Category Archives: Recollection

Reflecting on laziness, Hungarian commanders, an author’s middle name & a one armed man…

Those familiar, would know Montmorency:

And those not, should be; a dog born with more than his fair share of original sin…

527026_10151214972026041_54942606_nI was a familiar stranger once in a city of few lights past the open fridges in Electrical Appliance Retail, which glowed as cigarettes do in darkened rooms. These are reflections which inevitably lead to what I describe as: Klapka moments.

I was a student at the time— a status which allowed a certain degree of latitude with tardiness, which is all well and good since my time spend horizontal was more circumferential than to a certain degree. Sometimes it overlapped and sometimes it crossed; sometimes into a whole new day and sometimes I didn’t have to move a single muscle. This was speculative posturing, tailor-made for study, especially in front of the television: it was all about the visual learning experience.

I remember discussing the prospects of sharing such moments— a moment shared is a moment halved after all— and a bonus surely, since the other half could clearly be made up elsewhere. The idea however was dismissed as foolish— in fact the very notion was rejected so effortlessly; done so with nothing but an unimpressed twitch: I’ve seen shuffles and glances last longer. Unperturbed, I proudly informed her— the effortless shuffler— that I could sit for days without moving, but again, was greeted with another sideways look that this-time almost breached the perpendicular.

It was a subtlety that was again to be misplaced, although this time only everso briefly. I can only describe it as a moment of empathic clumsiness on my part. I made the mistake of offering to ‘lend a hand’ to a man who was struggling to retrieve a dropped wallet. It was a comment that wouldn’t have been quite so Caligulan had the man— on closer inspection, been in possession of both his arms. I don’t blame him for the stern expression he imparted, but its implying wish to take from me, that what he was sadly lacking was unmistakable. Personally, I don’t blame him.

It wasn’t an intentional blaze of cruelty— I actually felt for the chap despite feeling amused by my own lack of tact…

It was wonderfully surreal accompaniment: a side platter:

A salad bar on a day of free pizza…

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I can’t decide sometimes, whether or not my mother thinks she’s living in a sitcom…

The secret to humour is surprise.

Aristotle

27977_450287781040_191932_nA moot point perhaps, but oblivious in this case to the signifiers that make the ‘everyday’ flow seamlessly from one interaction to the other; if they weren’t, you’d find yourself hopping madly all day. Whatever it may be, obvious, deliberate, debatable, moot? A couple of years ago my mother discovered a reservoir of previously untapped ‘ridiculous’. It’d become, after a fractious few years— a pleasure spending time with her, if not for the first time— but the first time in a long time. She’d seemed to be a little more understanding and accepting of my foibles, and I of them, which makes all the difference in the world. It helps relieve a little of the ‘complicated’. The fact that my mother’d discovered comedy and was making me snort on a regular basis was merely a bonus.

But this is irrelevant, a long-winded introduction and steady build up leading to a crescendo of noise— which is not entirely bunkum as it happens. It’s a story involving balloons…

My nephew loves balloons, especially the kind that when released, fly around exulting a harrowing scream, flitter then drop excitedly with one good spasm before expiring. Louis and I had been synchronising the take-offs of them all morning, much to the delight of the little man and thought what a wonderful idea it would be to release even more. Amz was on her laptop, but my mother was hands-free…

So Louis and I filled some balloons, gave them to her and instructed her that under no circumstances was she to release them. Even now, I feel as though I should’ve added something.

Anyway, Louis and I expended what little breath we had left into the remaining balloons and poised at the ready. The scene was to be spectacular; six whirling tubes of shrill screech, dancing unpredictably towards an enthusiastic death-knell. However, I failed to entertain the one element of unpredictability.

‘Ready,’ I said, ‘on one . Three… two… one… release…release…release!’

Louis and I had a successful launches. But my mother held firm. Even upon the final release! Even though the room was filled with the sound of screaming babies Even though the launch command had become a desperate, personal plea for her to relinquish her grip…

‘Why the bloody hell didn’t you launch? We’ve just done this ten times … at what point did you not think I was talking to you?’ A reasonable question in the circumstances I thought.

‘Because,’ she said, ‘you told me that under no circumstances was I to release them.’

Once a word has been allowed to escape, it cannot be recalled…

Horace

Not unlike those sodding balloons!

In what must’ve been the second worst journey in the world: patting the journeyman & 12 hours on a coach…

Coaches are the devil

Satan himself must travel this way.

