Sunday, 31 March 2013

Simple truths and dirty lies

There is a lot of depression about. Not just feeling down, but full-blown malignant clinical depression. It's all over the place, and probably inside more of those around us, at least some of the time, than we may realise. That thought is prompted by a recent conversation with a young woman who requested some help from me, or guidance, and I hope I was able to give her some. And it is also prompted by thoughts of some of the bloggers I visit or have visited, because depression seems quite a common trait in the blogging community, or perhaps it is just that people are more inclined to talk about it on their blogs. And over the years I have had my own problems with the dark swamp of depression, or the black clouds, the black dog... whatever metaphor one wishes to use. The modern prevalence of the problem is perhaps a consequence of the steady erosion of faith and the increasing availability of time to think. Not that I would promote faith in things we cannot know about as a cure, even if I can somewhat envy its undoubted effectiveness in those who can sustain it.

I was driven by these thoughts to return to a blog post that I wrote in 2008, and the memory of some words from Joe Joseph, a journalist with The Times who wrote:

'Happiness rests on the most fragile of foundations. But it is precisely because it does, that it can also be rebuilt on the most fragile of foundations. Happiness is the emotional equivalent of Venice: you marvel that it survives in a harsh modern world, this improbable city built on stilts, up to its skirts in water.'

In my old blog post I expanded on that myself by writing:

Happiness is so fragile because it is built from almost nothing. From a glint of sunshine, a smiling face, the laughter from a momentary joke. The fragility allows it to crumble so easily, but because its structure is so flimsy, happiness is equally easy to rebuild again, from a glint of sunshine, a smiling face, the laughter of a momentary joke.

And I also wrote:

The key to happiness for me, these days, is to accept that life is pointless, that we mean nothing and that whether we achieve little or a great deal, or something in-between, it all amounts to nothing in the end, especially when the stars burn out, and are gone. But the point in life can be to try to find some interest, and even fun, in the people and things around us with whom we share this journey on our little planetary carousel spinning on its axis and circling the Sun. And to treat each day as a life and do something we can enjoy, is the best that we can hope for.

And I was thinking of all that today as, once again, a large latte, a newspaper and a comfortable seat in a warm dry place, oh... and a strawberry and cranberry muffin this time, was sufficient to keep me happy and content, and able to plan for a productive evening while wondering why I could not always keep my life and my mind this simple.

And I thought of the youngster who asked me for help, and who is just about to leave her teenage years behind her. I wonder if the comments of an old man made any sense to her, including my attempt to convince her that the feeling that things could never possibly get better and must inevitably get worse is just one of depression's dirty lies. I probably told her more than I should have about myself in order to try to convince her, but I am hoping that it worked.

So... the clocks have moved forward today and I am sitting in my conservatory at quarter to eight in the evening and it is still moderately light.

Happy Springtime.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

An old bird in Perth

My previous encounter with an old lady was much more pleasant than today's one, when I was standing in the long queue to buy my newspaper and a different little old lady approached from the magazine racks, with a suitable magazine for an old lady in her hand, and stood right beside me, facing me at right angles, slightly in front of me and clearly, so far as I could see, intent on sneakily sidling in front of me and jumping the queue, as little old ladies often do, in my experience. The queue turned away to the left behind me, so she could perhaps be forgiven for not noticing the rest of it, but she could not be forgiven for not noticing 6 foot 4 inches of me, towering tall above her 5 foot and no inches of little old ladydom, at a guess.

But... Ah well, I thought, I will forgive her, and will let her go in front of me, because a fight with an old lady would be rather unseemly, and I would probably come off the worst in any case. The metal tip of her umbrella looked dangerous.

So I just stood there. Not moving. Not looking at her.

And she just stood there, angled towards me but slightly in front of me. Not moving. Not looking at me.

And the queue did not move for all of... oh... about fifteen seconds, I suppose.

And then she looked up and me and squawked angrily: "Are you not going to let me through?"

"I'm sorry?" I said, not apologising but in a tone that was asking her to repeat, for I did not understand.

"Are you not going to let me through? I've been standing here trying to get through to the newspapers."

"Oh! Sorry! I thought you were waiting to be served."

"Do you think I would just barge my way in to be served?"

Her tone suggested outrage now.

"Eh... No... Sorry..." and I stepped aside to let her pass through the line, only to hear her exclaim, "Such rudeness!" as she scuttled by.

Rudeness? Oh well. Too much to expect her to ask to get through, I suppose.

Sadly that's one little old lady who won't be happy to see me again.

And on the way back to the car I spotted an opportunity to illustrate my humdrum and pointless little tale with a crow sitting high up on an ornamental tower. I don't know if it's a female crow, or even if it's an old crow, but it'll do.

