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Life taking its toll

By which I mean to say nothing quite escapes the up-turned palm of the gate-keeper as time rolls on. A family and a dog ravage a home, a garden and a car in their own particular way and, if you are busy with it all, you can’t quite keep on top of it at the same time.

That’s more or less what I was thinking about when I sat outside in the garden, an outside space that could pass for a film scene set in a nuclear winter. I was uncomfortable on a wooden chair that is coming up for 6 years old and could pass for vintage, on account of neglect. It’s more or less what I thought when I considered the aspect of the car from the inside of the petrol station earlier; when the woman in front pleaded with the inanimate object that was her bank card to, ‘Please work?’. She then simply announced she had no money in the bank when it didn’t work. The assistant asked could she pay with anything else, and she just said, ‘No’ and left. Someone apologised, it could have been the broke woman or the assistant. In my head, it was me.

Really, it was only a fiver or so, and as I too have no money in the bank, but my card was agreeing to work I should have offered to pay for the items myself. I only thought of that after she had gone, so surprised was I by her frankness when I suspect many of us would have offered at least some form of dissemblance.

When I drove into the petrol station I was thinking perhaps I would fill up the car on account of the impending petrol delivery strikes and then I thought I won’t be driving it by the weekend because it’s going to fail the MOT and I can’t countenance what it might cost to fix it. And I was also holding a thought from another, earlier, conversation. I had asked someone in London if there were queues for fuel there yet, and the reply had come, no there weren’t and who could afford to fill up their tanks these days anyway? With this in mind, and the impending MOT failure (no rear brake light offside, no wing mirror nearside, stone chip in the windscreen and god know what damage to the chassis due to a no-fault collision) I put in twenty-two quids worth of fuel (and twenty-two pence), mainly for the satisfaction of lining up all the twos.


These used to be my lucky digits, but I don’t believe in luck anymore, so I can’t claim them as my own. Someone else can have them if they like, I won’t mind.

So, yes, life takes its toll on the outside of everything, it takes away the notion of luck and in its place we can frantically replace and renew and paint and restore and fix-up and rub-down and then do it all over and over again another day, another year because that’s how it goes.

Or we can sit on the parched earth on the rickety old-before-its-time chair and read something about life by an 80 year old writer, translated from the Czech, and leave all of it and everything to its own devices.

Peasant Burning Weeds ~ Vincent Van Gogh


I like to think that I am but I know I am not really. For one thing I get trapped in the car with the same CD on play and because the cases always disappear under the seats and so forth, I seem to listen to the same album over and over again.

That’s working quite well at the moment because it’s stuck on a best of album and it is the best of the band Free. Formed the year before I was born, the band members were remarkable for their youth: the oldest being 18, the youngest 15. In 1970 they released the song that everyone should know ‘All Right Now’ and by 1973 Free was all over.

I can’t pick a favourite from my CD, so many are great songs that I will sit in the car until one is finished before getting out, or if I am still on the move I am compelled to press the repeat button on most of them at least twice. Yesterday was all about ‘Heavy Load’ and today it was this track, performed with mellifluous ease by the lead singer Paul Rodgers, only 20 at the time and looking hirsutely good on it.