REPORT A PROBLEM
It's hard being a Mummy. I know she is alright really, but she's on the other side of the world, by herself, landing in a strange city after a 13-hour flight, with no one to meet her - and I Worry. She will e-mail as soon as she can, but there isn't likely to be one until tomorrow at the earliest, so I have to be patient. So I look at the 100words page, only to find my March entries aren't up yet, although hers are. Cheek! I know I have written 3100 words in March - so where are they?
Of course she's alright! We had an e-mail today, exuberant as ever, full of adventures and excitement. She's fine. I also found why my March entries weren't up - I'd entered one day's lot three times somehow. Don't know how I did that, but it should be sorted out soon. I'm wondering what to do for April - an on-line diary, which is what this has become, is all very interesting if you do interesting things, which I don't. I'm interested in what I do, but why should anyone else be? Raises the question again, who am I writing for? Myself, obviously.
Two days work! Shocking! Getting the children to write yesterday, they were supposed to write four descriptive sentences about any object in their classroom. Nothing contentious there, but trying to get them to write about what IS, rather than what they assume is, is a different matter. Describing a daffodil, on girl said it was surrounded by pretty leaves - no it wasn't, it was sticking out of a glass vase, on a single stem, with nothing around it. It bothers me, the way we make assumptions without checking the reality. Use your eyes. See what's REALLY there. If it is.
Which of course then raises the question, what is really there? And we get into the same old reality check again. What is Real, and how do I recognise it? How do I know that my perception of things is reality, particularly when what I perceive is often radically different from what others perceive? When I know my perceptions are affected by moods, hormones, the weather, books I've been reading, music I've been listening to, and countless other distractions. How do I know that what someone else describes as real is not also affected by that person's moods, hormones etc?
Beautiful, glorious spring day - how can those idiots in the US/UK governments go to war? In a desert too - they must be mad. We went for a bike ride along the very few fairly level lanes round here. Most of the lanes meander up and down the hills - mostly up, it seems, but that can't be right, with lots of steep corners and hairpin bends. Very little traffic, apart from the odd horse, but I don't like hills, my knees creak and ache, and there is always more up than down, however illogical that may be. I'm getting too old.
Talking about reality, which I was - how can we believe what we read in the papers? I know, through reading them, which papers are pro- war and which are anti-, so the accounts of victories, battles, casualties etc have to be read in the light of what the paper supports. There is no such thing as unbiassed reporting Just because it Says It In The Papers doesn't mean it's true. Neither is it necessarily true Because It Is On Telly. Particularly when there are shots from Iraqi television, reporting victories etc for the Iraqis, which contradict those of Western television.
Information overload. You can find all sorts of information on the Internet, for example, much of it may be true. But you can put any old rubbish up on the Net, so what you find there is no more The Truth than any other source. So how, in the end, do you know what is true, what is real? Facts - hopes, propaganda, fiction, morale boosts or otherwise. Opinions - necessarily biassed, according to the propagators own personal viewpoint. What Is True Is What Can Be Proved - so scientists say, but how many proofs are really accurate, and who analyses the results?
Two pigeons sitting on a branch, the male begins his courtship routines of head-bobbing and wing fluttering, the female looking coyly over her shoulder. He moves closer and she, coquettishly flies off to another branch and preens. He follows her, but she is having none of him and with some indignant wing flutters, flies off, leaving him perched disconsolate on the branch. How True is that? Anthropomorphism personified. The truth: two pigeons on a branch. Some head-bobbing and fluttering. One flies off, the other follows. The first flies away, the other stays. No romantic story, just different ways of seeing.
Saddam Hussein fell from power today. With a noose round his neck, he stood rigidly on his pedestal, feet braced, one arm raised in greeting to his people. The rope tightened, pulling him inexorably forward. He rocked gently, his whole body taking the strain, then began to topple slowly, his arm still out-flung. He didn't hit the ground at once, but hung suspended until with another heave on the rope he crashed to the ground. He was immediately leapt upon, his people kicking and hitting him, cheering his downfall. His head was pulled off and dragged through the streets.
What happened yesterday happened to a statue. I report the facts - but omit, or don't make clear, one important fact, and my report is of a bloody atrocity. Once you know it is a statue I am talking about, the whole tone of the report has altered. I am a story-teller - I look for patterns, consequences, explanations, and weave my romances around them. The facts may be there, included in the assumptions, the anthropomorphic descriptions of states of mind, but are they all there, and what interpretation can be put on them? What you see is not always what is True.
