17th May – ‘I see dead people’ and fat ones

A sleepless night spilled over until morning. I found myself at four in the morning watching a delightful television programme named ‘Fat Families’. Falling into a slumber soon after whilst watching a repeat of ‘This Week’ – always a fan of Andrew Neil and Michael Portillo.

After a troubled sleep I went to bed at ten in the morning until two. My sleeping pattern was now sadly scuppered but not terminal. I lazed in the sun again in the afternoon, trying to enjoy the meagre rays while they lasted. Next, I watched ‘The Sixth Sense’ this has been quite a film week for me. Never having seen it before I was surprised by the twist at the end. It was a well put together thriller and surprisingly spine-tingling.

The Sixth Sense

The Sixth Sense (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Later I went for a meal with my mother and her partner and then to the pub with my friends. I did not stay at the pub too long, yet managed to fit in the obligatory pints of Guinness. After losing at pool, in which my skills have not exponentially risen, I headed home.

Unforeseen, I feel surprisingly tired.

Your writer,

Edmund Donnellan.

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16th May – Eurovision and ‘Kontroll-ing’ the horror

Awakening around midday, I ate some fruit for brunch. Since it was moderately balmy I sat outside for a while. Unfortunately, the cloud coverage built in density and I returned inside. I was still sore from jogging yesterday so did nothing strenuous – at all. For a meal I ate a corned beef plait, which was a less pleasant dish than I remembered, although beggars cannot be choosers.

Then instead of doing anything remotely intellectually stimulating I watched both Eurovision Song Contest Semi-Finals back-to-back. This was a lengthy way to spend a day, despite this I quite enjoyed it. Who does not find entertainment in questionable translations and dubious taste?

Following this I watched a Hungarian thriller called ‘Kontroll.’ The essence of the film follows a team of ticket inspectors, whilst a hooded figure is murdering people by pushing them in front of trains. I enjoyed the film, it was a tense psychological thriller and left ambiguities as the best European films do. One of the reason I believe I appreciate horror films and thrillers is the fact I have quite an over-active imagination and am easily put on edge by tense films. While enjoying them at the time, I can discover that sleep deserts me, hairs stand on end and sounds reverberate around the house leaving me highly-strung for a few hours. This is exclusively in the darker hours, but watching these types of films in the middle of the day would be an injustice. The paradox is, I enjoy the horror but probably should look away.

Neurotic and skittish,

Edmund Donnellan.

15th May – Devoid of runner’s high

I felt the vegetation process was beginning to take hold. Thus I leapt up from the settee and decided to go jogging near to my house. This was about one o’clock and catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror I still looked haggard from only waking up an hour before. However, one must seize these capricious whims which will benefit you in the long run.

Lacking trainers I had to run in plimsolls. Hoping the light drizzle would not turn into a shower I set off into the miserable May afternoon. I planned to run down a country road to a small hamlet about three miles away. Unfortunately I would have to retrace my steps when running back; I do not apprehend this with pleasure as each step taken is one which must be ran back. If there is a circular route one is always closing in on a destination.

The going was tough. I have never being a natural runner and felt my lungs where going to burst out my chest and legs fall off. After dodging a few tractors along the way I made about three miles in all. Although I could not help pondering where my runner’s high was meant to be? Where were my rush of endorphins? I will try and run again; yet it will take a steely will to get going.

Fit and fighting,

Edmund Donnellan

14th May – A day at the races

Waking with some difficulty, I returned home after a short sojourn at my grandmother’s. After returning to my humble abode I had an hour or so in which to preoccupy myself. I wondered what would be the most interesting Middle Eastern country to travel to. I imagine it would be stimulating to get off the beaten track and visit places akin to Iran – although international sanctions make this a bit difficult – or even Pakistan. It would also be stimulating to journey through Iraq or Afghanistan once these places have hopefully simmered down.

Anyway, I went to the pub with my father and his girlfriend, and had a pint of Guinness (as per usual). Then, I flicked through the Racing Post and laid my bets for the day at the  racecourse which we would then walk to. It was not only more convenient to place the bets online, rather than at the bookmakers at the racecourse, but if the odds drifted one was guaranteed better odds.

