Christmas Morning

I love the quietness of Christmas morning, being up before everyone else, no real need to go anywhere.

It’s been many years since I worked in crisis intervention and was on 24 hour call out over the festive period – not so enjoyable, as families feel the pressure. It shouldn’t be like this, but it is.

It saddens me to witness homelessness and on such a scale, in Britain. Every year I ‘do something’, like many, during this time. It’s all too easy to become bereft of home and this shouldn’t be so in our modern, apparently wealthy nation.

We have spent too long squabbling over staying in Europe. Our politicians and media seem to take the p*ss out of all of us, the citizens. Surely this is what binds us together.

I am aware of the rifts in our society, growing deeper – this is how it is before conflict. A slow build-up, a cat amongst the pigeons, the devil that is the rise of the far right. Many refer to the 1930’s. There are similarities.

The difference that could be now is this: We are more aware. We have won many fights against transgressions on humanity. We have learnt the hard way.

We also know what needs to be done to take care of Mother Earth and all her little babies.

On the wall to my right is Desiderata. I read it this morning and reflect on my own confusion, anger, sense of injustice.

Then I pour another coffee.

Peace be with everyone.

Counting Butterflies – A Day Off

A longer weekend. We have rain after what seems to have been weeks of heat. In fact, it’s only been three, or was it four. I wonder if the grass will grow again, will it be green and long. No hose pipe bans here as yet. I remember the summer of ’95 and syphoning off bath water to feed the greenhouse then.

We grew all kinds of fruits in that little space. Cucumbers, loved by us and the slugs that found their way in. Peppers and tomatoes, turning from green to yellow and red, like traffic lights. An aubergine plant, a melon plant which broke through to the outside, reaching for the sky – no fruit though.

I grow nothing right now. But hope to again. Instead I go in search of good fruit. The local grocer has a decent variety as do the market stalls. The difference between a large lemon with  thick skin and a puny think-skinned one is all about aroma, flavour, longevity.

Aldi offers decent avocados, in a relaxing, meditative green that you’d want to dive in to. Piccolo tomatoes which smell as if they are straight from the soil. Clusters of beets, radishes, carrots, all bundled.

Shopping around pays, but it doesn’t have to cost the earth either.

I have gotten through a fair amount of writing in recent weeks and achieved quite a bit. There is now a brief hiatus as I wait for autumn to bring fresh results. September tends to bring change for me year on year.

As I go walkabout, it is more and more apparent to me what my life *should* be hereon in.

In the meantime, I have reading. Ivo Andric’s Bosnian Chronicle, Collected Fictions – Jorge Luis Borge and to finish Pullman’s latest La Belle Sauvage, which is delightful. Three more shorter novels on the side thereafter with cuisine themes, and a reserve at the library waits for me – George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo.

Someone once said all you need is a library and a garden and life’s just fine. Okay. I may have finally come to accept that. Except one needs yarns too.

Starting today for the next three weeks, Butterfly Conservation are asking us to count butterflies. Visit their website, download the app or chart. Spend 15 mins at a time counting. This can be done as often as you like over the next three weeks. I’ve noticed many butterflies recently in this hot summer, and bees. Just lovely, absolutely lovely.

Be like no other

As I was growing up, there was one thing my mother said to me repeatedly: Don’t be a sheep. Don’t be like everyone else. I think this stemmed mostly from her fear of my getting in with the wrong crowd and being scared of a liberal British society where it seemed to her, anything goes.

Lucky for her, that I was a precocious little goody-two-shoes who rarely strayed in to unknown waters. I too feared that liberal world. Observation was more my thing. Reading was too. But I’ve talked about the library and post office previously and their influences on me. The two Tolstoy novels in the house in Serbian and so on.

We live in precarious times during which many things are thrown at us through imagery, film, words – the media in general. Again, my mother would announce: Phantasmagoria! Propaganda! What to believe in all this information available to us. What is kept from us.

As for books. Follow your intuition I say. Just because something is up for a prize, recommended by a national paper, reviewed on a radio programme, doesn’t mean it’s for you. Do your own research. Find what you like. Read what you want. Sometimes you have to go to the ends of the earth for it. I do, especially for international literature – whether it’s in English or its mother tongue. Sift through the rubbish heap of information and source the one thing that speaks to you, that is true to you.
murakami