Friday, January 29, 2010

Bottle

So I finished the “re-write” of my novel earlier this week and found myself on the crest of a wave of excitement and anticipation. It wasn’t bad. Not bad at all. Feedback from the few who have received advance copies has been good and my wife who, believe me, would tell me in no uncertain terms if it was crap, has given it a big thumbs up.

I’m ready, I thought.

For the next step.

Acquiring an agent.

I did an initial search on-line. And straightaway found the wave dropping away from me like the start of a tsunami and disappearing down the nearest drain.

Without exception their web sites are cold, clinical, unwelcoming places full of corporate speak and self advertising. Finding one single link to the submissions page is a labour of Hercules. They keep that particular doorway well hidden. Almost as if they don’t really want people to find it.

Plus finding an agent who (a) is accepting unsolicited work and (b) taking work of the genre that best fits what I have written is another labour entirely. I managed to bookmark a few but they have another list of hoops for the potential author to leap through. Everything must be just so or they won’t even look at your work.

One even demanded a CV.

A CV?! This is my first novel! Aside from a bit of poetry and a short story I’ve not been published before!

I tried the old trick of picking a few successful authors and searching for their agents. What a waste of time that was. J.K. Rowling’s agent is not taking any new work at the moment. They’re inundated. Possibly because of the success of J.K. Will Self’s agent had a very cold pop-up window which virtually said thank you but no thank you if we haven’t already heard of you. Other writers who decorate the spines on my bookshelf are either American or Japanese. I’ve nothing against acquiring an overseas agent but they do tend to take a higher percentage of any earnings – 20% and above. Rather steep.

The end result of all this wall-banging was that it totally shrivelled up by burgeoning little author’s ego and sapped me of all confidence. It made me lose my bottle and I went back to checking my emails instead.

I’ve come back round since then. Karen has bought me a couple of advice books for writers and the Writer’s Yearbook is always a hardy reference manual on my bookshelf. I shall read the relevant sections, gird my loins and pitch myself into the Rejection Game once more. I’d got hardened to it when I was writing poetry. I daresay I shall harden up again.

Bottle is all well and good. But bulletproof glass is the thing required...


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Memories Of Cars

Strapping Tom safely into his car seat this morning triggered a whole lot of memories of the various car journeys I made as a child with my grandfather. My mum and dad have never owned a car though my dad got his license in his early twenties – instead if a car was necessary for a family holiday they would merely rent one.

My grandfather, however, got his license just after the war – on the second attempt. He failed the first test for being cheeky. As they drove up a steep hill the instructor apparently asked my grandfather what he would do when he reached the top – obviously expecting a technical answer to do with gear changes and the accelerator. My grandfather merely laughed and said he’d continue over the top and go down the other side until he reached the bottom.

That got him a big fat cross and a fail.

The second test he restrained his naughty streak and passed. From that point on, until he reached his eighties, he was never without a car. Hence most of the car journeys I experienced as a child were in his company and in his car.

Now every time we strap Tom into the backseat and nag Ben to put on his seatbelt I am always reminded of how, when my sister and I were of a similar age, we would ride quite happily and quite acceptably in the back of my grandfather’s car without seatbelts. I even recall one occasion when – as a treat – my grandfather let us both stand on the front passenger seat with our hands on the dashboard. This was wonderful as a small child to be able to see properly out of the windscreen as we drove along. Somehow I don’t think there are many children who experience such things now.

Countless times we would lie down on the backseat on long journeys and fall asleep under a “car blanket”. I even made the entire journey to Weston-super-Mare once lying down in the back of my grandfather’s old estate car, snuggled up to my grandparent’s huge Labrador, Kim, while my sisters and the grown-ups were all crushed up in the backseats and the front passenger seat. We didn’t think anything of it. It was normal.

And yet there is no way I’d allow Ben or Tom to do such a thing now. Health & Safety has encroached onto the Western consciousness like a new religion and we all of us, at least once a day, pray to it in some way or other.

