Posted in Life and Family, Music I Like

Swing Swing

Emotions, they stir
The sun is gone
The nights are long
And I am left while the tears fall

It sounds like Chinese poetry! But Swing Swing is by The All-American Rejects. There’s a picture of a go-kart on the front of the CD, though I originally thought it was a petrol mower.

I hadn’t heard of it, but it cost next to nothing as the charity shop was trying to get rid of scruffy CDs no one wanted. (The case was scraped at the corners, but both CD and case were in remarkable condition). I had a few minutes to myself, with nobody breathing disapprovingly down my neck, so I could buy whatever I fancied. I wanted new music to try, and here was this CD looking for a new owner.

At first I didn’t like it as it has quite a heavy ‘head-banging’ sound. My musical taste is mostly mellow… UB40, Gabrielle, Johnny Nash and so on, though I like rock as well.

Being unwilling to concede defeat, I played it several times, and there are bits I now enjoy… in particular the track mentioned above.

Swing, swing from the tangles of
My heart is crushed by a former love
Can you help me find a way
To carry on again?

When something like that gets in my head, I’m more likely to write a blog post than if all is quiet, peaceful and normal. My soul hums with sadness, hope and inspiration.

From what I’ve heard, inebriated people become ’emotional’, embarrassing their friends with heart-felt sentiments. I wish to point out that I’m such an occasional drinker I’m almost teetotal, and don’t need to have been drinking anything to do that! All that’s required is that I be under the influence of a song.

All of you out there in the blogging world… I love that you are there. (Hangs adoringly round people’s necks). I don’t post as much as I used to, but there’s that feeling of random connectedness with others. We are not necessarily like-minded, except that we’re prone to sitting down and writing out our thoughts. Some of you, like Rabbit or Christopher Robin, dash off something practical and to the point. Others, like Winnie the Pooh or Tigger, know how to entertain and make people laugh. Then there are the anxious, slightly annoying ones like Piglet. Still others (like me) wait self-pityingly in the rain and ponder gloomy Eeyoreish thoughts.

Well… today we were having an informal family get-together. It seemed bright enough at the beginning, but the day wore on and things weren’t going as well as I hoped. People were subdued, and there were tired silences. I made a self-deprecating joke about the robohoover attacking my TV soundbar, and was told somewhat waspishly that if I wanted to watch the Eurovision, I’d have to do it upstairs anyway… I’m on my own with that.

With ‘Swing Swing’ in my head and my emotions slowly boiling up, our day was already a failure. I received a kindly, disturbing letter which I read somewhere around tea-time. There might be a smidgeon of misjudgement in the missive, but not by much.

Today was someone else’s day and I had to stay pleasant and positive, but the effect the letter had on me was shocking. I shut down quite slowly, peeling off from the others around me, my eyesight gradually blurring. When it came to supper time, I couldn’t face food. My mother had poached egg and toast while I fell asleep.

Perhaps this kind of reaction is a way of escaping for a while. Dozing off helps you ‘find a way to carry on again’. You wake up feeling half-dazed, but your appetite is stealing back.

“It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.”
~ John Steinbeck

Sometimes falling asleep on the sofa for an hour or two is all it takes. You eat a pan of noodles and check the soundbar is working upstairs. After a period of rest and thought, there will be friends to talk to and things to look up online. Ideas; plans; humour. Rethinking and reorganization.

Something good will come of this. Yes, I’m determined.

– – – – –

The above post was written a few days ago. Eurovision 2017 is over now; political spats, witty one-liners, streakers et al!

Posted in Books

Aw Crusoe and Little Friday

A classic question, revisited: what are the five items you must have on a deserted island?

I assume this would be over and above basics such as food, fresh water, shelter, blankets, a couple of changes of clothing, etc. If Little Witness was on board with me, he would have to be one of the items, as I’m not leaving him to sink beneath the waves.

Second, I’d want a fully-charged iPad so I can tell somebody I fetched up on this little island… no I don’t know the co-ordinates, but we were on our way to some place… sorry, I thought I heard a noise but it was just a coconut dropping. Let me move out from under this palm tree. OK, bye.

While waiting in comfort for help to arrive, I would study the environment and wonder about the other three things I really should have with me.

A good book would be a boon. You would think my Kindle would be suitable as it has a fair-sized library on it, but battery power on this island is a non-renewable resource. I would be better off with a long and engrossing paperback… perhaps The Memoirs of Cleopatra (Margaret George) or a Lymond novel by Dorothy Dunnett. The first Hornblower book would be a good choice from a nautical point of view, or (better yet) the full set of Aubrey-Maturin books by Patrick O’Brian.

Are you sure I can’t have them all? Dorothy Dunnett then, as it’s years since I last read any.

From the Wikipedia:

The six volumes follow the life and career of the charismatic Francis Crawford of Lymond, the younger son of the Crawfords of Culter, members of the landed aristocracy of the Scottish Lowlands. Brought up according to the Renaissance ideal of an educated autodidact, he is a polyglot, knowledgeable in literature, philosophy, mathematics and the sciences, a practitioner of all the martial arts, a spell-binding musician, a talented thespian, and a master strategist with a genius for imaginative tactics.

Two more items?

A stationery set. I insist that counts as one item and will include paper, pens, pencils, ruler, eraser and sharpener. Then I can blog to you about what it’s like sitting on a desert island waiting for somebody to come. I wouldn’t be able to publish my adventure till later, but it would give me something to do. If there are colour pencils in there too, I could draw geckos and beetles, pretending I’m a female version of Stephen Maturin.

