Since Maria’s gone, I’m free (and please note that this is not necessarily a positive use of the word ‘free’) to eat badly. She has been discipling me in culinary quality, while I turn toast into an Olympic sport.
Last night, I slightly over-compensated by making one of the greatest meals ever: almost entirely composed of out-of-date ingredients. This is living on the edge – when you have to pray over your food cos you know that it should really be in the bin (or in the dog, if we had a dog). Left-over this and out-of-date that, with a little bit of couscous that has been lying in the cupboard undisturbed for a few months, and what do you know? It was AMAZING. So good that, instead of saving some for today’s lunch, I ate for two and had to go and walk it off …
When life leads you in search of thrills, O Reader, should they not begin at the dinner table? My bottom may come to regret these decisions, but my soul (and tastebuds) rejoice.
My Maria leaves (to go home to her family for a bit) in the morning, and – bless me! – I’m noticing that I’m quite sad about that.
It’ll be very wonky without her – like sailing on half a ship or something – and I’m quite trepidous about the kind of questions her friends and family will ask about my year (cos it hasn’t exactly been very successful-looking). In the absence of looking good in the eyes of the world, I have to remind myself of things like these:
– Henry Ford was declared bankrupt 5 times.
– The Lord of the Rings was rejected 7 times before being published – Watership Down was turned down by every single established publisher (a new one started, published his book, & became millionaires …)
– Winston Churchill failed his 11+
– The verdict on Fred Astaire’s first screen test was: ‘Can’t act! Slightly bald! Can dance a little!’
– Dicky Bird, Geoffrey Boycott & Michael Parkinson all played for the same cricket team in Barnsley. Parkinson was the best of them.
I’ve noticed (during this fairly horrible year) that I have totally fallen for a big fat monkey of a lie: if you’ve not made it by the time you’re 30, that’s it. I don’t know particuarly where I got it from, but the fascism of age is so pervasive in society that I’m not in the least bit surprised. I just have to notice and get out of it now.
I’m 26. I’ll probably live until I’m 86. Many dangers, toils & snares will have been conquered by then …
So, apparently, there was this lady who gave birth to identical twin boys, before giving them up for adoption. One of them was taken by an Egyptian family who called him Ahmal, while the other lived in Spain under the name Juan – that’s all she knew.
Then, almost exactly 20 years later, the lady received a letter from her long-lost son Juan, in which he enclosed a photograph. This really touched her, and, showing her husband (who knew all about the situation) the photo, she told him how much she would love to have a picture of Ahmal as well.
Her husband replied:
"THEY’RE IDENTICAL – IF YOU’VE SEEN JUAN, YOU’VE SEEN AHMAL!"
Yesterday, in an interesting move, Tom Kirby & I were paid about £6 an hour to sit on trains between Edinburgh & Glasgow and count the number of people getting on and off at each station.
There were quite a few.
And we also had to walk the length of the train between each stop to see how many people in total were on board.
There were even more of them.
We started at 8am and finished at 6:40pm, and I wanted to tell you what kind of effect that has on someone’s mind. Or on my mind, at least …
My flatmate Anna gave me a book (the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time) for my birthday (because she’s nice), and I started it on the second of our train rides. I’m now two-thirds of the way through, but by mid-afternoon, I kept finding myself counting the words as I was reading them. You’d have thought that would get in the way of the story, but since the book is about an autistic boy who counts everything in every environment and then gets overwhelmed by things to count when he goes to a train station to get on a train, it actually deepened it somehow. Maybe I became semi-autistic for a few minutes. Anyway, I doubt anyone else could have experienced the book in quite the same way I did …
Otherwise, the work affected me by:
a) giving me a sore head (but Tom had paracetamol, the clever chap);
b) allowing me to eat straight out of a tin of beans in public;
c) providing insight into the tremendous power of an orange flourescent jacket;
d) assuring me that I don’t want to do it 2 days in a row.
And now I’ve earned enough money to go to a friend’s wedding in 2 weeks 🙂
Okay, so do you think it’d be funny if tonight, when everyone has arrived and is in the lounge being sociable, I quietly slipped off to the kitchen and started cooking sausages?
Then, when someone came in and said, "Come on David, don’t stay in here!" I could reply: "It’s my party, and I’ll fry if I want to."
You do? Great! Thanks!
[a poem from just before I left New Zealand]
Roses need thorns to make them beautiful;
petals for petals’ sake don’t catch my eye or give me hope.
Soon they’ll die.
I need to see thorns to know that I’m not being lied to.
So I trust your pain more than a smile,
since you don’t show your hurt
as readily as your happiness
(even though fun and joy are just as deep as fear and heartache).
Petals are pretty
but soon they’ll wither, and I’ll be left:
sore and sombre, but still alive.