12 December 2017

Chilly childish cheek

A 55 minute cold walk to collect the re-clutched car from the crazily inaccessible location of the repairer my insurer sent to rescue me, and still limping, and increasingly as the long march proceeded, from the effect on my left knee of the fall that broke my right arm three weeks ago; and as I held that fence to negotiate carefully a patch of ice, terrified of a further fall, a young girl following on from that group of schoolchildren seen here descending the stairs from the railway bridge ahead, said to me, "Oh bless your little cotton socks old fella, now watch you don't fall," but more in cheek rather than genuine concern, I felt. Thus I have become the butt of "old geezer" type remarks, of the sort, I admit, I have delivered myself, probably in the early seventies, perhaps not directly to the geezers concerned but certainly with a laugh amongst my young friends. Then I thought of what these children have ahead of them, probably, perhaps... the struggles, the challenges, the first times for so many new things, and I sighed, and felt glad that was all behind me, although two miles of icy roadway still lay ahead. I made it, little cotton socks and all, although darkness had descended by then.

11 December 2017

Cold calling

Car clutch croaked, hence standing freezing in minus 10 degrees Celsius at a bus stop at 06.50, then bouncing in a bus for half an hour, then walking ten minutes, bouncing in another bus for fifteen minutes, cupping coffee to reheat bones, only to enter a room full of students, explain my plight, and hear them tell me that I shouldn't have bothered for they would not have minded at all if I had just cancelled the lecture on reduction-oxidation reactions and quantitative analysis. And I was so diligently trying not to disappoint them.

10 December 2017

My father, the boy soldier

My daughter wanted to see her now long-dead grandfather as a soldier, so my brother scoured the old photographs. There are only two. The first taken in his mother's house aged 18, I presume. The other looks like a professional image probably taken a few years later. He arrived in Normandy in June 1944 and ended up in Germany, via Amsterdam. I know that he killed, and I know that he saw friends killed; yet when I asked him as an elderly man what his time in the war was like he said, "They were the best years of my life." I found this a very strange reply. I am not very fond of looking through old photos, whether of relatives or of myself. Too many unwelcome thoughts arise.

Added later - Another picture unearthed:

Cold water under the bridge

6 December 2017

Another day dawns

Another early walk to make some young students' lives miserable for a few hours. Two mornings a week I do that. These mornings cheer me up. Was there not some old phrase along the lines of, "If you can bring misery into someone else's day then your own miserable day will not have been entirely wasted"? Maybe I just made that up.

5 December 2017

Dog day afternoon and night

Just after photographing a vast bank of cloud swelling up in the western sky, an old woman approached me and said very loudly, "You're bald! My son is bald! But he's handsome!" And while I pondered her use of "But," I reached a tentative diagnosis of the manic phase of bipolar disorder, rather than dementia, while the photos of her son came out, and then she started ruffling a young child's hair and telling him he looked like her son as a lad; and then she opened her purse and began dispensing coins to all of the children in the coffee shop while their parents looked bemused; until she returned to me and asked me where I lived, and what I did, and where was my wife, and did I have grandchildren... until eventually I had to abandon my attempts at work, shut the laptop, make my excuses and go.

Then later, walking on the dark South Inch, a big hairy dog galloped past me heading to catch up with its human, until a few seconds afterwards I felt a nudge by my knee and looking down I found the dog with my glove in its mouth - a glove I did not know that I had dropped - and the dog nudged me again, until I accepted the glove and moved on. A Retriever? How clever, how kind.

But then as I approached the walls of Perth prison, just beyond those glimmering buildings up there on the right, a dismal December dread suddenly filled me. I don't know why, although I have an idea. And I felt cold, and old, and alone, neither wanting to walk forward or back. What time was it? What should I do? The work was done by then. A bit further on and a few miserable visitors were leaving the prison - two women, one child, one bent and hobbling old man. I changed my mind three times, turned back, and went home; where a headache grew. I felt miserable. Nobody knew. My mood is lifting now, with no more sore head, in early bed. Goodnight.

2 December 2017

From Roseburn Bar to Stockbridge Nero

A wander in Edinburgh is always worthwhile

especially when the alternative is joining in on a trip to the shops

1 December 2017

Another December Dawns

As I wander in to talk about the electron wave equation to people who have seen many fewer December dawns than me. My impression was that they were quite pleased... when I stopped