My strongest memory of being in a car with my grandfather was when he would drive us around seeing various aunts and uncles and performing various errands on a Sunday morning before we’d go and spend the day with my Nan. One regular errand involved my grandfather sneaking into his work depot to secretly use their car washing facilities. He’d allow us to poke around the musty offices, help ourselves to notebooks and occasionally play with the telephones (old Seventies dial ones). One Sunday though, for some reason or other he made my sister and I wait in the car while he went off to do something. He would be “right back”.

I guess as a small child – and we couldn’t have been any more than 5 or 6 – time passes much more slowly than it does for an adult. It felt like he’d been gone for hours. We began to panic. Maybe he wasn’t coming back (God knows why we thought such a thing)? He’d forgotten about us or got lost. In the end, being the eldest, I decided we should climb out of the window and go and find him. My sister was up for this and the pair of us clambered from the back to the front of the car. We couldn’t, however, work out how to unlock the doors. My sister had a brainwave – a good one for a 5 year old – and wound down the driver’s side window. She managed to clamber out and drop down to the ground. I got halfway out when I heard my sister shout. My grandfather had reappeared. The last image I have of this memory is of my sister running towards him, her skirt flapping in the wind, as my grandfather jogged towards us asking in a loud voice what the hell we were doing.

I don’t recall being told off or getting into trouble. I just remember being relieved to see him and feeling safe.

And now forty years later, even with all the seatbelts and air bags and the Health & Safety procedures that litter our lives, I can’t say that I’ve ever feel as safe as I did that day when he walked so exasperatedly back towards us.

Seatbelts are essential and legally correct – I know this – but love is what made me feel safe.

I hope one day Ben and Tom will realize this too for all they may protest now at being “restrained”.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Reasons To Be Cheerful (Part 3)

Call it Winter Blues. Call it SAD. Call it vitamin D deficiency. Call it what you like (being “misog” in Blake household parlance) but I’ve been feeling down and out for the last week or so. I’m not the only one. I know my good lady wife is too.

Suddenly it all seems... not exactly too much, just not enough. We’re both sick of chasing our own coat-tails financially. There can be nothing more galling than turning up to a job (that makes you sigh) every day to earn not enough money to cover all the bills. It is truly demoralizing.

And we feel tired. Deep winter tired. I suspect we should be hibernating. Curled up in a warm cave stocked with hot chocolate, sausages & mash and a host of other tasty comfort foods. My DVD collection wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

The winter is just not a great place to be.

But I’m trying to be cheerful.

Well, if not exactly cheerful (this is me we’re talking about after all) then I’m at least I’m trying to count my blessings.

I have a wonderful wife. Too wonderful rumbustious boys. A roof over our heads. Karen and I have both completed an accountancy course (ACCA) and a degree course respectively over the last few months – Karen is merely awaiting her final results (out in Feb). I’ve nearly completed the first rewrite of my novel – next step will be sourcing an agent. It’s very early days yet but we calculated than we’ve paid off about £9k from our mortgage.

So if we’re not rich in money we’re at least rich in assets and home comforts. And we’re not going to starve.

But a bit of elasticity would be nice. A holiday would be nice (I’m not even thinking “abroad”). To be able to buy a luxury item once in a while without feeling guilty would be nice.

*Sigh*

Although I’m not sure if it will help we have a financial advisor coming round to visit us this evening. Somebody independent and professional to take on board our haemorrhaging fortunes to see if they can apply a tourniquet. If nothing else she might be able to get us a better deal on our mortgage, I suppose. I’m not holding my breath though. I can’t help suspecting it will merely result in a tightening up of moolah elsewhere. Swings and roundabouts as they say.

Sorry. I’m meant to be being positive. Reasons to be cheerful and all that.

Ahem. At least she’s not a bailiff.

There, is that close enough?


Friday, January 22, 2010

George Davis Is Innocent

The above appeared, clumsily spray painted on the wall of a dilapidated pub building in Leamington, a couple of months before Christmas.

