Monday, July 2, 2007

Message in a Bottle

The situation is this: I am, post-shingles, or very nearly, rather more debilitated than usual. To re-iterate my idea of chronic illness being like living in another country, I have moved further abroad. I am trying not to let it feel like exile but, let me put it this way – you don’t want to come here, really. Let’s imagine I am here so you don’t have to be. Anything you want to know, I’ll tell you, I can still write – a bit. Short sentences, and if I suddenly trail off in mid sentence or thought, you will understand. So, no, don’t come here: there’s no night-life, not much day-life either, and you can’t move around much. The food’s rubbish, just marmite sandwiches (ok, and fruit), and whatever else is around, you won’t fancy it. Books, yes, but you won’t be able to read them for more than ten minutes at a stretch. Friends are those dots on the horizon that wave to you and shout things like hope you’re better soon. In reply you are allowed to send them smoke signals. I saw one today in the doctor’s waiting room and ignored her in case I ran out of steam mid-conversation. However one explains, it always makes a bad impression.

It’s not so bad once you get used to the light. You have to get new spectacles, obviously, to carry on reading the signs and see what’s around. My neighbour’s tree is full of small cherries. My apple tree already heavy with fruit. I hear the floods have been very bad. News reaches me.


Anna MR said...

Hugs and marmite sarnies coming up, Signs....and I can read aloud for you, if you like that sort of thing.

Anonymous said...

I am selling fruit in a small stand on a very small avenue, around the corner. I have apples, and oranges and the juiciest things to sell. I do not sell a great deal of fruit each, just enough to get, to feed my wife and children.

Sometimes I give things away, to the widow or the old man who lives upstairs. My fingers are dirty, my muscles ache. When a customer ventures my way, I try to make small talk, but my command of the language is not very good. I am self-conscious of my smile but sometimes I forget and smile anyway.

I send a smile your way.

Reading the Signs said...

Anna, my dear, I do indeed like that sort of thing. As it happens, I have made do with Philip Pullman reading Northern Lights (which I have read, but a few years back to my children). I sometimes listen to Swedish radio, though I understand nothing, because I like the sound.

goodthomas how lovely to see and hear you, both of which I do quite clearly. How come you to such a pass? But no matter, I will buy from your stall and yours only and the fruit will be good - the best. Your language, I'm sure I would know it -

Anna MR said...

I can read for you in Swedish, if you like that sort of thing - I speak it quite fluently.

cusp said...

Hello. I'm waving frantically. Can you see me over here ? Clean your specs dear.

Glad you're up and 'running'/hobbling. Th'ole shingles does take a while to get over. Who'd have thought a disease with such a yuletide ring about it would be so nasty.

Know what you mean about foreign radio stations. I do the same with Dutch stations and French, though I undersatnd bits of the latter.

I shall leave you on peace and hope that all the nice fruit and soothing reading helps you feel better.

Big hug ;-)

Reading the Signs said...

Ahoy there, cusp, o seasoned traveller of the unpredictable waves. I must tell you, but keep it to yourself, that I'm not just on bread and fruit. Had a wopping great plate of couscous and veg with harissa last night - followed by sorbet and chocolate.

Anna, you are telling me you are tri-lingual? I love the sound of Swedish, but then I might love the sound of Finnish too - I have hardly ever heard it.

NMJ said...

hey signs, ach, what can i say, just hope the post-shingles state fucks off soon


Reading the Signs said...

nmj, thanks, I do love that word "ach" - in scottish or german.

NMJ said...

I know, Signs, amazing how often one uses it...

Anna MR said...

Signsikins, I don't call myself trilingual - my Swedish is good but nowhere near native tongue level, which I think you have to be to call yourself n-lingual. Only two native tongues with me.

Here I am, blethering away, when I should be letting you get some rest. now. Du måste vila nu, Signs, så att du ska må bättre saknar dej.

Reading the Signs said...

I heard that. I heard that. Ach! (as they say in Scotland, Germany, Russia and probably Finland and Sweden too).

the song is called leather whip said...

Here in Finland, dear you, we say it softer: ah.

Ah, Signs, koetahan levätä nyt että paranet pian, eikö niin? Meillä on sinua ikävä...

(Do click on my signature page link, Signs, if you haven't heard much Finnish yet.)

Reading the Signs said...

What are they on? For whatever it is, I want some. Or perhaps all I need to do is learn how to sing in Finnish - and the clothes, my dear! Retro hippy chic, if ever there was.

Anna MR said...

On, my dear - on? What can you possibly mean?

That's what Finnish women are like.

Word (as you know who would say).

(word ver eswtjxm - today is the day of Very Difficult Word Ver's, I have noted this)

(that was effort 1 - effort 2 was no easier at ensguatm)

Anna MR said...

Alright - just had to come back and tell you this one is scheis.

No, really.


Reading the Signs said...

Yes, because this word ver thing is complete and utter scheis - no wonder people are scared to come and comment. And I thought it was just my incredible charisma.

I salute your persistence, Anna, I really do.

And that goes for anyone else who might have braved the word ver trial to comment on my humble blog.


BXCXYP - I'm not scared to comment, Signs, but too many more of those as word verifications and that may just change.

Now, are you really as down as you seem to be in this post, or is this merely a cunning ruse to get troublingly attractive people all concerned for your wellbeing? (and for once, I'm not just talking about myself - although I remain distractingly gorgeous, of course)

The notion of moving "further abroad" is rather a powerful one, Signs. Forced, against your will, to live in a place you'd rather not be - that's desperately unjust. Following on from the original "displacement" endured as a result of M.E., well, it's doubly unjust with buttons, really.

Home - that is you, how you'd like to be, a place remembered if hard to imagine - must seem horribly far away at times, I would guess. It is heartening, though, that this weird form of exile - and I know you tried to avoid using the word - doesn't necessarily have to mean total isolation, too. The briefest glance at your lovely visitors should let you know this fact in a trice. (sometimes it's beautiful out in space)

Okay, I'll stop before I mention the Finnish song and spoil things.

Kind regards and good things with a bow attached,


By the way, that Finnish song was weird - it just was, sorry Anna MR. Finnish women are to be feared, if I am any judge of these things. And I am. (Signs, you know I'm right)

Reading the Signs said...

Now Mr. distractingly gorgeous TPE, I am not a cynical manipulator, nor did I realise until after I'd posted this how exquisitely miserable it does sound. But you know I sort of think that life in all its manifestations is to be enjoyed, would go so far as to say I almost see this as a duty. So if miserable is what I happen to be then I'll do my level best to be it to the best of my ability. And I am, as you'll have to admit, pretty good at it. The other thing is that it is possible to be quite abjectly miserable in body and soul and really quite transcendently serene in spirits. Ignore the last part of that, I was just miserable, but in a defiantly 'telling it like it is' kind of a way rather than a 'piss off world, I hate myself and everyone else' kind of way. It must be said, though, that the messages from these lovely people was good tonic - warm-heartedness succeeds where much else fails, I find. I have probably said this before.

Just to explain a bit about the being abroad idea: 'tis stolen in part from the beginning of The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley ("The past is another country, they do things differently there"). That kind of idea, illness being the other country in this case. A sense of alienation: perfect, you might say, for a writer. If only she can get the strength to keep writing.

In my next incarnation I want to come back as a Finnish folk singer.

yzboie - take it easy, boy, eh? (you have to be inventive about these word ver things - don't let them get the upper hand.)

ok, second attempt: ykdeyi - fed up with it now.

in defence of Finnish women said...

Excuse me a moment, beloved Signsy Kolmio, if I just talk off-topic a second - we (Finnish women) are weird and to be feared, of course, esteemed TPE. But our hearts are in the right place.

(In the my supreme pleasedness (and yes, I cannot help but name-drop this), they did use my shots in the video. Around the 2:50 mark.)

(beczbui vaguely East European-sounding name for Beelsebub. Signs, you have been here while I've been diddling with my comment - do you have to word ver for your own site?! That seems a bit extreme.)

