Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Easing the Spring

I think it may be time to take stock. This is a euphemism but it’s the most I feel able to say right now – a clear indication that it’s time to shut up for a bit. Spring is certainly here when even the weather admits it and the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough. Well, it sings on the apple tree. It really does – my neighbour has taken up bird-listening and can identify one twitter from another. Even so, perversely perhaps, I feel inclined to go inside and shut the curtain. I speak in metaphor, you understand, for I do like being outside now and have no intention of shutting out the lovely light. Euphemisms and jaded metaphors from a Sign-reader who likes to call a spade a spade – yes, definitely time. I have, in any case, nothing to declare (apart from the fact that my nails have grown as I've stopped biting them and I went and had a manicure for the first time in my life, nothing special but now they are very shiny). And, you know, life and stuff.

But I have been working on poems and sent some off, and I am shortly to visit my friend, Ms Far North, in Scotland, where we will be doing and talking about The Writing because that’s what we love.

Be seeing you – if not sooner, then later. For, as my great-aunt Lina used to say: “Unkraut vergeht nicht” – I won’t bother to translate, everyone has Babelfish these days after all, but the gist of it is that weeds, like old soldiers, don’t die. So I'll be back.

Take care, y’all.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Salva Me

I wish the Guardian reviewers would stop being so accursedly snooty about The Doctor and simply accept that the majority of his devoted followers do not find it necessary to bring the usual critical appraisal to bear on these precious episodes. We are wide-eyed and receptive, all disbelief suspended for forty-five minutes; a bit of over-acting here and there, the odd creak in the plot, the fact that one assistant may be less to one’s liking than another – is not as important as the fact that he, the whole conception of him, is a Good Thing. For he brings us proper make-believe stories, battles that are lost and won, and he himself is a figure of immense tragedy; the last of his kind, a wanderer who has no place to lay his head who is dedicated to our salvation. I am missing an episode tonight because I am going to a friend’s birthday party, though I will be hanging around long enough to make sure the video has actually begun recording before I set off. The video, in common with other Signs household applicances, has a devilish tendency to malfunction just one when wants it most. Well, such is life in the twenty-first century if one is a mere mortal with only one heart and no sonic screwdriver, far less even a basic comprehension of elementary sciences.

This morning I was awoken by the voice of Mr. Signs asking me if I was ok. He had been downstairs to attend to the cat and found the little plastic carbon monoxide detector making a continuous beeping sound. He called the emergency gas services, switched everything off, opened the doors and came to check on me. The fact that I was tickety boo was a good indication that everything was probably ok, for I am litmus paper; when my colour turns from live to nothing it’s a sign that all is not healthy in the environment: carpet shops, for example, I cannot be inside for more than a few minutes – formaldehyde and such. I am a miner’s canary and when the music stops you know it’s time to get out. But I was in fact better than usual for having been sugar-free for a while. In the event there was nothing wrong: the carbon monoxide detector simply needed new batteries and had only one language for telling us that.

When the gas man had gone we had coffee, me forgetting that I’d been caffeine-free for some time. Afterwards I felt as though I’d taken amphetamines. I may have to reassess my whole relationship with the dark nectar. It has just occurred to me that if I chuck all my bad habits I’m in danger of becoming perfect – and that would be a kind of hubris. Gawd! The Doctor would understand.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Crystal Vision

I’ve been out on a wind-blown walk on the forest. That word will, for many, conjure up an image of trees but the forest here is made up of open heathland as well as woodland. I am lucky to live here, on the edge of England’s seemingly well-kept secret; on any day of the week, I could find beautiful places to walk and ramble (if I had the strength for it) for miles without coming across more than a handful of people. As they are almost on my doorstep, the forest and the heath, each spring finds me ready to make resolutions to walk every day. I can’t of course, but still I find it necessary to keep making resolutions – to state my intentions and wishes, as it were, to make a space for the possibility of some of them coming true. I have always believed in magic. A defence against unacceptable realities, perhaps, a survival strategy. Keeping a dream journal does after a while give me the sense of being on the edge of extraordinary possibilities – not that my dreams in themselves are particularly extraordinary (in fact it irritates me just a little that so much of them have - quelle surprise - endless sequences to do with food and the preparing of it. Last night it was cakes, I think). But the recording of them, the bringing of night-vision into day, has a way of changing the way you look at and remember things. The day’s events, mundane as they might be, become lit and pregnant with meaning. I think it was the Jungian analyst, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, who said that dreams are like coded messages. You don't read them in the ordinary way. I think too that the messages are like Matryoshka dolls - you open them and find another, and then another.

Of course it may be that I really am losing the last of my marbles. But anyone who says so is a mashed potato. Talking of which, I am not eating them right now; nor bread, rice and pasta or sugar and coffee. It does (I say this in a whisper) seem to have the effect of giving me just a little more strength. I know in any case, from experience, that separating starch and proteins is always better for me, less tiring. But still – in case it seems that I’m off into the blue with the sail set fair, well I’m not – just yet. But a friend with a definite tendency toward sign-reading said she looked at the ball of crystal (that one up there she photographed) and it told her things concerning me: much writing, on white paper, and laughter, and a lightness... and in believing this will all come true, I have nothing to lose but a few marbles that were never much use to me anyway. So I do.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Another View

Everything changes. This gives you an impression (the best I can do with phone camera), but you will see that the White Witch has retreated. For the record, I love snow and I love winter – in winter. Waking this morning to blue was good. The birds sounded different. Perhaps it is partly due to the fact that Son of Signs recovered, only just in time to feel it was ok to travel, and at this moment I love the fact of antibiotics and what can happen when the right ones are given at the proper time. So yesterday he flew to New York with his tribe of singers and phoned just before going into the subway, sounding fine.

And I am fine, and will be. No matter how improbable, it is important to hold that feeling when it comes, in spite of any evidence to the contrary, because it makes way for new things, new projects, new life – which is why spring is important, why I particularly need to see the evidence of it. A spot of spring cleaning is in order – not the house-scrubbing kind, but the chucking out of old habits in order to make new, useful ones that are all about doing the right thing at the proper time. To whit: I am going back to a food-combining regime that I know from experience is much less tiring for me; cigarettes I have completely chucked and sugar needs to go the same way (at least for a while) as it is out of control, ditto caffeine and, actually, ditto anything that feels like an unhealthy addiction (thank you for reading thus far and bear with me please I am prone to be changeable but am seizing the day).

And then what? The writing of course, always The Writing, which is wanting and deserving of my attention and care. So if I’m not here I will, if all goes to plan, be there – attending to it. I have Things to send off, and I plan to do that even though it’s a task I find strangely difficult. I would like to include a whole list of other good things involving physical activity, like taking regular walks, but am realistic. Even so, I might manage ten minutes today. And then the writing.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Out of Joint

This is how it looked earlier. Sky is chucking it down and everything is white. Old Mother Holle is shaking out the bedding - now, when “Aprille with his shoures soote the droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote.” Yeah, right. Don’t get me wrong, one appreciates the elements in all their manifestations and I am by no means wishing to hurtle into a long and remorselessly hot summer, nor has it passed me by that here in Blighty we don’t really have much of what you might call Spring these days. They don’t call me RTS for nothing, after all, no siree. I notice things. And one doesn’t like to grumble, but:

Son is still not well, and this after a clutch of doctors gung-hoeing that all would be well in this the best of all possible worlds, in time for his trip to the States on Tuesday; and a second course of (different) antibiotics because it was found on Friday (by an ENT specialist, at the eleventh hour) that he had tonsillitis and nasty things on the tonsils that were somehow missed by the health centre doctors; and he has been on mega-strength painkillers, and at time of posting is still needing them. He also has a quantity of naturopathic, homoeopathic and otherpathic remedies to help things along, but sometimes the body just needs time to recover and restore itself; which isn’t necessarily welcome news to someone wishing with all his heart to go off on a wonderful trip that has been planned and worked for (are you listening, Angels?) – ach!

Mr. Signs has been buying energy-saving lightbulbs. We have one at the top of the house casting a murky gloom on the postage stamp landing at the top of the stairs, and another in the kitchen, a bit brighter but still cold and desolate, like Narnia before the coming of Aslan. I love electric light and have always bragged about the fact that all my other Conditions notwithstanding I have never suffered the awfulness of S.A.D. But these new bulbs may change all. I am as keen to save the planet as the next chap, but I’m going to stock up on the old bulbs while they are still for sale. The world still needs a functioning Sign-reader, is what I will tell myself and anyone else who might want to talk about the weight of my carbon footprint.

But The Doctor is back, and not before time. For I love him. Well, not him exactly, but the idea of him – in all of his incarnations, and I have been there since the very beginning with William Hartnell and his child-assistant, Susan. Knee-high to a grasshopper though I was, I wished that it were me going off with him to travel in time and space in the blue telephone kiosk spaceship; and ever after, I have found the idea of staying put on planet earth a bit of a trial.

On the other hand, there are compensations. Speaking on the phone to Daughter today, she told me about the Sunday roast beef she and her flat-mate were planning to cook later on for themselves and others who were coming to eat with them, and her general cheerfulness about it seemed to suggest that this might be the very thing I needed to do in order to redeem the day a little. So I have been to the village Tesco Express and bought a joint of pork because that’s all there was. But it will do. Sufficient to the day the joint* thereof – and I don’t suppose you get much of that on the Tardis.

* it's at this point that the title of the post suggested itself to me, but I have always wanted to play Hamlet, as it happens.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

writing the dreams

Stressed of Signsville. Son of Signs has a bastard throat infection with ulcers thrown in for good measure. He is on antibiotics and gargles of every description and due shortly to go to the USA for a two-week singing tour with his group before returning to uni. Painkillers are having no effect and he suffers. It’s all looking a bit grim and I haven’t much else to say until it resolves, my psychic energies being directed to this end.

It is National Poetry Writing Month, NaPoWriMo for short (sounds a bit like a disease though). The idea is to write a poem a day for the whole of April. That’s thirty. Well I’ve missed the first two – other stuff to do, and I’ve only just emerged from Poetry Boot Camp for goodness sake. But I’ll be there, I’ll be there, I tell the angels. And make my son well, you hear me? The angels are (I have noticed this before) inscrutable.

I have, though, been given a notebook by a writing friend in London. It’s really a jotter, one of those pads you flip over and when you’ve covered all the pages on one side you turn it over and do all the pages on the other side. But it has an elastic strip holding the pages together when not being written on, and it has yellow-gold covers. I have it beside my bed and have resumed the practice of recording dreams, something I used to do but haven’t for years. The other thing I haven’t done for years is to write regularly in jotter-size notebooks. I buy those big bash-you-on-the-head A4 things. Very nice when you are up to your neck in NaNoWriMo, not to be confused with NaBloPoMo (both in November), but they are heavy, whereas my new little golden sweetheart is light and easy, will fit anywhere, take anything and give you a satisfying flip every minute or so as you cover the slim pages with words. Perfect for NaDreReMo. That’s National Dream Recording Month – I’ve just invented it so remember you heard it here first. I haven’t decided which month it should be yet, am still test-running the process. I will keep you informed.