Friday, 17 December 2010

No news today

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

When my sister is feeling a bit gloomy, she refuses to watch the news. She takes some time off from the world, avoids shouting newspaper headlines and sensationalist bulletins, and feels vastly better.

The news junkie in me is torn between disapproval and envy. I have a very strange idea that somehow, as a concerned citizen, it is my duty to know what is going on. (I have absolutely no clue where this comes from.) There is a sort of first-world guilt imperative that tells me if the women of the Congo or the people of the Ivory Coast or the democracy campaigners in Burma have to go through what they are going through, the least I can do is read about it. I can't work out if this is correct, or utterly pointless.

In some ways, it is a fruitless argument to have with myself, since I am so driven by curiosity that I cannot stay away from the events of the world for long. The first thing I do each morning is switch on the radio. My waking thought is: what the hell is happening? I burn for the latest news, as if all kinds of amazing things might have taken place while I was sleeping. (In the case of the cricket, this is literally true.)

Today, I had so many practical things to do that the radio stayed off. I needed silence to organise my mind. There was the wrapping of the godchildren's presents, the finding of the addresses, the parcelling everything up, the trip to the post office. There was the making of a good woman soup for my mother. (This is what she calls her version of soupe bonne femme, which she taught me to make when I was young.) There was a last piece of work to do, before I shut up shop for the holidays. I actually sought permission from my co-writer, who sent back an email saying STOP WORK NOW. I so love her when she says things like that. There was the walking of the dogs and the taking of the day's photographs.

And now I sit before you and realise that I have absolutely no clue what is going on. Not even a sniff of news. There could have been a coup in Whitehall and I would not know about it. I think my sister is right; it is rather restful. I feel quite calm and happy. It is like being on board ship, or in a distant place where radio waves cannot penetrate. There is just me, and the snow outside my window, and the dogs, dozing on the sofa. I am smiling as I write.

Of course the scratch scratch scratch of curiosity is already setting up in my brain, like a mouse coming in from the cold. When I finish this, I shall almost certainly sneak off to the internet and see who is doing what, and where. But half a day without The News is rather a lovely thing.


Today's pictures are of, surprise surprise, snow and dogs, with a little Christmassy stuff thrown in for fun.

The wall:

17th Dec

The old chestnut tree, looking almost like a painting in the light:

17th Dec 2

My favourite dazzling little beech:

17th Dec 4

The grandeur:

17th Dec 3

The mandatory eating of the snow:

17th Dec 7

17th Dec 6

(I think they must assume it is some kind of delicious sorbet.)

And, of course, the heavenly snow on the nose:

17th Dec 5

My brother-in-law sometimes says, with heavy irony: are you sure those dogs are comfortable enough? I think probably yes:

17th Dec 16-4

The decorations by daylight:

17th Dec 8

I am not having a tree this year, the thought of all those fallen pine needles everywhere made me too tired, so all the baubles have gone into bowls instead:

17th Dec 12 17th Dec 9

17th Dec 11

17th Dec 14

17th Dec 19-4

The chimneypiece:

17th Dec 20-4

I cut some little bits of pine and put them in glasses everywhere, which is giving me stupid amounts of pleasure:

17th Dec 18-4

17th Dec 15

These are my favourite decorations of all - little silver hearts made out of jingling bells:

17th Dec 10

Finally, a rather enchanting view of the hill:

17th Dec 1

The moon is up outside my window now, and the sky has turned the colour of cornflowers. Everything is very still. I hope you are having a little Christmas spirit, wherever you are.


  1. I've had very much the same experience. In early 2006, deeply depressed and feeling that the world was run by sociopathic bullies, I dropped out for a while, and was amazed at how much better and more serene and hopeful I became. I largely managed to avoid the news all through the 2008 primary season (as Barack Obama was very much of my old neighborhood, he would get my vote) and the addiction started again. It was quite a euphoric high, actually. We would go into deep crisis in September of 2008, but he would make things O.K. again once he got into office.

    And now I find myself switching on the classical music station instead of NPR, listening to old BBC dramatizations on my iPod instead of current public talk and news programs, and trying not to lie awake at night wondering how we ended up electing the Neville Chamberlain of American politics. I too have always felt that being well-informed is a civic duty that must not be shirked, but these days, it seems that adherence to duty would destroy my mental health.

    I don't comment much on your blog, but just wanted to say that your posts (and photos!) are generally one of the highlights of my daily online reading.

  2. I am like you in that way - I have to watch the news and one thing I do is always read the obituaries. I cannot understand this myself but even here in Melbourne I go online to the Sri Lankan paper to read who has died!!!! There is no point in analysing this. My children find this reading of the obituaries hilarious.

    Thanks as usual for the pictures, the trees look so very, very beautiful. We haven't a single Christmas decoration up because I am just too lethargic to do anything and my daughter is so busy rushing around I don't think it has dawned on her that the house looks very bare.

  3. I can totally understand you getting turned on by those fluffly and noble looking scottish pines in the glasses. They do look wonderful, especially against the orange of the Penguins!!!
    I also like your idea of doing away with the tree, bringing out instead all its elements in different guises. It's all there, just not assembled! Brava.
    Let's enjoy, in the next few days, getting into the frame of mind of giving precedence to our inner and 'local' dimension.
    The snow and blizzards should help!:) Cristina (Violet)

  4. Staircase Witch - what a fascinating comment. And such a very fine closing compliment. The idea of being someone's daily reading is very touching to me. Thank you.

    Mystica - love the picture of the children chuckling at your reading of the obituaries. :)

    Cristina - so very pleased you like the fluffy pines. I gathered them from the ground and then arranged them, and I can't tell you how much pleasure it gave me.

  5. Dear Tania, your decorations look absolutely beautiful. I especially love the silver bell hearts and the view of the hill is stunning. I'm feeling the Christmas spirit now as of today. Have a wonderful weekend xx

  6. Christina - so pleased you like the dear old hill. It's what I see from my garden, and I am rather obsessed with photographing it at the moment. So glad you are in the Christmas spirit. Here's to the lovely festive spirit. (Am actually contemplating making some mulled wine.)


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