Thursday, 3 February 2011

Tunnel Vision

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

I can't think about the world today.

I know that is the kind of thing that a privileged person living in an open democracy can say. My bleeding liberal heart feels oddly guilty about it. It is a strange form of magical thinking: as if I, in my distant Scottish room, have some sort of moral duty to contemplate the events in Cairo. It is as if my irrational mind believes that I could make things better in Tahrir Square by the mere act of paying attention. It is absurd, but then the more I write this blog, the more I realise I am a creature of absurdity.

I can't do the world, because my sleep patterns are still erratic and I have bashed out 1032 words and that's all the hard thinking I am capable of today. My cerebellum has gone to hell and that's all she wrote.

Outside, there is the suspicion of snow. There is the smell of cold and metal in the air. A hurried wind from the North-West is pushing stray leaves about; they make little scudding, clicking noises as they hit the ground. The ancient chug of my boiler reassures me that I may stay warm as the weather grows cold again. The light is very pale, washing the colour out of everything.

I return to thoughts of the domestic. I must take my library books back and make some soup for my mother. If I were very good, I might tidy the fridge (that cauliflower really does need eating up). It's not revolution and high politics, but it is life, Jim, pretty much as we know it.


Pictures of the day are of the morning walk. I set out into the freezing cold with only one glove, stupidly. (No idea where the other one is.) I stumped crossly into the wind, my fingers starting to go numb, thinking I should only stay out for five minutes. The day was dank and dour and there was no pleasure in it. But then the dogs starting having their customary lovely time, and I found some buds and a bit of lichen I liked, and a good song came on the iPod and I sang along, only slightly out of tune, and suddenly there was a point. The wind became bracing instead of angry; I found fascination in seeing how the low light had changed the colours of everything since yesterday. I smelt the coming snow and marvelled at the clarity of the air.

Pale views:

3rd Feb 3

3rd Feb 4

3rd Feb 4-1

Lichen on tree:

3rd Feb 5

Wall and leaves:

3rd Feb 1

Lovely green:

3rd Feb 7-1

More washed-out trees:

3rd Feb 9

I love this tree root. It looks like an antediluvian dinosaur's claw:

3rd Feb 8-1

I am slightly obsessed with this pile of logs. They have been recently cut, and I stare at them each day with as much pleasure as if they were an art installation:

3rd Feb 8

The delicacy of the young tree trunks:

3rd Feb 11

3rd Feb 12


3rd Feb 12-1

My dear old hedge, which got a brutal cutting at the end of last season, as I had let it grow entirely out of hand. Now I think it looks almost like a sculpture:

3rd Feb 13

Harbingers of spring:

3rd Feb 2

3rd Feb 14

The lesson I keep repeating to myself in my head is: even on the dullest, rawest day, there is something beautiful to look at, if only I open my eyes.

And on beauty -

Contemplating the best way to jump over the cattle grid:

3rd Feb 5-1

I am thinking about it:

3rd Feb 6

And off we go:

3rd Feb 7

Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair:

3rd Feb 9-1

I have no time for poetry, I just want a BISCUIT:

3rd Feb 10

Today's hill, in a low sort of mauve. If you look very closely, you can see the tiny black specks in the trees which are a clattering of jackdaws, taking their ease:

3rd Feb 15

One final thought:

I have been thinking lately that my tendency to bang on a bit and dash off on tangents means that these blog posts are often too long. People have busy lives and can't be wading through acres of online prose each day. I resolved to be more pithy. But today, I have given you a brief blog, and my irrational feeling is that somehow I have short-changed you.

This is odd, since many of the blogs I love the most are composed of nothing more than two or three lines and a photograph. It also interests me that I have an idea that there is a right or a wrong. (I know I have spoken of this before, but it is an enduring idea as I wrestle with an entirely new medium.)

I love doing this blog, and I do it for pure pleasure. I have also found that it is a good discipline for writing. Yet somewhere, in the back of my mind, is always the idea that there is some mysterious gold standard to which I should aspire. (At this point, my sister would laugh her head off and say, yes yes, that damn perfectionism which we have both inherited. It does not matter how many psychology books one reads or shrinks one sees, one can never quite shrug off that perfection genie.)

And now I must go and check on the soup.

PS. Of course the great irony is that by the time I finished musing on the brevity of this post, it was not brief at all, but the usual rambly tangle of thoughts. Perhaps that is the point of the whole shooting match: not diamond-sharp coherence, but entirely human ramble.

Or, not.