Horse-drawn_coach,_Tolaga_Bay,_Gisborne_Region,_c._1880sI’ve often wondered if I’d look back one day and consider the following twelve hours of my life with amusement or horror; and whether or not the experience had been a terrific one. And this is that day— it was as I feared, a long time in the coming— I do however, still have nothing but the most hostile opinion of it. I detest coaches, hate them, they’re the very ass of public transportation— I hate them almost as much as travelling on them and this particular 588 was no exception: Unless of course the horror of this journey could be classified as exceptional, which it was, but only in the loosest possible sense.

Not only was I stuck for prolonged periods— actually stuck— wedged between safety glass and a guy determined to fill all the space available to him and a large proportion of the space purportedly mine. But, I also found myself sitting atop a heating element hell-bent on melting me; no doubt ensuring that if he’d wanted to— my immediate neighbour could’ve taken over the entire bench, with barely the minimum of fuss.

The heat was also clearly upsetting a few of the other passengers; and it wasn’t just owing to the smells of searing flesh. I may not have been able to see them through the sweaty mist that had been steadily accumulating since our departure at Victoria— but the groaning was unmistakable, no doubt related to the unusual climate we were amidst. There were grunts of dismay and the occasional thud I attributed to the simoom whirling about us causing passengers to either faint; or lose their way and walk into something— something I had no intention of doing myself— even if I’d wanted to.

I valued my pride you see, and with it firmly intact, albeit lacking a few hundred pounds where my sweat had been, for lack of a better word: leaking through the very minimum of clothing I felt comfortably decent in; I maintained ‘decorum’— in its most ‘primitive’ state you understand, until Keele— and this was some six and some odd hours into the ride. It was round about this time I decided, decorum be damned, and negotiated the corpse to my right and headed for the higher ground of the central aisle only to find myself surrounded by a litter of unluckily-plucky fellows who had clearly got lost en route to the chemical toilet at the rear and fallen over. It was here I stayed until we disembarked for the grand duration of thirty minutes into the chilly northern evening…

Feeling the need to take matters into my own hands, I approached the driver with my concerns regarding the ludicrous state of affairs taking place behind him, to which he merely asked whether or not it was because it was too hot or too cold. Obviously, I found the resolve to smutter loosely at his hutzpah; informed him that I quite fancied most of us had reported seeing camels since our departure and if he wouldn’t mind and could muster it— could he please turn down the heat…

Whether or not he complied is beyond me, but the sand laden winds deceased and there were fewer individuals cluttering up the walk way. I occupied the inside seat this time, which I soon discovered, came with its own set of problems. Unlike my companion, who was at times using my shoulder as a dribbling mat, I couldn’t really bring myself to lean excessively— I could tilt backwards or forwards, something I did-so thoroughly and decided: while it may be fine for the upper body, comfort was of no avail for the lower extremities; something I couldn’t forget with my legs now letting the rest of me know all about it whenever they possibly could. And though it was frighteningly annoying, this— I could have coped with. Constant jostling is something that can be ignored with a practicable ignorance; a leaky roof however, is completely different…

So there it was, one of life’s little ironies. Since I had already been cooked for all intents and purposes, crushed and changed seats— and despite my best efforts completely unable to discover any reasonable means of establishing comfort— it was decided that my insult was to be to rubbed further by a steady stream a water from which I was powerless to escape.

My sighs, as you can imagine, became more pronounced and the onset of snow at the journey’s end seemed to be a fitting accompaniment to the heat, dampness, discomfort and sleeplessness…

They may go round but they drive me up the wall—

Such is the way of the wheel…

Yes, I am looking at your obituary now. Tell me, where exactly you are calling from?

Every man dies— Not every man really lives…

William Ross Wallace

_65300595_bodyline-1If ever I reach the after-life— and this really doesn’t hurt thinking about by the way. I’d hate to just turn up, be spoilt for choice or so unprepared I’d have to wing it— I’d like to think that I would trundle as opposed to walk from place to place. Trindle or trendle, I don’t mind. Call me a romantic, but it has an air of clumsiness to it— something, when it all comes down to it, I’m rather fond of. I couldn’t think of anything worse than spending what remains of whatever without even the slightest trip to boast of.

Anyway, If I’d ever find my self trundling across a beach with a wireless stuck to my ear— I’d hope whomever were in charge would have the wisdom to employ the right crowd. None of these shock-jock bastards or flash-pan prats who shout a lot and are generally mean. But people who already have the misfortune to be dead.

These are my thoughts precisely when I tune into Test Match Special during rain delays and listen to Blowers, Aggers and Boycs paint pictures and speak of the mothers— very talented some of them. Unfortunately, I very nearly spoil it by taking a peek outside. It’s can be grey, miserable looking and decidedly home-made. The birds are off doing otherwhiles and of course there’s the damp. I am not to be undone however— not while romanticising about dead people and green fields.

