Diehards

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Eternal Sunshine of the Student's Mind

I have found the secret of happy housewifery and it looks like this:


Taking time out from my writing to deal with chores, some of which are created because I choose to live with someone for whom flakes of croissant on the couch are no deal at all ( let along a big one), has always felt like an indulgence. There are more important things to do than make the bed or clean the loo; wash the dishes or dust the books; vacuum, scrub, polish or iron. And standing at the kitchen table rubbing butter into flour until it looks like wet sand, adding just enough iced, acidified water to bring it all together, leaving it to rest for at least an hour, and then going back to roll it out and line a pie dish, when there are perfectly acceptable ready to use packs of frozen pastry available in any supermarket, and it is only me in this house who notices the difference, has felt bordering on the insanely spoilt. But now as I do these things I can, at the same time, at least feel like I am making an effort to learn my craft.

Why I didn't think of it before I don't know. This beautiful machine has never felt less of a gadget and more of a tool. Here is a selection of my current listening:


The bloody marvellous Ted: lifting onions
in the rain and searching out a suitable place
for them to dry has taken on new meaning.


Because Anglo-Saxon is the tap root of my poetic
sensibility I need to understand more about it.
Being able to learn the wordhoard as I peel eggs is,
quite frankly, a revelation.


Fifteen CDs worth of pure joy. All of
Seamus Heaney's poems read by
himself. The more I clean, the more
I'll absorb his genius.

27 comments:

Kim Ayres said...

After that you could start learning German so you can listen to his writings in their original language :)

steven said...

hi eryl, right on girl!!! i'm one half of the cleaning crew in this house and the entire cooking team so i get your drift!!! i bought a big ipod - 80 gb - and i've loaded it up with audiobooks. stories that i love to read, poetry that i love, and when the time's right, i settle back and let someone's amazing trained voice, (better than any voice i could muster out loud or in my head) carry me away and help me see the words all over again!!! enjoy your time!!!!! steven

deemikay said...

I shall have to come to you for Anglo-Saxon details from now on!

Titus said...

Oh, that is so brilliant I'm going to have to copy you. I presume the device itself is an i-pod? (bear with me, I'm no techie).

Emerson Marks said...

Let me let you know Eryl. Mr Muscle's frozen lime and vinegar has inspired me to pen SC Johnson Limited a letter, not an email, a letter, thanking them for transforming my bathroom cleaning experience. How I've grown to love that sweet green liquid joining forces with Gram Parsons on the head phones to make my toilet bowl a happy place.

Eryl Shields said...

Kim ~ I have a teach yourself German book right here just for that purpose!

Steven ~ you don't do things by half, I think my whole computer is only 80gb!

Deemikay ~ bearing in mind it took me thirty years of chuntering obscenities as I picked up yet another sock/cup/half-eaten kebab before I worked out this solution, it might take me a while to answer any of your queries, but feel free to ask me anything!

Titus ~ copy away. Yes this is an iPod and I can't recommend one highly enough. I'm no techie either and it took quite some persuasion from the techies in this house before I relented and got one, I've never looked back.

Eryl Shields said...

Emerson ~ we must have crossed: thank you so much, I will have to rush out and get some, my toilet bowl is not a happy place.

gleaner said...

I'm another convert to the ipod and love listening to poetry and book readings etc - amazing invention from a non-tech person.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Oh excellent ideas, I'm with you on housework though i love making pastry.....

The Weaver of Grass said...

Dare I ask what exactly is an I pod, where would I buy it and how much would it cost me? Sorry to be such an ignoramus but I live out in the sticks as you know by now, I am sure. It sounds just the kind of thing I could do with - Seamus reading his own work - wonderful. I wait with bated breath for your information Eryl.
PS Keep buying the ready mix pastry - life is far too short to spend all your time bending over a pudding bowl.

Dave King said...

You surely are on the right lines. I am currently saving my pennies for the Heaney discs. Enjoy.

Eryl Shields said...

Gleaner ~ it really is an amazing invention isn't it?

Crafty ~ me too, though I have to confess that I rarely make anything other than short-crust.

Weaver ~ the iPod is a device that stores (and plays) music and audio books, photographs and texts (I have the complete works of Shakespeare on mine and the bible and although I wouldn't read them all the way through on it it has a search function so it's brilliant for research). Mine has a diary function and can pick up my emails too, but there are a variety of different sorts. They are made by Apple if you go to their website (www.apple.co.uk) you will be able to see them all and prices and other information. Hope that helps.

Seamus reading his own works came in a set of fifteen CDs which I then transferred to the iPod (or rather the computer did!) so you don't strictly need one to listen.

Dave ~ you will find them well worth any sacrifices you may have to make as you save, guaranteed!

Mary Witzl said...

What a great idea: I should have one of those. Life's too short for running around and picking up after others, and if you happen to drop by tomorrow, say, you would see that I'm not just saying this. Let me know when you can come by -- I'll be out in the garden if it's not raining!

Eryl Shields said...

Mary ~ you're back, great, would about three-ish suit you?

Lulu LaBonne said...

I'm still in the dark ages of cd's in a player but agree how brilliant they are - they haven't induced me to clean yet but I will go on really long drives so I can get a good listen without interruption - The brothers Karazamov lasts exactly the amount of time to get from my house to the south of France.

Eryl Shields said...

Lulu ~ I'm now wondering how far I'd get on Heaney's collected, or, conversely how well versed I'd be in Old English if I played it non stop and drove to Barcelona.

Rachel Fox said...

It is great to be just listening sometimes. Really concentrated listening.
x

angryparsnip said...

Never though I would want one but my son bought me the "iPod nano" and we filled it with music and I love it !
When I dive back to Laguna, 7 hours, I always listen to books... time zooms by and all of a sudden I am there...
I am going to look into if you can put books on the "nano" what a super idea !

Eryl Shields said...

Rachel ~ it is, x

Parsnip ~ you can put books on your nano, of course you can, anything that either comes on a CD or as an mp3 download from somewhere like the iTunes store can be put on it.

Apparently a lot of people (according to my son, who seems to know these things) are now jogging to books for that very same reason: time flies and they can go on for much longer.

angryparsnip said...

Gosh ! . . .of course you can do that, one can down load just about anything. . . hello, I need to finish a thought. . . and aren't we glad we have our children to explain stuff to us !
I meant to tell you I loved and hurt myself laughing at your hundred of charred plants comment on my blog !

Kathryn Magendie said...

I need an ipod!!!!!

Eryl Shields said...

Parsnip ~ Don't we all need to follow a thought through before we splutter it out? Children are great for keeping us up to date.

Kathryn ~ everyone needs an iPod!!!!

Tousled Raven said...

As Victor said, ' I just don't believe it!' Well not with the same meaning but guess who has the Heaney 15 CD collection, two Hughes CD collections, Jen Hadfield and more and guess where they are? All well worth saving up for. Yep, is that 'great minds' for this one Eryl?! Are we women of taste or is that what the course has done to us? It's just wonderful and somehow I take things in far better by listening ......otherwise I have to resort to basic Anglo-Saxon! CD's on iPods of love to you. xxx

PI said...

It's something I haven't mastered. I feel as if I've lost a sense and feel a bit unsafe.

Eryl Shields said...

Toos ~ I seem to process far better if I'm moving around, XXX

Pat ~ I can understand that, I was trying to cook the other day while listening to Richard Burton read Thomas and just couldn't do it. Apparently I listen to my onions sweating in butter, I didn't realise that before.

The World According To Me said...

What a great idea! Happy listening and absorbing.

Eryl Shields said...

World ~ I am a sponge.