Saturday, 27 May 2017

Thoughts in Progress

(With permission from Renton)

Choose life. Choose love. Choose being disappointed at the overcast sky and the ensuing storm. Choose being amazed at the resulting vibrant rainbow. Choose snapping the rainbow with your mobile camera and Instagramming it instantly. Choose forgetting your earlier disappointment. Choose life. Choose love.

Choose being dragged to a concert by an artist you don’t like and whose music you find naff. Choose going because your best mate is going. Choose miming the words of a song you didn’t know you knew. Choose putting your arm around your mate’s shoulders and joining in the chorus. Choose losing your voice when you sing more songs by this artist you didn’t like and whose music you found naff. Choose life. Choose love.

Choose smelling your newborn’s head. Choose filling up your lungs with her fragrance, a fragrance that translates as purity and innocence. Choose laughing at the silliness of it all because two years ago you said you didn’t want any children. Ever. Choose closing your eyes and feeling this moment, remembering this moment as you cradle that little head in your hands. Forever. Choose life. Choose love.

Choose helping that old lady or man cross the road. Choose stopping the traffic and grabbing their arm as they readjust their glasses. Choose carrying their bag and asking if they are all right. Choose life. Choose love.

Choose giving way to a stranger at a T-junction as cars pile up behind you. Choose smiling at him/her as you do it.

Choose holding a 99 Flake in the middle of torrential rain somewhere on a beach in Cornwall in July or August. Choose being under cover in a deserted restaurant with fellow miserable-looking holiday-makers who are equally holding onto their 99s for dear life as the dark sky turns even darker. Choose breaking into a well-known, popular song, slowly and sotto voce at first. Choose smiling at your fellow, miserable –looking holiday-makers who join in as soon as they recognise the melody. Choose life. Choose love.

Choose falling out with your loved one over a petty issue. Choose retreating into your own cave feeling bitter, while your other half retreats into theirs with similar emotions. Choose making eye contact some time later in the kitchen as you do the washing up and your partner tidies up the dinner table. Choose cracking a joke you know will elicit the complicit laughter that will make you both inch closer to each other. Choose looking into their eyes as you say sorry and they say sorry back to you. Choose passionate, unbridled make-up sex. Choose life. Choose love.

Choose walks in the park, bike rides by the river, outings to the cinema, random visits to friends, unexpected acts of kindness to strangers, voluntary work at your local charity shop, reading poetry alone, reading poetry to others, skinny-dipping under a full moon, playing pranks on your children, getting caught in the rain, staying up all night to see the sunrise, crying in the theatre.

Choose altruism, empathy, selflessness, friendship, trust, solidarity, respect, humanity. Choose humanity. Choose humanity.

Above all, choose life. Choose love.

© 2017

Next Post: “Of Literature and Other Abstract Thoughts”, to be published on Wednesday 31st May at 6pm (GMT)

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Urban Diary

Update from my front garden: it was indeed a family of blackbirds that was responsible for the nocturnal singing. Sadly, the truth revealed itself in the cruellest way possible: a dead chick on our doorstep.

This is the reality of urban living. The life-affirming melodies of birds are obliterated by the sound (noise?) of vehicles. This creates a divorce between the natural world and our metropolitan lifestyle. Still, London might count itself as a very lucky city when it comes to greenery and wildlife. Take a couple of Sundays ago. I was cycling west-to-east on the CS3 (cycle superhighway). Along the Thames I went with dozens of fellow cyclist on a segregated cycle lane. Around us the din of cars, lorries and buses was the only soundtrack that accompanied us. Yet, straight after the Tower of London I turned left and headed for Mile End Park. Immediately I was surrounded by scenery that would not have been out of place in a quaint, typical English village. All that was missing was the scones and tea. Ironically, no more than a few hundred yards away gas-guzzling cars were speeding up Burdett Road, whilst down here people were picnicking on the lush and verdant grass.

Please, don't let me be misunderstood
This disconnection between our natural world and our suburban experience is the main reason why it still shocks to see a magpie attacking a nest of robins or blackbirds. After some of you mentioned the type of bird that might have been the cause for the midnight-serenading, I also noticed that we have had an increase of magpies lately. I usually see one or two around but now, both at home and at work, we seem to have half a dozen “residents”. Please, don’t ask me how I know this. After all, all magpies look the same to me, but I just sense there is a gang going for our local birds.

And why shouldn’t they? Should the magpie not feed its young, too? It is called animal food chain for a reason and we city-dwellers had better get used to it. Even if it means one less singer in the blackbirds’ combo.

Note: I still cannot understand the local cats’ behaviour, though. I mentioned that they daren’t go up the tree where the blackbird’s nest is. Yet, there they are, in my back garden, stalking the birds that come to eat the seeds we put out for them. During the winter season it was fun to see one or two of these felines jumping into our back garden keeping ever so quiet, waiting for all the various birds (and we did have a variety) to alight on the seed feeders. But never, never, did I see the cats catch one.

© 2017

Next Post: “Thoughts in Progress”, to be published on Saturday 27th May at 6pm (GMT)


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