Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Sound Effects

Saturday night buzzes with a familiar soundtrack. The low rumble of buses and the idling car with a dizzying bass can make the loose pane in the front door tremble. At twelve, or just after, there'll be the clatter, slam, lock of the shop window shutter.

Once in a while a shrill, late night post-pub spat punctures a stretch of dark quiet before fade out.

Early Sunday and the volume is turned right down and the place seems altogether more sleepy. My drowsy band of slippered feet and tea sippers and the muffled drumming of next door's washer on spin make up the morning's background score.

Sometimes there is a window of four or five or six seconds of silence.

Sometimes you notice it.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Much Appreciated

This week, having been in receipt of what can only be described as nice things, it feels only right to say in bright red letters to those generous souls responsible for the giving thereof, a heartfelt


Some gifts came in the form of actual stuff - a thoughtful present and note from my cousin and then another from my brother. What nice people they are - it's not even my birthday.

Others were shaped as kind deeds. Like the one from the lovely Baglady who fielded some traffic my way via a mention on twitter.

As if that wasn't enough, this blog post was featured on Schmutzie's Five Star Friday list.

Crikey - I'm really touched. All of the above are very gratefully received.

Have a lovely weekend.

Friday, 14 January 2011

12.20 Appointment

On the letter they sent me it said to bring two different forms of ID. I slip three - passport, driving licence and household bill - into the plastic sleeve and check again that I've got the right day, date and time. 

The bus journey there is slow and loud - something wrong with the upstairs aircon - but I've still time to get a drink. In a coffee shop chain I don't normally go to, an assistant takes my order and holds up a small and a medium cup - one a thimble, the other a bucket with something like a ten pence price difference. I push instinct to one side and opt for the larger of the two.

It tastes horrid so I leave half, wishing I'd got tea.

A quartet of guards is on duty in the foyer of the building my appointment is in. It's the complete airport security experience without the option of flying - bags in trays, pocket contents emptied, x-ray machines and arms out turn around.  I'm only going as far as the seventh floor.

The waiting area, to which I've been directed by a couple of A4 landscape posters pinned to a door and a wall, is hot. The signs instruct visitors that there is NO NEED to go to reception but to take a seat and wait. I do what I'm told.

The office the woman calls me into is small. For a moment I don't know where to put my bags - floor, chair, lap. Whilst I'm bothering and dithering, the official slides four stapled sheets of paper across the desk, folds over the top one and asks me to check the document. I go through it and then she reads it back to me placing some ticks in boxes as she does so before asking me to sign at the bottom.

These two simple actions take no longer than a couple of minutes. I try to concentrate but I'm aware that a quick speed conflict is brewing in my head as the worry that I might have to say that I think I'm going to cry jostles with the rational thought to just get the thing done and not be so silly.

My mother's full name, date of birth, date of death and age are printed in Arial bold at the top of the page. Apart from her address, I don't recall any of the other information on it.

I hadn't expected to feel tearful. In fact I hadn't anticipated that any 'feelings' would be joining me at this please-check-the-details-and-sign-here-twice event.

But it's not the right place in which to emote. The purpose of this office is to function as part of a departmental machine where paper is processed, stamped and filed. There are no soft effects in the form of flowers, magazines tissue boxes or sympathetic smiles to accommodate or invite tears. On this occasion - thankfully for me and the woman opposite - I manage to swallow the lump in my throat.

I judge the pen she hands me as tricky to write with and I can't grip it properly. It's too spindly in my fingers which happens to be where my emotions have now congregated.

There's a brief respite from the tangle of thoughts in my head where I concur with myself that the observation about the pen was correct. The twitchy digits won't be calmed though and between my fingers it seems possessed with cartoonish energy that I can only control enough to make a spiky squiggle before we reach the crux of our meeting.

"Old Testament?" The official offers, as if it were were a toffee from a bag. I go ahead and read out the four lines from the pale blue, laminated card which looks like it's been stuck on top of this particular holy book. I attempt a final jiggery jaggery signature and the next step of the procedure is explained. Something something ten days, something something sealed envelope something something.

Outside the offices, I'm not certain what to do next. Across the road is the cafe and I remember the thought I had about what my mum would have said about a disappointing cup of coffee.


"Should have got tea."

Monday, 10 January 2011

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Re: Previous Post

In that photograph is one of those moments. It's the quietness at the end of one part of a day that holds the expectation of evening.

Saturday, 1 January 2011