Saturday, 8 November 2008

Idleness 101

The sky is a broken dance of sun, blue and creeping dark clouds. I watch the grey bellies of the rain clouds skulk along the horizon and I yearn for the metallic whiff of snow.

The window is open and the last of the incense is burning, smoke born as a soft upward arrow. I watch it until forgives itself and begins to curl, disappearing in the light stir of the air.

It is one of those indecisive days when I can’t settle on which CD to play or what book to read, when to do the dishes, what to plan for dinner. I could go outside, wander the streets until I found some high stone close that drips with shadows and makes me think of Charles Dickens and please sir can I have some more. But venturing beyond my door would mean seeing, dodging and perhaps even speaking to people.

So instead I sit on my blue couch, which is now covered in an Indian blanket of bruised red and hand stitched beauty. Around me are three red pillows, one black, and the following books: Business Plans for Dummies, Marketing Kit for Dummies, Spells and Enchantment: The Wondrous Fairy Tales of Western Culture, The Peregrine by J. A. Baker, and The Ode Less Travelled by Stephen Fry. Five more books lie scattered on the table and floor: Short stories in German - parallel text, The Writer’ and Artists’ Yearbook 2009, a book about the Edinburgh Tattoo written by Roddy Martine, Cherry by Mary Karr and A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon. Beside the floor-strewn books lies a notepad on which I have scratched various pod cast show ideas, such as Lone Piper; Drums!; Celtic Traditions; Brass bands; and Bagpipe History. My head set lies like a mangled insect, the antennae-like moveable microphone pointing askew, while the trail of crumpled legs sprawls in the form of a thin, knotted cable.

I am fresh from the shower and clad in my usual long black skirt, black shirt and comfy, giant beige cardigan. My right foot is tucked underneath my left knee, which is how I often sit, despite knowing it is not good for my ankle or my posture. I am barefoot, and the heels of both my feet are cold but the toes are still maintaining their tiny pulse of warmth.

I forgot about Shaun the Sheep. This is a toy John gave to me. This bewildered looking lamb from Wallace and Gromit cartoons, baas when I push his nose and conducts his trademark shiver when I pull the cord that is also his tail. His home is on the back of the sofa and he is currently collapsed onto his side, two legs sticking up along the wall. Directly in front of his nose: a role of tape.

Back to the books. Since I am desperately boring and refuse to force myself to be anything greater than a lazy, pleasure loving book worm, I shall use the imaginations of some of these others to perk up my stale ramblings. A line or short burst here or there should do it.

Opening to a random page from The Peregrine:
“October 14. One of those rare autumn days; calm under high cloud, mild, with patches of distant sunlight circling round the rafters of blue sky crumbling into mist. Elms and oaks still green, but some now scorched with gold. A few leaves falling. Choking smoke from stubble burning.”

From Business Plans for Dummies:
“Ambitious goals motivate; impossible goals only discourage.”

From “The White Bull” by Voltaire
“The good old man Mambres made more reflections than ever. He saw very plainly that the malicious raven had told all to the king and that the princess ran a great risk of being beheaded.”

From Marketing Kit for Dummies;
“Which works better, an argument-based communication or a dramatic one? There is no hard and fast rule. Sometimes one approach works better, and sometimes the other one does, So considering both options as you are develop and test different versions of an ad is always wise.”

From An Ode Less Travelled:
“Should you use a rhyming dictionary? I must confess that I do, but only as a last resort. They can be frustrating and cumbersome, they can break concentration, they offer no help with assonance or consonance rhymes and are too crammed with irrelevant words like multicollinearity and cordwainer and eutectic (something to do with melting points apparently) or types of Malayan cheese and Albanian nose-flutes which are never going to be the least use to one’s poetry.”

From A Spot of Bother:
“George didn’t talk about her family, or the books she was reading, or whether they should get a new sofa. But for the rest of the evening he wanted to know what she thought about tall these things. When he finally fell asleep it was probably due to exhaustion. He hadn’t sustained a conversation this long in twenty years.”

Opening paragraph from Cherry:
“No road offers more mystery than that first one you mount from the town you were born to, the first time you mount it of your own volition, on a trip funded by your own coffee tin of wrinkled up dollars-bills you’ve saved and scrounged for, worked the all-night switchboard for, missed the Rolling Stones for, sold fragrant pot with smashed flowers going brown inside twist-tie plastic baggies for. In fact, to disembark from your origins, you’ve done everything you can think to scrounge money save selling your spanking young pussy.”

From The Edinburgh Tattoo by Roddy Martine:
“The following year the military bands of the 1st Royal Scots and 1st Cameronians played in Princes Street Gardens and on the Castle Esplanade on alternate evenings. There were displays of drill, Highland dancing and a thirty-twosome reel was danced. On one occasion, on of the Highland dancers from the Royal Scots danced himself off the platform raised several feet above the ground. He was unhurt, but was banished the next day to join the 2nd Battalion stationed in Trieste.”

From "Lascia," by Judith Hermann:
"Die Luft schien sehr rein und klar gewesen zu sein, daran erinnerte ich mich. Ich konnte nicht sehen, woher das Wasser kam."
("The air seemed to be clean and clear, that much I remembered. I could not see where the water was coming from.")

From Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook 2009:
“Lastly, you have to believe passionately in your work and genuinely want everyone to read it. Don’t write just because you have been asked to - wait until you have something to say. Enough trees have been destroyed for our trade as it is. If you are passionate about what you write and your work makes a genuine and positive contribution your readers will sell your books for you. And it’s true- with a lot of help from you- that ultimately it’s still word of mouth that will sell your books.” (Isabel Losada)
The cold has now crept down into the very tips of my toes, and so it is time to haul out the monster slippers and make a cup of tea. I can see through the curtains that the sun has ceased its straining and the clouds have wrapped up the world in time for the descent into darkness.

Have we had fun today on this slothful Saturday afternoon? Mmmmmm…big stretch. Yes.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jacqui L said...

Forgive me, I failed to notice your "idleness" posts. I'm a bit shattered just now and I'm about to go to bed but I will definitely read the idleness posts tomorrow. Caught a quick glimpse of the one that mentions the Rolling Stones and I like what I see!

Jacqui L said...

I definitely like the quote from "Cherry" and that from the "Writers and Artists Yearbook" - I'm going to seek out some of your work though!