This was a curious thing to find in the sitting room:
Our unfortunate local spy did not visit this location (so far as anyone knows) and the cordon stops short at the front door. I was thus able to proceed librarily towards the station.
Salisbury Museum is small but dense; I find something new on every visit. This is the head of a 9th century aestel (reading pointer), and it shines.
The cathedral has glassed in and glassed out various small and large cavities in its structure. One of them is big enough for the refectory; this morsel of space is by the loos.
It is about life size. I failed to find a label, and my iconography is not good enough to pick up the hints. Chalices and books, anyone? Glass and anonymity isolated the figure like an anchorite walled up alive.
A nostalgia piece really, or an introductory text for those of us who weren’t there for steam trains or WWII. The details are interesting, though excessive use of the words ‘hero’ and ‘heroic’ is always to be reprehended; in a properly narrated story, the reader will be quite aware of courage without having to be told, and there was a lot of it about at the time.
Then there are the three Judiths. Biblical Judith is pink and there is a lot more of her; Middle English Metrical Judith is yellow, and is both selective and inventive; and Old English Judith is green, and unfortunately missing her first section, so we are not exactly comparing like with like. The point is to clarify what was left out, what was included, and what was made up as additional story elements in the re-tellings. Hmmm.
(although rather slowly) across Salisbury to the station, where a choice presented itself: wait perishing on the platform, or sit in the waiting room, which smelled of … well … railway waiting room.
With feet placed in the sunshine, outside was tolerable, until a train came and paused for fifteen minutes with its engine roaring. How many decibels? Too many in a semi-confined space. Here it is seen through the iron cage
some of which rose to involve itself in other parts of the ironwork. The pillars ranged away down the platform.
My countrypeople will be mildly surprised to hear that our trains ran to schedule and, when we arrived, lunch proceeded with little delay. The view was ugly except for the magisterial march of showers along the sky.
A little more nest building, and back to the station, where our trains were once more on time. And legging it (rather slowly) across Salisbury, up the hill and into the nest.
Returning from the home patch to find a peculiar and unsettling incident going on in Salisbury, of all unlikely places. Apart from the usual sticky-beaks, most people are going about their business, though at times with rather raised eyebrows, as indeed I am doing myself.
Nest building continues. I love charity shops.
Meantime I am reading the story of Judith in the Middle English Metrical Paraphrase of the Old Testament. Spelling Nebuchadnezzar as ‘Nabogodhonosour’ is genius. And ‘pupplysch’ is an excellent word. And it was written by a proto-feminist, which can’t necessarily be said of the biblical source:
Thei say, “We wott we have yt wun
with wyll of God and wyt of thee.”
Enough to think about for now.
lxxiv : Wear your dressing gown back to front
It’s surprisingly efficient when sitting up in bed to read in the cold cold small very small hours.
I took the car to pick up a bag of coal and then on to stretch its legs. The roads were still dry but the sky was thickening steadily. Close observers will note that I clung to the car’s interior.
The land was bleached of its colour by the cold and darkened to dun by the flattened light.
“This season’s daffodil, she never hears …”
and it’s all been one too many even for the Christmas rose. As for the primroses, the images of their shrivelled and blighted flowers are just too sad.
Keeping water liquid for the birds required multiple visits with jugs of hot water. Seagulls came down in a mob on the breadcrumbs, and were so famished that they wouldn’t fly away until I was standing among them, able to physically touch them. Hitchcock, anyone?
The small garden birds did have time for a bite and a drink before dry hard snow began to sweep in, blown hissing down the road like sand, in vicious gusts. It was a relief to know all the nearestsanddearests were in their respective residences.
Currently working from my old laptop, as slow as treacle (and cold treacle at that). Buffeting and banging outside, and the sound of sleetiness; not sure what will be lying tomorrow, but it won’t be cosy.
One has to get used to the curious juxtapositions of an ancient city. Hunting for boots yesterday, I found myself among seriously old timbers and crucks.
There was something slightly disturbing about these blind windows, long ago abandoned in the alterations and re-modellings of this and the buildings round about. But look: fourteenth or fifteenth century, they say, and one believes it.
The service, however, was rubbish. I left crossly and spent the money elsewhere. I have fuzzed out their advertising material to let the timber do the talking.
lxxiii : Watch silly things to do
The Winter Olympics are coming in handy for insomnia. Ice dancing … and chocolate. Yep; it was a long one.
I wandered into town looking for such comestibles as were necessary for dinner. Being perverse, charity shops were my first destinations, to pick out a couple of books – standbys in this bookless house.
With even greater perversity, the Hunt for the Teapot took over the morning. Charity shops failed me on this one. A fearfully cute little pot I found in one place must, on closer inspection, have been given to the charity shop because, at any attempt to use it, the lid would have dropped out and showered the user with scalding tea. The Hunt took me to supermarkets, cheap shops, ironmongers and at last an expensive cookware shop; where I found a gratifying bargain and concluded the Hunt.
The teapot, though not glamorous in any way, asserted its symbolic value as soon as I got back. And I am already becoming intimate with the tablecloth.