Ergophobia

What do you suppose we call laziness, when it is diagnosed by a skilled physician?

What, do you suppose, we call the consistent, affluent pouring of money into a trough, from which we cherry-pick luxury?

What do we call it when a young man idles under a tree, hour to day to week to month to year? A book hangs lifelessly from his soft hands, and the humming tick of his mind slows to a mere clatter, every few hours or so.

What do we call it when the sunrise is missed, for years on end, in favour of a warm bed, the result of long nights of amusement and carousing?

Well, Adrian Dermody certainly didn’t know. He didn’t stop for a moment to think anything of it. It was nothingness to him.

Nothingness decorated with soft scent and gilded most marvellously.

And yet, there was a perpetual cloud around his vision. He was listless. He was calmly suffocating. There was no mirth in anything.

‘What is the matter with you?’ his mother said, crossly, when he picked at his supper, sliding the food around his gleaming plate like a petulant child.

‘Why mother, I tire of life,’ he said drearily, and leant on his in-turned wrist to stare glumly out of long, rain-lashed windows, which reflected the marvellous dining room in which they sat.

His mother, who had been ergophobiac all her life, merely tutted and rang the bell for the servants to clear the dishes away. She would then rumble off to recline on a chair, while she talked idly of nothing with her son and her husband, the latter of whom would murmur absently that he was ‘listening, dear’, whilst he laboured away at the week’s newspaper puzzle.

For he, too, was an ergophobiac.

And ergophobics will never be happy, and mark my words.

 

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Love Letters #42

A basket of strawberries, over a slender brown arm, gleaming in the heady sun of July.

A basket of strawberries, and fields rolling away with greenery and promise. Insects buzzing in the thickets nearby, birds chirruping, as a soft breeze swooping through the very tips of the trees, a gentle swooshing sound, bringing a coolness that prickled the tiniest hairs on her skin.

Perhaps now she would turn, and would see a tall, handsome figure walking up the hill towards her. Perhaps he would call on her to wait for him. She would stand, alright, and wait for him, and when he joined her he would whisk her away somewhere. He would have his motorcar waiting, and they would sail into the horizon. Where would they go? She wasn’t entirely sure, but it would be somewhere great. She would look upon his face and a thread of understanding would pass from his eyes to hers. She stood, now, in the long, almost still, summer afternoon, at the crest of the hill, with the scenery rolling away from her, far into the distance, and shadows of clouds drifting lazily across the sunny landscape.

And so, so still, almost like a picture.

‘Hi! Laura! Hiiii!’

She whipped around, her basket almost slipping from her arm. A tall figure, marching up the hill towards her. He was waving his hat madly, certainly not her mysterious handsome stranger. He was handsome, there was no denying that. Handsome, but so… so … familiar. For it was only Tom.

‘Oh. It’s you.’ she said, when he had reached her, and she continued to pick her way across the field. She lifted her skirts a little, the meadow grass rising high above her hem.

‘You say that like you are disappointed,’ he said, there was a small twinkle in his eye, so slight, and it irritated her.

‘Am I not the handsome stranger you so anticipated?’

She looked sharply at him, but there was only amusement in his eyes. Bright, mirthful eyes, as blue as the deep sky all around them.

‘No, not disappointed,’ she said lightly, shifting the basket to her other arm. He glanced inside. Strawberries of all kinds and colours tumbled over each other, small ones, big ones, shaped like tomatoes and hearts, bright red, gentle pink, red tinged with white and green.

‘I’ve come to drag you back for supper.’

‘Much ado about supper,’ she picked a wild strawberry from her basket and popped it into her mouth, ‘I’m not hungry’.

‘Your sister sent me after you,’ he said, ‘I’m to bring you home immediately.’

‘Well you needn’t always do as you’re told,’ she scolded, severely, ‘I was rather enjoying my solitude and expecting to have an adventure, until you came along and dis-enthralled the occasion.’

‘Oh, I dis-enthralled the occasion, did I. And what occasion was this, that it commanded you to trail your muddy skirts in solitude through the fields?’

‘Never you mind!’ she snapped.

‘My, but you are sour today.’

