Monday, June 24th

I couldn’t get going this morning: awake at 6, and then some fitful, dream-filled dozing until around 8 – it’s a sleep pattern that always leaves me feeling out of sorts. Forced myself into a long walk with Winnie after breaking fast, although I didn’t really feel like it. I suppose it’s of little consequence, but sometimes you just have to try to move.

Melissa telephoned. I let it ring, because Cook was due back later, and I figured she could take the call if it was still ringing.

I had a letter today from my old friend Felicity, the embroidery queen. She says she’s passing nearby on the way to the frozen North on Thursday and will drop in for a cuppa. It’ll be good to see her. She’s always good for a chat, and her antimacassars are the best in the business. She’s knocking on a bit now: she must be pushing 60, so it’s good to see she’s still getting around on her trusty motorbike (I assume).

Tuesday, June 25th

Cook’s back, and conjured cold game from somewhere for lunch. I don’t know how she does it. We have not had hot game for ages.

A morning of assorted Mahler; I like him a lot, but he also has a lot of competition. I’m also very fond of Lulu.

I don’t often go to poetry readings, but now and then a friend makes a special plea and I become almost benign. This evening my pal Alistair wanted me to support a young poet he says he’s been mentoring (whatever that means) and who’s just had his first slim volume published. I shall keep this short: too many would-be poets do things and see things and think about those things and then write about what they’ve been doing and seeing and thinking, and round off every poem with a couple of lines that sound profound but aren’t, and which in the worst cases they wouldn’t be out of place on a card from Hallmark™. Then when they read the poem in public they explain it all before they read the poem, rendering the poem more or less unnecessary. Of course, I told Alistair and the youngster that I’d enjoyed the evening. I come of diplomatic stock.

Melissa telephoned, which as usual was of little consequence. She says she’s going to reduce the number of times a week she washes her hair, to save on water. I shall be doing the same. It currently stands at once, twice at a push.

Wednesday, June 26th

Very occasionally I have a cup of coffee after dinner, as I did yesterday evening. It’s never a good idea. I was awake until almost 3, and so had only around 5 hours sleep. Remind me not to do that again. I would like to say it’s of little or no consequence, but I would be wrong.

Melissa telephoned. She told me to take care in the hot weather because old people are vulnerable in extreme weather conditions. I think she thought she was talking with Cook.

Reading Donald Barthelme today: “Art is not difficult because it wishes to be difficult, but because it wishes to be art.”

Thursday, June 27th

Reading Barthelme again, a story called “City Life”, and one of the women in it is given a small Magritte (I think it was) and she asks where she should hang it, and the answer is “How about on the wall?”

An email comes requesting a contribution of a poem or three to an American journal. I shall accede to the request, as I have a fondness for the Yanks: I think their being a long way away, and unlikely to show up on my doorstep, increases the attraction.

Melissa telephoned. She asked if I could recommend a good atlas. I suggested that one with maps in it should be pretty good.

Felicity, the embroidery queen, dropped in as arranged, and I now have a fresh supply of antimacassars – though I think they’re what one might call “seconds”, but it’s of little consequence. Cook likes Felicity, and prepared an excellent salad lunch of a broccoli quiche and new potatoes. Felicity is looking good for her decrepit old age, and still has most of her own hair and, I think, several of her own teeth. It was good to hear her reminisce about the old days, when pop songs had tunes you could whistle and her parents insisted she wear her chastity belt at all times. She still has the motorbike.

Cook asked my permission to purchase a job lot of “quality beef” she said she could get “at a very good price” – which means it fell off the back of a lorry. I told her it was fine: food is her domain, while receiving stolen goods is probably best not talked about. I like beef, especially with Yorkshire pudding. Or steak and a heap of chips. Apparently the contraband is scheduled to be delivered at around midnight – I told her she would have to supervise that, because it’s way past my bedtime. She can rope Jethro in to help, if need be, if he’s awake and sober.

Saturday, June 29th

I’ve sent a few items of genius to the Americans. I await the resulting dollars with keen anticipation, and shall meanwhile chew on a biscuit. Perhaps they’ll invite me over for a “gig”, all expenses paid. It’s of little or no consequence, and won’t happen.

A potter about in the vegetable garden with Jethro this morning was amenable. I think the vegetables have enjoyed the summery weather, and Jethro has kept everything well watered. One of his endearing traits is that he’s not much of a conversationalist, and so one can enjoy a quiet time in his company without feeling obliged to think of something to say. One can’t say the same for Cook, who finds it very difficult to say nothing, even when she has nothing of interest to say, which is all of the time.

Melissa telephoned. Cook took the call. There was a message but I can’t remember what it was.

Sunday, June 30th

Came across this quotation from Renaissance poet Fulke Greville this morning:

            Oh, wearisome condition of humanity!
            Borne under one Law, to another bound,
            Vainely begot and yet forbidden vanity:
            Created sick, commanded to be sound.
            What meaneth Nature by these diverse laws –
            Passion and reason, self-division’s cause?

Food for thought, methinks.

A pleasant walk this afternoon, marred by encountering yet more people who mistake my land for a public ramble path. And they always seem to get upset when I tell them, politely, they’re trespassing in my garden. True, it’s a very large garden, and includes a couple of meadows, but I don’t know why they get upset, but it’s of not much consequence, and they leave as soon as I say I’m going to set the dogs on them.

Melissa telephoned. Of course she did.





James Henderson (Gentleman)




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