Keep Buggering On

As one of life’s depressives, I’ve long questioned the meaning of life and what drives us on, day after day, to continue our existence in this world. And over the years I’ve learned to become content with following fellow depressive Winston Churchill’s philosophy to just ‘Keep buggering on’ – a favourite phrase of his. To me, this approach is neither about maintaining eternal optimism nor applying a tenacious, stubborn, single-track myopia to get through our daily trials and tribulations, but instead speaks more to the kind of constant Sisyphean struggle of life espoused by Albert Camus.

In Greek mythology Sisyphus is cursed to spend his days pushing a boulder up a hill, only to find it back down at the bottom every morning, where he begins his thankless task again – the ultimate Groundhog Day frustration of perpetual motion. My understanding is that Camus posited the idea that the sheer absurdity of our everyday life experience as conscious beings is at the heart of everything we do. Humankind’s never-ending search for meaning, order and control in an effectively meaningless and chaotic world creates a dynamic tension that cannot ever be tamed; ultimately it can only ever be avoided or accepted.

According to Camus the avoidance of such absurdity comes in the form of physical suicide (annihilation, a complete rejection of life) or philosophical suicide (an evasion of reality through religious belief in the promise of something better ahead). Instead he suggested a philosophy of simply embracing our lot when it comes to the absurdity of life – accepting that however hard we try we can never apply enough order and control to square the circle of life and learning to be content with that fact. Understand the inevitable difficulties we must always face in our daily grind, and learn to live with them as they are. Keep on pushing that rock up the hill every day, knowing that we’ll be doing it all again tomorrow, and effectively embracing the challenge.

To me this is closer to what Churchill meant with his oft-repeated favourite phrase ‘Keep buggering on’ – it’s a kind of stoic acceptance of whatever potential chaos is likely to be put in front of us every day and dealing with it all just as it is, in the moment, whatever it takes. It’s about struggling with the futility and inevitability of our meaningless existence, yet rising to the daily challenge and not ever giving up on life, no matter what. And that’s a pretty long-winded way of me describing what I feel drives me in life these days – a sheer bloody-mindedness not to give up, no matter what, and meanwhile hanging on and enjoying the ride as best I can…

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Drive

Fictional Fabric

How I wish I could spin a good yarn
Weave engrossing tales just like a charm
Knit elaborate plots
Thread through intricate knots
Complex patterns that comfort and warm

OK, so maybe not as genuinely, truly Stream of Consciousness writing as usual, but the whole idea came to me spontaneously and the words followed on quite quickly, so there we are, what’s done is done 🙂

Rejoining the World at Large

After so many months of full lock-down life, then a partial lifting of stay-at-home restrictions to include outdoor-only stuff, to me it feels really weird to be considering going out of the house and into an indoor business premises with other people present for something more than picking up essential groceries.

Although most of our other shops have been open again since 26th April, personally I’ve been a bit slow at getting back to browsing just for fun. Over this last year caution has become the new norm for me and for now, unless I truly NEED to look for something specific, it seems I’m OK to wait a bit longer before returning to any real semblance of retail therapy…

And I do miss going for an occasional leisurely pub lunch with my husband but I’m not sure how long it will be before we try out that out again. Right now I feel that restrictions and relaxation make uneasy bedfellows, and the thought of eating on edge makes me hold back a bit. Time-limited dining in small, cordoned-off, see-through cells doesn’t really appeal to me in quite the same way as the collective camaraderie of the old days. It’s as if the whole experience by necessity truly is sanitised beyond the point of enjoyment for me.

So for now I’ll probably stick with my half-way-house approach to rejoining the world at large. Go shopping for things in indoor public places but only when I need to, and go out to pick up an occasional takeaway meal to enjoy at home with a bottle of wine from the fridge. Still support the local economy, but safely, cautiously maintaining my distance until I feel more confident that Covid is no longer such a viable threat to our future.

Whenever that may be…

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: ‘roc’

Difference

Since going through menopause I’ve noticed a definite difference in the way perfumes smell on my skin. Old faithful fragrances find themselves out of favour these days as hormonal changes alter my ageing senses and shift my own subtle secretions so that what once smelled sweet now tends to sour slightly on my skin, musty and mouldering.

For too long I’ve been lamenting what I’ve lost instead of wondering what I might have gained by these new nuances of self. So perhaps I need a difference in my approach to match the new menopausal me? Forget the past and find new fragrances that fit my new life phase… Maybe even something bolder to suit my older years… 🙂

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Difference

Who Indeed…

Who remembers the poor bloke from Hove who went on a sales conference in Singapore last January 2020, then went on a short ski-ing trip with his family in France, then flew home to the UK in early February and went to the pub, as you do, all before realising that while at the conference he had been in contact with a delegate from Wuhan, China…? So for two weeks he had just been getting on with his life, totally oblivious to the fact that he had been infected with Covid 19 and was inadvertently passing it on to others through his normal everyday social contact.

Remember this was all pre-lock-down, pre-pandemic – in fact pre- pretty much any understanding of the significance of the devastation this particular deadly coronavirus would have on the world. The papers all jumped on the story at the time and rather cruelly named him a ‘Super Spreader’ due to his asymptomatic status. I mean, it was cruel because the poor bloke did nothing wrong other than be at the wrong place at the wrong time. He was the first Briton to be diagnosed with Covid. In February 2020. And remember he was asymptomatic, and unwittingly passed it on to several others.

