Friday, 20 March 2009

More of Brenda

She is sipping her coffee with mild, bemused irritation; the whole point of coming out today was to buy a birthday present for his sister. They stopped only briefly for Adrian to finish the quote he needs to send out today. It was going to be just 15mins, half an hour max… and here we are one hour later, running out of time, and… there is no sign that he might finish soon.
The girls are getting impatient and keep asking when we will go home. And, guess who will be saddled with the task of buying that present…
She was not looking forward to this shopping trip anyway; Brenda is so difficult!
It’s not that she is ungrateful; she says all the right things when opening her gifts but weeks later you find out that the lovely bubble bath is still unopened in the bathroom, RHS membership is never activated, the amaryllis bulb withers sadly in the original box…..and so on. How do you cope with that?
The only thing that gets used are the M&S gift vouchers, and even that produces another pair of black trousers or a beige cardigan!!!
There is nothing exciting or frivolous about Brenda. Oh!! If only I could shake her out of her black and beige existence!!!
Come to think of it there is nothing frivolous about Adrian either. In fact it was his steady, placid character that attracted her to him in the first place. It felt so secure and peaceful compared to her own, tumultuous and unpredictable family life. But now, fifteen years later, she has moments when she feels it would make a welcome change if, now and then, he would surprise her with a ridiculous idea, extravagant gesture, a bit of silliness…anything to break the predictability and monotony of their relationship.
There is no point talking about it, or loosing your temper; he just does not understand what she means. At time she wonders if he even hears what she is saying. The best she can draw out of him is his gentle “yeah…yeah”.
They seem so much alike: Adrian and Brenda.
Adrian does not say much about their childhood or their parents and she often wonders what it might have been like growing up with an older sister like Brenda. He is so devoted to her and so protective. With all his mildness and malleability he will not allow a word of criticism of her behaviour. How come she inspires such loyalty???

Krystyna Lysakowska

Monday, 16 March 2009

Night Flight

I am cemented in my window seat next to Jacob who attempts to sleep. I can make minor adjustments to ease the stiffness of my cramped, imprisoned body by moving centimetres at a time, and since the seat in front of me is now inclined, even to flex and stretch out my legs is a challenge. My lungs and nose feel scorched by the aircraft's mechanical lung which hums and pumps.

From time to time I consider the miracle of being transported in this pressurised metal tube that traverses land and sea with hundreds of hot sleeping forms lying in uncomfortable contortion. My legs feel like sausages on the barbeque ready to spit and burst and my head aches with a dull throb as we glide between heaven and earth.

All is dark as the cabin lights are off and all port shades drawn to keep out the brightness of the day. Those who can sleep defy the time zones and claim their night whilst others like me wrestle with our wakefulness and try to obtain the oblivion of sleep that will blot out the strangeness of this suspension. The elegant silk suited crew are watchful like exotic birds hovering over a ploughed field. They walk up and down the aisles with trays carrying jugs of water and tiny plastic cups looking to rehydrated those who catch their eye.

Imsomniacs slide into a perfectly private world through the distraction of ipods, books, or laptop films. Others cannot escape so they watch every movement of the crew and register the faces of passengers who lurch to the back of the plane to queue for toilets.

A flight is never an end in itself. Who could endure this imprisonment without some grand reward waiting to repair the wounds to body and mind made by changing continent and time zone?

As the hours pass the deck grows ever darker as remaining solitary lights are extinguished and like the strike of a night stalker's cosh I succumb to fitful sleep.


Saturday, 7 March 2009

"On Time..."

In Britain there is a great deal of store set in being “on time.”
Our nation is symbolised by a clock!
But I have come to think there is some virtue in “a little late.”

“On time” feels like a theoretical point in maths that great minds are trying to fathom – to calculate their way to – but haven’t quite got their yet.
It seems unobtainable.

I aim for “on time,” but mostly end up “a little late.”

Getting out on time is such a challenge in all our diversity:
One too old to worry,
One to young to care,
One who just doesn’t get it
Or one who’d rather not be there.

Trying to herd this group of independent individuals into the hall together and out the front door “on time” can create friction.
Better “a little late” in harmony, than “on time” in discord.

Some say “I’d rather be an hour early than a minute late”…Well honestly I wouldn’t… There aren’t enough hours in my day for that.
And what about the boy who came too early, and I mean too EARLY!

Only half ready, all skinny and small,
He couldn’t even breathe for himself,
And as for us, we weren’t ready at all.

Untold things might have been different if he had managed “a little late”

Karen Mehta 09-02-09