She sighed, and then glanced at him. He was looking expectantly at her, and his face was so youthful, so carefree, and his eyes danced just so, in that boyish way of his, that she relented a little.

‘I was longing for an adventure,’ she said, finally, stooping a little to pick a wild stalk from by her feet, ‘and I supposed, when I saw your figure in the distance, that you might be it.’

He contemplated her for a few moments, and his face was blank, and then he erupted into loud laughter, and she laughed with him, because it was frivolous and silly, and he made it seem so carefree, and it made her happy.

‘Ah, hence the disappointment’, he said, wiping his eyes, ‘come now, Laura, your adventure shall not forsake you, but it is time to go back for supper, else they’ll all be mad, and we shall have a merry time of it.’

Irritation set in again, and made her square her shoulders, ‘need they be so .. so.. rigid!?’

‘They are worried,’ he smiled gently, ‘John isn’t here, so I expect I am your company for the evening, and your mother wanted to make sure that you were available for it, and behaved like the lady that you are.’

‘Lady, indeed!’

‘Well, is the promise of my being company not enough to entice your stubborn spirit?’

Laura threw her head back and laughed heartily, ‘Oh, Tom. Company, really?! You aren’t company anymore. You don’t need me there to entertain you, when all the others are there. You’re simply — why, you’re part of the furniture!’

He regarded her silently, and the laughter vanished from his eyes. She didn’t notice, for her back was to him, as she sailed along ahead of him.

The breeze rustled through the tall meadow grass, the buttercups and wild daises rippling in wonderful waves across the sloping hills, the wind pushing clouds along in the sky, the leaves gently conversing with each other in the distant thicket. A loud motorcar announced itself on the road just beyond the field, whizzing past in a flash of silver and red, and then silence once more. Silence and the earthly sounds of nature, and the two of them, picking their way through the field and on to the road, her ahead, him behind.

 

Love Letters #33

 

She was standing in the middle of the road, when he first set eyes on her. A light, silken shirt was all that draped her small shoulders in the icy January air. The road was wet with perspiration, and the branches bare, and the drizzle drifted gently down. Her face was pale, her eyes bright, and her hair a cloud of golden silky curls, bouncing as she danced this way and that, her feet turning in all directions and her arms moving side to side, up and down.

He noticed her first because she was dancing, but dancing is the usual sight in this vibrant city of theirs. He did his double take because of her smile. When she smiled, her eyebrows rose, and she looked almost… surprised. And her chin grew pointy, and the tops of her cheeks pointed outwards too.

He thought, if you really stood back and thought about it, she did have quite a sharp little face. But it was so dear and sweet and her eyes sparkled with life and crinkled with joy.

Man, he thought, she really does love to dance. Somebody was standing in front of her, another friend he thought, and the other friend was laughing away but in an awkward way, certainly not joining in.

Cars drove right past her, on both sides. Motorbikes weaved their way around her and people glanced at her then glanced away. Did she make them uncomfortable? He really didn’t see how they could do that. She made him so happy. He stood from his safe distance on the pavement, as the sky drizzled gently around him and slowly soaked him through. And he watched her dance away and laugh.

Presently she noticed him watching her. She kept glancing at him, and then she directed her smile at him, giving him his own little dance show. She was waving him over. Her mouth was miming,

Come join me!

He shook his head, smiling widely. She laughed, and he heard the tinkling giggle over the traffic.

Come on!

He didn’t want to. He knew his arms would be too thick and his body wouldn’t listen to him. He was content to just watch her rhythm, the way life seemed to happen around her, draw her in its flowing current. He was one of those who stood on the fringe of things, while life swept her up in its energetic arms and took her whichever way it chose to run.

Please!

A heart shape with her ever moving fingers, and then, as quickly as she had moulded her hands, she was twirling in another direction.

His feet moved against his will, then. Weaving through the traffic, until he was on the same island she stood on, the white painted thick divide in the traffic, separating one directional flow from the other. The no man’s land of the high street.

She laughed, waved at her friend, and took his arms, moving them this way and that, until he, too, felt part of the current of life. He felt it first in his fingertips, a tingling that spread through his body all the way down to his toes, a small spitfire of energy, moving his limbs without direction from his brain. He closed his eyes, feeling the cold, gentle spray on his face, and let the rhythm of the world take him.

