Discarded Oracle – the family album

Grannies & Eggs

I came across this weeks ago and I just randomly finding myself still laughing at it…

I guess it just has always amused me when self appointed experts don’t realise they’re in the same room as actual experts…

I’ve not trawled the rest of the thread but I’m guessing Stephen King was classy enough to not flounce and ask “Don’t you know who I am?”

“Don’t you know who I am?” That’s always a classic! Something I especially enjoyed in old casino days…

20+ years on and I still laugh with old croupier pals about a 3rd rate Musician who somehow managed to strike his 15 minutes of fame and tried to squeeze the most out of it by parading himself waiting to be recognised… I’m assuming he never made that much money as he never put any across the table… But maybe the strutting rather than the gambling was his sole game… I don’t know… I’m not a mind reader and we never had a conversation.

Thing is, if you’re going to ask that question then you’d better hope you’re not a dick… But then I guess this is a Shrodinger’s Twat scenario because as soon as you do ask that question, you’ve exposed yourself fully as a first class plonker…

The 3rd rate musician pulled the stunt on a very tired receptionist… Who flatly told him “No, show your ID or leave”. He went further and pushed her until she voiced over the tannoy “There’s a man on reception who doesn’t know who he is… Is his carer here?”

Then you get the famous by proxy finger clickers… I recall a pushy man demanding to jump the queue… “Serve me now!”

“Pardon? Serve me now, what?”

“Serve me now. Don’t you know who I am?”

“No and no…”

“But I’m (insert name of famous football player)’s brother-in-law”.

“Oh! OK… Wait your turn, I don’t know who he is either…”

I think I just find it generally funny when people assume knowledge or they assume what other people’s knowledge is… Or they assume other people’s views, experiences, attitudes, mindset, etc. etc.

Yesterday, I’m in the car with two anti-science people talking behind me… I’m a Science head, that was my formal education and so my ears always prick up at any mention of science…

The conversation babbled on and became more and more apparent that between the two of them, there had been no study of Science further than skimming conspiracy theories and believing Facebook memes…

I let them talk..

It went into the evils of big pharma and then I had to stiffle laughter as they went into antivaxer mode… It’s all poison except for the ones you need to take to travel to foreign countries… Ah OK, you’re not going to comply unless you want to fly… You could lie and fly… You gotta love flexi principles… But hmmm… I stayed silent. It wasn’t my conversation and nobody asked my opinion…

It went on to childbirth and I quietly shook my head… Demonising medicine… All medicine, as though it’s a black and white issue…

“What do you think Karen?”

“Oh, yeah, absolutely, remove all medicine from childbirth. Let’s get back to the good old days…”

“Exactly! The good old days!”

“Oh yes… Those were the days. The days when there were needless numbers of women and babies dying… Yes, let’s bring that back and clear out the shallow end of the gene pool. The world is way overpopulated anyway…”

Silence… Followed by a gulp…

“Errr… OK Karen… I guess that’s one way of looking at it…”

“I guess… I guess you didn’t expect that from a hippy?”

I hear another voice very quietly mumbling… Hmmm… She’s in a weird mood today…

“Hey Karen? How are you feeling today?”

“Good! Very good, never better 😁”

I see puzzled faces in the rear view mirror… I smile at them and think to myself… Thoughts and feelings… Feelings and thoughts… There is a difference…

Opinions and facts… Don’t get me started! I’m keeping schtum on that one…

There’s victories & there’s Victories.

One way or another it’s been an emotional week… You could say it’s been like Springtime English weather, where you get all the seasons in one day. You could, except it been  unseasonably relentless with sunshine since lockdown began. Not that I’m complaining, especially as it comes after a solid 6 months of grey and rain…

Driving home this morning, I congratulated myself on not punching someone in the face yesterday, but decided actually that’s not much of a celebration as I don’t punch people anyway… I do have flamethrower fantasies where I blast their heads off… I had the fantasy yesterday and it was flitting and brief rather than roaring for days… Was that a victory? Nah… Not really, more a side effect of age and knowing there are more pleasurable ways to burn energy…

It occurred to me that during the last couple of days, there were some real victories…

An air punch victory with a small v – Yay! The end of June last year, I retired the old Toyota and picked up a Focus. Reluctantly using my credit card as it would be cheaper to buy a banger than repair the aging gas guzzling leviathan… Clearing the card was easy as the savings in fuel, tax, insurance, meant that the new to me car paid for itself. I also made a promise to myself to stash cash and trade up again a year on. Wednesday, I secured my upgrade to be collected on Monday. Two weeks ahead of target and payment in cash… No credit, no loan… Sealey hard earned cash… Yup! A small v victory.