At first, being ignorant of gangster lore, I assumed it referred to a local lad; some poor yob out misspending his youth who had found himself on the wrong side of a policeman’s taser. Before he could protest that he had just gone up that there alley for a quick Jimmy Riddle he’d found himself banged up for burglary with 500 other spurious offenses to be taken into consideration and escorted to a prison cell by a couple of uniformed officers who were slapping each other’s backs for singlehandedly improving Leamington’s clean-up rate over night.

His siblings, his mates, even his 85 year old granny with her dodgy hip and rheumatoid arthritis had taken to the streets of Leamo armed with cheap aerosol’s to protest his innocence on every wall, pavement and fence they could find.

Who was George Davis? That was the question that was rattling around my mind every time I walked past this enticing bit of graffiti. Who was he? What had he not done that he had been accused of doing?

In the end I Googled him. And lo and behold George Davis wasn’t a local lad done wrong by the local constabulary at all but a London mobster who was dodgily convicted for The London Electricity Board Robbery in 1975. He was released a couple of years later as a result of a campaign by supporters who protested his innocence before being later re-imprisoned for armed robberies that he did actually commit. So not so innocent after all.

Which must have been a bit of a kick in the teeth for Roger Daltry and Sham 69 who via T-shirt wearing and song-writing had come out in George’s defence. Stick to rock opera’s, Rog, your wrists are too subtle to divine the true realities of a man’s innocence.

So back to the graffiti of 2010. George Davis Is Innocent? Plainly the graffiti artist hadn’t done his research properly. I’m eagerly awaiting an addendum to the said piece of graffiti that starts with the words “Well, actually, ahem, the thing is...”

Or perhaps this is the first instance of “retro graffiti”. A celebration of famous graffiti from times gone by? Is the wall at the back of Tesco’s car-park going to shimmer with the words “The Juwes are the men who will not be blamed for nothing” sometime in the not too distant future? Or shall I get ahead of the game myself and paint the side of my house with the legend: “Is there intelligent life on earth? Yes, but I'm only visiting”?

Hmm.

Answers painted on a brick wall at the usual address please...


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

2nd Class Stamp

Before the commencement of work-based employment activities this morning I nipped across the road to the post office to collect a parcel that hadn’t been delivered yesterday (how I love receiving those big red “You Were Out” cards with the big offended tick placed in the “returned to post office” tick-box... how dare I not be at home when the postman calls).

As usual there was a small queue ahead of me and the guy at the front was plainly banging his head against a brick wall in his endeavours to get his parcel located.

“Can you not trace it from the barcode?” He asked. He had this nugget of information on a scrappy piece of paper that he kept waving at the white whiskered postal worker behind the counter.

Mr Postal Worker – who, if I’m honest looked like he’d been rejected from Last Of The Summer Wine for being too wintry and vinegary – scanned a glazed eyeball over the paper, grimaced like he was beholding a snot encrusted handkerchief and grumbled, ”No. It’s an international barcode.” He then harrumphed and sighed like he was explaining the concept of cause and effect to a brain damaged monkey.

Monkey fall from tree. Monkey hurt head.

“Yes but...” said the customer (doing a sterling job to keep his temper), “It’s been sent recorded delivery. You must be able to trace it surely?”

“I know it’s recorded.” Said Mr Evil Postal Worker and shifted on his feet like a bull about to charge down an injured matador. “But it’s an international bar code, isn’t it?” Cue another sigh and the stomping of hooves.

Meanwhile my queue colleagues and I were now beginning to shift uncomfortably on our feet. As I waited (silently praying that the man’s parcel could be located without bloodshed) my eyes couldn’t help noticing all the “abusive customers” warning posters that were plastered all over the small parcel collection office. You know the kind: the post office reserves the right to refuse to serve customers who are abusive and threatening...

A copy of this poster was glued to the wall, to the serving hatch window and to the counter top upon which the customer had thrown his piece of scrappy paper.

It made me wonder if perhaps the parcel collection office had a lot of trouble with disgruntled customers. Hmm.

