Archive for the ‘inmates’ Category
I have just spent most my morning admiring the sporadic flocks of migrating birds on their way north in the early spring (while at the same time catching up on Radio 4 podcasts of The News Quiz).
The birds winter in North Africa (lucky them) and then rendezvous in the environs of Algeciras in Morocco to await to their turn for streaming funnel of avian life crossing the Dire Straits to Gibraltar and beyond. My particular contingent then wheel west along the Algarve coast until they reach the Cape of Sagres before turning north and eventually crossing in front my bedroom window – left to right using the narrow corridor of pine and eucalyptus forest between the village and the ocean.
later they will build their nests in the bosky fields of Hampshire (lucky them).
A miraculous cycle of nature, a spectacle laid on just for me. The message is clear – relax and be in harmony with nature. Go with the flow.
The view from my bed in the morning
After lunch (stewed chicken with pasta – a culinary mésalliance in my opinion) I return to my room for a nap/siesta/snooze/40 winks from I wake 30 minutes later. I then dutifully carry out my physiotherapeutic exercises. First an isometric routine for beginners (even I, handicapped as I am) can do them in my chair followed by a lurch/stomp/stumble on my walker/Zimmer frame down the corridor outside my room.
Up the corridor to the right is a bathroom into which I enter/slip/pop to lean back against the radiator for my straighten-the-back-to-improve-my-posture exercise (with some deep breathing thrown in). After a while I get tired/bored with the straighten-the-back-to-improve-my-posture exercise and put my hand into my pocket where I encounter my mobile phone (not a «smart» phone but-pretty-intelligent-for-the-price) and take a rather eery picture of myself, taking a rather eery picture of myself, taking a rather eery – OH JUST SHUT UP WILL YOU!
I return back down the corridor to the end and turn right to admire the fine view of our local church (I don’t mean that the church per se is particularly fine – just the view of it).
After tea (the old dears can’t be doing without their tea, you know – it’s a lifetime habit, useful survival skill as well in case they starve to death between the twin fueling stations of lunch and early dinner. They dunk (good word) their bread or biscuits into heavy outsize cups of tea or milky coffee made from turnips (you have to be a weightlifter to be able to raise them to your lips) instead they crouch devotionally in front of the heavy cups and spoon the resultant pap into their mouths) so after tea, I spend time in my atélier working on my lastest painting.
Back in my room I’m beginning to run of steam.
«… Fragments, that I have shored up against my ruin»
And at the end of the day the sun sets at the orbiting rim of our world.
Vigorous tree with strong apical control with an erect-pyramidal canopy shape, capable of reaching 50 ft. In cultivation, sweet cherries are maintained 12-15 ft in height. Leaves are relatively large (largest of cultivated Prunus), elliptic with mildly serrated margins, acute tips, petioled, and strongly veined.
I love cherries – I reckon they are just about my favourite fruit, except possibly the-perfect-peach (do I dare to eat a peach?)
Consider the cherries which are harvested in due season from the orchards of the Douro valley – red, plump, succulent, delicious.
I doubt that these will end up on the shelves of Sainsburys or Safeways like the strawberries of the Algarve that are whisked away by the waiting refrigerated trucks, throbbing in the misty dawn and driven along the hot dusty motorways of Spain and France and through the Chanel Tunnel to the London vegetable warehouses at dusk.
No, these cherries will flood the fruit markets of Penafiel and Bom Successo and each kitchen-table in the region will have a laughing overflowing abundance and children shall dangle them from their ears and youths and maidens shall dance joyously in the church-squares of the golden valley.
In the Home the appearance of cherries will be greeted by the incurious and unexpressed satisfaction of the continuance of the seasons – of course, cherries, what else? The old people will think.
Because we are not anywhere near this season, the presence of a bowl of shiny dark cherries in front of one of the old dears (brought that afternoon by a visiting daughter) drew tacit attention from some of us.
