Saturday, September 30, 2006


Click to enlarge.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Second Thoughts

I have taken the previous post down. It was just too personal for comfort.

That being said I have no regrets about putting the post on the blog. It clarified things. But more than that, the quality of the comments it engendered even in the few hours that it was up was incredibly high. They were warm, wise and passionate. Comments such as these are why I continue to blog. I have saved them all, together with the post itself, and I may rework the latter. We'll see.

A heartfelt thank you to the commenters. I will read and re-read your words.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The River

Last week was, um, challenging. A difficult temp assignment and – more upsettingly - a female friendship under stress. In the coming week I am agreeing the figure for the sale price of the flat with the estate agent, the necessary forms will be signed and I will be tidying as I have never tidied before ahead of the arrival of potential purchasers.

Yesterday afternoon there was a brief hiatus. A trip on the Thames near Richmond on a friend’s boat. I arrived after lunch, nerves still jangling and unsure how the afternoon was going to unfold.

He has the boat moored alongside a landing stage, with a café and a children’s play area nearby. The whole area is thickly wooded with beech and plane trees, their first leaves now just starting to turn. Coming here I am always reminded of the Seurat painting of Parisians on the banks of the Seine ....

In the late summer sunshine we motored upstream past Eel Pie Island to Teddington Lock, where the tidal river ends and the inland river begins. We passed lush and beautiful weeping willows set on lawns reaching down to the river bank, eccentric boathouses, millionaire hideaways and repair yards. We carefully overtook canoeists and waved to fellow sailors. Geese, ducks and moorhens plus the occasional heron watched us go by. In the evening we tied up at the moorings and ambled through to the nearest riverside town for dinner.

A few hours later we walked back along a quiet lane beside the Thames. By now the river was ebbing strongly and the silhouettes of the trees on its banks were black against the night sky. The recent equinox high tide had flooded the roadway, which was still wet and littered with driftwood.

The river is the soul of this place. It can be neutral, dangerous, benevolent. It has a definite and powerful presence.

He drove me home. I don't know where this friendship is going. But I have learned to value constancy, generosity and thoughtfulness when they are offered. I accept them with gratitude and try to reciprocate in kind.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

September flowers

Daisy ....
... and dahlia.

They speak for themselves..

Click to enlarge.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Middle-aged Meme

I was just thinking that I wouldn’t mind doing a meme, and then Zhoen obligingly posts a really good one …


Drive a Rolls Royce
Have children
Be a trapeze artist
Find it easy to concentrate
Learn Chinese (OK so I might, but it's very unlikely)


Visit the Grand Canyon
Fall in love
Take singing lessons
Have an Hawaiian massage


Move house
Change career
Get up early on cold, dark winter mornings
Look stupid
Bite my tongue


Get drunk
Say yes when I want to say no
Incur unnecessary debt
Wear uncomfortable shoes for prolonged periods
Work as a temp for C***** B *** Ltd, London


Learn Welsh
Spend a year in India
Meet a soulmate
Stay calm under extreme provocation
Become a good gardener.

Anyone else? Let me know in the comments if you do it. And there is no definition for middle age so if this appeals but you feel you don’t qualify, just go ahead anyway.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Bearing Fruit

There had been a thunderstorm in the night and at 6.30 am on the common it was clear that autumn was just around the corner in spite of the summer temperatures.

My spirits no longer sink the way they used to at this time of the year. And nor do I become unreasonably optimistic when spring slowly lifts the winter darkness. Is it maturity or is it numbness I wonder.

Perhaps there is just more awareness now that beginnings and endings are intertwined and cannot be separated. The Jewish New Year is not far away, and the Celtic New Year begins around the time of The Day of the Dead ....

I listened to the news this morning - massacres, torture and cruelty - then started my day and almost immediately came across unexpected humour and kindness. I have given up hard and fast beliefs about the human condition and don't mention politics here simply because other people do it so much better and with greater conviction elsewhere. More importantly, I am not convinced that it is in this area that the answer will be found ....

I do tend to agree with Voltaire's conclusion that "Il faut cultiver son jardin". That the best contribution I can make is to live as cleanly, ethically and as creatively - in the broadest sense of that term - as possible, and to deal with the beam in my own eye. And that somehow my small ripples will reach outwards to join with others and, who knows, perhaps make a difference.

This has been said before, I know. It looks trite now that I have typed it. I have no idea how it will happen, if it does at all. But is there any other option?

Thursday, September 07, 2006


I want to wait for the new beginnings and for resolution.

No. Don't wait, something inside me says. Go deeper. Go beyond false hope.

Unresolved is all there ever is.


I need to be on a blogfast again for a couple of weeks. The new carpet is being fitted on Saturday 16th and all the "messy" work has to be completed before then. And in spite of all the chucking out and titivating that has been accomplished there remains an alarming amount to be done before the "For Sale" sign goes up in the last week of September.

I'm glad I came back but methinks the blog is going to be an on again/off again experience for a while.

This is such a strange time and I am so grateful to my little blogging community here.

Monday, September 04, 2006

The Pigeon

The Love Embrace of the Universe, Frida Kahlo
The Tate Gallery website
Click to enlarge

I dislike being late intensely so am generally far too early for everything. It perpetuates the illusion that I can retain some vestige of control over the unpredictability of life. Over the years I have sat in innumerable cafes drinking innumerable cups of coffee to pass the time while waiting for companions to arrive or offices to open. My father was the same and, apparently, his father before him.

But last Tuesday for reasons too uninteresting to mention I was on the verge of being late for a dental appointment. So I really wasn't in the mood to stop and talk when, one street away from the surgery, the old lady emerged from the doorway of her flat as I hurried past.

“You can’t see a pigeon in there can you dear?” she asked.

She pointed at a strip of scrubby communal garden where a few dispirited laurel bushes formed a barrier between her front door and the main road. I guessed she was in her eighties. Frail and slight, her skin had a yellowish tinge but her voice had remained clear and strong and I detected an Irish accent. She was obviously worried.

“There's been an injured pigeon hiding in those bushes for two days. I think it’s broken its leg. I can't see it now though”.

I peered into the shrubbery. No pigeon, just an empty crisp packet or two. A panicky voice in my head was telling me that I was definitely going to be late now.

“I put some food and water out for it. My neighbours don’t like it when I feed the pigeons because they say they’re dirty. But how would they like to be hungry?”

“It doesn't seem to be there,” I told her. “Did you phone the RSPCA?”

“I called them yesterday afternoon. Maybe they came last night and took it away to look after it?”

I said that yes, this was probably what had happened. But I thought of different possibilities as well. Urban fox. Cat. Other unpleasant scenarios. I suspected she was thinking along the same lines. We talked for several minutes, her eyes scanning the bushes periodically.

“I’ve got a bad leg myself, and I wouldn’t want to be left alone and in pain," she said, suddenly.

My heart lurched. She could doubtless imagine only too vividly what this would be like. I attempted again to reassure her that the bird was probably in good hands. I wasn't sure whether I believed it or not but that didn't matter.

“I always look after the animals ”, she went on as she turned to go back indoors. “They can't ask for help can they?”.

I went on my way. It occurred to me that the panicky voice had been silenced.

The end of the story is a cliche. I was late for my appointment but it didn't matter, the dentist was behind schedule anyway. It really wasn't that important. And neither are a lot of the things that I worry about.