In the end the customer had to ask outright that someone be telephoned to see if the barcode could be traced somehow so the location of his lost parcel could be identified.

At this point the postal worker flung down his mug of tea, flung up the telephone and proceeded to have a grumpy telephone conversation with the postal worker on the other end of the line. This involved the barcode number being repeated out loud, a little louder each time, in a tone of voice that suggested that the person on the other end of the telephone was... yes, you guessed it, a brain damaged monkey with a defective hearing aid.

MONKEY FALL FROM TREE! MONKEY HURT HEAD!

The telephone was then flung down so hard it bounced out of the cradle and onto the floor. The bull was not happy and stomped off to find customer no.2’s parcel.

The telephone rang. He belligerently ignored it until his business with customer no.2 was complete and then once again wrenched the telephone up to his white whiskered ear. He listened silently. Flung the telephone back down and told the exasperated customer with the scrappy piece of paper that his parcel was at “Jubilee Station” and “hasn’t yet moved from there”.

Where was Jubilee Station? A shrug of the shoulders answered that query followed by a gleeful “we can’t do anything about it until it reaches here (here being Leamington Post Office). Your best bet is to speak to someone at Jubilee Station.”

And that was it. Customer interaction complete. Scrappy paper man left shaking his head and muttering sundry imprecations to the deaf, brain damaged gods of the Great British postal service.

It was then my turn. I looked at the “abusive customers” poster on the counter and honestly thought about it for a moment but, in the end, decided it just wasn’t worth the hassle. Besides which, although Mr Grumpy Postal Worker had taken my red card my parcel was brought to me a by a nice female postal worker with an incredibly long, thin ponytail, a big smile on her face and a disposition to talk pleasantly about the weather.

Despite the wind, rain and grey clouds outside she was like a breath of fresh air.


Monday, January 18, 2010

No Shit Sherlock

Mark Strong as Lord Blackwood and Robert Downey Jr as Sherlock HolmesI liked it. I liked it a lot. Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes movie ticked my box office and then some.

I’m aware that some other bloggers – other bloggers whose opinions I deeply respect – didn’t think much to the movie. Some even gave it a right good drubbing.

And so it was that, with no trifling sense of trepidation, I accompanied my good lady wife to the cinema on Saturday to sample Ritchie’s latest offering for myself.

I loved it. There. I’ve said it. I liked Robert Downey’s Holmes. His performance was captivating. Jude Law was also excellent as Watson. This is the first film I’ve seen Law in when I haven’t wanted to repeatedly punch his smooth smarmy little face until it resembled a blister pack full of Ibuprofen. Maybe it was the moustache? It suited him. Made him less smug. It’s why I have one, naturally.

But of course, I’m not at all precious about the Sherlock Holmes shtick. I’ve never bought into it. Never read the books. Never watched the various TV series and films that regularly pop up on our screens. I’m aware of the legend, of course, but... I’m quite happy for it to be played with. Quite happy for it to be sullied, profaned, pimped and perversely tweaked.

A good job really because this is precisely what Ritchie has done. The fiddle has been kept but the deerstalker and the droopy pipe have gone. The genius intellect is naturally there – it’s intrinsic to the character – but it’s been shackled to a manic, emotionally inept, impulsive, child-man who plainly has ADD and an extreme sports’ addiction to thrills and danger.

And it works. I’ve long believed that any genius must surely plumb the depths as much as he soars to the heights. There must be a balance. The obsessive compulsive behaviour of Downey’s Holmes makes him more real to me. More flesh and blood. More man. There was always something too... stiff, automaton-like about Doyle’s original creation. He was far too “literary”. He couldn’t possibly be real. But Downey’s Holmes – superhuman brawling abilities aside – could be.

And I know others have suggested that Mark Strong (Lord Blackwood in the movie) would have made a better Holmes. But I disagree. As good an actor as Strong is (and he is) there is something too... measured, too chained down about him. His Holmes would have been flat and bland. Downey’s portrayal was rich in suggestion and paradox. Again this makes him more real. More human.