Back to the beaches I thinkback to the wireless. You see, I’d find the idea of owning anything other than a wireless when I’m dead a trifle distasteful. After all, what could you possibly want to listen to that your personal broadcaster wouldn’t have: he’d have wings for Pete’s sake— or jet packs or whatever, presuming ‘he’ was not a ‘she’ and that ‘they’ had passed all their necessaries before taking to the air.

My idea of perfection would be a live, ball-by-ball commentary of from 1932-33 Ashes Tour Down Under. I’d have Blowers in the box with BJ, Arlo and Fingo. Anywhere else of course, this wouldn’t be possible as Fingleton was actually playing at the time; but who better to describe his own batting?

Of course, you might say, it’d be easier to just go and watch the matches myself and yes— you’d be absolutely right, but time-travel’s impossible. Were it though, then this would be my destination one— so what would be better than to drag my favourites along to commentate. The fact that they’re all legendary drinkers and that Arlo would’ve had his wine cellar with him at all times, hadn’t even crossed my mind…

And then there was television

Or just the listings perhaps

Senses & Nonsenses…

One’s real life is so often the life one does not lead…

Oscar Wilde

IMG_0013Such are the senses, that we have more than five and fewer than six. Try tasting something without seeing it for instance; it almost always tastes like something other than what it’s supposed to and rarely anything other than chicken; listen to someone speak without seeing their mouths move or those unusual sounds that keep you awake at night when you’re trying to sleep that never turn out to be two thousand pound mice and you’ll forever be in that darkness— or even tasting something without smelling it and so on and so forth. Life is so much more than it appears to be, though it’s little more than it actually ever is. Unless of course, there is such a thing a two thousand pound mouse or you really were asked to shake and squeeze the band which gave King Tut its mildew…

My real life is far cry from the award winning, affluent, multi-faceted and admired jaunt and jolly through which my other self is no doubt enjoying somewhere where the senses are better understood and household pets and rodents are disproportionately large; but that’s not to say I’ll ever be to old to be everything I could have been-or too small for Autumn to call me sweetheart.

It puts me in mind somewhat rather of him— S; a splendid chap and so was his wife— K. At least she was when I knew her. She was smart too, in that sensible way that can get up the noses of people who try to sit down to quickly wearing tight pants, smoking whilst owning chest complaints and the intolerably foolish doing well, anything. She could and would point out the obvious with a style and punctuation, few of us would or could even dream about. I remember one such occasion at college, when she was trying to persuade S to disband one of his pro-radical movements— he liked to use meaningless compound phrases in those days— retro-activist-avist was his favourite— he said that it left dangling inferences suggesting guile and determination. K said it left an unpleasant odour in the air and a salty taste in her mouth whenever he said it. Her favourite saying on the other hand was, What’s with the finger E.T.? They were a charming bunch.

Anyway, he claimed the campus anti-everything lobby weren’t doing enough complaining about things that didn’t matter to anyone, so he founded the double A. E. B. The Anti-Anti-Everything Brigade, to which K merely pointed out that its tautology gave it ’all the noise of a harmless educational committee. Trying to point out the pointlessness of rebellion in the civilised world— is rather like an unwanted splinter’ she meant this quite literally; ‘a forgotten part of the Nation Union of Teachers perhaps’ she fancied, and besides, wasn’t it dishonest describing himself as a brigade, especially since he hadn‘t persuaded anyone else in actually joining him; that to disband an army of one was something that ‘reality just wouldn’t allow’ and perhaps he should try doing something useful instead like, drawing up a petition against himself and joining the N.U.T., ‘allergies allowing of course’, maintaining that she had read somewhere that ‘at least education had an ethos…’

S had missed the train again. It was the third time in as many days and he was starting to take the whole thing very personally. He wouldn’t have minded had it not been for the decrepit old fool in front of him who insisted on buying his ticket with an exact change he couldn’t really see; unless demonstrating the ability to distinguish the denomination of a coin by rubbing them against his eyeball counted as seeing.

As for me,I have a new cafeteria— reward for installing a utility next door, which brings me to my last point in a pointless exercise…

If you ask for and are expecting a cup of tea— but are given a mug of coffee instead…

It doesn’t taste well, and quite unlike either.

Getting lost and making plans: memory, crafts, surprise & the warmth of a friend…

It’s surprising how much of memory is built around things unnoticed at the time.

Barbara Kingsolver

393329_10151214974261041_349311287_nIt is surprising how much we recollect our most cherished and vivid memories around the things we took for granted at the time, but shouldn’t have. These days I’m surprised by how much I seem to go unnoticed by my memory, as it decides to take off and do its merry thing without the slightest hint of decorum, not worried that what I may be doing may be worth a second thought, or were that to seem a little too much like hard word: a glance as one does at the end of the day to ensure we were the same fellow we were when we’d awoken in the morning. This: most ungracious of exclusion, is perhaps the only thing one does notice with time and by then it is too late, or almost too late. You see, I have of late come into the habit of taking a person or persons out and about, with mine, in case I need a prompt with regards to the outing— or as is sometimes the case— the abouting after the the fact in order to fully satisfy my recollecting.

