Monthly Archives: October 2012
I have finished the last in the series of my short stories about the time I spent in London as a dog walker, which happened to coincide with the time I was expecting my first child. It’s available here and I am donating all the royalties to the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home
Getting to the end of things on purpose, rather than by accident or default, is something I have only really started doing in the last eight years. Now I am at The End I think I should have done it differently – the plan is to one day pull them all together into one edition – but for now it’s probably just as well to let it go as it stands.
It’s been a bit of a one woman job these, so if anyone picks up any typos, or worse, let me know.
In the meantime, I am working on some longer projects which I will post about another time.
In truth, almost unbearable.
…I hope you remember every line…
Not really a good thing perhaps, but apt. Every time I listen to this song, which is not often because it’s so emotionally draining, I feel like I have travelled on another unknown journey.
I love it as much as I hate it, and I always lose my luggage along the way.
You could be my silver springs
My blue green colours flashing
I would be your only dream
Your shining autumn, ocean crashing…
Great spamming name isn’t it?
(I’ve kindly been sent some advice by this person advertising getting a million views on the website a month, or some such rubbish. Apparently I am not optimising my posts with bold and italic keywords so search engines can pick them up *yawn*)
All I need now is an Augustus Gloop spamming the blog and I’ll have a rhyming couplet.
That’s what I was told I was in this week; that’s 4% of the whole world. Now I have no idea whatsoever if that’s true and as it’s what I would consider to be an entirely subjective measure it’s not a statistic I will be dwelling upon. What it did do was made me think about the context being used to put me in the 4% – which happened to be a western capitalist democracy. And I also wondered if the measure had been arrived at by some instrument developed in the western capitalist democratic society, society that values success, worth and even luck in monetary terms.
For a passing moment it just seemed the like most atrocious cultural imperialism of the mind.
‘We think we are more lucky than you.’
*points to anywhere that isn’t the US or Europe*.
I wondered who was mad? Me, who can see the most terrible things going on everywhere: destruction of communities, hate for fellow humans, abuse and neglect of children, lack of care and concern for others, a loss of humanity in our daily transactions… or Them, who see a sick, money-driven consumerist society that values appearances more than wellbeing as a great place to live.
There’s no answer to that.
- I need a whole week for solid reading, every week for the next year.
- I need half the week for planning, most weeks.
- I need a whole week, every week, for the next year, to write.
- Plus which half my working week is already bought and paid for.
All of these demands on time will not dovetail into one neat package; the great fear is that there will be a short-circuit in the system before too long. Actually, that’s not my greatest fear (mine is to do with teeth), but I think it can be some ascribed to some of the people who have to put up with me. I understand why they worry about this, but I can’t subscribe to it. Things do get done, despite themselves. I don’t go mad, despite myself. Not everything gets done though: the fish need cleaning out, for instance, the garden is atrocious and the washing is breeding in corners all over the house. So the last thing you need, when you are trying to keep your head above water is to be informed that it’s perfectly doable to produce 2000 – 3000 words by 6 a.m. every morning as does Alexander McCall-Smith. Sorry but that’s just irritating. No disrespect to the writer in question, but, pfffftt.
Give me Flaubert and his five words a day, any day.
A continuation from yesterday’s post, wherein I explored an emotional engagement with the car that went to be scrapped. This reaction surprised me because a car is, after all, only a lump of metal, albeit a crafted and mechanised one. I am now attempting to make some ‘sense’ of my unexpected response to what might be described as an inanimate object.
Why is a car more than just a car? Perhaps because it is the repository of memories: rows, places visited, existential crises in supermarket car parks. Perhaps because its memories are different depending on which passenger you ask. Perhaps because its qualities are not fixed. A car is not just a car because, like us, it noticeably ages. Like us it becomes less efficient, less attractive superficially, less reliable. A car is also a place of possibilities: the roads you can go down, the conversations you can have, the music that might come on the radio. The possibility that one dark night the road might just vanish, whilst you are driving on it. The car as a multiverse.
What’s under the seats?
When you buy a car you can’t know where you will go – the route you will take – let alone who you will go with. What you might see? That’s something we definitely have no control over. But we must remain in control of the car, otherwise we could die. The idea that you risk your life, in some sense, every time you get behind the wheel. Every time you drive your family somewhere. The car as a safe space.
What’s in the glovebox?
I recently met someone who said that, rather than show me photographs of their children, they would show me a picture of their camper van. A place where memories are going to be laid down. Happy ones hopefully. A space that promises some good times.
There are darker uses for vehicles. They have been in the news recently and for my whole life: bombs and death.
Is your boot empty?
For most of us a car is a place where part of our lives are lived, often to a particular soundtrack on a loop. I think for me, a car ultimately represents a piece of freedom in a much constrained world. This song is a gambling one that I’ve driven home to before now.
All gone now in the empty old car.
I have had reason to examine my relationship to those contraptions called cars lately. When it initially became evident a new vehicle would have to enter my life (for reasons of age and infirmity) I was thrown into a consumer crisis which took months to resolve. About six to be precise. The process has revealed a number of things to me, the first of which is a badge of shame: it turns out that I care, rather more than I would like, what car I drive. In theory I am not at all concerned with brands and badges, or whether something comes ‘fully-loaded’. All I care about is fuel economy and CO2 emissions. But as I got into it, it did really matter to me that the car was not fundamentally ugly. So now I had to account not only for my parsimonious and green sensibilities, but an aesthetic one as well. Already, what had seemed like the straightforward job of replacing a car had become fraught with difficulty and challenges to one’s sense of self.
I will not bore the blog with all the turns and twists of my mind over the six months, but my investigations into the modern, fuel efficient car, revealed that, for some inexplicable reason, modern car manufacturers are making some bastard ugly vehicles. Or, cars that look the same as another. Or cars that don’t look the same as another, and aren’t too ugly but are dull and so lacking in character that if you drove them for more than five minutes you would fall asleep from boredom. To solve the problem I began to wonder if I could walk and cycle everywhere, but the children often need to be in two different places at the same time, as do I and, without the option of a teletransporter, it was clear a car was more or less a necessity. This was a disappointment. The next was that I couldn’t afford an electric car, which offers a limited daily driving range, but motoring that costs about 1p a mile which is a joyous concept in these straitened days.
I retired one car to a more gentle pace of life in the country with some dear friends, the other sat outside making me feel bad. Her front grilles fell out, I drove over one. Her tyres were nearly bald and went unreplaced due to the diagnosis of a dodgy timing belt and a leaking coolant system. After many years of loyal service, the car was being betrayed. At the end of last month, twisting the knife, the car tax went unrenewed. The scrap dealer was called in. On the first occasion I couldn’t go through with it. After another month she has had to go. They turned up in a car transporter yesterday and she started up with gusto and drove straight on to it with not a bother on her. ‘There is nothing wrong with this car,’ I said grudgingly to the man. He placated me with words about her great age and costs of work and then drove away with the old car and disappeared to wherever it is that elderly cars end their days. I found myself wishing I had kept the chrome gear stick knob that used to be freezing in mid-winter and make a pleasant sound when I clunked my rings on it.
I was also close to tears.
To be continued.