Sunday 13 July 2008


Where have I been? Well, I have been in Scotland, visiting someone close to me two trains and two ferry rides away. I came back two days ago but by the time I had persuaded the cat I was here to stay, sorted the post - mail, that is - done the washing, got over the shock of travelling eleven and a half hours, all in the same kingdom (queendom?) to get home and moved back in to my everyday handbag, much time has passed.You know what I mean about the handbag. Even on holiday in the UK, if you take a special hand bag to travel, everything has to be taken out and sifted when you get back so you are left with only the rubbish you carry as a matter of routine and can dispense with the 'in case' bits and pieces you were sure you couldn't do without even in darkest Scotland.(Mind you, there are magnificent National Trust places in Scotland and I had managed, with all I did take, not to take my membership card: costly mistake). The whole re-entry thing takes so long you are tempted to wonder why you left home in the first place.

Which brings me to something which fascinates me. I don't know what all of you would call it. I call it transitionism. It's the state you are in when you haven't yet left where you are and haven't arrived where you are going. It can begin quite a long time before the first stage, the leaving, but doesn't necessarily last so long at the arriving end. It is very discombobulating; a sort of otherness. It is a place that is just in your head. People are talking to you but there is not the relevance of the 'Im-still-here-state' so they may find you absent from yourself. Things are happening around you but your inner self is not participating even if your outward self believed you were deceiving everyone, no difficulty, and you seem to be participating normally,( or what passes for normal if you are normally seen as eccentric by those around, as I am). I am finding it quite hard to put into words so I do hope you know what I am talking about, have even experienced it. A good, fairly universal, example would be boarding an aeroplane. You have left where you have been but you are not where you are going. The journey, itself, has not the same significance; it is a phenomenon in itself. The state I am talking about is how it feels when you know you can no longer be said to be where you are, whatever the eyes of the others might see, and are palpably not in the next place, however strong the imagination: pre-occupation might cover it; pre-coccupation in no-man's land. It can seem noticeable to everyone else who may wonder if you are depressed or fed up with them or related states. The further end of the condition is called re-entry. Thus you have presence, absence, re-entry = transitionism. Got it? Anyway, if the truth be told, that is also part of the reason why I haven't been back to my blogspot until now.

As to the trip itself, it was really lovely. I went to a ceilidh! Those of you familiar with my clubbing experience won''t be surprised. But it was Gay Gordons and Tripping the Willow all over the place. There was a delightful moment when a tiny thing, not more than two, burst throught the door and immediately started jumping up and down in time to the music. "Is this where it's at" improvised my companion on her behalf and we were all laughing so hard it was not easy to hear the caller calling out the steps. If I tell you it was 9 degrees and blowing a force 9 gale outside, that might not surprise you either. But the weather was not all bad and we sat outside with lunch on the island off the island, watching the sheep safely grazing beyond the low wall. Getting me on and off what wasn't so different from a cockle shell boat - such a boat is called a coracle, I believe - was something else, too, and I am tempted to gloss over that, but you do deserve the whole truth. Trains are fine. There are people to help. Big, grown-up ferries are fine too. (You will no doubt remember rugby players with fine bottoms; well, the same principle applies. If you don't remember, see below!) It is the little ferry that presents the problem, the boat with St Vitus Dance. This creature is boarded via a slippery slope, or, worse, slippery steps or, worse yet, both, and disembarked the same way. The stick was no help. It was slipping more than I was. Dignity and aplomb have to be left on the shore. The best a 75 year old going on 40 can hope for is simply to accomplish it. I did, Dear Reader, I did and lived to have a wonderful time in that special other world.

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