It is and can be, a most frustratingly futile pursuit; paradoxical not quite quixotical; for the ‘time’ in short, makes what time has ‘built … unnoticed’, therefore forgotten, ‘surprising’ only, owing to ‘how much’ can be lost in so short a time— hence the need for ‘persons’ to illustrate what had at the time— riddlewise— been memorable, thus bringing too my day’s end illuminate. So in a rounds-about way, I can be gloomed, or as was the case: brightened and cheered, for the yester-day was, as it turned out, not-one to go ‘unnoticed’, so-by definition— if not unsaid— then by Jove-abouts not unwritten…

It had started as much the same as any other day— ordinary or otherwise, in the morning: I awoke, performed some duties: tea making, online mail and a few alsos of the like I like before taking ablutions etcetera and therefores.

My day had been wiped clean since the appointment I had been due to keep this particular day had in fact been due the day prior, but because oversight generally requires the helping hand of hindsight in order to acquiesce even to its own name, I had inadvertently overlooked my appointments entirely. I was supposed to meet my dear friend PG, or Pidgin as she’s affectionately known, in part owing to her impossibly correct locution. The fact that we had arrangements, had not even been trembled in lieu of the text informing me that, she was ‘on [her] way to Canterbury’ on a not inexpensive ticket when taking the comparative proximity and price with mine; a fact she hesitated little in informing me when on arrival at our agreed destination shortly after politely drawing to my attention that perhaps I required companions, even when talking on the telephone. This was not a fact that has gone unevidenced in the past, but seemed to’ve become an almost daily occurrence.

I had already declared my day to be one of arts and craft and wallpaper paste. I had a twelve inch model of HMS Victory to adjust, as well as a thirty inch model of a Spitfire. D had agreed to don surgical gloves with me and make it a family affair, so much glue flinging and frivolity were inevitable. I had already been amused by Pidgin, as I’d called her, as is customary on a weekday morning to enquire into her well-being, health and other sorts, before the narrative became an unnavigable exercise to circumvent her own attempts at preventing getting any more lost than she already was. She’d only just left her house as she took my call, for the polling station to vote— quite sensibly as would have it— located just two streets away; a distance that should really have only occupied the first of the many intrusions I made of her. However, as our conversation lengthened, as did the pauses and strangely detached nature of her responses, until finally she confessed that she had inadvertently found herself very, very lost.

Were she to’ve been a new resident, the situation she now found herself in may have been quite distressing, but since this was not the case, the peculiar position she now found herself in was as comedic as it was hitherto unknown. I advised her to retrace her steps in order to find her way back to her house, which she did, but found that her house was nowhere to be seen— in fact, she remarked, she had never ‘seen’ whatever it was that should ‘ve been her house anywhere or at any time before. She then decided to return to the point she’d been originally and quite by chance, found her house, if not where she’d left it twenty minutes earlier, but for convenience’s sake, in a place that’d ‘have to do’. She nipped inside, found a map and a minute later— no more and little less— had found her way, her place, checked in, hung up and voted.

So we’d both done our best to create catastrophe from reasonable beginnings. Quite how much the balance had swung away from complacency towards imbecilic and back again before teetering on a verdict which satisfied the acknowledgement of both comedic value and annoyance, is neither mine, nor her indictment to judge upon; for we as acting, if not willing participles in both sets of troubles, were really too close to allow our experiences interfere in such proceedings. Anywise, the now immediate needs were those of swift transport to Canterbury— and thankfully for me, D was on hand to chauffeur. What little mess we’d planned but not created, was cleared up two-fold by he and his shiny blue steed. We mounted his Jag and disembarked.

Canterbury was glorious. It’s one of those little cities that feels, when the sun is high— that the sun is coming at you from all directions— a point of fact that I allow that queer breed, that of the physicist, to mull over and scowl as they do, to doff at one another and attempt to calculate the numerical value of such romantic observations and spoil them. For I care not of such things, preferring to act in inglorious ignorance of the calculaic musings of such people, concentrating as I did do, on more pressing things— scouting for Pidgin. And before too long I’d found her— unlike her and her with her house— exactly where I expected her to be.

“Hello,” I said with a quite unnecessary warmth— it must’ve been 25 degrees C.

“I’ve volunteered you for something!” was the response. Quite what? I could not‘ve said. But I had pretty good idea…

Never, never, never give up

Winston Churchill