Why a small v? I think small v victories are the obvious ones… The mundane ones, where really, you just need to set your priorities, get your shit together and stick to the plan you made. You take control and it’s not that open to outside influences fucking you over.

The big V victories, they’re the silent battles that most people don’t see…

My big V victory… Sitting on a video call with my sister and laughing together for a couple of hours.

Yes, I know… That hardly sounds like a Victory to most people but for us it was monumental.

We were raised in a family where there was not much fun in the dysfunctional. The sort of family that until you’re out of it, you don’t really grasp just how fucked up it is…

10+ years on after making the break, there are still the odd days that flag up just how insidious the damage was… Weird anxieties that come out of nowhere when you least expect it… Wondering why you feel so stressed by tiny day to day activities that shouldn’t raise an eyebrow or second thought. For example, a couple of months into my driving job, I spent about a week tying myself into knots… The car needed valeting. It’s part of my job to take it in. How simple a task is that? The problem? I had to ask my manager for cash to pay the valet. Why couldn’t I bring myself to do that? It didn’t make sense. Eventually, after what felt like forever but was probably around 5 days, I tenuosly made the phone call. I couldn’t understand it, my boss is sound as a pound… She answered – yeah, yeah, yeah mate, just grab some out of petty cash and drop back a receipt.

I put down the phone and let out a huge lungful of breath… Head back, shoulders dropped… Tensions fled as I realised I’d been bracing myself for an argument that if looked at logically, was never going to happen…

Oh… OK… A childhood legacy had been lurking in the shadows…

Conversations with my sister… I’ve never fallen out with my sister, though we go long times without speaking as we lead very seperate lives… Seperate lives started early on, even when living in the same house, our circles of friends did not overlap… Looking back, I see now that this was a survival tactic… Seperate worlds meant that we couldn’t be cross examined by the mother… The mother always trying to set us one against the other…

Yet, when shit hits the fan, the two of us are always there for each other. I guess that’s the thing with siblings, you don’t have to explain the back stories or try to justify and make sense of what happened… They’re there and in your corner, no questions asked…

After the big bust up in the family, where I ejected the mother out of my life and the rest of the family followed suit, it slowly became apparent how dense the web of secrets and lies had been wove… In some ways, that didn’t surprise me as much as you’d think it would… There were some absolute whoppers that came to light…She’d made a fine art of the divide and conquer game… Somehow I’d kind of managed to stay neutral to a lot of the waring between my sister and two step sisters, that had sprung out of the wellspring of matriarchal machinations… Maybe because a lot happened during an intense period of my life where births and deaths came round too quickly to keep pace… I was too bloody tired to play into things… I know I’d said more than once that I was aware that shit was happening, but you’re all adults, I’ve got my own little family to worry about, so regards to the big family, just call me ‘Switzerland’. But post split and more and more revealed each day… It was hard to stay detached… I wry laughed as it became very clear that we’d been set against each other to cover up a trail of extra marital affairs… Kind of amazing to discover that you’ve been used as a regular alibi by someone you rarely see… The revelations kind of sucked but didn’t hurt as much as realising that you’d been played into distrusting and entertaining doubts where none should have been…

The four girls all talking between each other… With no puppet master stringing us up…

Conversations at first felt like weights lifted but then things became too painful… My sister although 2 years younger, is the one with the vivid memory… The one with blow by blow recall… The one whose words would conjure up images and memories of stuff that made me pause… Stare off into space… Question what I was seeing in my mind… It’s kind of familiar? But like some half remembered dream or some almost forgotten snippet of overheard conversation you weren’t supposed to hear…

