This is the phrase my mother (born 1900) used to describe (among other things) her then schoolgirl daughter’s mental sweep from discussing Land of Hope and Glory to the Lonnie Donegan concert. And though there is much about the origins of what is essentially an oath (“God blind me !” – I write this with my fingers crossed), the title phrase as it stands is not well documented.
So, sublime would have found me, early one morning late last week, pouring the finest shawl through a gold ring. Traditionally special gifts often at a wedding or betrothal, ring shawls (the description exists to express how fine they are) exist all over the place, though I had first heard of them as the noble cousins of the pashmina. A generous friend decided that her belated birthday present to me should be just this. We are old friends. If something doesn’t work, we say so but this was so hit-you-in-the-solar-plexus wonderful that my first words to her were “Well, you can’t have it back!”
It is a Prince of Wales check which, because of the quality, becomes a dappled thing and reminds me of the camouflage of big cats in the shadows of the foliage where they live. This is an extra pleasure for me. And it is so fine that you can’t think it would be warm – but it is. I couldn’t put it away, I kept going back and stroking it, wondering “can this really be mine ?”. Until I took my ring and behold: the scarf ran through. It is of course a matter of amusement that I would be given something so warm and wintry the week the weather became hot and thunderous – but it will keep. Cold days will come again. So – that’s the sublime.
And here is the corblimey: the bathwater had pooled two or three times in the paved garden which can only mean one thing. The trap at the front or the back of the building (or both) is blocked. The plumber said he didn’t do it but he always recommended the same firm. Now read on:
He didn’t half make a noise
He turned up 12 hours’ early
(Clearly not “one of the boys”)
He brought his wife in the wagon
She helped him with the hose
They were careful, polite and professional –
(we could stand more of those)
He criticised the pipe layout
And he showed me where he thought it should go
As it stands, it’s not so hot.
He was done inside an hour
Everything left clean and neat
I paid him cash, it seemed easier
And he gave me a receipt.
In a world as complex as this one
-Where there is beginning, middle and end –
You feel less of an endangered species
If I haven’t written about the Manchester bombing, it isn’t because I don’t care but because I do. And all the words in the world won’t mend the hurt or raise the dead.
The bombers gave us an enormous gift: they didn’t mean to but they did. At a time when the country is divided, they showed us we could all pull together and feel better for it.
And I send my love to Otley in Yorkshire where, when one woman didn’t come home, her friends and neighbours gathered and waited on a summer’s evening in silence. The news of her death came the following day , which means the tribute was to her passing. That’s what we used to call “seeing you out” – why we lit candles, covered the mirrors and opened the windows, to let the soul make its journey. My parents knew Otley when they were young people, they’d have loved that story.