green sheepdogs and other matters

The accumulation of 30 years of trinkets, books, clothes, computers, cameras, lenses, photos, boxes, printers, pens, pencils, sketchbooks, posters, correspondence, trophies, nik-naks, invites, scarves, empty wine bottles, a Big Mouth Billy Bass, a no entry sign, traffic warning lights, alarm clocks, stationery, paperwork, school files, uni files, cds, dvds, videos, birthday cards await my attention. Most to be packed for storage, some to be brought to Scotland. My earnest intention to properly sift through it all, chucking the needless - which is plentiful - and carefully organising and packing the rest, will come to naught. It will be frantic and emotional. There will no doubt be one thing placed in a certain box that brings it all home and tears will follow. Or not. I'm quite numb about it - the urgency and anxiety of this whole house shenanigan has been replaced by an urgency and anxiety to just leave.

Gazing about the Belfry at the piles of stuff that in some way plots the course my life has run gives me the curious desire to just leave it all. Slice through the umbilical cord that is the sentimental attachment to inanimate objects, keep only what's practical and fits a small backpack and leave, with no forwarding address. The backpack would have The Essays of E. B. White, several notebooks, including the new suede one which would double as a sketchbook, several pens, a toothbrush and toothpaste, a clean pair of boxers and a pair of socks. And a spare t-shirt.

Alas, it's a combination of cowardice and sentimentality that keeps me here. It's six of one and half dozen of another. There's also a sense of duty; to help my folks this one last time through the next month - if that's another six, then there's 18 in total. But the three fit so easily together like puzzle pieces that it's hard to tell which one excuses the other.

Rain hit us quite hard early this morning. It's a testimony to how hot it is still, that by the time I ran the ground was mostly dry. The air was not, it was as though the city and river were sweating the rain water back skywards and it was like running in a sauna. As I sweat last night's beer, the city sweat out its morning drink. It was like jogging in one of those water cycle diagrams you had to study in school.

Running today brought some rare surrealism. Crossing to the Barnes side of the Thames, I looked across the water to the Chiswick path I'd just left. The ag├ęd willows, drooping over the river, looked like giant green dogs, stooped on their forepaws to lap at the water. Some like sheepdogs, some like bloodhounds, I couldn't shake the image as I ran into the woods, wondering for the life of me if someone across the river was looking at the willows I was running by and thinking how much they looked like dogs.