She’d fill in more details… Then plink! Fuck! Yes, you’re right… That did happen… I’d be able to see myself right there in the scene… Recalling what I’d been wearing, remembering sights and smells… Re-feeling knots in stomach and nauseating sensations of dread…

It became that the whole of our conversations were consumed by the bad memories, the grieving for what could have been or should have been… The things we’d not had but felt the loss of… It became all too painful and again we both went out our seperate ways… To process at our own paces…

This week talking, we stumble into the mother issue. I felt indifferent in a good way. Nothing triggered and poked raw… I laughed ‘Oh boy! We really got the short straw! It’s so good to have metaphorically killed her off!’

My sister said in hushed voice… Oh… Get this… You won’t believe what my girls do to me! If we’re going through town, they’ll nudge me and say ‘look! There’s Mary!’

I was puzzled. How do they even know what she looks like? I’m not sure I’d even recognise her now. How can they possibly remember her?

Oh! They have no idea what she looks like, they just know it presses my buttons and makes me leap and hide behind clothes rails!

Seriously?

Yes! Seriously! Her name makes me leap!

What? Worse than spiders?

Yup!

I tested it out… Look! Spider! She leapt! Hey! Mary! She leapt and squealed ‘Stop it you fucker!’

We talked our way through other things… She asked me how I now managed to find humour in our rearing… I told her… Writing… Crayons… Screaming in fields… Many lucky finds in friends I’ve met… But mostly in piecing together the D. O.

The D.O.? What’s the D. O.?She asked…

I told her… It’s the cards I’ve been drawing, the Discarded Oracle…

Her eyes creased in smiles and twinkled… It spread across her face… That’s the thing with siblings, you don’t have to explain your punchlines…

So my big V victory… Half a century to arrive at a place where I can sit and chat shit with my sister like we’re just a couple of normal people having fun.

Does He Exist?

The Lesser Spotted Mr S

One of the things or is it two of the things? Hmmm… Let’s go with something. Something I’ve noticed during lockdown is that people use phones less and ask questions more. I guess phones are pretty dull when everybody’s plans for the weekend are ‘staying in’. That’s not a lot of planning going on and people sit more in the here and now and take conversations where they find them…

The Glaxay has been a goldmine of entertainment for me. I’ve always had a knack or maybe it’s just a natural effect… Something about my aura? that makes people spill their secrets to me… I’ve heard all kinds of stories over the last few weeks as word got out that what’s said in the car stays in the car. Though the last week or so, the tables have been turned and I’m the one on the receiving end of questions, mostly wanting to know what my other half is like.

OK, it’s not exactly like I hide Mr S away. I often speak about him, write about him and even on occasion mine his quirks for material for stand up routines. He takes it all in good humour. He’s never been to see me on stage. I banned him! I’ve always spoken in uninhibited ways to him but there’s something about speaking that way in front of a crowd who think you’ve invented stories that’s a bit distracting/odd should the plot device be seated in the front row. I’ve always ran material past him and he never censors me. I asked him one time if he minded being the butt of my jokes. He laughed and told me that I never made him the butt, I always made myself the butt and him the cool one.

It’s been a while since I’ve done stand up. It was something I needed to do but it wasn’t really my thing. There’s too much hanging around in the wings… But I guess I decided I was done with it when the stage fright vanished pretty quickly and without adrenalin, it’s tiring to force your energy into sparkle mode… It became too much like hard work! I only stay in jobs where I feel like I’m being paid to play.

The comic in me lives on and now and then behind the wheel, I’ll slide into sit down comedy… It might be triggered by a random passerby which causes me to spurl into observations and imaginings of what’s going on in their world… Or often it will be a retelling of some silly conversation between myself and Mr S.

But, anyway, there’s been lots of questions about Mr S…

Was it love at first sight?

1st sight? YES! 2nd sight… Hell no! 3rd sight… OK, yes, 1st instinct was right.

Is he nice?

