I took this afternoon off to have a walk with Badger at Tyninghame beach. East Lothian has some beautiful coastline. It was a cold, clear, winter day. Badger was run off his legs – he loved it.
My oldest son has decided to crop the hair short. I think it suits him well enough. He has a bit of a peak/slight thinning to the front. Nothing unusual in that.
This concerns me, however. What do I look like..?! Maybe I should be doing the same. But my head is like a clootie dumpling…
Nah – not yet.
I do not travel a great deal, fortunately, as this tale proves. I am also very good at mislaying things. On a few trips I have left things lying when I leave. In AirBnB homes and hotels – even at a Tourist Information site in Segovia miles from anywhere!
In all these cases I have managed to get the items returned – the honesty and effort of people never ceases to amaze me.
Twice – while visiting a Church of Scotland manse in the Inner Hebrides – I left items. It is a shared manse for visiting preachers and my friend is a Church of Scotland minister.
Once I left an iPod – I remember clearly on the kitchen counter. Recently I left a brand new Amazon Kindle – we had to rush to catch a Ferry to be sure of a crossing.
Those two times – after all the trips and times I mislaid items – in a building I know well and have friends would pop in to pick the items up – only on those two occasions have the items disappeared.
The lady on the bus was older than I am. Possibly her grey hair aged her prematurely. She may have been about my age.
She was studying an English book – ‘negative contradictions’ was all that I could make out. It was aimed at people learning English but was also written in English. Clearly, she was set on improving. Learning and improving are the same thing.
I believe she looked Mediterranean. And tired. For a second I glimpsed her face and she had a round face, a “moon face”. She was dark around her eyes and her tanned skin looked as though it would be more comfortable in the sun than here in the misty, wet Scottish morning.
It occurred to me she might need to apply for a residency since we were getting so close to Brexit.
A pang of disappointment and anger passed through me. Anything to do with Brexit now had that impact on me. Most of my life I had hoped to work part time and move to Spain. Now that was a whole lot more difficult. Recently the economic situation had made it feel wrong to settle there. Spaniards need work and housing. When I could contribute I would go there. To a small town or village and in one of the less visited regions.
Did I have the desire this woman had? Would I sit in queues at the Ayuntamiento (Council) to get a visa to work? Would I visit the big cities and stand in long queues to be questioned. Would they want me – us? People argue their reasons for leaving a Union like the European project but, really, it is a display of disregard and lack of will on our part. We chose to feel that Europe hindered us and have clung to some idea we are a “better” nation. Not different – better. It is our way. At least enough of us to vote for Brexit. We never participated, not really. We paid lip service and paid our way. We were like the idle members of a good gym. We paid the direct debit each month but never worked out. Every few months we went along, had a coffee and people were polite to us. They knew each other and played squash on a Thursday. The Germans would swim there most mornings, early. We never did. We blamed them for our insecurity. It is the British way.
I asked myself again – would I sit on a bus on a bad day reading Spanish texts. Learning and improving. Would I study the grammar and the history to be tested on it? It would probably come to that. More importantly – would my wife? Is it fair to expect that of others simply to allow me the indulgence of a new life? A life, moreover, I am not sure is a whim or a destiny. I don’t know.
Then I began to realise that I would. I may do. Middle age has made me more determined to take a more direct approach to life. We do not have forever days. Lost friends and family teach you that. We only have so many days and there are only so many which go to plan. Yet the attainment of those good days is worth the gloomy mornings on a bus going to an inconsequential meeting.
Fingers crossed for that woman and the story I have written based on a glimpse of her complexion and her reading material. I wish her well. I wish myself well and I regret the perception of a smaller world which Brexit has left within me.
I remain stuck here on an island of grey people, lazy dreams and saggy ideals. All the weight of that wealth on our southern end is dragging us down to the depths. To remain afloat we have decided to use “immigrants” as ballast tossed overboard so we can keep our heads above water. Or so it seems. We could simply have distributed the weight more evenly. We were not sinking – just listing.
Image: View toward Zahara from a hilltop in the Sierra de Grazalema, 2018
..is littered with people spitting hate, venom and bile. Amen to the closure of Alex Jones’ stinking profiteering from distorting the “truth”. What a contemptible liar.
This type of “channel” has proliferated. This is not exclusive to digital media, either. The scale and the hidden nature by which ‘digital’ business profits from selling access to you – that is new. They push the content and inflate the importance of other people’s libel – then step back and say “don’t blame us – we are only the delivery boy”. They fuel these bigots and inflate their audience. These businesses are valued in the billions of dollars yet struggle each year to identify anything plausible as growth except “sell more advertising” or else “buy someone else’s business”.
Please note: This link does not direct to Jones’ venomous and hateful website. It links to a story about him and the closure of his publishing platforms.
John Williams and Julian Bream. Hokusai. A day in the Life.
T.S. Eliot. Bach and Britten’s Requiem. Mozart Piano Concerti – especially 20.
The things I return to. Crutches when I feel weak, tired. Or low. Or all three.
And Bessie Bighead. Bessie always reminds me of the precarious balances. Happy and sad. Alive and not.
Alone until she dies, Bessie Bighead, hired help, born in the workhouse, smelling of the cowshed, snores bass and gruff on a couch of straw in a loft in Salt Lake Farm and picks a posy of daisies in Sunday Meadow to put on the grave of Gomer Owen who kissed her once by the pig-sty when she wasn’t looking and never kissed her again although she was looking all the time.
Under Milk Wood
A Commander, imagine a Queen or a King, turns up before a huge battle. Think along the lines of Elizabeth I or Wallace in Braveheart.
The troops need a rousing speech. They are ready for battle but they are anxious.
Imagine, now, if Jeremy Corbyn had written and delivered it in the style of his rousing European campaigning at Brexit referendum time:
“Troops – as you know – I am really not in favour of this battle. I have no quarrel with the enemy. Indeed I do not trust many of our allies in this battle. However, I recognise that you lot are keen to fight for your beliefs. That being the case I am prepared to support you. Best of luck. Hurrah.”
“You did get that, didn’t you? I said Hurrah”
Then to his Lords and Lieutenants: “Ok – job done. Where next?”