So how come the UK Government claim that the reason they were (and still remain) so adamant in creating a national test and trace system that ONLY tests people with at least one of three main symptoms is that THEY WERE UNAWARE OF THE PREVALENCE OF ASYMPTOMATIC TRANSMISSION! Seriously guys, you’re the bloody Government! All you had to do was pick up a copy of any red-top tabloid back in February 2020 and they would have told you that there was clear evidence of under-the-radar transmission of the virus right from the very beginning – it was the very first case, widely reported in the usual sensational style.

But even now, one year on, if you go online to try to book a Covid test here in the UK it asks if you have at least one of three symptoms – fever, new continuous cough, and a change to your taste or smell. That’s it. If not that specific narrow selection of symptoms, or no symptoms at all, forget about it. Self-isolate if you think you’ve maybe been exposed, but officially we’re not interested in you. At all. No symptoms, no test. Yet when I caught Covid at the beginning of the year I’d already been feeling decidedly unwell for a few days before my strange sense of taste developed.

Headache, dizziness, ear-ache, sore throat – that’s how it started for me. I thought I might be coming down with flu. It was only around the fourth day when I had a strange metallic sensation in the back of my throat and developed a bit more of a cough than usual that I took a test. Things got a bit worse later on but I never did develop a fever. And had it not been for the lock-down imposed after Christmas I’d probably have been at work for those first few crucial days, so even with a mask and sanitiser and social distancing who knows how many people I might potentially have infected?

This virus has a two-week incubation period. Not everyone gets the same symptoms, and some people do not get any symptoms at all. Whether pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic, if you don’t test the entire population to see how the land lies, you can’t possibly begin to control transmission. Lock-downs alone are not the answer, not without adequate testing and tracing too. Restrictions have to be there for a reason, to tackle the problem head on not just kick it down the road to be dealt with at a later date… Grrr…!

OK, enough of a corona-rant for today – and sorry for shouting, but really, at times Boris and his gang are the absolute limit! 🙂

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Who

Scottish Parliamentary Elections

This year we’re going to be holding Scottish Parliamentary Elections on 6th May – there have been two local elections since we moved up from London 18 months ago, but this is our first ‘big’ election since living in Scotland again.

We’ve already had our voting cards arrive in the post, and a useful Government leaflet explaining the whole Scottish Parliamentary election process, but so far only one candidate flyer has dropped through out letterbox. Hopefully we’ll be getting some more through soon or we’ll have absolutely no idea who’s actually going to be running in the election, and so who to vote for!

There’s been a right stooshie lately – no, probably more of a stramash – relating to the way the Scottish Government have (mis)handled a lengthy investigation into past allegations of inappropriate behaviour by the previous Scottish National Party First Minister, leading last week to a failed Parliamentary vote of no confidence in the current Scottish National Party First Minister.

Hmmm… Not exactly setting a good example of a strong and stable leadership, having such serious squabbles at such a high level of Government just a few weeks before an election – recently it’s been far more of an ongoing soap opera saga within the highest echelons of the Scottish Parliament than pedestrian politicians on the ground doing their usual pre-election propaganda stuff.

I suppose we’ll just have to see how it all plays out in the ballot box locally and nationally in about six weeks’ time… 🙂

PS A stooshie is a row or a fracas, whereas a stramash causes more of a commotion and uproar!

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Run

Caledonian Canal: Clachnaharry Sea Lock

One of my favourite walks close to home in Inverness is to tramp along to the very end of the Caledonian Canal where it finally meets the sea at Clachnaharry Sea Lock. I’m a creature of habit so walk here a lot, sometimes with my camera and sometimes just my phone, and tend to take very similar photographs every time I go. I’d really struggle to choose a favourite image out of all I’ve ever taken because I genuinely love them all in different ways. The scenery remains pretty much the same every time, but the weather changes along with the seasons and the tides. This morning it was dry and cloudy with intermittent sunny spells but OMG it was really windy – my hair was whipping about in all directions and was in knots when I got home! 🙂

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Starts with ‘Cal’

Photo A Week Challenge: All About the Scenery

One Year On…

Amazing to think it’s been a full year since the Covid pandemic started to bite, devouring reality as we knew it and restricting and restructuring our lives in previously unimaginable ways… For this week’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday Linda wants us to write about our last year…

I know it’s already Sunday not Saturday but yesterday I just felt struck dumb – what to write? Somehow I can’t quite find the words to convey the enormity of what’s happened over these past twelve months, and of what’s not happened. So much to say – too much to say – sentence upon sentence backing up one on top of the other all ready to be let loose, and yet still a page of silence sits glaringly empty, waiting to be filled.

So I try to make some sense out of the random whirlwind thoughts whizzing around inside my head but the only sound I can hear clearly is wave after wave of whooshing white noise, interspersed with that fuzzy faraway in-and-out interference we used to get back in the old days when we tuned in a radio with a large fat dial and didn’t quite hit the right spot. It’s all there, tantalisingly close, but talking in tongues.

Maybe this is just something I can’t write about off the cuff in a stream of consciousness format? Maybe it’s something I need to break down into smaller ideas to be able to process it all properly? Maybe I just need to stop there, and come back to it later when I’ve thought it through some more…

Honesty

I meant to pick some of the tallest and strongest Honesty from my garden, to arrange it in a vase and keep it long-term, but yet here it is still gracing the flower bed at the end of February, its delicate papery grey seed pods lifting the heavy dull greens and browns of winter… I’m just so delighted to have it growing in my garden, so glad it comes back year after year… 🙂

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: ‘sty’