Sunday, March 9, 2008

Staring at the moon

A few minutes ago I saw the new moon, a tiny silver paring reclining on her back, straight out over the garden. Since then the clouds have thickened and the rain is now lashing the window. The new moon represents good luck to me, although perhaps luck is a mistaken word for it - luck doesn't draw the tides in and out. For all the power associated with a full moon, it's the perennial renewal of the bare sliver that inspires me.

Of course technically the moon was new on Friday night, only then there was nothing to see. Perhaps if I could never see the moon, if I weren't aware of the cyclical dance in the sky, I would feel no effect from it. I don't really think it matters whether I would or not: she's there as my point of reference, an exterior anchor in my overly-internalised world, humbling but affirming. Sometimes my thoughts feel like narration in a book, and what I see seems like the view through the windows of my eyes. I'm half asleep, a ghost haunting my body rather than living in it. The new moon catches my wandering mind: along with the energy to start afresh comes the realisation that a lifetime's moons are numbered. They are not infinite, and this gives them their value and their power.

The skull and the hourglass that have been emblems of fear to me for so long should really be friends, helping to count out the hours and thereby provide them with their energy. I have always privileged the universal, the timeless and the general, but all they consist of is massed ranks of the personal, the present and the individual. It is impossible and unnecessary to run away into immortal abstractions: the everyday present, and the usual two-legged human existence that everybody else thrives in, is more real. Shivers and sighs and yelps underpin the most elegant metaphor. The comfort of a full stomach, a good night's sleep and a shared bed are as much to be prized as any intellectual achievement. It's just yet another oddness of mine that I have to stare at the moon to work all this out.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

At last, a stylish fly swat!

I ate my lunch today in the company of one of those catalogues that remind you why you want to live in a mud hut.

The list of things you can buy from such an emporium of good taste and necessities is inspiring: battery powered tea lights; the name of a star; a bag of luck (shamrock seeds in a brown paper bag - for £9); £96 worth of silver plated bucket (for cooling Champagne, obviously); and a wooden sign consisting of letters to spell out the word "think"... just in case you need a little reminder.

This company is very keen on soaps. A deep pink, heart-shaped offering, hand made in France, is suggested as ideal for a girlfriend or a mother-in-law(??) Even more telling is the rationale proposed for purchasing a boxed set of soaps made to look like birds' eggs: "It's the smallest details which linger in visitors' minds. These ravishing soaps... make a memorable impact." Did you know that the warmth of your hospitality was gauged by the quality of the toiletries you provide? Brown sugar cubes shaped so as to perch on the rim of a coffee cup will afford "your chance to be the hostess with the mostest" and are "perfect for baby showers" - I had a feeling the luxurious lifestyles of our American cousins might have had an impact here somehow.

A thing is never quite what it might be until somebody sells it to you. A tablecloth is jubilantly described as being "from Cabbages and Roses, a brand that is very well established and sought after." So that's all right then. A casserole, which I notice is free from such encumbrances as handles, is of undisclosed materials, but it's OK because we know both who designed it and that it will arrive "exquisitely wrapped".

All this from a firm which proudly declaims William Morris's dictum, "have nothing in your house which you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful".