Archive | May 2013

Quotidian

Quotidian: Adjective
Of or occurring every day; daily.
Ordinary or everyday, esp. when mundane.

I LOVE words: especially, it would appear, words beginning with ‘Q’. They are, as you can see, especially helpful when the urge to pudd-pudd across the iPad overtakes me when I have nothing remarkable to say.

M U N D A N E What a lovely word, almost onomatopoeic, it rolls off the tongue, it threatens to put you to sleep it sounds so beautifully, ecstatically O R D I N A R Y.

Yesterday was mundane. I tweeted on Sunday that it is more exciting to decide who you are going to be, than to decide what you’re going to do. I like that thought. Let’s ALL have a ‘to be’ list! On Monday I decided to be charitable, smiling and gracious. If you think I AM these things, you need to live with me for a while, then you would discover I AM indeed, but only sometimes… .

0800

A tiny alarm beeps on my iPhone reminding me to take my tablets. I am already awake, listening to KUOW Seattle. I do this to help my blood pressure. Twenty years of arguing with the ‘Today ‘ programme on Radio 4, did not do my blood pressure any good. You never have to yell at KUOW Seattle. Justine Willis-Tomms with her gentle, honeyed voice is interviewing a woman on being a woman and forgiving everyone. What’s to yell at? See? Try it.

I have already decided which emails to read, (None.)what to Tweet, (Nothing. I may have overdone it on Sunday. Sorry, Followers.) and what to wear.(Kate’s left-over aubergine jeans, a toning check shirt bought in a charity shop in Stroud for £2, over a white long-sleeved T-shirt on account of the weather.)

Bath. Search for Bus Pass, Spectacles, Keys, ( now missing for four days), Shoes. Pack smart Salvation Army tabard. Ready, unusually, to leave the house at time agreed. Driven to Gloucester. Check in at the Salvation Army.

1015

Today is a good day to decide to be charitable, smiling and gracious because I am helping the Salvation Army serve lunches to the street community. Pie, mash and peas.

I tell you, I LOVE this work. I have been helping out for two years now, and the women I work with are beautiful, kindly, earthy, fantastic, saints. I play at being what they are, and they don’t see it. That’s part of the joy of being with them, they are giants upon the earth, and they don’t know it.

So, Kathy. Jeanette, Sandra, Lynn and Major Iris, I take my hat off to you. You give without stinting, and I’m not talking about food. You make me laugh, and cry, you wrap me up in the warmth of your love, and I leave you feeling blessed.

1200

Doors open and our people come in. I serve the tea, which is where the smiling comes in particularly handy.

My earlier optimism on Bob’s bed proves to be unfounded. He hasn’t got one.

‘Bob, I CAN’T send the forms in unless you make your outgoings a LOT more than your benefits.’

Bob needs his benefits. He has Huntington’s disease, he is going to die slowly and horribly and he needs a bed. His outgoings are inflated by the painkillers he buys to cope. We both know we can NOT put this on the form.

I HAVE to sort this out before I go on holiday next Sunday, for six weeks. I’m thinking of making a home visit.

Andrew gives me the thumbs-up. The weather has been warmer so his arthritis is improved. He is a retired librarian and an accomplished linguist. I hope he hasn’t remembered that he taught me how to say , ‘Hello, how are you? ‘ In … Can’t even remember which of the Slav languages … .

Patricia’s looking poorly.

Pauline won’t catch my eye. She hasn’t spoken to me since I asked her if she had anywhere where she could take a shower before going for an interview… . Months ago. I have been advised this tack, whilst well-meaning, was a mistake. I see it was. I was only Trying To Help.

John is helping me with the teas. We have a new urn, which presents some problems. The drip tray falls off, we run out of hot water, we discuss his future. Yes, I think he should train to be a minister. Baptist is as good as any denomination, as far as I know, practically the only one I haven’t joined and left. Neither of us believe in hell. Would this pose a problem for Baptists? I have a horrible feeling it will.

