I will only be borrowing wit if I observe that life it itself a fatal condition– one can only endure it for so long before the patient expires of the strain. There are a few items of strain which are telling upon me today that demand attention
Shoes: A little while ago I bought a couple of pairs of nice-looking shoes at a second-hand shop. I have been anxious to take some of the pressure of my one pair of decent shoes for some time (a couple of the clothing-related sites in the sidebar insist that one much never wear a pair of shoes two days in a row). I discover that the sizes indicated are not quite what I’d expected, and that popping a shoe on for a moment is not the way to check that it fits. The black wing-tips fit well enough, but that’s what the previous pair were. The keen brown Oxfords, on the other hand… nearly fit.
I am looking at some shoe-stretchers, for future use, but through the kind of pig-headed stubbornness that has brough humans to try and live in parts of the world they’re clearly not adapted for, I have chosen to adapt the shoes to my feet by wearing them. As I did this, I remember with some regret past scornful remarks regarding the social pressures that lead women to wear deeply uncomfortable shoes purely for fashion. There’s me, doing essentially the same thing, and the reward thus far has been raw spots on the sides of my smallest toes, and a line of abrasion across the larger metatarsals.
I also recall belatedly that women who wear very fashionable shoes over years find that the shoes do not conform to the foot, but that the foot is shaped by the shoe.
Car: I spoke previously of the van being laid up. A couple of weeks ago we found ourselves stranded while shopping. The tow service indicated that there was something amiss with the battery. I had it replaced the following Monday. Last weekend, the same situation, but this time no boosting would serve. The verdict at the garage was a dead starter. Expense piles upon expense, which in the wake of the recent veterinary troubles gives me a little pause. As a final (I hope) insult, I found yesterday morning that one of the headlights had burnt out.
This is mere stressful stuff, but there was an actual physical attack. I had borrowed my mother’s car for the couple of days the repair lasted, and because I needed to transport my son it was necessary to install a booster seat. A word of warning about the rear doors on Lumina sedans– they have an unexpected prominence at the upper outboard corner. In the British usage of the 1950s, I badly nutted myself, and while I didn’t stagger into the house with my face a mask of blood, I do have a hard-to-explain gouge on my forehead well above my right eye.
This brings me nicely to…
Son: Yes, parenthood is stressful, blah blah, it’s the common experience. I will admit that most of the damage the lad is doing to me is mental stress of my own generation, but what really worries me is that, while he happily receives kisses from his parents, the only kisses his delivers are the Glasgow sort, and these with terrible power and accuracy. I doubt there will be an adult in his life with a straight nose by the time he’s 4.
Language: Last week I made all sorts of noise about the misuse of language by a bank. I find that the mellifluous Stephen Fry opposes at least some of my rage, and in such an elegantly expressed way that I can hardly deny him. Except by saying there is a difference between artful playing with language, and lazy misuse; I can’t prove it, but I feel it deeply.
So, there we are. Like the father in The Last Remake of Beau Geste, I am dying nicely, but expect to see the next Hallowe’en, at least. Since, apart from a sore forehead, I am feeling generally in good health, I will suggest a different analogy to the relation between living and dying than the simple inevitability I started with. Life is very much like falling off a building: there’s a miserable jarring stop at the end which is what really does the damage, and the longer it is, the more interesting things you get to see and the greater a chance you’ll work out how to make a graceful landing.
Today’s pen, somewhat subject to entropy: Waterman Phileas
Today’s ink, perhaps to last the ages: Diamine blue-black
This combination is another source of stress, by the way– the pen seems to deeply object to all Diamine inks it encounters, as previous evidence supports.