Today I have been mostly...

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Thinking about when life imitates art...

The other day there was a story on the news about some rich guy, a ‘nob’ (as opposed to a knob), a lord or an earl or something of that ilk, has been made bankrupt and lost his house which has been in his family since the year 900 and something. OK, very sad and all that (I am sure he won’t be homeless and selling The Big Issue – but that’s not the point of this story, and neither is how his family got that house/land in the first place). It is this: After telling us this sorry little tale, the news presenter people went on to say that it was “life imitating ART” – the ART in question being the sitcom “To the Manor Born”, and they showed us a little clip of when Audrey Forbes-Hamilton lost the manor. Apologies if I have got her name wrong – this is something that was on in the 80s I think so I am having to think back quite a long way – I am referring to the character played by Penelope Keith (AKA Margot Leadbetter). Now it comes to something, doesn’t it, when they think we are that thick that we would be totally bemused by the story of someone losing their house until they show us a clip of a sitcom – and – poor confused us – it’s like someone has switched on the little light-bulb above our dense little heads!! “Oh I SEE” we yell at the screen, oblivious to the fact that Nick Owen and Kay Alexander can’t actually hear us!! Now we understand! Honestly – the day we need this sort of clarification is the day we should all start watching Newsround, which is, of course, great!

Stories go a bit like this. (Read slowly – that’s how they talk)
Some children in a school are helping the environment by making their own carrier bags out of old onion skins because they are what grown-ups call bi-o-de-gra-dab-le, that means that they melt away into nothingness after lots and lots of years. Not like the ones you get from your local supermarket which are made of Kryptonite and will kill superman. Some of you have been emailing in your thoughts on this story.
Emily from Dundee says: “I think it’s a very good idea, we should be saving the planet, it’s a nice thing to do.”
Hubert from Doncaster days “It’s silly, we’ve been using Kryptonite bags for years now, and they haven’t done any harm.”
Chris from Wolverhampton says, “I don’t care what my shopping bag is made out of as long as I get my cheese.”
Even Newsround don’t feel the need to tell us it’s “life imitating art” and then go on to show clips of when Sooty and Sweep had a huge falling out over who should put the rubbish out, and then Soo the annoying panda came along and made them all recycle everything, just before Sweep hid under his duvet and Sooty squirted Mr Corbett with his water pistol.

But to go back to the original story. Imagine that bloke and his wife sitting down to have their tea (presumably in some hostel somewhere) and the telly is on, and they have to suffer that clip of “To the Manor Born”. So, now, with every news story I see I am trying to relate it back to some sitcom or soap, so I can sit there and say, “Oh I get it, like on Casualty, when Charlie had that very unconvincing heart attack”.

trying to write a poem, but failing miserably...

...I’ve now come upstairs where there are distractions of a different type. Downstairs, the distraction is in the shape of a moaning ogre. He is moaning because, he says, sitting in the chair is making his shoulder hurt. He is sitting in the chair while he is saying this. Is it only obvious to me then that maybe he should get out of the offending chair? Now I could, of course, use all this as material to write a poem, but after listening to a piece of music (it’s one of the activities in ‘the book’) I should now be writing, inspired by the mood created by the music. And I was happily writing about a kite. But then, after the distraction of his first batch of moaning, he buggered off to the shop to get a paper, leaving me in peace. However, after being out for almost an hour (when I managed to get back in the right kite-y frame of mind) he returned saying he’d got to the shop but didn’t have any money. He must have been walking in slow motion, because I can get to the shop, do the shopping, and be home in half an hour – if I rush. So he went back out again, and when he returned with the paper (and a few bits of shopping) I was getting my lunch. It was then that he started moaning about crumpets. He was going to give them to the birds round by the lake (I assume he means the feathered variety) because he had a couple this morning (crumpets I think, not birds or women) and they were a bit stale. His reason: “They don’t seal the bag after they’ve used them.”

They? Who are these ‘they’? I assume (I am doing more assuming than I should be) that he is referring to the kids who were probably the last people to have any of the crumpets. This was TWO WEEKS AGO – even in sealed bags, they are not going to be at their best by now, are they? In fact in sealed bags it’s likely that they’d be mouldy rather than stale and dried out. But I tried to ignore all this and get back into ‘kite mode’. This worked for a while, but then he came into the lounge. Moaned again about the chair giving him a bad shoulder, then he put his lamp on and in the process kicked over two bottles of wine which are still standing (or rather were still standing) by his chair since he opened them on Christmas day (round about the same time the crumpets were opened). Now, he was the one who left them there – I’ve moved all of my presents, in fact I eaten, drunk, used, played with, listened to and read most of mine already. Some are in a little pile waiting to be used. Wine that I unwrapped has been put away – or opened and consumed – mainly put away because I haven’t felt much like drinking this past couple of weeks.

But anyway, I digress slightly. “Oh good!” I thought; “Now he might move them.” But no – again I was wrong in my assumption. He said: “Blasted wine bottles!” and kicked them across the room. Luckily they didn’t break, (although they did clatter together quite a bit), but he has just left them where they landed – and I am NOT going to pick them up, even if he has got a “bad shoulder”. I have noticed that the “bad shoulder” comes and goes depending on if he wants to do something. If he wants someone to do something for him, it becomes totally unusable, for example when he was conning someone into wrapping Christmas presents that he really should have wrapped himself.

Anyway – I have just been in the kitchen to see what is in his shopping bag, and there is quite possibly the one item I would never have guessed he would have bought in a million years. It’s a box of nettle and fennel teabags. I’d say it’s the most out of character thing he has ever bought. Possibly, if I look hard enough, there should be lots of inspiration and material for writing a poem about how much he gets on my nerves, but I dearly want to write a happy poem, my kite poem – which just isn’t happening. So, now I am upstairs, I have the distraction of writing a blog; my current Scrabble game on Facebook; an OU website to look at with its various forums to read (that’s not the correct plural of forum, is it? Perhaps it’s fora? Spellcheck doesn’t know, and is somewhat unhelpful in not offering me a useful suggestion); and a window to look out of, with clouds to find shapes in, and an irritating man driving past in a van overusing his horn and shouting “Scrap iron”. But no kites.

Perhaps I will go and fill the bath with outrageously decadent quantities of bubbles, put my MP3 player on, and lie there listening to my inspirational music, and then, when I am all warm, relaxed, dry and dressed, and with nice smelling hair, I’ll go for a walk and think about kites, then maybe I will come home and be satisfyingly poetic. Either that or I’ll stick those two bottles of wine where the sun don’t shine.

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