It was supper-time and the rest of us had boring old stewed apple; but not this old dear who set about her bowl of cherries with a will, spitting out stones while the cup of her curved fingers fed another one into her chewing mouth. From time to time she would lift her crouching face from the plate and glance around with a look that said: eat your hearts out, suckers and if anyone thinks that they’re going to get a bite of my cherries, well they’ve got another think coming …
Blessed are the Ungiven for they shall inherit … for they shall inherit what? … I know, for they shall inherit all the cherries!
An inspirational book (for my generation at least) was CATCH 22 by Joseph Heller.
Wicked and hilarious this book with brilliant wordplay brings paradox to an inevitable Zeno-like absurdity. Published in 1957 it dazzled our generations and spread across the Anglophonic world like a wildfire.
(Now, of course, we have spawned a generation which, not only has not read CATCH 22 but also hasn’t read much else either – poor them, so many lost conceits, so much lost irony).
Anyway there is a scene in the book where everyone on the base is issued with a pill to throw away into the bushes.
So it is in this place. Sometimes we are distributed with green pears so hard and unripe that those of us who still have our own teeth, should we actually attempt to bite into them … but not to worry the pears are not to be eaten but to be put into our pockets or bags and consumed in a couple of days when they are ripe.
That same impulse, the same força de vontade, which is so good for my physical improvement, impels me to be difficult about the pear situation.
I enter the dining room for dinner at 7.00 sharp and notice the small rock-like green projectiles – what’s this, I think, are we going to have a window-breaking contest after dinner or have some of us been distributed with uneatable pears again:
– Excuse me, I don’t want this fruit because it’s not ripe, is it? I’ll have the fruit pap, please.
– There is no fruit pap left.
– No fruit pap left!
– You have to warn us in advance if you want fruit pap instead of a green pear.
I’m entering The Twilight Zone again.
– Can’t you just assume that I will prefer fruit pap to unripe fruit …?
Meanwhile someone else has tactfully produced one of the apples that they keep in the kitchen in reserve for difficult cases like mine.
Breaks my concentration
My brush jerks
Sour clashing colours
Stab into the heart
Staggering loops down
Smear the clouds
Obscuring my notions
I slump at the margin
Of the brown river
Swirling and turgid
Tethered to scruples
I gaze back up-stream
Whence I came
Blue clear waters
Sparkling in the sun
I contemplate the spoiled image
That’s not what I meant
Not what I meant at all
That’s for the bin
That damned shout
And yet after that
the sunset taken from the terrace
that very evening
His mind is full of junk
Scraps of half-digested information
From third-hand sources
A dash of religious bigotry
Seasoned with cliché-ridden
His understanding of
The planet and universe
Has inconceivable voids
His rare excursions
Into abstract thought invariably
Produce utterances both
Risible and ridiculous
In short he has the depth
And mental clarity of a
Small puddle in the road
And the intellectual weight
Of a poppadum.
Old MacDonald had a farm
And on that farm he had a duck
With a quack quack here
And a quack quack there
Here a quack
There a quack
Everywhere a quack quack
Old MacDonald had a farm
(If there were a quacking event
In the Olympic Games
He would stand a good chance
Of representing his country).
Bark on, sister, bark on
At the aged creature who dithers
Listless all day in a mental fog
Who’s queued all afternoon
In a gloomy crowded room
with a thousand years
Of spent humanity
Nodding off in front of
The stultifying crassness
Of daytime TV
Whiling the long hours away
In senile topor
Suddenly whirled into tea
Mashed up dried biscuits
In an oversized heavy cup
Of milk or tea
Or milky coffee
From time immemorial
Into the turgid liquid
Dazed and confused
Harried and hustled
Hectored and admonished
Into damaged mind
And broken memory.
Bark on, sister, bark on
But consider this:
Nothing divides you from them
But three odd decades.
Your present is their past
Their present is your future.