Waiting For The Dilation

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A wander round the garden this morning yielded

 

spears of crocosmia, tulips, and daffodils piercing the soil;

Crocuses

crocuses opened further;

Primulas and snowdrops

and varieties of primula.

Daphne odorata

Daphne Odorata remains wary of the possibility of a cold spell.

 

The winter flowering clematis Cirrhosa now cascades down the gazebo,

 

while, in the Rose Garden, Winchester Cathedral has bloomed for several months; Mum in a Million and Festive Jewel are in bud;

Spring sculpture

and the sun shines on “Spring”

This afternoon Jackie drove me to Lymington Hospital and back, for my eye appointment. I received efficient treatment, the nurse being rather more friendly than the consultant, but it is not his bedside manner that I suppose one looks to. After the nurse’s checks, she administered drops intended to dilate my eyes. They were effective, and, according to Jackie, gave me a sexy air. On hearing this, the gentleman sitting next to me asked her to look at his.

The consultant advised me that the laser treatment to my left eye was, as I thought, required. Apparently another cataract is forming in the right eye. I was asked if I wanted it done. No advice was given. I declined. I now await a date for the operation to the left eye.

Further administrative confusion occurred, in that a handwritten notice on the wall advised that, as stated in the appointment letter, we may have further checks carried out after the examination in order to save repeated visits. These could take three hours. Neither my nor anyone else’s letter carried such information. However this didn’t happen.

Waiting for the dilation to take effect gave me sufficient time to finish ‘The Locked Room’, being the third short novel in Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy. In the penultimate chapter the author suggests that all three of these works are the same story. He also uses the word ‘absurd’ on a number of occasions. It is. We are lulled, in this final episode, into thinking we might be reading something that makes sense. The writing flows with excellent descriptions and presents a plausible situation involving apparently real people and their relationships. A childhood friendship, for example, is beautifully told. There is, as usual, no ultimate clarity as nonsense finally prevails. Not that I could follow, anyway.

Tom Burns’s illustrations were, however, a delight, true to the text to the end.

           For our dinner The Culinary Queen produced succulent pigs in blankets; sublime sage and onion stuffed roast chicken; firm Yorkshire pudding; creamy mashed potato; toothsome manges touts; and tender runner beans. Good gravy, too.  With this, I drank Wolf’s Leap merlot 2016.

Lifted By Colour

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This morning we were in the grip of storm Georgina. This prompted the Muse of my youth, believing that “if we are having to put up with it, we might as well get something out of it”, to take a trip to the coast. I chose Highcliffe as the venue.

It was all right for Jackie, who could take refuge in the car after a brief foray along the clifftop. I, however, had the task of battling down the steep wooden steps to the shoreline in order to capture some images of the sea. Whilst the driving rain lashed my dripping face and the spray lathered my attire, the 60 m.p.h. winds played me like a marionette. I feared for my camera lens which I frequently dabbed with a sodden handkerchief. I couldn’t really see what I was doing, but fortunately the camera had better vision.

Gulls on shingle

Even the gulls took refuge on the shingle.

Wave after wave of cream-layered golden syrup swirled around the shore, crashing on the steadfast rocks.

Just two intrepid walkers, one with dogs, also ventured down below, where the flagpole bent like a bow.

Warnings of Unstable Cliff etc

As if the gale were not enough, there were plenty of other phenomena to be warned against.

It wasn’t until I had fought my way back up to the car park, that the sun made a brief attempt to put in an appearance.

I have learned that Paul Auster’s works are examples of Absurdist fiction, which essentially focusses on protagonists’ vain attempts to find any purpose in life through a series of meaningless actions.’Ghosts’, being the second novella of this author’s New York Trilogy, would certainly seem a case in point. I finished reading this today. Set as a detective story it pretty much follows the same course as ‘City of Glass’. Who is watching whom?, we wonder. Do we actually care? There didn’t seem much point in this repeat performance. Maybe that was the point. Meaningless it is.

Each character bears the name of a single colour, but it is the colour applied to Tom Burns’s illustrations for the Folio Society edition that lift the story, and perhaps this otherwise virtually monochrome post.

Following gyozo and won ton starters for our dinner this evening, we enjoyed Jackie’s really excellent egg fried rice served with pork ribs in barbecue sauce. She drank Hoegaarden and I finished the shiraz.

Sometimes I Couldn’t Keep Up

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Paul Auster’s ‘The New York Trilogy is a series of novelettes, originally published in sequence as City of Glass (1985), Ghosts (1986) and The Locked Room (1986); and combined into a single volume the following year. The author, born February 3, 1947, ‘is’, according to Wikipedia, ‘an American writer and director whose writing blends absurdism, existentialism, crime fiction, and the search for identity and personal meaning.’

Last night I finished reading the first story which I soon realised was describing a descent into madness. Whose, I wasn’t sure; because of the several identities, realities, and time-frames.

There is also an intertextual relationship with Cervantes’ Don Quixote. It is so long since I struggled to make sense of this great Spanish classic that the significance of the link escaped me.

Chapter 2 almost had me abandoning Auster’s tale. However, I saw it to the end and came to appreciate what the author was presenting. I thought it worth persevering with, and was left happy to tackle the next one.

My copy is The Folio Society’s 2008 edition which benefits from the powerfully atmospheric illustrations of Tom Burns, which won the V & A  2009 Overall book illustration Winner for this work. The museum’s website states that ‘the judges commented that these illustrations make great use of colour, capturing the city in a very fresh and original way. They felt the images integrate perfectly with the text and manage to evoke a variety of sensations such as loneliness, complicated relationships and a sense of speed.’ I’d say he was a worthy winner.

This morning, I scanned another batch of colour negatives from my long walk of July 2003. Regular readers will know that this was executed as an exercise in support of Sam’s epic row of the following year; those who followed the link to ‘Nettle Rash’ will also know that this was not without its obstacles.

There were a certain number of occasions when I lost sight of the rower, either because of these or because there were not enough locks holding him up and giving me a chance to keep pace.

Some of the more pleasant stumbling blocks were created by the flora covering the absent footpaths. Although I can recognise a thistle and a wasp, I lack the knowledge to identify the wild flowers or the white butterfly.

There was ample opportunity to focus on the landscape alongside what I think is the Warwickshire stretch of the Oxford canal. Sometimes there was a benefit in being unable to keep up.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendid pork paprika, roasted sweet potatoes, green beans, and red cabbage. I drank more of the Shiraz and the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden.