… with anything much, when there is water dripping through the ceiling, and the plumber clonking about detectively.
With November imminent, it was appropriate to groan and say, Here we go again, and cut out paper. Every year the most tiresome part is trying to squeeze uniqueness into a hundred squares, each no more than an inch and a half on a side, when there is barely room to turn the scissors (the large squares are much easier). So I applied the worst-first rule.
Seventy-five minuscule squares later, and with a shiny new ballcock in situ, that seems to have been a sound decision.
The storm has not stripped out the sand, though I think the landslides have been on the move again. Today was benign but perhaps not quite paddleable – at least, we did not paddle.
Later, what is possibly the cutest instrument in the western world made a reappearance:
the curved soprano sax. This one has been having a little rest in its case for most of the last eighteen years, but there was its voice again, parping occasionally from lack of practice, contending with the piano and giggles. While listening, I compounded apple cake in the kitchen, and (enjoying the ironies) thought, Thank God we are a musical nation.
… obviously, as I no longer pause for photographs. Still, being on the inside of a large damp cloud all day may have had something to do with it; not even the cathedral could manage to be photogenic in the gloom.
It is a great treat to be on the loose in a real library again, though I must say some of these are rather forbidding tomes. The one I fancied most was entitled Dissenting readers. Then I looked again and found it was really called Discerning readers, which put me right off. Very Freudian misreading. There was also a fat anthology of literature just called DEATH, which looked inviting, but I didn’t have enough borrowing allowance by the time I’d selected the others. Another time perhaps.
In a way this is the one I’m most looking forward to:
It’s years since I had a Homeric binge, and I’ve heard good things of this translation. And it doesn’t come with a time limit (apart from good nature on the part of the lending library).
I steadied myself to drive along the exposed coast road, while the car rocked and bucketed around me. At least, I thought, if a freak gust hits the car, it will blow me inland rather than outboard. Where we dipped down to sea level, the waves were making sudden white walls of their own above the sea wall, and running down to fill the road. The car obediently paddled.
Back on the clifftops, we sightseers staggered about incapably, breathless and unable to hold our ground in the gale, wrestling for a few moments to pay our respects to the turmoil below. When this is over, it will be interesting to visit the newly-sculpted beach.
Once home, another book to complete:
Eagleton writes with gusto; he has axes to grind, and the edges are not merely ornamental. Over an extended period this became a little tiresome, especially when you reach the heading Conclusion and it proves to be far (far!) from the end, but even so there were moments when he managed to crack me up.
The wind is still thumping and booming in the chimney, and all hope of seeing Orionids is pretty much gone.
Along the skirts of storm Ophelia a bilious gloom descended. In the late morning I paused at the cliff top, where the sea state was unremarkable, but the water full of nameless colours and dim yellowish gleams. What breeze there was, was blowing from the wrong direction – surprisingly disorientating.
For a moment the sun was bloodily visible, and one rather wished it wasn’t.
Around noon darkness fell, and it was impossible to read without electric light, though there was little wind and never a drop of rain.
The sky was even more unsettling at 1.30, when it became a uniform dull orange glare. The iPhone camera didn’t believe the colour and kept correcting it, so this picture is edited – I held the laptop screen up to the sky and twiddled until the colours matched.
In between, reading and sleeping, sleeping and reading … until normal daylight returned.
I’ve been looking through some photos from last week. There was little time to go anywhere except the College itself, or a quick doddle round the Close for fresh air. Luckily, there was a fascinating exhibition in the library, and the cathedral always rewards. (Click a thumbnail for the gallery. If you want to see texts properly, click on link from gallery to full size.)
About 1602, with an edifying introduction and signs of serious use –
– I was taken with the smug lions and the unexpectedly cross-looking elephants.
This author is maintaining the usual standard of Christian polemic 😦
Here we have Augustine and notable characters – and a jolly ditty running through the footer. Aaah!
And here is Matthew helpfully rendered in Gothic, Anglo-Saxon, and early Englishes.
College bedrooms are austere but included a view of the quadrangle in the amenities,
while the cathedral has an elaboration of flying buttresses (always a good thing).
They seem to have mislaid a few saints, leaving Geo. Herbert lonely, which may be why he looks less cheerful than one might expect.
More interesting expressions. Even the sparrow finds a home – though I think this spiky appendage requires a larger fowl.
Bit of a postcard view – but yes, Salisbury is genuinely spectacular.
… calcine its clods …” I muttered gloomily, though Browning was not thinking of kitchen shelves.
I had an outbreak of Usefulness, and in fact was genuinely useful (as well as being annoying). Disheartened, though, as past a certain age and level of neglect kitchens become finally uncleanable: the greasy steam seeps into every cranny, soaks into the cupboard doors, coats every tile and pipe, and, scrub as you may, the tackiness persists. But at least the new owner should be able to find his sarcasm when he needs it.
Today I went looking for a quiet place on the stairs in which to find a teasing line. Instead I found an image, obscure at first but clarifying into black comedy.
I don’t think he or she made it.
So goodbye to the lectures and a brief hello to some nearestsanddearests; full of apple crumble we admired the Close and the cathedral lit by what looked like about seven million lux, killing the stars.
I have swapped my austere hall-of-residence style bed for something even more austere, having no bedstead at all; but the ambience is friendly, and I am cooched up on the sofa with the Middle English Metrical Paraphrase of the Old Testament:
In this boke that cald is Genesis
ther may men see the soth unsoght
How God, that beldes in endlese blyse,
all only with Hys Word hath wroght
Hevyn on heght for Hym and Hys,
this erth and all that ever is oght.
This erth was wyde and wast
and no gud on yt grovyd;
On the heght the Holi Gast
abown the waters movyd.
Milton, eat your heart out.
… the thought of reading the Old Testament in metrical Middle English had become curiously attractive. (This was proposed to me as a diversion by a passing nearest-and-dearest.)
My principal academic achievement for Wednesday was to cause one of the tutors to blow tea out of his nose.
All this high thinking led me to RUN from the College in a half hour of unassigned time, go STRAIGHT to the pound shop (it was a relief to find that pound shops still exist outside these walls), buy a LARGE bag of Smarties, and RUN back for the next session. The immersive effect is quite interesting.