Thursday, August 26, 2010

Undoubtedly DIM!

Smugness is never an attractive characteristic. I know that. But would you forgive me if, just for this one letter, I indulge in a bout of joyful, unmitigated, self-satisfaction?
Thank you . . . I knew you would!

Over the past few months, my much-loved ergonomic typing chair has been slowly disintegrating beneath me. Alright, I know you don't feel comfortable perching on it, but it has suited me perfectly. The first sign of trouble was when the seat came loose. The screw holes having worn away, it needed to be tied on with string. Then the padding went, leaving me with somewhat sore knees. I had had the seat for over twenty years, it had been a kind gift from a friend . . . but everything is mortal, and it was becoming very clear that the end was in sight for my chair.

Where on earth, I asked myself, would I find another such chair? Then inspiration struck. I put 'typing chair' into Google and up came a beautiful ergonomic chair that was manufactured by Furniture@work in Glasgow. I clicked . . . and typed . . . and clicked again . . . and, within minutes, an email had arrived telling me that my chair would be with me shortly.
It was . . . it arrived the following morning!

Only I didn't receive a chair. What I received was a very large cardboard box containing a myriad bits and pieces - plus a sheet of paper identifying what the bits and pieces were. Sadly, for someone as ignorant as myself, there was no diagram plotting me through the stages of construction. There was not even an indication as to where a total amateur would begin. I closed the box. This, I realised, after my experience with the air cooler, needed time, courage and application . . . and I felt in very short supply of all three!

A week later, sick of stumbling over the large box in the hall, I opened it once again. Somewhat fearful of finding myself left with the myriad components, not well-wrapped in the box but scattered at random over my flat, I started, very cautiously, to investigate.
There were two, large pieces of polished wood . . . two stout wooden tubes with a brass core . . . screws . . . rods . . . washers . . . a padded seat and a knee rest . . . four castors . . . a spanner . . . and a curious black rod with a bent end.

D.I.Y has never been my natural bent and, looking at this miscellany on the carpet, I felt convinced that it never would be.
BUT . . . just look at this photo . . .
. . . a definite case of Did-It-Myself!
I won't give you the acronym as it's hardly flattering!

And the curious black rod with the bent end? This, I learned was an Allen Key (who, I wonder, was Allen?) which skilfully enabled me to fix the brass ends into the rods.

There are no unidentified pieces left over, the chair moves sweetly on its castors, it is comfort personified to sit on, and I am thrilled to bits!
And look what a wonderful resting place it provides for Chloe!

Smug . . . ? Me . . . ? Never . . . !

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A weighty question

It's just a thought, and possibly a very naive thought, but do you think that we, as a civilisation, are getting too heavy for our own good?

I don't mean obesity, although it's true that we all seem to be considerably larger than our grandparents, what concerns me is
the fabricated world that we're creating to accommodate the ever-increasing size of our world population.

I was on a bus in the City yesterday, all around me new buildings were rearing up behind safety hoardings. When completed they threaten to overwhelm the existing shops and offices and create an entirely new skyline that will be much closer to the sky than anything previously witnessed.
They are large, they are imposing . . . and they are incredibly heavy.

Nor is just the buildings that weigh heavily on the London streets. The buses, particularly the tourist-carrying coaches, are larger and heavier . . . the lorries have doubled in size and number over the past twenty years . . . cumbersome, weighty cars have difficulty in manoeuvring the narrow streets.
Added to all this, there are more of us . . . many, many more of us. We are larger . . . we are heavier . . . and we are everywhere.

This rapid growth can be experienced worldwide. Think about it for a moment, where does all the material come from that's needed to fabricate the growing number of homes and offices from Washington to Beijing? Where do we find the fuel to power our accelerating number of vehicles?
It all comes from beneath our feet, from under the ground.
We dig down for oil, for minerals, for clay, for coal. Cities such as Bath were created by the excavation of stone from the surrounding hillsides, leaving dangerously hollow hills that are only now being made safe.
But what of the overall health of our planet that is being drained of oil, emptied of coal and minerals, and made fragile by the miles of sewers and underground piping?

Is it so very simplistic to think that, in excavating the substance from beneath our feet and piling it on the surface, we might be affecting the integrity of the planet itself? Was our fragile globe designed to lose vast quantities of its sub-strata and then be asked to bear so much extra weight? Were the shifting, tectonic plates that underpin our massive structures designed to accept such stress?
An egg, with its content intact, is amazingly strong. An empty egg-shell is incredibly fragile.
Do you see my point?

I wish I could see a happy ending to these musings, but I'm left with the disturbing mental picture of our depleted planet being squeezed of its life to satisfy the demands of our rapacious species.

Tell me, how do we walk more lightly on the earth?
We need to, if the vital source of our sustenance and well being is to continue to support us.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Focus on Chloe

Would you like a quick laugh . . . a laugh at my expense?

As you know, I wear glasses. They have become so much a part of me that I would feel strange without them. They are the first thing I put on in the morning, and the last thing I remove before getting into bed. At night they sit on the dressing-table, ready to give focus to the new day from the moment I get up.

That is the intention. That is how life has been until this morning. This morning I was awoken, as usual, by Chloe kissing my nose. I would like to think that this abrasive and enthusiastic gesture arises purely out of affection. I suspect that it is also a cunning way of rousing me from sleep in order to prepare her breakfast!

She kissed my nose . . . I kissed her nose . . . everything was happy and equable until I swung my legs out of the bed and groped for my glasses. My searching hand covered the entire surface of the dressing-table . . . it went to the chair (just in case, in an absent-minded moment, I had put them there) . . . it went to the table that held the radio. It was no good, grope as I might,
there were nothing to reward my outstretched fingers. The glasses were not there and the only possible culprit was Chloe.

I have grown quite capable of sleeping through her night-time frolics. Could she, I wondered, have discovered my glasses in the early hours and seen their potential as a new toy? It was more than probable that she had, but the situation left me in a quandary.

How could I, without the aid of my glasses, find my glasses?

I looked at Chloe, now resting in the chair. She rolled onto her back, gazed at me from guileless blue eyes and vocally proclaimed her innocence.
Not that I believed a word of it.

Down on my knees, I peered myopically under the bed, no discernible glasses. I looked under the cupboard . . . it was all a bit of a blur, but no part of the blur looked familiar. Chloe, entering into the spirit of this new game, got down from the chair and did her best to be helpful . . . which only added to the difficulty!

It was then that I remembered. Several years previously, when I'd purchased my current glasses, I'd put the old ones away for safe keeping.
Blurry-eyed, but determined, I fumbled through drawers and cupboards and (Eureka!) finally tracked them down. With my old glasses firmly in place, it took no time to discover the lost ones wedged tightly beneath a chair where Chloe had abandoned them. One pair of glasses . . . slightly cat-chewed but perfectly functional.

Where will my glasses spend the nights in future?
That's right . . . well away from probing paws, safely in a drawer!

As for Chloe, well . . . if she misses her chewable new toy she can always enjoy midnight antics in the bathroom!

Thursday, August 5, 2010


A photograph of pebbles on the shore;
Smooth, basking pebbles, polished by the sea
To form a subtle, blue-grey tapestry -
An image of the scene the camera saw.
But when the shutter closed it captured more
Than sun-lit stones; with equal clarity
The picture has revealed the mind of he
Who took the photograph. There lies before
Me his delight in basic truth, his feel
For law and symmetry. I see a man
Of gentleness, an artist with a reel
Of film who amply carried out his plan
For showing how the sea-shore can reveal,
In its simplicity, the cosmic span.