David’s PG Wodehouse pastiche [1st bit]

Trumper Northrop-Hemingway (Terence to his parents, when they were still alive) is my cousin, and he has rather a way about him when making entrances.

Crashing through the door of the tea-shop (in which I was stationed), he clattered its bell as forcefully as if me and my fellow patrons were guests at a wedding breakfast and he was ready to receive their attention and deliver his speech.  The room quietened accordingly, but in vain.  He started his speech, sure enough, but while the grey permed pairs of heads turned like fluffy flowers towards the Sun, the words thereof were directed only to me.

"She looked at me!" he gasped, grasping his hat to his heart as if to protect those nearby from the violence of its thumping.  "In the name of highest heaven, Duffy" (that’s me) "she actually looked at me!"

I’ve always had a nose – or a head, or an ear, whichever it is – for setting.  Maybe it’s the artist in me: I once drew rather a good sketch of my evil cousin Herbert with a pencil and posted it to his mother, the even less beloved Lady Scratchingham (my Aunt Helen), with directions as to where explosives should be inserted.  But whatever it is, and whyever I have it, I know a thing or two about setting. Environment; ambience.  It was as clear as a desert day to me that this coming conversation could not be mumbled through a teacake, any more than a lion can comfortably roar its heart out in a first floor sitting room without feeling that it’s imposing itself upon others present.  It wouldn’t be fair for the fair Romeo to have to restrain his decibels.  We would have to leave.  We needed a pub.

All this passed through my mind in an instant of instinct, and, rising from the blocks like a surprised sprinter, I threw down some payment for my unused tea-for-one, took my poor thrilled heart-on-legs of a cousin by the arm and shoulder, and directed him to the great outdoors.  He barely seemed to notice.

"Our eyes met," he continued, obliviously.  "We gazed at each other – mutually.  Eye contact!  Eye contact!  I can’t express what it was like for her to raise her gaze and bestow it upon mine as if life existed in no other place.  Duffy!  Those deep, lashy wells of shimmering wonder – gosh!  I drank it in: the eye contact; the flutter of her lids when the breeze rose; the beauty of the gentle quiet that engulfed us and overflowed like a silent sea.  Gosh!"

Trumper had got this far in his oration when I pushed him through the door of a solid-looking, whitewashed public inn, which stood just a few yards down from the tea-shop, on the other side of the road.  It was there when I needed it – I felt like we were friends already.

The Philanthropist (and last year’s other news)

The quote below (it’s from Psalm 51) has appeared before on this blog – back in July last year, when I had just arrived back in Britain and was wondering how to ‘start again’.  Well, I’m still wondering – the intervening time has taught me much about the heartlessness of advice-giving, and much more about the shallow foundations of myself, but I haven’t actually got anywhere.  Apart from closer to Maria, which is undeniably a good thing.

Having had several days in a row (last weekend and the beginning of this week) of repeatedly crying in a horrendously hopeless kind of way, my mum suggested that I might try taking some of my Grandma’s ‘happy pills’, so as to take the edge off this sadness and think more clearly.  I think they’re mild anti-depressants.  Today is now day 3, and I have felt a lot better (albeit in a queer, artificial sort of way).

And so, with a clear-ish head, I am thinking.  I’m applying for PGCEs and jobs and all that sort of thing, but really I’m trying to write, enjoy my family, and think about whether there is something I really want to do – something I really DESIRE.

I think there is, and its (predictably) an old dream, from last summer:  I want to run a web-based organisation that gives money away to people, not because they are ‘in need’ (not in any logically definable way, anyway), but because they’re people.  I want to set up a means of generosity that is not sensible or financially viable, does not seek to invest in people, and is not looking for results.  All those things are nice, but I want something a lot more ludicrous than that.

I already own the domain – www.thephilanthropist.co.uk – all I need now is to do it.

And I don’t know how to.

But I do know that if I wait until I can afford to give away money, then it won’t be generosity at all.

A Hadith of Muhammad

Okay, time to blog about something about which I know nothing …

I just came across this little quote from a Hadith (oral tradition of Muhammad, written down a couple of centuries after he died).  I found it very poignant and thoughtful:

The time is near in which nothing will remain of Islam but its name, and of the Kuran but its mere appearance, and the mosques of Muslims will be destitute of all knowledge and worship; and the learned will be the worst people under the heavens; and contention and strife will issue from them, and it will return upon themselves.

Yes, it is very negative, but more than that, what I really notice is its sadness – mourning over something high that has been brought low, like the ship-kings of Numenor anticipating the Akallabeth, or Clive of India foreseeing the fall of the Raj.

(Not that these are/were necessarily GOOD things, of course, but no one is good except God …).

It must be a very curious feeling to have founded or formed something great and magnificent, only to be struck by thoughts of its inevitable decline.  Some things do last a long time, but if they are only THINGS, then they will ultimately decompose.  Even religion decomposes in the end, thank God.  But some things grow – compose, rather than decompose – and potentially last forever.  A marriage, a friendship, a story.  That sort of thing.  The Real Narnia, not just the Shadowlands.

Collapsing Ceilings & Kind Strangers

On Thursday, I had paused in my gardening to watch the (very exciting) lightning storm which was illuminating our Scottish skies.  Sadly, the accompanying storm exacerbated our leaky roof to such an extent that my poor flatmate Clare had to watch while the ceiling of her bedroom fell in.

    [insert suitably disasterous-looking photo]

So, we had to get out – pack an overnight bag and escape the scene of terror – which made me feel kind of like a YWAMer again 🙂

Now, a couple of days later, I’m back in Devon, with my parents – it was probably the best option, despite the need to work and earn – and I’m really glad to be with them again.  I like my parents.

    [insert suitably happy-couple photo]

And I am also liked!  Even by strangers!  On the flight yesterday, I sat next to an old lady whose plane to Southampton had been cancelled, and who needed to get a taxi from Exeter or she’d miss her cruise (an awkward thing at a small out-of-town airport on a Sunday).  So I snapped to attention, contacted previously-mentioned beloved parents, and got everything sorted.  Good David.  And she (Hessie) was SO grateful that she bought be a hot chocolate, bought me a scone, forced a sandwich on me, gave me her address (in Perth) and demanded I visit, took my address so that she could send me a postcard, and told me to tell my Mum what a nice son she has 🙂

    [insert suitably Green-and-pleasant-David picture]

Bit overwhelming actually, but kind of give that ‘in the right place’ reassurance.