It’s a grand life

Monday October 23, 2006

I seem to be back almost to normal once more, waking at a sensible hour, needing only a short nap in the afternoon, more from custom than necessity, and keeping awake throughout the evening until a reasonable time, when I’m ready for bed. All the rest will follow.

I even felt the first stirrings of a poem today so all’s well with me, and I thank my lucky stars for my good fortune.

It’s been raining pretty well consistently all day, giving rise to a frustrated Mega-cat, sitting by the door and waiting for dry intervals at which point she yowls until I let her out. She gave way to a sleep urge late morning, though, missing a longish dry period during which I walked over to the local shop. Feeling more up to walking than I have for some days I walked on past, and down Coleridge Road to discover ‘Victoria Park’. A great disappointment. It’s not a park, it’s just an open space of scratty grass, and if Victoria were to see it today she’d demand they change the name.

It’s such a shame. These used to be lovely little parks, with flower beds, wandering paths, and benches at intervals. Now they tend to be a single open patch of rough grass with an asphalt path round the perimiter and a few tired trees behind. No benches, and no flowers. I shall keep on exploring. There are several more parks on the map within walking distance and I live in hope that at least one of them will have been restored.

By the park there’s a long path alongside the canal, sheltered on either side by over-grown belts of rough trees and shrubs. I was tempted to plod off along it for a way but up ahead there was a single pedestrian walking towards me and she seemed to be extremely agitated at the prospect of meeting another human. I stood for a moment, she stopped, waving her arms about her in an strange fashion. I didn’t feel inclined to press the issue so I turned on my heels and walked back, calling in at the shop on the way home.

An unusual, off-to-one-side encounter. It must be hard to be so much at odds with the world that the sight of an old guy out for a stroll causes such great alarm. The story maker in me plays the ‘what if’ game with the situation of course and I scribbled a few lines in my notebook to explore it, smearing the page slightly with oil from my croissant. My notebooks always seem to end up to be messy affairs, spotted and marked, mapping the course of my days with traces of the food and drink situations in which I tend to use them. There’s another ‘what if’ there, if I cared to think about it.

Very late in the evening I set off for St Audries along wet and windy roads, covered in fallen leaves and twigs and with large pools of standing water lurking to catch the unwary. Once there I let myself into the caravan, fixed myself a mug of coffee and sat watching TV for a very short while until overcome with the urge to sleep. So I curled up on the sofa, pulled a coverlet over me, and slept soundly until Graham appeared shortly before one o’clock in the blessed a.m. Another coffee to get my juices flowing and then we hit the road back home.

Graham is to attend the dentist in the morning, to have the stitches removed and to have the wound inspected once more. I suspect they’ll pack it with antibiotic wadding again before waving goodbye. I would. Although there’s been no recurrence of the infection I wouldn’t leave anything to chance.

To my great relief he’s managed to find a temporary barmaid to help him through the rest of the week. Just in time. He was so tired after his long day that his face was grey and drawn. Not the best way to get over a quite major dental operation. This has been a tough season for him and it’s only his natural strength and resilience that has kept him going. That’s a bank you can visit only so often without taking time to replenish reserves. I’m glad that, from next week, he’ll be working only at the weekends until Christmas. And even more so that the January/February/March break is drawing close.

I pulled my big box of painting gear out of the cupboard today, unwrapped my brushes, and dusted off my tubes of paint. Sometime next week we’ll uncover the second box containing my easels and other gear and then I’ll be able to start painting once more. Graham’s as keen as I am to get me going, and has designated a corner of the study as the perfect work place for me. Next time we go to IKEA we shall pick up a large non-slip transparent mat on which I can place the big easel and, like as not, find a suitable side table to hold paints and stuff. I’m not a messy worker when I’m painting but I really don’t want to have to worry about the inevitable paint drops on the wooden floor.

And so, my black dog held firmly at bay, I’m ready to get cracking again. It’s a grand life.



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