Monday, October 08, 2012

The past is popular

Popular wisdom says that one should not try to turn the clock back, but there again it also says that BoJo would make a good leader of a national political party – so what do they know.

The clock is fully turned back and I am now a fully registered undergraduate in the Open University and my first course will start on the third of next month. 

I have to be fair and admit that it is not the course that I would have chosen but the dates did not work out and I was a week too late to register so I had to compromise.

The compromise is that I am doing some sort of Arts course (of course) in which I will be concentrating on language and its uses ending up by the study of the nineteenth century and a reading of Hard Times by Dickens.

As a function of my keenness I have already re-read the book and, as I read it electronically I was able to highlight the passages that I found interesting and also make notes as I went along.

The great discovery was finding out that one quote from Dickens that I have been trying to pin down to a novel was in Hard Times and not, as I had previously thought in Bleak House. 

Mrs Gradgrind is an eternal invalid and when she finally has the good grace to enter into her dying phase of moaning she is asked if she is in pain, to which she replies, “I think there’s a pain somewhere in the room,  (. . . ) but I couldn’t positively say that I have got it.” 

That concept of “a pain somewhere in the room” is one that I can certainly relate to when one needs to describe a feeling of discomfort which is just short of pain but within the realm of conscious appreciation.  Dickens, as he does so often, adds a clear extra layer of experience through the creative use of language.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the re-reading and have been musing about a whole variety of themes and ideas that seem to underpin the novel.

More importantly I have also discovered how to print out what I have done and those sheets will go into the writing books that Toni and I have bought for our respective subjects.

After the meal with Irene a couple of day ago I also have to print out the stories that she sent me that she uses in her teaching.  The idea is that I attempt to write some simple grammar heavy stories that Irene can try out with the pupils and then, after I get a collection together, I try and peddle them to some publisher to see if there is any money to be made from them.

Toni has offered to do the drawings for them.  Which should be interesting.

Tomorrow is the start of the opera season – at least it is if you have the Season Ticket that I have.  I do not have tickets as such, just a plastic credit card which is “read” when I go into the Liceu and records that I have started my musical adventure.

Usually I have taken the car to the centre of Barcelona and have steeled myself to pay the exorbitant parking charges, so large sometimes that it really does take the edge off the enjoyment of the operatic experience.

I have therefore determined that I will find a cheap (!) hotel in Barcelona and spend the night of the concert in the city rather than wending my solitary way home in the early hours of the morning.

I also hope to find some sort of reasonably priced place to have a late night meal after the opera to make the whole thing worthwhile.  It says something for the cost of parking that the hotel room that I have found, which comes in at €30, seems like a good deal!

I also want to find a stamp shop n Barcelona so that I do not have to get pages for my First Day Covers from Britain – there has to be somewhere that can provide exactly what I want within the old part of the city.

I have had the sad news that an aunt of mine has died.  This means that of the husbands and wives of the three children of my maternal grandparents now, only Uncle Eric remains.  He is 93 and is sharp and politically aware and I think that I have more interesting conversations with him now that at any other time in my life – better late than never!

It does mean that I will probably be going back to Wales some time next week to join my cousin in the funeral.

It is a sad fact of life that when a person reaches a great age most of the friends and close relatives have died so that, unless there is a bustling, geometrically increasing series of next generations the congregation can be quite sparse.

I expect a healthy showing from the private school in which my aunt was a pupil and taught.  Until her death she was the oldest pupil/teacher and I think she rather revelled in her predominant longevity.  Her death closes a chapter.  I only hope that it opens another for my cousin.

The illness that Toni is at last combating – the one donated to him by his kindly and plague carrying family – is trying its best to latch on to me.  By sheer strength of will I am attempting to keep the depressing symptoms at bay until I can get my flu jab to give my defences a boost.

And anyway with opera and study and trips to the UK I have to be at my best and not sneezing my way along bent double with coughing.  I refuse to give in to the illness.  So there.

What is waiting for me now is attempting to bring some sort of order to the Third Floor; not the terrace but rather the cluttered chaos through which you have to pass to get out into the open air.

With the new printer being unworkable at the moment and the other workable and ink loaded machine flitting from place to place I have to pin it down and ensure that the pages that I need made concrete are done before tomorrow.

It is a sad fact of modern hotel booking that a printer is an essential part of the process and the humble sheet of A4 with agreed details is something which gains you your room with the absence of fuss.

Checking in is at 12 midday and I do not really want to get there that early, especially as I will be going in by train so that the expenses of the trip are kept to a minimum.  Leaving me in the centre of Barcelona with time on my hands is an expensive business!

This will be a trial run and will pave the way for other little trips or will confirm the expensive car parking as the best way to gain from the experience.

So, printing and packing are called for.

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