***

And that, is how I met my wife.

Pondering the ‘Point’.

Sometimes, in my mind, I want to be this glamorous lady wearing high heels, manicured nails gleaming some classy nude colour, makeup on point, hair glossy and thick and cascading down my back, wearing something elegant and effortlessly beautiful, climbing into a pretty little fiat 500 or a purple mini cooper. I know life isn’t all about appearance and looks, but sometimes I just want to be that.

I really do.

It’s not so much for attention as it is for this inner feeling of satisfaction.

I think this, walking down the road, and then I am suddenly halted with another, sharper thought; What’s the point of doing all that if you’re just going to die one day?

Morbid, I know.

But what IS the point?

Usually, when that thought interrupts my reverie of glamour, I turn my mind to different things. But today I decided to explore it a little more. Maybe I was feeling more in touch with my spirituality. Or something.

This is what I came up with:

What IS the point of spending a lot of one’s time just to look glamorous for a few hours? Life is short. By that logic, one would say, yes life IS short, so spend it doing something that makes you happy. Right? Except, no, wrong. I think that life is short so I should spend it doing the right thing. Like, I could be doing so many more important things in the three hours it would take to fluff up my hair and paint my face and tweeze every inch of my body.

I could be doing something more worthwhile. Something I would be glad I did when I am dead. Because I believe that once I am dead, I will wish I spent my life doing things that would help me after I die.

I can still make an effort and look good, of course. It’s not like I’m saying you never should. I just feel that I perhaps shouldn’t dedicate a lot of my thoughts as to how I will. And maybe focus on internal peace.

I know it sounds so fairy-taley to some people. But that is how I honestly feel.

Spreading Some Joy

I don’t have many words to use anymore. I am spent. So I leave you with a photograph of a snippet of happiness. Children and bubbles, long summer evenings. And a man spreading joy.

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Image Credit: Yours truly

Keeping Busy

I am finding that my days now are very busy. I am jumping from one thing to another without a break in between!

I am enjoying this immensely. A busy mind is not an idle mind, that’s for sure. And an idle mind is a dangerous mind.

I am also learning a great many new things. I feel as though the more busy I am, the more happy I am. I feel more content, and as though my days are finally rewarding.

The only downside of all this is that I have less time now to spend with my family and my husband. FAR less time, in fact. In fact, I think I only have around two or three hours all week.

That is not a good sign. Maybe I have taken on too much? Well. We’ll see how it pans out. I want to be this busy. It will distract me from all the problems arising.

I also think keeping busy is good for the mind and the soul. Also the body, if the busy is an active sort of busy. As long as you aren’t completely stressing yourself out mentally then being busy is immensely healthy.

What do you think?

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Love Letters #9

She didn’t know Enigma Boy.

He was tall and had long legs which he would stretch out over the aisle, and she would have to carefully step over them when she came late to her lectures. Sometimes he would notice and pull them back quickly, looking up at her with these deep green eyes, murmuring a ‘sorry’ in an accent she could not place.

At first, she would see him around the library sometimes, or sitting in the cafeteria with that other boy he was always with. With the snub nose and the toned arms. But it was only him she had the eyes for.

His complexion, she remembered thinking, was healthy. Cheeks that were a beautiful combination of reddened brown, the result of a lot of healthy sunshine and clean air. Thick dark hair that fell over his face just a little, just so, and he was always perfectly dressed.

She wasn’t. Perfectly dressed. Ever. She wore black jeans every day and alternated between three grey tops, over which she would shrug on her black hoodie and if it was cold, her dark green trench coat. Same black lace up boots, like out of a victorian photograph, and her curly black hair up in a messy bun, always, because she mostly forgot to brush it.

He probably just thought she was a messy person. Maybe he didn’t even notice her. But he talked to her friends, oh he talked to her friends. Maybe because she was too awed by him, that she was frightened to talk to him. She knew she gave off indifferent, moody vibes when she was shy. And she was tremendously shy around him.

Her heart thundered in her ears when he passed her in the corridors, and the notes of his foreign, exotic language were a soft melody in her ears. She could pick his voice out in a crowd.

