Chasing the old black dogMar 30th, 2009 | By Ian Poulton | Category: Personal Columns
The return of the light nights seems to have taken forever; the temperature still remains obdurately low. In former times, when being wealthy one day was still a dream, the idea of switching hemispheres at the equinoxes seemed attractive – France from March to September and Australia from September to March. No more grey Novembers; no dim, dark days of Christmas; no January blue Mondays; no searching for signs of spring in February. A recurrent dream was waking in the early hours of a January morning to see bright sunshine all around.
Perhaps the darkness of the days was no more than an excuse; an attempt at rationalisation; a seeking after an explanation of why the world was grey and far away and why no task was simple. There could equally be moments in May or June when lightness was as difficult to find; when a heavy fog filled all perspectives. Sometimes, the clouds would break and beams of sunshine would transform the greyness; but, just as quickly, the chinks would close over and the weighed down feeling would return.
Retrospectively, chunks of time appear under a shadow. Perhaps it was because little happened to mark the passing of the days, like low lying land beyond a hill, weeks and months would disappear beyond some major event.
The absurd counting of time still persists, it is 17 weeks and two days until the summer holidays, but the shadows are no more than intermittent.
The weekly glass of Croft Original Sherry one Sunday lunchtime after a morning on which most of the congregation stayed at home brought a sense that things, on the whole, were not so bad; that the objective realities of life were very good, the problem lay in perceptions and the perceptions were shaped by chemical balances, or imbalances.
If it was a matter of chemical processes within the brain, then there must be a way of adjusting the processes. ‘Plenty of exercise’ advised the one half reasonable pastoral response; much wiser advice than plenty of glasses of sherry.
Going for a walk every night; walking the East Pier every Saturday morning; never taking the car into town if the journey can be made by foot and public transport; slowly the low cloud cover has been pushed upwards to make way for something no worse than an overcast day. Perhaps overcast is the best for which to hope; leopards do not change their spots, even after a second glass.
Moments, like black thunderstorms on August days in France, still strike; a mood of happiness can be replaced a minute later by a deep despondency. Most times, though, it is manageable. Most times, the only black dogs are the pair of mongrels pulling at their leashes as we amble down Church Road.