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10/01 Direct Link
Who is calling me?

Your voice is faint, a mere whisper on the wind. Maybe it is only in my imagination.

It is a seductive voice though, breathing promises of pleasure, of fulfillment, of new worlds to discover and new beauty to experience.

It is easily drowned out by these other noises - the clack of the keyboard, the rumble of the traffic, the chatter, chatter, chatter of trivial conversation.

How should I answer?

I am timid now, I am pusillanimous, small-souled, not fit for adventure.

Shall I stay silent, boring, safe, or dare I say 'Yes' and risk all?
10/02 Direct Link
I think my computer is dying.

When I turned it on tonight, it started humming. Very loudly. Loud enough to be heard from the next room, even with the TV on.

It sounded as if it was building up to something, the way the washing machine does when it's about to go into its final spin, and it made me as jittery as the washing machine does.

It has calmed down now, but this seems to be a recurring problem.

That said, it has done well, considering it was going to be thrown away as completely useless four years ago.
10/03 Direct Link
Why so angry today?

Nothing in the outside world is more (or, damn it, less) annoying from an objective point of view, yet the smallest thing irks: the stuck lid, the cat head-butting me when I'm trying to read, my inability to cut a straight line.

I know things are not good when I catch myself ranting out loud while I'm alone in the flat (apart from the cat, who has now gone into catnip junkie mode and will not leave the kitchen till he gets another fix).

I am a grown-up, I squash the anger down. My stomach hurts.
10/04 Direct Link
Postal strike.

No chance of exciting things from far-away places coming through my letterbox this week - which is annoying, because I'm still waiting for some mail which should be on its way. And I have things which I should post, but I don't know when it's going to be possible.

I remember a lengthy postal strike when I was fifteen - or rather, I have a diary from that year, the only year I kept a paper diary for more than a day or two. It is funny to read the things I thought were so profound back then.
10/05 Direct Link
Two friends.

One young, reasonably healthy, working in a job which, though less than perfect, is better than many jobs around. Every word she speaks is to say how awful her job, her life is. I should call her but I know it will depress me.

The other is in constant pain, though she makes light of this. She would love to be able to work at anything consistently, but her body won't co-operate. I spent half an hour on the phone to her today, and came away from the call feeling brighter, more cheerful. I'll call her again soon.
10/06 Direct Link
Taking direct action:

Last week I was looking round the frozen foods section of the supermarket. I'm always on the lookout for new and interesting meatless options, so I checked out the 'Meat-Free' section.

'Jambon'? Isn't that French for 'ham'?

I pointed this out to an assistant. I was assured they'd be moved.

Today they were still there, and had been joined by other dead-animal products.

Tried to get the assistant's attention. She walked off. I waited. And waited.

Oh, look, the 'Meat-Free' sign is only a sticky label. One good tug should do it.

Rip.

Walk off.

Curiously satisfying.
10/07 Direct Link
I am craving...something. I'm not sure what.

Food, perhaps. Let me question my taste buds.
Dark red cherries bursting with juice? I'd like some, certainly, but that's not it.
Creamy chocolate truffles with the sting of brandy? I just had one; it was good, but I'm still craving.

Cigarettes, then? No, Lady Nicotine and I parted ways too long ago for more than a mild nostalgia now.

Alcohol? Rich merlot, fragrant muscat, a satisfying pint of real ale? Pleasant, but I can do without.

Sleep? Now you're talking. Yes, please, and plenty of it.

And you, my dear, perhaps?

Perhaps.
10/08 Direct Link
The cat doesn't care. You can scold him as much as you like, and he will just look at you with that "What, me?" expression. And don't try to outstare him. You won't succeed, and you'll end up feeling inferior. The catnip drops on the floor? Not his fault, surely. They should have been offered to him with proper deference.

The cat doesn't care. He sleeps, boneless and utterly relaxed, balanced on the back of a chair or sprawled across a stack of books.