  1. I love your 'ramblings' Tania and I read EVERY word you write. I love everything about your blog; your tone, your thoughts about the world out there, your thoughts about your world. And for me out here in a world of heat, cyclones and floods it is a privilege to watch your world as it moves through its own seasons. Don't change a thing.

  2. Oh Connie, that is so kind and touching that it makes me a bit teary. THANK YOU. Keep safe in your extreme weather.

  3. Dear Tania, I read your blog every day for the quotidien, political, artistic and utterly human prospectives that you give us through your words every day. I find it inspiring but also quietly reassuring in the way you metodically process what matters to you and the honesty in which you share your considerations. Above all the generosity of your spirit that manifests itself everywhere in so many little ways (I love the Bonus Posts!!).
    So there: I think you are sitting on it, that misterious gold standard, just like in that lovely Dog Island picture.

  4. Cristina - what an incredibly lovely thing to say. Am very touched. Can't thank you enough.

  5. "The lesson I keep repeating to myself in my head is: even on the dullest, rawest day, there is something beautiful to look at, if only I open my eyes."

    Gold standard, in my humble opinion.

    I read you every day and your words never fail to touch me and remind me of the essence of life. It is one of the highlights of my day (and I've recommended you to my closest friends too, not something I do lightly).

    Stop worrying and keep writing, especially for us lurkers.

    Thank you.


  6. Ms. K, I was reading your post, thinking once again how alike we are when I got to the part about the one glove and actually guffawed out loud! I came to work this morning with only my right glove! I only wish I could express our similar thoughts as well as you. You are doing an amazing job figuring out the blogosphere and I adore your work. - susan

  7. Tania - I agree entirely with Rachel: your blog is the gold standard. It is the only blog I read daily because I find everything about it pitch perfect.

    While you are on one side of the world fretting over your posts, I am on the other hoping you won't change a thing.

    I do understand the perfection genie. Some of us are cursed by her without the wherewithal to deliver. You are visited by her and hold your own in every way that matters.

    I feel like I have a lovely pen-friend, only you do all the work! Here's to social media and Backwards in High Heels. :)

  8. blogs just vary- long short or medium sized they are good when they are good- and yours most definitely are!

    I know how you feel about not being able to think too much on Egypt- also closer to home my country seems to be collapsing around me and no one seems cross enough- it just makes me want to sit down in a heap I'm afraid and I feel so guilty I'm not doing more.

    Closing libraries and the world service and things that seem unimaginable and wrong and the money saved probably doesn't touch the sides of the banks- and no one seems to really care.

  9. Rachel - how kind you are. The very BEST kind of lurker.

    Susan - thank you so much. Am so glad I am not the only gloveless person wandering around in slight befuddlement. Did actually find the missing one today, stuffed under a cushion for no reason I could fathom.

    Michelle - as always, you are so generous and kind. Thank you.

    Rose - so agree about the heap. The libraries especially are making me hysterically sad. I have been meaning to do a post on it, but the whole thing seems so insoluble I do not know where to start. I think that is why sometimes I just have to concentrate very hard on the dogs and the lichen, although that really is not exactly pulling one's weight.

  10. I love your long posts. The longer the better as far as I'm concerned. Ramblin or focussed both are good.

    However, as I normally read them either on my phone or on google reader I have to say that sometimes I find the volume of photos harder to deal with. The photos are gorgeous and I love your commentary with them, but I guess I'm not as much a visual person (when it comes to blogs) as verbal one.

  11. Oh, and whilst I do read other comments on posts I've commented on (because they come to my inbox) I absolutely don't expect a blogger to respond personally to my comment (though it's lovely when they do).

    What I really, really appreciate though is frequency of blogging. I love the fact you blog so much. (The fact I don't blog regularly shows how much I appreciate the effort.)

  12. Cal - thank you so much. So pleased you like the rambles, and also the daily blogging. I decided to do that partly because I like reading the blogs I love every day, and get impatient for more content, and also because it is actually easier for me. If one gets into the habit of daily blogging, then it does not become a big thing in one's head. Do understand about the problem of photographs and the loading. Never quite sure what to do about that. But hope too many visuals do not put you off.

  13. Wow, what a speedy reply to me. I feel honoured.

    Actually the photos load speedily, it's just that I don't get the full glory of them particularly so tend just to scroll past them unless you've got a particularly pithy comment on one.

    As I said, personal, if you enjoy putting them all up and others enjoy seeing them that's great. I don't dislike them (how on earth could I? glorious Scotland and beautiful dogs), just prefer the writing and would be perfectly content with one or two pictures.


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