1 EAGLETON NOTES: February 2009



Thursday 26 February 2009

Memories Covered With Dust

Scriptor Senex blogged on Scanning yesterday.   Simply Heather made a comment that the photos brought back to her "memories ....covered with dust in my mind".   What an absolutely wonderful expression.  Sometimes something will jump up, hit you between the eyes and say "Look at me". For me, this is one of those things.

Saturday 21 February 2009

The Pianist (And, Incidentally, The Sacredness of Life)

I watched Roman Polanski's film The Pianist a few nights ago.  I watch films occasionally.  Often the same ones that I have watched before. Safe films. Films the ending of which I know. Films that entertain and relax me.  Not films that challenge me.  I can be a very emotional person and I like good emotions.  Like everyone else I have to face bad emotions from time to time in real life (and I've had a fair share of them so far) but, where I can, as in the make-believe life of films, I avoid them.  I'm done with the emotions generated by the horrors of the world of which there are far too many for me to do anything about.  So I have absolutely no idea why I chose to watch The Pianist knowing that it was a window into the evils that man perpetrates upon man.

And it did not fall short.  Ultimately it had the glimmer of a happy ending..... if one ignored the overwhelming unhappiness that had to be gone through to get there.  The fact that I actually watched it from beginning to end is, quite frankly, remarkable.

During the First World War the total number of casualties, both military and civilian, were about 37 million: 16 million deaths and 21 million wounded. 

Second World War casualty statistics vary greatly. Estimates of total dead range from 50 million to over 70 million.  The sources cited on Wikipedia document an estimated death toll in World War II of roughly 72 million, making it the deadliest ever. Civilians killed totaled around 47 million, including 20 million from war-related disease and famine. Total military dead: about 25 million, including deaths in captivity of about 4 million prisoners of war. Axis dead: approximately 11 million; Allied dead: about 61 million.

Now think.  Add to these possibly 88 million bodies, the dead of just two wars which took place during the last century, those of the conflicts in Ruanda, Vietnam, Bosnia, Croatia, Ethopia, Cambodia, Lebanon, Palestine, Gaza and so many more and I rest my case.

So why am I blogging about the dead of the last century (and I'm not excluding the present century either)?   What is my point?  What is my case? 

"I'm not really sure" is the answer to that question.

But it came about because I was thinking about death and the way people die. They weren't morbid thoughts but simply reflections arising out of a few recent deaths of people whom I know and the fact that I was told last summer in the UK that my death was 'only a matter of time'.  Of course it's only a matter of time.  Everyone's death is only a matter of time.  I'm just hoping that there's plenty between now and then.

Anyway I digress.  What worries me is not when I might die (although I hope that it will be some considerable time in the future) but how I might die.  At the moment there is a sporting chance that the cancer will get me.  And therein lies the rub (origin of saying please CJ).  Death by cancer is usually unpleasant and slow.  A good old heart attack may be unpleasant but it's usually quick.  

And  now to the point.  If I decided that I wanted to end things quickly why should I not be allowed to do just that.  It would save the NHS lots of money and my friends and relatives all that unpleasant waiting.  More importantly for me, it would save me lots of pain.

After all if the State can kill people by the hundreds of millions in one century (many, if not most, in the name of one god or another) how dare it presume to say that life is sacred. 

Oh, and don't worry, there's a happy posting over on the other channel.

Friday 13 February 2009

Living Alone

When I blogged a few days ago about waking up in the middle of the bed and Simply Heather commented about that not being so good if one pushed one's spouse out of bed I got to thinking: not an easy task for me at the best of times.  

I live alone.  I'm very happy living alone.  If I want to play Mozart I play Mozart (it's Rossini's Petite Messe Solonnelle at this moment as it happens) but if I want to play Meatloaf or Bonnie Tyler or The Cowboy Junkies or Stockhausen (which, I should add, has never and is unlikely ever to happen) then I can do so.   I know that that was a trite example but it illustrates a principle.  Please don't misunderstand me.  I have lived en famille and have had good times including wonderful children.  And, yes, I do sometimes miss having someone's back to stroke whilst going to sleep.

One of my dearest friends, on the other hand, hated living alone with no partner with whom to share life and its experiences.  It seems that amongst my female friends she is in the majority.  

But here I draw a distinction.  Whilst I love living on my own I would hate to be alone.  I am fortunate that I never have been.  There can be no greater blessing (metaphorically speaking) than friends.  And I am fortunate to have friends including a brother and a son who are very good friends.

Perhaps it's an age thing.  Perhaps I'm just un homme bizarre avec une barbe grise.  Whatever. I've made my bed and on it happily I will lie - generally alone!