And anyway, why was she thinking of him like that when she had herself the finest man a girl could wish for. At least, that is what she told herself.

He IS  a fine man.

He wasn’t as handsome as Enigma Boy, that was for sure. And he didn’t have good haircuts, was a little too skinny and smoked legal highs. She spent a fortune on his legal highs, mostly to avoid one of his horrendous tantrums. His ‘ludicrous’ moods. Well, that is what love is, she would sigh to herself, sitting in her lecture, while he was probably out somewhere smoking weed. Love is sacrifice. Love is patience.

And yet, despite all the sacrificing, patient love, this Enigma Boy occupied all her thoughts.

Once she was outside the lecture hall having a naughty smoke. She puffed in and out and closed her eyes and enjoyed the acridity of it, because it made her brain float a little and she needed that. Then she froze, because there he was standing right in front of her, also having a naughty smoke, only he was not puffing, just sucking it into his mouth and blowing it out.

How cute.

She saw him talking to a glamorous girl with red lipstick and thick, straight, glossy hair, both of them smoking, telling the girl that he did not smoke, he just puffed socially. Then he looked up, directly at her, her, and she looked away quickly.

Once he sat right in front of her in the lecture hall. His hair was so neat from the back. And when he shifted in his seat, she smelled him. Tobacco, mint, leather, spice. She closed her eyes and breathed in deep until someone poked her and asked if she was okay.

I’m okay. Oh. I am okay.

Then Enigma Boy turned. Their eyes met. She didn’t know why, perhaps it was out of habit, but she forgot to be shy, and she smiled at him. Not a regular smile that you give to somebody you see daily in your lecture hall. Not a ‘hello, there’ kind of smile, or even a smile of acknowledgement.

It was fully fledged smile, of warmth and comradery and her teeth even showed a little bit, so maybe it was a grin.

Oh, how embarrassing. 

She smiled before she realised what she was doing and by then it was too late. Her heart dropped, thudding pitifully somewhere at the bottom of her ribcage.

Ouch.

To her surprise, he smiled back. A wide, friendly smile. Not a stranger smiling out of courtesy, but a smile as though perhaps they had known each other all their lives.

Warmth bubbled up gently in her chest, and she averted her eyes back to the projector screen in front of them, pretending like she was listening aptly, when really she was graining that smile to her memory, burning it into her retina. Those green, green eyes. That wonderfully tanned face, with features so perfect in their slight imperfection. The way he’d turned, looking at her.

She barely heard the discussion between her friends after the lecture. All she thought about was that smile.

On the last week at university her friends went to have lunch together. He was going, too. Ar first she wanted to say no-no-no-no. But her friends dragged her along, insistent. She ordered a tall glass of vimto, and then he was there sitting next to her asking how her exam went. At first she was fumbly and shaky, her heart an oscillating drill, thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump, but then her thoughts gathered themselves and soon she was prattling on, sipping her vimto, while he listened and laughed sometimes and then it was his turn to talk.

Into the evening, they talked and laughed and then she was not feeling nervous but happy. Funny. Liked. Listened to. Appraised for the words she spoke, and the thoughts she shared. Not like she had felt in a long, long time. All through the evening and then the fairy lights came on and it was twinkly and summery and four of them wandered back to the bus stop together, Danielle talking about how her engagement went down, glittering her large ring at them. Laughter and happiness floating up into the summer twilight.

That was her last day at university. Last day ever. They didn’t even swap numbers.

Years later, after she had miraculously escaped the malicious grip of her ‘man’, after she had left university and met another gentleman, so kind and sweet and handsome, and married him, she was to remember that green eyed smile. Not for the butterflies it gave her, for that memory could not resuscitate any giddy feelings within her that her husband had not made her feel beforehand, but for the happiness she had felt during and after.

She remembered that smile and thought sadly that perhaps it was not a romantic smile, perhaps it was the smile that might have made for a wonderful friendship.

One can never know.

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Something Precious

It’s not what you think.

It’s not family, love or hope.

It’s not vivid nature, nor personal exuberance.

It’s not the skies flying rapidly by, changing colour with each hour, month, season.

