For calm, and clarification of the mind

Friday July 30, 2004

This has been close to what I reckon is a perfect summer’s day. Started out all misty and full of promise. The sun burned the mist away a couple of hours after dawn, and left us with a blue sky populated with the very best kind of puffy white cloud. It got rather too hot for outdoor comfort by lunch time but not long after that a bank of rain cloud appeared as if by magic, giving us a short, sharp shower that served to cool the whole landscape. So as not to make us too complacent, the humidity levels rose for a while but then the breeze turned towards the east and blew clean fresh air our way.

The non-natural events of our day have not been so perfect.

Sitting down to a late afternoon tea of scones with Assam for Graham and Earl Grey for me, I remarked: “We really ought to get out more.”

Graham looked up from the last of the three pairs of curtains he’s been making for the kitchen and dining room. “How do you mean?”

“Well, look at us. We’ve been waiting in for that wretched parcel all day again.”

“You know how it is. The minute we go out the van will turn up.”

“Yeah. But I can’t help wondering how sad that is.”

A familiar ‘I shall not be moved’ expression came over his face. “Nothing to stop you going out.”

But you can’t, can you. When you’re at the mercy of an arrogant delivery company there’s nothing you can do but fold your hands gracefully and wait.

Come 5:30 we decided to do some tracking. It transpired that the parcel was packed into the van in Lincoln, some 35 miles away, first thing this morning. ‘Should be with you by about seven,’ the guy said.

Of course, he didn’t say which ‘seven’, and it hadn’t turned up by seven-thirty.

“I’ve really got to go get our weekend provisions,” I said.

“Well, off you go, then. I’ll hang on, just in case.”

And off I sailed, less than content. The ‘ParcelForce Worldwide’ offices are now closed until Monday morning, and their website still shows our parcel as having left the Lincoln depot at 05:30 this morning. Hum. Well, there’s one thing for sure. I shall not be using ‘ParcelForce Worldwide’ when I start up my little eBay pin-money enterprise. And I can’t see figuring large in our future, either.

It was a lovely summer’s evening, however. My discontent began to fall away somewhere around Sibsey, and was completely gone by the time I passed the Pilgrim’s Hospital in Boston. I find that discontent seldom lasts past that point, even on a really bad day. Something about driving past a hospital rather than being in it, perhaps.

From my notebook, closing the current volume:

Summer’s day sounds
At this moment I’m sitting in my study by the open window. The house is in silence but from outside there comes a continuous background of bird song, with the occasional sound of an agricultural machine being operated far away over the fields. It’s midday, and hot, so most sensible animals are settling down for a doze. Even so, now and then, a dog will bark; once, perhaps twice before subsiding back into sleep. I can hear the faint buzz of passing traffic on the main road several fields away. A while back a child was chattering happily in a garden a little way down the lane but I suspect she’s being lunched right now. When the background noise falls away I can hear a light breeze playing leaf-music in the hedge at the bottom of the garden.

So, having checked the price of a new Moleskine™ I decided that the time has come to cease frivolity and go back to a more sensible size and, more important, price. I’ve seen some quite good looking spiral bound plasticised hard cover A5 notebooks in Tescos, less than an eighth the cost of a Moleskine™, and it seemed a good idea to pick one up to try. Handy, I thought, to be able to pick up a new notebook with the shopping when I need one.

And so it is. It’s a fine notebook. Except that Tescos, in their wisdom, had applied a sticky label with a bar code to the front cover. And do you think I could peel it off neatly? I picked off the most of it in small fragments, leaving a sticky mess of torn paper in a pool of disgusting gum. For the next couple of weeks I shall be thumbnailing the stuff off a bit at a time and cursing the idiot who thought it acceptable to apply a non-peel sales label to the front of an otherwise handsome product.

Thus was my discontent with the day comprised. A near-total log-jam with PayPal, a failed delivery, and a beastly sticky label. Late in the evening, fed and watered, I settled down to watch a bit of TV. When that palled I sighed, and took myself off for a nice Mozart-accompanied bath. The clarinet quintet is just the right length for a decent soak. I doppled a good few drops of Rosemary Radox into the water before I plonked myself into the steamy water. Not for remembrance, particularly, but for calm, and clarification of the mind.

“You got the wrong kind of coffee!” Graham shouted in from the kitchen.

“Oh, bugger,” said I.

Some days you can’t win. You don’t lose, exactly, but you certainly don’t win.

Stickford, Jul,'04

in the morning mist
a lonely bird table—
birds sleeping late


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