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.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

How about La Via Dolorosa then?

At this point VR has not yet reached the circuit proper
Others walk, some heroically: Sir Hugh up and down Scots mountains, Lucy along Brittany's craggy coastline. To say we (VR and I) have joined them might constitute hubris.

Adjacent to our house is an expanse of grass which triggers the same query from our infrequent guests: when are developers going to cover that with houses? The answer is never.

A quarter of a century ago the area was called - not to put too fine a point on it - The Tip. Or, if you like, The Dump. Along came the city council, stretched a huge plastic membrane over the rubbish, piled half a meter of earth on top and, for all I know, seeded it. The tip became the landfill. As a gesture of gentility the parish council arranged a christening and the vote was for Abbey View Park. The rationale being that euphemism settles the nerves of those selling their houses and the estate agents who manage the transactions.

Quite soon every local man and his dog had one thing on their minds - defecation. Sternly the parish council issued demands regarding plastic bags and when soiling had been reduced from Toxic to Almost Tolerable a gravel path was installed. It is round this ignobly contrived route we now walk.

I believe the path is three-quarters of a mile long and we are now up to two circuits. Our walk does not compete with the Pennine Way or the Appalachian Trail but then either of those - were we to attempt it - would end fatally. The trick when walking is to adopt a mindset devoid of history. We have yet to christen the path; I have in mind La Piste Sordide but that will require discussion.
This too is the final detour away from the main circuit; like the parish council I too can manipulate reality

Thursday, 23 April 2015

A wart on what?

Stella (See my list of members) is eloquent about things with little cash value but which are linked to someone close, now dead. Her mother's embroidered table-cloths, for instance.

VR speaks authoritatively: "Those could never be thrown away."

Our problems are different. Twice I've tried to store vegetables, mineral water, beer and soft drinks in the garage in a space-efficient yet accessible manner. I've over-bought the systems: stackable plastic drawers (see pic), knocked-down fabric drawers. VR wants these redundancies gone but parsimony makes me drag my heels. The items are hardly used, they cost money - recently.

The other problem is less tractable, buried in my psyche. Some years ago I bought an exercise bicycle which I kept in the shed. Initially MP3 music stemmed the boredom, then the complete (ie, 22 CDs) audio version of Ulysses - the ideal counterpoint to mindless labour. Ill health interrupted my exercises, the effects departed slowly and I never resumed. (Meanwhile VR tried Ulysses and was charmed.) Now VR wants to see the back of the bike. There's the money of course (£200) but much more is the admission of defeat. I am, as they say, a wart on the arse of progress.

Shut, shut the door, good John! fatigued I said:
Tie up the knocker, say I’m sick, I’m dead.
The Dog-star rages! Nay, ‘tis past a doubt,
All Bedlam, or Parnassus, is let out:

A veritable gallimaufry of punctuation, taken as usual from The Poet’s Tongue, an anthology where poems and their authors are listed separately. For the moment I no more know the author than you do. One cannot imagine what follows; one suspects it isn’t serious; yet one is transported by the vigour of expression. Vigour is enough, here; it’s a poem.

Alexander Pope

Monday, 20 April 2015

Going private

Underpants. Pants in the US; confusingly un slip in France. In Germany a garment only worn by firemen (unterhose).

I have a huge confession. For much of my youth I never wore them. I think my mother's excuse was that WW2 demanded economies and trousers did all the covering-up that was necessary. Needless to say I never admitted this to any of my  neighbours when I lived in the US. Most would have insisted even after a decade's scrubbing I wouldn't have been pure enough to share a US changing room.

Underpants come in two styles, one more manly than the other. You'd expect hairy chests to wear boxer shorts (illustrated) but you'd be wrong. Real men favour the other sort, more vestigial, closer to a jockstrap, resembling the slingshot David popped Goliath with. I tried the manly ones but couldn't get on with them: they "rode up" as my Grannie put it. They ceased to contain, became instead a futile sort of belt.

Initially underpants (both sorts) came in a beige-white, brushed fabric that quickly sagged. If you were daring enough to jump into a pool or a river wearing only such underpants they became transparent when wet.

Now they're made of cotton in all sorts of colours. Some even have messages. Don't ask me who reads the words, or of what gender.

I tend to buy mine half a dozen at a time. This is quite foolish since all the elastic "loses its nature" (another Grannie phrase) on the same date.

John Major, a former UK prime minister, revealed he tucked his shirt into his underpants. Quickly he was laughed out of office.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Noisome natter

When did you last have a conversation? One that met the word's definition:

Informal verbal exchange of feelings, opinions, or ideas.

