Tuesday 9 April 2013


You will have noticed how fragments of a song or a smidgen of prose pop in to your mind as a response to an external stimulus. It's a phenomenon I really enjoy and I often  share the joke with myself as I attach the 'quote' to its source. A simple illustration: during the recent cold weather when, as they say Down Under, we were all thoroughly rugged up, I was enjoying fish and chips with one of the people I have known longest in my life. We had been observing a couple who were interacting loudly and in not too friendly a fashion. It all seemed very serious. As they stood up to go, the young woman pulled on a woollen hat that had rabbits ears in bright pink standing a good six inches above her forehead. The contrast between that and their earlier earnestness was astonishing. Suddenly, we started humming simultaneously: "Where did you get that hat?..." a comic song of days long gone but thrown at each of us by an inner voice with a long memory. Sometimes, in my experience, the smidgens form a memorial to the originator. (I was about to say "virtual" memorial when I realised that that has quite a different meaning these days.) Anyway, every time I say "probably" I hear the voice of a truly dear departed saying  "probally". In all her life she never managed the second 'b' and she is thus lodged for ever in my inner ear even though it is now many years since I actually heard her say it.

As it happens, there is a queue of things where the three score and more than ten diverges from the two score. My inner self is running for a 'bus. My actual self waits for the next one. I shall never run for a 'bus again. Nor shall I ever sit at the back of the'bus or on the top floor again. Why not? Because I have to sit down  close and quickly before the driver jolts off  or I shall risk having to be scooped up off the floor where I have been tipped. I shall never again, politely, stand up so some old dear can have a seat. I am that old dear. There will be no more walking twelve miles along the banks of the river Ure. But I am ruthlessly walking come rain or shine the several hundred yards down to the local shops and back, No, I don't have a hat with rabbit's ears and, anyway, I think it is, at last, getting less arctic. Many 'nevermores' are really welcome. My young are so unlikely to want most of the belongings which fill my house that I no longer feel an oppressive duty of care towards them... the things, not the young. Temperamentally, I am not suited to 'last times' I havent noticed, and would always rather a 'goodbye' ceremony when whatever is to be lost. I remember one of my young leaning against me as I sat on a high stool when the clear words came to me: "She will never do this again". I was right. Having started, the examples are teaming, overwhelming. Overall, though, the relief of the nevermores is greater than the regret. But at least twice a day my inner voice can be heard quoting Hilaire Belloc: "Nevermore Miranda, nevermore. Only the high peaks hoar and Arragon a torrent at the door..." or words to that effect. Bore da.

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