Saturday, 7 December 2013
I know it would help if I had even half a clue how the retrieval system works, but I don't , hence the meerkat.
Peering out of the window to allow some cool/cold air to ease my itching face I spotted a massive bird outlined against the winter sky on a tree about 100 yards away.
As I tried to photograph him (too far away, camera not good enough) I realised it was a red kite. Have never seen one roosting before.
He spotted me and with a huge swoop headed this way.
I hastily ducked my head back inside and shut the window - he is big!
He flew over the rooftop and away and briefly blacked out the sky in the immediate vicinity.
Have never seen one so close before and really had no idea just how massive a wing-span they have.
Perhaps he has never seen anyone with eczema before and wanted a closer look.
There are fewer birds than usual in my tiny grotty (fermented bird-seed don't ask), garden so apart from the odd pied wagtail, reed-bunting and the usual suspects, rare creatures tend to get my attention.
The sun is shining. It is mild and not a bit like December so the normal customers for my largesse are few and far between and I really should be outside cleaning up the mess, but, as usual am doing everything I can think of to avoid work.
The usual extra vocal work for all the additional church services is taking its toll and leisure time is becoming scarce so any excuse.....
Yes I do know fermented bird seed is poisonous to most small birds so I will go out now and clean up, honestly, any minute.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 2:39:00 pm
Tuesday, 19 November 2013
For the past two hours unable to sleep yet again, I have been reading (awful confession), my old blogs.
Right from the earliest up to date has been quite enlightening.
Sometimes (not often), I write a post and feel pleased with what I've said, and even better, when it gets a good response feel that my self-congratulation is justified.
Reading them all in succession has given me a rather different impression and I can now see all too plainly just how many words have been used over a period of 3 years to say absolutely nothing.
Something my friend and fellow blogger The Vernacular Vicar has said from time to time, is writing for the sake of writing is not good practice.
He is right.
For every 'gem' I think I may have spotted among the almost 400 posts, there are at least 20 or more examples of 'verbal diarrhoea'.
While it has proved possible to spot the odd touch of cynical humour in some of the better written ones, there is a distinct lack of that ingredient in most of the more recent ones.
Thinking about it, has made me realise that lack of humour and of any lightness of touch appears to be a feature of posts written while under the cloud of depression, as also is the long gaps between posts.
Not sure that 2.30 am is the best time to be researching this but it has been quite enlightening to discover patterns among the posts.
While it is true that I never read my posts before publishing them, I've always thought I edited them as I wrote and that nothing I did not want to reveal would ever appear in a post. This I now find is not quite true.
Rather more of my state of mind at the time of writing than i ever intended has been disclosed.
Not sure where I'm going with this, but I think what I'm trying to say is that at least my opinion that I write as a form of therapy is vindicated.
In a life which lacks close friends the blog is as good a way as any of relieving some of the tensions and sharing some of the pleasures of that life.
We all need some outlet for our angst, joys, pains and tribulations. Blogging is mine.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 2:31:00 am
Saturday, 9 November 2013
First of all (in case anyone had noticed), apologies for my lengthy absence from blogging.
This was due in the main to a very severe attack of eczema on my face and neck which was hard to live with but is now on the wane, despite having migrated to my arms.
Additionally I have been wrestling with my household demons again. This time the water tank in the loft which has been overflowing for a week.
Too long and boring a story to relate here, but time-consuming and anxiety making.
These days I find that things which were fairly minor upsets in days of yore, tend to take over my life and control my moods. Petty I know, but true.
Last evening I went to my first choir practice for a month (from 6.30 until 8.45pm) Hard work since it is for 3 services in the next 48 hours, but very very enjoyable after a long 'drought'.
Today is our 'Close' fireworks party and looking gloomily at the pouring rain I decided to watch some of the TV Lord Mayor's Show.
Only dipping in and out of it as I go about my household chores I was lucky enough to catch sight of one of the most treasured memories of my childhood - a giant steam-roller (Society of Paviors) trundling through the streets of the city.
Oh the nostalgia!
I well remember dozens of small children including my brothers and I, trailing after the massive, wonderful smelly monsters as they miraculously tarred and rolled the roads. The steam hissing the noise of the giant rolling along and the gorgeous heady small of hot tar.
On rare occasions, some lucky small person would be plucked from the pavement and lifted aloft for a ride on the monster. (I know, health and Safety would have a fit), and the rest of us green with envy would rush alongside yelling "me, me".
Tomorrow after our own trunkated service at St M's, we will process in our choir robes down to the market square and as usual take part in the Civic Remembrance Service. This year joining forces with Aylesbury Vale Choir so the resultant sound should be well worth hearing.
Our practice with them went swimmingly as did the one with the Head of Music from a local school who will be holding his annual Remembrance Service on Monday evening in the church.
Busy once again. Praise be!
Posted by Ray Barnes at 12:18:00 pm
Saturday, 19 October 2013
It gives only the tiniest impression of just how horrible I look at present.
I have had bouts of eczema all my adult life, some fairly mild, most not so mild and on various parts of my body. The most severe has seen me hospitalized on three separate occasions, but none for the intensity of the itching has ever come close to this latest attack on my eye-lids and face and neck.
Stopping yourself from scratching is virtually impossible and of course, the the itch is scratched the worse it becomes and the swelling of the area grows to gigantic proportions.
