Thursday, 26 February 2015

My Back Pages

I like February, in principle.  It's my birthday month, and it does make you feel a bit special, as a kid, to have been born in the most eccentric, short and shape-shifting month of the year.  I associate it with clear, crisp blue-sky days, with the anticipation of waking up to an overnight snowfall and another day off school; February 1963 was definitive.  But, this year, February has been a truly dull month, weather-wise, down here on the south coast.  Weeks of cloud, rain, and nothing in particular, broken only by the occasional frost, a single feeble snow-shower, and a hailstorm of great intensity that briefly buried our garden with what looked like polystyrene packing beads.  It means there has been little disruption to normal life, but it has also made for an uninspiring month, photographically.  I looked with envy on the images from the Middle East this week, with Jerusalem and Bethlehem blanketed in snow like Christmas cards.  Though after some initial fun snowballing I expect it got old pretty quickly for refugees from Syria camped out in makeshift tents in Jordan and Turkey.

I've also been trying, with mixed success, to overcome the inertia induced by some surgery in late November which restricted my mobility until very recently.  Once you get into the habit of mooching about indoors, reluctant to test the boundaries of your new comfort zone, it's awfully hard to break out of it.  Dull, dull weather doesn't help.  A brief morning outbreak of sunshine, or a pretty frost would get me out in the back garden at breakfast-time, but it was generally gone by the time I was ready to think about going out.

As a consequence, I've been reading a lot, drawing a lot (once I've got my hand-eye-brain mojo back I may show some here), and browsing through my image backfiles, like a soothsayer looking for hints of the shape of the year to come.  But, as the financial advisers are required to say, "past performance is not necessarily a guide to future performance".  I'll say.  I came across these next two pictures looking at Februaries past, and liked them for their clarity, and the fact they weren't taken in the back garden.  Both from February 2012.

Hockley Viaduct

M3 motorway from the B3335

And, despite my declared reluctance to revisit the past, I've spent a fair amount of time there in recent days, having broken out some old notebooks and read about the acts and opinions of some strange young man whose terrible handwriting seems uncannily similar to mine.  If nothing else, it's been a useful reminder of the value of writing things down.  For, dear reader, whatever you think you remember about your past, you're probably wrong.  And so is everybody else.  But in your case you probably don't have written (or drawn) evidence to the contrary.  In the absence of which -- and assuming you have no belief in an omniscient Recording Angel, whose revelatory notebooks will eventually be opened to us all -- your life is indeed writ in water.  Which may, of course, be just the way you like it.

Ah, but I was so much older then...

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