Reading the Signs said...

excuse me ms In Defence (defence?) - to what shots do you refer? Were you the one filming this? Explain please, I don't understand.

yes, I do have the damn ver thing when I haven't bothered to log in properly.

Which is why I have to deal with things like "drfkwa" - which really I could do without.

I the Princeling said...

Nooooo, Signs, I don't know my arse from my elbow with shooting film. They got in touch and asked to use my Flickr stills from the candle vigil in memory of A.P. in the making of the video. I said yes of course and had forgotten to check anywhere whether they had indeed been used. Just came across the video now when I was trying to find something where Finnish women were being beautiful and gentle and generally un-scary, to counter TPE's claims (don't tell him, but this was as close to anything I could find, so he may have a point).

So my stills in the signature page here...

(ajougy - I don't know what it is, but the word itself is good, and we should keep hold of it in case it comes in handy at some point)

Reading the Signs said...

Thanks for the links, Princeling

Anna MR said...

Dammit, I can see myself getting annoying with this, but just have to tell you the word ver here is stoii - Russian for "stop".

Hope you're feeling better, bottled Signs.


I recognised an image from your Flickr page when I saw it in the film, immaculate Anna MR, and was going to tell Signs - but then my mind went temporarily ajougy and I forgot to do so. It happens.

Hey - maybe being feared and weird are good things to be? No need to spring to the defence of Finnish (weirdy) women, surely, because these are qualities to be admired. Especially the weirdness.

Signs - she's clearly loopy, mind how you go. Yes, I think you maybe have mentioned before that warm-heartedness succeeds where much else fails. It bears repeating, though, doesn't it? Funny how people can sometimes seem to forget this so easily.

it is possible to be quite abjectly miserable in body and soul and really quite transcendently serene in spirits.....

That is definitely the case, Signs - well said. It is also true, however, that it is perfectly possible to be serenely well in body and soul whilst abjectly miserable in spirits.

Your way, perhaps, is the preferred option? - allowing, as it does, for a sense of the bigger picture, a refusal to be bullied out of serenity towards blackness by mere and transient physical matters.

The other way - perfect health, abject spirits - doesn't really allow for a great deal more than misery. I'm guessing, of course.

Then again, if misery (as part of life) is to be excelled at and enjoyed - then maybe it is as well not to have the distracting presence of serenity upsetting the miserable applecart. Pure and undiluted misery allows for a greater appreciation, certainly, of the very real state of pure and undiluted miserableness. It's a win-win situation, Signs, that just happens to feel like a loss.

I think you are probably pretty brilliant at most things, you know, but I'm not sure you are as good at being miserable as you make out. Real misery, effective misery, Signs, usually drags other people down with it. You singularly failed to do such a thing in this "exquisitely miserable" post of yours. Shame on you. Try harder.

Well yes, I could see that the illness is abroad, the other country, your state of exile, if you like. And that's maybe bad enough. But, having found yourself in exile, in the weakened position of a refugee, the shingles came along like a trumped up charge concocted by the crooked authorities and sent you unfairly to jail. Not only that, but the guards stole your pencils. Or something.

But yes, still, whatever - go easy on yourself, please. No-one can be properly expected to write prolifically under such circumstances. Take your time, take it easy, and do please strive harder for misery. Don't force me to show you how it's done.

Good things to you and to Anna the Magnificent,


LEBAZ - The French blinked first, followed by extremist letters.

I'm sort of hoping you do cryptic crosswords, Signs, or this word verification interpretation of mine may leave me looking even weirder than normal. You did say I should be inventive, though.

Reading the Signs said...

Hello and hei, sweet ladies and gentlemen. How can I be properly down and miserable in such fine company, I ask you. But one does one's best, Mr. Englishman.

For starters - Anna, I am feeling absolutely scheis this weekend. Everything hurts so as to punish me for going to Brighton and doing a couple of normal person's things, and I am spacing out on drugs to get me through. But am I miserable? Well yes and no. Yes, because of no real progress with writing, but no because a) I am taking Bach flower remedy prepared by the wonderful Jan de Vries (equilibrium for only £6 a bottle, can't complain) and b) all is at time of writing well with kids and Mr. S. (unless you count watching too much tennis an an affliction) - and it's actually quite hard to be really miserable when all is well with those three. I should go and touch wood now, immediately.

