Snow was general all over Ireland

… one of the more readable sentences of James Joyce, who pulled off the unfeasible act of being a genius and totally unreadable at the same time.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pulled “Finnegan’s Wake” off the shelf and attempted to get into it: I only ploughed through “Ulysses” because I had to for my degree.  But “The Dead” – “The Dead” is another matter.  If you haven’t read these stories, do so immediately.

I write this because we have snow.  Snow which can be called snow: snow which covers things and makes them white; snow which is threatening to cancel buses, which may mean I don’t get to see Peter and Andy after all.  It has yet to be determined whether this snow is the Right or the Wrong sort of snow.  I’ll keep you posted.

Off to the library today.  It’s all over between me and Brummie, a Guardian crossword compiler to whose head I definitely do not have access.  Unable to solve a Rufus one yesterday – I’m beginning to think that Araucaria and I may be soul mates after all.

Phone call from Steve last night who has seen Avatar 3D (apparently the most expensive 3D film ever made – but aren’t they all?) and who, I think, said it wasn’t good but he enjoyed it.  Something like that.

I’m not looking forward to going to the library today – it will be cold.  I have enjoyed my Christmas break and am feeling quite relaxed.

Enjoy the snow – keep warm and eat plenty of fluids – or is that druids?  Apparently some people have been snowed in at a pub in the Derbyshire Dales for several days.  Tragic.  I used to dream of being snowed in at a pub in Derbyshire.  Or anywhere really.

Kirk out.

Kirkdale out.

Sunday morning, 7 am

So. There you are. 7.15 am and still asleep, huh? Whadayamean, it’s Sunday? For some of us, sleeping till 6 am constitutes a triumph. Yes, Mark gave me some different medicine and it worked! I had to pee twice (OK I know you didn’t need to know that but no-one else is awake so there’s only you I can tell) and I went back to sleep. Until now, the notion of going back to sleep has been utterly alien to that perverse part of my mind which controls these things.

A real fire last night. I did some chopping and got some smokeless coal and we had a roaring blaze going. The quality of the heat is different, somehow, plus it heats the rest of the house to some extent because it warms the chimney. Unfortunately I also chopped my hand, though only bruised it. Comfrey cream sorted that out – plus a ritual dance on one leg, shaking my hand and yelling.

Church today, then I think a walk in Bradgate Park. Haven’t been there for a long time. To boggan or not toboggan – that is the question.

Have you seen the moon recently? Last couple of nights it’s been a really thin crescent, hardly there. Apparently there’s a total eclipse soon (lunar not solar).

A good time at Alan’s yesterday. Saw Colin (pronounced with a short o as god intended) who I haven’t seen for several years and reminisced about Hounslow.

Feeling very positive about Christmas now.

Have a good Sunday.


The wrong sort of snow

Haven’t heard this phrase so far although it’s been snowing on and off in England for 24 hours, which is tantamount to a National Crisis.  Not too bad though as it is dry, powdery snow, which is definitely the Right Sort of Snow.  Pretty.  Not frozen.  Nice.

Be good to go up to the chalet at the weekend and toboggan.  Or something.  Tried to go swimming today – both pools were shut.

Now have all our Xmas shopping.  Visiting Mark’s mum today, his Dad tomorrow.

Stung by an email from Peter claiming that I “never” read to the bottom of his emails.  Unjust!  That happened once!  Normally I always finish the

A Christmas Tale

(this is the blindest part of an utterly blind novel I wrote when I was in my early thirties. I was compelled to write it, but I have no idea what it means. Perhaps you can tell me.)

(Scene: winter. A barren snowscape.)

Characters: Jack, Jill (late twenties), Father Christmas, traditionally dressed.

Jack and Jill are sitting on a bench, Father Christmas is standing a little way off.

JACK: I spy with my little eye

JILL: What?

JACK : I spy with my little eye, something beginning with…

Jill: With what?

Jack (looks around) With T!

Jill: Idiot!

Jack: What?

Jill: Idiot!

Jack: Who?

