Good intensions … I’m supposed to write this on a Friday and, oft times, I just date it the Friday, anyway but, no more. My good intentions are exactly that, good. Not my fault if life gets in the way – and does it really matter if it’s, actually, Saturday as opposed to Friday? I know, I know, hard to believe that there are those for whom my ‘Friday’ post is all-important; dare I say life-enhancing? No? None taken. What I will say, then, is that, in this cesspit of a world – a fact about which I am rather prone to detailing – we, all, have our foibles; little things upon which we rely to make our day/week that little bit brighter. I was going to say/write our guilty pleasures but, somehow, that suggests rather rude connotations … and crutch sounds even worse! Where is this going – other than down? Enough. Apologies to those who look forward to Trish-Trash on a Friday. Without delay, I shall endeavour to make it worth the wait!
Now, 5pm on Saturday, where has the day gone? It’s called procrastination and I wonder where Becca gets it from! Never mind, here, now, ensconced at my desk, lights on and heating pumping. Dare I say, I have found this winter particularly wintery! After months of constant rain, suddenly it was dark – and freezing. Freezing! It’s a gargantuan struggle to venture out and retrieve the car/dodgem buried beneath ice and, increasingly more frequently, inside and out! Don’t ask. Suffice to say, I was successful on Thursday, as I recall. Lured by the sight of the sun and the crisp blue sky, the beach was calling. Seems an age since the tide has been out but, finally, a huge expanse of sand stretched before me, almost unblemished by the human race! Too cold for most, affording my idyll.
Anyway, to the subject of shells and my addiction to them. Lifelong, I just cannot resist, forever stopping to admire – and wonder. The vibrant hues, gleaned from their surroundings, glisten in the light, still wet from the water. Their mystery is enticing, their stories untold. My imagination fired, I cannot resist but … Returning home, the colours fade, instantly, and, once so vital on the sand, those precious shells are, now, no more than lifeless, inanimate objects. There is a guilt felt in removing them from their natural environment; a selfishness in doing so. Why is it that one cannot just admire? Why the need to take for one’s own? I’m not quite sure. I suppose I have always loved mementos; reminders of a special day or a special place. The sea, for me, is a source of great perspective but it is also a catalyst for my imagination and dreams of far-away lands. Every shell has its story; one we can never know and, therein, lies its allure.
Similarly, I have always loved chairs. They talk to me! Enticed by their story, the history, I have collected many, over the years. For example, sitting here at my desk, to my right – in the corner – is a little mahogany bedroom chair with a sweeheart back and a seat of duck egg velvet. One of my favourite possessions, I bought it for £45, many years ago, in a shop called Rummage in St Andrews. The most wonderful shop, full of treasures, sadly it no longer exists – and I miss it. Brimming with once cherished belongings garnered from house clearances, there was the added joy that the owner – a character, of course – was, often, privy to their backstory. So, to my little sweetheart chair … Originally, one of a pair, it belonged to an old lady; a local of St Andrews. The St Andrews of days gone by when ladies were ladies and the historic town was home to the educated and genteel. Another life. Continuing, however, only one of the pair remained and the lady was loathe to part with it. So sad, as I can only assume she was having to leave her home. Apparently, she kept changing her mind about the little chair until, eventually, she was persuaded to part with it. See what I mean? I can almost picture her … So glad it came to me, though. I love it. I only wish she knew.
Oh, I have many more stories to tell about chairs, particularly the set of six dining chairs my mother bought at auction in 1967 following the demise of Pitmilly House, an old country pile situated on the outskirts of Kingsbarns, which burnt to the ground. Subject to tales of a poltergeist – and complete with evidence of – both the chairs and sideboard purchased were, undoubtedly, haunted. Our dog, at the time – an Airedale – wouldn’t go near them, tail between his legs. As for the chest, he would lie on the quarry tiles, flat out, nose underneath it as though searching for something. Subsequently, Rumpole – our Old English Mastiff – did exactly the same, followed, years later, by our beloved Clumber, Wilbur. It is a known fact that animals are highly sensitive to the supernatural. There can be no other explanation. To this day, I have those dining chairs; my sister, the side chest. Perfect for a cauldron!
Of course, almost a thousand words later and not a word about Trump’s resounding victory in the Iowa Caucuses this week. As the Democrats, desperately, try to de-rail his march to the White House with unfounded and fabricated indictments, the people have spoken. Unbridled desperation, however, can be dangerous. Corruption abounds. Put it this way, the adornment of a bullet-proof vest would not go amiss.
In other news, what of the fact that the defective Japanese software responsible for the atrocity that is the Post Office scandal – Horizon, by name – is still being used! Seriously?! What’s more, supposedly, Fujitsu have agreed not to bid for any further Government contracts while the inquiry is underway. How jolly decent! Surely, their damning record rules them out, regardless? What’s that? Money? Of course, silly me.
On Wednesday night, 33-year-old Japanese author, Rie Kudan, was awarded the prestigious Akutagawa Prize for promising new writers with one of the judges calling her work ‘flawless’. In her acceptance speech, however, she went on to admit that her novel, The Tokyo Tower of Sympathy – ironically, about artificial intelligence (AI) – had been written, partly, with its help! She estimated that around 5% of her book was courtesy of ChatGPT and taken, verbatim, from the chatbot … In a world gone mad, it seems there were no repercussions; still, only praise. I have no words, only fear. How stupid is the human race? Rhetorical. Meanwhile, a voice of sanity in the darkness: Salman Rushdie – he, of The Satanic Verses – is reported to have used the words ‘pure garbage’ to describe the results of the programme when asked to mimic his writing style. May he go forth and multiply!
On the same day – and still on the subject of the written word – I happened to hear, on the news, that it has been ascertained that one fifth of children in this country, under the age of five, are read to less than once a month. A damning indictment – of parents! As is so much of what is wrong with this country today. Once upon a time, one was required to have a licence to own a pet …
As ever, too much to say and too little time. I must descend the stairs and pour myself a large glass of wine. Before doing so, though, let me quickly return to the subject of shells. In describing how, when taken from their natural environment, all lustre is lost, I failed to state the obvious: they mirror wild animals in a zoo. Wild animals imprisoned for our entertainment, removed from all that is familiar. They, too, become one-dimensional, deprived of freedom, drained of life. I was, immediately, struck by the analogy. In truth, we, all, should be.
‘The tree which moves some to tears of joy is, in the eyes of others, only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity … and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.’
This is Trish, signing off.