DAY 16: Sun 29 Mar

Blossom, rubbish, foot-scraping and some rather odd poetry choices

It is a cold, blustery morning, I feel like lazy day, but I know I should devote an hour or so to exercise. 

I adopt the Algerian Saint Augustine’s approach (‘Lord, let me be pure, but not yet’) and don a tracksuit as evidence of good intentions. After all it might a good day to finish off Noughts and Crosses, and Madagascar 3 is on (but I never got to watch either).

The ornamental cherry tree in the front garden is looking pretty in pink – a really cheery sight first thing in the morning. Such a pity it lasts for such a short time and then reverts to being a rather ugly squat thing against which I often bash my head (accidentally, of course). However it does have its uses as a convenient peg for bird feeders and hanging baskets.

WARNING: This entry contain one section which those of a sensitive nature may find upsetting. (It concerns feet and comes next.)

I have come late in life to foot scrapers. I never knew you could rub off the hard skin on your heals. My parents never told me and it wasn’t on the school curriculum either. So every now and then I grab an odd shaped purple thingy and very gingerly have a go over the toilet bowl. I am slowly trying to remove cracks and fissures on both heels. Not sure if I’m doing it right, all I know is you mustn’t draw blood.

Someone on Twitter was asking for poetry recommendations for the Lockdown. I am now  feeling slightly queasy about the choices I suggested.

George Crabbe (1755-1832) is not everyone’s cup of tea but I preferred his narrative poems to those of Wordsworth.

[And talking of  cups of tea, how did a packet of chocolate biscuits get into the house? This could be fatal. All but mildly inoffensive  oat crackers have been banned from the pantry (okay, the kitchen cabinet, but do allow me some poetic licence).]

And I recommended the poetic works of Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), who also told a good tale. Neither are the jolliest of chaps but their characters come to life for me. Crabbe’s doggerel straddled the Augustan and Romantic era, painted a vivid picture of life in his East Anglian parishes and reflected the moralisms of his day. And who could deny that his Peter Grimes is one of the most vivid and shocking characters in literature, up there with the best of Dickens’ grotesques.  

In a funny sort of way, the sadness in Hardy’s accounts of life and death in the West Country carry on where Crabbe left off. Both men had brief sojourns in London before returning to their ‘native land’, and both had their work set to music by Benjamin Britten.

Recognising that these poets could be regarded as a tad dour if not downright miserable I did also recommend the Mersey Poets (Adrian Henri, Roger McGough and Brian Patten) and John Hegley to lighten up the day. Perhaps I could have combined all aspects by simply suggesting the collected works of that dire Irish poet William McGonagall (yes he was Irish, though he lived in Scotland).

Speaking of the Mersey Poets (who also perfumed as The Scaffold, ‘Thank You Very Much’), I once told an obscene joke featuring Roger McGough’s ‘PC Plod’ and the phantom buggerer of Chelsea, on stage with The Scaffold at the ICA (the Institute of Contemporary Arts). My only conceivable excuse is that I was probably stoned at the time (it was the 1970s).

This morning I made soda bread for a neighbour and delivered it with some frozen stewed apple and rhubarb from last autumn’s crop. The Back Lane was strewn with detritus. While I am willing to accept the wind has been a significant distributor, someone had to drop all this stuff in the first place. The usual sweet papers and cigarettes butts, but the most common items this morning were tissues and surgical gloves! Why on earth use these for your own protection them discard them to put others at risk? Some people! 

Thankfully only one bottle and one drinks can today, which gives me hope that our itinerant alcoholics have been found a place to stay by the City Council. Amazing that an edict from on high has found shelter for so many homeless in so short a time. There have been empty office blocks in the city for many a year. I do hope they have been sequestrated for the duration.

‘Haroun and the Sea of Stories’ took an interesting turn this evening when his father turns up under arrest in the City of Gup. The grandsons are beginning to get the hang of the cliff hanger – wanting “more’ just as we come to the end of the chapter.

Chicken and courgettes is spicy sauce served with couscous tonight followed by ice cream during The Nest which turns out to be 5-parter rather than the two I was expecting.

And now I’m going to watch a re-run of Rainman before bed.

Mike J

Journalist, trainer, editor; storyteller; amateur historian.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *