This was the scene on Finchley Road as I walked home in the evening half-light a couple of nights ago. We've been having some drizzly weather, and I put the tender outdoor plants back outside yesterday morning so they could get a drink (and I could clean the floor). But now I see that we might have frost tonight, so I suppose I'll have to bring them in again. Argh!
After that, though, there's no frost in the near future forecast.
I've finally been reading "Three Men in a Boat," as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. I can see why it's amusing, but it's not exactly pulling me in. I'm finding that it takes some persistence on my part to push ahead (a bit like the persistence required to rowboat up the Thames, come to think of it).
The theme of the book is basically the comedy inherent in trying to do a simple task and having it become, through unforeseen circumstance, incredibly complex. Someone tries to hang a picture and they don't have the right equipment or nails and they have to run to the store and then they hit their thumb and must visit the doctor -- that kind of thing. A bit like me trying to fix Olga's steps and tearing my pants and having to patch them. Or me putting the plants out only to have to immediately bring them in again. I mean, these things do happen.
Anyway, I came across one passage I thought was particularly funny, if rather dark. It's about private property owners along the river who put up signs warning away trespassers:
The selfishness of the riparian proprietor grows with every year. If these men had their way they would close the river Thames altogether. They actually do this along the minor tributary streams and in the backwaters. They drive posts into the bed of the stream, and draw chains from bank to bank, and nail huge notice-boards on every tree. The sight of those notice-boards rouses every evil instinct in my nature. I feel I want to tear each one down, and hammer it over the head of the man who put it up, until I have killed him, and then I would bury him, and put the board up over the grave as a tombstone.
I mentioned these feelings of mine to Harris, and he said he had them worse than that. He said he not only felt he wanted to kill the man who caused the board to be put up, but that he should like to slaughter the whole of his family and all his friends and relations, and then burn down his house. This seemed to me to be going too far, and I said so to Harris, but he answered:
"Not a bit of it. Serve 'em all jolly well right, and I'd go and sing comic songs on the ruins."
I was vexed to hear Harris go on in this bloodthirsty strain. We never ought to allow our instincts of justice to degenerate into mere vindictiveness. It was a long while before I could get Harris to take a more Christian view of the subject, but I succeeded at last, and he promised me that he would spare the friends and relations at all events, and would not sing comic songs on the ruins.
I kind of feel that way myself when I come across a No Trespassing sign, especially if I'm on a public footpath or waterway. I think it's the Floridian in me, raised with the philosophy that all beaches should be open to the public (as they legally are in Florida, at least to the mean waterline, if memory serves). In Britain, there's a strong belief in maintaining public footpaths and rights-of-way, and any attempt by private property owners to block those paths is met with resistance.
Anyway, I'm undecided about whether to continue on to "Three Men on the Bummel" when I'm done with the boating. (It's the second half of the volume I'm reading, but technically a separate book, I believe.) We'll see how persistent I feel!