I had a hard time putting a title to this post. "Thoughts on a Saturday Afternoon" would have been been best, but I used that at almost exactly the same and place as I am now one week ago. In that sense, this is a repeat performance. Hence the "II".
But, really, it isn't a repeat. For a start, the weather is considerably more unsettled than last Saturday. It's hotter and cloudy. Fairly strong wind gusts are moving the trees around me. The birdsong is different too – an insistent repetitive chirp from a tree to my left. Air conditioning units are whirring from almost every house within earshot. Nonetheless, I am sitting in the same garden chair, with the same computer, looking at the house in the same way.
My mood matches the unsettled nature of this day. I fell ill-at-ease. Instead of the soothing melodies of Erik Satie, I am listening to mercurial Preludes of Claude Debussy. They fit much better.
I find myself stroking the soles of my bare feet. This has always been an effective way to still me when I feel restless. It's not working so well today but it's better than nothing.
A big burp. That's better. I feel somewhat bloated after a late lunch. This would partly explain my restlessness.
Earlier, I'd been watching on DVD a dramatization of the novel "Piece Of Cake" about the air battles in 1939 and 1940 in France and Britain. That led me this afternoon to an idle rereading the history of that great air battle and then onto this curious quote:
"Like the Mississippi, it just keeps rolling along. Let it roll. Let it roll on full flood, inexorable, irresistible, benignant, to broader lands and better days."
Where do you think that might come from? Fascinatingly, it is from the famous August 20, 1940 speech by Winston Churchill containing the well known line: "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."
The Mississippi reference is in relation to the eventual military union with the United States, at that point over a year away. Clearly Churchill was in no doubt as its fulfillment. He was right, of course. But not many remember that part of the speech. Still, that metaphor from those dark days struck me. Not many English people of the time would have been as familiar with the real Mississippi as I am.