19 march 2002 more real than we know

15:30: Not been here for over a week - what a difference, all the daffodils are in full bloom, and so is the rhododendron, with vivid fuchsia blossoms, and two magnolia trees, all white blossom but with no leaves as yet. As I walk along the gravel promenade I feel hot, perhaps I have too many clothes on for the time of year. But for the last few days it's been cold and windy and wet - even stormy - in pacific London - where the weather is milder than in the rest of the country.

And now specks of rain threaten to stop me writing this out of doors... but they ceased after a few minute drops - the tiniest rainfall I can rememeber.

A week ago I was still wearing the scarlet gown and medieval hat of a doctor of letters as they call it - (perhaps my most artificial or unreal experience) and posing unwillingly for photographers - and totally unable to smile (I never can when commanded to). I'm glad it's over. I'm glad to be back among trees and walking on grass and soil and fallen leaves - and wearing my ordinary clothes. Yet normally I like the most artificial things.

I notice a gnat or a midge that has drowned in my camomile tea though it does not sink. It sticks to the cup, perhaps its weight is less than the surface tension - a force we can't see or feel, we only infer its presence, our muscles being too large and our muscle senses too insensitive. I rescue the insect with a spoon but I accidentally detach its thorax from its abdomen while doing so - with my out-of-scale (or gigantic!) muscles and sensors.

By this my tea has gone cold and I look around and listen. Small birds (I imagine they are blue tits and robins) chirp occasionally... washing-up noises emerge from the open door of the kitchen... and a few people talk as they sit with empty plates and cold and empty teapots. A man blows his nose. I feel it's good to notice such small things after my trip to the peaks of academia - though these things happen there also (and all are equally important!).

A robin sings very high notes from a fig tree. I suppose this tea garden is as artificial as anything can be. But it's not devoted to evaluation. Or is it? I guess the robin is evaluating or signalling something.

As I walked back I passed a little girl pedalling along in toy dumper made of black and yellow plastic. What could be more artificial? I asked myself, realising the stupidity of the question. All these things are not really what we call them in our languages - outside the names we give them they are mystery, unknown, and more real than we know.

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© 2002 john chris jones

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