Sunday, 1 December 2013

Wood smoke

Today started rather badly. I went all low blood sugar and then drove into Crouch End to pick up £90-worth of photographs from Snappy Snaps, which had been disastrously and universally badly printed. All the excuses came out; what works visually for one customer doesn't for another, exposure is subjective, the large borders you've asked us to add to these pictures make the images look much darker, what you see on our screens doesn't match what you see in the pictures... I told them I'd been taking photographs for thirty years, which was long enough to recognise bullshit, and eventually they begrudgingly agreed to do the pictures again after I'd tugged at their heart strings and pointed out that I simply wanted to be able to see the faces of the people I love, staring out of the photographs I'd taken.

It put in a fowl mood and made me late for the next part of my day, the far more pleasurable task of meeting up with Little Michelle, who'd agreed to come with me on a mission to deliver a few more post cards. We spent two hours trolling around Highgate Village, daring each other to go up the garden paths of the grandest looking houses; properties belonging to people like George Michael and Victoria Wood, who are too famous to have letter boxes...

Michelle very much brightened things up, but the sinking feeling returned when one woman rushed out of a house we'd just fliered and said, "no, no, no... there used to be a  sign on my door saying that I didn't want any junk mail." "Well there's no longer a sign, so, as I'm not psychic, I'd say your house was fair game." I don't remember what was then said. All I know is that a red mist descended. The woman made me feel ashamed, like a beggar. I remember telling her I thought she was rude. I remember her saying that she didn't want junk mail in the future and me saying, "there won't be a future.  Do you think I do this for a living?" I departed telling her that I hoped she enjoyed the leaflet, and spent the next half an hour fuming.

In retrospect, of course, I realise the argument was all about my insecurities. I turned her into an ogre and got shirty because it made me feel less worthless. It suited me to imagine her as a rich Highgate snob, when actually, she was trying to deal with me as politely as she could. What upsets me is that my outburst plainly shocked her and possibly made her feel a little frightened. So I shall put a copy of the Requiem through her door tomorrow with a note of apology. It's the least I can do. And frankly, if no one's buying them, I might as well give them away! I'd sooner the piece was heard.

From Highgate I picked Tina up in East London and we drove up to the wood smoke-scented village of Thaxted, where we drank tea and ate cake and convincingly won a quiz in the village hall. It was a brilliant night, and I have a bottle of champagne and one of red wine to show for our victory. I'm sure the champagne will be consumed by a passing alcoholic and I can use the red wine for gravy. I've decided I quite like the taste of alcohol after the alcohol's been burned off and a stock cube has been added.

We came out of the quiz to an astonishing light display in the heavens. The night sky was pitch black and the stars were supremely bright.

As we drove home, just as I was telling Tina about phantom misty light displays on the roads around Thaxted, a hare rushed out into the road in front of us. I was going slowly enough to avoid it, and catch the creature in full beam as it stared hopelessly at the car. That's the second hare I've seen in as many months. I wonder what that means...

It was so lovely to spend the evening with Tina and my family...

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