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Scotland & Independence: The Frabjous Day

For those of you who have not read Alice Through the Looking Glass, or seen the Alice in Wonderland film starring Johnny Depp, the Frabjous Day will mean nothing to you. It is from the poem ‘Jabberwocky’ by Lewis Carroll and appears in the Looking Glass part of Alice’s adventures.

The Frabjous day is momentous because the Jabbberwocky is killed.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”

It has all made me think of Scotland. Whichever way the vote goes, and I have nailed my colours to the mast, nothing will ever be the same again. If the Union survives, it will be different. It if does not, it will be different. Whichever way the vote goes, Scottish hearts will be broken.

I was cutting an onion earlier. The onion in question was not content to be a mere vegetable for supper, instead it wanted to send us a sign (well it is the Frabjous Day after all). I only noticed the message through my tears, just as I wielded the knife to cut through the very heart of it.

onion heart1

This is the top of the onion, intact.


Funny what you notice when you aren’t really looking for it.

Skeleton Coast

Possessions come and go, yet memories are yours to keep forever. Make choices from a sacred perspective rather than a mundane one and the rest will fall into place.

That’s what my horoscope said this morning, so here’s a little blog about a possession on its way out and some memories of yesterday.

The plan was, modest I thought, to go to the rescheduled Bloomsbury Summer Fete and take in the horse exhibition at the British Museum, which is sure to be cool in such hot weather, surely? I was a little later leaving with the kids than I had intended, but I wasn’t worried about it – why worry about time, when time takes care of itself. Incidentally, there’s an excellent blog here on that very concept. My loose attitude towards clock time causes my mother to compare me to the hookah smoking caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland; I take this as a compliment. I stand by it though, if you stop watching the clock, real time elasticates in rather marvellous ways.

Not hardly

I’ve digressed. I was a bit behind my nominal schedule and we left around midday. I’d spent some time throwing around the options of car v train in my head. In the end, because I had petrol in the car and a week until payday, I opted for the car. The car is old, it has many miles upon its clock – a measurement of wear and tear as much as years passing our the markers for my own. We have had it for 7 years and it is reliable, which is the main thing, in my book, Alice in Wonderland or not.

I drive conservatively and, I like to imagine, a little like a light aircraft pilot – with one eye constantly on the control panel. I also drive a little empatico with the car, given the miles on its clock, I don’t take it for granted. Of course this is all silliness, but it does mean that when, even under the soundproofed bonnet, I heard some strange noises I turned down the radio and scanned my dashboard. Sure enough, the temperature gauge was creeping up. The car has never done this with me, the needle having always been rock steady on the vertical. I pulled over immediately, on a very narrow ingress from the A127 near the junction with M25. I was off the road, but barely and cars and lorries were thundering along a couple of feet away.

Obviously the children needed to be out of the car and away from the road. Some weeks ago we had a debate about the necessity for child locks on the rear doors – leave them I said – you never know.

The child locks certainly saved the 8 year old from disappearing down this uncovered manhole, its depth indicated by the traffic cone tip just showing like an iceberg. Now, I may have been broken down on the side of the A127, with volcanic mustard-coloured water spewing from the radiator cap, but I considered this to be the result of the day. The car was parked literally, on a precipice and a child or a wheel down there would have been no fun at all.

Before calling the RAC it was decided to let the engine cool, add some more water and try turning for home, there being no visible leak from the radiator. The car had recently been to France and checked over and topped up, so this was a bit of a surprise, but the car is reliable, isn’t it? Surely it would limp back to Southend.

After a time cooling off and topped up with more water by the emergency back-up in the shape of the kids’ dad, I drove on up to the next junction to turn round. For a mile or so the temperature gauge behaved, by the time I was on the slip road up the M25 interchange it suddenly shot into the red. For the second time that day I pulled over, this time onto the pavement by the roundabout traffic lights. We all got out again and climbed behind the crash barrier. The RAC were called, this seemed a bit more serious now.

I may not clock watch, but I did notice I was hungry, thirsty and needed a wee. The children said the same. It was also bloody hot. Lunch in London had been the plan, but that was off the menu now. To be fair the kids were really good. The eldest made a fairy garden in the first spot we broke down in and in the second said that there was a lot more wildlife off the M25 than she had ever noticed from the car… Good girl.

The RAC man said it was a puzzler. The car took a quantity of water from his container – all of it in fact – gallons. He said, ‘It’s a mystery where it’s gone to though,’ there being no visible leak. The car was still overheating. In the end, he said that if we put the heating on it would draw the heat into the car and release it. I could try driving back to Southend like that and he would follow me. The kids were to go in Dad’s vehicle. It would be a lot quicker than waiting for a recovery truck and, despite my caterpillar tendencies, even I don’t want to be on the A127 on Friday afternoon as the commuters hit the roads home. We would give it a go.

