Wednesday, December 17, 2003
Life is very full just now, very occupied with things. I've spent today in a final giddy whirl of term's-end tutorials, while my head is in a giddy whirl of its own brought on by the university cold, which I was incubating last week and of which I am now official custodian. A fine healthy academic cold it is, full of aches and mucus, and should be enough on its own for any one man to deal with; I should be reposing palely (and damply) on my couch with my beloved cat for comfort and the Chalet School books of Eleanor M Brent-Dyer, my constant indulgence in times of sickness. But as I say, I have been teaching; and every break I had, I was stealing what time I could to write, because I have to read a Bram Stoker pastiche at tomorrow's final Dracula class and it wasn't finished yet. And all the time I was doing that, I have been unremittingly aware of how I need to shop tomorrow (Wednesday) in order to cook on Thursday, in order to feed an entire hospital's anaesthetic dept on Friday with a rather fabulous menu (recipes will be going up in the (Cooking With Chaz section afterwards, assuming it's not all a catastrophe).
And all of all this time, all this busyness has not for a moment deflected me from feeling that I ought not to be here, I should be down in London for the funeral of a friend. I can't go, I have simply promised too many things to too many people, I have contractual and ethical commitments that I cannot break - and I still feel miserable, and want to fling myself onto the milk-train in the morning just to be there. And I'm really not sure why, what the tug of the funeral actually is. The departed doesn't know who's there and who's not, funerals are for the living; it's not a social duty, with black marks recorded for absence; it's not a last-chance-to-say-goodbye, that's either gone already or else can be revisited at a graveside later, depending on whether or not one looks for a reply. It's not the sense of theatre, which is generally muted; it's seldom for the music (tho' this one might be an exception, and my own certainly will); it's not really for the company this time, at least, because I would know few people there. It's certainly not for the novelty, I've been to too damn many. So why, what's the appeal, what's the call? Genuinely, I don't know, and so go baffled to bed, with my thoughts on flights of angels. Night-night.
Posted by Chaz at 12:29 AM GMT [Link]
Sunday, December 14, 2003
Well, that was interesting. For me, at least. Perhaps not for you (assuming that anyone is actually out there, and reading this: how can I be a solipsist and believe in any audience outside myself? Or care?). What's interesting is that I've been doing this a long time now, it's only occasionally been a chore, and I thought it had become a habit; and suddenly it passes out of my consciousness altogether and I don't even notice that it's gone.
This may be a sign of something, of a seam exhausted or a good intention hammered down as paving, done and dusted. Perhaps I should quit while I can do it guilt-free, owing nothing. Or perhaps I only needed to refuel, and now we will be up and rolling again. We'll see. If I decide to quit, I will say so; no need to watch an empty page for words that will not come.
In the meantime, though, I am all unquitting. I tried to quit the university, I practised saying no, 'No, Penny, I do not want to teach next semester.' Then she phoned, and I heard myself explaining to her how I had spent the last couple of weeks practising the refusal; and then of course I said yes. I knew I would.
Otherwise I have been cooking lots, and writing little. I had friends round last night to try out the turkey tagine. Went into town to shop in the morning, came home all shopped out, then remembered the confit of quail and had to go back for bread and cream and shallots and such, to make the bread sauce. And was making my way into Fenwicks when I walked directly past someone who used to be a friend, who has cut me entirely out of his life in the last half-dozen years and who cut me dead today, fixed his eyes ahead and ignored me utterly. And okay, there is and has been fault on both sides, and I didn't seize his arm and gladly cry his name; but it wasn't me who was avoiding eye-contact. When he decides not to see someone any more, I guess he really doesn't see them.
So I was upset by that, and had to buy myself a new set of knives to cheer myself up. I really didnít need them, I'm actually very happy with my nice heavy Henckels; these of course are Globals, all light and shiny and Japanese. People swear by them who have them, and it was a one-off bargain, so I fell in the way of temptation. And then thought how foolish it was, two weeks before Xmas when all my friends know that I have this knife-fetish and many of them are likely to pass by the same display; so now I daren't take them out of the box and play with them, for fear that I might have to take them back on account of duplication.
But anyway, I did buy them, and then I did go into Waterstone's to buy a complete set of my own Outremer books (for someone else, damn it, to give to a third party: even my ego has its limits); and I was enjoying that process completely, giggling over it with the staff, when I spotted my ex-friend's wife in the queue just ahead of me. And tiptoed quietly away downstairs to pay at another till, feeling that I really didn't need this. I'm a great defender of coincidence, and no, it really doesn't mean a thing - but sometimes you can just do without it, y'know...?
Posted by Chaz at 12:14 AM GMT [Link]
© Chaz Brenchley 2002/2006
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.