Also resident at the pub was a large plump Rottweiler which flopped down unceremoniously at our feet. I hope when I reach an ancient age I also have a corpulent dog that follows me into drinking establishments.

English: Rottweiler Head Deutsch: Rottweiler Kopf

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After the bets were laid and drinks hurriedly drank we walked to the racecourse on the edge of town. Having only left five minutes in which to make this journey, power walking was the order of the day. Somehow the old man had prevailed in getting free tickets off a friend of a friend who had got them at some club. Having saved close to twenty pounds each, which would have been the cost to gain basic entry to the grand stand side, the day began.

There were around six or seven races and after backing winners on the first two my serendipity seemed to wane. From thirty five pounds I came away with about twelve. It is clear now that I do not have the ability, temperament or volition to be a professional punter.

The day mainly consisted of standing next to the finish line to watch the race. Secondly, making our way back to the bar – where more beer was consumed (at exorbitant cost, alas!). And thirdly, watching other races around the country, upon which the two I was with had more bets. And finally watching the horses being paraded around before the race.

Horses are quite striking creatures, certainly a better example of the animal kingdom than the dung beetle. Furthermore, one of the jockeys, who was there and interviewed, was the Grand National winner – Ryan Mania. I am also sure I glimpsed the back of my head on the television replay, by the finish line. I think I survived this brush with celebrity though.

With the last race finishing in the late afternoon we were able to make a quick getaway on foot, without the rush this time. I then had a short period at home by myself, whilst my father dropped off his girlfriend. Using this time usefully I ended up watching a 70’s situation comedy called George and Mildred. I quite enjoyed it, I find in general older sit-coms to be enjoyable as they are not too emotionally heavy and hark back to a different era.

Finally, I got a lift to my father’s house and ate fish and chips. Although I desired a fishcake rather than battered fish as the fish can feel greasy and over-substantial. This proved a wise meal as standing out in the sun with drinks and little food had left me famished.

In the evening I watched television mainly and browsed the internet. I also discovered that the television programme Happy Endings had been cancelled. Now this was the usual American fluff about a group of friends who live in a major city and get up to hi-jinks. Yet I felt it had ameliorated, was underrated and got less derivative over time. I obviously need to watch less television too because the fact I care is a misfortunate sign, I can feel my brain rotting as it is.

Your writer,

Edmund Donnellan

12th May – Being an introvert and Harry Potter

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I consider myself an introvert rather than an extrovert. Whilst I enjoy social encounters and time with friends, I need to spend time alone to rekindle my energy. I imagine this is the opposite for an extrovert, who would have to assemble friends to recharge from solitude. However, I perceive that I am only slightly on the introverted side and have become more extroverted as I have aged. When I was younger I could go a good week in my own company before experiencing a need to venture out of my sphere. Now after one day I feel content, yet after two or three I get itchy feet and a desire for social contact. This might be because one is more ready to seize life in adulthood whereas in the yesteryear I was happy to trundle along.

Awakening at the exceptionally early time of eight o’clock – this is because I am not the best sleeper after a few drinks – I ate scampi and chips for breakfast. Now even I will admit this is not classic breakfast fair, but it hit the spot.

During the course of the day I watched the final Harry Potter film with my mother, ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2.’ Now I will admit neither the book nor the film are high art, but I remember that I enjoyed reading the tomes when they were first released, when I was a teenager. Nonetheless, although this film has been arguably the most critically acclaimed in the series, I found it was one of the least faithful to the books. In my humble opinion, the first film is of greater delight to Rowling purists as it is closer to the original text, although has a more meandering pace.

In spite of this I am not saying one can never utilise creative license when adapting a novel for screen. It is rather the unnecessary changes, simplification and stylisation that I dislike. Sometimes it is necessary to make large changes to a book’s direction for film but then it should only be an influence on the film not its authoritative source text.

A film that I enjoyed, which is meant to be close to its original book, is Roman Polanski’s ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ . A memorable psychological horror film from 1968. I prefer older horror films in general because of less reliance on computer generated special effects; which I still find quite unconvincing.

Anyway, I have mentioned little of my day, as there is not much to tell. I went over to my father’s house on the evening and there is nothing outside the mundane to tell. On the other hand, I am going to the horse races tomorrow so there should be much to tell then.

