The other day we went for a stroll along the river and saw a ghostly tree. It stood out like a sore thumb around the rich, green foliage: it was completely white with no leaves.
We walked closer trying to find out what it was: was it an art statement or maybe an act of vandalism? We were busy discussing various possibilities but as we got closer, we fell completely silent.
The tree was covered in a web of white silky strands. And it was alive.
It was alive in more than one sense of the word. It was alive with tiny caterpillars crawling all over it. The grass area surrounding the tree was yellow – that is, the part of the lawn which was infected by caterpillars. Tent caterpillars, to be precise.
The local birds were quite enamoured by this tree and happily swooped down for an extra juicy caterpillar or two whilst completely ignoring the two foolish humans below. One bullfinch even posed for a photo or two whilst enjoying the caterpillar buffet.
And at home the internet provided us with answers and I realised that things could be a lot creepier than just a single ghost tree down by the river.
Experiment: sleep for X amount of hours (X being the amount of sleep I’d get pre-illness), try to be moderately active (i.e. go for a 20 minute walk), read a book, talk on the phone briefly and then see how this down-scaled version of ‘normal life’ works out.
Result: I’m not well. Head foggy, speech slightly slowed down and I need to search for words (and use spell-checker). Hands shaking if I’m not sitting down. Mouth dry. Was on the verge of collapsing during walk.
I’m going to counter this little experiment with jasmine tea, my jammies, some knitting and a flick through The Knitter’s Handbook I found secondhand (just £1!) during my brief excursion..
Worryingly I watch the chatterbox a great deal more than I would like – but there is something about the format which suits my scattered brain. I get interested in something and just as I’m beginning to lose the thread, it’s commercial time or time for the weather forecast (both strike me as similar in their inaccurate predictions of future happiness).
Yesterday I was watching In God’s Name, a documentary on Channel 4 (the liberal, arty channel which has strayed in search of viewers). It was a look at fundamental Christianity in modern-day Britain filmed by a man going for cheap shots far too often.
Example: A late-20s driving instructor was asked if he had ever had sex, for instance. No, he had not as he was saving himself for marriage. I fail to see why being a male virgin in his late 20s should be material for prime-time TV.
However, other aspects of the documentary were more interesting. In Britain, they are currently reviewing stem cell research and abortion laws in parliament. Yesterday the updates to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill were passed. Today Parliament will vote on whether to lower the limit on abortion from twenty-four weeks to twenty. The documentary showed how closely certain certain members of the Parliament (as well as former) were working with hardline Christians in preparation for these bills.
I always take documentaries with a pinch of salt but I do hope this one might make aforementioned members of Parliament reconsider who acts as their advisors. Because it just looks a touch silly when you keep quoting scientific ‘facts’ you’ve been given by someone who believes that the Earth is 4,000 years old. And you still hope to be taken seriously. It’s bad science, mate.
On a vaguely similar note: Not in my name – how scientists are asking to have their names removed from a list of “climate change doubters”. So far almost ten per cent of the named scientists are having WTF moments from seeing their name on the list. Watch this one grow.
Yesterday I wore my bright green woollen coat to celebrate that spring was in the air. A man approached me: “I don’t like green.” I blinked a couple of times and then sighed.
Ever heard of Sectarianism? It is: “..bigotry, discrimination, intolerance or hatred arising from attaching importance to perceived differences between subdivisions within a group, such as between different denominations of a religion or the factions of a political movement.” In Glasgow, sectarianism is linked to football.
I was wearing green, so to the stranger I was obviously a Celtic supporter. He was evidently a Rangers supporter given his “I don’t like green” stance. He moved across the road to confront me head-on. I’m not proud of this, but I did a little girly giggle and put on my best Danish accent: “Oh, are you talking about the football stuff?” And after I had explained I was from Copenhagen, didn’t know anything about football, and he had repeated his “I don’t like GREEN” about a dozen times, the man told me that I was lucky I was such a nice girl .. otherwise he would have messed me up.
(and I once showed up wearing green nail varnish at work and was told that I better be wearing blue nail varnish the next day just to show my neutrality. It didn’t matter that green is one of my favourite colours and I don’t give a t*ss about club football. Honestly.)
This is the dark side of Glasgow life.
Wheylona and I go back a decade (gosh). We first met when she worked in Sweden and was heading with friends to Denmark for a concert. I remember us walking through the streets of Copenhagen singing History Never repeats (youtube link) about twenty minutes after meeting for the first time. Ten years on, the American lives in the Basque country (Spain) and the Dane lives in the UK. History may never repeat, but time does move swiftly.
W. has written a fantastic entry about Will Ashford’s recycled/re-contextualising word-art:
The artist, Will Ashford, takes pages from books and finds words and (near-)collocations that call to him, then designs his artwork around them. For me it’s an amazingly engaging combination of art forms, resulting in layered, textured, juicy pieces that need to be savored and digested slowly. I find them very visually appealing–I love the the swirls, arcs, lines and dots, the touches of color on occasion, the contrast between sharp and blurred. I also totally dig the idea of taking words–things that seem so stable and static and fundamental–and highlighting the fact that they are not at all what they seem, or rather that they are more than what they seem.
Gorgeous stuff. And W. was lovely enough to say that experiencing Ashford’s work brought me to mind. That means a lot to me, W.
Ashford’s work brought another friend to mind. Bonnie MacAllister also works with the intersection of visual art and words. She’s a performance poet, a visual artist and a feminist educator. I was lucky enough to receive a copy of her latest collection, Some Words Are No Longer Words about a month ago.
Sometimes I wish I could bring all my friends and acquaintances together in one room – all the writers, poets, thinkers, photographers, painters, crafters and performers – and just feed off the synergy. Whilst the internet does allow for easier interaction, having them all in that one room would be absolutely amazing.
How good are you at recognising fonts? I got a measly 24 right out of 34. At least I still know my Helvetica from my Arial. It’s all in the curves, baby.
I have actually been watching quite a bit of TV lately. BBC4 is having a rather funky Medieval Season, so I’ve been lapping up programmes on Thomas Aquinas, Abelard and the aformentioned Stephen Fry & the Gutenberg Press (which was pr0ntastic, incidentally). I get to flap my arms around excitedly and repeatably which is really nice. TV, I forgive you your multitude of sins when you indulge me like this.
Finally, I’d like to thank everybody who asked for my mother. She was discharged from hospital on Tuesday and is back home again. It is a relief.
Following Friday’s unfortunate stroll, I decided I should probably take things easy. What brought it home? It was possibly the fact that when I passed out on Friday, I narrowly escaped having my forehead cut open thanks to broken glass lying on the ground. This time I was lucky and as for next time .. there will not be a next time. I’ll be taking things very, very easy from now on. No more marathon computer sessions, no more computer games and I’ll try very hard to squeeze as much sleep into my day as I possibly can.
I’m thirty-two, intelligent, out-going and occasionally I’m witty too. And some days I can’t even manage the five-minute walk up to the local supermarket. I have no idea what on earth is wrong with me and I am seemingly stuck in a slightly chaotic health care system (apologies to all Britons, but my experience of UK vs Danish heath care definitely gives the Danish heath care system the upper hand – and I’ve had some pretty dire experiences with Danish doctors in my time). Right now I feel as though my doctor is expecting me to give her a diagnosis – not the other way around. It’s quite, quite frustrating.
Also, I am suffering from cabin fever. Know what it’s like being stuck in bed with a cold for a week? Try imagining yourself stuck in that situation for a few months. I’ve begun knitting. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy it but I knit whilst watching Crufts, for heaven’s sake. And I wear slippers an awful lot. It is as though my life has decided to skip straight to me being eighty-four.
+ A worrying family situation has improved.
+ Other Half has taken up making ice-cream. He is very good at this.
+ Friends and family send me beautiful, beautiful yarn.
+ Doctor Who is back on TV! AND the Ofishul Doctor Who exhibition is coming to Glasgow next year!
+ Elbow’s latest album, The Seldom Seen Kid makes me beam.
+ And the daffodils are in bloom, so even if I end up with my face flat on the ground, I can look at pretty things.
Bad Things Not Mentioned Thus Far:
+ I try to knit fingerless gloves for Other Half (using organic Scottish wool – locally sourced too – gosh, I’m such a Guardian reader, am I not?) but I end up hating every thing I knit and frog it mercilessly. Grrr..
Let’s be positive! My downstairs neighbour is not a hypersensitive man who complains that I ‘type too loudly’. He is not a schizophrenic albino who loves Celine Dion and talks to his absent father whilst hiding from the people in the walls. He is not a Norwegian couple who argue until 4am, then shag and who will eventually leave me with two desert rats called Legolas and Gimli. Let’s face it, I survived all those people, so why should I be so grumpy about him being a hippie stoner who puts the same prog rock song on repeat until 2.30am.
I must be getting old. Well, I did take up crocheting the other week..
Now, to paraphrase the amazing Flight of the Conchords: it’s Hospital Time.