Subliminals

Sunday March 13, 2005

Another grand, sun-filled day, the weather turning warmer at last. There’s likely to be a stiff frost tonight but even so I was still hopping outside at 10:30 this evening, searching the heap of cardboard in the garage for suitable packing material so I can get my small stack of eBay sales off tomorrow. My heart wasn’t in the packaging game, though, and all I’d produced by the end of the day was one medium-sized parcel to go off to Fife, in Northern Scotland.

Where they are having blizzards today, so I hear. Graham was much taken with the thought.

“How wonderful,” he said. “Snug and warm inside an old stone cottage while the wind howls and the snow piles up outside.”

“Yeah,” I said. “And then, in the morning, we’d have to go out and shovel snow, bring in fuel, and feed the chickens. And muck them out, like as not.”

“There’d be a couple of eggs, though, betcha. Just right for breakfast before settling down by the stove for the day.”

“Until dinner, and then you’d have to go cut us a cabbage.”

“Mmmmm. Cabbage!”

“I’m not so sure about this,” I said. “Used to be me did the romantic wild thing, while you pointed out the snags.”

“Did not.”

“Did.”

“Your memory is going.”

“That’s an unfair ploy.”

“Nothing in the rules to say it has to be fair, buster.”

“S’pose not.”

And we settled down to watch a recent British movie—Land of Hope and Glory—depicting a boy growing up in London during World War Two. Hopelessly nostalgic for me, and surprisingly gripping stuff for Graham. He was putting up the last, almost, of the new dining room wallpaper while watching, and I was noodling in my notebook. The end part of the story found the family homeless after their home burned down, moving into the mother’s parent’s house—a completely impractical but hugely romantic timber structure on the banks of the Thames, about twenty miles north of London.

“Oh, boy,” he said. “I’d move into that house like a shot.”

“I’m getting worried about you.”

“Good. I like to keep you on your toes. Goes with the job, does keeping you on your toes.”

Not that I really needed keeping on my toes today. I’ve been busy puttering about the house and garden, taking a quick trip into Spilsby for fresh vegetables—including some nice cabbage greens I wanted for our dinner tonight—and, now and then, sitting in my chair outside the kitchen door, basking in the sun. Somewhere along the way, starting mid-morning, I got afflicted by a moment of involuntary observation, a couple of words, and… during the evening it turned into a poem. I suppose I’ll never be shot of poetry. Not that I want to be shot of poetry, you understand.

 

Subliminals
 
A twist of scrap plastic
caught on my neighbour’s fence
has fooled my eye’s corner all day.
 
Sometimes it looks like a lapwing
or some relative of the wagtail,
visiting out of time and place.
 
Tonight, keening unseen in the wind,
it sounds as though a curlew
is calling over the lonely fens.
 
 
John Bailey
Lincolnshire, March 2005

 


Stickford, Mar 13,'05
‘Postcards from my head’ No. 5
The washes went muddy on me


 

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