So this year’s solstice has come and gone, an in the words of the song it seems “no one cared enough to blink an eye”; almost certainly because of the long, long and still more-long rain here this year (ever since ironically the government announced and official drought and the water companies imposed a hose-pipe ban). But this evening – for only the second time this year (first was way back in March during an unseasonable heat-wave (yes, really!) – I have dragged out the fire-pit and am sitting outside.
Quiet reflection, flames and the crackling of wood burning seem to fit so naturally together.
Is it the same for you?
For both sexes?
Earlier I watched a retrospective BBC programme featuring the late, great Ray Bradbury, such a prolific and sometimes random talent. When he was six, he said he wanted to become a magician, sometime later he changed his mind and wished to become a story writer after going to see the magician, Mr Electrico, who pointed at him with his “Sword of Truth” and said “live forever!” Interesting, because Ray Bradbury, through his work will live beyond his mortal span, but in doing so has ensured that Mr Electrico also lives on. The coals slip, the illustrated man turns in his sleep and another picture begins to move …
I was at the D.I.Y. store earlier, needing to replace a saw and buy some “stuff” for an allotment project. On production of the allotment membership card we should get a 10% discount, but the past couple of times I have been, the line supervisor has challenged the cashiers (is this the right word for the till operators?) I have challenged this, sought confirmation from the allotment hierarchy and been told that yes all goods purchased entitle the card holder to a ten per cent discount. Unfortunately, though I had been hoping it was her day off, her dinner time or something else, she was there again today, lurking as I joined the queue. So, steeling myself I decided to step out of the line and simply ask … I was quite prepared if she sang her usual “plants only” tune to abandon the trolley and go elsewhere, but she offered, through a steel rimmed scowl a chance to speak with the manager about it.
I was polite, the “… if it’s no trouble “ line. The manager did not appear, but a message came back … I was right, discount applied on all purchases. She could have apologised, but pretended that there had been a late change in the management decision. She went right down in my estimation, it would have been so right, so simple just to apologise – but would have made her appear human.
So back into the queue, refusing to “jump” ahead and smiled at a lady in a wheelchair, clearly saving a place for two other, heavily made up young women with a trolley filled with curtains, poles and light fittings. There was some light banter between the three; the lady in the wheelchair needing to return the chair (borrowed from the store)and get back on her crutches.
When she wheeled away with an impish grin, the shorter of her companions reached out some super-mobile phone and spoke to someone I assumed was just outside: “just in the queue,” she announce, “out in two, light up a cigarette for me ready when I get out eh?”
I stood there, thinking …
… all the progress, the technology, the micro-processing power and battery and circuitry smaller than a WordPress full stop. The science that can pinpoint your position to within meters from space, the apps and wisdom and capability in that phone … … and the only request is to someone she is seconds away from seeing and is a plea to bring Death closer, faster.