Take an old copper hotwater cylinder, remove the insulation, polish lightly with steel wool to create some shine. Solder lengths of waste copper pipe onto the inflow and outflow pipes that are already attached., add different angled joints, T-pieces and reducers, to alter the size and angle of the pipes, add extra branches, reducing the size to ever smaller diameters, then solder cheap stainless steel bowls, plates and colanders to the ends. Finally add coiled microbore pipe in spirals to the structure, and position in the garden. Is it art? Well, could be, if you look in the right way.
Getting old. An eight-mile walk exhausts us, even though it was along the canal and necessarily level. Tow bottles of wine make us sleepy, and gone are the days - or rather nights - when we sat up talking until dawn. We've put the world to rights so many times, discussed the idiosyncrasies of all our friends, the intricacies of our various relationships, the problems with our careers and families. Now we giggle and gossip, eat chocolate and go to bed by midnight. We spend the evening in a restaurant rather than the pub, eating rather than drinking - we're getting too old.!
The newspapers and television news reports are too depressing. After all the excitement of the "victory" last week, there is no sign of Saddam Hussein, Iraqi society is descending into anarchy and chaos, with every sign of imminent civil war between rival factions, striving for control of the collapsing country, and the US troops do nothing to stem the tide of looting and riots. Reports of random shootings of civilians are not shown on US television, and are condemned as biassed reporting by some of the pro-war establishments in this country. And the Hawks look now at Syria. Be afraid.
And in the midst of all the doom and gloom, the grass is growing, and I've got my lawnmower back, and spent a happy afternoon, planting pansies and mowing the grass. While scooping the weed out of the pond, I nearly capture a goldfish, but he escaped and hid in the mud. The Girl will be flying out of Nicaragua today, and should arrive at Heathrow tomorrow morning. And we will buy Easter Eggs and more goldfish, and she will talk non-stop for two days until Carl arrives, then she'll start all over again. And the peace will be shattered.
As expected, she talked all evening after she arrived, then slept for fourteen hours, and started all over again when she woke up. Had to go and get her photos developed, so she could explain in yet more detail, as well as show off her video clips etc. I think she enjoyed herself. She complains it's cold, although I think it's too hot - 24C is quite warm enough for me, I couldn't stand the 40C she's been used to. Much as I'd love to see it all, I don't like the heat, and I'd sooner go north on my travels.
New Alamaailman Vaserat CD today (did I spell that right? Finnish has too many vowels in it). Very good - loud and noisy. Similar to the previous CD, recognisably the same band, but a couple of tracks resemble other bands like Birdsongs. Not only good, but we didn't pay for it either. Alan ordered me a T-shirt when the last CD came out, but we never got it, so he e-mailed the band again to see what has happened to it, and they sent us the new CD as an apology as the T-shirts are not available at the moment. Splendid!
Bangor pier is extremely pretty. It was built in the 1870s, and closed down in 1971 as it was deemed unsafe, but instead of demolishing it, the town council renovated it, and now it's all silver onion domes, and polygonal kiosks, stretching 1500 feet out into the Menai Straits, with a tea shop selling fresh homemade scones at the end of it. We also found a 12-seater circular Gents toilet on the quay at Port Penrhyn, and a handsome little folly tower on the edge of the promenade in Beaumaris. And we weren't even on a proper folly hunt.
Wonderful inventions, pound-shops. Crammed full of bargains that I didn't know I needed, all cheap. The Girl has a passion for them, so we went again today. Mind you, most people who visit tend to have a passion for them - one of our regular outings for visitors is to Harry Tuffins, there's nothing like it anywhere else. Even my brother-in-law described it as an amazing place. It's only a supermarket, I buy food there usually, but it's not Waitrose or Sainsbury or Tesco, so it's strange and unusual and different. But it's still only a supermarket with a poundstore attached.
Eating too much is not a good thing, particularly when it's curry. The Girl fancied a curry - due to a diet of rice and beans for the last couple of weeks, she needed Curry! Now! Hot! So of course she got one. And we all ate too much, although we didn't drink too much this time, finances not being too healthy. They are an expensive pair - I'd rather have them for a week than a fortnight, but it is nice having them loafing about, eating us out of house and home, and busy polishing noses with newspapers. And talking non-stop.
Easter Sunday - chocolate eggs, spring flowers, celebrations. Today is meant to be the high point of the Christian year, celebrating the Resurrection and new life. Can't say I noticed much celebration, and I never have worked out the connection between chocolate eggs and Christ. When Sunday Trading came in, Easter Sunday was supposed to remain exempt- the one day of the year when the craving to spend money could not be satisfied. That's not true now, the shops were open today as they usually are on Sunday. It is no longer even a public holiday, let alone a religious festival.
