Thursday, 31 December 2009

A hundredweight of drivel

I think it was one of my now long-departed grandparents who said, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." Were they alive today, that same grandparent might also advise that "If you can't think of anything to blog about, then don't blog at all." Were I to follow this latter piece of advice, it's likely that this blog would be either very sparse, or (which is more likely) non-existent. The truth of the matter is that, over the last year and a bit, I've managed to say very little of consequence, but have said it a hundred times. This is indeed my hundredth post.

We've had to batten down the hatches here in Sussex over the last few weeks. The weather has been terrible, giving me an excuse to have a proper open fire in the grate, something that, coming from smoke-free London, still fills me with childish delight. The recent stormy weather has also resulted in a rather curious phenomenon. We inhabitants of Seaford found ourselves with a sandy beach. Seaford beach is usually resolutely pebbled, its mile or so of flint being marshalled and kept in place by an army of heavy bulldozers that fight to prevent longshore drift from scouring away the beach completely. But over the last couple of weeks, the storms washed away the shingle and left behind a beach that, although it didn't rival those of Thailand or the South Seas, would nevertheless have allowed the building of sandcastles. If anyone had been there to build them, that is.

It's been a funny couple of weeks. In one of my (thankfully) exceptionally rare visits to Tesco's, I saw a raincoated sixty-something man get increasingly frustrated with the self-service till. He'd bought a couple of small items, and, sensible man that he was, had decided to pay with some of those vouchers that the supermarket sometimes sends one through the post. Upon the appropriate prompt, he put the aforesaid voucher into the appointed slot. Nothing happened. Our friend then decided that the voucher must have become lodged in the machine. So, he grabbed a handful of leaflets from the counter (Clubcard application forms, I fancy they were), tore them into strips, and started to insert them into the voucher slot. Nothing happened. Then something happened; the machine disgorged the voucher. He put the voucher back in. Nothing happened. He inserted further bits of Clubcard leaflet. Out came the voucher again. By this point, I was both wearied and fascinated at the same time, so I had a discreet word with a nearby sales assistant, suggesting that the gentleman might need a little help. He was only about three feet from the assistant, but at no time did he ask for anything in the way of aid. Perhaps he was at a loose end that day and the whole thing afforded him with a little diversion. I'm not keen on those self-service machines. They always tell me there's an "unexpected item in the bagging area." That unexpected item always turns out to be my shopping. If shopping is unexpected, what would be an "expected" item? A set of false teeth, perhaps? A copy of Jude the Obscure, by Thomas Hardy? Or maybe a sense of ennui? Whatever that is.

A few days after this, I saw Mr. Toad of Toad Hall fame, outside the station. Of course, it wasn't actually a toad; it was a man. But he was sporting the kind of garb Mr. Toad would have worn to drive his car - bright yellow corduroy trousers, lovat green jacket with a red check, peaked motoring cap of a similar material. It was with great difficulty I resisted the urge to say "poop poop!" before running away. Just thought you'd like to know.

This post is in danger of turning into stream of consciousness drivel, if it hasn't already. My initial purpose was to wish you all a very happy new year. I don't make new year resolutions, and the closest Mrs. H has come to one so far this year is when she said, "I think I'm drinking too much. I think I'll just have a couple of gin and tonics." (She doesn't drink too much, dear reader!) No; I think if you resolve to make some change to your life, any time is a good time. Why wait until January the first? However, if I were to make a resolution, it would be to get something written other than this humble blog. The pilot episode of Pardon my Jaguar, perhaps? Or some more of the perpetually unpublished Middenshire Chronicles.

I think I've already taken up far too much of your time. A very happy new year to all of you, my bloggy friends. I'll see you in 2010. Perhaps then I'll have something useful and/or interesting to say. It would make a change, wouldn't it?


Frostbite and Sunburn said...

Well - on my first visit to your blog, I have much enjoyed your drivel!

Happy New Year to you and yours, and give sunny Sussex a wave for me.

chris hale said...

F & S - Thank you for your kind words, and welcome to my humble blog.

A happy new year to you and your family. I'm waving madly to Sussex as I write!

Oh My Goddess said...

Happy New Year Chris!

And Happy 100th! It was about that time that I thought I might quit blogging. I too have moments where I question what is post worthy.

I am compiling a list of what I call: Things I will never do again in two thousand and ten. I may finish it. And then post it. Who knows?

That beach of yours sounds like fun. In the summer. Winter sandcastle building anywhere besides St. Martin is too horrible a prospect.
~ Elise

chris hale said...

OMG - Hi Elise, and a happy new year to you. Thanks for your good wishes. I like the sound of that list of 'Things I will never do again'; looking forward to reading it!

rallentanda said...

I wonder if you realise that
this drivel is in fact a rich resource for writing poetry.I found myself saying 'oh there's poem.'Why not give it a shot. Mr. Toad would be a great start.

chris hale said...

Rallentanda - Hi, and happy new year. I may well have a crack at some poems; buried deep within my blog you may already have found a couple of John Betjeman style efforts!

rallentanda said...

I haven't visited your blog before
so I didn't know you wrote poetry.
Why don't you put one on for this Thursday at Read Write Poem.You will see the info on the home page
This week it's poem 108 or you could still do one for 107 which was for last Thursday.You get to read some interesting poems.I like the comments as well.Go on,be a devil!

Derrick said...

Hi Chris and Happy New Year to you and Mrs H!

100 eh? All thoroughly enjoyable, I must say. And I'm with Rallentanda (she plagues - I mean encourages - me too); you ought to do more poetry and the RWP site is a good source of inspiration for those, like me, who need it.

Still freezing, freezing up here. You might turn your sandcastle skills to snowmen?

Raph G. Neckmann said...

Bloggy New Year greetings, (as opposed to Tweety New Year!) And congratulations on your 100th. I've certainly been enjoying your 'drivel'!

I've not heard of a self service till before - if I ever find one, I shall certainly try shredding things to put into it.

We've been having great fun building snow sculptures here - maybe a mixed media sand and snow sculpture would be something to try?

mo.stoneskin said...

Sounds very wise, not too many G&Ts...maybe I should borrow that one!

chris hale said...

Rallentanda - You know, I might just take you up on that challenge!

Derrick - And a happy new year to you too! With more snow forecast for this week, there might well be a few more Sussex Snowmen around.

Raph - And new year greetings to you as well. If I get bored sculpting with sand and snow, I can always fall back on the Sandy Butter, AKA Sussex Brandy Pebble-Dash!

Mo - Seasonal greetings to you. Feel free to borrow away!

Madame DeFarge said...

Hurrah for the Old One Hundreth. And I also loathe Tescos and their self-service nonsense. I like grumbling as I wait for the assistant to squash everything into one bag. Happy 2010.

chris hale said...

MDF - A happy new year to you too. My car being snowed in, I have been shopping locally this week, and there seems to be something of the "wartime spirit" amongst the local populace; a kind of cheerfulness in the face of shared adversity, if you will. I hope it remains after the snow has melted away!