Tuesday, January 26, 2010

getting my oats

Still on the subject of porridge, it having been Burns night and all: we went to our neighbours-over-the-road for the annual haggis-stabbing and a bit of song and dance. Mr. Signs, who is tone deaf, sang his Burns party piece (The Belles of Mauchline) to my guitar accompaniment, Scottish host sang a reggae version of Scots Wha Hae and a lesser-known version of Auld Lang Syne, I sang May You Never (after John Martyn) neighbour-next-door got six of us (though I chickened out half way through) to do a circle dance, following a whisky-tasting session. We ate two different kinds of haggis with neeps and mash, followed by three different kinds of pudding. On the morning of that day I had porridge for breakfast, there was oatmeal in the haggis and in one of the puddings. You could say that I was oatmealed and porridged out, but I have never worried about getting too much of a good thing.
I was too ill to write much last week, but did some editing on a couple of short stories and sent them off, and today went back to the lovely notebook, my big story still warm and waiting for me.
Here's the actual John with the actual song. I can never get too much of this either.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Doing Porridge

No news is perhaps good news because it means I'm doing The Writing. There was Christmas, the befores and afters of which seem to go on longer than in days of yore, not entirely sure why that is, the shopping thing hasn't got any worse than it was. I am ambivalent about the whole thing. What I like: tree, holy nights, cards, connections, mulling, carols. Don't like: shopping, waste, stuffed-up fridge, getting fat. So basically there's more to like than not, but some of what I like - seeing people, fitting that in over the Season, as though the world might end after epiphany - leaves me well into the red, vitalitywise. I begin to feel like one of those wraiths from Lord of the Rings, all gone on the inside (but without the malevolence, obviously). All gone on the inside and fat on the outside. Not a good way to be. So I have taken up eating porridge. I recently discovered how to make it properly and it is my new best friend, except that I like it with cream and muscovado sugar or maple syrup. Never mind, I am on the right road, and porridge is part of my new year's new regime, to which I have given the working title of How To Get Out Of Bed.

1. Wake up. By ordinary standards, late - can't be helped, c'est la vie M.E. - but whenever that is, imagine Gustav Holst's Planets playing as I rise to the new day, even if it is close to mid-day.

2. Eat porridge. Do not smoke a cigarette (especially when this packet of Golden Virginia is finished - a small seasonal blip). Have coffee, but only if immediately progressing to stage 3.

3. Write. Do not switch on computer, and do not get dressed. This is important, getting dressed plus ablutions, will stall me. Go straight to soft brown Moleskine Cahier and pick up Papermate Flexigrip ballpoint.

And so on. You are thinking, probably, that this must be some kind of Shangri-la existence I have here, but bear in mind that these three activities (waking up counts as one) might be the most I can reasonably expect of myself in one day and I haven't even touched on the other stuff of daily life, the duties and the pleasures thereof, all requiring energy - inner substance. I also want to

4. Read. At the moment I have Elegy for Easterly by Petina Gappah for my book group next week, Kay Syrad's The Milliner and the Phrenologist and Herta Mueller's The Appointment on the go. And poetry: John Burnside's The Hunt in the Forest. Not to mention this quarter's Granta. I've only read the first Petina Gappah stories and don't yet feel as blown away as I might have expected, but this may change. The rest of my list - good, good stuff, is as much a review as I can give in the circumstances, and they are all waiting to be finished. As time goes on, I find reading more difficult than writing, this not helped by failing eyesight (eye test scheduled) but mostly not helped by ongoing neurological crappiness. By the time I get to the newspapers, if I get to them, I am tearing through them, trying to get stuff, take something in, before the curfew.

The snow was intense here, being in the south east, our road quite impossible, Mr. S trudged into the village for newspaper and bread, but mainly we managed with what we had. Too feeble to venture out in it much, my life was not particularly disrupted, and the view from the windows was pretty. Milder weather, however, might mean that I can

5. Walk. Keep one foot moving in front of the other.