midsummer madness

Have the seasons slipped? It doesn’t feel like it’s the middle of summer although I know it will be the longest day of the year on Sunday. To be fair it is a nice day today but I’m spending most of it sitting in front of computer screens working on book covers and suchlike.

wssn-cover-all2-lrA book cover I’m working on

Does every day have to have a theme – like a story? Is every day a different story?

I suppose the answer is the same answer that is the usual answer to everything – it is and it isn’t, depending on your perspective. The truth is that every nanosecond is different than every other nanosecond – during the time between the beginning of one nanosecond and the beginning of another a trillion trillion molecules have shifted, or degenerated into atoms, or been created by the coming together of free atoms or however it all works at a molecular level.

At and below the molecular level everything is in a state of flux. Nothing is dependable enough to say it’s the same as something else.

But on the more prosaic level of day-to-day life I know that if I rub some soap under some water it will create a lather, so one bar of soap is much like any other bar of soap. And that’s the rub I guess, it’s not the same, it’s just ‘much like’, similar enough to be dependable enough – there are no absolutes.

If we extrapolate that across space and time then it means that since we human beings are composed of molecules (even our brains) then we are constantly changing too. I’m different than I was when I started typing this sentence and I’ll be different again by the time I get to the end.

On a practical level what this means is that nobody really knows anything for certain, life is just one big guessing game.

There was a dodgy guy in front of me in the queue for the till at the co-op earlier. I say dodgy because I couldn’t work him out, couldn’t put him into a nice little box with a label that said ‘middle-aged man, bit rough’. I mean, that’s what he was, but he was also much more of course. He was muttering to himself for one thing, and twitching, and looking around nervously and edging too close to the bloke in front of him. So I held back, kept at least a step away from him in case he went feral.

He answered his phone as he approached the counter and bellowed into it: “I’m in the supermarket – in the queue – it’s noisy – hang on.” I  didn’t hear his phone ring, it may have been set to vibrate only of course, but I suspected he was only doing it for effect. You know, he was telling the world – “I’m not mad, I don’t twitch and mutter to myself in the queue for the till – I have actually got real friends, people who like me and respect me enough to call me while I’m in the supermarket.”

Or maybe I was just being paranoid.

Anyway, he didn’t go mad, not visibly, not then anyway, but he was still outside near the exit when I left, and he was still shouting into his phone, even though it was quiet there.

It’s about a quarter past six. I’m popping out to see a friend the other side of town now, in a minute . . .

Gone 8pm. Back from the other side and brought a memento – a holiday snap if you like

mossy-treeThe bark of a mossy tree from the other side

The original photo is much higher resolution but you should be able to get the gist – it’s a world of its own – it really is.

So, my mate was, as usual, charming, intelligent, and entertaining. We had a little chinwag about ageing and reminisced about crazy days gone by. For example, he saw a mouse in his house the other day and it reminded him of a time when he was about eighteen and sharing a house with his friends. They used to cook chips in a saucepan full of lard until one day they noticed mouse droppings in the pan along with scratches where the furry little critters had tucked in to the glistening white lardiness.

“Eugh!” (or something that sounded like that) I said.

“Oh, it was OK,” he said. “We just scraped the droppings out with a spoon and made the chips anyway.”

“I’ve also got a pet slug,” he said. “Well I hope it’s just one. I think he hides under the settee, comes out every night, and makes a pattern on the mat. I run my foot over it in the morning and it vanishes. I don’t mind. Slug trails are harmless, made from good stuff – I saw it on Springwatch the other day. I don’t mind the mouse either to be honest – better than the hundreds we used to live with back in the 70’s.”

Mouse-dropping man also told me he’d been for a drive to Caerphilly Mountain earlier, with another friend of his from back in the lardy days. They’d sat on a bench and reminisced, pinching the skin on each others’ arms to see whose was the loosest.

“Fucking ageing!” he shook his head,

“Madness,” I said.



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One response to “midsummer madness”

  1. Moira O'Driscoll avatar
    Moira O’Driscoll

    Hiya Derek. The ‘slug man’ in the story is my brother Robert O’Driscoll, who, I don’t know if you know, passed away in October 2017. On March 31st coming it would have been Rob’s 64th birthday. I’m wondering if you’d mind me posting this story on my Facebook page on that date in memory of my brother? It’s a lovely story and I forgot that I had it saved in some obscure part of my computer and only came upon it again last night. Thanks, Moira O’Driscoll

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