Sunday, 24 April
Six o’clock, the final pages of my annual reports translated. Life resumes but not too leisurely as I’m off to Berlin soon. I allow myself a few pages of Jean Giono’s Le hussard sur le toit”, a grimly realistic description of his Angelo with Cholera epidemic victims. Giono apparently liked Thomas Hardy although I don’t as yet agree that they are similar, apart from being regional writers and Giono’s region is more inside him than outside. The influence in Le hussard is more Stendhal than Hardy, Stendhal, whom I know attracts a following although I only dimly know why, I decide to read what Simone de Beauvoir has written about him but I postpone it as I realise it’s the royal road to the lunchtime removal of my night shirt. So to accelerate the Japanese tea ceremony of my morning routines, I try to speed up but not before a stop at my desk where I catch sight of “Dorset Church Walks” which my brother has kindly sent me, I’m attracted by the walk from Sturminster to Marnhull, ancestral home of the patrilinear line of my family, past Hinton St Mary, place of discovery of a Roman mosaic now in the British Museum. The walks passes a spinney, a word I’ve never used. It comes from Old French espinol, a briar patch, place of thorns and brambles, although it’s wandered to be regarded as a synonym of copse, although a spinney is a small copse, purportedly often created as a shelter for game birds.
My mobile’s morning alarm call to take my medicine interrupts further investigation of thickets and boscage. 6 am has become 8,30, Nudging myself forward with a firm hand, medicated, sweet smelling and dressed, I get up enough speed to escape my nightly orbit and make my internal 9.00 day mode deadline with minutes to spare.
Then composing an irritating letter to a company which has sent me a last payment reminder for an order I don’t recognise referring to an invoice I’ve never received and threatening to send the claim for collection in three days time if the bill is not paid. All the hallmarks of a scam but I must still compose a letter contesting the claim and find somewhere to send it. There’s no email address on the reminder, only a post address that looks suspiciously inadequate. I send a registered letter there anyway so that I have proof of contesting the claim. And post March’s bookkeeping to my accountant as well as doing my James Bond saving-the-world stunt by pitching an empty sardine can into the metal container,
A few hours off to visit the local Uppland museum, There’s an interesting exhibition on runestones and a runestone walk around Uppsala which attracts me; I want to know more about runestones and their interpretation, The main exhibition on the history of the city makes a flimsy impression on me, dedicating a lot of space to the city seen through the eyes of an imaginary family. The old chronological jumble of bits and pieces left much to be desired but this half-baked focus on topics and themes in the guise of reaching out to the community is not the answer. But then again why should we expect a society which doesn’t encourage a coherent view of the present or the future to have a coherent view of the past? I must cool down about this topic…I feel that there is an indignant retired colonel from Tunbridge Wells writing a letter to the Telegraph lurking in the background.
But I do love museums and also want out to reach out to the community (but want to give it a good shake so that it wakes up, not just to hold up a mirror with the words “you’re wonderful” on it),
I should really have participated in a social event at my block of flats this afternoon to get to know the other tenants. But I’m moderately excited about this and persuade myself that I still need to be careful about Covid, which has become my standard excuse for not doing things I don’t want to do.
Long experience has taught me that other people take up less mental space if one observes the niceties of polite social intercourse. But at times the hermit in me gets the better of me, especially after three or four weeks of intensive work, I am in urgent need of concentrating on my own projects, both the quirky ones and renewing my efforts to understand imperialism and to develop a critique of the sloppy use of the term by people who have no excuse for not knowing better, Bukharin is next on my agenda.
And there’s the not so small detail of preparing to leave Sweden for some time, Besides imperialism, there is Dorset, the UK economy, St Jerome, Bengali, French (Giono and more), among other rabbits to chase. But to cater for all of this would demand 40 kg of luggage and I’m travelling by train; a non-starter. It’s probably doable if I think carefully about exactly what I’m going to do and make sure I have as good electronic resources as possible. But it requires thought and time not chaotic plucking of flotsam and jetsam at 2 am on the day of departure, It would have been fine to have bought the old railway sleeping car that the Swedish Enforcement Authority was trying to flog, I love the idea of being able to kit it out as a travelling study but I somehow doubt that there is a stipendium available to buy a locomotive (several given different rail systems), perhaps crowdfunding would shift it. Electronics and careful exploration of the catalogues of the British Library among others is probably the realistic way to go.
Lacklustre hangover feeling after escaping from the word tsunami but I shall lie in my cot and plan the morrow, when all will be golden…