Another John, an addict, looks better than the last time I saw him, but that’s not saying much. Nobody speaks about Flash any more. He’s been dead a month. Memories are mercifully short on the streets.

Many of our people are Eastern Europeans. They are so grateful, so polite. We notice four new people today, and make them especially welcome.

So do the regulars. New people are told where food can be found, most days, where vouchers for the food bank can be had, advised to go and ask the Major for a clothing voucher, when the doctor holds a clinic at the Day Centre…

13:00

Clear up. Off then to catch the 1327 bus to Newent and home.

I feel like the queen. Not because of my regal bearing, but because I’m not carrying any money. No paper money, anyway, and I need to buy onions. I have decided to make French Onion With Oxtail Soup. The oxtail is defrosting, and I know I have no onions.

There’s Gail, coming out of the chemist’s shop. She crosses the High Street to meet me, and we discuss the War Over The Flowers. I’m not going to write about this in detail, it’s one of those ‘I did, then she did, and he did, and we’re all at loggerheads,’ things, that is now, thankfully, resolved. I hug Gail and pop into the green grocer’s shop for onions.

98p a kilo. Good grief. What does a kilo look like? I reckon an onion weighs about four ounces. Already my brain is shutting down. ‘Maths! Maths!’ It shouts at me, ‘Run!’ But I persevere… Four ounces is about one hundred grammes, so that would be ten onions to a kilo… I look down at the handful of change I have and calculate… Four onions. Biggish ones…

Yes!!! Four biggish onions come in at 78p. I have 96p, so I’m well in.

1430

The afternoon and evening are spent propped up in front of the TV, and making soup, and cyber-loafing. A word I heard for the first time yesterday, and determined to use at least once! CYBER LOAFING. I said, ‘At least… !’

The soup recipe I snitched from a pub called The Lazy Trout, Meerbrook, in Staffordshire. It’s SO delicious that the chef who invented it deserves a plug. It’s worth going to Staffordshire just for that soup. Or come here – I’ll make it for you!

That’s ALL I did.

Which is just as well, because this blog entry is already way too long. I will spare you the recipe for the soup. Sometimes I just can’t help myself, and recipes pop up in the unlikeliest places, but not today.

21:30

Bed.

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Fluffy God

I have to come clean. I don’t believe in Fluffy-God.

I did. Once or twice, when the sky was cloudless and I didn’t know very much. I was about ten, I think. Or thirty.

I have been following up on some of the inspirational people who Tweet at me. And I have come to believe in a Collective Unconsciousness.

I have found lovely mums with big hair and big hearts revelling in the Beatitudes who strive to be pure in heart and deserve to make it.

I have found skinny, bald prophets who have found emptiness through wanting nothing, and I am happy for them.

I describe, you understand, I do not criticise.

It makes me think: thinking does me good.

I started thinking when my friends began dying off. I was younger then, and embarrassingly selfish. How dare they leave me? Fluffy God got a good kicking, let me tell you. And when my family started dying off too – well, I ordered him to pack his bags and leave.

That’s when I discovered another embarrassing thing about myself… . I’m not cut out To Be An Atheist. So what now?

I wish I knew. I’ll have to think some more about THAT.

One chill day, fifty kilometres from Umtata, I watched a scrawny child fill a plastic bottle with filthy river water to sell by the roadside. I just watched. She haunts me sometimes, this little girl dressed in rags. I ask myself, ‘Why didn’t I try to do something? There are many things I could have tried to do, but I couldn’t move.

I couldn’t take it in. That’s the truth of it.

This little one, wasn’t part of my world, she didn’t fit, she couldn’t be happening. This is what Collective Unconsciousness does to religious people. Fluffy God doesn’t allow this. IT CAN’T BE HAPPENING.

True God, I think, and I think there is one, opens our eyes to the suffering of others, and whispers, ‘Go on, TRY…’ He doesn’t need religious institutions, or religious people. She just IS.

Scripts Wanted!

There’s help and advice for unpublished writers – and positive encouragement to send work in:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom/

Yes, it’s THE BBC…

Unsubstantial Walls

When a man (sic) has once broken through the paper walls of everyday circumstance, those unsubstantial walls that hold so many of us securely imprisoned from the cradle to the grave, he has made a discovery. If the world does not please you, you can change it. You may change it to something more sinister and angry, to something more appalling, but it may be you will change it to something brighter, something more agreeable, and at the worst something much more interesting.’

This quote from HG Wells, ‘The History of Mr Polly’ raises a delightful prospect.

On the first Thursday of the month, I have a rendezvous with my soul. I have to drive to South Wales to make the date, and when it’s wet and dark, it IS a bit of a trek, but it’s worth the effort.

There are ten of us in our Contemplative Prayer group. We eat supper together, then we sit in silence for twenty minutes. We stop. Doing, thinking, striving, worrying, planning, hoping, praying, believing… Stopped.

It’s not easy, not always possible, but something emerges – the simple knowledge that it IS possible to stop.

So what? For twenty, often very long minutes, I put myself on hold. Everything I think I am, I lay down to rest in liminal space – a particular place, on the edge of being, that is pure life without the wearisome effort of having to live it.

What Mr Polly, in his ponderous way, invites me to do, twenty-one minutes after the singing-bowl rings, is to consider very carefully what I take up again.

My life, like yours, is great, and terrible, is pleasure and pain, is truth and make-believe… . Would I like to change some things? I would, yes I would… Will I? Not necessarily. But when I emerge from the silence of my deepest self, I know I have taken up, even the hardest things, voluntarily.

What’s That, God?

I think you’ll have to shout a bit louder.

A really really sensational series of books that hit the US best-seller lists a while ago, were Donald Walsch’s. ‘Conversations With God’. I read all three.

I read them with interest and a great deal of enjoyment, because this chatty God, who answered all Donald’s questions with commendable frankness, was a very likeable Divine Presence.

I read them with a great deal of scepticism because this new revelation of All-Holiness said some pretty radical things.

At the end, it all came down to: Love the things you desire, and they will be drawn to you. That’s it – You have created who you are, and you go on doing just that, so create something you REALLY want to be.

Lots of people will attest to having pulled the Universe into their hand, and become richer, better-loved, more beautiful, more gainfully employed and with better health… And good luck to them.

I never tried it, not once. Maybe I Am who I really want to be?

Or lazy. Yes, lazy. Think about it: if I had more money, I’d be obliged to find ways of spending it, if I ruled the world, I’d need to find things for people to do, if I were young and beautiful, I’d be beating suitors off with a stick… All too much trouble, I’m afraid.

Somewhere deep though, something stuck. This must have been the beginning of my belief that you can believe what you like and get away with it. Ultimately, the realisation that God as Revelation, is Open To Negotiation.

I watch my lovely fundamentalist friends having not too much fun at all, tying themselves into knots trying to reconcile into one indivisible truth, the revelation of God as a vindictive old tyrant, and a universally loving Spirit.

Either? Neither? Or Both?

It’s entirely up to you.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately. Alongside reading the New Scientist on the nature of consciousness. I’d love to watch my own neurons fire, I think that would be pretty amazing, but what I observe from looking at pictures of other people’s, is, that the subconscious sorts everything out, then the conscious bit ( let’s call it ‘you’) just does as it’s told. I tell you it’s pretty scary stuff. The subconscious self makes quite a lot of it up as it goes along, so the reality you think you’re experiencing, isn’t really real at all. And, furthermore, holds together what you think of as ‘you’ for about three seconds.

THREE SECONDS. We are all about three seconds long, which is no time at all if you ask me.

I have about 2.5 seconds to let my subconscious inform me as to where we’re going with this. Ah yes, Talking to God.

You want to capture a few Hittites and batter their brains out? In about three seconds time, God will tell you to do it. You want to love your neighbour as yourself? Ditto.

God! I hope I’m wrong!