The autumn leaves are in a serious downturn. Going past the hospital grounds I was wading knee-deep in them. I love walking through them listening to their particular sound. The crunching of leaves underfoot cannot be imitated easily. It is a sound of my childhood when I used to play with my friends no matter what weather. It would be the leaves in autumn and the swishing of snow in winter.
In winter, and if there was a good pack of snow, we would take matches and some lint with us and try and find snow bubbles above the frozen canals of The Hague were we were living after the war. The gases that were free to rise when the water wasn’t frozen would get trapped under ice or snow and form gas bubbles which we would explore and set alight with our matches and burning lint. The aim and hope was always to get a big bubble with a huge explosion. We never found the really big one..
Is it true that boys are more drawn to fire and explosions and does that explain the inclination to wars and bloody mayhem? I watched a mob of primary school kids running into a park. Within minutes the boys separated and went running after each other rumbling and play fighting, rolling over the ground. The girls in the meantime, few rumbled or threw each other to the ground. Most were happy to sit in the shade of a tree and talking. Is it nature or nurture?
Another favorite trick of mine was to put petrol on water in our kitchen sink and light it. How I was fascinated by something burning that was floating on top of water. I suppose it was a lesson in science. I always did this when my mum was having a nap in the living room which was on the other side of a long wall-papered corridor. The bottle of petrol was kept in a green cupboard underneath the sink and was used by my father to fill his cigarette lighter. In those days it was the height of sophistication to light a cigarette by petrol filled lighter. Men walked around not just smelling of tobacco but also of petrol seeping out of there lighters.
The contraption used a small rotating disc against a flint stone that would ignite the petrol infused cotton wool wick that was kept inside the housing of the lighter and which would protrude through a small hole at the top of the lighter. Even the modern lighter uses some inflammable liquid or gas to light the cigarette. Of course the delights of smoking have long gone since, together with so many other enjoyable cultural habits. We now ingest more tablets than ever before but they are just not as satisfying as the pipe, cigar or cigarette.
Let’s also not forget that instead of smoking we now suck on sugar, salt and fats as never before. Even so, we live longer or at least stay alive longer but is it still hotly debated if it is ‘living’ when the number of Alzheimer and dementia suffering people are skyrocketing and queuing up by the millions at the gates of places with names such as Eventide, Golf-shore Delight, or Heritage Thistle.
I don’t want to grow old and in my demented state start grabbing nurses by the bum or mumble obscenities in church and suck up farts in a bicycle pump and then stalk my best and equally old and fading friend and give him the full benefit of a recently digested Brussel sprout blast.
It would be nice to grow old and still be writing my little nonsensical pieces within some reasonable word order. I have some doubts though. Lately I wake up having to piss almost every couple of hours during the night. I thought of rigging myself up with a handy rubber harness above the bowl where I can hoist myself up with pulleys and ropes and sleep there instead of in bed. I have to check the Senior Magazines for any aids. I am sure to find some. I bet many might well end up chucking a mattress on the bathroom floor.
In the meantime, my life of decades ago playing with exploding gas bubbles under the frozen and snowed canals of my youth and now mulling over the possibility of hanging from a suspended harness above the loo is still proof of a busy and interesting time ahead.