Genuine weirdness is a fine thing, don't you think, Mr. TPE? But it's a bit like that "I'm mad, I am" thing. The people who say they are usually aren't. I think we might have the real article here though. Put it this way, I have not yet been disappointed.

ajougy to you both.

Princeling Clearly Loopy said...

Hei Signs my dear, I was worried that you'd had a hard time getting over Brighton. Glad to hear Mr Bach is helping you, though, and also glad to know all is well with the offspring and Mr S (too much tennis is a recognised illness, but maybe his will pass with Wimbledon passing - it is that time of the year, isn't it?).

And hello to you too, Prince TPE of LeBaz (yes, I liked that a lot). I was secretly really chuffed you'd recognised some of my piccies even before I mentioned it, but shan't say anything about it so as not to sound big-headed or anything.

Listen, you two, you both sound like you could do with a bit of pain-relief assistance. I give an exceedingly good neck-and-shoulders massage - years of playing the piano left me, sadly, with rudimentary skills only, but with very strong fingers and hands. This my skill is at your disposal. Failing that, one more video from those mad hatters Värttinä - in the song, an old dude gets bitten by a snake, so he chants both the poison out of himself and the snake to fuck off (x-ratings upped, Signs my dear), taking the pain with him. I suggest you both put all your pains and woes into the snake, because the girl singing does see it off quite spectacularly (you'll notice anyway, but just telling you it's at the 3:30 mark or thereabouts).

lvnubn - loving you, both nutters

Ajougy for now



Ajougy, hello and hei. Well, I don't know about Signs, Anna MR, but that sounds like a very good offer to me. I'm not saying that the song you brought with you this time didn't help, just that this other plan sounds preferable.

Glad you liked the cryptic crossword clue (spoiled only, I suppose, by the fact that the answer - LEBAZ - isn't actually a word and was already visible as the answer. But still. As long as Signs has troubling word verification thingies popping up, that's all I've got to work with.)

Anyway, a massage sounds lovely, thank you. And maybe you could play us (I'm including you in this, Signs, whether you like it or not) something on the piano, too, as we lie slumped at your disposal, between massages.

Thank goodness for you, Anna MR.


(Signs - yes, re genuine weirdness thing. Beware false weirdies, for they are merely cards.)

Reading the Signs said...

Right, Princeling CL, now you simply cannot tell me that these women are not on something. I want some of that, whatever it is. If all Finnish women are like this, then your restraint here is commendable. I also want to be platinum blonde.

(Anyone looking in who doesn't know what I'm talking about, press the Princeling's link. Be afraid, be very afraid.)

As I said, I want some of that - and I will require the massage, thank you. And, if I read Mr. TPE correctly he wants the same - though perhaps not to be platinum blonde.

dnikuurx - Finnish for the black arts.


Anna MR said...

Right then - good morning, the pair of you, as it still is morning for you there. I am flexing both my fingers and my chanting powers here, and my best pain relief is coming your way as we speak. Although, Prince LeBaz, I fear you may be disappointed with my pianist's skills, so I'll leave that as an optional extra, only to be used if you really are quite slumped.

Signs, my love, to my understanding these women are - at least in a performance situation - only on stage adrenalin and the power of ethnochant. Both fine things for getting you out of your tree, of course. Especially with a bit of natural ajougy thrown in, for good measure.

(Being platinum blonde is not something I yearn for - I did try it once, for a year - it looked TERRIBLE. I am of the dark and slanty-eyed Sami-Slavic Karelian Finnish stock, not the blue-eyed blonde southwestern Finnish Scandinavian lot. And Karelia is where the real magic is anyway.)

uwlyopys - unworldly old pain yanking system. Coming to you both, soon.


Anna MR said...

They always send the really good ones afterwards, to make me comment twice and show what an utter word-weirdo I am. But look - aggrnxe - it is irresistible, isn't it?