Archive for January, 2019

The Perfect Winter’s Day

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

Inside the fire emits a warm glow. Flames probe the log placed on top of the coals. The time for sacrifice has come. The log must die.

Through the leaded glass window a dusting of frost is seen on the naked branches outside. Below zero. The water in the birdbath has frozen solid. The only place to be is in the nest. My front room.

A winter rose appears. Out of nowhere but it must have been there a while. Pink and yellow dusted in the same white frost. It’s a miracle.

Light gradually fails and gloom mutates into darkness. I look up, hearing only the fire. The front door opens.

Activity returns to the house. The sound of pots and pans and cupboard doors. An occasional happy whistle.

We are comfortable in our nest. Curtains closed on the rest of the world, the radio company for Anne in the kitchen.

Hot food appears on the table, conversation resumes, contentment continues…

I get a kick

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

I get a kick out of you, saxophone. Strains of saxophony coming through the wall from the next room. TV on without the sound. Lying back on the settee staring at my screen. It’s a different kind of stare as I have banished the “Book” from my everyday life and am also avoiding sources of political news. There’s too much bad stuff going on so I figured I’d shut my eyes, cover my ears and shake my head whilst saying lalalalalalala can’t hear you.

Now watching football on the TV with Anne. Looks cold out there. Quite picturesque mind you. The green baize pitch dappled with snow. I’d rather be in here in the warmth having a nice cuddle.

That’s going to be a Liverpool throw in says the commentator. It already feels a little strange not looking at Facebook every other minute. I switched off for a month last year but this time it’s going to be longer. Maybe permanent, aside from some page maintenance. Anne’s Vans et al. I want my life back.

Bloke called Wilfred Indeedy playing in the game on the TV. Yes indeedy. Something like that anyway. Sounds right.

I’ve also decided to revamp my bookcase organisation. I keep running out of space in the posh walnut bookcase. Some of the books in the TV room are going to be boxed up and stored in the attic. I rarely read any of them anymore. Fiction from decades ago plus a load of large format hardbacks that we seem to have picked up over the years. Christmas presents, book shop remainders, rear admirals, that sort of thing. Many never read. I don’t like throwing books out.

A few years ago I spent a day or three sorting my books out. All the fiction arranged alphabetically by author, for what it’s worth. Not that interested now. Going to selectively withdraw some from view. I think this is the beginning of me changing my approach to books. I’m going to up the ante on purchases. I got the idea from JP Rangaswami with who I went to the cricket last summer at the Oval. He said he had 30,000 books! Collected over a lifetime. I’m late starting but it isn’t too late. I don’t want 30,000 of them but a few more won’t go amiss.

Distant February

Tuesday, January 29th, 2019

Distant February

Today is 29th January. February remains distant, a thought that with hindsight will seem misplaced.

I lie in bed not listening to the wireless. Filtering the noise. Relegating news to the background.

Occasionally Anne mentions something she has heard and I temporarily remove the filter.

Second cup of tea appears.

May you rot in hell

Monday, January 28th, 2019

May you rot in hell

Fuck you bastards

Constant media coverage gets tedious

I need to immerse myself in something that is nothing to do with brexshit

Classic Sunday afternoon in January

Sunday, January 27th, 2019

Classic Sunday afternoon in January. The wind is howling out there and it will soon be dark accompanied by plummeting temperatures. When I was a kid this would have meant watching a cowboy movie on the TV or perhaps playing a game of Monopoly with my sisters. Just trying to survive Sunday afternoon until the week reset itself and Monday came again.

To some extent very little has changed even though the choice of entertainment has increased massively. It doesn’t feel right sitting in front of the TV all afternoon though. Most of it is rubbish anyway. My alternative is to sit at the table the conservatory looking out at the weather and write.

It will gradually get darker and at some point I will decide I need to turn on the wall lights, dim as they are. The day will have morphed into night. Life will change. Life takes on a different complexion at night in winter. Cosier. As long as you are indoors and warm and the curtains are drawn.

Watching the TV in the evening seems more acceptable.

I’m glad I’m not a plant.

Blank sheet of paper

Sunday, January 27th, 2019

The Beach or Not The Beach

Sunday, January 27th, 2019

It is with a heavy heart that I announce the loss of the notes I had been making in preparation for this post. I had been spontaneously scribbling thoughts down on a piece of hotel notepaper, capturing the atmosphere and sounds of the beach as they happened.

You would have felt as if you were there, the sun on your face with the sounds of racing longtail boats a short distance away, sharing with me the joy of snorkelling alongside exotic yellow tailed fish in the warm blue waters of the Andaman Sea.

I do have plenty of inspirational photographs and videos to which I could refer. You did not need to know that my notes were lost. I feel however that this is an issue of creative integrity. I would have known and I would have known that the piece is not what it could have been. The sound of the American singer in the bar as we drank chilled bottles of Singha beer would not have felt the same.

The visions of coconuts washed ashore on the palm fringed pristine white sands will have to be left to the colourful travel brochures and exotic magazines of your dentist’s waiting room. Ditto the fresh barbecued fish, the satay skewers and the newly tapped coconut juice.

The hotel pool, long guarded by early rising tourists, was a sanctuary when the sweaty heat of the day called for a retreat. The visions of us sipping exotic cocktails in the shade of the wet bar will unfortunately have to remain firmly in the recesses of your own imagination.

I will leave you now, subdued and resigned to never writing the post. It is time to move on…

Deep frozen midwinter

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019

Notes from the home country upon return from the Orient

We land back in UK to a feeling of a divided country in turmoil before the start of a war. The ground is appropriately frozen and inhospitable. Parliament is in a frenzy with nobody being able to agree on the best course of action. Stockpiling of food and medicines. Bunkering down. Kids being sent to stay with relatives in the country. Talk about the reserve being called up – soldiers on standby to patrol the streets? Anticipation of huge congestion at channel terminals. Lorries back up from the coast to the M25 London circular. Late nights watching events unfold on tv. Those who can secure the escape route provided by an Irish passport. Commerce flees to Europe. There is no Plan B. The world looks on in disbelief.


Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

The world in which we live is blowing up
Brexit looms
May has failed spectacularly
And my late train, with broken toilet
Continues to evacuate itself
Returning every few minutes
Behind it’s locked facade
To a cycle of self expurgation
Oblivious to all around it
Who must seek elsewhere to find relief
And yet somehow it seems
To provide a commentary
Appropriate to this moment in history

By Bob Sleigh

Kelly’s Eye Chiang Mai

Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

palm fronds shift listlessly in the light breeze

grass grows underfoot

motionless Gardener occasionally changes direction of hosepipe

crisp white waiter moves silently between tables

occasional splash from pool reminds me that volume is on

straw hat tossed carelessly falls on floor

a flash of colour, birdsong

wake up to no change

empty tennis court

long, slow breathing


strawberry and banana ice cream with jasmine green tea

banana leaves collect dripping condensation

Back on the oriental slow boat. Sleep is a plentiful commodity. Red flowers contrast with variegated greenery. Luxury living at a bygone pace. Tomorrow we move on to Krabi. THis is not without excitement as tropical storm Pabuk is currently battering the area.

Someone just flicked a switch. I jolt to some loud funky music. I don’t mind. It’s just different. Probably good not to be soporific all afternoon. Will give the pool a miss and perhaps take a shower before heading to the spa with Anne for a his and hers foot massage. A plane passes noisily over head. The palm fronds have stopped moving.