Procrastinator’s Advent Blog Day 12: A short walk on 2nd January 2021

Inspired by walking in snow and certain other references from yesterday’s post Ridiculously late Advent Blog Day 11: I wish I’d gone out earlier I recalled and looked out this note I made of a short journey on foot which took place on 2nd January 2021.

Photo by Yash Lucid on

Still self-isolating as much as possible as we move towards what I believe will be the most dangerous time in mid-January, I decide to make a short trip through snow and ice to a nearby shop to buy groceries. It is mainly for the exercise I have promised myself that I leave my car on the driveway and walk my hiking boots to what would usually be a very busy street. The vehicular traffic is minimal, pedestrians rare.

In the below-zero temperature, apart from the deserted clarity of the streetscape, the first thing that strikes me is the aroma of ‘weed’. I could not see any smokers in my line of vision, a line of vision which stretched far and wide, but the smell was unmistakably hanging in the pure chill suspended around me. Captured in the air there was an eerie wintry stillness which it seemed almost wrong to penetrate and there was an illegal aroma which made me want to giggle about its unexpectedness and unlikely presence in this residential neighbourhood’.

Better stop there. Just realised that that is the second reference I have made to a certain illegal substance in as many days. I contemplated applying imagination to my note, turning the above factual account into a bit of magic realism but that will have to wait for another occasion.

I am concerned that if I do my references to snow will be interpreted as slang for another illegal substance. Placing magic realism or other mixed fact and fantasy on top of that would undoubtedly lead to the entirely misleading impression that such substances assist me in my creative tasks.

I am aware that many artists, including poets, visual artists and musicians I greatly admire, have found recreational drugs valuable in their explorations and credit some of their artistic innovation and personal discovery to such use.

I am not sufficiently knowledgeable to debate their claims. It may be that I shall never find my true potential. I accept that I may never reach the level of nirvana they seek, even with my irregular practice of meditation. But that is the choice I have made.

So expect to bump into me a few stages lower than nirvana, at whatever boring level you reach following a glass or three of red wine.

Advent Blog Day 4: August Dream

Unbelievably, it has happened again.

In my original notes for 4th December 2020 (intended for my belated Advent Blog) I began by mentioning that it was the birthday of one of my sisters.

Using that as a jumping off point I drafted a poem which started off with a nonsense name for my sister which had arisen in an exchange of text messages just a few days before when she contacted me on what would have been my late wife’s birthday.

The problem (not really a problem) is that I have looked again at that rough draft poem I started almost six weeks ago, and have decided it has the bare bones of something quite different for me which has the potential to become a good poem.

So, as before, I cannot include it here in case I wish in future to submit it for publication somewhere else.

However, by happy coincidence I have rediscovered yet another piece of CNF prose which was published some years ago on a Scottish Book Trust site. Although the month in which the story is based is some distance from the Advent Season, it is a story which has now become a winter meditation for me.

August Dream

One stormy night in August 2015 I awoke from dreaming and felt compelled to write down immediately an account of the vivid nocturnal events I had just experienced; this is a personal record kept secret until now. 

I drove to my best friend’s house at some ungodly hour. I wanted to speak to him but only got the opportunity to speak to his wife, also a dear friend. She was in a bad way, upset even before I opened my mouth, irrational when I tried to converse. Everything I said seemed to annoy her, get her more upset and angry, and the whole thing escalated quite out of control.

Don’t ask me what we discussed during the two minutes that she went from upset to explosive. I honestly can’t remember; nothing of consequence. All I can tell you for sure is how the exchange ended. She was screaming, shaking and in floods of tears as she ordered me out of the house, telling me never to come back. I kept asking what was wrong, if I had done something wrong, but got no answer only screams and tears. Then she handed me a half empty bottle of liquor, Jack Daniels I think, and pushed me outside.

I felt broken. I hadn’t got to speak to my friend. His reliably civilised wife, whom I also treasured, seemed to have given up gentle manners for screaming hate. I was walking away from their house, in the dark and rain, puzzled and desolate, wet and cold, with a half empty liquor bottle in my left hand. I had no idea what had just happened.

I got back to my car. As I checked the rear view mirror I saw a dark silhouette caught against the light of their doorway. An easily recognised silhouette, it was my best friend, a beloved man. I wanted to stay but pride and hurt prevented me. How dare his little wife, supposed to be a friend of mine, eject me unceremoniously from the house he shared with her! Surely he must know something about it. Was he complicit? Getting his wife to do the dirty work? What did he tell her to make her so crazy? As the anger rose in me I put the accelerator to the floor and shot away, the sound of spinning wheels throwing up gravel.

Soon after, aware that I was being followed along the country roads and fairly sure even in the blinding rain by whom, I pulled into the courtyard of a small public house. I got out of the car and rushed to shelter in the canopied doorway of the pub. A familiar vehicle parked behind mine and I was joined under the doorway by my best friend. He did not waste time but got to the apology straight away. No explanation, much slow head shaking and sincere words of regret. I asked why she’d behaved as she did, and he appeared to try to put together some words, but it was just mouthing, mouth motions without any sound, words I could not hear or lip-read.

Photo by Elti Meshau on

I had to be content, and was content with the sincerity of his gaze, the genuine regret expressed not only in his eyes but his whole demeanour. I didn’t know if she was sorry but he was and he seemed to be trying to tell me that she had her reasons, nothing to do with me… 

Then, as I started to wake I experienced again feelings of puzzlement, desolation and growing anger. Next there was a welcome moment of contentment that my friend still cared, still loved me, but this was replaced in an instant by the distressing remembrance and realisation that he and his wife, my two beautiful friends, had both passed away within the last year.

The sadness returned tenfold and I wished I was still asleep.