This is like being twelve years old at school and the teacher says you can write an essay on any subject you like and your mind promptly goes blank. I write fairly randomly in any case, about whatever comes into my mind as I sit here, and apart from a few pictures, taken to be posted, I rarely plan in advance.
Several refer to childhood, several contain verse, this wasn’t expected but has simply happened.
* When I am upset or emotional, my eyes become intensely green like a cat’s. This happens even if I don’t cry (where the contrast of green and red is unpleasantly startling) but, although I have seen it in the mirror many times (yes, when upset I am sometimes looking in the mirror, cause and effect might be cited here), no one else has ever mentioned it to me.
* When I was a child of 4 or 5, there was a song. My sister used to sing it to me. And not in a nice way. She teased, because that’s what big sisters do.
“I’m not a bat or a rat or a cat,
I’m not a gnu or a kangaroo,
I’m not a goose or a moose on the loose,
I am a mole and I live in a hole.”
My mole (one of many, I am considerably molier than thou) has been with me from earliest childhood and is situated in my armpit. I was deeply embarrassed by it as a child and never raised my right arm unless I was wearing long sleeves. Now it hardly makes me self-conscious at all, as I have so many other bodyparts to be embarrassed by.
* When I was a child, strangers called me Alice. Which is not my name. I was a dear little long-blonde-haired child with a winsome expression. Even when I was in my late 20s, the village shopkeeper decided to name me Alice. Yet, when there was a school production of Alice in Wonderland when I was 10, I was given the role of the Walrus. I wore baggy trousers with braces, a striped red and white teeshirt and, of course, I had to grow a droopy moustache. Or maybe I wore a stick-on one, I can’t quite remember. My friend Angela played the Carpenter, as her father was the school caretaker and had a splendid carpenter’s bench.
* When I am at the dentist, I do mental arithmetic to distract myself. Or practise times tables. My favourite times table is 17. I was pleased to be 51 as that is 17×3 which is excellent. 52 was good as it is a pack of cards. 53 is all right because, as I have mentioned before, I am now the age of the year I was born in, if you take the century for granted. I haven’t thought of anything good about any future year until 64, which, being both a square and a cube, is a very cool number.
When I’ve had enough of numbers, I turn to poetry. I learned this Shakespeare sonnet when I was 14. I decided to learn a sonnet and not one of the best known.
Those lips, that love’s own hand did make
Breathed forth the sound that said “I hate.”
To me, who languished for her sake.
But, when she saw my woeful state
Straight in her heart did mercy come,
Chiding that tongue which, ever sweet
Was used in giving gentle doom
And taught it thus anew to greet.
“I hate” she altered with a word
That followed it as gentle day
Doth follow night, who, like a fiend,
From Heaven to Hell is flown away
“I hate” from hate away she threw
And saved my life, saying “not you.”
Some years ago, I borrowed a slim volume of poetry from the library, which was called ‘poems to learn by heart’ or something like that. I only learned one, and it was about the shortest. It was by Rudyard Kipling, I think and was, of course, about James I (or James VI if you are a Scot).
The child of Mary, Queen of Scots
A shifty mother’s shiftless son.
Bred up among intrigues and plots
Learned in all things, wise in none.
Ungainly, babbling, wasteful, weak,
Shrewd, clever, cowardly, pedantic.
The sight of steel would blanch his cheek
The smell of baccy drive him frantic.
He was the author of his line –
He wrote that witches should be burnt.
He wrote that monarchs were divine
And left a son who – proved they weren’t!
Otherwise I recite bits of Milton and rather a lot of the poets I studied for English A Level in 1970, Keats, Coleridge, Wordsworth and the like.
This, you might have observantly noticed, is only 4 things. It is the length of the post that deters me from putting them all up at once, I feel that I have intruded onto your time enough for now. The rest tomorrow.