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.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Proof of the vital signs

Bad experiences are more fun to write about. But unremitting gloom can clog up one's veins. I have had my ecstatic moments.

Returning to newspapers after RAF national service. Re-joining a meritocracy and disdaining the tyranny of hierarchic numbskulls.

Leaving Yorkshire to work in London. A new world I knew I could bend to my own pleasure.

The beginning of any school summer holiday. A brief end to being talked at; a time for unhampered speculation.

The first controlled parallel turn. Being at one with acres of compacted snow and - blissfully - the mountains.

The first significant date. Tightrope walking during the initial phone call; relief at not tumbling into the abyss of rejection.

Fitness at the Outward Bound Mountain School. Carrying a huge tent and two Primus stoves on my back; joyfully recognising they weren't a burden.

The first all-crawl half-mile. Afterwards champagne bubbles in the blood; more mundanely - endorphins.

Being lunched out by a literary agent who'd read my novel. Was this...? Might I...? Was it too much to...?

Making a group of international journalists laugh. In Japan. I was older than most and profited from that.

Touring the California redwoods with VR in a hired Dodge Charger - all expenses paid. Free lunches do exist.

Being paid bonuses as a magazine editor. Knowing that others weren't.

Arriving in New York; being shaved by a barber. Everyone spoke with a US accent and I seemed to fit in.

Alive and in my eighties. My distaste for death: a lack of vivid conversation


  1. I can surely relate to a few of these...the first date call, the bliss of school out for any reason, any length of time. And endorphins. You know that's a compound word derived from the root words "endogenous" and "morphine", yes?

  2. 'My distaste for death', understated but strong. I like it.

  3. Very interesting selection of ecstatic moments. Am intrigued by your putting in qualifiers in most of then, such as: "knowing others weren't"after "Being paid a bonus". Wondering if these were by your inner editor, making sure sentimentality (etc.) was not creeping in? The truth now! Did you or did you not simply enjoy the bonus for its own sake?

  4. All: As you must have guessed, it isn't so much what I've said (especially since most of these moments have previously been referred to in other forms and other contexts) as how I've said it. The aim was to be semi-aphoristic but without being precious - a sentence which, itself, deserves attentive deconstruction. Ideally to be mildly unexpected while still carrying a grain of truth that others might recognise. In short, to entertain.

    MikeM: It was VR who explained the reasons for this fizzling effect that outlasted the swimming by half an hour. I was glad she did so, since the sensation had its worrying downsides - but then ectasy can mean being out of control. I'm surprised that morphine is one of the derivations given its unfortunate effect on bowel action.

    Blonde Two: It's called meiosis (A figure of speech along with litotes and bathos. I confess I'd forgotten the word and had to look it up.) Death obviously deserves understatement since the first reaction is nearly always overstatement (Another figure of speech: hyperbole) and the reader, faced with the platititude, tends to look away. I could have elaborated: all references to Heaven (eg, trumpets from the steep) I've read seem remarkably close to my concept of Hell.

    Nathalie: See a clock and ask to examine it with its back off. It used to be a way of diverting children when pocket watches were large enough to do this. I received a number of bonuses over the years and my reaction - always pleasurable - tended to vary. In fact I'm merely adapting Gore Vidal: it is not enough that we succeed, others must fail. Also there's a Chinese philosopher/poet who talks about the secret pleasure of seeing a good friend topple from a cliff. Neither is an assertion, merely a way of pointing a figure at our levels of honesty, our tendency to cover up that which we dare not speak. The natural progress from this would be discussion. But since you asked let me comfort you by saying I was lying through my teeth, as I always am. Writing is an inexact form of communication. But let's hope you were at least entertained.

  5. I was entertained, RR.

    Is your last "ecstatic moment" on the list possibly the greatest?