Sunday, 15 April 2012

among the trees

Among the trees I have lain and passed my golden days
Among the trees I have spent my summers in a haze
Of lazy afternoons, watching all the rain, as it patterns the
verandah, then disappears again.....Come the sun

Some days start a bit weirder than others, I guess.

Being a teacher I am used to laying awake at about three o'clock in the morning whilst a gang of skeletons are making hey in the wardrobe no doubt looking for a tin opener for the Watney's Party 7 that continues to be passed around from party to party and no doubt will be for the rest of eternity. This morning, however, it was between the hours of four and five-thirty that I lay awake and wondered, not for the first time, where it all went so wrong. All those dreams of youth et al, ad nauseum . . .  However, after getting a few more hours of  fitful sleep, I finally woke up to a nice hot cup of tea that Mrs Dave thoughtfully brought me.  After a few articles from Stuart Maconie's new book (Never Mind the Quantocks), I decided to get up and have a bath.

So there I was, lying on the bathroom floor completing my "reps" - exercise jargon for the amount of times you have to do something painful in the optimistic belief that it's doing you some good. Having already completed a series of standing-on-my-left-foot-only-and-bending-my-knee-and-holding-for 10 seconds (10 reps), I was now lying on the bathroom floor at a jaunty 45°angle with the bath filling up with hot water and Epsom Salts.  I had a tight rubberised band around my knees and was attempting to lift my knees whilst keeping my ankles together.  Idly interested parties may assume that my Physiotherapist may have a wicked sense of humour. Whilst trying to hold this pose for the aforesaid ten reps, from the bathroom stereo* the mournful sound of Eric Clapton singing, "Dear Lord, give me the strength to carry on".  This is the usual absurdity of everyday life. You can't make this stuff up.

I've obviously been rather obsessed with the two things mostly on my mind for the best part of the first quarter of the year. So, gentle reader, I do apologise and will try to stop mithering on about the damned kitchen now it's nearly back to normal - Mrs Dave is baking some apple and cheese muffins as I type - and my other bête noire, my broken left foot. In fact yesterday I went out for a brief walk in some woods up around Martlesham. It was an opportunity to get out in the fresh air, which is something that a few youngsters need to do according to a recent radio report. Look at the cover of this bok I saw recently in Waterstones - Nature Defecit Disorder!! Whatever next? Anyway, it was also an opportunity to mess about with a new camera app on my iPhone. Now, I have never been much of a photographer and only use cameras to keep a record of where I've been or anything that takes my fancy.  Usually unusual trees.  I leave all the clever and arty stuff to real photographers like Mike Chisholm - a man who knows all about lenses and apertures and such-like.

During the week I had heard rumblings and grumblings about Instagram but had been too tired or disinterested until yesterday to find out why this useful little app was being discussed on Radio 4 and taking up newspaper space. Instagram is a phone app that allows you to apply various filters to your snaps (that's what they are).  See the previous post for an example. They are just a bit of fun for snappers.  I've used Instagram for most of the last year - not that I take many photos, though. I was certainly surprised - like most people seem to be - that MyFace had paid the ridiculous sum of a billion dollars for a small app that is free to download and use. The creators had never, up until now, made any money from it - they must be laughing all the way to the bank. A few years developing a bit of software in a completely altruistic way has allowed them to join that ever-growing club of young slacker millionaires. Good for them, I say, but I can't for the life of me work out how money will be made from it.  Surely they can't start charging for it?

Anyway, I wandered around the woods using Camera+ which just adapts your iPhone's camera and makes it a bit better. And it's free, just like Instagram. There are loads of filters (better than the Instagram ones) and flashes and zooms and all sorts of other things I'll never use. For an example of what I mean here's a very Arthur Rackhamesque tree I found. By adding a filter to it, it takes on the look of an old found photo. I can imagine a few elves and sprites partying around at night, possibly having finally opened the everlasting Party 7. But as I say, it's nothing more than a bit of fun - certainly not Art!

Despite having walked in this wood often over the last twenty-odd years, I still managed to get a bit disoriented so out came the old iPhone as I wasn't carrying an old fashioned compass. Switch on the compass app and voilà there we are - head West and back to the car, dodging the hailstones. I must write about how useful the iPhone has become. Despite my usual fustian, technophobe approach to modernity, it's fast becoming one of the most important pieces of everyday kit. This is all despite the fact the I hardly ever get calls on it - it seems to be everything but a phone. Unfortunately, not a hat.

Still, more about such things another time.

*Of course.


Mike C. said...


So, why do teachers hear skeletons in the wardrobe at 3:99 am? Is this some kind of occupational hazard? At around the same time I usually hear either foxes murdering babies, or the junior doctors next door getting home after a late shift.

I tried some of those photo apps while I had a loaner iphone and thought they were fun, but the best thing was Brushes, the painting app David Hockney uses -- brilliant fun. Also, if you're a Mac user (I'm not) Brushes will replay the creation of your image on the Mac, giving you a full-size version.



Dave Leeke said...

Perhaps it's only maths or physics teachers - 3.99am?

Anyway, my skeletons are the result of being a very naughty boy in my younger days. I don't use a Mac as we have to make sure that everything we do can be used at school as well. Oh, and the cost I suppose.

You're right, they are fun and I'm happy to stick with that. I'll leave the serious stuff to excellent practisioners like yourself.

Mike C. said...

Have you tried Brushes? As an habitual drawer, you'd love it. It's worth it even without the bonus of transfer to a Mac.


Mike C. said...

Ah, of course, you meant "skeletons in the closet" -- duh...


Dave Leeke said...

According to my unfeasibly large Collins Dictionary, "closet" is of "US and Aus. origin" - sorry, but wardrobe is so much more English, I feel.