'There is a tide in the affairs of men' sounds better as a title than ‘displacement activity.’ I can’t say language has improved over the years. This morning I woke up ready to slip into my usual routine until the realisation that my ‘usual routine’ had gone. I had just finished a book (yet to be edited) It was something I’d been looking forward to – finishing the damn thing – and I had all these other projects seething in the background, shouting out ‘Me next! Me!” These include several short stories and a more serious work on Anthony Trollope. The latter I thought I’d finished until it dawned on me I had yet to read two of his Irish novels, novels that might modify my general thesis. I'm currently finishing Castle Richmond with the Land-Leaguers yet to come.
So, lots of stuff, but when I woke up I realised I wanted none of it. Not burnout exactly, more a need for breathing time and space – and activity. Above all activity.
This morning I transplanted an ailing Rhododendron bush from its pot into the garden. It had once stood guard over the front door but was appearing steadily sicker as the weeks passed. Each time I slipped the key into the lock I sensed or imagined a stern, reproachful stare. So this morning I wrenched it from it’s very large pot—no easy thing—dug an even larger hole in the garden and bunged the damn thing in.
It still doesn’t look very happy, as you can see but much the same thing happened to its ‘parent’ three years ago, and its transplantation brought it back from the dead. I’m expecting great things.
Next I noticed ivy taking over what we laughingly call a lawn. ‘Bastard,' I muttered and went to it, digging out leaves and stems and leaving a substantial stretch of bald earth. Bulbs have been planted and the baldness re-seeded.
And now, marginally refreshed, I’m blogging about the whole miserable business because, at the moment, it’s the only thing I think I'm capable of. After this I'm off to tidy my desktop and organise an army of photographs, perhaps even cull my inbox of emails read and forgotten.
As George Harrison said in one of his finest albums, ‘All things must pass.’
Just to show my life has a little more excitement than digging holes I've included some more photos from our last visit to the Cotswolds, a small village known as Upper and Lower Slaughter.
Lower Slaughter has been inhabited for over a thousand years and is recorded in the Domesday Book as ‘Sclostre’. Its name comes from the old English for ‘Muddy Place’ which is not surprising since the River Eye runs right through the village. In a sense it epitomises the old saying ‘Where’s there’s muck there’s brass’ for nothing has been built or changed there since 1906 and now it’s a honeypot for Japanese tourists and eccentric Englishmen.