Tuesday, February 28, 2012


It is that time of year: Lent, and the almost beginning of Spring. The birds are singing more but from my perch in the Signs Cottage study, I don't see very much happening and something seems to be not quite right in the garden. It is the absence of apple tree, which fell down last year, having covered itself in a swansong of blossom and final burst of fruit before giving up the ghost. My eye still looks for it and comes up against the hollow-eyed falling-down shed at the bottom of the garden, and the tall fir tree in the garden opposite. Everything changes. This blog changes: first white, then black, now grey; and my posts are becoming less frequent. No apologies. It is very cringe-making when people apologise for not having blogged - as though one has been sitting up twiddling thumbs waiting for them to come back while they were away having a life. The blog itself, though, begins to feel like a friend that one has not been in touch with for a while. The longer one leaves it, the more difficult it becomes to re-establish contact until finally, I imagine, the relationship begins to pale and then becomes an erstwhile rather than a current one.

On Shrove Tuesday I decided to give up the internet for Lent. Then on Ash Wednesday I decided not to because a) it isn't as though I have a terrible internet habit that is interfering with the rest of my life and b) giving things up suddenly felt like a bad idea as health issues mean that I have enough restrictions in my life. My best Lent resolutions have in any case been to do with taking things on. One year I resolved to write a poem each day. I didn't keep the resolution, but many more poems were written during the period than if I hadn't made it. This year I will be writing in the notebook every day.

March will be full of good things in the way of daughter's plays being put on at various places in London (she is one of this year's Royal Court young writers), and also a musical directed by son. So there will be trips back and forth to the Smoke. If health and strength are gold coins, I will need to get a stash of them.



Zhoen said...

Always glad you read your posts. I agree, apologizing for infrequent blogging is just awful. Just do what you want to, and others will join in. Feeds for new posts smooth all that over.

Sorry about your tree. Planning to plant a new one?

Fire Bird said...

new growth, and a useful stash - i wish you. i love to hear about your creative offspring.

Reading the Signs said...

Zhoen, I would like to, but we have been told to wait a year or two before planting - ground needs time to readjust, apparently.

Fire Bird, thanks :) - being British and that, one always feels one shouldn't really bang on about these things. But offspring's creative projects are my only real reason for going to London these days!

belinda whitworth said...

Love your comment about blogging being like a friend and the longer one leaves it the more difficult it is to re-establish contact. So well put, as ever. Wish I could be one of those people who blog every day - but that might reveal rather too many secrets.

Reading the Signs said...

Belinda, Fire Bird did a blog post a day for a whole month - very short one-sentence ones :)

belinda whitworth said...

Yes, that could be interesting. Trying to work out how I could do it.

Anna MR said...

A wholly inappropriate (but very apt) wail: what the devil, Dickens, and other things beginning with D has blogger done to the comment pages? Gone, gone are the cosy tan walls wherein we used to roam, and speak, laze and gaze, in wide-eyed wonder, joy and glee (quite often, shamefully, over our own witty words, but even more often, in unadulterated delight over the beauty of interaction and the stimulation it doth provide one). I mean, really and seriously: wtf? Why are we suddenly within this white page here? Why did nobody ask us, before changing things so radically?

Wait. Perhaps they have asked us, and you've opted for this clinical whiteness? Surely not (goes to check if own comment pages are still untouched by this lunacy of modernity…)? (returns, in a state of some relief) No, mine look as this page does. Oh dear.

Ah well. We need to focus on the content, not the wallpaper, I presume - although I may just go and have a look (at some point, yes, no immediate racing around about to happen) at Settings and see if something (anything) can be done about all this.

Shut my face. Giving things up for Lent is all well and good - as you, beloved Schwesterlein, perhaps recall, I [have tried to] do this for a good few years now. This year is proving to be a bit of a failing, partially do to circumstances wholly out of my control (i.e. going to Italy, fair Florence, on holiday - unheard of practice in these parts, holidays abroad - during Lent and taking very decisive anti-Lent action whilst there). And in any case, I think your idea of picking things up for Lent is a way better one. Yes yes yes, self-denial is a healthy and good practice, and I'm not saying (necessarily anyway) that one should pick up bad habits for Lent (although why not, actually?) - just that in becoming a better person (whatever that is defined as being, it is surely a field in which I have a wide horizon and much work to be done, not speaking of your good self, Signsikins), perhaps doing things is more important than not doing things, on the whole? Like, "for Lent this year, I will give up swearing/animal products/coffee" is all well and good, but maybe something like "for Lent this year, I will take up contemplation on the fragility of people and how that results in the weaknesses we see in them, and shall, as a consequence, attempt to be more understanding and forgiving towards mankind, in a spirit of love and solidarity, and in the hope that this will in some small way make me a better (whilst humbler) person" has more, shall we say, practical applicability?

Go figure. This may also just be me trying to gloss over the fact that giving up coffee this Lent has proven to be an impossibility - I had already managed it (after three days of real fuck-off headachey caffeine-withdrawal) before Italy kicked in. The rest is history. I cannot stay awake in the afternoon hours without coffee, it seems (never mind the headache), and I've work to do and sleeping in the armchair at all hours doesn't really seem like a useful thing to pick up for Lent (nice as sleeping in the armchair at all hours tastes).

Also there may be a possibility that I'm just rambling on here because it's nice to ramble with thee, fair Signs, and also, because a ramble a day is useful both in putting off starting some new work and in getting that new work started (rambling doth stimulate the mind, don't you find?).

So in the light of all this, I return to my original points: the new look of the comment pages pleases me not. Your post(s) and company always do. I rest my case, Your Honour.


Montag said...

Last night was a full moon, so another full moon before Easter, but Spring is just around the corner.

You gave up the Internet on Shrove Tuesday?! Only to take it back up on Ash Wednesday?! How long did you intend to be internet-celibate? Until Laetare Sunday?! How about Maundy Thursday?!

Reading the Signs said...

Schwestah, listen up I have just checked over at yours and as far as I can see the situation is the same as here: everything as fallen into white, and it is as though the white witch of Narnia has cast her spell of eternal winter over all and everything. It is most horrible, as is the situation with the new word verification Daleks, who seem to have replaced the lovely, intuitive Leprechauns. They are also, I suspect, in the service of the white witch.

Have you taken up contemplation of the fragility of people for Lent? Never mind people in general, you can just contemplate me. I have a bad back and think this ought to give me as much license as I want to behave atrociously. Your Lentenly contemplation will ensure that my sins are all forgiven and that will work nicely for me, I think. So thanking you in advance for this.

Will you also for Lent please stop telling yourself to shut your face, especially when you are here. Because I, for one, do not desire this. It would, in fact, go against my wishes. And we can't have that!


Montag - a good Shabbas to you, my friend, what we have left of it. Well you see, it wasn't just a question of being weak-willed, but I really weighed up the pros and cons, and the cons came out heaviest on the side of carrying on with my not-so-bad habits and taking up something positive. As well as writing in the notebook, I am trying to be a nicer person. Impossible, you might say. But there is always room for improvement for mortals such as I, however near the angels we might feel ourselves to be.

Mim said...

On giving up, dear Signs: consider replacing whatever you give up with something delightfully fresh. Hardly a penance though, yet I like the idea!

Kahless said...

Hiya Signsie. Just passing through. I thought about giving something up for lent, then couldn't be bothered because I have been on a diet since new year and thought my abstinence was sufficient. Xxxx.

Fire Bird said...

guess you decided to after all - give up the internet that is. Look forward to hearing how that was...Easter approacheth apace!

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