Minor News – Book Now Published

frontI have assembled these little pieces into a 5 x 8 inches paperback book (on 216 cream pages with a matt cover), now available at the usual sites. The ISBN is 978-1535269339. Hopefully the typeface and the overall design are agreeable. I was able to include the pictures, which I hope enhance the book.

If you would like a copy, and if your use Amazon, here are the links to the main UK and USA sites:

Amazon UK
Amazon USA



Interlude – Interposing

The numbered sections, the appendix, and my wife’s poem that I have already posted to this blog are intended to be read as a whole, as a single work. And I think it is finished, now. And to this end, I shall do all those things that must be done to produce a little paperback at Amazon’s Createspace for people, like me, who still relish the joy of reading a real book made from card and paper, with wide margins (well, in the books I publish, anyway) that draw the points of one’s pencils (try a really soft grade of graphite, such as a 6B) to doodle notes and make comments, and try out one’s own sentences.

I will continue posting (on roughly the same theme) from this point, without any clear idea as to what I may eventually do with these pieces. Maybe another idea for another project will come to me, with a different objective.

If you have not come across The Coffeelicious publication hosted by Medium, do take a look. And do rummage around Medium, too. I am pleased to say that Coffeelicious have accepted me as a contributor, so some of the pieces that I post on my own blog, here, will be added to my page at Medium and to The Coffeelicious as well.

A Final Appointment

(A poem by my dear wife, Jocelyn Almond)

There’s a big, old, kindly fisherman,
So some people say,
Who performs a special duty
Until Judgement Day;
And everyone shall meet him –
Everyone good who dies –
Because he waits to greet them
At the gates of Paradise.

At the end of every weary day,
When I was very small,
I’d find my mother waiting for me
Outside the gates of school.
Now, if one thing keeps me going
Through this sad and weary life,
It’s the thought she’s waiting for me
At the gates of Paradise.

Darling, if I die before you
And ascend to Heaven above,
Heaven won’t be Heaven
Without your precious love.
Until you’re safe there with me,
Nothing will suffice,
So you’ll find me waiting for you
At the gates of Paradise.

52: Scribbles – Fibbing

Again, as has happened so many times before, I was awakened, after only three and a half hours in bed, by my heart pounding and pounding and pounding, with the vague weight of an ache in my chest, and my stomach and guts and back muscles pulled tight by another onslaught of panic that I have known so many times before, especially in these later years, since my wife died.

The panic speaks of what it has always spoken of – of no more conversations with my dear wife – for once the hours were filled for hour after hour, day after day, year after year, with her conversa­tions – most were her conversations, and I loved it that way because she had that treasured capacity to make any subject so very interesting, and to open such unexpected and thrilling topics. That was the best thing, by far, for me the very best, and now I am so sorry for being bereft of it, for now my days are silent, so empty of talk, and, oh, does that reduce the world and its woes to such a terrible tedium… There are no others to talk to now for, as I explained, we became so very isolated in the world of her sickness. There is no one to call, no one who visits, no one who writes. So I try to have conversations with my books, and I have started to fill them with notes and underline their sentenc­es to a degree quite out of proportion to my for­mer practice.

She was there, through those three and a half hours, in my dreams, telling me what to do, be­cause she would, of course, know what to do. But what she said, I have forgotten. Perhaps know­ledge of it was there on waking, like sand drop­ping through an hourglass, like scattering leaves on a windy, autumn’s day. All I can re­member is that I said I should tell the dentist of my plight. But that makes no sense at all.

I should have had my appointment at the den­tist’s yesterday, but they phoned to cancel. That’s all right. I am not in the least cross. They have no intention of causing any inconvenience, and no inconvenience is caused, nothing beyond the upset of my schedule, for I do, in a rickety and haphaz­ard fashion, plan for my days, for I do not want my projects to languish or be forgotten. They have no value, like this little book, beyond serving as a distraction, a way to pass the time, and for me (but not for my reader) some of the writing that I con­sign to my little coloured notebooks serves to make external my thoughts and observations, such that I do not need to try to keep them alive in my mind, and now, if I forget them (and I shall) it won’t matter, because I can recover them by simp­ly going back over my scribbled handwriting, hop­ing that not too much of it will be illegible. For illegible some of it must be, because I cannot hold back the speed of my scribbling, and my handwrit­ing has always been rather bad.[1] Focusing on this task does help, for now the weight of that aching has eased, and my stomach is not so cramped, though my back is in agony, and those who have experienced the same thing may know that your back muscles are needed (with all the others in your arms and fingers) for the production of the moving trace that tries to capture our thoughts. And when these muscles are tight and sore, and not working as they should, those thoughts are harder to catch and shape, and what we wanted to say maybe now is not said after all, and so on re-reading this hasty script, it will fall short of its in­tended task and tell only half a story, or even tell a fib.

