Methinks I see the wanton hours flee…

… and as they pass, turn back and laugh at me.

~ George Villiers, 2nd Earl of Buckingham.

We should, of course, never waste time – it’s very foolish.

 But there sometimes are tiny moments – just a minute or two… occasionally – when our focus, dedication and drive ebb ever so slightly, our attention wanders a little…

These are a few places I’ve landed on such occasions:

Bookworm – a hugely addictive online game but I like to think it at least productive in sparking brain cells into life rather than killing them off.

If you fail to find words of greater than three letters burning tiles appear. This fire spreads and unless you use the burning tiles quickly, the whole ‘library’ burns down and you lose the game.

The worm also suggests words (“tut” in this snapshot) and gives a bonus score if this word is found…

… it’s massively, massively addictive.

Swedish Furniture Name Generator – totally childish, unproductive and pointless. But it made me laugh.

There are also Ninja names (I’m ‘Kichijiro Uehara-san’), viking (‘Sandie Wartooth’), a band name generator (‘Shooting Sandie & The Eclipse’, hurrah – fame is merely a tune away!), hippie (‘Peace Juniper’) and… ugh, ugh, ugh… a slushy valentine’s day name generator (Mousie Bunnybaps…???!)

Okay, enough silliness. Back to the serious time-wasting…

The wonderful Delphic Oracle.

Bliss. It answers all of Life’s questions with ineffable wisdom… vague, unhelpful even, and yet somehow soothing and quite beautiful for that.

As for George Villiers – whose little ditty titles this blog post – the man was most definitely not a time waster. Indeed, it seems he was probably a keen multi-tasker as, according to his wiki entry, he was taught geometry by Thomas Hobbes, during which lessons he reportedly...

… well, you’ll have to look it up yourselves – next time you have a few minutes to waste.


Flashbacks in colour

Spencer pours another whisky. It leaps up the side of the glass, pitching over the edge and trickling down his hand. His clean hand. His neat, manicured hand. There was a time its flesh was seldom seen, when he could move through days and nights without pause, his skin an extension of each worked canvas, its colour echoing progress – Prussian Blue, Viridian, Indian Red, Mars Violet, Ivory Black. Always ivory black.

Those colours no longer grace palette or skin.

Those colours belong to another time.

He stands behind the glass of the locked door and watches the movement of others. Holidaymakers propelled by forced jollity from shop to shop, activity to activity, meal to meal, weighed down with bags of beach hut aesthetics compulsively acquired for an urban setting. The wrong shades, the wrong light. They’ll never understand beauty as context, arrangement, balance, harmony. Year upon year they will remove pretty pebbles from the beach only to later wonder how their beauty expired.

Salut d’amour

I don’t like alarm clocks. Waking to manic beeping or ringing is, apropos our primitive selves, surely a sign we are waking to Trouble? Even the name – alarm – is wrong, wrong, wrong…

And so mine is set to radio. Formerly, this was R4 until I realised James Naughtie arguing with politicians (or, if I overslept, the platitudes of Thought for the Day) creeping into my dreams was no better a start than beep, beep, beeeeeeeep. It made me argumentative.

Now I wake to R3 but it’s hit and miss. My preference is for piano, with my least favourite the noisy brass band hammering out a rabble-rousing number.

This morning it was Elgar’s Salut d’amour which has surpassed all wake-up numbers to date – luring me from sleep kindly, willingly and with a smile.

In fact, I’d happily tolerate waking to this beautiful piece every day… make it so, schedulers, make it so!

What is Love?

I was asked this question eighteen months ago, but didn’t have an answer. Since then, on and off – and in truth far more off than on – I’ve been trying to write a poem that defines Love for me.

The dictionary says a strong positive emotion of regard and affection, which is about as dry an explanation as one could expect from such a tome. And of course academia doesn’t put the word into context… a task left instead to poets, artists, musicians and others who’ve tried over centuries to capture this trickiest of social constructs and define it in a way that resonates. 

But we’re all different, and Love is not a single tangible entity, and it’d be quite possible to write the largest blog post in the history of blogging, quoting all the opinions and general musings ever written, yet still fail to produce anything definitive. It’s a beast with many faces, too lithe and slippery to catch and contain. And so I shall just leave you with two small offerings: a delightful ditty from Dorothy Parker and my own sorry work-in-progress.

Feel free to share your thoughts and favourites…


Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Roumania.

~ Dorothy Parker

It is…

It is naked, alone in the canyon’s early sun
The brief suspense between ground and flight
An unexpected recall of memories forgotten
It is Ice
It is Fire
It is Pitch
It is Light

It is darkness, its shadows, an unknown sound
Hot spices infusing the half-starved mind
First breath inhaled, last drawn slowly out
It is Still
It is Deaf
It is Mute
It is Blind

~ Sandie Zand

A few of my favourite things…

Inanimate things, that is – and in no particular order.  