This has been going on for nearly three weeks (hence the lapse in blogging) and has twice improved enough to let me put in an appearance in the parish office, but each time it returns it is more severe and is now so bad that I am ashamed to be seen.
Needing to shop this morning and faced with a red swollen face with huge folds hanging over small reptilian eyes I decided to go as soon as the shops were open in order to meet as few people as possible.
Headed for Boots where I had a long talk with the pharmacist, who was most helpful and pointed me in the direction of some oil-based treatments which she thought would be more useful than anything I was currently using. I then went to the opticians section where I bought the biggest pair of sun glasses I could find and put them on.
I hastily shopped in a nearby supermarket and got a taxi home.
Have washed my face in the recommended product and slathered the cream all over my face and neck and now look like an albino reptile rather than a red one.
The itching is still there but I will persevere with this treatment while once again failing to appear in church tomorrow, having also failed to go to choir practice.
I am not yet ready to walk under a bus, but the time is rapidly approaching.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 12:16:00 pm
Saturday, 5 October 2013
Never one to willingly admit to being old (not the same thing as admitting my age), I feel the time is approaching when it will be necessary for my own survival to say openly "I am quite old and need a bit of help".
Yesterday shopping in town I left M & S to cross the High Street, three heavy bags in hand and made the fatal error of not heading for a taxi. Instead I passed half a dozen of them on my determined way to the bus stop.
The bus in question was a small single-decker with only a few (already occupied) seats at the front, and the rear seats were up a couple of steps. By now my arms were aching and it was a struggle to get to the seat.
Arrived at my stop, having to reverse the procedure and climb back down to the front I dropped one bag, had to stop, holding up the bus while I gathered it - and my wits - together and started the walk home.
This is a mere eighth of a mile or so yet, by the time I reached my doorstep my arms were nearly pulled out of their sockets and my back was aching abominably.
Dropping the bags into an armchair I fell into another one and sat for 10 minutes before I could face putting everything away.
By then my back was so painful I could hardly move and I abandoned all attempt to do anything else but lie down and rest.
Later I phoned to apologise for my non appearance at choir rehearsal, feeling a total twit.
This morning I spent half an hour doing a bit of dead-heading and light pruning in the front garden, a job which even two years ago would have taken me five minutes.
Glumly returning indoors to start cleaning the house, I suddenly realised, this is what getting old is about.
Not looking despondently in a mirror wishing one's youthful face to appear, rather than a lined, drooping sagging old wreck. Not even looking wistfully at young slim women and thinking "I used to look like/better than, that". Not even waiting in vain for an appreciative wolf-whistle as in days of yore.
No, old age is about not being able or even wanting to do the everyday tasks which were tackled so lightly and unheedingly only months? well years ago.
Unfortunately the human body does not arrive complete with repair kit and spare parts, so the wearing-out process takes its toll.
Many people I know are far less able than I to go about their everyday business without aid, and I am grateful for my own reasonably good health and strength, but oh dear, the time is arriving when asking, paying for assistance for even simple little things will be the stuff of life and I do not relish the thought.
So, back to my original question. When is it alright to admit to being O L D?
Posted by Ray Barnes at 1:22:00 pm
Wednesday, 2 October 2013
Along with late butterflies my Buddlieas are playing host to a whole army of spiders.
For weeks now I have been feather duster armed evicting the wiry thin long-legged ones from the house but am being assailed on all sides by their horrid cousins.
On Monday this week the parish administrator leant over the back of the office sofa to put something behind it and retreated hastily, having seen a large black beast lurking in a box.
Yelling for the caretaker (and she can yell), she and I, left the office at speed.
A few minutes later, another volunteer braver than either of us, had picked up the box and dropped its inhabitant outside in the churchyard.
This morning at the bus stop, it was drizzling so I was well under its roof until I suddenly found an absailing arachnid in front of my face. Luckily the bus came so I beat a hasty retreat, shuddering.
Half way through the morning, there was a yell from the bookkeepers office upstairs and she ran down the stairs closing her office door first and also shouting for the caretaker.
By the time he had made his unhurried appearance there was no sign of the invader and we all spent the remainder of the morning looking nervously around before touching anything.
Since it is Harvest Festival this coming Sunday and we are slowly gathering a mountain of donated goodies in the office in preparation for displaying them at the service, I am treading very warily around bags and boxes only too aware that their contents may contain the odd surprise.
What is it about this season that produces the desire for confrontation in the (hearts?) of this eight-legged brigade of nasties?
Why can't they just go about their arachnid affairs without the need for face-to-face tactics?
Why am I such a wimp?
Posted by Ray Barnes at 4:38:00 pm
Sunday, 29 September 2013
It was a really beautiful day, the sort of day I feel should always mark this very important Saints Day.
The sun was too warm and inviting to ignore so I set about cutting back some of the Hibiscus and Buddleia (avoiding that which was still blooming).
I became aware after a few minutes that there was a collared dove sitting a couple of feet from me on a Buddleia stump, quietly eyeing my activities without fear or any apparent desire to fly. So I went back into the house and collected my camera, sure that he would take off in a panic.
To my amazement he just sat there and let me get quite close before closing his eyes and settling down for a snooze.
When I had had enough and needed my coffee - around 1.30pm - he was still sitting there but flew off as I shut the back door.
The picture is not all that good but it is possible to see that my Michaelmas visitor was very relaxed.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 5:08:00 pm