In my case it's been ages. Yet I list conversation on my blog profile as one of my enthusiasms. Have I been lying? I fear so.

The first stumbling block is "exchange". It implies open-mindedness, a willingness to listen (rare enough) and to take on board something someone else says (even rarer). When have I shown the necessary generosity of spirit to allow this to happen? I can't remember.

Then there's that trio of examples. When were feelings and ideas at the heart of what I said? Why am I gloomily convinced I mostly purveyed opinion.

The definition doesn't touch on motive and perhaps that's just as well. I doubt mine would withstand even glancing examination.

Am I overdoing the self-denigration? I think not, this is an important subject. We arrive first as a face, then as the sum of what we wear, then as a facial expression, then by what we say and how we say it. Afterwards that last bit tends to persist in our acquaintance's memory. This is often the only lesson politicians learn.

Can conversational bad habits be unlearned?  Reflective silence when in the company of others may help. As might less drink. A jaw brace?

Monday, 13 April 2015

"I have a go" (Archie Rice)

Limerick trio

A writer of modest ambition,
Undergoing a late circumcision,
Said to he who was cutting:
"Please allow me to butt in,
I'm keen to lose no ammunition."

"Fear not," said the scalpel technician,
"You are part of a bookish tradition.
In trimming your member,
I'll not harm your gender,
Just bring out a smaller edition."

"I like that, it gives me a frisson,"
Said the scribe,"You have my permission,
To carve with free rein,
Taking care to retain,
A way to ensure micturition."

Query: "Said to he" or "Said to him"?

Friday, 10 April 2015

Downhill is bad for you

I'm OK with homo ("man, human being") less so with sapiens (sapient: "able to act with judgment").

It's an arrogant label, applied by man to man without consulting the chimps. So shouldn't we be required to show proof, take a little test? Such as: am I just free-wheeling through the day or behaving like a higher-order being?

OK, OK, my life here in Herefordshire is limited, even moribund. Passing through the check-out at Tesco without being arrested as a vagrant may be proof enough. Could a chimp do that? But Tesco's routine and doesn't require much judgment. Let me offer slightly more rigorous proof:

Has anything new happened today and did I process it as new? Anything: something visible, an experience, a thought. But it has to be new, genuinely new.

At Thai On The Wye last week I ordered Thom Kha Gai (coconut soup with chicken, spiced with galangal, lemon grass and lime leaves). The flavour was unique, no previous taste has ever come close. I said so, and that was vital. Lucky me. Perhaps I re-qualified as homo sapiens.

Yesterday a guy repaired our fence damaged in recent high winds. His method was unexpected. I watched, asked questions, lent him a spanner. The strength of the repaired structure was self-evident and pleased me. Lucky me? Perhaps.

I wrote this post early this morning. Beforehand, this assembly of words didn't exist. But I don't think this qualifies: I aimed to write something new. Newness didn’t arrive and one can’t pre-react to newness. Perhaps I'll come upon a new word in French later on this morning.

My reasoning is ad hoc and inconclusive. Except for one thing: in my tripes I believe free-wheeling is bad for me. Bad for everyone.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

A golden era indeed

I can fairly say la jeunesse dorée passed me by. It wasn't society's fault, you understand. Society had more important fish to fry, notably surviving a world war. Thereafter enduring war's endless consequences.

These days society recognises children are vulnerable and tries to compensate. In those days... I remember my first day at primary school. I'd lived a sheltered life, lacking nearby friends. As my mother left the school's main hall I began to scream. Perfunctory attempts were made to calm me, then Mrs Cox said, "I think we'll just leave Roderick where he is." And so they did, a small pile of misery on the rough wooden floor.

Had I been older I might have reflected on my good luck. Kids in the Warsaw ghetto were then definitely worse off.

Being a child denies you the bigger picture but small things leave a lasting memory. Post-lunch at Thackley PS children were made to slumber for half an hour. On two types of bed: one which allowed the user to hang off the ends of stretched fabric, the other an intractable, miniaturised wooden frame. I was tall for my age and I got the frame. I cannot remember sleeping a single minute. No one noticed.

Children who faltered with multiplication tables were smacked on the thigh - skirts and pants legs slid up to ensure proper contact. If you cried, the teacher encouraged the rest of the class to laugh at you. Which we all did. Five-year-olds!

Had the subject been raised the teachers' response would have been: I went through it and I'm OK. I agree. Dishing out punishment was then a pedagogue's perk.

Gilded youth? They say kids from wealthier families had even sterner educations.