4. I am very glad that I don’t have an annoying laugh. (Since I wrote this sentence I have become acutely conscious of my laugh, as a result of which I am much less convinced that it is not annoying.)
5. For as long as I can remember I have loved Laurel and Hardy. BBC2 used to show their films regularly and now doesn’t bother, its controllers presumably thinking that a) nobody wants to watch Laurel and Hardy nowadays; and b) if they want to they can just go to YouTube or buy the DVD or watch it on another channel. Well, there’s never any Laurel and Hardy anywhere on Freeview, but that’s a rant for another day. I can’t express the joy their films kindled in me. I tried to communicate it periodically to my friends, but I think a planned screening of Pack Up Your Troubles at my seventh or eighth birthday party was aborted due to lack of interest. On another occasion I suggested to a friend that we might watch Buster Keaton’s The Navigator. His face lit up, but it soon became apparent that he was thinking of the Disney sci-fi film Flight of the Navigator. At the age of six I wrote a letter to the controller of BBC2 complaining that a delay to the screening of Way Out West meant that my programmed recording of it while I was at school had cut it off prematurely. After a few weeks I received a grovelling apology from a minion, but my parents were compelled to buy it for me on video so I could find out how it ended.
6. I have an unshakeable notion in my head that Herman Melville’s short story ‘Bartleby the Scrivener’ is a parable about a donkey, even though I know it’s not. This, I diagnose, is because of inaccurate mental connections I have made between the story and Robert Bresson’s film Au Hasard Balthasar, which, similarly, I haven’t seen, though I know that it is a parable about a donkey. All this is enhanced by the fact that Bartleby is the name of Joe Grundy’s pony in The Archers (or was when I used to listen to it; Bartleby presumably paid a visit to Tesco long ago). I wonder if reading the story would dispel the illusion.
7. One morning, walking to work, I came across a pigeon sitting on the pavement. It was outside Gonville and Caius College, where there is little room for anything to sit down, even a small bird. Most of the space is taken up by bikes leaning against the wall, but the pigeon had set out its stall. It was facing the wall and had secreted its head in its feathers, and appeared to all the world to be dead, not reacting to the feet of passing pedestrians as pigeons usually do. It may have been dead. So many of the pigeons one sees are handicapped, with maimed talons so that they have to adapt their mode of walking. I like to watch the ungainly hopping of pigeons down steps. I once had an erotic dream about a pigeon. Here is a poem about a pigeon. Let it penetrate.
[to be continued]