How many items is that? Four. I need one more.

A nice big chunky bar of chocolate comes to mind, refusing to be dismissed, especially if I can keep it cool and the ants don’t get to it. I’d eat it slowly while reading the Dorothy Dunnett novel, and the rescue boat would arrive just as I polished off the last piece.

Provided no lives were lost, that would be a good day.

‘Today,’ said Lymond, ‘if you must know, I don’t like living at all. But that’s just immaturity boggling at the sad face of failure. Tomorrow I’ll be bright as a bedbug again.’

― Dorothy Dunnett, The Disorderly Knights

Posted in Current Affairs, Political and Social Issues, Rants

Rebellious Bramble

Mood: Angry
Listening to: My sap rising

I’ve just realized that I’ve been in a bit of a cynical frame of mind today. Maybe for a few days in fact. Yes, definitely for a few days. Maybe even a few years, or a decade or two.

This must be something that catches up with all bloggers eventually. Or maybe it has nothing to do with blogging at all.

For the past few days when reading online news articles, my only reaction was to snort to myself. “12 year old runs off to Pakistan without leave? Her poor mother. 18 year old resurfaces in Austria and won’t have her family round her? Well I’ll try to understand… but her poor mother! Councils want to be allowed to charge for non-recyclable rubbish – they say its purely so we are galvanized into recycling more. Well, I’ve been trying to recycle my paper for months but they only come round every two weeks at 07:00 hours, and I never remember in time. I don’t put my bin out the night before because I don’t want it to block the pavement. Council in Edinburgh tries to pinch people’s residential parking bays and sell them back to them? I don’t trust councils or bureaucrats. It’s very sad.”

And then there are all the people who post rubbish and insults at the foot of news articles and don’t seem to have anything sensible to say.

I get a letter from my gas company saying “oops – we put the price up without telling you.” All I can think is “what am I still doing with them anyway?”

Royal Mail decides to charge by size as well as weight, throwing everything into disarray and causing confusion. I don’t want to use Royal Mail again – how can I avoid it? It’s just the way I feel. I want nothing to do with them now! Maybe I’m too old and set in my ways.

Seem to remember reading …. oh, it was in Ask Mamma by R.S. Surtees – that people were horrified at the idea of pre-paid postage, and did everything in their power to avoid using the postal service at all. Well, now I know how they felt.

On TV, an airport employee was chasing away a cloud of starlings because they were dangerous to planes. The planes were delayed till the birds were gone. The Chief Bird Scarer said “every second that the planes stay on the ground costs thousands.” The whole idea tires me. Why not let the starlings fly where they like and ban these expensive metal and fuel things? Why can’t we all stay were we live and make the best of it? If we have to go anywhere, it should be by foot or by hoof.

Then (in another programme which I forget the name of) there was the guy who says you have to prove to your would-be employers that you’re a peach, not a lemon. Why? And is there really anybody who’s completely one thing or the other? There are so many grey areas… and when the sober suited executive says “we are looking for employees with self-confidence,” you wonder what happens to all the people who have very little self-confidence or different ways of looking at things? Don’t tell me that they have to pull their socks up and catch up with the others – life is far more complicated than that, and self-confidence… well it’s hard to measure. Being a confident salesman is one thing, out there making good money for yourself and your company, in some cases making other people’s lives a misery. Being confident in the way you think about life and what you see as its real needs and priorities is something else. Not everything is about money, and not everything is about being peaches and extroverts. That’s not a world worth living in.

I did get a bit of joy when the ‘peach or lemon’ presenter suggested to a boy (who probably wasn’t particularly wealthy) that he pay someone to listen to his tape, and if they didn’t like it, they keep the money; but if they did like it, they give him a recording contract or something of the kind. And the boy said with astonishment “but they’ll cash the cheque and not listen to the tape!” and marched off with his eyebrows beetling. Of course they will. Jeez.

It’s not just everybody else you’re questioning. You look around your own home and think sadly about the things you took for granted when younger and the things you bought that you didn’t need. The things you thought you wanted that you never used. The things you meant to do but instead you sit watching TV shows about how the very birds are told where they can or can’t go. But it can be a hard routine to break, and sometimes all you feel like doing is hiding your head under a blanket and pretending you don’t exist and that nobody will come and demand that you post letters using a new system or pay increased gas bills or prove to them (preferably at own monetary and mental health risk) that you’re a peach and not a lemon.

I’m tired.

Edit Feb 2008: Comments to this post when it was hosted by Blogigo.

Tony wrote at Sep 2, 2006 at 04:07:
Hey there,That’s one hell of a rant.
I suppose we all feel like a bit of a black mood every now and again.
Good for you. 🙂

Thanks for including me in some rarified company (rebecca blood). Just noticed your blog — a tip of that hap to your regularity. That’s one hell of a run you’re on (almost daily for how long?)

Cheers and keep up the good work
Tony @ DJI (Deep Jive Interests)

Diddums wrote at Sep 2, 2006 at 10:10:

I dread to think :-). I take a break now and then.
It’s funny how much better you do feel after a big rant; it cleared the air in a way my last few posts didn’t. I suppose it was building up for a while, and at first it doesn’t really occur to you to share it.

Pete wrote at Sep 2, 2006 at 17:06:
I was cynical long before I was a blogger.
Diddums my dear you are always assured a few quacks from me 🙂