ins and outs

A star I knew slightly (no, not coy – I am probably one of few he didn’t move in on, it not being on my list till I was ready and his needs being met all over the place) was featured today talking about what he spends his money on. I was immediately reminded of Marlon Brando

“best nose!”

who remarked that as an actor, as soon as you were good in a role, everybody wanted to know how you voted and what you did with your money. And I thought again how merciful is radio: those who remember do, those who discover do, and everybody else gets on with the washing up. And as the monetary rewards are much smaller, you can’t do more than work and survive. For most of us, if money crosses your mind, you think about incoming and outgoing, and I would add the emotional currency too.

Incoming this week: on Monday morning I began to research prepaying my funeral.

“Napoleon’s catafalque ship”

Appalled by how much money this can cost (for fear of being seen to be “tight” ?) I started with the cheapest form of cremation.   The telephone sales person was politely cheery until I said that the idea of a limited number of people (for which they provide) appealed to me. “Oh, that’ll be our Magnolia service” she said and I fell about laughing.   Magnolia. Shades of Scarlett O’Hara and institution walls. Unfazed she sent me some information, most of which I can’t open, so next week I shall start again at the local undertaker.

Incoming: Natalia from Latvia stacking shelves with the most elegant short haircut, soft and healthy, shining dark like a seal’s bum (you just wanted to stroke it) and she blushed with pleasure at being told so. (I stuck to dark and glossy and left the seal out of it when I spoke to her.)

Incoming: The Potter (she paints too) gave me homemade cantucci, white roses, lunch at her house and a pendant in the shape of a gingko petal which she had made from real (not sterling) silver.  And I paid her my ultimate compliment: I was speechless.   The search engine describes gingko as a living fossil and then goes on to explain its symbolism. (The alleged meanings of things is fascinating – like the lynx pictured last week to whom First Nations attribute being able to hear what is not spoken – ear tufts as antennae ?)

Incoming: two young men, assistants in Waterstones, cold early morning.   I entered the empty shop asking if there was a correlation between cold weather and book sales, they said not enough work done on it, took up the joke and we had a real exchange. Then I went away, did my bit of shopping and came back to say “May I just add …?” when one interrupted to ask “Did you come back to us, just to talk about a book ?” I nodded, starting to explain. “Wonderful !” he exclaimed across me, his colleague nodding. “People often don’t even speak to us.”

Outgoing was watching two documentaries that didn’t work, one on early British rock and one on the massacre at Amritsar, the holy city of the Sikh. Perhaps programme makers not to say presenters only learn by doing it but dammit they learn on the rest of us.   Why bother to say, in the first film, that Lonnie Donegan was the best blues shouter in the country (albeit briefly) but give us nothing in sound to relate to that – though we had to listen twice to Billy Bragg murdering Rock Island Line.   And re Amritsar, why was there no reference to the love/hate relationship between India under the Raj and independent India but several to the presenter’s mother, though she wasn’t interviewed . How belittling.

Though even your outgoing may be incoming. I had to consult the private dermatologist because, two years later, the inexplicable skin condition that itches badly enough to wake me recurred. Major money BUT in and out, examined, in 20 minutes, clasping prescriptions.   And those two along with the renewal prescription from the back man cost another chunk.   BUT they work.   Sort of Beatitudes of Health, constructive not to say gnomic opposites.  Verily, your ins shall be outs and your outs, ins.

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