Mud On the Road

we're about to go shopping in Salisbury...

Time Please

Posted by Deborah Courtnell

Seven Days, 168 Hours, 10,080 minutes... 

Mrs Bateman in close-up
Ephemeral beauty
  There was last Monday and there was a dog walk involving a fox which was, I assure you (several people have disputed this fact) bigger than Myrtle.

     I wrote about the dogs and the dog fox and posted it on here. My last post until today.

     There was a notebook with To Do lists scheduling domestic chores and the usual gamut of personal and professional objectives (finish book, landscape garden, tile bathroom, clean hen house, travel world, paint masterpiece) and the calendar outlining the week ahead and several pleasurable dates  involving getting all dressed-up and going Somewhere and having a lot of fun.

     There was the news, also on Monday 20th,  that Ray Manzarek, legendary keyboard player and founding member of The Doors had died, aged 74.

     My head was suddenly full of snatches of their extraordinary, other worldly music and lyrics from Riders on The Storm, The End, Waiting For The Sun, Hello I Love You, Love Street, People Are Strange, Light My Fire...

     Then, suddenly, without warning or notice, it was today.

     Where did all the time go? Where does all the time go? This year it seems as though time is rushing by faster than it has ever rushed before. Is it just me? Is it an age thing or the fact that I'm at my desk a great deal, writing and doodling. Is it because there has been so much rain that the days and months and seasons have blurred and run and merged like watercolours.

     And in the 'meantime', i.e. the last seven days, what, I should like to know, has become of my blog?

     Where are the nearly seven natty posts on this, my Mud On the Road website, deftly accounting, as they should have, for each of the intervening seven days?

     Where are the crisp,succinct summations of the passing highlights of days in the life of?

     Where are the adjective-infested descriptions and analyses of the low points?

     Where are the breezy sketches of people, places and things?

     Where are the over the top, adverbially-challenged rants and wails from the domestic drama that is life with three boxers, four chickens and a Shedley?

     Where are all my random and frequently misinformed commentaries on the state of the nation and the world at large?

     Where are the metaphor laden and utterly tangential and random connections between that bigger world and the twin blobs on the face of the earth which we call ‘Stockbridge’ and ‘Home.’

     Where, by the way, is that little piece I promised, swore faithfully, I was going to scribble on the biggest, reddest letter day in my diary for Spring 2013: The School Reunion?

     Where are all the made up words, the words-unnecessarily-glued-to-each-other-by-hyphens the outbreak of needless italics denoting mental anguish and the CAPITALS for strident emphasis and the overly long sentences and proliferation of words like 'quite' and 'just' and 'rather' and ‘whereas’ which erupt upon the pages of everything I write like a sinister rash presaging some ghastly plague and a burning.
     Where are all the suspension marks...?

     What became of my resolve to be like all those other very marvellous bloggers out there in blogland and adhere to a routine and write Mud On the Road posts NEARLY EVERY DAY?

     It's certainly not due to a dearth of news or the kind of material a blogger might have a view on.

     The last seven days have been jam-packed with news. The Great Organs and the Commentariat and the Small but Oh-So Deadly Tweeters didn't know where to start.

     They had more news per square inch and single second than they could possibly contend with, from the barbaric atrocity which was the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich to the arrests of two British men on suspicion of endangering an aircraft, an in-bound Pakistan International Airlines Flight, which was escorted by two RAF fighter jets to Stansted.

     Then there was the emergency landing by a British Airways plane on fire; the catastrophic tornado in Oklahoma; a young zoo keeper was killed by a tiger; Sally Bercow - wife of John Bercow, who is Speaker of The House of Commons - has been found guilty of libelling Lord McAlpine in a 'Tweet' and then there was the horror of 79 year old Clifford Clarke mauled to death by a dog in his garden in Liverpool. For which latter crime two women, aged 28 and 27, are now being questioned by police on suspicion of manslaughter and an offence under the Dangerous Dogs Act and are on bail pending further inquiries.

     Nor, on the level of nano news, has the world stood still these last seven days in the Shedley homestead.  The Myrtle boxer has been ill again, has been nursed back to health and is now recovering.

     Two chickens, Nigella and Floyd, became broody and were relocated to the 'broody box'.

     Nigella transforms into a hissing, spitting dragon when she's broody. She’s a PMT Jihadi. Happily swift action on our part has seen her shrug it off and she's now released and roaming freely. Unlike poor Floyd who still wants all 'his' imaginary eggs to hatch into baby chickens which means that his stint in the broody box must continue.

     The nettles have been vanquished, the lawn has been mowed. Twice.

 We've wined and dined across the South of England, seen old friends, made new friends, had tea with Small People, lunched with Maximum the Miraculous Working Mother and lovely Louis. We've feasted royally with Esteemed Villagers, welcomed Wise Father and My Darling Mother home from the sun-drenched island, been up to the Chelsea Flower show...

     Life and Time move inexorably on without cessation or pause. Change is always underway. Everything is in constant flux. The manor house which has been up for sale behind us has been sold. The Vine, a big pub on Stockbridge High Street which has been closed for some twelve months or more, is, finally, under offer.  And, further up the High Street Conleigh Bridalwear  appears to have shut up shop in Stockbridge and relocated to Winchester.

     Perhaps it's because of the silver clock.  Shedley discovered the clock in a box of stuff in the attic. It's an attractive silver mantle clock. He got it going last Monday evening, shortly after I wrote my last post and on the same day Ray Manzarek passed away. I haven’t written a word since.

     'This is The End, be-au-ti-ful friend, The End...'*

     The silver clock is now sitting pretty above the fireplace. It has a discreet tick which is just about discernible above the general hum of the day and is inaudible when the TV goes on.

     At night however, when all the clamour of life has ceased, dogs, TV, phones, neighbours, traffic, radio, the weather – the rain, raining hard on the conservatory roof, the wind, blowing in gusts down the chimney, then you can hear the little silver clock clearly:  Tick tock, tick tock. Ticking away, second by second, 86,400 seconds in a day; minute by minute, 10,080 minutes in a week; hour by hour. And there are only 24 of those in a day.

     Which is a fact of which we are only too painfully aware thanks to the Electronic American in Shedley's study.

     Judging by his accent, the Electronic American comes from somewhere inland, slightly East of Seattle but he lives inside Shedley's big Imac (the computer not the hair remover) from where he yells the time at us. He is not the speaking clock. He is the shouting, yelling, frantic, we’re-all-going-to-die clock.

     'IT'S NINE O'CLOCK,’ yells the Electronic American.  Often at volume 28 giving us and anyone else within a mile radius a near heart attack.

     'IT'S ELEVEN O'CLOCK,' he shouts, urgently, as we're wending our way towards bed.

     'IT'S MIDNIGHT,' he screams, desperately, because we've forgotten to turn the speakers off and we're lying wide having been brutally reminded of another day passed, of things not done, of Time, like in the Abba song, ‘Forever slipping through my fingers...’

     ‘Instead of turning it down why don’t you switch him off at source,’ An esteemed villager suggested, helpfully,  at lunch on Sunday.

     But we can’t. The Electronic American is in the computer you see. We don’t know where he’s located precisely or how he got there. He’s like Time itself. And we don’t seem able to turn that off either.


* Taken from The End by The Doors

Clematis, Mrs Bateman
Happiness in the garden

Eaten Alive!
Nigella, our little black hen
The Unusual Incident of the Chicken
Rise and Shine!
Rise & Shine!
Nano world by 'Alturnative Proportions'
 I Shrunk the Universe

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