Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I was right then, after all. The bloke in the right first floor flat has moved out. I had my suspicions that he was on his way two months ago when assortments of people were looking out from the balcony & inspecting the outside store cupboard. Prospective tenants I thought to myself (those polite expressions of interest & private calculation).

I don't think we ever exchanged more than a few sentences in the three - maybe four? - years he's been there. Once, to warn him about some magpies that were flapping around his open terrace door; a couple of times, to ask him to turn down his music. Which is, I suppose, not unusual for this kind of short term tenancy. People come, people go. There's little intention of putting down roots & therefore why get to know anyone?

It's not as though I - we - will miss him. Rather, simply notice what isn't there any longer. The obsessive vacuuming (did he have a dust allergy?); the ginger cat that mewled through the balcony railings as if craving the gardens below; his plasma TV way out of proportion with the living room which made his flat an aquarium after dark; those summer afternoons & a girlfriend yodelling to climax; the can of lager & cigarette tanning sessions; the enormously dull & protracted conversations on the phone (seemingly oblivious that everyone could hear); the mini barbecue gift that never got used; the lovingly tended window boxes of flowers that were then abruptly left to wilt; the occasional friends who'd stand & smoke & joke & then disappear indoors ... & it remains a mystery (to me) what he did for a living. For long periods, it seemed, absolutely nothing as against irregular times of day there or not there. A private income? Nurse in a local hospital? Nightwatchman? Gigolo? Chef? Student? A secret packed up with the rest of his belongings.

So for now the flat stands empty. The door to the balcony firmly closed. & the ginger cat mewling at pastures new.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

This sentence from Mark Fisher's Capitalist Realism (page 69) jumps out:

"What agencies are capable of regulating and controlling impersonal structures?"

Not especially remarkable, I grant you, but the repercussions go far indeed.

Pause & look around you.

Not barking but laughing Pumpkin.

& what else to do with his brains than make a soup ...

... onion & pumpkin flesh & some pieces of sweet potato lightly fried with thyme & garlic. Added lentils & chicken stock. A dash of chilli to give it a bit of heat. It's bubbling away now.

Curious ... orange ... (in the Fall)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Sat in LPQ having a modest breakfast of half a baguette & pot of tea while catching up on the LRB. The three tributes to Karl Miller are as inspiring as they are moving.


Car back from its recall by Renault. It seems there was indeed a brake issue. (& ... fingers crossed ... I think they've solved the creak).


The routine clearing & sorting of books that have accumulated on the various shelves, surfaces & tables since the last holiday. How I - we - suffer from my piles. A happy find is Thomas A. Clark's Distance & Proximity which includes the wonderful In Praise of Walking. I'd been searching for that.


Add to the list:

Earl Grey tea in the tin; oranges; cardboard; & what might be a bonfire ...


5:40 pm & already the light fading.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

iii) chicken casserole wafting up the stairs (5:57pm)

(& yet not the onion I was slicing, nor the garlic I pushed through the press)

add to the list:

i) lemon
ii) toothpaste

can't yet get in focus that most intimate & reassuring of smells: the odour at the tip of my fingernails

(focus the nose?)

... I bought a painting* a few weeks ago & collected it on Friday. It hangs now to the right of our bed. On the other side is the collage I made a long time ago with the lines excerpted from the poem of O'Hara's ("well, I have my beautiful de Kooning/ to aspire to. I think it has an orange/ bed in it, more than the ear can hold.") The line breaks are true to the collage not the poem for any pedants out there.

I cannot afford a de Kooning & a Chardin is also beyond my means. However, walking into the gallery at the beginning of October this small square painting jumped out & I knew I had to have it. Why? For all the obvious & unobvious reasons why one is seduced by a work of art. Technically speaking this is not a painting of an orange but a St Nicolas mandarine (which is something to do with it). Turning 50 earlier in the year is another. As is the sense of autumn's approach & that glowing orange which will keep anyone warm through the dark months of winter.

