Archive | February 2009

Traffic Lights, Magpies and Furry Dice

There are roadworks on the main route from my home to work and traffic lights that take ages to change. Over the last week or so, I have been indulging in a bit of rat-running, but yesterday yet more roadworks on the rat-run resulted in traffic lights breeding like rampant rabbbits, so I decided to make the most of an enforced few minutes of nothingness in the long queue by the park and indulge in a spot of mind wandering ….

Oh my god! There’s a magpie. On its own!

[Eyes frantically search the skies and scan the grass verge.]

One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl and four for a boy … what’s five? What if you see ten or twelve magpies? I bet the superstition doesn’t cover twelve magpies. Oh … please let there be another. Come on. Come on … where are you?

[Said magpie takes to the air and gracefully glides to the ground about twenty feet away. Edge forwards in first gear whilst casting eyes up and down the hedgerow searching for the elusive second magpie. Move about twenty yards before realising that car in front has stopped. Hasty jabbing of right foot on brake pedal just in time, because – oh joy of joys – the solitary magpie has just been joined by another.]

Two for joy. Hmmm. I wonder if that means it will be today … please let it be today. I wonder if J will ring and tell me I have book deal for all three books. What would I do? What shall I say? What about: 0h what wonderful news! Or shall I just say a simple thank you for letting me know, or shall I just jump up and down and scream? Nahhh … too obvious … I need to rehearse what I’d say … what do other people say when they get the call? Oh my god … what shall I say if she rings? What if it’s a rejection? I hope it’s not at work. Mustn’t cry at work.

[A third magpie joins the two that are pecking for worms on the verge. Smile to self.]

Ahhh … three for a girl. How lovely! A grand-daughter! I wonder who she’ll look like …?

[Suddenly realise that there is a rather large gap in the road. Car in front has obviously moved forwards whilst I was watching the magpies. Release handbrake – try to move forwards, nothing happens. Realise not in gear. Glance in mirror. Grumpy Victor Meldrew driver of car behind seems to have just a teeny tiny road rage gremlin jumping up and down on bonnet.]

… a little girl, eh? Thank goodness there wasn’t just one magpie. Oh look … there’s some collared doves too. I wonder what that means? Three magpies and two collared doves. Sounds like a Christmas song. (Sings in head …. three magpies, two collared doves and a partridge in a pear tree …. ha ha.)

[Crawl forwards a little way. Magpies disappear behind car out of sight. Glance in the mirror for a last view of them. Sneeze. Then sneeze again. Rootle in bag on passenger seat for tissue. Sneeze again and then one more time. Find half a packet of Polos in bag and pop one in mouth. Just in time realise car in front has stopped. Phew. That was close.]

What was it grandma used to say about sneezing? One a wish and two a kiss, three for a letter ….. did I sneeze four times? Yes I did … must be the CK Summer perfume … hope it’s not the start of a cold … four for something better. Whaheyyyy! Something better and a little baby grand-daughter? Book deal and grand-daughter? How lovely …

[A solitary magpie drops from the sky into hedgerow just a few feet away.]

… or another little boy would be just as nice. Four for a boy …. oh-oh … hang on. Was that another magpie or was it one of the three behind me just fluttered up the road a bit. It could still be three for a girl. Oh no! It could be one for sorrow. It’s just one … all on its own. Come on little magpies where are …..

[Jab right foot on brake. Didn’t realise was creeping forwards.]

… it’s all just stupid anyway. Who cares? Boy or girl … doesn’t matter. Only sorrow and joy matters.

[Glance in mirror. Car behind has furry dice hanging from rear-view mirror. They have initials on them. B and R. Man is obviously not Victor Meldrew or would be V for Victor. Red traffic light is now only a few cars in front]

Bert and Rose? Brian and Ruby? Brenda and Ron? Beryl and Roy … ha ha. I wonder if their grandchildren bought them for Christmas. Or if Roy gave them to Beryl on Valentines day? I wonder if they are married or geriatric lovers. Perhaps they are eloping … perhaps they are not really going shopping in Sainsburys but are really an elderly Bonnie and Clyde going to rob a bank and Beryl has a 2.2 pistol tucked in her knickers …..

[Loud toot of car horn. Red light has turned to green and the car in front of me is way in the distance.]

Ummm … what a nice few minutes … must write this down … could be a short story somewhere …

Confucius say: Many traffic lights makes writers bad drivers!

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Losing It

For most of my life I have been like a child wandering barefoot through a wild garden on a warm summer’s day. I’ve gone just where I want to, stopping to pick daisies and buttercups, blowing dandelion clocks and breathing in the fragrance of honeysuckle and roses. I’ve chased butterflies and listened to the buzzing of various insects. I’ve been perfectly happy, playing in my garden, alone. I’ve needed the company of no-one. I’ve been content.

About eighteen months ago I tiptoed outside my little garden and was delighted to find some playmates. We skipped along together and frolicked in each other’s gardens, we became friends and found that although we liked to play with different things, it was good to spread our wings and run free within the security of our own little community. We built up trust with each other and one day we decided to try and step outside our safe little world. We knew we were good – well at least as good as some of the other people who had gone before us and had made their way in the wide, harsh world outside the village boundary. We said we’d stick together, and give support to each other on our individual journeys. We’ve collected some more friends on the way and have never lost sight of what is important to us.

It’s hard outside the village. People you don’t know tell you not to wander aimlessly, and stop dawdling and dragging your feet and to ignore the little things that take your fancy, but that others won’t understand. If you want to make it in the big world outside you must stop playing with the frivolous things you like and concentrate, listen and take notice of the rules.

It is the way. The only way.

Since I stepped into the world of the big boys and girls I’ve come to realise how precious my little garden was (and still is). I want to be able to visit my own little piece of paradise and not have to worry about all these silly rules. I want to run as fast as I can through the long grass, feel the wind in my hair and not have to think about anything at all. I want to be able to sit cross-legged in the grass and pick petals off daisies, one by one if I so choose, and then close my eyes and feel the warmth of the sun on my face and hear the buzzing of the bees and the singing of the birds.

But I can’t find my garden any more. I’ve searched and searched. I know it’s still there – somewhere.

I’m stuck outside, in this vast world where people I don’t know are talking about the things I created while I was alone in my garden, and didn’t have to worry about what other people would think. I’ve listened to others and manicured, chopped and pruned. I’ve got rid of the greenfly and picked off any withered, imperfect blooms.

These people I don’t know are judging my creation – right now. They are passing it between themselves, turning it over in their hands and prodding and prying at every aspect of my work of art.

Until they tell me whether they are going to keep it or give it back I know I won’t be able to find my precious garden again. And right now I am wondering if I will ever be able to go back there.