Archive for the ‘observations’ Category
I must say one sees some rather odd headlines in our newspaper:
MUSEU DE ETNOLOGIA DO PORTO VAI SER EXTINCTO
(ETHNOLOGY MUSEUM OF PORTO IS GOING TO BECOME EXTINCT)
Due to lack of funding, one assumes.
(The following two posts are extracted from my memoirs THE WAITING ROOM pub. January 2011).
During the course of my second brain procedure I died.
I heard the surgeon calmly call the time of my death and the nurses disconnect me from the various machines and screens which had been monitoring my existence, wash my head and change my bandages, straighten me out and fold my hands decorously over my heart. Then the last of them quietly left the operating theatre and I was left in silence.
The silence deepened as the floor beneath my bed opened and slowly and soundlessly my bed descended on hydraulics, the flaps of the floor, now the ceiling, closing smoothly above my head. I found myself in a sort of crypt and my dream started to turn into a nightmare.
To stay the series of shuddering images and visions and in order to fix them in my mind, I will attempt to describe the vast vault.
It stretched away to a horizon in the same dreary flat monochromatic tan colours of the desert under a dull sky (even the sky was sand-coloured). The bed on which I was lying was in a murky cave giving out onto the landscape and had pieces of furniture carved out of sand around it: a chair, a table and a pré-dieu in front of a tablet or icon. There were figures about the place too – silent sand-effigies, one kneeling at the pré-dieu and the two others standing at the foot of the bed – inanimate, frozen.
Outside the hospital I heard the fire-engines’ sirens giving two mournful wails; of course, I thought, with the logic of dreams – one for a birth and two for a death (one for a girl, two for a boy, three for sorrow and four for joy).
Presently I noticed some stairs cut out of the inevitable sand ascending to a door in the ceiling. Sometimes a doctor would appear in his white coat and begin to descend the stairs slowly and backwards, the image was smooth and coherent at first but began to break up towards the bottom of the stairs, like a person flickering jerkily in a flashing strobe-light … then he was at the top of the stairs again and would repeat the backward descent … an extraordinarily sinister manifestation.
The horror of my situation grew on me.
Presumably the morticians would presently fetch me from this sullen hall.
The smooth face of a pretty young girl of eighteen is an untold story.
Before the heaving swaying voyage
Down the corridor of the years
Before the bounding intake of breath
Before the aching pangs
Of a bad romance
Before the striving
Before churning down the lanes
Of the waters of life
Before eye-opening knowledge
Widens her understanding
And travel broadens her outlook
The smile-lines at the corners
Of her honey-coloured eyes
Her increasing skills
Her gift of caring
All these blessed attributes
Will fill her cup to the brim.
Time, my Lady, in due season,
Shall trace its kindly lineaments
Across your smiling face.
But not yet, my Lady,
The Moslem calendar is different from our Gregorian one. For a start the years are lunar-based and therefore 10 or 11 days shorter than our (solar-based) Western system. Then, where we count back to the year of the birth of Christ, the Moslem year one is predicated on the Hegira (Mohammed’s flight from Mecca to Medina).
Thus in 1978 the current Islamic year was 1398.
Actually I remember reading somewhere that modern science has demonstrated that our (Julian) calendar, established during the reign of Pope Gregory in the 6th century, was computed erroneously (by six years) and that Jesus Christ was born in 6 B.C, or in other words, He was born six years before He was born.
(This makes nonsense, by the way, of the well-meaning literalists who attempt to impugn significance in the dispersion of the various astrological bodies in the night skies eg. the twinkle twinkle little star that three wise men were following).
The lunar month has 29 and a half days and thus Moslem months are not tied to the seasons as in our calendar. Religious days and holidays are rotative and therefore have no fixed date; (only our Easter is a moveable feast, being based on lunar calculations).
Days begin at sunset rather than at midnight – the night of a day therefore precedes the day rather than following it, i.e. Monday night is the evening before Monday.
Some Algerian calendars were printed with both the Gregorian and the Islamic dates. They were read from right to left. While the Gregorian calendar had been officially adopted, the Islamic one was still used and dictated the holy days (or holidays).
Meanwhile my guitar gently weeps
A cucumber should be well sliced, and dressed with pepper and vinegar, and then thrown out, as good for nothing.
Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709-84)