For remembrance

Wednesday October 4, 2006

A lovely sunny early Autumn day, crisp, not yet quite to a frosty level but sufficient to add a sparkle to the falling leaves. Sometimes I think that cold weather aids clarity of vision. To a point, anyway.

I had nothing planned for the day apart from a provisioning trip so I did just that, fitting in my daily chores and following the path I’m beginning to establish as my daily routine.

Lunch was a feta cheese salad with a small cheese and onion bread roll and followed by a well-chilled orange. Now that the supermarkets almost always sell their best oranges, and other fruits, in ‘family packs’ I am obliged to store my oranges in the fridge. To my delight I find that oranges, like plums, have a specially luscious nature when eaten straight from the ice-box.

I spent a little while experimenting with the video feature on my digital camera, attempting to create a Jackanory kind of thing.

With the advent of YouTube, which hosts video clips for free and permits them to be embedded in the user’s webpages, it’s now possible to sit down, read a story into the camera, and publish it for all the world to see and hear. I experimented with audio some years back but made the mistake of trying to do it every day. Adding audio/visuals to the journal extends the time needed to prepare and post an entry out of all proportion to any possible benefit and I found it simply too burdensome to sustain. An irregular, weekly effort might be a possibility, perhaps a ‘Video Friday’ kind of thing. Most weeks, not all, I manage to produce an entry that might suit, with story-telling capabilities. We’ll have to see. I need to find my tripod first, though. Balancing an expensive camera on a pile of books is not generally a good idea.

Mostly, though, it was a mooch-around kind of day and I was just settling into an evening of fun and games when the phone rang.

“Have you started your evening wine yet?” Graham asked.

“Half-way down the first glass. Why do you ask?”

“Well, I could do with a bit of time back home. Any chance you could come over and pick me up when I finish this evening. Say around eleven?”

“You gotta be joking. Of course I will. Can’t think of anything I’d rather do.”

“Right. I’ll call you in about an hour to confirm but I’m sure it can be done.”

So I put the phone down, flushed the remnants of my glass of wine into the sink, and brewed a strong coffee. I was just about to eat my dinner, and it’s reasonable to say that a small quantity of wine before a meal, washed down with something non-alcoholic, is well within my drink driving limits. I don’t drink and drive these days and, had I been on my second glass, I’d have had to pass on the trip. Graham would have understood—he disapproves of drunk driving almost more than I do. It would have been a great disappointment but far better than the alternative.

As it was, by the time I’d had my coffee, consumed my meal, taken another coffee and then showered, I was bright and bouncy, and could feel no signs of alcohol in my system. Safe to drive, and there’s no other way to go.

Then, while waiting for the clock to tick over to the time when I had to leave on my way to St Audries, my poem burped delicately, shifted, settled, and popped into the front of my brain, just about complete. They have a way of doing that, do poems, trying to catch you out when you don’t have a pencil and paper to hand. And that, apart from an unevenly functioning memory, is one of the reasons you’ll seldom find me very far from my notebook.

 

For remembrance
 
Sprinkling dried rosemary over
bacon sizzling in the pan
I am seized by a remembrance
of things I have forgot, with a clarity
I have also forgot.
 
For a while my mind works the
way it used to do, when I almost
but not quite understood
Empson’s Eighth Ambiguity
and why he didn’t write it.
 
Then, chewing rosemaried bacon
and watching the morning news
I catch the latest be-Shrubbed wisdom.
The taste of rosemary fades, my remembrance
closes, and I tread a different path altogether.
 


Empson:  An emminent English literary critic. Wrote
a book called Seven Types of Ambiguity

 
John Bailey
Somerset, October 2006

 

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