Monday, December 27, 2010

Holiday a day at a time

What a lazy day! What joy!

The days are long past when I would feel a convulsive jolt of guilt for every minute spent in bed beyond the normal hour for rising. I still, of course, wake up at the appropriate time to go to work but that is mere conditioning and by merely turning over I can override the moral imperative to get up and set new parameters for the luxury of snoozing.

I must admit by the time my snoozing dreams have taken hold and are beginning to develop themselves it is sometimes something of a relief to wake up fully and resolve the fantastic situations that my unconscious has created by harsh reality bringing me back to what passes for normality!

By the time I had a cup of tea it was time for lunch so we set off for town pausing only to check the mail box and discover the latest batch of Christmas cards, one of which was dated the 14th of December so I imagine that the snow has had its part to play in the tardy delivery times. I do feel guilty as I have sent not a single card as I was going to rely on the electronic version to suffice for this year. But, due to technical difficulties beyond my individual control my attempts to produce something on a par with that which I managed to send last year did not succeed.

I am working on sending an electronic Kings card which gives me a few more days to get things in order.

The Spanish are not great card senders, though Toni's mother managed to send a card which she bought the last time she was in Wales.

I must say that the selection of cards which we have had have been remarkable in the quality of images used with one exceptional penguin card and numerous extremely tasteful religious ones.

Ceri's card this year features an atmospheric almost abstract image entitled, “After the Snowfall” which I am sure would fit neatly on the blank wall which was produced by the re-arrangement of the living room and which has still not been filled!

My concern about travel in the New Year increases with every news bulletin as weather chaos seems to be engulfing most of the places in which news broadcasters have correspondents to relay graphic pictures of sliding cars, stationary trains, frozen planes and everywhere disgruntled travellers.

I am only concerned about getting there and seeing Ceri on his birthday and visiting Paul; my getting back I consign to the gods of the swirling weather fronts and the vagaries of furious traffic controllers throughout Europe. School, after all, can wait!

I am determined to Do Something about the arrangement of my books. It is always easier to write about such a thing than actually do it because moving books is such sheer hard work. People think that book arrangement is as undemanding as flower arrangement; but this is simply not so. Flowers go from the purchased bunch into a vase and the arrangement is simply (in a Japanese sense) the artful placing of a single bloom next to a twig: what you don't need you can throw away.

The last part of the previous sentence contains two phrases which underline the problems that I have with my collection of books. The concept of a book “you don't need” is not one which I can, even remotely understand. It therefore follows that the idea that “you can throw away” a book is something close (very close) to sacrilege.

When you have as many books as I have and as little spare shelf space the moving of one book necessitates numerous movements elsewhere in the collection. It is rather like that little plastic game of a picture made up of a number of moveable squares which you can move one square at a time into the single vacant space.

I think, for example, that it would be a good idea to get all my art books together so that they form a coherent part of the total collection. But there are numerous problems with such a reasonable thought.

Arts books come in all shapes and sizes from the mini paperbacks giving a few reproductions through the mid size paperbacks that I bought when I was younger to the hard back purchases of my more affluent years. Some of these books are outsize and fit none of my shelves. Then there are the art histories in various volumes: should I break these up into their particular periods and keep all the relevant volumes together or let them stay as matching collections and take out the volumes as and when required.

Now I could go on at some length enumerating the pressing problems (and there are many, many more) just relating to the art books, but I am reminded of a programme that I watched on television last night about the lives, and more particularly the houses of the super rich. One lady while planning a dinner party in her spectacularly modern and totally desirable house told the viewers that she liked her table to reflect the seasons. She therefore poured sand on her dining table and carefully formed it into neat bands down the surface of the table into which she set the plates, cutlery, glasses etc with, in the middle, an arrangement of candles, cones and leaves from her lawns (collected by servants) to finish the effect. And one found oneself saying, through gritted teeth, “For god's sake woman haven't you got any real work to do!”

I fear my concerns about my book arrangement might be judged in the same sort of class as such table setting. This would be wrong of course, but I do see that there might be some irritation about how I choose to spend my time.

I might add that before writing this I had been “reading” a delightful book entitled “La Historia del Arte” which tells me such things as “Aunque Masaccio vivió 27 años, es en figura clave en la historia del arte europeo.” So, not only am I reading in Spanish (albeit at a fairly easy level) but I am also learning new things - as I seem to have ignored Masaccio's age in my previous reading about his life. So I do read the books I have as well as worry about where they are and whether I will ever find them a second time around!

Meanwhile the evils of the neighbours.

Much to our collective astonishment the bollards are still virtually upright and are definitely still in their holes in spite of our destructive neighbours having the whole of the holiday period with cars coming and going and parking and wrecking. We are still keeping a watching brief on them and photos have been taken and stored for future use should these inestimable protections against visitors using our driveways as parking sports be suddenly “vanished away.”

The more pressing problem is the baleful chorus of damned hounds that sing their monotonous song through the day and night. I do not, of course blame the dogs – though clearly I wish them dead as soon as possible. I blame the thoughtless and presumably profoundly deaf owners.

The Witch of Endor who lives next door is certifiably mad though friendly enough, at least to me. Perhaps one should never take the way that humans speak to their canine friends as an indication of their sanity, but her maudlin crooning of baby voiced idiocies go beyond the acceptable.

She also owns a selection of dogs all of which bark. One, a crippled mutt which should clearly be put out of his misery at once, barks a muted distant bark once a second every second while his owner is out of the house. The other dogs have their own “voices” and respond to different stimuli to get their vocal chords working. One responds to every movement we make in our house, while the other dislikes strangers moving past the house on foot or in vehicles or in its bloody imagination.

Further down the street there are a pair of decrepit dogs who scream in a demented duet whenever any other canine walks past their house. To encourage this horror their caring owners have cut away part of the covering of the gate so that the vermin can see out and scream with gusto. They have the same reaction when their owner comes home from work and when he goes to work so we are guaranteed a morning and evening banshee recital.

But the medal for sheer cavalier indifference to the lives of others has to go to a family living on a street adjacent to ours whose dog barks non-stop whenever they go out. He does vary his bark and, as he is given the run of the garden and the steps up to the house there is a variety in the intensity of the bark depending on where he is – but bark he does until they come back.

And when they are not barking they are shitting on the pavements and their owners regard their filth as authentic, organic and natural and therefore they do nothing about it. It makes walking along our pavements an odoriferous, slippery and messy experience.

But the sun shone today and it didn't rain and there is no snow in our part of Spain. 

Who can ask for more.
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