Monthly Archives: October 2010

Jack in the box

It was eight days ago when the presence of a new Jack-in-the-box began to make itself felt. I was cleaning at the time – that is, I was at work in somebody else’s house. I could not stop off and do anything about it. For me, a Jack is the new idea for a story. Not just an idea, to be played with, but the pressing urgent presence of a story, pushing on the lid of the box, trying to get out.

I know from expereince that just how I release the lid will change the nature of the story. Not all of them come out cleanly, and although a good deal of polishing is possible, indeed usual, just how Jack launches himself matters.

Then the next day, an unprecedented thing happened. Another Jack turned up, equally insistent. Well, time and chance happens to us all, and due to an unfortunate series of events (to be recounted later, perhaps) the Jacks could not be released until today.

And today I am a bit tired for Jacks – but still, they are clamouring. So I think I will just have to take the chance. And here it goes… and I wonder what surprise will be inside. For I never know the real story until it erupts onto the screen.

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The fall and rise of joiners

Oh dear. I have been disappointed my my joiner. He gave me a reasonable estimate, just like the estimate of the first builder, dubbed J S Sergeant, and then he came back and hiked it up. I was unimpressed. I was also unable to afford it.

My neighbour has stepped into the breach. While the Disappointing Joiner is still to put in my Velux windows, and the walls of my shower-room, my neighbour is now to spend his spare time putting in my walls and floor. It has both the up and downsides of employing a craftsman.

The first good thing he did was to discover that the walls of the kitchen, spare bedroom and sewing room already have modern standard insulation. They do not need treated. What he will do is to ensure they are standing on the new damp proofing, thereby saving me and the planet a good deal.

Then he came up with more than one ingenious way of sorting out the need to raise the kitchen floor without relocating the door (which is low to begin with, my 6’4″ neighbour stoops to move through it). He is full of sympathy for the old building and ways to keep its charm without sacrificing too much comfort, and has taken advice from colleagues at work (he works for a building firm) on good ways to tackle odd problems (like ways of damp proofing the stairs without reducing the width too much).

Finally, I have the right man for the job – though I need to watch like a hawk that he does not cheat. That is, you understand, cheat himself, because I know there is a danger that he will pour in more time than he should in order to arrive at an astonishing perfection.

The 4pm headache

It was 4pm and I did not have a headache. And it was because I had finally realised that it was not a good idea to always have a headache by 4pm that this particular 4pm I was walking over the most glorious open moorland, with Max struggling to keep his excited bounding to my heel (but perhaps my knee would do, or my advancing foot, or perhaps it was OK to be a dog’s length ahead. Oh, no, OK back to heel again!) and Bridget was bounding along tail up and nose swivelling to investigate various small things which were easily intimidated, and tracks left by larger things, which might not have been.

I took Saturday and most of Sunday off (I had to go and retrieve the railway sleepers for the bottom of my second hand greenhouse, which is not a restful activity). Not ‘off’ in my usual sense. Not ‘doing things which need to be done with one eye on the clock, but picking nicer things than usual to pack hurriedly into a day’ but off as in ‘not doing anything that I had any disinclination to do, and feeling totally free to do nothing useful at all.’

I’ve not done much of that this summer – just the odd day with friends or family. It used to be a regular thing, and when it ceased to be, it was often replaced by writing, which is something so nice that I did not miss real leisure so much. And now writing has stopped, I think I will need to schedule some Sabbath back into my life, so that some days, anyhow, do not have a headache by 4pm.

Angels, dancing

Over at Kelvin’s blog, somebody seeking to suggest that a view was rather unreal and precious enquired after the number of angels who could dance on the head of a pin.

Bluntly, I thought the question more interesting than the rather heavy-going and literalistic discussion under way. (But then I make the radical assumption that Jesus was no fool at all, and a very good story-teller, and really rather sophisticated. This means I can allow him to make intelligent points.)

But I was interested in the question of the angels. They do not have physical bodies as we understand physics of course. So, for me the answer is:

Every angel in creation can, if it embraces all other angels, flowing into them, dance together on the head of a pin. Together embraced they are infinitely small.

Or, if you prefer, none. Any angel, being creature of such stature and magnitude, is so huge that no pin could support it.

The answer lies in which aspect of its reality the angel and angels would choose to show you.

And I am more interested in this than in the folly of supposing the Son of God was a pedestrian plodder.