A blaze of colour

Thursday April 28, 2005

My day was coloured grey today. Despite sunshine, despite the quiet transformation of fields and hedgerows into full green, despite the comical antics of the wild birds as they court and build new nests, despite the elaborate pantomime of the hares leaping Wonderland dances in the field outside my window… despite everything, my day was coloured grey.

It was the estate agents what done it. Selecting, telephoning, making appointments, trying to assess competence and drive… and covering a couple of pages of my notebook with days, times and scribbled impressions. Heavens, but they’re a grey bunch.

“I’m not happy about this,” I said. “Not one of them seems to have any hint of get up and go. At this rate it’ll be the week after next before we get to the point where we can instruct.”

“What can we do about it?”

“Not a lot. We can’t talk to every agent in Lincolnshire.”

Ever the optimist, Graham said: “Don’t worry about it, then. It’ll work out in the end, see if it doesn’t.”

“Yeah. I know. It’s always the same and I’m being impatient.”

“Find something interesting to do while you’re waiting for calls to be returned.”

“Good idea. How does Coq au van sound for dinner tonight?”

“You got shallots for the sauce?”

“Yup, and some forest mushrooms.”

“Go for it, then. Sounds delicious.”

It was, too. And preparing it kept me busy and occupied while waiting for the third agent to call back. He didn’t. His office told me last thing that his appointments had over-run and he’d not had time to follow through. “He’ll call you tomorrow.”

Ah well. Next week is going to be fun. We need to fit in a Bank Holiday on Monday, when nothing will happen, three agent visits, a trip to Northumberland and, on Friday, get Graham on the train to Somerset for a week’s relief bar work.

“Will you look at that cat,” said Graham as we munched our dinner.

Dolly was giving a tiny catnip mouse a severe dose of overwhelming force, looking over her shoulder now and then to be sure we appreciated her efforts.

“I do believe she realizes that something major is afoot,” I said. “She’s being as cute as she knows how so we don’t forget her.”

“Not much danger of that.”

So, after dinner, Dolly got a major cuddle from both of us and then I trotted out to catch the last of the sun as it set over the fens towards Hagnaby. Not a grand sunset, not the kind you grab your camera to record, but it was orange, then rosy, and then it progressed towards the deep indigo I love so much. So my day ended in a blaze of colour and the grey was forgot. Almost.

At the very end of the day, happily digesting my wicked dinner, I picked up a book of poems and, as so often happens, turned up a piece that fits my mood and my circumstance in the most remarkable fashion:


The Health-Food Diner
No sprouted wheat and soya shoots
And Brussels in a cake,
Carrot straw and spinach raw,
(Today, I need a steak).
Not thick brown rice and rice pilau
Or mushrooms creamed on toast,
Turnips mashed and parsnips hashed,
(I’m dreaming of a roast).
Health-food folks around the world
Are thinned by anxious zeal,
They look for help in seafood kelp
(I count on breaded veal).
No Smoking signs, raw mustard greens,
Zucchini by the ton,
Uncooked kale and bodies frail
Are sure to make me run
Loins of pork and chicken thighs
And standing rib, so prime,
Pork chops brown and fresh ground round
(I crave them all the time).
Irish stews and boiled corned beef
and hot dogs by the scores,
or any place that saves a space
For smoking carnivores.
Maya Angelou
from ‘Complete Collected Poems’ 1994



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