Mugs – I made these when I was a one-woman studio. Each was a reject, flawed in some way, hence they were never sold. The one in the middle is strictly mine – it’s my favourite and a one-off. A deliberately simple, rough and rustic pattern, and I love it. It’s heavy, substantial… comforting… coffee just tastes better from this mug.

Ancient Bears – the one on the right is over 100 years old. He was my grandmother’s when she was a child but has been mine for some years now. The monkey on the left is of an equal age and also belonged to her, I think. The bear in the middle belongs to Jess and is shortly to go off on an exciting overnight school trip. He’s just called “Bear”. I tell her he talks to me when nobody else is around and gives me good ideas for stories (this really annoys her… but I can’t give up the pretence).

Bottles – the one on the right was part of my Christmas present from my mum. It’s old and apparently has a twin in a museum somewhere. She says it’s for perfume but I prefer the notion that it’s meant to contain a dose of Opium for those creative blank moments. The one on the left is a Kosta Boda bottle and was a lucky find in an antique shop I used to frequent some years ago. The dealer was a drunk. Late afternoon was the best time to secure a bargain as he’d be quite pissed by then and open to silly offers. I picked this up for just a few pounds… I don’t think he had any idea what it was, or what it was worth, as his starting price was about a tenth of its value… and I couldn’t resist driving him down even further. Crazy man, great shop.  

Box of Memories – ah, what can I say? A box of old photos, love letters and diaries. I don’t look at these often but they provide the Finest of Fluffings as and when the need strikes.

Compass – this was given to me by a friend sometime in the 90s just before she went to live in Hong Kong for a few years. She said I’d always know where, directionally, she was… which I thought a lovely sentiment.

Kangaroo – my great-uncle made this and I used to play with it as a kid when we visited. It hops down sloping surfaces and, unlike any toys owned by my own children at a similar age, the kangaroo still works – and will continue working, probably forever! My great-uncle is long dead but my great-aunt Ellen, my grandma’s older sister, will be 101 this spring.  

Daughter’s Kindle – we got her this for Christmas and I’ve been coveting it ever since. In fact I’ve downloaded two Authonomites’ books onto it recently and am sneakily reading them when Sam’s asleep.

Old Photo – this goes hand in hand with the box of letters really. I’m eighteen and very much in love and I can’t help but smile whenever I see this picture. It was taken by a mutual friend before he drove us to the station so we could ‘run away’ for a few days… Blackpool rather than Paris, but I can testify a walk along its beach late at night is as romantic as anywhere in the world when you’re the only two people who exist.

Old Books – I have quite a few… this picture shows a set of Shakespeare’s works in their own little bookcase. The two tiny books on top are gorgeous – Thoughts from Ruskin and Essays of Elia. I was given many old books when I was a child by a lady called Miss Lucy Alston. She lived nearby and we shared the same birthday, which was her excuse for giving me books. In truth she was just pleased to see a child who loved books as much as she did. She was a retired school teacher – of the ilk no longer seen – her house an absolute museum piece with masses of antique books, furniture and musical instruments. In later years she’d go on world cruises, alone, and bring me back exciting things – often little vintage treasures, such as a 1920s silver lipstick holder (containing its original red, waxy lipstick which I wantonly used up in my teens without any regard for its age or museum value!). She was a fascinating, generous woman and I wish she were still alive as I’d appreciate her – and her stories – so much more now.

Teenage Poems – do I really like these? No. They’re all awful, but I’m glad I’ve kept them. I don’t know why… it’d be wonderful to have a really fantastic collection of poetry that I wanted to share, instead of this terrible hidden stash, but even still… there’s just something about looking over one’s own scribble, the gushing emotion, the dreadful rhyming couplets… I’ll never show them to anyone and think I’ll ask for them to be burned along with me when I die – not for sentimental reasons… just to get rid of the damn things. But still… it’s funny to read them and comforting to know I once bothered enough to write them.

School Reports – my primary school reports glow! Praise at secondary school level fluctuates somewhat. Primary school: “Sandie reads with intelligence” and “Sandie writes with great imagination and expresses herself well” – hurrah! – tempered with “at times tends to be a chatterbox” and “must try to concentrate all the time”… yes… right… and the cruellest blow:“can be silly if allowed and easily distracted from her work”. 

Not much changed there then. 

Secondary school: “Sandra does not exert herself in class” – this was for needlework for God’s sake. Of course I didn’t exert myself… why would I??

Mustäd Stove – call me sad but I love this stove. It’s elegant, powerful and quite beautiful all round. And my desk is right beside it… so it’s a boon for the insomniac writer when the heating is off.

Wesco Bin – even sadder but I adore my Wesco bin. I think were I to develop paraphilia, this would be the object of my lurve. It’s not the phallic shape so much as the whole contour, so gloriously rounded, and it’s solid, robust – the lid is vicious actually – and such a beautiful Cornish ice-cream colour… I know, I know, I probably need help for this fixation with my bin. It’s called Blodwyn. 

This post, incidentally, absolutely captures the essence of the blog’s title.  I’ve spent all day procrastinating, slowly and luxuriously, on this piece… tomorrow I shall work. Really, I will…