Saturday, February 26, 2022

Kittens playing with a ball of wool

Are you old enough to remember those ‘interludes’ they had between TV programmes back in the 50s? I remember the one where a kitten was playing with a ball of wool. Or was it multiple kittens and balls of wool?

Whatever. Think of this post as a harmless interlude between thinking and reading and worrying about the war in Ukraine. We need to be informed. We need to help where we can. But perhaps it’s important to also have an occasional break. 

If you don’t feel like that, I understand. Perhaps come back another day.

Here is today’s poem. (I found an interesting commentary on it here.)

A Brief for the Defence

Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that's what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered cafés and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.

Jack Gilbert

Here is the kittens interlude...

I still have nightmares about my A levels - yes, after 54 years - and I deserve to. I did not work hard and I was lucky to get the grades I needed to do the course at University that was top of my list: Psychology. I did work hard at that, so it all turned out OK in the end.

My problem is that apart from failing my driving test twice, I don’t remember failing any other tests, and that makes it hard to fail things now. Yesterday I had my third field test at the opticians because I did not do well on the previous two. I suppose you’d call it a resit. I know this is trivial, but I find the field test both difficult and extremely stressful. I’d almost rather resit my finals than take a field test. 

I have worn glasses since I was 3 and I was also a child who had to wear those horrible pink eye patches to correct my wandering eyes, so I am not inexperienced in the field of eye failure. I have had my cataracts ‘done’ (and long time blog readers will know about all the fuss I made) and now I am on the brink of some other kind of eye failure. The optician will ring me next week and tell me what it means. 

Look, I know I am a wuss, and there are people with terrible eye problems. There are three people close to me with serious difficulties. And maybe it’s just another sign of aging, and I just have to suck it up along with everything else, and be thankful the NHS is looking after me and my eyes. Hmm..I have almost convinced myself. 

That’s it.

This was flooded Monsal Dale on Monday:

here are my hellebores, finally flowering in our exposed and windy garden.

and here is Chione (RIP) as a kitten:

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