[1] If only I had mastered shorthand, as had my grandfather. I had ticked the option for taking courses in shorthand and typing when I entered the sixth form at school, but I was not allowed to take them. Because I was not a girl, the Head of Sixth Form said. But I knew writing would be important to me, and I tried to explain, and I even pleaded, in a state of desperation, for at least half an hour. But no, I was not a girl, and only girls do shorthand and typing. How I have hated that man, Mr Lewis, ever since. I did make some little headway, having later acquired a few shorthand manuals, but without the regimen and discipline of a regular class, I could not make proper progress, and the project was abandoned. For some years, I had thought of writing to him, to explain how his decision had hobbled me, how every task of writing takes for me much longer than it would have done had I mastered those skills I had so wanted, of how, in effect, he has shortened my life. What a bastard. My dear wife, I was to learn later, was also denied access to shorthand and typing by Mr Lewis (we went to the same school), not because she was not a girl – she was – but because she was deemed capable of achiev­ing three A-levels, and that she would always regret gaining only two A-levels if the third was to be sacrificed to provide the spaces on the timetable required for the shorthand and typing. She got the three A-levels, but would much rather preferred to have abandoned one in exchange for the shorthand and typing.

40: Storm Clouds – Gathering

There are no mountains here, no narrow valleys that rapidly take you up, higher and higher, towards the snowy peaks. There are no tumbling waterfalls or bears looking on. There are no eagles soaring high above the world, watching for rabbits. There are no wide slopes of swaying conifers mov­ing gently in the flow of cold air that drifts down from frozen summits, for here is a world that is flat and stained and spoiled by human arts, a place of dark tarmac and roaring engines and belching fumes, and sometimes of people shouting in the street about God knows what. And this place where humans are, has been dehumanised by them and made a place that makes people miserable, that sunders us from those mountains where we would rather be. Even the rabbit in his burrow, who must watch out for the eagle every time he ventures forth, cannot for a moment imagine the deso­lation and despair of this flat, flat place, with its grey roads, grey roofs, grey walls, grey hopes, grey des­perations, this flat, flat place that like an ocean awaits the coming storm under grey, turbulent clouds.

34: Malevolency – Stalking

Sometimes I sit in my chair for an hour or more, trying not to move, keeping my breathing as shallow as I can. Some deep instinct informs me that if I keep as still as possible, then the cruel forces that continually sweep across the world may not notice me, and they will pass me by and leave me alone. They have roughed me up too many times before, and when that deep instinct gets wind of something nasty close by, it makes me freeze. And there I sit, not quite dead, but trying to be as dead as I may if I am ever to rouse again.

27: Something Awful – Happening

I endure this anguished anticipation whose source is an utter mystery to me. Some awful dread is ever upon me, not a dread of some particular matter – though, that too may sometimes call – just a dread, a deep, disturbing, unfathomable dread. I have no power against it, and it rules with such might that no matter what book, what writing, what music from my lyre I might marshal in desperate hope of distraction, it always catches up, brings me down, turns me out of the little tran­quillity I might have chanced upon, and this hateful thing has dogged me all my years, and I am too old now to ever grow out of it.

Something awful must have happened. Some­thing awful that I cannot now remember, but it is happening still, will keep happening forever, and my response to all else that happens, things that are not this thing, ends up being my response to that forgotten thing. It is as if I lie broken and bloodied in some torture cell, and the rest of my life is a thin hallucination that veils my suffering with such pitiful inadequacy. I would like to experience things as they really are, and that yearn­ing joins with my anguish and makes it swell larger.