Wednesday 31 October 2012

Old New.

You know what?

Sometimes you wake up and just don’t feel inspired.

You try everything – put the kettle on, find a good place to sit, drink tea, stare out the window, watch a leaf drop from the tree, stand up, pace the kitchen, spoon up a few of the remains of your brother-in-law’s left over trifle – and NOTHING comes.

Put on your jacket, leave the sleeping house and stride the early morning streets.

Well…sit at the half cleared kitchen table and IMAGINE putting on your jacket, leaving the sleeping house and striding the early morning streets.

WRITE ‘put on your jacket, leave the sleeping house and stride the early morning streets.’

Give up.

Go look for your jacket, put it on, slip out of the sleeping house and STRIDE the empty early morning streets……

You know how autumn can be?

Clear skies, chill, early mist- low, sunlight through turning leaf, damp…

I met an old guy; he was emptying his pockets out by the waste bin.

“Good morning.”


I wanted to ask him how old he was.

But he spoke first.

“Do you want any of this?”

I looked at what he was throwing away – an old ticket for the “It Always Rains on Sunday” screening at the British Film Institute, a shopping list (meat, milk, crumpets, cereal) and a business card for a vintage optician’s.

“No thanks”.

“Can I help you in any other way, you look un-inspired”.

“Well yes actually, I need an idea for the final post in a month long series of idlings all of which have the word new in them.”


“Isn’t that a word?”

“Not sure, do you want me to look it up?” and he reached into the bin and pulled out a battered Cambridge dictionary.

“No, don’t bother, it means nothing really, like the posts themselves.”

“Why do you do it then?”

“I have to.”

“You have to?”

We spoke for a long time and wandered together through the woods. We discussed life and recipes for grilled sardines, before coming back to the main question.

“Why don’t you call it the Last New?”

“I thought about that, but then I should have had a First New, but I didn’t.”

“What was the first New?”

The ‘New New’.

“How about The New Old then?”

“I did that.”

“What else?’

“New Dictum; New Door-n; New Windows; Thoughts and Smells: Tall; Wind and New Ten.”

“There you go then!” He seemed excited.


“You have a duality, make it a triality!”


“New New, New Old – you need an Old New to complete the triality!”

“Is that a word?”

I thanked him, said goodbye and left him searching through the battered copy of The Cambridge.

I rushed home, ate toast and scrambled egg with Lea and Perrin Sauce and listened to my brother-in-law tell me about Garum.

Then I thought – how can I do a New Old?

There was a tap at the window.

The old man was outside mouthing something that we couldn’t hear through the double-glazing.

I stuck my head out of the cat flap –“What?”

“Find a Roald Dahl story that you read a long time ago – when you were 16”


“Well, that can be your ‘old’. Read it again and that will be your ‘new’ ”.

“What will that have to do with anything?”

“You’ll probably be surprised by some ‘old’ words in your ‘new’ reading that wouldn’t have seemed old when you were new (16) but now you are old (57) they will seem newly strange.”

So I did.

‘Porter’ stood out – they don’t exist anymore.

The adjective ‘swanky’ – not used a lot today.

‘Rapacious” – an adjective again, but one I have never seen or heard before.

I grabbed my coat and ran down the road to the waste bin; the old man was still there.

“Rapacious, is that a word?”

“If Roald used it I would say so!” but he reached for the Cambridge and checked anyway.

“Rapacious – said especially of birds, subsisting on live prey.”

“Ok, thanks. You know what with Roald Dahl/scary stories and all that it would be perfect if today was Halloween.”

The old man looked at me.

“It is.” 

And then was just me, a waste bin and a raven.


London Joe said...

That was compelling and spooky. Autumn is your season,perhaps? Do you think your muse dwells there?
It was always my favourite time of year. Now, I love spring more: I've become more obvious. Oh well

Think I will buy Kiss Kiss for Nico

popps said...

Kiss Kiss, good collection, good present.
Spring has to be the besets eh?

London Joe said...

I did buy Nico Kiss Kiss. And the first volume.
I should ask him if he has read them...


The Old Man threw away a vintage optician's card.
That was bit short-sighted. You could have kept it.
An ideal Chrsitams gift

popps said...

How come you're back here?
It's 2016 now.