As I said, surely this reliable car would limp home for me…

Every heating vent was open, on full blast. The RAC man set the temperature higher than I even knew it could go: 32 degrees to be precise. I had the windows open so much of it blasted right on out, but, oh… my foot. There was a vent directly onto my right flip flop accelerator foot. It was like putting your foot in a oven set for a Sunday roast. The heat felt, at times, almost unbearable and in the convoy of three vehicles I am sure my erratic driving was noted as I removed my foot from accelerator as often as I was able. 32 degrees outside and 32 directly on my foot. How my flip didn’t melt, I don’t know. Why my flesh wasn’t falling off my metatarsals like a lamb kleftiko I don’t know either. Sweat? You ain’t seen nothing. I could offer to test anti-perspirants driving up and down the A127 in high summer, and I’d lose half a stone a day to boot. I tell you what though, that reliable car’s temperature gauge did not budge – bang on the vertical the whole way home.

So, if you don’t mind travelling in an overheated sauna, there’s nothing wrong with the car. By the time we had returned to base the RAC man had diagnosed another fault: a replacement rear shock absorber needed he said. That’s added to a suspect head gasket, the unknown leak in the coolant system, the timing belt that’s nearly shot, the boot that doesn’t open, two new tyres and knackered paintwork on the bonnet. I suppose it’s like the horoscope said, possessions come and go but I’ve got the memories alright.

So now we’ve got two knackered old bangers out front, it reminds me of Namibia’s skeleton coast. What with all the heat I contributed to global warming yesterday and the passage of clock time, I wonder how long I would have to leave the cars before they looked like this?

Not hardly, as Absolem the caterpillar said.

Postscript – now faced with the rather mundane conundrum of saving the old reliable, or letting it go out on its shield like an old soldier. With the two bangers and if I only had the right amount of engineering know-how I am sure I could cobble together a hybrid ultra reliable car in blue and green for only the price of an elastic band and some pork scratchings. Hopefully though, like the horoscope said, I can make this choice from a sacred place, whatever that means. Back to the Caterpillar.

Playing with time

Have we have been given an extra hour this morning, or we have had an unwanted hour imposed on the chronology of this day. How do you see the clocks going back? I feel it is an imposition, but then I feel the measurement of time by clocks and a Pope’s calendar as a deep constriction on my soul. I cannot deny the passing of “time”, the moon waxes and wanes, the tides rise and fall, the seasons change, night follows day and so on but surely the word time is too limited to encapsulate all these concepts?

On a side note, it is strange to me that English has so many, many words and so many of them useless to most of us. Words that name words if you are linguist or grammarian (I’m not) or words that set others apart from the run of the mill of us: academic words, scientific words, specialist words that we have no cause to employ. All useful in their own way I am sure for a very few people. What about a wider range of words for the human condition: a choice of words for time, and birth and love. We have such a tragically limited choice to describe the huge range of concepts and feelings we experience.

Back to time. There is the time most of us are bound to live our lives by but we are all aware there are other types of time that we experience: when time does something else. The middle of the night, the way time passes when your child is ill or someone is dying, the way time hangs when we travel. The Greeks divided time into two concepts: kronos and kairos. Kronos is the sequential, linear time we measure with our clocks and calendars; that time we live, work and die by.

Kairos cannot be defined exactly by one word in English – it is a concept – those moments of opportunity that place us only in the now without measurement. Kronos is defined as quantative, kairos as qualitative. Kairos is something to not merely note, but to participate in. I experience this when I look at certain paintings, listen to music, stand under a tree in the wind. This is personal to me, everyone will have their own kairos moments. Sometimes the opportunity offered to humans through participating in this kind of time, not just marking it off, changes the course of history. Even if that is not for you today, kairos still offers each of us the opportunity to now and then transcend the limitations of the clockface.

The Makemeadiva Budget (with orange undertones)

Sometimes I feel like my head’s been in a deep fat fryer. When that happens life looks like this.

I can get through the inevitable Budget Day waffle if I think of it like a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. Of course Darling Alistair looks nothing like Johnny Depp but the Disney Darling likeness is spooky.

I was going to spray paint the whole Budget briefcase orange but I just went for some light defacing in the end. Actually, they should bin that battered thing and give him a shiny tangerine suitcase on wheels. I’m thinking Pucci.