I’ve had him a long time

Monday March 7, 2005


To Boston today, for the Post Office, for espresso, and for provisions.


In the Post Office, after handing over three packets: “Isn’t eBay wonderful.”

“It most certainly is,” said the exceedingly friendly woman on the counter. “It’s bringing us a lot of business, that’s for sure.”


In Costa Coffee: “Hot and strong, please,” I said to the friendly guy who almost always takes my order.

“Would I do it any other way?”

“Well, there’s always a first time.”

“I’ll make sure it’s not you when I do. Mind you, I’m not so sure about that bloke who’s just come in.”

I regarded the incoming customer soberly and found him somewhat wanting in the savoury department. “No,” I said. “I see what you mean. Been a long time since he did the hot and strong, I reckon.”


At the Tesco’s checkout: “That looks good,” said the clerk, gazing approvingly at the bits I’d picked up to produce a roast chicken dinner tomorrow. “I was wondering what to give my husband tonight.”

“I’m sure he’s worth it,” I smiled.

“Oh, no,” she said. “He’s not worth it. But I’ve had him a long time and I’m used to him.”


Driving home I relished in the softer blue-greys of the sky and the gradual greening of the fields. Much, much milder today.

I love the way the finer branches of distant willows look like dry brush strokes against the sky. There are signs in the hedgrows of buds stirring and it’ll not be long before the catkins dance in the wind. Not long after that the sight of bare earth will be nothing but a memory.

I’ve noticed huge flocks of crows and rooks (never did manage to tell the difference at a distance) rustling around the skies these past few days. I have a theory they are rather intimidated by the flights of wild geese that’ve been dominating the skies over the winter and now that they have departed the rooks have come out once more to reclaim their territory. Sometimes they sit closely along overhead wires, lines and and lines of them, like passages of helter-skelter semi-demi-semi-quavers on badly drawn staves. It’s the sight and sound of them tumbling in the sky I love, though. I need to get out with the field glasses and do a bit of careful study once more.

You can’t help but get Lincolnshire skies in your head when you live under them for any length of time. Even in these drear fag-end days of winter when they tend mostly to be overcast, there’s colour in them, and a vastness you don’t get in too many parts of the Kingdom. And when the sun comes out and the clouds roll back, they can be majestic in a way that’s unforgettable. I’ve collected a good album full of sky photographs since we lived here and I think I should make a special effort to take more in the next few weeks as Spring rolls in. Only two weeks, give or take, and it’ll be the official first day of Spring.


In the evening, back home, rummaging about in my big box of old art materials I came across a can of spray fixative and two bottles of spirit varnish. Just what I need for waterproofing watercolour postcards, I thought. So I rummaged a bit more, found some old scribble sketches, the ones I use to cut up for bookmarks, and experimented.

“Oh, shit,” I said, softly. “Shit, shit, shit.”

“What on earth is the matter?”

“The fixative dulls the colours, and the varnish lifts the paint.”

“Don’t bother, then. Just stick ’em in envelopes.”

“Yer wot?”

“Stick ’em in envelopes.”

“But they’re postcards.”


Oh, I do hate it when he’s clever like that, cutting through the meat of a problem and coming up with an obvious solution. Puts me at a disadvantage, it does. I should be used to it by now, though. I’ve had him a long time.


Stickford, Mar 7,'05
‘Postcards from my head’ No. 2
Flying rooks need a smaller brush. And a lot more observation.



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