Lastly, although much of London in the movie was CGI’d, I thought it done with care and love. Ritchie obviously knows London. Knows it intimately. This came over in the beautifully crafted establishing shots of the city. The views were true. They weren’t some awful Mary Poppins cartoon approximation of London and “her famous landmarks”. There was something real about them too. And I loved the detail: the ordure on the streets, the filthy glass in the windows of the horse drawn carriages... grit, grit and more girt. All keeping it real.

Ultimately of course the film was just a romp. Good natured. Fantastical. Rumbustious. Honest. With the odd bit of discombobulation thrown in for good measure. I needed something light-hearted and fun and that was what I got. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle might be spinning in his grave but I was clapping my hands on the cinema seat with sheer pleasure.

Would I go again?

Elementary, my dear Watson.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

4 Wellington Road

Picture of my Nan's HouseMy grandfather’s house is likely to be sold sometime this year. At the moment it now belongs to my mother as next of kin and although it would be nice to retain it in the family (my grandparents owned it for a good 60 years) practically that is just not going to be possible.

I’m going to find letting go of it very difficult. It is a house that holds very happy childhood memories for me and it is a house that I have visited on and off every week for the last 40 years. As children me and my sisters would spend every Sunday there with my grandparents and during school holidays every Wednesday too.

It was an idyllic time. Grandparents tend to be softer and more easy going than parents so my memories of my time with them are very warm. I can remember my Nan used to have a huge square dining table with fold out leafs and for some reason my sisters and I, when very small, would play beneath it, sitting on the crossbars that braced the legs, imaging we were in a vast sailing ship.

I can remember also being in my Nan’s kitchen, standing on tiptoe to see the stew bubbling on the cooker or later, when I was a little older and taller, being allowed to stir the boiled milk into the custard powder as my Nan stirred it in. It was a special treat to be allowed to help my Nan cook in her kitchen.

Whenever I visit the house now – and I am visiting frequently to make the most of it while I am able – I am assailed by these memories and more. It is both a comfort and a heartbreak. Just the smell of the house almost fools me into believing that my grandparents are just in the next room. I guess metaphysically, if your beliefs are that way inclined, they kind of are. I find myself pining to go there – seeking comfort I guess – and yet when I am there the absence of life is very upsetting and just brings home the reality that those who gave the house its true warmth are no longer there.

The furniture, the clocks, the ornaments all seem to speak with voices that I can’t quite hear but that I can feel... old times, past times, times gone by. Happy days as my Nan was often fond of saying when she herself reminisced. But their voices are fading now. Getting quieter. My days of access to the house are numbered. I’d love to buy it (if I were a millionaire) but I have to be realistic – it’s smaller than my own house so would not be practical. And keeping it as a shrine is a very bad idea. My sister and her husband are looking to buy a house but sadly not in Leamington so it is not an option for them either. And my mother, living in Sheffield, quite understandably wants matters sorted and settled as soon as possible.

It is inevitable then that the house will be emptied, sold and find itself occupied by new people starting a new history together within its walls. It’s the right thing to happen. But it makes me sad to think of it. Silly, I know, to get so emotionally attached and sentimental over bricks and mortar.

For at least as long as I have been alive my Nan had an old fashioned egg timer hung on the kitchen wall. Above it, painted into the small wooden panel that it is mounted upon is the legend “Kissin’ don’t last, cookin’ do”. It always amused her to read this out to us as children. With my mother’s permission I have taken this egg timer home as a small keepsake.

It reminds me of my Nan and of how little time we have with those we love.

And of how, despite my Nan’s wry amusement, sometimes it’s the cooking that doesn’t last but the kissing, the love, that does.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Lost And Found And Losing It

After days of moping about the house, dejectedly fingering bookcases, cupboards and drawers for a sign of my great Uncle’s missing spurs, I finally found them yesterday morning.

On top of the cabinet in the dining room, admittedly contained in a nondescript Marks & Spencer’s carrier bag, but in full view. I must have walked past the damned thing countless times in my search for them.

The sense of joy and relief I felt was akin to finding a, well, a long lost treasure, funnily enough. But this joyous feeling was matched by a corresponding sense of discomfort and chagrin at the realization that I cannot for the life of me recall putting them there.

I don’t doubt for an instant that it was me though.

It is a worrying thought that my heretofore prized memory has let me down so completely. I never lose things. Never. Or if I do misplace something the memory of where it is usually comes to me within a few days if I avoid thinking about it and just let it come in its own good time.

Not so this time. I’d been looking for the things for weeks. It was only by getting desperate and looking into every single box and bag, every nook and cranny that I found it. And even finding it didn’t jog my memory of actually putting it there.

Such a complete loss of memory is worrying. I’d even begun to wonder if maybe I’d lent the spurs to someone (unlikely) or even accidentally thrown them out in the post-Christmas sort-out (so unlikely as to be impossible). I’d really begun to doubt myself.

All I can think now is that the emotional trauma associated with the spurs and my granddad’s recent death somehow contrived to burn out a few brain cells. It was a one-off brought about by being in emotional extremis.

But in the meantime, just in case, I am going to start wearing a dog-tag with my name, home phone number and address on in case I am ever found wandering around a far-flung train station, drooling and looking confused.

Be careful next time you come across some unattended baggage – it might be me.


Friday, January 08, 2010

You Can Tell By The Way I Use My Walk

Despite the utter contempt for snow-worriers and ice-cowards exhibited in my previous post I must admit that conditions here in the UK are possibly a little worse than those I was so glibly making light of. There are talks nationally of fuel rationing and billions of pounds lost from the UK economy. Things are beginning to sound dire. Or rather, more dire. And even here in quiet old backwater Leamo we have the odd snow drift that occasionally reaches a height of 2 inches or more and the odd bush that has been felled by the sheer weight of snow upon it.

I’ve been trying to phone Ray Mears but he stopped taking my calls sometime before Christmas.

What is most noticeable though about this current instance of bad weather is the persistence of the white stuff. Over the last few years any snow that has fallen in these parts has disappeared again within 24 hours or so. Like it’s been a mere token gesture. A quick hello and then it’s gone.

Not so on this occasion. Three days later all the snow remains in full force and has slowly transformed itself into ice so hard and slippy I’m amazed I haven’t seen Dean dragging Torvill along the pavements by her frilly forearms.

Walking has suddenly become an extreme sport. It takes the utmost concentration to remain upright on one’s feet – let alone placing one foot in front of the other and perambulating normally.

Now, when I walk about town I am wont to plug myself into my MP3 player and lose myself in some bangin’ tunes, innit?

Because of the snow I find I am having to modify and adjust my normal playlist. Fast music, you see, makes me walk fast. It gets the old heart rate going and I end up scurrying around at supersonic speed.

Speed and ice do not mix. Not unless you can allow for a sudden and unexpected lowering of your eye-level to the pavement and a braking distance of 5 to 6 feet.

So I am having to select all the ballady, slower stuff so that my walking speed slips into a funereal march that ticks all the health and safety boxes for walking in hazardous conditions.

The droning tones of Leonard Cohen and David Sylvian have so far protected me from pratfalls and broken limbs of varying degrees of severity.

I ought to be grateful...

But the sublimated extreme sportsman in me is dying to load up a bit of Metallica and go for it.

I could probably take out half the population of Leamington if I pogoed properly.


Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Snow Day

Why, in the UK, does the snow take us by surprise every year?

We act like we have never seen the stuff before.

Ohmygod! Snow! On the ground. On the roads. Everywhere! White stuff! I can’t possibly travel in that. Our modern technology just cannot cope with it! We’re just not built to function in snow! Stop the country! Back to the caves!

A hundred years of industrial revolution grinds to a halt in the time it takes for some middle class office worker to pull back the curtains, see an inch of snow on his people carrier and decide that it is simply too difficult to attempt any kind of journey into work.

