For nights and nights and nights I lay on my pillow, worrying, listening to the rain, even though the skies were clear and starlit and the moon shone through my window like a lantern and I wondered what else I was hearing that wasn’t there or not hearing that was until one day I had my ears syringed with warm water and the wax flowed out in little honey-coloured clumps into a dish the nurse held for me and I no longer heard it rain except when it did.
There’s a wine called ‘Barking Mad’.
I liked it so much I bought six bottles and drank them all.
Not in one night, of course.
There have been times when I have been barking mad:
Over the insurance company’s delay in fixing my storm-damaged gate because ‘it is just a gate’,
Over next door’s yippee yappy dog who goes off when I piss under the lemon tree at night alarming the neighbours and the back lights go on to see what’s up [ Can’t a man piss in peace? ]
But mostly it’s the scammer with the heavy Slav accent who phones every few days to tell me my internet has been infected and will be turned off unless I phone a certain number.
It hasn’t been turned off yet and I haven’t phoned.
Over petrol prices that go up and down like a wild week at the Dow Jones.
I could go on but you get the idea.
Everyone is a Howard Beale barking mad at something.
It was not a black cat
But a red rooster
That crossed my path this morning
On my way to gym.
As it waddled past the car
Oblivious to the honour
I had accorded it.
Why the rooster crossed the road
I do not know
Though it waddled
It had the whole day
In front of it
Provided it did not cross
Too many roads.
Someone once said to me, Expect the Unexpected.
It seemed daring at the time so I took it on board.
The only problem was because I expected the Unexpected all the time I wasn’t really surprised when it happened.
It was expected, right?
Life was losing its surprise factor.
I felt heavy as a watermelon.
My counsellor suggested — wait for it — Expect only the Expected.
So I do,
When the Unexpected happens I light up like a lantern
twinkle like a star.
It wasn’t expected, right?
I remember Uncle Bert.
He had had a stroke.
His mouth was always open
Though he never spoke.
He sat on his armchair
Alongside Aunty Pat
Who did the speaking for him.
She was good at that.
He once looked a film star
A Gable or a Flynn.
And often charmed the ladies
with a rakish grin.
But then one day he emptied
and forever after that
Loyal as a labrador
he followed Aunty Pat.
There was someone on the bridge
Curving high over the dark water
About half way along
Then there wasn’t.
Someone with a mop of ginger hair
an orange top and grey track pants
Standing against the railing
Looking wistfully out.
I looked away when a siren sounded
On the headland then looked back.
No disturbance of any kind.
No bright lithe form spearing
Through the water.
No one emerging from either end.
Just someone standing on a bridge
in a forest
Then there wasn’t.