The cat doesn’t care. You hold him like a baby, and he purrs trust and contentment.
10/09 Direct Link
Chinese food memories:

My first time in a restaurant without my family. Sweet boy. We lost touch when I went to university a few weeks later. I've forgotten his name now.

Kev, ordering dishes recklessly so I could taste everything, and the waiter having to bring an extra table to hold it all.

Ordering chickens' feet to freak the visiting theology students. I miss you, John.

My first wok and steamers, and the pride I took in making sauces from scratch.

Christmas Eve in the kitchen with Liz, laughing as we stir-fried.

All you can eat buffets with dear friends.
10/10 Direct Link
I miss my little park this autumn.

It would be good to spend some time in the middle of my working day walking on the fallen leaves, maybe finding the treasure of a fresh conker.

(What is it about conkers which is so enchanting? Is it the colour, that rich, slightly reddish brown, or the shininess, or the roundness? All three, I suppose, with the added magic of childhood memories.)

It is unhealthy for me, spiritually as well as physically, to be shut away in that office all day. I feel the difference in myself, and I don't much like it.
10/11 Direct Link
Party jitters.

It is going to be an informal and relaxed party, and the birthday girl is a dear friend who is celebrating her fortieth birthday. I want to help her celebrate, I really do. But as the date approaches, I find myself getting increasingly anxious, and finding excuses for not going.

I am not, in general, comfortable with large groups of people. They seem to bring out my insecurity.

Once I'm there, I expect I'll be fine, especially after I've had a few drinks. As long as I don't get too drunk and fall over on the dance floor.
10/12 Direct Link
Random thoughts:

Why can I so rarely finish what I've started? My life is littered with unfinished projects, books begun and abandoned, scraps of this and that which took my fancy for a moment. I have no stickability.

I haven't a clue what to wear to the party tomorrow. Fortunately, the dress code is 'whatever you like'. Unlike the work event which I am avoiding - 'cocktail dress'? Seriously?

We are getting broadband at last, or should be soon. (We have been more or less forced into it by our ISP.) It will be good to escape the ricketty dial-up.
10/13 Direct Link
Writing early today, because I'm going to the party and I doubt I will be back early enough to spend time on the computer before falling into my bed. Not to mention that drunken posting is rarely a wise move.

Let us set our clocks forward a few hours, and here I am at the keyboard, fumbling and bleary-eyed:

I love you guys, I really do.

All of you invisible people out there in cyberwhatsit, you're all absolutely bloody lovely, you know that? And I want to marry you all.

Giss a kiss.

I think I need to lie down...
10/14 Direct Link
Well, if I had been posting when I got home last night, it wouldn't have been quite the drunken post I predicted, though I was pleasantly tiddly. I did enough dancing to burn off some of the alcohol. (Is that a myth? It seems to work for me.)

It took me ages to get to the party. What should have been a ten minute bus ride stretched to well over half an hour. I'd forgotten how busy Rusholme is at Eid.

The birthday girl was in fine form, though I suspect she'll be suffering for the dancing and champagne today.
10/15 Direct Link
Today is the Ides of October.

I find it curiously pleasing to know that. And to know that in most months the Ides are on the 13th.

I like trivia. I have a head full of the stuff. It is rarely of any practical use, though it does make me a whizz at quizzes, but it feels comforting to know things.

I hoard bits of knowledge as I hoard beads, pretty paper, twists of wire: things that may come in handy some day for some unspecified purpose.

And words. I hoard phrases, scraps of poems. I'll use them one day.
10/16 Direct Link
Memo to self:

Do not listen to poets you love reading their own poems. It will rarely sound as good as hearing the words in your head.

To be fair, Adrian Mitchell brought his writings to life when I saw him perform his poetry. ('Perform', rather than 'read' - 'reading' is too tame a word for what he did.)

