Monday, January 14, 2008

another blue day

There was a poem by Thomas Carlyle that was forever being trotted out when I was at primary school. Actually, it was only the first two lines of the poem that were trotted out, usually in assembly while we were sitting cross-legged on the floor that served as hall, dining room and gym, by the headmaster, as part of a speech exhorting us to be good and useful citizens.

“So here hath been dawning another blue day;
Think, wilt thou let it slip useless away?”

I can still smell the cabbage that the dinner ladies were cooking up with dead man’s leg and frog spawn. That’s beef stew and tapioca, for those unfamiliar with school dinners of the 1960s. Yes, those were the days when cabbage had to be cooked until it was thoroughly denatured before it was deemed fit to serve up. I didn’t like cabbage, and I didn’t like that poem. My soul’s answer to the question, if I could have formulated one, would have been: yes, I might well let it slip away, and what’s it to you? The lines come back every so often to mock me, but I am a grown-up now and can do what I want. Not strictly true (see profile), but I can at least stick two fingers up at the Blue Day brigade, if there were any around, who want to tell me how useless I am being unless I am living life their way. They also serve who lie and stare at ceiling cracks. I mean to say.

I thank my lucky stars that I have never been one of those who suffer in the dark months because of lack of daylight. I meet many who do, in varying degrees; it must be horrible and thank goodness for light boxes. Quite often, in winter, on bad days when it takes a very long time for me to incarnate into the day, I don’t really see more than a couple of hours of real day light, which for me is ok. I like daylight, but electric light and candles are fine by me too. But this is the thing: I think the dark months, for me, are actually easier than summer because they seem to ask less of me. It is all very well slipping back under the quilt in the afternoon when it is already twilight, but the hours and hours of perfect daylight do, if I’m to be honest, screech the lines of Thomas Carlyle at me, and then I’m back with the cabbage and a vague, uneasy sense of having been guilty of waste and negligence.

It’s the same with weather. Though I do love a clear and sparkling day, I would rather it were a cold one that I can wrap up against, and I love the feeling in the air that real cold brings – the clean, pure sense of possibility and grace. When others are drinking in the heat and sun, I am sheltering from it, feeling myself to be the only one in the whole world who is not out partying on the beach.

Er – today I have been up for only a few hours, but the day was not blue. It has slipped rather, though. And Mr. Signs has been up with the light, battling it out, feeling knackered and post-viral. Not good. But he’ll be working from home for the rest of the week, and I’ll be seeing my LP person again tomorrow – having another stab at it.


Anonymous said...

It is definately a blue day today in my world -- Monday morning, mid January, no holidays pending, cold, overcast, snowing, a bad week at work brewing.

Oh my, I am even more blue now that I wrote all that. Prehaps I need to change my thinking for I do no want to "let it slip useless away."

Be well, dear Signs.

Reading the Signs said...

It's raining cats and dogs here, David - wind so strong the rain almost going sideways. Light the lights and drink cocoa, I think.

Also: perhaps you need to find a replacement for Mr. Moon - to bat the ball against the walls of your office. That would be useful!

NMJ said...

signs, you have taken me right back to the 60s/70s, where we had gym in the dining hall, we had to run around in our vests and pants - music and movement it was called - and the smell of cabbage was always hanging in the air.

if it's any consolation this will be my first day going out since friday!

Reading the Signs said...

My trip out was a bit of disaster, NMJ. Floods and squalls and then I got lost anyway and came back home - having driven for two hours. Ended up having a telephone appointment, which I should have arranged in the first place.

Kahless said...

Yes Signs, at least in winter it feels somewhat more acceptable to hibernate and lay low.
I must say it is rather too wet at the moment, but then again we rarely seem to get a dry summers day these days.

Reading the Signs said...

Having said this, I'm liking the bright day today. Greetings, Kahless.

trousers said...

I do see your reasoning as regards short winter days vs long summer ones. As a child I used to prefer winter - I know I've mentioned before about "proper" winter weather back then, but it was equally about being snug and cosy against the cold and dark, and also the magic of candles and lamps and the shadows they cast in the room.

Plus in winter I didn't have to wear shorts. I didn't like summer since I might have to forego my long trousers...

Reading the Signs said...

Hi Trousers,

Bring back proper winter weather, I say.

I think I can understand why summer was problematic, what with the business of the shorts...

Mellifluous Dark said...

Me, too! Me, too! Back at school in the 70s. I hated the school dinners, I remember the dinner lady telling me "I would die" if I didn't eat the lumpy frogspawn with splodge of jam that followed the gristly 'meat' and cabbage. Ugh, cabbage.

Yes, yes, Signs, I'm with you – I relish the end of summer when it is cold enough to need to wear a coat. Bliss. (I don't like it too cold though. Fussy, I know...)

Happy weekend, Signs.

Reading the Signs said...

Ah, the Dinner Ladies, Mel Darko - ubi sunt? Mine used to berate us for not thinking about all the hungry children in the world and when that didn't work, we'd be told "you'll sit and eat that cabbage if it's the last thing you do."