Friday, November 9, 2012

VACANT, UNEMPLOYED AND UNDETERMINED


Take it from me – one forget-me-not plant has 482 flowers on it. Each plant also has 2759 small, furry pods. The pods stick to t-shirt, trousers, hair, shoes and the cat. When they break open, oh so easily, each pod has 1057 tiny, glittering black seeds. Every one of those seeds is determined to put itself about, which is why I have a million forget-me-not plants in the garden, now podding and seeding all over the place.

Forget-me-nots

As Dr Samuel Johnson observed to James Boswell, who had passed his law exams and offered his thesis to the great man for comment, "activity pursued vigorously and constantly" helps one to "gain ... security from those troublesome and wearisome discontents, which are always obtruding themselves upon a mind vacant, unemployed and undetermined".

That's me, vigorously and constantly pursuing activity to banish the wearisome discontents. Which is partly because I have no work to do. The courier can't get to me with a book I'm expecting to work on – there are roadworks and the courier would have to park in the adjoining street and walk perhaps fifty metres, and couriers have no time for that. There is also screeching and clanging two properties away where a giant yellow grabber is clawing at a house that must have been too damaged by the earthquakes to save. I can see the articulated neck of the monster swooping over the remains. I won't want to watch my house suffer the same fate when the time comes.

Having no work makes me pace the floor and bother people on the phone. So I've been outside attending to the forget-me-nots, yanking out the dead and dying, and covering myself with seed pods. Then I sat on the sofa on the deck and plucked the pods off my clothes and my person, one by clinging one – they are not called forget-me-nots for nothing. Memo to self: listen dummy, if you throw the seeds over the deck railing and back into the garden they will grow. The birds, mice and other scurrying creatures will carry them around and drop them everywhere.

Oh well, they fill up masses of space and they are gorgeous when in full flower. I'm always happy to see them, and they give me employment in times like these when I'm vacant and undetermined.

 



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