Scott of the Antarctic would throw his frozen shite at us in disgust. I bet Sir Ranulph Fiennes is out on his front lawn right now sunbathing and eating a Cornetto.

What utter wussies we are.

The entire country shuts up shop. It’s ridiculous. My wife has had to take an unpaid day off work today because all the bloody schools are closed.

There’s barely an inch of snow on the ground here in the Midlands! It’s nothing. Nothing at all. When I was a kid I can remember weeks and weeks of heavy snow in ‘81/’82 and having to walk to school in it every day. The staff all turned up for work. And so did most of the kids. The only time the school ever gave us a day off was when the boilers broke.

Nowadays everybody leaps onto the smallest snowflake as an excuse to take a day off. To have an impromptu holiday. No wonder this country is the poor old man of Europe. Where’s our hardy British spirit gone? Over the last few decades it’s been replaced with a whiny, wheedling, shirking tendency to try and wriggle out of any onerous responsibility or task that requires even the tiniest bit of hard work. Nowadays I suspect schools and businesses close merely to avoid the possibility of litigation should someone slip and smash their buttock on a kerbstone while trying to gain access to their premises.

It’s cowardly, lazy and a little bit tawdry.

The snow up North has been far worse and I bet there’s a fair few people there who will still struggle into work nonetheless.

From the Midlands down to the South though (maybe I’m wrong) the snowfall hasn’t been nearly as bad. It should be business as normal with the added novelty of some beautiful winter views to gawp at from our office windows.

Instead most people are at home watching telly or building snowmen in the garden.

I’m not. I’m at work.

Harrumph.

Pass me another turd, Scott old man, I’ve got the ballista working properly now.


Monday, January 04, 2010

When A Knight Lost His Spurs

I’m going to gloss over Christmas and the New Year. Not because they were especially bad (though circumstances could have been better) but because between illness and grieving I am just sick to death of harping on and on about my own misery and I really don’t want this blog to become my own personal version of the Jeremy Kyle Show*.

(*And, no, just for the record, I haven’t had a sex change operation, sold my liver to raise money to feed my crack addiction or produced 17 kids of wildly differing skin tone from a surprisingly restricted gene pool.)

Upon my grandfather’s death I inherited his medals and other war time paraphernalia. In themselves they are not of much monetary value but in terms of personal family history their significance is obviously immense.

Last year, at another funeral, I was given some other war time paraphernalia that used to belong to my grandfather’s brother – some cavalry spurs, a silver plated cigarette case and a pendant among the many treasures.

Naturally I’d now like to bring these two historical archives together in one place and create a source of family memorabilia that will be worthy of the name “heirloom”.

But do you think I can find the spurs and the cigarette case?

They have vanished.

Not. Not just vanished. That is way too passive. They are deliberately hiding from me; withholding evidence of their visual corporeality. I am convinced of this.

Normally I have a great memory. I can remember dates, times, appointments, things to do and things I have said. I can definitely remember where I have put things. Especially precious important things that need to be kept safe.

So why the hell can I not remember where I have stashed the spurs? It’s honestly like my memory has been wiped by rogue aliens with a penchant for bodily experimentation or I have been (without my conscious knowledge) recruited into the same American military camp that trained Jason Bourne. I have hazy recollections of storing them on a shelving unit and then moving them elsewhere at a later date where I thought they’d be safer.

But this safer place is now completely and absolutely unknown to me. That particular memory cell has ripped itself away from its fellows, climbed out of my ear and somehow abseiled into oblivion.

I have checked all the logical storage places.

Nothing.

I am now checking all the illogical storage places in sheer desperation... behind the cooker, the ice compartment in the fridge, underneath the rug in the front room...

Because I know they are in the house. I know it for a fact, for sure.

But yet they remain lost.

Completely lost. Lost in the last place that I put them.

My God, is this what dementia is like? You start hiding things from yourself, losing things simply because you cannot recall the original care you took to store them safely?

My God, is this the actual start of dementia?

*Sigh*

Happy New Year everyone. Whatever year it is.