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● Plus my novels, stories, verse, vulgar interests, apologies, and singing.
● Most posts are 300 words. I respond to all comments/re-comments.
● See Tone Deaf in New blogger.

Saturday 13 July 2024

Utterly butterly

The previous post got rather wordy. To ensure there is no misunderstanding this is Tone Deaf's final utterance. 

In an emergency email robinson.roderick@gmail.com.

Wednesday 10 July 2024


Colette (see previous post): I was never short of things to write; but for me a blog without dialogue was incomplete. But you’re right in general, I’m dithering. Here’s why

On April 13, 2017 I wrote a speculative, “literary” post about thoughts passing through the minds of a man and woman who’ve recently met and may have, experienced mutual attraction. Thoughts not so much about each other but about the nature of what is happening. Time passes. Thoughts are modified; new perspectives occur. Nothing is resolved.

There are eight comments (some by me): the lengths are 24 words, 212, 38, 171, 150, 464, 66 and 44. Everyone sticks to the theoretical and abstract nature of the scenario. There are some differences of opinion. My original ideas are greatly enhanced by the views of others. Clearly Tone Deaf readers then had the ability, the inclination and the interest to expend this kind of effort.

If I thought that this might happen again putting down Tone Deaf  would be off the agenda. As it is I’m pessimistic.

But here’s some ragtag verse

A figure of speech

I age and from this ever steep decline
Horizons, once so far away, are just
A hand’s breadth out. Yet they are silent.

Nearer but mute. Those corridors of words
That spawned a dialogue of wit and charm
Linking me then to the Pacific coast,
The Tasman Sea, the alleyways of Prague,
Upstate/downstate echoes from the USA,
And – goodness me! – the sleep of Tunbridge Wells:
All quiet now.
Just fading memory. 
The world contracts.
The fault is mine.

Age is the prophet of death’s terminus
And death’s the biggest bore of all in life.
An irony! On that I’ll contemplate.
I would not have you catch this malady.

Saturday 29 June 2024

Void, part 2

Mentioned the possibility to my daughter, Occasional Speeder, presently at Glastonbury. She said: "Don’t do a Rolling Stones - keep saying you are giving up then come back ‘one last time’."

Plus the awful sight of Old Joe stumbling through the presidential debate. Am I the person I once was?

Plus this talk about mystery. Old age maundering?

But here's what I see as the core of the matter. It starts out as deceptively simple. Just two words: Why blog?

If you feel you could answer that straight off, then you and I have a problem. If you'd like an hour to ponder, that's a step in the right direction. Take a day, even a week; I have.

But hey, this is not some variant of the English class system based on intellect. As you all know I left school at 15, never having learned how to learn. Being forced, over eight months of National Service, to absorb a very hard subject - electronics, with a dash of physics and maths - took me by the scruff of the neck. Even so I have no "method" of thinking.

Though my attitude towards singing lessons may undermine this vague conclusion. There are no easy theories

For some people blogging couldn't be simpler. They do things and then record what they've done. This strikes a chord and leaves them and their readers without awkward questions. I've done it myself.

But not always. I'm still not clear but my aim may have been to launch dialogues - exchanges which build on what has been said before. Given I am who I am, doing this while simultaneously acting as cleverclogs. My facetiousness is never far away. Laughter, I've found, can bring comfort.

Dialogues, if they are to last, require subjects that have potential. And that can mean abstractions: one such is blogging about thinking. Thinking new thoughts, that is, not recycling clich├ęs.

Perhaps. But if this is the essence of what I've done then it's not working. And, after all, Labradors are subjected to the jab because they've become fat, lazy and have reached a certain age.

Wednesday 26 June 2024

Facing the void

Tone Deaf's audience has shrunk almost to nothing. My fault, of course. There are four options.

(1) Have it “put down”, as with household pets.
(2) Continue, leading to many No Comment notifiers.
(3) Become inflammatory, insulting, libellous. Forcing responses.
(4) Trawl other new blogs for like minds. Leave comments.

Number One is simple but eliminates publicity for my books. Also, I’m an octogenarian writer. I haven’t enough time left for another novel; even short stories are a gamble. Tone Deaf’s 300-word limit suits my tired body and my much restricted waking life. Also, dialogue – real inventive dialogue, however small – is something I feed on.

Number Two: looking like a stoic who relishes failure.

Number Three might be fun but could be close to Trumpism.

