Monday, March 30, 2015

Small pleasures

Family wisdom

For reasons best known to my unconscious, I have, this morning, been thinking of the advice which has been handed down to me by family members.

Great-grandfather: “Never refuse a good offer!”
            This piece of double-edged advice (it has been used against me by people with whom I have shared it!) has been handed down like a precious heirloom.  Of all the words of wisdom this has been the most used, as it often does provide a short cut to a clear decision and, when this is reached, it is so much more satisfying when you can append a saying to justify what often appears to be pure selfishness!

Grandfather: “Fair play’s bonny play.”
            This is a flexible saying which can be used to justify past action, to allow an element of wriggle-room in a difficult situation and to claim space to exercise your rights.

Father: “Anything is better than nothing.”
            Rather like the famous inscription in the ring demanded by the emperor who said he wanted to see something which, if he was sad would make him happy and if he were happy would make him thoughtful – this saying is something which can push you forward when everything seems against you and can make you think a little when things are going well.  It is also plain wrong some of the time.  Oh, “This too will pass” was the inscription that made it to the circle of gold.

Mother: “You can never have too many tea-towels”
            This is also true for teaspoons.  And is true.  And I have expanded this saying to include watches and cameras.  And books.  And gadgets.  And more books.

Possibly I have not been very fair to my relatives here, there was a lot else that they told me that has sunk into my bones, but, goodness knows I have fallen back on these sayings more times than I can conveniently remember.
            As I have been writing I have been remembering other things that they said, but some wisdom is best kept close and not shared too widely especially that sort of knowledge that shows up too much of your character!

Kids and other humans

The curse of the retired classes has returned: holidays.  Children openly stalk the streets and Barcelona has decamped to Castelldefels.
In spite of knowing the date of Easter for once, I was still surprised by the arrival of Palm Sunday and newly shocked (again) by the ostentatious showiness of the ‘palms’ that kids were waving around for seconds before they were discarded and dropped into the ever-accommodating hands of their parents. 
Surprised I might have been, but with notebook to the forefront, I was able to jot down some observations and they were able to prompt a poem, POEMS IN HOLY WEEK  i. A girl skips by, which can now be seen at 
I have, rather grandly, set myself the task of writing a poem a day for the rest of this week.
            Apart from Good Friday and Easter Sunday there is no obvious daily focus, so finding a connecting subject matter (without resorting to the book of daily prayer and the gospel readings) is going to be testing.
            What I produce may be a sequence or there may be individual poems worth salvaging.  Or it might not happen, of course.  But I think that it will be a good discipline for me, and I am hoping that there will be a knock on effect of studiousness prompting me to get a move on with the next essay for the OU course.


Toni’s blog on restaurants in Castelldefels is rapidly gaining a steady readership and the pageviews are, even more rapidly gaining parity with the sophisticates that patronize  
I am relying on my Holy Week Poetic Effort to redress some of the balance – though why I should think that I am competing for the same viewers is difficult to understand!
We are told that if you have something to sell then capturing an almost infinitesimal percentage of the Chinese market will make your fortune several times over.  The digital on-line ‘market’ is much, much larger so, I tell myself, there is an audience for my poetry out there, it is simply a matter of reaching it!

United Nations Day 2015

EasyJet flights are now open for this momentous day and beyond and so travel arrangements for the occasion are able to be finalised.
            I am looking forward to The Day itself and also to the publication of Flesh Can Be Bright with which it coincides!
            I have been fairly strict with myself and have not started the final editing as I do have one or two other academic preoccupations to fill up my time before I can turn my attention to the fiddly bits before publication.
            I am still waiting on the efforts of others and I am hoping that they are working away to keep to the deadlines.  I think it might be politic to send gentle emails to find out exactly what is or is not going on.
            I am running out of letters of the alphabet to cope with the various ‘plans’ I have had to accommodate the final shape of the book, but this is one time where my ability to speculate endlessly comes in useful!
            Whatever happens there will be, there is at the moment, a final version of what I originally planned.  If any of the collaborations come off then the book will be able to gain from whatever I get.  My grandiose vision may not be able to be realised, but I am sure that shreds of it will make it between the covers.

Barcelona bound

That sub-heading is more appropriate than I meant, but this afternoon will see me battling the kamikaze scooters to get to the centre of Barcelona for a medical test.
            Interestingly, this test has been outsourced by my medical centre to a private organization in the city.  Our local hospital is a few kilometres away, but no, I have to go into the centre and, horror or horrors, find a parking space.
            I think this approach is one which our present criminal government (I use the adjective fairly I think as most of the government and the ruling party has been accused of multiple abuses of power) seems keen to privatize the health service, diverting vast sums of public money into the private hands of their backers.  Sound familiar?  Plus ├ža change!  Doesn’t matter what country you are in, the Conservatives always try the same tactics!

Canine Chorus

Other people wake up to the sound of birds singing – not us.  We have dogs in the same way that medieval Britain had rats – they are everywhere.  At least the rats were quieter.
            I speak as a dog person (at least as long as they are yellow Labrador bitches) but I can’t help feeling if I was given a flame thrower and allowed free rein at dawn then there would be a smell of burning dog flesh in our neighbourhood!

And now the long day’s fast begins as my test has demanded that eating ends six hours before.  At least I am allowed water.  Cheers!
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