I guess? Sometimes? Mostly…

What’s he like?

Ale & Cunt! (one of those is a lie but everytime I get asked what’s he like, it reminds me of the punchline to a joke he told me 30 years ago).

You’ve been with him 30 years? Aren’t you bored with him?

No

Do you still have sex?

Yes

How often?

More than you!

Good sex?

Yes! Who tolerates 30 years of bad sex? What kind of perverse self harm is that?

Does he exist?

What? You think he’s a fabrication of my imagination?

Could be? You do have a vivid ways of inventing stories…

Hey! I’m lazy! I don’t make stories up! I write them down!

So he does exist?

I guess? I’ve got 4 kids and I’m not an amoeba… So… Yeah… He must do, I guess…

He’s got a beard? Did he have that when you met him?

Yes

Did you like it?

Not particularly at first…

So it grew on you?

No, it grew on him. Though I must confess that I do appreciate the goodness of always having somewhere warm to sit…

Does he make lots of money?

Not tons but enough

Are you just in it for the sex?

Hmmm… No… He cooks! And cleans… And the kids are quite fond of him… He’s the best Domestic Goddess in the house.

I don’t know what all the fascination is with him… I guess because they never see him but they hear me cracking funny about him.

I said to a couple of girls the other day – oh blimey! Mr S came downstairs the other day and as soon as I saw him, I said oh love! You need to get tested for covid, you’re showing symptoms! He said – what? What do mean woman? I feel fine! What symptoms? I said – you’ve lost your sense of taste! He cocked his head to one side and eyed me quizzically – My sense of taste? My taste is fine! Oh! I said – Really? So why are you dressed like that?

The girls agreed I was a bully and sent out waves of sympathy for the existence unconfirmed but long suffering Mr S…

I agreed, I was indeed a bully but told them he was in fact more than a good match for me.

Really? Have you got evidence? I just smiled… We’d come to the end of the trip… Evidence would be for another day…

The next trip I have with them, we’re chitter chattering away and I start laughing. One of them says – Oh God! Here she goes. The other says – C’mmon what’s tickling you?

OK! You know what my poor old husband said to me the other day? No of course you don’t! He’s a bugger! I was talking about some of the horror stories I’ve heard about old age and he said to me…

Sit down Karen, we need to have a very serious talk. This is important, I need to make my wishes known to you whislt I still have my faculties. I’ve been thinking long and hard about this and I’ve come to a difficult decision. There’s something I want you to do for me.

If I ever end up in that state, where I’ve lost my marbles and I’ve gotten to the point where I’m rolling my own faeces into small balls and start offering it to you by asking if you want some Maltesers… If I ever get to that point, where my mind has gone… Or my bowels or bladder… If I’m shuffling around in soggy pads, drooling and wailing… I want you to do something for me. Are you listening? You and me, we’ve been through so much over the years and I’ve put you through many things… If I end up like this, I don’t think it’s fair to make you watch me suffer anymore… Please Karen I don’t want you to see this… Promise me! Promise me this! If any of that happens. don’t nurse me, don’t watch me… Promise you’ll do one last thing?

OK Marko, what is it?

Promise me you’ll kill yourself!

The girls revoked my bully status and agreed he’s more than a match for me! I’ve always claimed that he’s the funnier of the two of us 🤣 That Mr S is mostly harmless but he’s certainly not unarmed.

Female not Foe

OK, let’s be honest, I’m not proud of myself, but… Well we all have our odd habits and one of my borderline perversions is paddling in the sewers of the Internet. Yes. I know I’m educated! I should be spending my time better elsewhere but… As vices go, it’s not a terrible one…

Anyway, I have two go to places where I like to voyeur group dynamics… The Metro comments section, though to be fair, that’s probably more for the gems of illiteracy that give hilarious whole other meanings to things. My real guilty pleasure (though that’s a euphamism as I can’t confess to feeling guilty) is a local fb community page. I’m going to steal and probably misquote something a friend said the other day, which has had me laughing on and off since I heard it. The phrase was in reference to other things but it’s too apt and too delicious to not use here. So… This fb page is full of (misquote coming up) “prosecco glugging, avacodo chomping, twats”.

