Monthly Archives: July 2010

They Might Be Giants

With thanks to BurntSienna for putting some of my recent thoughts into some kind of context.  I particularly appreciated this passage from Don Quixote:

Just then they came in sight of thirty or forty windmills that rise from that plain. And no sooner did Don Quixote see them that he said to his squire, “Fortune is guiding our affairs better than we ourselves could have wished. Do you see over yonder, friend Sancho, thirty or forty hulking giants? I intend to do battle with them and slay them. With their spoils we shall begin to be rich for this is a righteous war and the removal of so foul a brood from off the face of the earth is a service God will bless.”

“What giants?” asked Sancho Panza.

“Those you see over there,” replied his master, “with their long arms. Some of them have arms well nigh two leagues in length.”

“Take care, sir,” cried Sancho. “Those over there are not giants but windmills. Those things that seem to be their arms are sails which, when they are whirled around by the wind, turn the millstone.”

—Part 1, Chapter VIII. Of the valourous Don Quixote’s success in the dreadful and never before imagined Adventure of the Windmills, with other events worthy of happy record

Whilst I could, and never would, never presume to liken my windmills to those which out dear friend at Both Sides Now faces, I think we can all relate to some extent.  Well, I know I can.

This was brought home to me by one of those questions that DJs on the radio sometimes ask,

“If you could be 20 again, would you take the chance?”

Having thought about it for a while, I realised that I wouldn’t.  Whilst I would love to have the energy I had back then, and the relative lack of responsibility, I do not think I could face the last 18 years again.  Don’t get me wrong, those years have made me who I am, and I do not think I would change a thing.  But that is the whole point.  If I were to go back to being 20, I would face losing the accumulated experiences of my 20s and almost all of my 30s (eek).  Either that, or I would put my 38 year old mind in a 20 year old body, and be stunned and frustrated by the naivety of those of the same physical age as me (depending on the parameters of the ‘going back to 20’ deal).  Whatever the case, it would not work.

Having thought on that for a while, I realised that what I really want is to keep the years of experience, but not at the expense of physical health and that sense of freedom many have in their early 20s.  It then hit me that the way to obtain this is not by going backwards, but forwards.  Forwards, beyond the confines of this earthly life, to the life beyond.  Seeing things that way helps to put things in perspective, and sort out the windmills from the giants.

In the end, the struggles and frustrations of this life might be giants…

…but they are generally just windmills.

Thanks again to BurntSienna for helping me realise this. 🙂

A question for you

If – a container made of metal is called a metal box

and – a container for toys is called a toy box

then – what would you call a container for cardboard for the recycling?

a)  a cardboard box?

b)  a cardboard box?

or

c)  a cardboard cardboard box?

Monday Morning – A True Story

A small mouse, there in my shoe,

Stomach pains, whilst on the loo,

Cat food smell, near made me choke,

Then my trouser zip, it broke.

All these things messed with my head,

Made me wish I’d stayed in bed,

So – lest you make me more irate,

Please – don’t ask me why I’m late.

Having had all this happen to me before leaving for work on Monday, I called in to tell my boss I would be a little delayed.  When I finally did get on the bus, I created this poem in my head as a ‘coping mechanism’.  I then ‘performed’ it to my boss and colleagues to avoid having to explain my morning in detail.  It had the desired effect and earned me some applause too! 😉

Sometimes . . .

. . . I do very foolish things.

Occasionally, they are deliberate.

Frequently, not.

Most times, they are amusing.

Sometimes, not.

Today, I was not laughing.

Today, I was ashamed.

I love forgiveness,

but

sometimes

forgiveness

takes

time.

Dith ’10

(Was not intended as a bit of poetry-ish stuff, but appears to have ended up that way.  Hope you like it.  Off to bed now.)

So, looking at the comments…

Sienna –  when I gained the inspiration for this story, I was paying Council Tax in person.  That was about 2 years ago, tho, so I guess it may not be the case now.

Chas – ok, so that’s something for me to edit.  I was aiming for mysterious, I got prosaic!!!

T&E – thanks, I think!  (Any resemblance to a person, living or dead, is purely non-intentional . . . )

Short story – part one

The woman had always hated paying her council tax, but at least today was different.  The young man behind the counter had the most amazing hairstyle, and appeared even to have a sense of humour.

“I like the hair,“ she told him as she handed over her cash.

“Thanks,” he replied, fingering his waxed and wild fringe.  “I really need to get it cut, though.”

“No, don’t do that,” the woman insisted. “We people with big hair should stick together.”  On saying this, she realised that her own large mass of frizzy curls was currently scraped back into a ponytail.  How would the young man even know she had big hair?  She was still feeling a little foolish when he replied, with a grin,

“No, it definitely needs a cut.  Otherwise it might take over the world.”

“I get the feeling mine has a mind of its own too, at times,” she chuckled as he handed her the receipt. “See you next month,” she added as she left with a cheery wave.

“Bye.”

The following month, the woman entered the council office with slightly less reluctance.  Yes, there he was, the cheerful young man.  My goodness, his hairstyle was crazier than ever.  Then again . . . Her train of thought wandered to the fact that her own hair was in desperate need of attention, and she could not find a single serviceable hair-band that morning.  The tired looking scrunchy she used when showering would really not be suitable for anything other than private use, hence the wild and woolly look she herself was currently sporting.

