I sit and sip my cheap red wine – the three-day growth will take a couple of days – and wonder and ponder and think. Hayfever frequently distracts from this idle speculation about nothing in particular. Fitzgerald used the word abstract a lot in this regard: abstraction, an abstract countenance, looked abstractedly … I think I’m abstracting right now. Regular sneezes and nose blows are necessary and I can’t always be quick enough on the draw to have my handkerchief out and ready when my nostrils explode with a fine mist of watery goo. Recently an etiquette expert appeared on TV talking about dating advice for people in the 1930s and some practice that we no longer see was briefly discussed, involving a gentleman somehow intervening with the aid of his handkerchief. She said, as an aside, that contemporary women should hold on to a man who uses a handkerchief. Bonus! I thought, I’m a long-time hanky user. If long-time means literally forever – since I could dress myself, in fact since I needed help dressing myself, and that’s quite a long time now. I remember one day going to preschool and realising as I arrived with Dad that I didn’t have a hanky in my pocket. My rather natty cord trouser pockets wouldn’t have had anything else in them: four year-olds don’t tend to carry wallets, or, we didn’t then, and there were no mobile phones in 1980. (I wonder how we all coped without mobile and digital technology then. The fact is we coped just fine.) A vivid recollection is of later this day, a day not unlike today, when playing on the fort, or whatever we called it at St. Anthony’s where I went to pre-school, the same apparatus which I split my chin open playing on. Spring sprung in a quite dramatic way and my nose started to react and I sneezed a few times, quite spectacularly, and there was thick snot all over the place, but in particular all over my face and it needed to be removed and as I had no small cloth to do the wiping the only thing for it was to use my sleeve. The sleeve of my jumper was thus smeared with a thick discharge that glowed almost silver in the September light. I felt at the time that it was gross and I was embarrassed … but as a little kid, and in particular a little boy, I soon forgot all about that and continued playing and learning and doing whatever else it was that we did at pre-school. (Main memories are the fort and sandpit, painting, lessons, mostly painting, ‘sharing’ a really cool trike with other kids and some kids who didn’t have brothers and sisters did not get the concept of sharing, photos pinned on a notice board, sleep time with my koala bear toy Blinky, playing a shepherd in a Christmas play, and getting up to exceptionally naughty hijinks with my friend Simon one day while the teacher was out of the room and getting away with it, I think. I wasn’t a naughty kid, not at all, but while the cat’s away …) Laetitia has expressed a range of disgusted attitudes at the very concept of the handkerchief, ranging from playfully stating that it’s not the most hygienic method of sorting out sinus issues all the way to picking up an example of the offensive item with the tips of her fingers, as if the thing contains Ebola or touching it will cause her to start liking to watch sport on TV. Fair enough, it’s a bit gross. I accept that. But it’s not that bad. They aren’t nose nappies. Or maybe they are – but nose nappies are better than bum nappies, surely?

The foregoing was an elaborate way of communicating that today was a little warm, with the prospect of more to come. In some ways this is exciting. The Premier League season has started, footy finals are about to launch and there are cool things on the horizon in the warmer months. But in another way it’s almost depressing. Why can’t it be cooler longer? Why can’t it at least be cool when it’s time to go to sleep? And I enjoy so much to wear the winter clothes. Jackets and scarves and pants. OK, pants are pretty much a key all year round, when going to work, although some seem to feel comfortable in shorts, but I would like to live in a climate where wearing pants is only an uncomfortably hot option for a few weeks a year.

The cyclamen wasn’t happy today. And I’m not sure I am either. I should focus on footy and the Melbourne Cup, my second birthday – that’ll get me tapdancing. The plants are optimistic. They told me.

Published in: on September 1, 2010 at 8:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

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