Time, said Woody Allen, is nature’s way of keeping everything from happening at once. Frankly nature’s not been doing such a fine job of that lately. But still, it’s slightly quieter now. And, almost without me noticing, here it is: Autumn. A huge exhale comes with. No more having to hope for sun.
It is the season for warming food and warming drinks, and music from guitars weirdly tuned. Nick Drake, crumbles, men with beards singing covers, roast dinners, Paul Simon, whisky, men without beards singing covers, baked apples, quince and medlars.
On with the wood burner, the whisky tideline falls quicker than usual, the beer stays out of the fridge. Shit it, in a few weeks it’ll be mulled cider, bonfire night and the day after that Christmas. And then the sweet optimism of New Year’s Day.
This is how an old man wishes away the year, by anticipating away the weeks and months, as well as by calling himself an old man before time. Although that’s how I feel when it’s so sodding hard to get up in these dark mornings.
And then John Cale was on the box the other night, and it occured to me that it was over a quarter of a century ago since I’d seen him. In realised that when I’d seen him, even though what is seen as his greatest stuff was two decades behind, he was about the age I am now. I used to play the Velvet’s track, below, that he sang on, before I went out in my teens. I know it’s not exactly Balearic but it does instil a strange kind of insistence that you get yourself sorted within 8mins 16seconds.
I’d give it a click rather than read this nonsense if I were you – it is one of the great tales – and, incidentally, one of the reasons why I hope to name our soon-to-arrive puppy Waldo. This won’t happen: my daughter will decide.
That mix of oddly tuned guitars and warming food I mentioned seems to be the recipe for helping me through writing whatever book I’m working on in autumn. Three autumns in a row it has worked. I shall employ the formula again, given that I am a man and we are creatures of tedious habit.
I shall break the habit at least partly though. I have a plan. It’s not a very interesting one (in fairness, I did tell you to listen to the Velvets’s track rather than read this) but I’m writing it down in an attempt to remind myself I meant to do something.
My plan relates to Diacono’s Theory of Time: time races as we get older because there’s comparatively little punctuation. Start term, then term ends, half term starts, half term ends, second half of term begins, term ends: Christmas holidays start, and so on. When you are young, life is broken up into varied, middle distance wedges, manageable slices of time. Days too: get to school, play, lessons, play, lunch, play, pinch matey’s sherbet dibdab, lessons, play, get punched by matey for pinching his sherbet dibdab, lessons, home, play, tea, play, bed.
There a few better ways of punctuating the day than smoking but what you gain on the punctuating swing, you lose on the heart attack roundabout, unless you have the sense to get yourself killed by a car driven by a man with a novelty surname. So, given that I may not take The Time Tunnel back to school, a good, non-lethal means of punctuation is what’s apparently required.
I plan to inject it by having an office outside, so that while I’m indoors writing about what I do I’m also outside in the middle of it, more able to stop for a while and do something else. I shall take pictures every day, I shall make more films, I shall record sound clips. I will taste and smell things out there every day. I notice too that the child’s day has plenty of play in it so I shall try and play a bit, but I’m not so fussed about the sherbet dibdabs. Even just having made the mental commitment, I’m taking pictures more frequently – flowers too as you can see, though I hope to put a stop to that. And if the punctuation works over the cold months, maybe I can make it stick.
Waldo the puppy, as he’s known for at least as long as I’m writing this blog, arrives in three weeks. He will, I think it’s safe to assume, ingest and excrete food at a reasonably impressive rate. As I understand it, dogs like to go for walks. I sense the potential for repeated shinbiting will compel me to answer his requests for exercise in the affirmative. This has the added benefit of stopping my legs from atrophying and punctuating the day yet more.
In doing so I hope it will stop autumn racing quite so rapidly into and out of winter towards my next birthday and hopefully it will stop me reaching John Cale’s age quite so quickly.