We are ducking and diving into the new year but cold, naked, reflection on the fact that just over a week ago I met with my brother, his wife and my cousin for a a bit of a reunion, during which I saw photographs either forgotten about or never seen before, has kicked in.
Re-reading the above paragraph I realise that before I continue I need to qualify the word naked…dear reader, if you are gagging on the morning shredded wheat or continuously masticating the mouthful of streaky, HP and thickly buttered loaf unable to swallow, the image I wish to conjure is not my repulsive, bald, Buddha- like undressed carcass perched on a stool (one of the main reasons that I like writing this cobblers is what you discover as you go along…one of the meanings listed for carcass is ‘the dead body of an animal with its offal removed’ – I wonder if there is a word for a recently castrated mammal with its toe nails clipped – who categorises this stuff?), but rather naked in the context of stark, plain or unembellished.
The reunion was great fun and seeing pictures of talked of but not seen relatives, alongside more familiar ones, is always enjoyable, particularly when accompanied by a surfeit of red wine, but here we are a week later and two pictures in particular of me about 32 years ago stick in mind.
I am always someone who has been fairly comfortable in his own skin but you look at these pictures and can’t help thinking ‘What the hell happened ?’…well obviously a surfeit of red wine (I would also like real ale, strong lager, Guinness, Murphys, Cider, sambucca, Jaegar Bombs, The Macallan, sambucca, gin, vodka, port, sambucca and cointreau to be taken into consideration your honour) as well as a love of just about every type of food, particularly the fermented curd and spices of India in conjunction with a seemingly permanent esurience.
So as I sip my strong coffee, flick off the all-butter shortbread crumbs from my straining jeans and contemplate an early but contented death, I can’t help brooding a bit. January, it’s a dog of a month, no one’s got any dosh, everyone’s on a diet, or exercising, or both, and they are doing all this without the aid of the soothing hippocrene., the warming beaker full of the necessary.
I often write this on a Thursday night, sometimes in front of the telly, sometimes with music blaring out or the radio on, or sometimes in quiet repose, it depends on my mood and where I am doing it, but it can have a marked effect on the results…if I stray into Sky Arts it becomes a sort of chronicled David Lynch-style surrealistic journey encapsulating the interesting but bizarre juxtapostions offered by those fine stations, often interrupted by ‘Breaking Bad’ or ‘the Sopranos’ (this programme is directly accountable for weight gain in recent years with the power of autosuggestion kicking in every time Tony goes digging in that bloody fridge for cold meats from ‘Satriale’s Pork Store – thankfully this has not ‘progressed’ to killing people, disposing of their bodies etc…), if I stray to BBC1 the vitriol, lies, fantasy and sheer nonsense of Question Time can certainly add an edge to the missive and I can often go into a deep reverie of curiosity if my viewing strays further to ‘This Week’ as I contemplate Andrew Neil’s thatch and the sheer disbelief that Diane Abbott is ACTUALLY a member of parliament anywhere (I want you to picture the brilliant air of confusion conveyed by Bob Hoskins at the climax of ‘Mona Lisa’).
Then there’s the musical inspiration and once more I have managed to diatribe my way around the full circle as I realise that with very few exceptions that most of the music that I love is older than my marriage (28 years) and in fact more accurately nearly as old as me (50). It’s not that I don’t like contemporary or different types of music, it’s just that being realistic in 99% of cases I won’t be playing it at my leisure (when I say I won’t be playing it at my leisure I mean contemporary music, as opposed to the children’s game of tag in my spare time – just thought I’d clarify that). Tonight’s playlist has included Manfredd Mann’s Earth Band, Bruce Springsteen, The (ubiquitous) Who and Red Hot Chili Peppers – I can remember being introduced to ‘By The Way’ the song and then the subsequently brilliant album of the same name by my son 13 years ago and being very pleased that at last I actually liked a new band, only to discover they had been in existence since 1983 (mind you, that’s still pretty contemporary for me!).
Well there you have it in a nutsh(ell) – the second week of January – BORING!!!