They’re an odd bunch, convinced they live in some kind of Utopia which is unfortunately frequently invaded by the unworthy. They complain bitterly… Mostly about cat shit, students, and parking, or any combination thereof…

We can’t park! Not because we have 3-6 cars per house but because those bloody students have 1 tiny car between 4 of them and they’re hogging the whole area! And the noise! They were playing music at 10pm! Don’t they know I have to get up at 8am to let the nanny in? And so on and so forth…

That was before lockdown… What are we on now? Week 9? Something like that… Well they’re going increasingly insane…

Why do I find this so funny? Well, where shall we start?

OK… There is of course, the previously mentioned great courgette appeal… #firstworldproblems

Then there was the photo that appeared of an empty supermarket shelf which accompanied a lengthy moan about how tragic it was that all the hand sanitiser was sold out, followed by (I presume dirty) finger pointing at greedy hoarders… Thing is, as it happens, I was in the supermarket exactly at the time said photograph was being taken, stood right next to (well 6ft away from) a woman angling mobile phone towards the two empty shelves in a way that the full shelves next to it could not be seen. I watched with much amusement and made and won a bet with Mr S – “Look at that nutter, curating her lockdown story. I bet that appears on the X fb page by the time we get home…”

Then began the posts along the lines of oh my mental health is so badly affected by this, I need chocolate but I’m too traumatised to leave the house… These get floods of replies… You’re so brave to reach out Hun, pm your address, I’ll leave some on your doorstep… Now, I know mental health problems are not funny but it is funny how things can switch from ‘I can’t cope’ to ‘Oh, I don’t really like bourbon biscuits, do you think you could knock me up a batch of cupcakes instead? ” so quickly… Call me cynical (I’ve been called worse) but I’m not seeing mental health honestly depicted here; it feels maybe more in the vein of opportunism/emotional manipulation…

Then we’ve had the “shaming” photos. For example, the one showing builders putting a new roof on. Now these guys were well within the law to work, were following H&S procedures and socially distancing and call me crazy but in my mind if your roof has fallen in, then getting builders to legally fix it, is hardly classed as non-essential… This poster did (not by me) get challenged – “If you’re so worried about this virus, why are you even out? How is your amateur pappaprazzo shoot essential?”

“Pappaprazzo (sic)! How very dare you! I was legitimately out, taking my government prescribed exercise, after I’d walked the dog, before I went to the chemist, visted 3 vulnerable neighbours, then went shopping at 6 different shops trying to source toilet paper! I have every right to be out! I just happened to see these men and photographed them as I wanted some clarity on the issue!”

But this is all little league compared to my latest and current favourite…

I could c+p but the whole post was too clunky for my taste. The upshot was that let’s call her Wilma. Wilma had been driving at 8am and nearly knocked a girl off of her bike. Wilma admits that she scared the girl, and that she then pulled up her car further along the road, sat with her window open waiting to tell the girl that she’d not seen her because the sun was in her eyes. Wilma had wanted to offer some unsolicited fashion advice regarding visibility for the now in Wilma’s words “terrified” girl. So Wilma was posting several hours after the event to say she was sorry that she had terrified the girl twice and that she was worried that the girl might have thought she was being accosted by the man that has been posted about who is out and about hassling lone female joggers. So she just wanted to assure the girl that she was female not foe.

Oh my! Nigh on 200 comments!

Female not foe! Wtf?! Two words Wilma –

“Myra Hyndley!”

Two more…

“Rose West!”

