Out on a dike

Out on a dike phr. [mid 19-C] (US) going out in one's best clothes. [DIKED DOWN] I'm out as a dyke, occasionally out with a dyke. What I do when I'm out on a dike can become your business once I write about it here.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

A right to-do

I can only eat crisps with my left hand - that's the one that puts the crisps into my mouth. I have to hold the bag with my right hand. Just like I have to hold the phone to my right ear. I'm righthanded which means if I write while I'm on the phone, my left arm crosses over my chest, keeping the phone to the right ear. Any different and it's thoroughly uncomfortable.

I guess we all show a preference for left or right in different activities. My side of the bed is the right. In the bath, I have to face the door. This means my head is always at the tap end. I've learnt to just get on with that discomfort. Better this than someone unknown creeping up on me when I'm at my most vulnerable.

Is this the Psycho shower scene I've ingested? I'd like a shower but there isn't one. The priority is a new boiler before a shower. The boiler is twenty-three years old and you can't get replacement parts any more. The priority at one time, I remember, was new carpet before installing a shower. The bedroom floor is still bare hardboard. The decision now may be carpet or laminate. Or just do nothing at all. Leave things as they are for long enough, you stop noticing.

It's time to take more notice.

I reckon habits are sometimes formed through inertia, until eventually it's the not doing, not seeing which becomes uncomfortable.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Gay Yet Wistful

After looking for a poem last night (indirectly reminded of it by one of the other writers on the course), I now have a copy of Verse and Worse: A Private Collection by Arnold Silcock sitting next to me. It's unfair to put books away once they're off the shelves. They need to lie around and be contemplated for a while, especially if they haven't been taken from the shelves for some time.

The poem wasn't in there, but there are some amazing chapter headings that you could probably only find in an anthology first published in 1952. These days, given such titles, you'd expect a very different collection of verse. I certainly would.

Grave Shades from the Churchyard Gaze On Gay Graves that the Churchyard Shades
This reminds me of my trip to Père Lachaise Cemetery (Cimetière du Père Lachaise) in Paris in 1991, particularly searching for the graves of Gertrude Stein, Alice B Toklas and Oscar Wilde. Interestingly, Alice B Toklas is not considered 'famous' enough to be listed on the virtual celebrity grave tour. Trust me, her grave is next to Stein's. I couldn't find a photo I'd taken of the graves, but here's one of me in Paris on the day in question, suitably dressed for a day of grave-searching.

Gay Yet Wistful
Plenty of reasons to be Gay Yet Wistful, not only where love is unrequited. [Pause here: can't you hear the extended GYW sigh?] I can really picture this working as an American bumpersticker, complete with rainbow flag.

Queer People - He on Him and Her: She on Her and Him In Jingle, Verse and Prayer, or Epitaph and Hymn
Very queer indeed.

Then, in the chapter called Old School Books, you'll find 'Personal Hygiene for Pussies'. Not surprisingly, penned by Anon.

My old school books were never like this. But then again, yes, they probably were. Some would say this was the time when language was innocent, before all those 'queer people' ruined such beautiful words as 'gay'. And before Mrs Slocombe discovered her pussy, no doubt. Yeah, right! At least Arnold sent his 'private collection' out into the world.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2005


Freewriting - it's part of my course ...

Written with a black PaperMate Comfort-Mate pen in a notebook labelled 'Black n' Red Ruled A5':

I'm already scribbling because I wrote the date as July. I know it's not July. I've been writing 15/06/05 on pieces of paper all day. I'm often getting it the wrong way round, though - making it look like we're in 2006 already. I'm having those conversations more and more - the ones where you admit the days are shortening and life is running by far too fast. Today, I even found myself saying, "we have to live in the moment; it's the only way to do it". I'm not sure I always manage that. And there I was also decrying the fact that we're soon at the summer equinox, the nights will start drawing in and no sign of summer yet! What is it about growing older that makes you contemplate the weather - and not just to fill silences!

Walking home, the pigeons were doing their best to dive-bomb me. I had to duck three times. I know it was three because I was convinced the first pigeon wasn't going to be the only one flying too close. So I knew to start counting. I like counting or I think I do. Sometimes I simply need something rhythmic playing through my head that I can repeat over and over, silently. Letting the words run in time with my footsteps. Obsessively memorising car number plates as they pass until I forget what I'm doing. Just a beat going on in my head. Sometimes it's definitely annoying instead of comforting. I look for symbols. I read everywhere I go. Could be a road sign or a shop name. Over and over it plays as I walk. It could be my brain going into protective shutdown, to stop me thinking of more serious issues. Why do I need to question it anyway? I'm sure this isn't peculiar to me. Does everyone do this, walking to the sound of "sausage rolls" (huh?), "Pedestrians this way", "N453UKH"?

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Season of Calm

We've just been out and bought a yucca plant to fill a gap on the living room windowsill that isn't taken up with the cats and their cushions. It's sitting in a bright new orange pot which works beautifully with the heritage green and orange colour scheme in this room.

I like yuccas. I've just realised that yucca is the state flower of New Mexico, which is interesting as I was revisiting memories of a road trip through Arizona, New Mexico and part of Texas only yesterday. I'm drawn to the desert landscapes of southwest America. I've decided I need more red rocks in my life. My computer desktop image is a photo I took at the Grand Canyon. It calms me. At work I have a photo of the Mediterranean Sea. Perhaps I should switch to red rocks there, too, in order to induce some extra calm in that environment.

I'm seeing tomorrow as the start of something new, so perhaps today is also a significant day, standing on the threshold. What am I starting? What is changing? It would be good to think it's the start of a long, hot summer. Maybe it will be, but I can't do much to influence that, other than not touching my rain stick for the next few months. Calm does seem to be the theme of the day. A new worker starts in our team tomorrow, someone I directly manage, and I think this can only help me get myself and various stresses into perspective. If I can't be calm for my benefit, I can for another. Giving her a positive introduction and induction becomes my priority.

Tomorrow I also start a 9-week writing course with the trAce Online Writing School. It's called 'Season of Inspiration' and that sounds good in itself. If I achieve my new aura of calmness that's not to say I can't also be inspired and passionate in my writing life. The great thing is that I begin this course already fired up and inspired. I've been writing more poetry than I have for a very long time, so although the course isn't about writing to any set genre, I think I've rediscovered my preferred form.

I've worked with the tutors - Sharon Rundle and Helen Whitehead - before and I'm looking forward to the experiences that will be shared in the next few weeks. I know how good freewriting and journalling feels and I don't do enough of it. I'm seeking to discipline my writing habits, and then, if the mood takes me, I can enjoy the pleasures of breaking out!