Your writer,

Edmund Donnellan.

11th May – Overthrow democracy and drink Guinness

The problem with waking up in the early afternoon is that the day seems so much shorter. One also finds oneself out of kilter with society’s normal time pattern. I did not have an overly productive afternoon, or morning – as it felt at the time. Having fallen behind on my book reading, I have been trawling news and opinion websites for immediate entertainment.

English: Seal of the President of the United S...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One thing I have debated to myself is which system of government is better; the British or American one. I would have to side with the British. Although it can be frustrating being in the wilderness if you disagree with those in power. At least the finger of blame and praise can be squarely pointed at success and failure since one party, with a majority in the Commons, can rule near dictatorially.

Conversely, the checks and balances, which Americans seem so fond of, seem to put levels of government directly in conflict with each other. If one wants any endeavour completed the Senate, House of Representatives and President must all come to a harmonious or begrudging agreement. This appears a bit impractical. Too many cooks spoil the legislative pot. I am aware of the arguments of keeping the legislature and executive separate. Yet in both systems democracy seems a patchy solution to attempt to keep a sinking ship sailing.

Bus at Worcester bus station, England.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anyway. In the evening I went to the pub with some friends. After about an hour or so and a few more pints of Guinness – this has been a heavy drinking week – I caught the bus to the next town over.

A disadvantage of not living in a thriving metropolis is that public transport is often expensive and of mediocre quality. I am confident the English provinces only receive a few pounds per head for transport infrastructure whereas in the capital it runs into the thousands. However, not being a commuter on the daily grind, perhaps I am being overtly snarky.

I stayed in the next pub until last orders and saw many an old friend.

Your no longer inebriated,

Edmund Donnellan.

10th May – Horse racing and gambling

English: Thoroughbred racing at Churchill Down...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I arose around midday and ended up going to the pub with my father soon after. This consisted of about four pints of Guinness, nine games of pool and a packet of salt and vinegar crisps. However he and his girlfriend are assiduous horse racing gamblers and every fifteen to twenty minutes we had to stop everything to see the latest results.

Now I do not mind this, yet this constant exposure to gambling and games of chance has removed any mystique from the game. Perhaps I am not the type who enjoys gambling naturally; but one usually wants to strike out away from their parents, and gambling would be too close to home as a regular activity for me. Not that I mind when a string of winners come in and an extra drink is sent my way.

A risk-averse,

Edmund Donnellan.

9th May – A ‘Memento’ of Chekhov and cats

English: Colossus, a huge white-and-tabby cat.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Being at home I slept until the early afternoon. I made no pretense to attempt to preserve my sleeping pattern. However, later on in the day after begrudgingly dressing and making some semblance at getting ready to seize the day, I went to my grandmother’s house. My cat now lives there and I was very happy to see it as I am fond of her and cats in general. The cat in question was a rescue cat and has a tendency for biting the hand that feeds it. Yet most who come across it grow to like it. I wonder if one can switch from a cat person to a dog person and vice versa later in life or is it fixed from childhood?

I did not achieve much for the rest of the day, I read some of my Latin textbook and watched a film. The film was a 2010 adaptation of Chekhov’s ‘The Duel’. It kept my attention and I believe I will try and read the novella. But what captured my attention most was the setting. Apparently it was Croatia parading as the Caucasus but the surroundings seemed as if one could spend a summer there very happily.

A few days earlier I had watched the film ‘Memento’  starring Guy Pearce. The film follows a man with retrograde amnesia who is trying to find his wife’s killer. The film is meant to be a very accurate portrayal of this type of amnesia and one empathises with the main character’s plight. He can only remember for a short period of time. However, it is the end of the movie which opens a can of worms and the viewer must make their own interpretation of events at the end. Although, what makes the film particularly interesting is the reverse chronological order. One sees the protagonist kill ‘his man’ at the beginning and then we see each scene leading up to this. Normally, I am a person who appreciates mostly clear linear plot devices. But this works well with the film and the ambiguities that are piled on by the end. I would heartily recommend it as a psychological thriller and leave it for you to trawl through the internet to find the ‘true’ interpretation of the film.