I searched the page… No mention anywhere of this man hitting on joggers… Though an interesting post from Wilma seeking 20cm of Navy thread, then discerning between several shades of almost identical blues to say none were invisible enough… I resisted the urge to suggest she found the girl on the bike and asked her what colour she was wearing as it had rendered her invisible in broad daylight… Mr S heard me laughing, “What are you up to?” I filled him in. He forbade me from commenting on any of the posts “Ffs Karen! Don’t you go wading in there! People are fragile! If you unleash, then some poor cow will probably end up hanging herself…”

Being the ever dutiful wife (🤣🤣🤣) I complied with his lordship’s commands. Though he forgot to ban me from reading through the comment section… Oh lord! What happened to Utopia?! The divisions and cracks laid bare… Wars are raging! Men against women! Old against young! Cyclists against motorists! Civilised against trolls! My favourite volley by someone thinking they are right and polite calling out others for being ‘right nobs with too much time on their hands’. (OK confession… I did comment there – “C’mmon leave Wilma alone now”).

What has happened to Utopia? What has happened to all those posts about isn’t our community so friendly and caring? Isn’t this timeout so amazing? What an incredible opportunity it is for us to build a new normal!

Your new normal? Man! You guys are fucked! 🤣

Anyway, I was (almost) good… I (almost) held off commenting (Mr S won’t find out as I got lots of likes then the comment I’d commented on got deleted) but I don’t know… Female not Foe felt like too good a title to waste… So in the new normal of pseudo intellectual superiority and in good old fashioned hypocrisy… I decided to throw it over to the D. O.

What’s happened in Utopia?

Dear Wilma

The time to apologise was at the actual time it happened. There and then when you almost knocked the girl off of her bike and scrambled her. Not 5 minutes later when she’s most likely pumped full of adrenalin and not receptive to strangers approaching her… And not several hours later via a medium she’ll probably never see anyway…

I don’t know Wilma? There are a lot of things that sound pretty off to me… There are a lot of excuses and attempts to shift the blame onto the victim? Are you sure, you didn’t shoot your mouth off and now you’re trying to backpeddle incase anyone heard you?

You’ve plopped your story into a fb group and you’ve forgotten that there are many different people, each of which, who will see the world in their own way…

Speaking of seeing things in different ways. I’m curious… How old was this girl? I note that somewhere in the comments you said that maybe her flatmates would see it? Is she 20’s? Is that a girl? Is this, flying under the radar, student bashing?

Question… You don’t have to answer. If, say for example, the cyclist had been a 6 foot male (boy or man), would you have felt the need to offer him advice on what to wear? Shhh… No… Don’t answer… Just take that one away and have a little think about it…

What were you trying to achieve? You make a claim that the post was in the name of community spirit yet BAM! Things burst apart and yes, you may have a couple of allies but most have focused in on you and burnt you down like you’re a tiny ant captured under a magnifying glass pinpointing the midday sun…

Reel yourself in love! Don’t post in public if you’re going to get butt hurt by a full spectrum of opinions…

Just sayin’

Love D. O.

P. S. Disclaimer – I’m female not foe.

P. P. S. Seriously bitch? Have you never heard of black widows… *SMFH*

A Silence Not Golden

(c) Karen Sealey 2020

Today, I feel proper sad… I sit in Sheffield, outside student halls waiting for number 2 to collect the rest of her belongings. I’d managed to bring her home hours before lockdown began. I’d asked her if she’d gotten everything and she said she had. By everything, she thought I meant all that she’d need for a couple of weeks. It didn’t register with her that everything meant everything as she might not be going back this side of Summer.

My existence has not been much changed during lockdown, in many aspects it’s fair to say life has improved. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not oblivious to what’s going on… I work with people who work close to death. There are days when we’re all weary and struck silent by the latest death count… 13 in less than a fortnight in one home… As one of my passengers would say “Oh… My head is not good…”. Another would say “This is what you have to see when you choose to work in God’s waiting room”. Rightly or wrongly, we console ourselves in them being old, having had a good innings or even a blessing of sorts as they are released from what’s become a life of tedious bone aching pain…

I spend a lot of time worrying about students… I work with a lot of them, some as young as 17, many of them far from home, stranded in this foreign to them land, wondering if they’ll ever see grandparents again… And on darker days, they worry that their grandparents may outlive them…

Death has little respect for the natural order of things…

I sit in Sheffield… Usually a bustling hive, now turned ghost town… I’m in the thick of the student quarter and the absence of youngsters doesn’t feel good… I think back to my own student days… Free of cares and free of student loans…