I quite like writing humdrum and pointless little tales about my meaningless days, while resting with a cup of tea by my side. I used to do it more often on the blog, some years ago. I may return to that habit now, regardless of whether or not anyone wishes to read.

Mixed crops

Nothing much to see here - just playing about with cropping bits out of other photos for no reason other than because I want to.

Friday, 29 March 2013

You want a smile?

You want a smile from your father, daughter dear?

I can smile... I'll give you a smile... Look...

Was that good enough for you?

Can I go back to being miserable now please?

Leave me alone and see if your mother can do any better...

Somewhat understated, I'd say. 

Can we eat now?

Just another day

This year, last year

Trying to be as concise as possible today, I offered, "Climate is the range, weather is the variation within the range." Seems fair enough to me. Others may disagree. This photo shows why I preferred what the variation brought last year, but is the range changing? It was a useful stimulus for discussion through physics, chemistry, biology, ecology, politics and economics.


It's interesting how annoyed many people get when I say, "I don't know" during discussions and debates. There is such a strong tendency for people to feel they must decide on a definite opinion, however limited the evidence. Why?

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Not Claude

So here I am in the library cafe and a delicate and strangely familiar looking elderly lady no more than five foot tall, or small, just walked by very slowly pushing her three-wheeled walker.

I looked a bit surprised, thinking for a moment, "Claude"? But of course it was not our Claude. How could it be? She's in Canada. But for just an instant the strange brain works faster than its powers of obvious logic sometimes, in such situations.

The little lady with the walker who was not Claude noticed me looking at her and, since she was just a foot or so away and her head while she was standing was about as high as my head while sitting, I said to her, "Oh, Sorry. I was looking at you because you reminded me of someone."

To this, she replied, "Well you don't remind me of anybody, but I wish you did."

Ah... A sense of humour. So I asked her, "Do you come here often?"

And she replied, "Well, it is many years since a young man has asked me that."

A young man? Me? At 57? You can thus gauge what vintage of lady we are talking about here.

So anyway, I smiled and said, "Oh dear, am I get myself into trouble now?"

She giggled a little at this, while pausing and leaning on the walker, and she told me, "Fear not young man, there is no risk of you getting into any trouble with me, unfortunately."

So I smiled and said, "Never mind. Hello anyway. Enjoy your coffee."

"My tea," she corrected me firmly. "My tea." And on she wandered to the counter, very slowly, gave her order and then proceeded to her seat.

And right now. You know... I think she is looking at me... She would maybe get a laugh if she knew what I was typing.

Perhaps I will tell her, and show her, next time.

If there is a next time.

Best not to push things too fast too soon.

Anyway, here are a few more pictures of my walk to and from the library, where I did slightly less work than I was planning to, having been distracted by a dear lady.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Thoughts in Edinburgh

I am in a large coffee shop in Edinburgh with a fine view of the castle and I realise that none of the throng of people around me would have been born when I moved away from this, my home town. It's quite a thought for me. Where did these youngsters come from? Where am I going to fast? What the heck is going on here? No answers, but ah... the young lady opposite who just caught my gaze probably thinks I am leering at her. Goodness, I hope she didn't think I was taking a photo of her! Sigh... I was just looking at her and wondering what she really is, and what I really am, and what this nonsense that we are all part of is all about. Life, that is... She does have a very pretty face though. Oh... She just smiled at me as I tap out this rubbish on my keyboard. Why do I feel she has little to smile about, really? I have just enjoyed a fine lunch with my slightly older brother, and at least he's still alive, which is encouraging given that he has been living with leukaemia for a few years now. Which prompts me to ponder, and not for the first time, that the aggressive life of a cancer cell is actually an indication of the resilience of living chemistry that is needed to bring us all into existence and keep us alive. Nature's chemistry doesn't care for us at all, at the same time as caring for us all, if you can follow what I mean... Anyway, time for a walk back to the car in search of a few less traditional Edinburgh views:

Ach, and I could offer a classic one too, I suppose:

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Sunday time

Shaun Downey (Jams O'Donnell)

Image of and by Shaun Downey, whose photos and wit and wisdom currently live on here. I think that Shaun, who blogged as Jams O'Donnell, was a fine fellow.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Wednesday, 20 March 2013


Not now

Another visitation? Not now Aileen... I'm working, and the light of your arrival on a dark evening will frighten the customers... not to mention the likely impact of your overly convincing "fancy dress costume".

Hang on, I'll go outside and wait, although it is very dark and cold out there...

Where did she go? It's lonely here with just me and my shadow.

What a flighty female she is...

Ah well, two pictures that appeal to me anyway.