The curse has come upon me

I tend to think, when the black dog is safely curled up in his basket, that I am the luckiest chap alive – or at least one of them (I have no desire to become overly competitive with others on whom Fate has smiled).  The place and time of my birth mean that my physical suffering has been dramatically less than for the vast majority of the members of the family Homo who have trodden the earth (and, frankly, most of any such suffering that has occurred has been self-inflicted).  I am also fortunate that my rather rag-tag collection of (what I like to call) skills are sufficiently valued by “the man” that I am paid more money than I am able (or perhaps willing) to spend maintaining myself and my desires, while only working (a theoretical) three days a week (well, I was brought up in the 1970s).

I have the opportunity to express myself creatively, not least through this blog – and, sometimes, the words I cast into the avoid even seem to find a sympathetic ear.  Usually, the only fly of discord in the ointment of my existence is my continuing tendency to insomnia.  I sometimes wonder what I might achieve with the benefit of a few, contiguous nights of decent sleep.  Then again, perhaps under such conditions I might become even more insufferable than is already the case.

The last 24 hours might serve to illustrate my good fortune.  After some time fighting with work, a little ironing and some ring-based gymnastic training I treated myself to an episode of Psych on DVD.  This is well into series 5 (for me) and yet is still finding new ways to be extremely silly and funny.  In the evening I went to the Art House Café to see Andrew O’Neill gives his “lecture” on the history of heavy metal – which was very funny, quite loud and surprisingly informative.  I think I may have a rather greater fondness for the oeuvre than I had realised.  This morning, I left the flat to sunshine and bird song to start my journey up to Edinburgh by train.  Sadly, this did start with the dreaded rail-replacement bus service – but, oddly, whilst they are pretty rubbish with the trains, South West trains do run a very efficient and well-organised replacement bus service (I think this may be their métier).  As a result of this, and my over-compensation for their normal uselessness, I had quite a long wait in London before my train left Kings Cross – just enough time to stroll up to 10 Greek Street for a light(ish) lunch.

All very idyllic (albeit with a slightly non-standard definition of an idyll) you may think – and frankly rather dull – so now we come to the twist and move into darker territory.

As I prepared to go out yesterday evening, I selected a light-weight jacket from my wardrobe – but as I swept it around my shoulders I thought I glimpsed something odd and so took a closer look.  The back of the jacket looked as though its wearer had been the subject of a frenzied stabbing attack, focused on the right shoulder blade.  I have no recall of such an attack, nor have I found any indication of knife-wielding moths in my wardrobe (or similar damage to other garments).  Have I been horribly murdered and am now in some form of limbo?  (And why does the afterlife involve trying to manoeuvre under an unfeasibly low horizontal obstacle anyway?)  Or am I a ghost, but don’t yet know it?  Or perhaps in some sort of fugue-state bought on by a very messy divorce?

Despite these worries, I manage to get some sleep last night – placing my watch on my bed-side table as normal.  When I came to return the timepiece to its other home, my left wrist, this morning I discovered that its face had “crack’d from side to side”.  Luckily, my loom and associated weaving seem to remain undamaged and I have not spotted the bier of a puissant knight passing my window.  Nonetheless, I live in fear in case Alfred (Lord Tennyson) had the basic story aright but used his artistic licence with a few of the key details to make for a more “commercial” poem.  If my surprisingly buff and youthful corpse should wash ashore near some analogue of Camelot, you dear readers will no that my fears were, like a dishwasher tablet, far from baseless.

Nothing could have fallen onto my watch, nor had it fallen from its place of repose, so how did it crack?  Did the heavy metal-stylings of Mr O’Neill happen to hit some critical frequency?  Or is some unquiet spirit haunting my demesne?  Could it be that I am the unquiet spirit, doomed to walk the earth until I avenge my untimely, cutlery-themed demise?

Woo! (It is surprisingly hard to be spooky in print, so please imagine a sudden drop in temperature and me rattling some chains).

Ghost story?

My recent journeys, to and from the land to our immediate north, brought to mind a ghost story I once heard (OK, just made up following a malapropism).

They do say that a phantom passenger train haunts the east coast main line.  It is doomed to traverse the line for all eternity, never able to reach the final station stop for its service.  The curse has been active for some time, so it is a steam-hauled service – and unaffected by signal aspect or overhead line damage it makes very good time.

This ghostly train is known as The Flying Scotsman.  I feel it needs the Richard Wagner de nos jour to take the story and use it as the basis for an overlong opera – though preferably one without the dodgy politics that mar Herr W’s work for so many.  If there are any budding composers (yes, composers reproduce asexually) of heavy opera (opera with an extra neutron or two), might I suggest the wind section could contribute a ghostly whistle as a leitmotif for the train itself?

In related news, if you ever get a chance to hear Paul Hindemith’s “Overture on ‘The Flying Dutchman'” then please do so – it’s a hoot!  In my view, the Comedy Prom missed rather an open goal by not including it, but there’s always next year… (or so I aver, with absolutely no proof).