I think charging our students for their education is the biggest injustice this country has ever served… Short sighted penny pinching stupidity… I’ve read cards for thousands of students and even before all of this, a lot of them carried the weight of the world on their shoulders… Way too serious before their time… An epidemic of anxieties… Concerns about finances and property ladders and will I even get a job after all of this…

Now we have lockdown and it robs them again… It saddens me that I see so much potential in youth and that right now, it is hard to see where that will go…

Though I’m heartened that they still have some humour and refer to this plague as the Boomer Remover…

Ain’t I the Debby Downer? Oh well, here’s to brighter days tomorrow!

Whittling a Way

“verb (used without object), whit·tled, whit·tling.

to whittle wood or the like with a knife, as in shaping something or as a mere aimless diversion:to spend an afternoon whittling.

to tire oneself or another by worrying or fussing.”

They say the Devil makes work for idle hands… I’d say the Norns make sure hands are never idle…

I’ve always had runes around the house, since I guess 1991… No, definitely 1991, that’s not a guess, I can pinpoint the time. I remember opening the first box whilst I was gravid with number one. I could never read with the things, they’d always find a way to escape from their bag, no matter how tightly I tied them in… I’d have to round them up, count them, look for escapees, throw them and then give up trying to make sense of them as I was always convinced (and quite rightly so) that I was mispronouncing their names. It didn’t feel respectful to mangle and maul old languages…

Over the years, I’ve made countless sets of runes… Clay, painted glass, burnt wood, gathered pebbles…Even glow in the dark ones. Each time thinking that this time would be the time they’d finally click into place and I’d remember the necessary words to weave magic…

Nope…

I’d put them away and every so often I’d come across another escapee… The language barrier would again present itself and I’d write them off as maybe something not for me…

I didn’t know their names but seems they knew mine as they’d call and call and call…

It’s a strange thing, you resign yourself to quitting and then things change. Instead of being words to learn, suddenly they’d taken on form as living, breathing, 3D, pulsing, turning, entities… Ballet-esque and poetic, scribing out new shapes and stories I could watch… The names not exactly irrelevant but certainly something I didn’t need to be perfect at.

I’m not exactly sure when that happened. I’m not good at dating things unless I can tie them to other events. But anyway, they’d come alive for me… I found that once I started working with, rather than against, them, I was drawn more and more to working with wood…

You know sometimes when you just get a strange idea that you’ll just be able to do something straight off the bat? (Or is that just me?) Anyway, I got it into my head, that I would be an excellent (jeez! Autocorrect switched excellent to insane!) woodcarver 🤣 Yes, I know! Then reality reminds me that my fantasy and capabilities are poles apart! 🤣

Strange thing is, I don’t really care that I’m bad at it. Some days I’m not so bad and shapes feel to fall out of wood and the knife moves in my hand like some kind of past life memory… That’s a good feeling but also a precursor to another failure… Because when that happens then I get big ideas and…

Oh dear… That’s nothing at all how I imagined it would turn out…

But again, I don’t really care. My ugly lump of wood feels good in the hand and as I turn it, I recall the story(which I’ll save for another day) that the Norns revealed to me on that day…

To me, whittling is not an aimless diversion… OK, it’s aimless but it’s not without result… Is it a diversion? Isn’t everything a diversion of some sorts? It’s a diversion that carves out a direction… And whittling wood sure puts paid to tiresome worrying…

Plus there’s something I really like about handling a razor sharp blade… Maintaining a lose focus but not an absent mindedness that’s going to cost you a thumb… There’s probably a metaphor for life in there somewhere… But then again isn’t everything a metaphor, if you choose to see it that way?

On the cards

As someone who drives for a living, I must confess that the onset of lockdown filled me with glee. My initial thoughts were of working early Christmas mornings… The best time to be on the road… Not a soul around… No school run traffic, no commuters… This was going to be Christmas but with better weather and lighter mornings… I’d be King of the Road!