Woke up thinking about a poem this morning. Not mine, I don't write poetry, but one I studied at school. It still resonates: Turning and turning in the widening gyre, the falcon cannot hear the falconer. Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned; the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity. W.B.Yeats. I learnt it years ago, but still wake up remembering it, and I don't even like poetry much, or read it often anyway.
What makes it poetry, anyway? The careful choosing of the words, the balancing of images, the underlying rhythms of the words? Teaching young children, you get them to look for words that rhyme, and encourage them to think about how their words scan, but that's not poetry, only basic rhymes. What makes poetry so different from song lyrics? Or from prose, for that matter? I say I don't like poetry much, but there are songs lyrics that I do like, that express ideas, feelings, states of mind, far better than prose could. And they can stand alone, without the music.
Alone beneath a foreign sky I wonder could I be any further flung than this? Against the winds which cast me to this distant shoreline I can still blow a kiss to fly off in migration, heading homeward, all my thoughts upon the wing to you. Though all our dreams and wishes seem so distant this much we can always do... If we just raise our eyes we'll share the sky. The evening sun upon my cheeks already, the glimmer of dawn approaching you, across the curvature of earth invisible connections hold us true if we just close our eyes...
100 words limitations again. Yesterdays's entry was a song from Peter Hammill's last but one CD entitled What Now. It resonates for me because the Girl was far away when I last heard it, and I miss her, so it has an emotional impact, as well as interesting ideas. But I know it as a song, so I can't read it cold - the music is still in my head when I read it, and because it is a song, and was written as one, with the music an integral part of it, I don't know whether it counts as poetry.
I suppose it doesn't really matter what you call it - poetry, prose, song lyrics, whatever... what matters is the love of words, ordering words to best express what you want to say. That's why I write, because I enjoy manipulating words, finding the exact word to express what I want. I'm not always successful, and what I want to say doesn't always need saying, but it's a harmless activity and keeps me amused. The 100words format is good in that it enforces conciseness, but it also limits the development of ideas, and makes you write in soundbytes, which I hate.
How strange people are! Or at least my family are. So anxious to avoid emotions and embarrassment; the awkward silence that follows any mention of his name, the squirm of discomfort when, brash and bold, she picks up his photo, and lovingly remarks on his dimples. I know they do it because they don't want to upset me, but it is far more upsetting to consign him to oblivion, to pretend that he never existed, than to talk about him. If I mention him, which I do, why not respond, talk about him, remember him? He lived, he was important
Bless her! Like the Girl, she is forthright and open, bordering on tactless. Friendly and communicative, not bound up with the family reticence and shyness. It was good to see her again, and to see how roles repeat themselves through the generations. Just as we played aunty and uncle to her and her brother when small, just as The Girl ordered her about as a bossy little cousin, so her own niece and nephew do it now. The non-stop chattering, the demands for attention, the rides on shoulders, holding hands, taking turns with the dog - I've seen it all before.
Another nothing day - house quiet and empty, grass too wet to mow although it's growing furiously, tortoises sunbathing between showers. Difficult to say afterwards how I fill my days, but I do. I get absorbed in something - a book, some writing, music, whatever, and the times goes without me noticing it, so that I forget to do the things I ought to do - phone people, buy things, chase up the architect, joiner, stained glass window man. I shall be busy again one day, unfortunately, but meanwhile the new Masfell, Alamamaailman Vaserat, and Placebo CDs keep me busy. Good ironing music.
Five years ago tonight, in the dead hours before dawn, the darkest hours. I still remember that night - not quite every minute of it, but almost. And afterwards, that cold grey dawn, a chilly breeze blowing as we walked round the track at 5.30 in the morning, the heavy clouds and thick mist in the distance, and the emptiness in the house. Life and colour drained away. We both cried, knowing there was no release in tears, just reaction and exhaustion. There was nothing to do for those few hours before the day started, except to realise what was gone.
We don't celebrate this anniversary, but we remember. We try to do something that he would have enjoyed, to mark the day and make it special. Something that reflects his enthusiasm for life and his sense of adventure, and his delight in unusual activities. This year we booked a helicopter flight, and it was brilliant, he would have loved it. I took him up in a little plane when he was seven, and he loved flying. The helicopter was even better - I wish he could have shared it. Hot air balloons, the London Eye, a canal boat, and a helicopter.
The Tip Jar