Monday, October 22, 2007

Some Angry Angel

Some angry angel,

Bleared by Bach and too inbred,
Crept out of bed, pulled on a sock,
And glancing downwards threw a rock,
Which struck an earthbound peacock’s head.
The peacock fell.
The peacock’s yell, outraged by such treason,
Demanded to know why it
Out of millions should be hit,
And instantly invented a reason.

This is one of a very few poems that I can quote by heart and write down without resorting to the original text. When I first read it, as a late teenager, it seemed to me perfect. It used memorable imagery to express the randomness of fortune, and I loved the internal rhythms and rhymes.

The poem was used by writer Richard Condon as an epigraph to his novel ‘Some Angry Angel’. It apparently came from a mysterious collection of poems known as ‘The Keener’s Manual’.

I doubt that many people will be familiar with Condon’s name, although several of his books have been adapted and made into well known films, including ‘The Manchurian Candidate’ and ‘Prizzi’s Honor’.

What’s weird is that there is no ‘Keener’s Manual’. It’s an invention of Condon’s. He wrote the poem ‘Some Angry Angel’ himself.

I learn this on a weekend where the English peacock seems to have suffered a veritable plague of angry angels. In two days we’ve managed to lose the rugby, the Formula 1, and the snooker. For many invented reasons.

Friday, October 19, 2007


Comes as a bit of a shock, doesn't it, to realise that somebody's entered your house and stolen some of your belongings? Yes, and it's scarier still when you consider that the house was occupied at the time...people asleep...

We're the victims of what's known as a 'sneak in'. That's as opposed to a break in. No windows smashed, no locks forced, no wilful wreckage or damage, nobody hurt. Some chancer has simply walked in through the (unlocked) front door, climbed the stairs to the first floor, grabbed a handbag, and made off with it.

I suppose it's our own fault, in a way. I'd left the house at about eight o'clock in the evening, wasn't sure whether our youngest daughter had a key on her, and so left the door unlocked. My wife had gone to bed unusually early, upstairs, and a friend of ours who was staying for the weekend had done the same, downstairs, as he wasn't feeling too well. At about ten thirty our friend woke up for a moment, heard somebody come in through the front door, and just assumed it was me returning. Went back to sleep.

In the morning my wife realised her handbag had gone. Not good.

Still, worse things could have happened, and so we haven't taken up offers of counselling (but thanks guys) and life goes on - along with the alarm system. The real curse is what was in the handbag. Forget the mobile phone, the Blackberry, the purse and the money. They're all replaceable. The bank cards, the driving licence, &c &c can all be cancelled. The precious photos of the kids are nowhere near as precious as the kids themselves.

No, the real loss is the paperwork. It's the filofax with its hundreds of contacts and appointments. It's the confidential patient notes, the job applications from prospective employees, the lecture notes, the annotated books. It's the countless hours of work that can never be recouped, the indispensable record of a life in progress - and one connected to the well-being of others at that.

And now some little git who probably can't even read has chucked it all over a wall somewhere.
Oh well. Maybe they'll spend the money on glue and roll up at a certain local hospital in need of treatment...

One can only hope.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

I see the moon, and the moon sees me...

I suspect that the difference between 'loveable eccentric' and 'dangerous lunatic' is largely one of money in the end. It's imperative that I get rich, therefore, if I'm to avoid being locked up.

This morning I poured black coffee on my cornflakes. Again. It wasn't until I began to add the milk that I realised something was terribly amiss. I don't quite know what it is about coffee that throws me. Maybe it's an early morning thing, and I simply haven't got myself properly into gear. I've been known to put the coffee pot in the fridge, once the coffee's made, and then wonder what the hell I've done with it. I've even made it and then tipped it carefully down the sink, making sure that the grounds don't splash up onto the draining board.

I also do a fair amount of that standing still and scratching my chin business, and thinking - er...what did I come in here for? Eventually the newsagent waves a clue, and then I'm OK again.

None of this would matter, provided I could afford a private nurse to wheel me about and point me in the appropriate direction. Toothbrush. Suit. Double bass. Microphone.

Fortunately I do find it quite funny - though not quite as hilarious as my nearest and dearest. I tell them they should be trying to preserve me for a little longer, and keep me from being slung into a bridewell at least until they have jobs and are able to support themselves. I wouldn't have let my Dad go out looking like that, I say, at least not without warning the neighbours...

Some time ago I tried to unlock my car with the TV remote. Prodding away with the thing for about twenty seconds, I must have been, before spotting my mistake. Fortunately nobody saw me.

"But what button were you using?" my kids wanted to know. What button? What possible difference could that make? It was never going to work, as any fool could tell you.