As I drove towards my psychiatrist appointment this morning*, the Rolling Stones compilation currently playing in my car had reached ‘Mother’s Little Helper’, with its reference to the ‘little yellow pill’ which indeed I do take. As I drove back afterwards, the next track was playing, which just happened to be ‘Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown’. Hmm…
*(orientation report: I missed my junction yet again but managed to repair the route by turning left later, and in the process discovered a much better route and got there half an hour early)
Currently playing in my car, though not with much enjoyment from me, is ‘No Regrets: The Best of Scott Walker and the Walker Brothers’ which I bought solely because of the title track (one of the best songs ever) and because I had a duplicate album*, which I’d bought by mistake, to exchange. Apart from No Regrets itself, it does also have ‘Jackie’, that wonderful Jacques Brel song, which is worth a second listen.
Anyway on perusing the not very informative sleeve notes the other day I was shocked to discover that not only were the Walker Brothers not brothers, but nor was any of them called Walker. In fact Scott Walker’s real name is Scott Engel, though he doesn’t look Jewish to me. Another cherished illusion shattered. Next they’ll be telling me the Beverley Sisters weren’t sisters…
*(‘Best of Captain Beefheart’, which proves my musical tastes are catholic, if nothing else)
Driving up my road this morning after my usual Friday outing (therapist, coffee and crossword, charity shop browsing, swim) I braked as a jay, splendid in brown, blue, black and white, flew low across the road straight in front of my car. I pulled in quietly so I could watch him bob about in a neighbour’s front garden, then when I lost sight of him I drove the last few yards and parked.
As I sat listening to the last strains of Bryan Ferry’s idiosyncratic take on Positively 4th Street (currently playing in my car: ‘Dylanesque’, Ferry’s album of Dylan covers), I saw in the rear mirror my husband’s unmistakable orange van drawing up behind me. As I got out and waved at him, he pointed over to the front of our house, where the jay was now rooting around in the ivy. He clearly got something, as he then flew off and settled on our wall to devour it.
Before our ornamental cherry tree died, killed off in a dry summer by the huge viburnum planted (not by us), too close to it the jay – I like to think it was the same one – was an annual visitor to it when it was in its flame-red autumn glory (the tree that is, not the jay, who is glorious all year). His visit now reminds me of the sadness of black, lifeless branches in spring when there should have been a positively Liberacean display of huge pink blossoms. However, The Grouch kept the wood after chopping down the dead tree, and has promised to make a fire surround from it when we redecorate our lounge and put a new fire in. That will be classy: a fireplace of cherry wood from our own garden!
… on the garden, is how my mother once described the attraction of gardening. I’m not at all sure that doesn’t say more about my mother than about gardening.
Today I have been imposing my will on my environment by attacking large piles of old videotapes and books in my lounge, while listening to that great compilation album ‘Gutbucket’, which you have to be a certain age to remember. Lots of raw and dirty blues/rock numbers including Captain Beefheart’s classic ‘Gimme Dat Harp Boy’ and a wonderful finger-pickin’ instrumental called ‘Dismal Swamp’ by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, possibly my favourite track ever and one that it’s impossible not to dance to.
I managed to clear out an impressive number of books, largely by the expedient of getting rid of anything I thought I ought to have rather than really wanted (several Henry James’ when I don’t even much like Henry James, for instance); and just about all of my home-recorded videos of films I once thought I wanted to watch but now know I will probably never get round to watching.
Rarely as I get round to it, this kind of activity is remarkably satisfying and somehow feels like what humans were made for – to create order out of a disorderly world, to classify and arrange, to select and direct. I know it is supposed to be God’s will we do, rather than imposing ours, but are the two really mutually exclusive? God too creates order out of chaos, not only in creation but in our disordered lives and souls, and our stumbling attempts at doing likewise are perhaps an expression of God’s image in us, a feeble imitation of what God is, ultimately, doing with the world.
Although there is always the story of the visitor who admires an old man’s garden with the words, ‘Isn’t it wonderful what you and God have created together?’ ‘Ah,’ replies the old man, ‘but you should have seen the state of it when God had it to himself…’