Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Happy Intercalary or Bissextile Year Day !

My Dear Friends . . .

Welcome to the study at Myrtle House, a few minutes after midnight and an equal number into a day that only exists in the imagination and memory except for every fourth year.  I refer of course to February 29th, Leap Year Day, a day which has some rather amusing and bizarre memories for me with which I shan't bother your sleepy heads, but as a period of in-betweenness, I feel it a suitable time to ponder the mysteries and vagaries of Life.  So, if you aren't too sleepy, perhaps you could settle down and listen to the minutes tick away as I ramble on through the hours that separate us all from those blue remembered hills . . .*

Yesterday which, as I write, is a very recent memory, was filled with both celebrations and sad news; It was, of course, my two year anniversary of saying goodbye to the demon drink and, despite all the moaning I subject you to within these walls and pages, I have to say I do feel very much better for it. It was during the course of a very amusing and celebratory textual banter with a lovely friend concerning such matters that she asked if I had heard the very sad news about a mutual friend and old school chum of mine Robert Lockhart.

Appallingly, I hadn't and I have to say the news left me feeling quite bereft, not merely because of its obvious tragicness but for the fact that he was one of the most talented musicians I ever had the pleasure to know. Should you wish to discover more about this wickedly brilliant creature you may do so by reading the obituary in the Guardian penned by Will Self. 
As I look at the rather rakish and dashing photograph that accompanied his obituary, I can still see the fresh-faced boy of fourteen summers, sitting upstairs on the Abbey Lakes bus on the way home from Grammar School, being  - as I considered at the time  - very daring and sophisticated by smoking the exceptionally pungent French Gitanes cigarettes instead of the usual school boy choice of Player's No 6 and declaring "I am, of course, a Francophile" to which I nodded sagely and later, after returning home, tried to discover exactly what one of those was! He was merely one year and two days older than me . . .

There has been a brief passage of time and now the sun - or at least the grey murk - is peeping or seeping into the windows of the study which indicates it is, in fact, morning and a little after seven of the clock.   Yours truly is off to the kitchen to rustle up, if not a hearty breakfast, at least some nibbles and green tea for us while we consider the rest of this post . . . amuse yourself won't you, shan't be a tick . . .

And back we are once again inside this book-lined room; it's amazing to think that the tomes here represent something like maybe only one-fifth of the all the ones I've owned; some sit still, I'm sure, in squirrel-nibbled attics or grace the bookshelves of purloiners, pining I suspect, for a  return to their position in my beloved stacks . . . and everyday more come to join the ranks here assembled - as the great Groucho Marx said "Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." Sums it up rather nicely, don't you think? 

My particular example of the species, the Famous Sally Dog, is, as I write, sitting patiently on the rug beside the desk waiting not for the spark from heaven to fall, but rather crumbs from a breakfast biscuit to make their way to her ever grateful maw; I can honestly say I have never experienced anything quite as voracious as the appetite of a small dog - simply ast-hounding . . . sorry, I couldn't resist that. Sal is fast approaching her seventh birthday and is nearly winning the battle to still be longer than wider despite a constant hunger that would put a vampire to shame! She will not be impressed by today's weather however; although I have often remarked upon her ever willingness to walk, even the tiniest amount of rain stops her dead in her tracks and a "Why do you have such stupid ideas?" expression crosses her anthropomorphic muzzle - she is very good at blaming me for most things that impact negatively on her world, especially when I insist she ignore the remains of someone's late night supper which is simply sitting on the pavement waiting to be consumed by a grateful and highly deserving canine individual . . . 

Talking of leaky weather, tomorrow is -  besides our monthly chance to wish each other triple albino Leporidae -  St David's Day and so I wish you all Dydd gŵyl dewi hapus for then and hope daffs, leeks, sheep and other probably unintentionally offensive Welsh stereotypes abound . . . as for today I hope you enjoy your leapishness!  A rather fine and short video explanation of the phenomenon appears here courtesy of those lovely @Numberphile people - if you are a Twitter user I suggest you check them out immediately.

This extra day calls me into action and so needs must I with heavy heart, into the world and wave of men depart;  I hope you have a stunningly brilliant day, laden with love and remember with gratitude the pulse that beats within you  - for you are indeed a long time dead, unless you are a Buddhist of course !

'til next time


Be Seeing You !








*Into my heart an air that kills
From Yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?
That is the land of lost content
I see it shining plain
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.

A E Housman A Shropshire Lad



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