I went to bed after Chekhov

Cover of "Memento"

Cover of Memento

as there were hundreds of television channels and seemingly nothing on.

Your film overloaded friend,

Edmund.

8th May – Personal space, portly ladies and greasy breakfasts

"The Fat Women" by Igor Grabar, 1904...

“The Fat Women” by Igor Grabar, 1904. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This will be a larger entry then normal as I find the days have piled up and no posts have been written. I woke up and skipped breakfast as I knew I was meeting someone for lunch. I have never had any appetite for breakfast as a meal – combining it into brunch wherever possible – not only because I have a non-existent appetite at this time.  But more it is the fact of the food one finds at breakfast. The English cooked breakfast with its greasy sausages, bacon and baked beans- the beans I have a particular repulsion for – have never appealed to me. Maybe I have a continental stomach. However I would much prefer if there was normal cooked meats, which one would find at the evening meal, at breakfast. Why does one need a vastly different and greasier palette on a morning?

Following lunch at a cafe, I went to one of the smaller university libraries. This being the middle of the day during exam period, it was nearly full. After a quick patrol I managed to find a seat. Annoyingly I had underestimated the heat of the day and was wearing a thick jacket which thanks to a combination of hilly walk, large backpack and adventure to procure a chair, I was now overheated and slightly sweaty. I then proceeded to read some of Stanley Hauerwas’ essays but after a while grew weary of the confrontational style and left the library. I now had nearly three hours to kill. But what could I do?

The course of action upon which I settled was to go to the station early and sit out the wait. Once there I decided to move myself from the waiting area and ensconce myself in the station pub. Although I was a lone traveller/drinker and it was early afternoon I proceeded to polish off three pints and spent most of the time watching the news channel. The beer was unpleasantly overpriced but I could not be bothered to search for a cheaper and less convenient establishment. My fellow drinker were what one would usually expect to find in a pub in the middle of the day, mainly the middle aged but there was an amiable enough atmosphere. I was perfectly happy for most of my stay there. Except at one point two rather portly women moved on to my table, as apparently there was not space anywhere else. Although my zone of influence was much reduced I stayed put and rode out their presence, glasses of wine and chatter until I could reclaim my table.

I embarked onto the train at five o’clock. I was fortunate enough to have a cheap first class ticket and therefore a complimentary meal. Unfortunately for me when I looked at the menu, I learnt that it was to be sausage and mashed potato. Now the observant reader will have noticed how much I railed against sausages at breakfast earlier, so I was not much looking forward to having to stomach evening sausage. Alas!

Yet this was a decent meal. The food turned out to be of a good quality, at least relative to that in university accommodation and I found I enjoyed it. I also managed to acquire complimentary snacks and drinks to make the most of the ticket. I arrived into the station and moved seamlessly into my waiting lift. Who declares that travel has to be stressful? Not I.

Your writer,

Edmund Donnellan.

Freshly made English Breakfast with smoked bac...

Freshly made English Breakfast. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

7th May – Trains and gym training

Finding myself at a loose end today I decided to go to the gym. Now, it had been around three weeks since I last went so I found myself fatigued more quickly than I would have preferred. Yet spurred on by the good weather the trek to and from the gym did not seem so bad and it felt good to stretch muscles that had been unused for a while.

Then I met some friends and sat enjoying the sunshine for a while. This being one of the first few days were the temperature was comfortably warm. Myself, I prefer warmer climates although maybe I would sicken of living in a humid clime permanently.

Moreover, I determined to look over some Latin and attempt to read some ancient texts. The annoyance is that I did not have this volition before my exam but now wish to work after it. I put this down to a dislike of being cajoled into work.

Tomorrow, I will also hopefully head home. Travelling by train has always been my favourite form of transport. Cars are too restrictive and box their passengers in, whilst aeroplanes can put me on edge although an enjoyable novelty. Is being a train driver an arduous career? One does not need to really direct a train too much but I am not sure what else it entails. I am looking forward to being homeward bound at the least.

Your enthusiastic writer,

Edmund Donnellan.

Shirley Station - geograph.org.uk - 1604761

Shirley Station – geograph.org.uk – 1604761 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)