“Can I help?” asked the young man, breaking into her stream of consciousness.

“Sorry, miles away,” She apologised, waving her hand airily.

“No problem,” he replied. “It’s probably better than being stuck here”

She returned his wry grin with one of her own as she handed over her cash for the tax.

“I guess you took my advice after all,” said the woman.

“Sorry?” the young man replied, looking up in puzzlement.

“Your hair,” she explained. “I complimented you on it last month and you said you were planning to get it cut.  I said not to.”

“Ah yes, I remember now,” the young man exclaimed. “Big hair should stick together.”

“Not literally though,” said the woman, with a comic grimace.

“No,” the young man agreed with a smile. “That could be quite unpleasant, not to mention inconvenient.”

“Yes,” she said, as she took her receipt from the counter tray.

“Same time next month, then,” she added as a parting shot, and turned for the door.

“Bye.”

As the woman began to walk away, something caused her to halt in her steps and look around again.  The young man was gazing down at some paperwork, so why did she feel as though there was a piercing pair of eyes fixed on her from his direction? Don’t be foolish, she told herself and swiftly left the building, fighting the urge to scratch the itch that had started up all over her scalp.

Response to Comments

Ian – glad/sorry you could see yourself in this – not really sure which is more appropriate.  I suppose ‘glad’ if it is a step towards becoming less obsessive. 🙂

Smudgie – wow!  It was only allegorical.  I knew that things can be pretty bad in teaching, but that is more than a little shocking.

Fineline – yes, I admit, I did hear the original somewhere myself.  I rewrote it from memory, with embellishments (and omissions) of my own.  I suppose that would be called ‘research’ rather than ‘plaigarism’!  As for your own personal experience, the irony of your hearing the story and yet being told to ‘be more sociable’  in the same time and place in life is not lost on me!  Just be the best ‘you’ possible, there is no-one better qualified for that job.

A Bit of Creative Writing

The School for Animals

The rabbit, duck and squirrel all attended the school for animals.  They enjoyed a varied curriculum of activities, including sport.  The main sports that the school taught were running, climbing and swimming.  Each of the animals had a sport that they enjoyed and, as a result, they excelled in that particular activity.

The duck loved to swim, he could go for miles without even pausing for breath.  The school were planning to enter him into the national swimming championship for animals, as his teacher believed he had a good chance of winning.

The squirrel excelled at climbing.  She had started with basic clambering at a very young age, and had progressed from saplings, through young trees, to the large oak in the centre of the school grounds.  Her climbing instructor had high hopes for the squirrel to embark upon an ambitious climbing career on leaving school.

The rabbit was the fastest runner in the school.  He had been winning against animals two years his senior after only a few months of training in the 100m sprint.  It was widely believed that he could be an Olympic hopeful in the next games.

This was before the rules were changed.

A new head teacher started at the school who decided that every animal should reach a basic level of competence in all the sporting activities on offer.  The instructors were unhappy about this, but the head refused to reconsider.  This led to disastrous results for the rabbit, duck and squirrel.

Despite being highly proficient at swimming, the duck was very limited in his running ability and had no aptitude for climbing at all.  He was therefore required to train harder in running and climbing which led to his webbed feet becoming sore and torn.  As a result, his swimming skills suffered and he had to retire from the qualifying heats for the swimming championships due to injury.  He did not even get the chance to compete, let alone win.

Unfortunately for the squirrel, she was frightened of water.  So much time was spent trying to teach her to overcome this fear that she actually became more anxious.  Eventually, she refused to attend school because the thought of another day of enforced swimming made her feel physically sick.  Squirrel spent the rest of her schooldays dodging the truant officer by climbing trees in her local neighbourhood.  She failed the exams required for further development in her intended career.

Rabbit managed to get by with the swimming, but it was the climbing that became his downfall – almost literally at one point.  Being an incredibly competitive and driven individual, rabbit did not like the fact that climbing was a skill that constantly eluded him.  He would spend day after day trying to jump from one branch to another, but his large hind feet were not designed to grip.  He became so obsessed with achieving good results in this sport that he began to neglect his running.  By the end of his time at the school for animals, he was an above average runner, an average swimmer but still below average at climbing.  His Olympic hopes had died on the day he prioritised his weaker skill over his natural talents.

On the whole, it can be seen that an ill judged decision by the head teacher had consequences for all of these animals.  They had no real choice in where to concentrate their time and energies.  Just think how different things may have been if they had been given that freedom.

Itinerant Traffic Cone

Pronunciation:/ɪˈtɪn(ə)r(ə)nt, ʌɪ-/ˈtrafɪk/ kəʊn/

adjective  / noun

A plastic object which tapers from a circular base to a point,  used to separate off or close sections of a road.  Appeared at the end of our road during a period of roadworks, travelled unseen to our driveway and later moved on to unknown destination, all within the space of a few weeks.

Origins

Itinerant: late 16th century (used to describe a judge travelling on a circuit): from late Latin itinerant- ‘travelling’, from the verbitinerari, from Latin iteritiner- ‘journey, road’

Cone: late Middle English (denoting an apex or vertex): from French cône, via Latin from Greek kōnos