But I have just been listening to Dylan Thomas, and I feel sad and disappointed. The energy of the words felt held in and restrained by the chains of BBC English, hardly a trace of hwyl.

Maybe I expect too much.
10/17 Direct Link
And the leaves that are green turn to brown...

Except that they don't. They turn to golden yellow, to rusty orange, to deepest crimson, rich colours fit for heavy silks. The trees are dressed for a mediaeval banquet, in all their finery.

The brown comes later, as the fallen leaves become dry and brittle. Every year, I can't resist gathering up a handful or two of lovely autumn leaves, and, every year, I watch them lose their colour. They're beautiful while they last though, and I can enjoy them without the guilt which cut flowers bring.

Nothing gold can stay...
10/18 Direct Link
My cat is a catnip junkie.

He has always been fond of the home-grown stuff, so I give him a little now and again. Not too often, because he can get a little wild in his chargings around the flat, before he goes into laid back, totally chilled out mode.

But now, there are the catnip drops. Last year's advent calendar, forgotten, stuffed behind the vegetable rack and recently rediscovered by him. It's now his mission in life to get that calendar open.

I suppose I could put all the drops in a box, but where's the fun in that?
10/19 Direct Link
I want to go home.

No, I don't mean back to the place I live, though that would be an improvement on sitting eating my lunch in a boring office.

And I certainly don't mean the place where I grew up, which hasn't been home for thirty-odd years, or the place where my parents live now, which has never been home.

So what is it that I mean when I want to curl up and cry out for home?

I don't know, except that it is out there somewhere, and some part of me knows it and misses it desperately.
10/20 Direct Link
Nightmare last night - the first in a while.

I'm not sure what triggered it. Possibly the anti-histamine I took at bedtime to calm the itching skin which was keeping me awake.

It's a little worrying that my reaction to waking up shivering and distressed was to blog it! But writing it down did seem to help, and I was able to get back to sleep fairly soon after, though I still feel quite tired today.

I'm trying to decide whether to risk another anti-histamine if the skin starts playing up again tonight.

May be a restless night either way.
10/21 Direct Link
Can I be bothered to write a hundred words tonight?

It's already past midnight, and I've been putting it off, playing around on other websites, because my brain feels empty of ideas, of words.

Would it matter if I didn't complete this month? I've already managed two full months, when I didn't think I'd last out for one.

It seems a shame, though, when it's so near the end of the month, and my Capricorn stubbornness makes me reluctant to abandon an enterprise once begun.

So, a compromise and a contradiction: writing about not writing.

And that makes one hundred.
10/22 Direct Link
Saw a kitten climb a tree today.

Such a cliché, cat in a tree, but I realised that I had never actually seen it before.

She was a pretty little thing, a half-grown spotted tabby, wearing a collar and clearly not a stray.

I don't know why she decided to head for the tree. A dog had just gone past, but she had watched him with apparent calm, and I'm sure I wasn't close enough to startle her.

I tried to tempt her down, but she wasn't having it.

Hope she doesn't stay up there all night - it's chilly.
10/23 Direct Link
The body's softnesses:
Junction of neck and shoulder, calling for kisses;
Pillowing breasts, a tender comfort;
Lips curled round laughter;
Fingertips seeking, softly, the secret places.

The world's softnesses:
Long grass on a hill in the summer sunshine;
Petals of roses, subtly scented;
The warm fur of kittens, tickling the nose.

Domestic softnesses:
Foods that squish and squelch -
jelly and custard, marshmallows, ripe raspberries;
The smoothness of silk, the plushness of velvet;
Upholstered, cushiony things -
sofas and armchairs which engulf you,
Duvets and pillows -
Ah, yes, pillows.

The softness of sleep
Next to your soft body.
10/24 Direct Link
As I was waiting for the bus this morning, a man in a wheelchair came past. He had both legs amputated above the knee - something more likely to be the result of peripheral vascular disease than of some horrendous industrial accident.