A funny coincidence then, yesterday, to find slipped in the far left end of a low shelf at the Nijinksky secondhand bookshop this volume by Derek Jarman ...

... a series of short meditations on colour. It is exactly the kind of book I relish - part compendium, part journal, part essay. There's some deeply beautiful writing here & Jarman's evident sensibility as an artist is matched by considerable erudition. The circumstances in which it was written & compiled add to the sense of ephemeral pleasures (Jarman's health - including his eyesight - declining with each page "I wrote this book in an absence of time").

Maggie Nelson's Bluets is an obvious sister volume - did she, I wonder, know of Chroma? But this is not meant to diminish her work - only extend the enjoyment of such explorations - in the Bachelardian sense, Poetics of Colour.

& so I suppose another reason why we buy paintings - a knowingly fond belief that it might be possible to trap & enjoy colour while Time & chemistry & optics snigger at our presumption.



* by the local Belgian painter Mathieu Weemaels

So utterly fed up with a constantly streaming nose & hacking cough I bow to the inevitable & go to see the doctor.

She gives me a right telling off it being (I am ashamed to acknowledge) 3 years since we last met. Did I realise that I am now classified as an 'antique'? The manner was jolly but her point struck home.

Rather than crack open the leeches she prefers the more modern Dracula method & so there'll be the inevitable blood test which I know already will reveal higher than acceptable cholesterol levels & no doubt some other lurking horrors. However, as I explained to her, I am loathe to become a walking pill box.

What has, though, given me a jolt was the discovery that'd I'd lost my sense of smell. Monday afternoon I bought a nose spray from the chemist & gave my sinuses a quick blast up both barrels & enjoyed a few hours of unimpeded breathing. Since then things have, if anything, been worse & ... a sudden drop out of odours. Autumn has wilted to mere sound & vision. In desperation I have gone around the house sticking my nose into various reliable smell sources - tube of savlon (nothing), jar of coffee & Earl Grey tea tin (faint aroma), bar of soap (vaguely), bottle of bleach (strangely no). At the bread shop just a feeble whiff of newly baked bread .... I have never in my life so missed smells or realised how much they matter & make my world. Fingers crossed & this is but a temporary state of affairs. If not ... what a horrible prospect.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Renault Clio IV (TCe Expression) update ...

... I have just been sent a recorded delivery letter from Renault boasting of their serious concern about their cars and customer satisfaction. I am requested to make an appointment with my garage to carry out a check on the brakes (presumably some problem has been reported).

Despite the many complaints made on the various forums, there is no mention of the infamous wind noise issue.

While I am at it, over the past few weeks, the irritating 'click' sound (originating somewhere near to the back window) has mutated into a creaky sound at various places along the right hand side (passenger side as this is left-hand drive). I have a definite sense that the right rear of the car was not very well finished.

Anyway, I will make the appointment & pass on these gripes expecting to be told - as before - that this is 'normal' (but abnormal) for the model.

This aside, it's a good car & I have to admit that the quietness of the engine probably throws cabin noise into sharper relief. Pity, though, that Renault build & service is not up to its design concept.

(This post is directed particularly at my Portuguese reader).

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Apologies for the hiatus but things have been unusually busy - & enjoyable. The days positively fly by.

Less jolly has been a seemingly perpetual cold since the beginning of September (thick chesty cough, catarrh) & yet nothing sufficient to force a day in bed. Not even the feeling of being 'under the weather' simply 'I wish this would go away'.

The pool has now been closed for over a month but I've been walking every day - 30 mins the minimum up to 2 hours or more. Sunday morning in the woods at 8am I stood transfixed by the sunlight coming up from behind the trees - the light falling upon the wooden gate, fence struts & the under side of leaves. A moment that then suffused the rest of the day. Reason, then, to put on the boots & head out.

Tune in next time for updates on the reading & ear food.

. Driving into work the other morning with 'Village of the Sun' playing & humming & drumming along  & think...