A Day Like Any Other

imageAn autumnal chill this bank holiday Monday as we breakfast outdoors. Birds, the rush of the stream and a stream of traffic tune up like an orchestra.  Traditionally a day off, a bank holiday and lazing on the beach would be good. I have primed The Boxer.  She accepts with good and easy grace, as she accepts most things.  Old age becomes her philosophy.

Labour in the garden, not of love but necessity, will be the order of the day, and probably, if the sun eventually shines, I will relent and The Boxer will have her due. The beach will be for another day.

The Hundred Year Old Man

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The hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, is quite a title and quite a book.

A delightful concept that the hero should live through a century’s worth of major events and just happen to be involved in most of them. Many I had forgotten and found myself exclaiming out loud, oh ye-es, rather like a mini revision programme for a history test.

The hero Allan Karlsson’s  wry comment when events end in disaster, ‘things are as they are and what will be will be,’  is reminiscent of but less optimistic than Candide’s ‘all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.’  It is laugh out loud funny in places and certain lines deserve to pass into general usage: ‘Nothing lasts forever, except perhaps general stupidity.’

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

I suppose it challenges concepts of age, state intervention and the loss of rights.  The old man waiting for his hundredth birthday party does a bunk from the home he lives in, steps out of his (luckily) ground floor bedroom window and escapes the dragon who runs the home, Director Alice, having fallen foul of her in the first fifteen minutes of meeting her.

‘He was welcomed by Director Alice, who smiled a friendly smile, but who also sucked the joy out of Allan’s life in laying out for him all the rules of the home.’

Allan’s picaresque, improbable journey through the past century and on his last adventure is a good read. There were a few moments when the translation seemed problematic, but could have been simply style.

 

 

Season of mists

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Re-reading Keats and unable to marry the words with the grey and wind torn view,  I  realised autumn has gone over. Too late for the maturing sun and late harvest now.

And then comes a day like today raising hopes of  mellow fruitfulness all over again.

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SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness,

Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease;
For Summer has o’erbrimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twinèd flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barrèd clouds bloom the soft-dying day
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river-sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.