Monday, 26 April 2010

The Sun Always Shines Ennui

You’ve checked the weather for the day ahead.
You always do.
Your friends think it’s a little idiosyncratic, but they always rely on you for suitcase-packing advice, just before the annual dearth of shit, drugs and mud (a.k.a. Festival-Time).
You watch ‘Weather For The Week Ahead’ on Countryfile religiously.
You always do.
It’s the only thing you do religiously on a Sunday, since rejecting 11 O’clock mass in your twenties.
It’s well documented that you don’t trust BT Yahoo, and this extends to anything other than the BBC Weather website, the ‘Weather For The Week Ahead’ and your natural ability to forecast changes in barometric pressure.
Arthritis can be a cruel yet precise master.
Your wife wakes you at 7am and tells you it’s going to be a ‘lovely day’.
You have already planned a better day, one that involves pyjamas, a typewriter and a jar of Poundstretcher coffee (that tastes a little bit like legal highs).
A ‘lovely day’ suggests the need to do something altogether different.
To water the garden, to do at least two clothes-washes, to resurrect the washing-line that was holding up both the defunct satellite dish and the wonky guttering, and to fix the wife’s bike; all before lunchtime, when the rabbits will require their bi-annual vaccinations, and the kitten will need tutoring on how to catch field-mice.
A better day involves rain.
You have planned a better day, safe in the knowledge that Countryfile said it would be damp & showery over the Broads.
This is despite what Chris Evans said this morning, and contrary to the FiveLive reports from all over Lower England, that the sun is shining, and it’s going to be a very lovely day.
The lady in the vets said it was an absolutely gorgeous today.
The man with the dog-eared cat agreed.
Victoria Derbyshire asked the nation for a response to the question “What will YOU be doing today, officially the first day of summer?”
You had planned to stay in and write, but the nation is conspiring against you.
You turn off the radio. The kitten and the rabbits are asleep.
The sunshine pours through your half-opened eyelids, and you decide to water the garden.
A superficial watering. The bits that really need it.
A one-can watering (It makes sense to be sure).
By 10-30am, you have emptied the washing-machine of a ‘mid-week essential’ load.
You toy with the idea of cleaning the cushion-covers & hand-towels, but opt for the bedsheets.
You know it’s going to rain.
You always do.
It was on ‘Weather For The Week Ahead’.
You make a coffee. It tastes a bit like rain. You feel smug.
The washing-machine spins as you jot down loose thoughts.
The ideas flow as the coffee is drained.
The kitten thinks that this might be the time to practice ninja.
And the rabbits sidle to a warm sheltered spot, twixt the billowing sheets and the watering-can.
You absorb the dappled sunlight like a soporific sponge.
And within what seems like seconds, it starts to piss cats & dogs.
And as you flick the switch to 'Heating Constant' amidst the fug and funk of fabric-conditioned warmth, you know (and you always do) that today has just got a little bit better………

Thursday, 22 April 2010

SKY - You either get it; or you hate it

Tonight we are to be faced with another Prime Ministerial TV Debate, the second of three I think. I nearly watched all of the last one, but with no advert/piss break, I left the room, lost interest and subsequently switched channels for the more entertaining 'Outnumbered'. Tonight's debate takes place on a channel that is quite alien to me. I watch Sky in pubs, often because it's a cricket or footy match I'm interested in, but sadly too often, because it's all-pervading nature is a seemingly necessary prerequisite, now that smoking has been banned. I don't like Murdoch. I'm anxious about rampant commercialism. But for the past hour I have sat through Sky News' 'Debate Day' coverage, having realised I 'owned' the channel as part of my Freeview package, and wanted to get a feel for the standard of presentation I would receive this evening. What a pile of shite! Same tagline repeated, refreshed, repeated and diluted, until the only thing you can be sure of, in this cultural hinterland, is that the break-bumper sponsors (in this case, Sky themselves!) will keep you informed that very little news is happening, and they've got it all for you - LIVE! A banner repeatedly tells me that Marmite are pissed off with the BNP, whilst interviews with so-called political analysts & journos, go something like this; - So who will win tonight's debate? - Well. You know, it's a hard one to call, y'know. I think that Clegg gave a very real account of himself last time, y'know, but we mustn't forget y'know, that there are two other participants, you know? It really could go either way. - Thanks Jayne. Only 6 hours to go. Can Clegg win? Can Mr.Brown fight back? So many questions...... (Cut to simultaneous ads for Sky Box Office, Sky Sports and Sky 1. "If you're watching Sky News, you probably don't have these!") I won't be watching tonight. It's not that I'm not interested, it's just that I guess I'm a TV snob. I grew up with only 3 channels, and one of those was a testcard for most of the day. Sky TV is TV for TV's sake. It's frighteningly insipid, lacking in interest, dull, diluted & downright shoddy. So why does it offend me so much? I guess with age, comes a little obdurate cynicism; but fortunately for all of us, we still have choice. Love it or hate it, no-one's forced to subscribe. I shall be watching 'Outnumbered'.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Potatoes, tomatoes & volcanoes

It occurred to me the other evening that the last time Eyjafjallajoekull (or Joe Kull as I like to call her) erupted, we weren't only pre-aviation, but pre-industrial revolution. Meteorology was in its infancy and Iceland did not have a single bank. I wondered if the resulting ash-cloud had little, if any, effect on our good nation in the early part of the nineteenth century, and the results I discovered were interesting. Both Joe Kull & the Indonesian volcano Tambora erupted in the early 1800s, creating an agricultural nightmare for damp or wet island nations, such as Ireland. Fungus proliferated in these climes, and the resulting blight led to the Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s. This in turn led to the Irish diaspora of the middle nineteenth century, and the migration of many Irish families such as the Geldofs,the Nortons, the McKenzies & the Lappins. I wouldn't normally condone the use of pesticides on allotments, but I appeal to all gardeners this summer; please keep an eye on your plum tomatoes.