He stopped, manoeuvred his wheelchair, bent forward and scooped something from the floor: a half-smoked cigarette butt, which he lit and smoked while searching for others.

I never did that when I was a smoker, but I did make roll-ups with the butts from the ashtray. My body still remembers the cravings.

And this is a legal drug?
10/25 Direct Link
Words to be written on a tissue box:

Dry your eyes, little one, and I will kiss the pain from your scraped knee. If you fall again, I will be here to help you up.

Dry your eyes, my sweet. He is not worth your smallest tear. There will be other, kinder loves some day.

Wipe away the makeup, beloved, and let me see your own true face. You are more beautiful than you know.

Wipe the sweat from your brow, my friend, and rest awhile from your labours. The work will wait.

May you always find comfort and softness.
10/26 Direct Link
Another fragmentary poem, written for ArtSpark:

We dance in a circle,
In motion mirroring the turning skies,
The great dance of the stars.
The moon is a circle, a silvered coin,
Round and ripe as a belly;
Your hair is haloed in her gentle light.


So often my bits of poems have an 'other' present, a someone who does not precisely exist but is made up in part of those I have loved and do love, in part of dreams and incoherent longings.

This is who I would dance with - a shadow, an illusion.

Dance with me, sweet ghost.
10/27 Direct Link
Saturday is usually my day for rummaging around in charity shops, buying yet more books that I don't have room for, because I might want to read them or pass them on or wild-release them and they are so wonderfully cheap.

Today I gave the charity shops a miss, as I was meeting up with some of my BookCrossing pals, and I even managed to end the day with fewer books than I'd started with.

I did, however, get lured in to the craft shop, and added to my collection of 'stuff that might come in handy for making things'.
10/28 Direct Link
What's in a name? I don't believe
The rose, re-christened 'snotplant', would appeal
Or smell as sweet, despite young Juliet's protestations.

Names given at birth can mar the bearer's childhood
Or at the very least, shape expectations -
Duncan or Wayne, Katherine or Candice,
An indication of the path predicted.

A family name can be a proud inheritance
Or a barbed chain, wounding as it binds;
To change the name by choice can be a freedom.

The names that are most precious are the secret
Tender names between lovers and cherished friends,
The nicknames, pet names, names learned by heart.
10/29 Direct Link
Words from a vocabulary test, with some random comments.

Supercilium: an eyebrow. Raised, superciliously, as I wish I could raise mine.

Sussurant: whispering, the sibilants hissing like the echo in a sea shell.

Truckle: to submit. Do you buckle when you truckle?

Ephemeris: an astronomical table. The positions of the stars are, like the mayfly, ephemeral. As are we all, under the stars.

Girasol: fire opal, sunflower, turning to the sun.

Corybantic: frenzied, dancing in ecstasy for Cybele.

Salmagundi: a miscellany, a mixture, a salad with everything. Would be a good title for a blog, maybe. Or for this post.
10/30 Direct Link
In the dark
Hearing is heightened:
Each creak of settling building disconcerting,
Jolting the drowsing mind with thoughts of burglars,
Vampires or ghosts.
A nightlight, then? Brief comfort only -
Outside its ring of light the shadows gather,
Take wavering shape, twist on the edge of vision.
Better, perhaps, the dark.

I am rarely scared of the dark these days, probably because I am too tired by the time I get to bed to imagine monsters. There was a time, though, when I used to sleep with the light on. And wear a silver cross in case of visiting vampires...
10/31 Direct Link
Tonight the veil between the worlds is tissue-thin. You are close enough to touch, my loved ones who have travelled ahead of me.

The children have been out tonight, costumed as ghosts and ghouls, as if the dead were to be feared, and the grown-ups scare themselves with horror films. Yet there is more to be frightened of in the living, truly.

Although tonight is a special time for remembering you, that doesn't mean I forget you at other times. You who have touched my life are in my heart and in my thoughts, and I miss you every day.