I am the grit in the gears, the missing bolt, I am the poker of sticks into spokes.
I like to know how things work, but sometimes when I take them apart and rebuild them, I have a few pieces left over.
I am a man, so I tend to leave reading the instructions until after it goes wrong.
And like all men I have a comprehensive mental map of the world and never need to ask directions.
I never get lost, only sometimes I'm late, or end up in the wrong place entirely.
It's what we do.
Did I volunteer for this? we refurbished this space a while back, and as there was a fair bit of unsightly pipework at one end, it was decided to build a false wall to screen it. Now there's a new tenant wanting the space, and he wants a heating system with radiators. So I have to stick a boiler and pipe runs and new waste pipes for the new kitchen and toilet in there too. But: nobody measured the width of my shoulders before the wall was built. It's tight.
Not enough room to swing even a very short cat. That clipboard's paper is 11.72x8.3".
Had to put a new piece in here. But the other end? there's a lot to get into there. Update picture on monday, all being well.
And here? just behind me is the vertical pipe that I can only squeeze past whilst facing one way. I can't turn around at all. I can't crouch down. If I drop something that rolls under that black pipe, I can't reach it without being very inventive.
By the end of monday I'll either be finished with this space behind the real world, or entombed there forever.
This blogger is an old curmudgeon, and not much one for the whole christmas shtick. However, occasionally there is a grating and scraping noise, as his cast-iron armour loosens for a moment.
I was reminded by another blog that it's almost time for Luciafest in the northern regions. Here, we've forgotten, mostly, that christmas is not just a christian festival, not just a major marketing opportunity for mammon, but also a far older thing, celebrated long before the mediterranean religion came.
It's Yule. or Jul.
All about the darkness of winter, the dying of the sun. And rebirth. A new beginning, the coming of the light, and the celebration of the solstice.
My first introduction to Lucia-fest was in 1979. I was living in Iceland, working as a potter. my friend was dating a swedish girl, who worked in a hospital at Reykjalundur, and I got to know a group of friends working there and in other Reykjavik hospitals.
On the 13th december, Luciafest, I was invited to Reykjalundur, where the swedish girls had chosen their Lucia.
We waited in darkness, and the singing started. And the procession
entered, a blonde girl with a green garland in her hair, a crown of
light, wearing a white robe, with a red sash, singing. And, following
her, more girls, each carrying a candle, their faces uplit, for a
curmudgeon like me, it was beautiful, it was spiritual. 'Lucia' told us
about the meaning of the tradition, we ate a meal of seasonal swedish
dishes they had cooked, then someone told us the Northern Lights were in
the sky, so we all went out, and lay on our backs on the grass,
watching curtains of ethereal light flicker across the sky. It seemed a perfect companion to the bringers of the light.
In pagan times, people were never sure that the world was not ending, condemned to darkness and cold as the sun died. Only by festival and sacrifice could the sun be reborn, through death to renewed life.
But when christianity came to the north, there were two gods to appease, two rebirths.
The Norse king, Hakon the Good, made it the law that Jul (yule) was to be celebrated at the same time as the Chritsians celebrated Christ's Mass, this was his first move in converting his pagan countrymen to christianity, a stealth move, he knew his religion would be rejected if he proclaimed it openly, so he sought to gradually introduce it, as he built his own popularity. "King Hakon was a good Christian when he came to Norway; but the
whole country was heathen, with much heathen sacrifice. As many great
people, as well as the favour of the common people, were to be
conciliated, he resolved to practice his Christianity in private. He
kept Sundays, and the Friday fasts, and some token of the greatest
holy days. He made a law that the festival of Yule should begin at
the same time as Christian people held it, and that every man, under
penalty, should brew a meal of malt into ale and keep the Yule holy
as long as it lasted."
(Saga of Haakon the Good)
"Midvinterblot", Carl Larsson.
The sagas tell that, following several years of famine, which was held
to be the fault of King Domald, and those previous years sacrifices of
oxen having not appeased the gods, it was decided that the only
sacrifice great enough to bring back the favour of the gods, would be
the sacrifice of the Domald, the King himself. This was at the great temple of the gods, in Uppsala.
Not quite co-incidentally, the cathedral in Uppsala, Domkyrkan, in
which those girls in the video above sing to Lucia, is said to be built
on the site of the temple where Domald's sacrifice gave life back to the
I prefer the singing and the white-robed girls and their candles, bringing back the light, I'd rather live in the world Hakon envisaged, than the one where Domald died.
Light your candles on Lucia's day, December the Thirteenth, and know that winter will end, the sun will return. And actually it will do that no matter what your beliefs, no matter what rituals you follow in the coming weeks.