Not entirely lost, then

Thursday February 23, 2006

It was my turn to bag the trash today, and take it out to the kerb ready for collection. I did the job just as fast as I could, and rushed back into the warmth of the kitchen, all glowing with cold and glistening with snizzle—my word for drizzle with ambitions to become snow.

“I really don’t want to go out there again today,” I said, peeling off hat and gloves. “I’ve known it a lot colder often enough but seldom more miserable.”

“We’ll stay home, then.”

“Are you sure you don’t mind?”

“No, of course not. We had a good outing yesterday in spite of the weather. No point pushing it.”

“Right you are, then. I’ll finish my chores and put my feet up. What will you do?”

“If it wasn’t so horrid out there I’d be packing up the garage stuff but, as it is, I think I’ll just play with my computer.”

“Fine. Make the most of it before the start of the season. You’ll have little or no chance to play once you start work again.”

Graham does love his computer. He has a wide circle of friends who chat merrily all day and all night, too, using instant messaging, and he can keep himself happy and content for hours on end joining in the fun. Can’t be doing with instant messaging myself. I love my friends, all of them, but sitting for protracted periods at the computer reduces my brain to a sad, fizzling wreck. Instant messaging can eat more hours up than almost any other computer activity.

So, anyway, off he toddled, mug of coffee in hand, and I settled at the table to do boring business things, including the ordering of domestic heating oil. I’ve been watching the level anxiously these past couple of weeks, hoping that we’d not need to top up before moving. This cold snap has pushed the little bead on the column meter down as far as I dare take it, though, so I asked the supplier for the minimum amount they are prepared to deliver. It might seem a little mean but oil is so expensive now that the seller can be forgiven for not wanting to leave too much for the incoming buyer. It’s possible to negotiate a selling price for the amount left in the tank of course but in my experience it simply adds to the complications and hassles of hand-over.

Another couple of calls and I was free for the rest of the day. Didn’t spend it too wisely, I’m afraid, wittering about, not settling to anything of any consequence and, apart from routine writing exercises, nothing creative.

At one point during the morning a small break in the cloud cover appeared, letting a promise of sunshine through. No more than a promise, though, for it closed as quick as it had appeared, leaving a sullen, sulky February sky to settle over the rest of the day.


A promise of sunshine


At one time I closed my eyes, recalling the sight of the swans on the river running through Lincoln and under the place where we lunched yesterday. I was hoping that some kind of poem might emerge but all I could think about was the sad spectacle of dead wild birds, laid low by the avian ‘flu that’s getting closer and closer as they migrate across Europe. I’d hate to see the swans go, and the thought of a major cull of domestic fowl is too horrid to contemplate.

Hey ho. No poem there, then. Not one I want to write, anyway.

So I picked up my new collection of poems by Billy Collins, losing myself in a world at once strange, and alien, and filled with good fellowship. My own poems were lost for the day. Collins has words that reach the way I feel about that:


These are not the lines that came to me
while walking in the woods
with no pen
and nothing to write on anyway.
from: Lines Lost Among Trees; Billy Collins


My lines were not lost in the same way; rather, they were mislaid while waiting for the release that will come when the phone rings.

And then, at the very end of the day, I was inspired to write four lines. Not entirely lost, then:


Old age
old age, like hope,
is a thing with feathers;
except most of them
have been plucked
John Bailey
Lincolnshire, February 2006



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