It’s not the sun, revolving around the earth.

It’s not the moon controlling the tides.

It’s not growth, not the blossoming of petals after stark, winter dormancy.

It’s not appreciation of the world in all its forms.

It’s not peace.

Not world connectivity, cultures drawn together, happiness spread.

It’s beans on toast when the skies are grey and the world is cold. It’s steaming beans trickling over warm toast with butter melted on top, and a fried egg, sunny side up, on the corner of the plate. Some mushrooms pile up in another corner. Maybe a little bit of feta too. It’s a mug of delicious hot earl grey with a teaspoon of sugar and a glug of milk, because it’s the weekend and I am indulging.It’s fluffy socks, crossed under the table, as the delicious breakfast is downed slowly, every bite savoured, all washed down with the sweet, flavourful tea. It’s a day stretched out, wonderfully  empty, with no assignments or chores looming ahead. A pile of exciting books by a freshly made bed, crisp sheets, a soft dressing gown. A pretty, glowing lamp in the corner of the living room after a relaxing walk in the cold evening, cheeks red, nose cold. It’s falling asleep to the gentle patter of rain on the window panes, all relaxed and ready for the hectic week ahead.

It’s the little things.

 

 

 

N.B. I can’t wait to move into my own place again so I can experience said precious thing. Living with so many people is starting to take a toll on my sanity.

Nutelloissants

Here is something cheerful..

Chocolate croissants made with puff pastry and Nutella! I mean, what could be better? Well, I could think of a wild variety of things that are infinitely better (hugs on a cold morning, fluffy socks, summer fields, churros, cheese melts, surprise flowers, comfy house scents, parents who are happy… the list is endless). I tried to fold them nicely into croissant shapes and croissant twists. That didn’t work out too well for me, ha!

Anyway here are my Nutelloissants!

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They do look rather messy, I grant you, but they taste delicious.

Hearts Were Hugged

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There was a precious time when all the town would join together in harmony. Voices would rise in melodious song. It was a beautiful summer of mystic moons and comfortable laughter. There was dinner for anybody who came a-knocking, nobody was left alone.

Hello, weary traveller, come and rest your tired bones on my living room chair. The children might dart about you chasing each other, there might be a bit of a mess here, but the meal is warm, and our hearts are open.

There was a time when pots boiled merrily, and food was blessed, so no matter how many people shared a meal, there was plenty to go around.

“Come in,” the older lady would say, throwing a scarf around her neck. Her eyes, behind large glasses, smiled kindly at everybody under hair that was more black than silver in those days. Her door was wide open, her home a refuge for broken hearts and sad faces.

Her kitchen was warm, her cooking was hearty, her house was full of love and life.

When the children came to stay, there were biscuits in her cupboards. Toys were strewn about the house and in the garden. Chubby fingers snatched at her precious herbs and mixed them in with murky water and stones to make a broth which they never ate. Snails were raced up red brick garden walls. Trees were climbed, moths captured, spiders let out to scuttle away amongst the garden cracks. Jammy dodgers stuffed into sticky mouths, a small little boy with the hoover head walking around the house ‘hoovering’, while the others darted over him. Mornings spent watching Teletubbies while she pottered about in the kitchen. Evenings we watched as she knitted in her favourite chair by the window, her roses nodding cheerily outside, as twilight hung over the world, and the street lamps lit up one by one.

The neighbour came to stay in one of the bedrooms for a while, a large old mirror pocked with age spots leaning against the wall.

“Hello, yes, they’re re-doing my house. I’ve got to book a BnB.”

“Don’t you dare, dear. Stay with me.”

The old lady from three streets away dropped in on her way home from the shops.

“My daughter can’t make it to see me,” she sighed, over a mug of steaming tea. “She doesn’t have time for me anymore.”

“Stay here for dinner.”

“Oh no, I’ve bought me ingredients already”

“Please stay”

“Yes please!” the children chimed in.

She stayed. She was cackling by bedtime, the children sat around the table avidly listening to her tales of funny people she met at the airport.

“Come on kids, time for bed”

They didn’t want to go. She looked so pleased.

All the hearts were hugged in that house.

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