Saturday, 18 July 2009

Dog days - and nights.

I'll be going to bed with some trepidation tonight. The last two nights, my sleep (such as it was) has been punctuated by the yelping of a dog which the family next door have acquired either for themselves or, I'm hoping, are watching for someone while they are away. They lock it alone in a downstairs room and, anyone with half a brain knows that such a pack animal will suffer mental agonies being left for hours locked away in solitude. It sounds youngish so I fear they may have got a puppy for themselves. Even keeping my bedroom window shut doesn't make that much difference - its pathetic crying is so piercing. I can't understand why the people aren't so disturbed by the noise themselves that they find it somewhere physically closer to themselves, but I've always been a light sleeper - in fact almost, but not quite, an insomniac. It's the distress of the animal that upsets at least as much as the noise. The suffering of animals, any animal, causes me such mental torments it's debilitating. I'm afraid to say anything to them as up to now I've had good relations with the large family and it could so easily turn nasty. So at the moment I'm taking the coward's way out and hoping that a new tenant soon moves in below me and they, being even closer to the poor animal, maybe will say something. (White feather time!)

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Summer musings

Blissful couple of hours sitting on the pier here in very warm sun in one of the best Summers we've had in many a year. Reading short stories by the hugely enjoyable Patricia Highsmith, alternating with listening to cassete - one of about 100 I've compiled over the years of relatively obscure classical works (today - Max Bruch's First Symphony). I always used to take a handful of these tapes with me when I visited my dear mum, increasingly frequently as she steadily deteriorated until the inevitable happened and she died four years ago. I'd played these tapes over and over again when on the train travelling up and down and also while I was with her so I got to know them pretty well. Today is the first time I've started playing them again since her passing so one can imagine the powerful poignancy. Bitter-sweet indeed.
The apartment below me still vacant though two days ago I saw the landlord arrive and heard him talking below with what sounded like a single female voice, though I didn't actually catch a glimpse of her. I assume that the expected Czech young lady with infant didn't materialise (she had been due to move in some 10 days ago) and that this is a potential replacement. So I'm still in suspense waiting to see the new tenant's reaction to my pussies.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Refelections on past Pride events

The first Gay Pride event I ever attended was in London 1976 - and what dour affairs they were then! I'm pretty sure they weren't called 'Pride' - more something like 'Gay Equality March' (this was when the age of consent here was 21 - and then only in a strictly defined 'private'.) I well remember the sombre tone of that particular event (no bands, only chanting) as we were allowed only to follow a route through the back streets of central London, accompanied by police, some visibly smirking and sneering, and being jeered at, even spat upon I once witnessed, by by-standers. How things change! Now they are truly a celebration - colourful and in-your-face. It's something no serious politician can afford to be openly hostile to. The party leaders this year are tripping over each other in order to demonstrate that they are most pro-gay. For the first time tomorrow's event in London will have the Prime Minister's wife among the march leaders - though not yet the P.M. himself - maybe next year? For some time already they've been graced by the presence of the Lord Mayor of London. A few days ago the Conservative leader even publicly apologised for the anti-gay legislation introduced by Margaret Thatcher's government. What is the world coming to? And all this on top of the truly wonderful news from India. (Let's all hope the religious groups there don't get the ruling reversed.)
But although I went to quite a few of the ensuing rallies in London I gradually became aware that it's the not the sort of thing one likes to go to alone. In spite of being among thousands of like-minded men and women I realised it can also what seems like the loneliest place in the world. At least when I used to frequent bars regularlyI could use alcohol as a 'prop' to enable me to start chatting to someone I like. Rarely drinking to excess, I'm glad to say. (I thank heavens that I'm not alcy - though I do realise how easy it is to become so.) But at these events if one is alone it seems to me that no one wants to know you.
Next month is Brighton Pride, the largest such event in this country outside London (Brighton, for decades being the gay 'capital' here.) I usually go to that because it's so easy to get there and back in 20-30 minutes. It always raises my spirits in particular to see the Gay Muslim group marching. They are so brave and gutsy. I'll go to this year's but I know I'm almost certainly going to come back feeling lonely, deflated and empty inside - but there's always the chance.......

Incidentally, I'm still waiting with considerable trepidation the arrival of the new occupant of the now empty flat under me. As I write this my two pussies are here sleeping beside me. If there's trouble over their presence ......well, I daren't think what I might do.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Anne Frank's Diary - and its effect.

I'm re-reading this (in a German translation from the original Dutch) which I first read some 20 years ago when I was doing an intensive German language course in Cologne. I now find it almost unbearably poignant. So very painful in a way which I don't recall experiencing first time round, though I would certainly have found it profoundly moving, not so much in what she actually writes about from day to day, but in the light of our privileged hindsight knowledge of the ensuing fate of Anne and her family. I mention this because for some time I've become increasingly aware that with advancing age I'm becoming ever more sensitive to the sufferings of others depicted either in reality through newsreels, or otherwise represented and depicted. Even within the fictionality of the cinema, some of those films which I saw decades ago with little or no emotion on my part, I now find so harrowing that I've got to turn away or switch the damn thing off. A recent example is a video I've got of the film 'Straw Dogs' which in the early 70s I had to travel 30 miles to a nearby town to see because it had been banned by my local town council (as were also 'A Clockwork Orange', 'The Devils', 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' etc. They now get shown on prime-time TV!). But I found I had to fast-forward this 'Straw Dogs' video and look away for the rape scene, even though I knew what would happen - a practice I despise when I hear of others doing it. (It shows such disrepect for the film-makers, I would argue.) Similarly, I saw 'Sophie's Choice' at the cinema when it first appeared, of course. But a few years later I bought the video - and I've not even once played it. I just dare not subject myself to those harrowing emotions again that I remember so well. God only knows why I bought the video in the first place!
So the transformation within me, while not necessarily unhealthy, certainly gives reason to ponder. Is it part of my becoming more intolerant and reactionary as I get older? No, I'm NOT advocating banning others from experiencing what I've experienced just because I don't now approve of it for myself. Been at the wrong end of those thoughts too long not to realise the tyranny that leads to. But it's all food for thought. So back to dear Anne - I don't have to finish reading it, of course, but I feel that putting my emotions through the wringer for her cause might at least help to make me into a better person while I've still got the time.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Not a good sign.

Oh dear! Just heard that my new downstairs neighbour is to be a single (former) Czech young lady with a 2 year-old child, due to move in in a couple of weeks. Why the "Oh dear"? Apparently she's been very nosey about the financial circumstances of the family moving out - things that are none of her business. It sounds like (although I may be proved quite wrong, I hope) the type of person to complain about my having the two cats when I'm not allowed to have any pets at all - though the flat-owner was aware I had at least one and said he'd "turn a blind eye to it" - but having two!!!! That could make him tell me to get rid of them. If that were to happen I don't know what I would do. They are my best friends in the world - and my only friends 'present and in the flesh'. Hoping and praying that I'm only thinking the worst and that it doesn't work out as bad as I fear.