath" bestriding the front bar of the pulley frame.

Then the sanctimony started. Last night when it was almost dark I went out simply to look at the secured pulley. This morning at 06.25, in my pyjamas, I photographed the pulley for this post. Simultaneously  the smugness grew.

This post is not about DIY (which only provides the background). It is about the effect DIY has on those who do it and communicate the fact. I liken it to self-coronation. 

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Perhaps it was a weed

Feeding me (aged 5 to 10) during WW2 was a nightmare. Not that I wasn't hungry - I ate morning, noon and night - but I was picky and there was so little to be picky about. Vegetables were the problem.

Carrots, parsnips - sweet, woody. Onions, leeks - slimy. Turnips - fit only for cows. Cauliflower - rare, bad karma since one had to eat the green bits. There wasn't much else other than dreaded cabbage.

These days I love cabbage: de-veined, chopped small, seethed in butter for a few minutes with caraway seeds. Then, there were no caraway seeds and anyway I was a suspicious little bugger; I'd have said my mother was failing to disguise cabbage's true and horrible nature.

Good grief, how my mother tried with cabbage. The deck was stacked against her since the only variety available was very dark green with thick leathery leaves and a rank un-vegetably flavour. No way I'd take it straight, even threatened with a light beating and I was normally a terrible coward when facing pain.

Covered with gravy didn't help. Grated cheese? Nah, cheese was rationed.  How about the “good” (ie, quasi-nutritious) water cabbage had been stewed in? No go; cabbage water is, unsurprisingly, cabbage flavoured.

Desperate to make cabbage water palatable mother added an Oxo cube (Ingredients: wheat flour (with added calcium, iron, niacin, thiamin), salt, maize starch, yeast extract, flavour enhancers (monosodium glutamate, disodium guanylate), colour (ammonia caramel), beef fat (4.5%), autolysed yeast extract, dried beef bonestock, flavourings, sugar, acidity regulator (lactic acid), onion powder.

Dig that ammonia caramel!

“Drink it quickly,” mother advised. As far I can remember I did. What followed I’ve forgotten. But then WW2 did finally end and ten years later proper food appeared in the shops.