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The Scrivener: The Shining Hour

When Brian Barratt thinks aloud, on paper or on screen those who encounter the thoughts from his civilised mind are guaranteed a good read and first-class entertainment.

To read more of Brian’s columns in Open Writing click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/the_scrivener/

And do visit his engrossing Web site The Brain Rummager www.alphalink.com.au/~umbidas/

5am. The temperature outside is about 10°, quite mild for the time of year. Yesterday morning, though, Spring sprang upon us during the night, and the temperature didn't go below about 17°. It was the warmest August night on record, for Melbourne. No wonder I felt wobbly when I got out of bed.

10am. What a nice surprise — a letter in the letter-box. A proper letter, in an envelope with a stamp stuck on it. Royal Mail, too. It's so refreshing to receive a real letter in these days of electronic communication which is so often non-communication anyway.

I'm not writing a blog, and this isn't a bulletin board. I'm just thinking aloud on paper. Or on screen. OK, it's electronic but it might be a communication if someone else reads it.

It was a good letter, that proper letter. From someone I've known since we were at infant school. When was that, let me think. Oh, in the early 1940s. As a sister in a religious order, she's just been to Zambia and visited places I remember well from my years in that country. Good gracious, that was over 40 years ago.

12pm. I went to the greengrocer's shop where they smile and talk. At the other fruit and vegie shop, I'm invisible, they ignore me, so I don't go there now. (I wonder why people spell it veggie? It isn't short for veggetable.) The carrots looked a bit sad and the celery was not exactly sparkling, but they had some nice Dutch Cream potatoes. I didn't need any Kipfler potatoes because there are a few in the drawer at the bottom of the fridge. Lovely potatoes, Kipflers. The gem squashes are a bit cheaper than they were last week. People don't know what I mean when I say gem squashes. I think they call them mushroom squashes, I'm not sure.

12.30pm. The lady at the cake and coffee shop next door knows me. I go there quite often. I always have black coffee. So I asked for a cup of black coffee. She asked, "With milk?" Why do people ask you that when you order black coffee? "Black please," quoth I, "with no milk, no sugar, and no teaspoon". A few minutes later, she brought me a cup of black coffee... with a teaspoon in the saucer. I sighed inside and thanked her nicely outside, with a smile. They make very good coffee. The places where I can get a good strong cup of black coffee are run by Italian, Sri Lankan, Lebanese and Greek families. There's no point in ordering a black coffee at one of those franchised fast food outlets. It bears a strong family resemblance to tea-coloured water.

1pm. Sitting in the car, watching the world go by, I started listening to ABC News Radio. There was no news. They were broadcasting Parliament. Tried the other two ABC stations. They were both broadcasting the same waffly programme, which didn't improve the day. So I tuned into a community station and listened to Middle Eastern music and a news bulletin in Arabic. I didn't understand a word of it, of course, but it somehow enlarges the world when you listen to foreign language broadcasts.

1.30pm. An L-plate learner driver was just ahead of me as I drove along a back street on the way home. She or he was travelling very slowly indeed. The speed limit in residential streets is 50kph, but this car was doing about 25kph, so it must have been a very early learner. Someone else came zooming past both of us. I decided to stay behind the learner and not zoom past, but kept well back so as not to make the learner nervous. A little courtesy goes a long way, especially on the road.

This is not a blog. It isn't for a bulletin board. It probably isn't very important. But, on this nice Spring day, why not improve the shining hour by having a bit of a chat on paper? Or on the screen.

© Copyright Brian Barratt 2009


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