on perception and memory…

I met an old and dear friend for dinner this week, someone who is – outside of family – my longest-known-and-still-in-contact-with person. We’ve known each other 40 years, but have lived quite distinct lives for the last 35 – catching up sometimes rarely, but in that glorious “it’s as though the intervening time hasn’t happened” way.

And yet it has. Sitting, post-prandial, by the log fire in a wonderful rural inn, we spoke about various Stuff that’s happened over recent years, and there was a sudden lull. A joint pondering. He said, “man, but there’s been so much…”

So much Life, is what he meant. Between ‘us then’ and ‘us now’, we have each lived full grown-up lives and despite the natural familiarity are, in fact, largely strangers.

Which got me thinking – good, positive pondering, like a visit from the Muse – about this friendship, and others, spanning years and yet to all intents fixed on a small space of actuality: a tiny fraction of Time Known, where there was a tight connection, with the intervening years enhanced by that strong sense of recognition – a tie, a bond, a lasting connection – which is actually a memory, a perception, and no longer a reality.

My dinner companion was a hugely important part of my life 35 years ago, and the essence of that remains. I’ve spotted him, occasionally, in other men, in other decades. The glimpse always draws me. It’s that memory of something… perhaps it’s unfinished business from a previous life. Perhaps it’s a quest on behalf of an alternative self in a parallel world. Perhaps it’s just a hunger.

Ah, but it was a gentle and welcome Muse. It resulted in a poem:

the idea of you

A thing or two

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.

Half a million words

lie in my basement

(our basement)

tumbled in wait for

post-apocalyptic feast

when I will devour them

alone

in one

long

gluttonous

wordy

orgy

.

No.

I will savour them

slowly, in tiny mouthfuls

of delayed gratification

Enough for a book

or three, or five

Took that time to write

Take that time to read

.

makes me pause

wordless

devoid

.

I will eat my words

(our words)

Gone, carry on

This loss bears

no witness

.

I will feast

one final time and

watch the basement implode

                                                              ⁃ zand, May 2019

Shout out to service workers…

fullsizeoutput_968Over the last seven months, I’ve needed to travel within the UK a fair bit for work. Travel is exhausting, really it is, and in particular the homeward-bound journeys – where tiredness reigns and tolerance is low – can be greatly enhanced or deteriorated by the quality of personal interactions.

In probably 90% of trips, I find the personal interactions wonderful and I massively appreciate the friendliness of service workers… whether they be the people who help with booking tickets and hotels, those who are actually on the platform giving advice and direction to travellers ridiculously lost (as I often am!), those on the trains who check tickets and wait patiently as I find my supposedly faster digital tickets, those who are serving food and stuff in shops,  cafes, and restaurants… or on Virgin trains Carriage C, where so often I find lovely smiley folk who cannot believe I’m paying that much for a double espresso (it’s that you only have large cups, makes it seem pathetically small!) and so give me something more like a quadruple for free… I love you.

You folk make my journeys. You revitalise a weary person and you make me smile. The difference between a service worker who smiles and connects – no matter how tired we all are – and someone who is surly, fed-up, and cannot make the effort… it’s immense. I want to give a huge shout out to those who do the former: who put on a smile on even though they may also be tired, those who genuinely connect, who go the extra mile over and over and over and possibly think it’s not recognised… it is recognised. I see you. You make my day. Thank you so very much.

Exempt from public haunt…

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Here feel we not the penalty of Adam,
The seasons’ difference, as the icy fang
And churlish chiding of the winter’s wind,
Which when it bites and blows upon my body
Even till I shrink with cold, I smile, and say
’This is no flattery. These are counsellors
That feelingly persuade me what I am.’
Sweet are the uses of adversity
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything. 
         – As You Like It, Act II, Scene i

My fridge ‘poetry’, cobbled together on a sleety cold afternoon in the absence of anything outdoorsy to do, doesn’t come close to the magnificence of Shakespeare’s words. But the sentiment is remarkably similar. For the Duke, the woods brought restorative peace from the perils of a court that ousted him. For me, the vibrant Lancashire village to which I have returned offers something similar.

It’s been a tough four years, possibly five, maybe ten… either way, retreat to the woods was a judicious move. I’m now settled back on home turf, surrounded by the familiar and gloriously historical landscape of my formative years, welcomed back by family and long-standing friends after 33 years a-wanderin’… and it feels great. Tongues in trees, books in running brooks, sermons in stones and good in everything? Yes, yes, yes and yes.

My fridge poetry offering expresses – surprisingly more subconsciously openly than intended – the inspiration that now drives me to rise and enjoy each day. Life is good. Life is fun. Life is a tangible joy. Sweet are the uses of adversity indeed. Salut!

 

Hiatus

Travelling backwards on the 10:54

the past blurs in sideview

stretching ahead, growing distant

True passing.

What’s yet to come hides behind,

emerging into low sun cutting

winter boughs. Life stirs within.

And being blind to the future,

beholden to anticipation

alone, without clear sight

of a past speeding by

too fast to revisit,

doesn’t really matter.

None of it matters.

There is now.

~ Sandie Zand, February 2019

Hope is a dangerous thing

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‘Hope’, George Fredric Watts

I’ve been tearing around in my fucking nightgown
24/7 Sylvia Plath
Writing in blood on the walls
‘Cause the ink in my pen don’t work in my notepad
Don’t ask if I’m happy, you know that I’m not
But at best, I can say I’m not sad
‘Cause hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have
Hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have

Hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but I have it, Lana Del Rey (album: Norman Fucking Rockwell, 2019)