Friday, September 24, 2010


Equinox winds and the first sighting of a proper turning - my next-but-one neighbour's giant ash tree going red. This tree has been the cause of some dispute between neighbours on either side of him because it blocks light from their gardens. Ash tree neighbour is a not man of many words but has made it clear that he won't cut it down. I am not affected but have sympathy for all parties. Last year we took down a fruiting cherry tree because it took light from neighbour's vegetable patch, and that was hard enough. To take down an ash tree of that size when you have lived with it for most of your life would be hard indeed, especially if you are a man of few words whose wife has left you and you are trying to hang on to the rhythm of life as you have always known it. From my window I see gnome-like creatures standing underneath the branches by a clump of bracken. They are actually Bill and Ben (the Flowerpot Men), with a representation of Little Weed in the middle. There is an absence of colour to them and their faces have a ghostly pallor.

A day of shivering, scooting out in the rain to get duvets from the launderette and so back to bed with Breath by Tim Winton, recommended by Ms Pants ages ago, it's as good as she said it would be and I am getting heady fixes of vicarious thrills. Joining a reading group turned out to be one of my better try-outs (unlike swimming, which flopped). Brain is getting the message that it can keep doing this. One has to keep testing the boundaries of what is possible.

Even so, I shiver, I ache. I sleep for an hour and feel worse. I get into the bath, which some people describe as Japanese because of its dimensions, being more of a tub that you can sit in with water coming up to your neck. It's there because the bathroom at Signs Cottage is so small but I like it more than conventional baths. Immersed in hot water, I still can't get warm. Equinox winds and the season's turning: I love autumn, but always forget how changing from one season to another takes it out of me. And last night I went to a poetry reading in Lewes which was good, but as soon as I arrived I knew I would need propping up with coffee, which I had plentifully with apple cake, but still I came home and slept like a stone.

A supper of fish and chips in town, followed by a trip to a strangely gutted Sainsbury's for coffee, cleaning materials and bin bags for the weekend ahead when the Signs children are coming to help excavate the loft and celebrate my birthday. Two episodes of Mad Men - our new boxed set thing, which I'm sure I wouldn't be enjoying as much as I do if I hadn't partly reacquired the novel-reading faculty. And then toast and marmite and two tubes of Mentos, fruit and mint. I am eating strangely at the moment, sometimes having Rich Tea biscuits in place of proper food, but seem none the worse for it and have unaccountably lost the pounds I put on in Berlin.

Daughter has promised a sea-food risotto tomorrow. I think Son is making sticky toffee pudding. Lovely.


Zhoen said...

Sad, that this is no room for trees and gardens too.

Hope you get warm.

Reading the Signs said...

Zhoen, well you see the thing about back gardens here is that they still think they are forest. So very many trees. But one still becomes attached to certain ones.

trousers said...

Wishes for warmth - or, indeed, warm wishes - from me too. Autumn is really getting into full swing now, isn't it?

That's So Pants said...

Hi Signs

Glad you're enjoying Breath. I re-read it myself a couple of weeks ago and a weekend visitor had it. They were doing it in their book group. Must be a buzz.

Trees! Mine keep conveniently dying so there isn't a lot of hand wringing here at Larrikin's End. I just saw them up for firewood. Maybe the neighbours with the restricted light could offer to pay for an arborist to come and cut the tree back a bit?



Reading the Signs said...

Pants, good to see you.

The arborist idea is a good one, but actually I think he is refusing even to have it cut back - and he's not the kind with whom one can negotiate. It's his tree, his bit of land etc. Clearly something will need to happen at some point.

Gael said...

Delighted you're managing to read more. I read Tim Winton's An Open Swimmer some time ago, thanks for prompting me to try him again

Reading the Signs said...

Gael - hi!

I would like to read more of him now - been given a Kindle for my birthday but for some reason they only stock Breath.