Thursday, 31 December 2009

Recalling minutes later

On Christmas day we entertained the waifs and strays, the left-behinds, and as Jill said: damn foreigners. In her e-mail she advised all attendees that: 'we were going for lunch to the house of a genuine Kiwi (Polly) and her damn foreigner husband (me)'

Billy and Jill brought Kai Moana - cockles from the Otago Peninsula. Jill brought bread - very tasty bread -Pete and Sinead brought deserts and forgot the brussels sprouts. Pete offered to go back to his house to get them and we agreed to let him go. How can you have Christmas din-dins without sprouts?

We supplied roast beef with stuffing. Not long after we got ripped into the desserts - next to Cadbury's Dairy Milk chocolate my sole reason for continuing to live is a fine dessert. Ice-creams, trifle, cream.

There was a warm front which sat on us all day moving me to wear shorts. There were no games or anything after lunch. We continued to pick at the desserts. We mostly sat around and talked as it was too hot to do anything else.

Next day it was freezing again.

Happy New Year from the damn foreigner husband.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Eaten out

At 11.00 a.m. on Christmas morning 2009, our neighbour who has been using our paddock to graze sheep decided to introduce himself. We have been in the current property for about six months and had asked the landlord to request the sheep graze to cease and desist letting his sheep into our field or paddock as they say in New Zealand. We entertained the sheep unwillingly for the last month. really the only way to get rid of them would have been to open the top gate and let them find their way out on to the road. I confess I thought about this for a whole three seconds before the whole drama of car crashes, human deaths, injuries and my already overburdened sense of guilt being multiplied and also the thought of being carted off to jail through not being canny enough to hire a lawyer to get me off with a fortnight's community service stayed my hand.

Anyway he dropped in to introduce himself and in the course of an unexpected interrogation on his part by wife while I sat dumb he revealed that he'd never been told by the landlord that his mob of sheep were no longer ovis non grata.

This was the first time in seven years we were having people - orphans
(hang on the cat's just been sick)

1st January 2010

Hello again and A HAPPY NEW YEAR to one and all. I realise wishing you ALL a HAPPY NEW YEAR is pretty culturally insensitive on my part given that Maori, Chinese, Mayan Civilisations (uh, any of you folks left out there - 2 years to go, eh?) keep different dates for their Hogmanay celebrations. Still we pass this way but once as I am fond of repeating to the wife until she taps me, in a meaningful way, on the head with the poker - and with that profound realisation I see, along with the unexpected shooting stars in my vision, that we cannot pass this way without treading on somebody's toes.
HAPPY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY EASTER ... where's the harm? Is it because the shops are shut? What? While we're all at church on Christmas Day, are the Mayans, Chinese, Hindus et al wandering round Belfast or New York, to take these two as representatives of the many International cities of Christendom, wondering why all the shops are shut? Can't get a pint of milk anywhere. Darn.

I was going to tell you what we ate on CHRISTMAS DAY which in our case was for the following persons - one Christian, three atheists, one Jewish person and a Greek (or a Grecian if you follow the utterances of George dubya Bush) of indeterminate religious affiliation.

The cat by the way is better - thanks for asking.

We had piles of stuff to munch on as it happens. There was an unusual trifle made by my wife - I've hidden the poker - containing rhubarb. Surprisingly it was delicious and the Grecian came back for more. He denied all knowledge of trifle so we told him that rhubarb wouldn't be a usual ingredient. We have not heard that he passed away due to a surfeit of rhubarb so that was a success story in so far as it keeps down the litigation suits to manageable figures.

What else? See, there's that flaming journo's curse of memory decay again. If you don't note things down at the time they're stashed somewhere out of reach in the brain or discarded as not worthy of storage.

I might remember later.


Saturday, 12 December 2009

the road

Got a copy of The Road (Cormac McCarthy) and read it all in one day. Started it in the Uni Library and finished it when I got home. It is the first post-apocalypse book I have read that has almost everything in our world gone. As I read somewhere every descriptive adjective is the word gray (that's how it is spelled in the book). This is so. The sun rises but is a vague light through a gray sky. The world is burned. The trees are dead; the grass is dead; there are no birds. There aren't many people left either. I've read plenty post-apocalyptic books and seen plenty films on the same theme. This has to be the grayest of them all.

The man and the boy still teach each other things - as two people alone are apt to do - and therefore us about what it means to be human. The man has to teach the boy about evading the bad guys - small groups and sometimes larger groups (an army in tennis shoes) who have embraced rape and cannibalism. The man tell s the boy that when he, the man, is gone - he is dying - the boy will have to rely on his own skill to recognise the good guys. That is an echo of Lenny and George's exchanges when Lenny gets George to recite his 'guys like us' morale boosting speech in Of Mice and Men.

I came away with a feeling of wistfulness from the book rather than the 'jeez we'd better do something quick or we're all doomed' I was wistful because everything else was gone. It seemed to me that when the last people died - how could they continue with nothing replaceable? - there appeared to be nothing to fill the niche, nothing to make the opportunistic evolutionary leap, as it were.

Point of View (pov)

Third person.

There is a passage that begins: The dog that he remembers followed us for two days. I tried to coax it to come but ...

This is the only instance of an 'I' speaking. It seemed so strange when I saw it on the page and also heard it in my head, so much so that even though I kept on reading I had to turn back after a few pages and mark it. I can't find any other instance of an 'I' speaking so directly (to us? well who else?) in the narrative. The third person past tense holds good throughout the book. So what's that bit doing there? It seems so out of place almost as if it had slipped unnoticed past a proofreader cum editor.