A Walk – Written In Ink

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If only to illustrate a point made last week (In ‘A Blue Ballpoint Pen’ – here.) I reproduce a piece for you today that was originally written with fountain pen on completely unsuitable paper.  I have transcribed it best I can, bearing in mind that one side of the paper appears to be much more absorbent than the other, with the effect that part of the original draft appears as though written on kitchen towel and, whilst I am never completely certain of my intentions in retrospect, it is even more difficult to understand an original document that appears to contain words such as ‘miuct’, ‘fouruain’ and ‘squrrox’, but I’ll give it a go…

…I went for a walk this morning to find that The Gas Board have descended on our street.  There are perhaps a dozen white vans parked along the road, each one of them meticulously placed across every driveway that contains a car.  Empty driveways are left unmolested.  It appears to be a game that all the drivers play.  Dropped into this white Transit car park, we also have variously hued diggers, lorries and more lengths of plastic fencing than Aintree racecourse.  There is also something hanging around that appears to suck – water, I presume – from the holes that are being excavated at various points along the pathway and it appears to require the attentions of at least eight men to do it.  It is either not very good at what it does, or so good that it pulls in an audience.  I cannot tell you the answer: the plastic-barrier maze that has been set up to keep the public at sufficient distance to protect them from danger, means that total concentration is required in order to remain upright.  An injudicious glance off-piste may well result in a ignominious headlong plummet towards a gasman’s ankles and the possibility of a humiliating struggle back towards the upright via a hand-up from a giggling high-viz workman.  I am used to embarrassment, but I have my limits.

Today, my walk took me just around the corner to the post box where I discovered that the little notice on the box states that the collection time is five minutes ago.  Always five minutes ago.  Ah well, this is Royal Mail: what difference can twenty-four hours make?  I posted and walked on.

Spring is in full bloom now: the world is filled with yellow and violet.  Blossom is filling the trees and the birds are trapped in the strangely heroic struggle to prioritise mating over feeding.  Sparrows fight and blackbirds begin, what for some, will be a very short season of kamikaze diving in front of speeding cars.  Cats lurk, permanently mid-prowl, waiting for some errant feathered soul to flutter their way.  The animated ‘shooing’ necessary to move them on is tempered by the caution necessary to ensure that they do not flee across the road and into the path of a giant gloop sucker.

People talk in the streets these days.  Picking a way through the small knots of socially distanced chatterers is like a slalom ski run.  (I think.  I have never skied – strange word: never looks right – I have neither the knees nor the balance to do it.  I don’t like being cold.  I do not enjoy time spent in the company of fiercely middle-class couples bent on making me aware of how difficult it is to employ a decent home-help these days.  I do not like gluhwein.)  By and large, other than one or two young mums with prams, the talkers are overwhelmingly elderly.  Maybe everybody else is working from home, wired into the laptop, the kettle and the Hob-Nobs.  They should get out of the house.  They need to listen to the birds and see the flowers: they need to meet other people.  Homework should come with in-built Not-Spending-the-Entire-Day-Sitting-at-the Kitchen-Table-Staring-Hollow-Eyed-at-the-Laptop breaks.

I have never really had to work from home, although I do an awful lot of working at home.  My wife considers it the only really valid reason for my continued existence.  I cannot but imagine how difficult it must be to fit in home-working with home working.  How do you squeeze ‘Homes Under the Hammer’ into the routine?  Do the tea breaks run concurrently?  I have always had a job which paid the bills, but I have always written – what I consider my proper work.  My weekday routine has been unchanged for years: carry out my day’s employment and then ‘work’ through the hours between eat and sleep.  I have worked right through the night many, many times, in the certain knowledge that any ideas that lurk in my head ‘right now’ will have evaporated by the morning, leaving only an uncertain stain where inspiration used to be.  I am not Douglas Adams.  The ‘wooshing’ noise of a passing deadline is, for me, not one to be enjoyed, but the sound of an opportunity being missed: another clanging ‘Might-Have-Been’ to be added to my CV.  The worse thing about my deadlines these days is that they are all self-imposed.  Nobody is any longer in any hurry to receive anything from me.  I still try to write something worthwhile every day, but I am no longer driven to twelve hour sessions and the brandy bottle when I cannot.  And when I just cannot think of the punchline, I take a walk to clear my head – there is joy in having nothing much to think about…

11 thoughts on “A Walk – Written In Ink

  1. Four walls ain’t what you need 24/7. I agree you, have to go out and see nature at its best and worst. What you say about cats on the spring is true too. Our previous moggy became Genghis Kat, leaving a trail of entrails and fresh young feathers towards our door. I can only hope the dead swan was roadkill.
    Its nice, in a twisted way, to need to write something every day, is it not?

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  2. With you on the skiing comments – particularly on gluhwien which is necessarily either a rubbish wine lurking behind strong spices or a good wine wasted …

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  3. I often get the comment, “You live in Colorado and you don’t ski?” Never appealed to me. As for writing daily, well, I need to get back to that, even if it’s drivel. Perhaps I could write a haiku every day when I can’t think of a post…no, it’s been done. Never mind.

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  4. I have skied three times. The first time I knocked myself senseless, the second i tore my shoulder and the third I broke my hand. I decided It waas not a sport for me. On the other dodgeing gas trucks has become quite popular in my neighborhood.
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    Laughter is contagious. Start a pandemic

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