My mornings like most I suppose are ritualistic. One of the most dangerous things I do each day is take the mask off and get out of bed. Balance is unsteady so I move very cautiously. Putting on my dressing gown proves more and more difficult - Buster Keaton slapstick except it’s for real. The walker is now essential for I’m getting increasingly tottery. I feel very unsteady with just a stick. Of course, it is a chicken and egg argument.
National radio background, a computer check comes first - emails, blog and internet headlines - before I go the lounge. There, my comfortable chair as I repair the fracture between sleep and being awake. There is fortisip – a nutritional supplement – the paper, tea, porridge, pills, a mandarin and time to catch up with Anne as we discuss the day’s news and prospects.
That early period is often fallow time. The scene is ever changing . More camellia are coming into flower. At one stage this morning the garden was alive with birds. A thrush and a pair of blackbirds were foraging on the lawn. A gaggle of sparrows waited hopeful for some stale bread or other offering. Wax-eyes compete for the fat-ball on the fence. That native pigeon squats atop the neighbour’s kowhai eating buds drat it. I’m pleased to see it but I’d like to see the kowhai in all its glory. Ten minutes later it was a deserted village – not a bird in sight.
We often share dreams. I had a vivid one last night. A little bit of background. Yesterday, Anne took Dorothy our 18-year old cat to the vet for a claw cut and check up. Booting up my computer I heard this distress cat call. Using the walker I went exploring, wondering if Anne had accidentally shut her in the garage. She hadn’t. Sensible lady, she’d seized the opportunity to put the unsuspecting animal in to its catbox. In the evening I’d watched an old film 'Marian and Robin', Audrey Hepburn and Sean Connery as Robin Hood and Maid Marian. Two old pros in action in a mildly amusing movie, plenty of action, satisfactory entertainment.
Most of my dreams have me able-bodied, lithe and supple as I once was. I wake up to the disillusionment of my present body captive to its disease. But last night’s was different. Anne and I were visiting a strange town. I was in a wheel chair and she was pushing me around new suburban streets. We came to a golf course, (Tiger Woods had been on the TV news) so she took me in. The chair got stuck in the rough and there was no one around. We were both distressed.
By a series of eclipses (of which I have only dim recollection) I was out on my own in our lane wheeling my walker round like a medieval knight while Dorothy cowered in the doorway and I kept at bay a large dog. It circled me. I recall thinking that dumb cat should be searching for Anne. The dog leapt. I usually have an eject button for when the dream merges into panic. (Hilarity is a rare dream, fear is far too common). This one worked. I woke up in a lather of sweat and the machine thumping away, the alarm showing 5 00. I wondered about getting up to make a cup of tea but I drifted off again and dozed through the alarm to emerge later than usual this morning.
I think I’d sooner have dreams that have the able-bodied Harvey. We all want to be heroes. Not the villain. Robert Shaw’s portrayal of the sheriff of Nottingham was not the usual sneering typecast villain. As a result he’s a much more interesting character. Not that I meant to write about a second-rate film. It was the one of the three DVD I have out from Fatso the rental company to which I subscribe. The other two were the French film 'Germinal' – Zola’s novel about coal-mining in north-east France is horrifyingly grim – and 'The Mikado' – Sydney Opera company. They were longer. Would my dream have been different if I’d watched them. On such trivial decisions are our actions and reactions determined.
The 2018 Book Council Lecture
2 days ago