Jill: What do you mean, who? You!

(Jack looks down and begins to brush imaginary specks of dirt off his trousers. He whistles a few notes of something unrecognisable, then stops. Jill looks at him briefly, then looks away. Her gaze settles on the middle distance. After a moment, she closes her eyes wearily.)

Father Christmas (approaching): A tree!

Jack: What?

FC: A tree! It’s a tree!

Jill: Where?

FC What he spied with his little eye.

Jack: How did you know?

FC: I didn’t know. I guessed.

Jack: Oh. (pause) Isn’t it lovely?

FC: What?

Jack: The tree

FC: Hmm.

Jack (in a false tone) Look at the pattern the branches make against the sky

FC The what?

Jack: The sky

FC: Oh. Hmm.

Jack: Of course, it’s cloudy now…

Jill (snorts. jack ignores her)

Jack: If it was sunny

FC: Hmmm?

Jack: It would be… (he searches for a word and brings it out without mucn conviction) lovely!


Jack: Don’t you think?

FC: Hmm.

(another pause, during which Jack again tries to whistle a tune and fails. Jill stares straight ahead, and Father Christmas, seeming to come to life a little, comes nearer and stands by the bench)

FC: But don’t you think?

Jack: Hmmm?

FC Dont’ you think we’re forgetting something?

Jill: (Snorts)

Jack: What?

FC: Well – we’re forgetting – something important.

Jill: What kind of something?

FC: Well – it’s time for – (he attempts a dramatic build-up in his voice but fails, and makes a half-hearted gesture instead as he opens the sack) presents!

Jack and Jill: (groan) We had presents yesterday!

FC (looks in the sack) Oh yes, so we did. (He takes off his outfit to reveal a convict suit complete with arrows pointing upwards.) Well, that’s that then.

Jack: I didn’t know you were a convict.

FC: (only half-listening, putting the Father Christmas costume in the sack) Didn’t you?

Jack: No. What did you do?

FC: (reddens) Oh, nothing much.

Jack: But what?

FC: Just – a small thing, really. I’ll tell you all about it later. Now – what did I give you both for Christmas?

Jack: Snow.

Jill: And ice. And it melted.

Jack: We weren’t very satisfied.

FC: People never are, these days. Too materialistic. Now, in my day, people were grateful for anything at all: snow, ice, icicles, windstorms – anything really. I remember I once gave someone an avalanche – that was in a good year, of course. There haven’t been so many of those.

(Jill is looking at him curiously, but says nothing)

Jack: (sarcastically) So – if you were so good to people, what did they put you away for?

FC: (gives a bitter laugh). They? That’s a laugh. “They” put me up to it. (Looks hard at them both). That shook you, didn’t it? Oh, yes – they put me up to it. But who takes the rap? Yours truly – that’s who. Not that there’s any of them left – still, you never know – they might have go away in time. Thy might all be down there somewhere. Isn’t that a horrible thought?  All down there, sipping their sherry, waiting. (Jack is thunderstruck, unable to speak, gazing at the convict in fury).

Jill: But who did you talk to? Who hired you?

FC: Ah, well that’s just it, isn’t it? You never know. Some faceless bureaucrat, some pen-pusher. Probably wasn’t even the one in charge. Probably doesn’t even know who’s in charge.

(Jack is gazing from one to the other, unable to believe his ears.)

FC: Anyway, they tell me it’s just a little job, no manual work involved – well hardly any, only pressing a button, and you could hardly call that “manual work”, can you?

Jill: Hardly.

FC: No questions asked, and then the pay-off. Then transportation to (he looks around him) safe quarters.

Jill: I see.

Jack: (He has just recovered his voice) But – didn’t you – I mean, what were you, what did you… (he falls silent as, looking at the convict, the possiblility occurs to him that he knew all along what he was doing. Finally, he finds his tongue again, and does something which seems at the time the wittiest thing he has ever done. He gos up to the convict, stares at him and says:

Ho, ho ho!

(well that’s it. When I wrote that possibly not even god knew what it meant.)