Wednesday 11 February 2009


A few days ago Scriptor Senex blogged in answer to the question "What is your greatest source of pride?" posed in C Beth’s Blog the One Minute Writer the previous day.  It is rare for my opinions to differ from SS's to an extent which might warrant a comment but on this occasion I'm not sure that I go along with his views 100%.

The headmistress of my (and SS's) Prep School was a Roman Catholic.  As such she ensured that, despite the fact that the school was, in theory, non-denominational (I was brought up in the Church of England) we had a good grounding in scripture by rote and, in particular, the Seven Deadly Sins (which I can, of course, still recite).  At the tender age of about 7 we would be told that 'Pride' was a sin and in the next lesson (or the next sentence sometimes I'm sure) we would be told to have Pride in our work.  This confused my simple, youthful mind.  But when I asked for an explanation I was told not to be impertinent. 

I think that, all these years later, I understand the issue a little better.  

My understanding of pride is that it includes a pleasure or satisfaction taken in something done by or belonging to oneself or which reflects credit upon oneself, for example, civic pride.  I rather think that my close family in general fall into that category.

I am proud of my children (I'm unsure about the grammatical way of expressing that now that Andrew is dead).  I'm proud of their achievements.  I'm proud of their independence.   I'm darned sure that their Mum feels the same.  

Sunday 8 February 2009

Carpe Diem: Seize The Moment

When I went to a village called Whangara when I was staying in Gisborne last week I saw a small rural school and outside it was parked a bright yellow school bus.  Unlike the US and Canada school busses in New Zealand are not a particular colour and seeing a yellow one was unusual.  It occurred to me that it would make a really good posting for Simply Heather to see.  I'm sure that a tiny school with, perhaps, 12 pupils is not common in Simply Heather's Town.  Anyway by the time I'd realised it and my mind had processed the information (I'm a man - these things take time) it was too late to stop the car on the narrow road.  All we had to do was drive until we could turn around and return.  But I wasn't the driver and I didn't ask.  I should have done.  I may never see such a school again with its own cute bus outside.  Always seize the moment.  There may not be another one.

Thursday 5 February 2009

Too Small a Space to Share

Today I had to travel with the hood up on The Handbag (my Mazda MX5 roadster).  The car is small at the best of times but when the hood is up and I am in the driver's seat there is not much room left for even a handbag (hence its name).  I set off from Gisborne at 0900.  Some 40 ks into the journey travelling down a long straight at 100 kph I suddenly became aware of something large on my left leg by my ankle.  Being a sports car one cannot see one's feet when driving at speed without endangering one's self or others.  I involuntarily moved my leg and a cicada  suddenly flew up and over my leg onto the right hand side door.  (The car is right hand drive).  Now cicada's don't bite nor do they sting.  But with a wing span of about 5cm they are not the best things to have sitting in the car making cicada noises and flying around.  The problem was that as this incident occurred I had to slow down into a sharp bend preceeded by a sign saying that there were sharp bends and steep hills for the next 7 ks.  And I am supposed to share this fairly demanding driving experience with a cicada which by this time has gone up the leg of my shorts.  By definition there is not a lot of leg up which to disappear and I became less than a happy bunny.  

As providence would have it although there were no official passing places I came upon a pull-off which had been used for road maintenance  and managed to leave the carriageway without doing any harm to my suspension or underneath:  sports cars are not generally noted for off-road capability.  After a while I located the cicada which had crawled down the side of the driver's seat and managed to evict it from the car.

All in all not an experience to be recommended.  However in line with my tendency to play The Glad Game I gave thanks that it hadn't been a wasp. 

Wednesday 4 February 2009


I stood on a beach this morning.   As I stood there my footprint was suddenly consumed by the sea.    It reminded me of just how transient life is.

Monday 2 February 2009

Which Side of the Bed?

I had an odd experience in bed last night.  I woke up in the middle of the bed.  

I will explain.  My bed in Eagleton is a double bed and in The Cottage it is a queen size.  I sleep on the left hand side as you look at it from the foot of the bed.  Still awake?  The bed I am sleeping on at Mike and Sandra's is a double bed.  For two nights I have slept in the middle of the bed.  I've never done that before.  Why now?  Does it matter?  No, of course it doesn't.  But I am just that little bit curious.

A Greeting Card

I don't suppose that I should be doing this but wotthehellarchiewotthehell I thought they were brilliant.  Unfortunately despite there being a URL (www.curlygirldesign.com) on the card trying to find the details was impossible.  So I've reproduced it anyway.  There are lots more but, as I know people who will be getting them for their birthdays or just because I happen to feel like sending one, I won't reproduce any more.