Monday, September 27, 2010
The seals of Larrikin's End by Pants
Herman Boerhaaven, famed botanist, humanist, founder of clinical teaching and subject of a biography by Dr Samuel Johnson said,
The great seal of truth is simplicity.
For your pleasure, the great seals of truth. What are they doing? Why lolling about of course. I am here to tell you that seals have the secret of life cracked. I always knew that there would be aimless drifting involved.
If you want to know how pointlessly complicated life can be, drop me a line and I will send you my friend Sheila. She has made it her goal in life to render me insane. I don't know why. I have nothing worth stealing and, as far as I can recall, I didn't ever murder any of her children. But Spring arrived with Equinoxical punctuality, heralding the beginning of the visitor season. And Sheila is never far behind that fateful moon.
Fortunately, Sheila is married to the most amiable man who ever lived. Paddy brings me wine in large quantities, quality hand-me-down furniture and near-new gadgetry. All of which I gratefully receive. He drinks. Why wouldn't he? He scours my house for repairs to carry out. He finds plenty, believe me. This gives him an excuse to make multiple trips to the hardware shop where he can hold a long, logical conversation with a soft-voiced man of a certain age who knows about fasteners and shares his passion for joinery and tranquility.
One needs a high level of strategic skill to deal with the frenzy of Sheila stage-managing activity that will occur quite naturally of its own will and volition. Breakfast, in my experience, is much more pleasant if it is not accompanied by the 43rd repetition of her speech on the correct way to prepare compost. I moved here because it is quiet. I forgot to account for the fact that cacophony is almost always mobile.
If you take her out on the water, she shuts up for a few hours. It's bliss. You show her great holy seals and a kind of hush falls all over the world. You can almost feel it putting itself to rights. In addition to making very little movement, seals are almost entirely soundless. I was rather hoping some of this ambiance would last longer than the boat trip. Not a bit of it. When we get home, I run off some of my photos onto a disk for her. Her response? She rounds on her hapless husband with the retort,
'Paddy! Why doesn't our camera take pictures like this?'
Nothing to do with the person holding the thing, of course.
One's adored Guardian today publishes a story on the mysterious reappearance of species thought to be extinct. One of these is the Guadalupe Fur Seal, which was believed to have been hunted to extinction over a hundred years ago. But the seals did what any sensible species would do if faced with a ferocious predator threatening its very tenability. They moved.
As I have also discovered, this doesn't always work. Laying low and minding your own only works up to a point. The great seal of truth may be simplicity, but that seal is easily broken by synthetic complexity. You can be lying about, perfectly contentedly, doing no one any harm, least of all yourself, when someone can randomly come along and chop you up to make things that no one really needs. If that makes sense. Cut me a break. It could be a week before I start making sense again...