Trogged my way through today, sorting out agendas and attempting to look efficient and professional. Ho ho. I’ve even been brave enough to ask for papers for one of the meetings – always a scary move. Lord preserve us but some punter might even give me a set of them. Horrors! Ah well.
Posted a copy of A Dangerous Man to Lisa Glass, author of Prince Rupert’s Teardrop as we both write in a similar dark and twisted area so thought we may as well swap products. Am looking forward to reading PRT, Lisa! I’m sure it will be just my sort of thing … Mind you, getting back from the University post office was something of an obstacle race – the automatic doors refused to open for me and I had to bang on the window with my nose in order to get the attention of the person on the other side, who did at least seem able to open them. Which proves my thesis that I am indeed not of this planet. Even the electronics don’t rate me as human …
Decided not to walk round campus at lunchtime – as I think my wretched ankle needs all the rest it can get prior to tonight! – so sat and listened to the weekly University concert instead. I used to go quite a lot, but haven’t been for ages since I started my back exercise classes last year. But since these have been taken over by a tutor who wants us to do everything in pairs (heck, what is exercise for but a chance to be alone for an hour??), I haven’t signed up for the next series. And I rather enjoyed just sitting and listening to music – very relaxing indeed.
We are also in the process of deciding what our office Christmas giving should be – which is something we do instead of having to buy presents for each other. Last year, we sent a sheep to Africa (I sometimes wonder how it’s getting on, you know …), and this year we might well do a similar thing, but with a more personal focus as Carol knows someone through her church – here - who’s doing good works in Burundi. At least it takes some of the pressure off the hell that is Christmas gift buying anyway! So, I have made a box into a donations point and stuck pictures on it of cows – in colour, hurrah. I’m calling it the Goat Box, but bizarrely can’t find a picture of a suitable goat. Ah well.
Here’s a piece of flash fiction I’ve done for the Writewords Flash Fiction 2 group. The remit was a story based on “absence of choice” and a train journey in up to 250 words:
The last journey
Always the same old route. Out of the station, the endless track pulling me forward. Away from trees, gardens, birds. Towards smoke, commutered city houses. No choice, no choice, no choice. Each day my load gets heavier. No-one cares how I feel, though I think they used to. The weight of human flesh presses against my floors, lines the great stretch of my carriages as all the seats are taken. They’ve thought about giving me more carriages, but I don’t have the strength for it any more. I don’t know if I want it. More people means a greater load. I don’t care much for them now. They’ve never cared much about me: feet on seats; graffiti across windows; vomit – and worse – in toilets. Nobody cares, nobody cares, nobody cares. I’ll not be kept for much longer. New stock coming up, with facilities on board I could never dream of. All my old companions have gone and I’m not far behind. I’ve heard what the flesh in uniforms say. I’m not going down with a whistle and a metallic sigh. This time they’ll know my last journey for what it is. I’ve thought about it for a while. I haven’t any choice. Look, the houses are crowding around me. I see the great circle of sky-seats, and the people are stirring. Soon I’ll be at Waterloo. Soon it will be over. Let’s see then what it is I can do to them. Let’s see, let’s see, let’s see.
I’ve also just finished David Leavitt’s The Lost Language of Cranes. It was something of a slow-burn and I have to say I was immensely irritated with the amount of flashback and meaningless emoting I had to wade through. However, the ending is stonkingly good and he seems finally to get into his stride about three-quarters through. I do however think that the main character is not the one the author thinks it is – I cared far more for Rose than I did for Philip or Owen – she’s a more interesting and complex person. Leavitt writes very well too, so I’d probably go for another one of his at some stage, if it came my way. But I must say that I was also riled by the cover – which has a crane (bird) floating elegantly off at the top. How charming, one would think – except that the cranes referred to in the title are machines, not birds!! Doesn’t anyone give these covers the once-over before they get picked? Deep, deep sigh …
Tonight, I am off to my second session of Scottish country dancing. I’m planning to take it easy – ah, the old war wound, you know; it’s not the same since the Crimea … – and either not do all the dances or leave early, depending on how I’m holding up. The real problem however is that this morning I couldn’t seem to remember any of the ruddy steps, or even how to skip. Dammit. Lord H reassures me that it will all come flooding back on the night, so I can only hope he’s right … We’ll see.
Today’s nice things:
1. Swapping books with Lisa
2. The lunchtime concert
3. Dancing (however much I manage to do!)