Tuesday, 20 March 2012

the gravel walks

And cement mixers began to come to life
And men in dungarees, like captive shades,
Mixed concrete, loaded, wheeled, turned, wheeled as if
The Pharoah's brickyards burned inside their heads.

An update, of sorts, then. The kitchen floors - all three of them different - are now as one. All ready for the next stage. In a few days time, now that the cement mixer and wheelbarrow have gone, the workers will start again.  Another few layers to go yet.  First some "underfloor heating" and then large tiles.  Only then can we, finally, have the kitchen returned and usable. As it has been under tarpaulin for the last few weeks (and another week or so to go) I hope that it has survived the recent heavy rainfalls.

Yes, the gravel has all gone and the builder assures me that the floor is perfectly level now and we're ready to go.  Once the electrician returns, that is. Now we have to have lots of meaningful discussions about what colour we're going to paint the kitchen - it's time for a change as far as green goes, methinks.

The sun has come out in force and I was thinking of Edward Thomas but even his happier, sunnier poems are tinged with regret and the foreshadowing of death. I found this, though:

While the North blows, and starling flocks
By chattering on and on
Keep their spirits up in the mist,
And Spring's here. Winter's not gone.

I'm not convinced the sun is going to stay and we've had a lot of mist around here recently, so it seems apt. Thomas, of course was a good friend of Robert Frost and they often went walking together whilst Frost lived in England. I think it's Thomas that he was talking about in The Road Not Taken.  Choices made obviously have a huge impact on us.  Frost wanted him to move to New Hampshire but Thomas decided to go and fight for his country in the Great War and was killed by a stray bullet at his observation post on 9th April 1917.  He had managed to survive on the Western Front for sixty nine days.  At the time it wasn't the road less travelled - many had taken the same one.  Most hadn't left a legacy of beautiful poetry, but who knows what some of them could have become? The comments yesterday in the staff room about where we're going and, presumably jokingly (albeit cynically), how we need a plague or a war seemed shocking now I think of it.  It wasn't me that made the comment. It's about a lack of hope for the future. With the government obviously having it in for teachers at the moment with their impossible-to-satisfy inspection criteria (alongside attacking the whole of the Public Sector), feelings seem to be rather low in the profession at the moment.  Lower than usual, that is.

My foot is still sore and after three months of useless service from the quacks, I'm going to have to take things into my own hands - well, feet, I suppose.  I'm going to go see a physiotherapist to see if they can help.  I'll probably find that it should have been sorted months ago and I'll have done some permanent damage.  So, back over to Edward Thomas:

This is the best and worst of it -
Never to know,
Yet to imagine gloriously, pure health.

On to happier things, if you missed Songwriter's Circle on BBC4 on Sunday, I implore you to watch it.  Martin Simpson, Michael Chapman and Steve Tilston sitting around just singing and playing together in front of a small audience, not Earth-shattering, just an hour of sheer entertainment.  These guys get paid to do this.

Ah well, back to doing something useful, I guess.  I'm not sure what.  Perhaps I'll play guitar for a while.  The Fylde sounds wonderful at the moment with the Elixir strings so I've definitely changed my mind about them: well-worth the money. Perhaps I'll write a tune . . .

So, I'll leave you in the capable hands of Seamus Heaney*:

So walk on air against your better judgement
Establishing yourself somewhere in between
Those solid batches mixed with grey cement
And a tune called 'The Gravel Walks' that conjures green.

See, it all sort of comes together.

*From The Spirit Level - aha!

Saturday, 10 March 2012

and did those feet

The saga of my foot continues . . . finally the other week I went to see a third quack.  This one decided that, yes, there was definitely something wrong here. He actually gave me some pain killers/anti-inflamatory tablets and sent me off for an X-ray. 

So by the end of the week it was decided that, yes, I had certainly fractured a metatarsal before Christmas and that it was "mending nicely".  Well, that was until I tripped over a small child in class and went flying.  So now it's not just my left foot that hurts (it had been feeling fine for most of last week) now my right shin hurts too!  Certainly swollen and uncomfortable. Ah well, I guess I'll laugh about it all one day.  Just not at the moment. The child is okay, just in case you were concerned.

We've been without the use of the kitchen for most of the past two weeks - we're currently unable to even enter it.  To get to the back door we have to walk round the block and into the back garden to get to the washing machine.  Okay, that's not exactly a problem for me as I don't actually know how to use it anyway. But there are things that I need to get to occasionally.  So we are mostly eating takeaways and going out.  It may sound grand but it's quite expensive! Tonight we'll be having an Indian from the Blue Naan (love these attempts at puns!).  Tomorrow we'll be looking for an ale house that does a decent Sunday roast.  It's a hard life I tell you. With the fridge and table and chairs in the back room and most of the kitchen under cover in the back garden, the cutlery et al up on the third storey, it's all a bit much for my fragile mind to cope with.

I must admit that I'm finding it a bit stressful without the kitchen.  I'm too used to spending most of the weekend in there. I usually work at the table and cook - especially Sunday.  Not this weekend.  These two pictures might show why.  This was the state of play mid-week.  The workmen have been busy and spent all day here today concreting a new floor.  They won't be finished until the end of next week.  Hopefully, we'll be back in by then.  However, we've yet to put some dreaded Ikea cupboards in.  And it's all got to be decorated. The builder himself is going to paint the (new) smooth ceilings which was what I was expecting to be doing this weekend (what with these feet?*).  Actually, when he asked whether we wanted him to paint the ceilings for us, the question mark hadn't even appeared at the end of his sentence before we said yes! At least we'll never have to look at - or indeed, paint - those awful Artex ceilings ever again.  Nor will I have to keep going to the DIY store to get GU10 50 watt bulbs that have a tendency to have blown ten minutes after you replaced tham at vast expense**.  I've been assured that the new LED lights will last for ten years.  With a guarantee that means that they have to replace the units if they go wrong in that time.  Excellent.

Good news if you wander along to Sainsburys - they have this rather spiffing beer in their Above Average Range or whatever they call it.  It's called Suffolk Gold which is actually a St Peter's beer.  Obviously it's Suffolk Gold and even has a lovely bottle much like their IPA ones (incidentally which you can only get from Waitrose. If you've got a Waitrose, of course We haven't). At £1.69 instead of about two quid for a bottle of St Peter's itself, it seems to be a bit of a bargain.  And believe me, gentle reader I've done enough research just so you don't have to.  Tastes great, so don't hesitate to get down there and buy some.  It's supposed to go well with roast pork. Well, it'll be a while before I can find out whether that's true or not.

Summer seems a while away yet but around these parts the festivals are beginning to build up.  Paul Weller is headlining at Latte-tude and we have a new Suffolk folk festival with Imagined Village, Bellowhead and Mike Heron (he of the ISB) as well as the Maverick Festival which I really must sort out tickets for.

All this and work too.  Well, it's the weekend, let's not talk about that now.

* if it sounds familiar, it's from the first episode of Porridge
** not to mention the vast consumption of electrickery