I’ve tried Number Four. The process is exhausting and tends to be disappointing. Most people – other than me - are more than what they write. Mutual disapproval usually sets in after a couple of months.

It wasn’t always like that. Five or six years ago Tone Deaf (and before it, Works Well) attracted people with both time and stamina to engage in lengthy and inventive discussion.  I learnt a lot and went on to verse and singing lessons.

Told VR about these options. She said, “Well I read it.” Hmmm.

One more post to go: explaining why the well has dried up, being brutally honest.

Saturday 22 June 2024

Several good things

VR, St Albans, late 50s, before RR

Old age and one of its loathsome ailments have dealt VR a lousy hand. Normally I don’t blog about this, not thinking I’m entitled. VR thanks me for the work I now do around the house and in the garden; occasionally she complains about being helpless. More frequently she reminisces about good things.

It’s the late fifties. She’s a qualified state registered nurse yet is running a whole ward at Charing Cross Hospital (dead centre of London) in the absence of the more senior ward sister. Two days’ leave beckon and VR will spend them with her parents in Folkestone, sixty miles away. Utterly knackered, still wearing her uniform, she crosses the road and joins the ticket queue at Charing Cross station.

An unknown man behind her calls over her shoulder to the ticket clerk: “Make sure you give this nurse the right ticket and call her a porter.” (Yes, porters were available then.)

A porter arrives, takes her bag, escorts her to a less packed carriage. He calls out to the other passengers. “Anyone here going to Dover?” Dover is the stop beyond Folkestone. Hands are raised. Porter says, “This nurse will probably sleep. Make sure she’s woken to get off at Folkestone.”

VR is woken as ordered. On the platform she is greeted by another porter, ordered by the porter at Charing Cross. He guides her to a waiting taxi. She provides her parents’ address and is driven there.

 “No charge,” says the driver.

Thursday 20 June 2024

Way to go

Shara of Oasis (inadvisedly re-christened Oasis Studio; suggests they are all still learning) has cut my hair for at least a decade. I always tip her very generously (I mean a lot.) and she always protests.

I explain: Since my hair is cut, at most, three times a year I will never make her rich. It’s great to plonk myself in the chair and not have to provide instructions. Her conversation is worth listening to.

Yesterday I told her that taking over the Chez Robinson kitchen was wearing me out. But how on earth does she cope? On her feet eight hours a day, back home, prepare a proper (cooked) meal for three. Whereas I may loll for much of the day.

Shara has a system. Front door closed she throws off her work clothes, has a shower (much rarer in the UK than the US), puts on light clothes, is able – via accumulated culinary skills – to create a proper meal within an hour. Why not, she suggested, cook in bulk and freeze the surplus for future use?

I can’t pretend my working day is as onerous as Shara’s. Also well-organised writing often leads to dull reading. The ideas arrive irregularly by unexpected Uber taxis. Writing is, in any case, self-imposed. And I’m prone to low hygiene standards.

But there was something beguiling in getting the drudgery out of the way and changing clothes. Established writers in the nineteenth century often wore dressing gowns (US: robes) at their desk. Even strange hats like the one illustrated. I do have a long US night-shirt which proved to be unsuitable for sleeping in but might hint at the lofty authority of an intellectual.

See why I tip big?

Thursday 13 June 2024

The Hitchhiker

Was this the chap who thumbed my body for
A lift? His name, well-known and ominous,
The medics put aside, went latinate
And told me buccal sulsus was my guest.

Three years ago they cut an ounce of flesh
To gain the space for me to use – let’s say -
For better things. For widening my mouth
To sing An die Musik more plausibly.

The checks were good; the Kidderminster drive 
I took was countrified. My voice? It sang.
Months passed, enough to wipe the memory
Of that unwanted, fungal traveller. 

But recently new stirrings to the left,
Just where the blades had hacked and cut,
An irksome tightness like a hangman’s noose, 
And tegument that stretched from A to B.

I thought about the villa in Bordeaux,
The sport of language in the streets,
Kin splashing in the pool; much money spent
Would all our preparations go to waste?

Is this the last or was last year the end?
Is twenty-four (three times eight) finality?
These latter years I think I’ve shrugged at death
But others are the ones who feel the pain.

But lo! A consultation just arrived,
A guy in blue sees what I cannot see.
Murmurs to me, “Just tissue badly scarred.”
The hol is on; good grief, another year.