It became quickly apparent that this would not be the case… At certain times in the evening, I often have clear routes but now during the lockdown, the unholy trinity of Audis, BMWs and Mercs were out in force… Shooting junctions, ignoring red lights, driving erratically, engine thrashing, tyre screeching nobs turning suburbs into racetracks… Life felt like an accident waiting to happen.

I’d recently started using Russian Gypsy Fortune Telling Cards. I’m not a fan per se of fortune telling but there’s a time and place for such things… I laid out the cards and the warning was crystal clear. A car accident was heading my way! The message came with advice to avoid road rage and take a measured response… I sat and thought about it… The cards had given me a heads up, so surely I could avoid a collision?

I wondered where I’d be most likely to crash and I thought of the white BMW 512 that is often at one of my pickup points. It’s driven by a halfwit who can’t navigate gaps and who used to blast his horn at me to move out of his way… He stopped that stunt after one of my passengers (a 6’2″ bro’ with a ‘fro) got out and questioned his mental capacity… But even though the tooting has stopped, he’s still managed to almost hit me twice as he tears off down the middle of the exit into a blind corner… Maybe I wouldn’t be 3rd time lucky? Maybe today, we’d hit head on… OR maybe he’d find his horn again and I’d road rage, screw social distancing, and hit him literally on the head…

Mr S, interrupted my thoughts “Are you planning on going to work this evening? You’re going to be late…”

“Yes, I’m going to work and no I’m not going to be late, I’m going to be on time instead of 5 minutes early as I need to thwart my time line and dodge that bloody BMW. I think I’m heading for a crash, I’m trying to miss it.”

15 minutes later, heading into work, I approach a mini roundabout, I’ve slowed down considerably as often people from the right seem to come out of nowhere at a rate of knots… I clear it with no other drivers appearing…

I’m heading into the next mini roundabout and I see the huge taxi… God dammit! He’s not seen me! He’s not gonna stop! Hand on horn, blaring my presence, I brace for impact… Brake pressed so hard to floor that I’m pushing myself back into the seat… I’m not stopping in time… I don’t have the speed to whizz to the right and around him and I’m at the wrong angle to go left and behind… The S.. L.. O.. W… M… O….. Stretched time… Waiting… Waiting… Waiting for the inevitable crunch… CRUNCH! 30+ years of driving and my first prang with another moving vehicle…

I get out of the car and the taxi driver follows suit. My body has flooded with adrenalin and I feel stupid because I can’t stop my hands from shaking out of control… I recall the words from my reading ‘take a measured response’.

The guy starts to talk, I can’t process what he’s saying… I raise my trembly hand… Shhh… Give me 2 minutes, let me breathe…

Witnesses appear giving me contact numbers… Asking if I’m OK? Yes, I’m OK!

Taxi driver is flustered, upset, admitting 100% liability, talking 19 to the dozen… I tell him I’m fine, the car’s a banger anyway and I’m not upset about chunks of metal but my more pressing issue is that I’ve got to get to work to collect people finishing a 12hr shift. I ask him if he can help me with the immediate problem and we can talk cars later when we’re both chilled out.

His tank is unscathed, we move my car and gather the chunks. He drives me to work and offers to ferry me about until my car is fixed. I tell him that’s not necessary as I’m 99% sure my boss will let me borrow the Galaxy.

So, the Galaxy is loaned, folks are picked up almost on time but not complaining I’m late as they’re surprised I came at all after the crash… Taxi driver picks up my keys, collects my car, gets it fixed and returned to my doorstep in just over 36 hrs.

I thank my lucky stars as I’ve now had a crash and the sense of impending doom has left… I laugh a little as who better to get hit by during lockdown than a taxi driver with a mechanic friend who owns a garage… What would most probably have involved upheaval and inconvenience, smoothed my workload and gave me an extra couple of hours in bed… Yup! Life was good and pretty charmed…

Two days after the crash and day one of what turned out to be a 3 day mild whiplash back of the head band of ache, I got another kind of bump… Something appeared… Oh lord! I’ve just cleared a car crash to head into a potential train wreck?

Again, I thought back to what the cards had advised… Take a measured response… I took the advice onboard and found myself on a pleasant journey…