Thursday, April 23, 2015

Speak Softly My Love.

Louis Shalako

Speak softly my love, for the heart can never lie.

Speak softly to me, and lover, please don’t cry.

Speak softly my love, speak softly—

Speak softly, my love…for our love shall never die.

...speak softly, my love.

Speak low.

Speak softly to me my love

Speak softly and tell me

Please tell me

That you will never go.

To fall in love, is to be young again

And to count the cost

Is to die a little bit inside.


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Excerpt: Confessions of an Opium Eater, Thomas de Quincey.

Tom reminisces. (Sir John Wartson-Gordon.)
The following is an extract from Confessions of an Opium Eater, by Thomas de Quincey.

"It is so long since I first took opium that if it had been a trifling incident in my life I might have forgotten its date; but cardinal events are not to be forgotten, and from circumstances connected with it I remember that it must be referred to the autumn of 1804.  During that season I was in London, having come thither for the first time since my entrance at college.  And my introduction to opium arose in the following way.  From an early age I had been accustomed to wash my head in cold water at least once a day: being suddenly seized with toothache, I attributed it to some relaxation caused by an accidental intermission of that practice, jumped out of bed, plunged my head into a basin of cold water, and with hair thus wetted went to sleep.  The next morning, as I need hardly say, I awoke with excruciating rheumatic pains of the head and face, from which I had hardly any respite for about twenty days.  On the twenty-first day I think it was, and on a Sunday, that I went out into the streets, rather to run away, if possible, from my torments, than with any distinct purpose.  By accident I met a college acquaintance, who recommended opium.  Opium! dread agent of unimaginable pleasure and pain!  I had heard of it as I had of manna or of ambrosia, but no further.  How unmeaning a sound was it at that time: what solemn chords does it now strike upon my heart! what heart-quaking vibrations of sad and happy remembrances!  Reverting for a moment to these, I feel a mystic importance attached to the minutest circumstances connected with the place and the time and the man (if man he was) that first laid open to me the Paradise of Opium-eaters.  It was a Sunday afternoon, wet and cheerless: and a duller spectacle this earth of ours has not to show than a rainy Sunday in London.  My road homewards lay through Oxford Street; and near “the stately Pantheon” (as Mr. Wordsworth has obligingly called it) I saw a druggist’s shop.  The druggist—unconscious minister of celestial pleasures!—as if in sympathy with the rainy Sunday, looked dull and stupid, just as any mortal druggist might be expected to look on a Sunday; and when I asked for the tincture of opium, he gave it to me as any other man might do, and furthermore, out of my shilling returned me what seemed to be real copper halfpence, taken out of a real wooden drawer.  Nevertheless, in spite of such indications of humanity, he has ever since existed in my mind as the beatific vision of an immortal druggist, sent down to earth on a special mission to myself.  And it confirms me in this way of considering him, that when I next came up to London I sought him near the stately Pantheon, and found him not; and thus to me, who knew not his name (if indeed he had one), he seemed rather to have vanished from Oxford Street than to have removed in any bodily fashion.  The reader may choose to think of him as possibly no more than a sublunary druggist; it may be so, but my faith is better—I believe him to have evanesced, or evaporated.  So unwillingly would I connect any mortal remembrances with that hour, and place, and creature, that first brought me acquainted with the celestial drug."

Saturday, December 27, 2014


The intimate life of the neighbourhood.

Louis Shalako

This morning, I walked Mama Shalako’s dog Zoe. Then I took off and got coffee, smokes and et cetera. Five bucks worth of gas or something. Then I went for a walk along Canatara Beach. It’s at least a kilometre or more each way, from one end to the other by the yacht club. It’s all sand and it’s soft to walk on, and it also slows you down. The hard-packed stuff at the water’s edge is good to walk on, although it’s on an angle. If you have hip problems, or knee problems, it’s better to go higher up and follow trails that are closer to the level.

I did both on my recent walk. My right leg is about a half an inch shorter these days than my left one, so returning to the vehicle was all right along the shoreline.

Over the course of the day, walking the dog a couple of times, and walking at the park, I probably walked a good four kilometres. That’s not bad, especially considering my legs didn’t go numb, and while my hips can certainly feel it, there’s no major aches and pains. I’m 55 years old, suffered some back injuries when I was about thirty or so. I’ve had plenty of back pain and back problems. But it’s not just injuries. We spend far too much time in a chair, on a couch, or on a bed getting worked over by a chiropractor.

When people suffer back pain and the doctors can’t find a cause for it, that’s most likely at least one part of the problem—we are far too sedentary.

It wasn’t always that way, and in future, it might not always the way it is now; in my own particular case. Tomorrow might very well be different.

The weather is relatively good, and yet I don’t feel like riding my bicycle around town—holiday traffic, rain, wind and just plain overcast skies sort of take the charm out of that.

The point is, that today at least, I have seen a great improvement. The whole walking program arose, as such things do, out of sheer desperation.

We had two chilly summers in a row—and I like to swim. I like to cycle, and yes, every so often I drag my ass out of the car and walk a trail somewhere. The last couple of years were kind of disappointing in terms of low-budget physical stuff. So that’s where the walking initially started.

At first it was kind of bad—kind of painful and limited. I just kept going out, and some days I got pretty far into the bush. Some days I turned around and left early…

I have this little camera and I shoot to my heart’s content. It gives me a reason to be there, I suppose.

Old men need such comforts, the illusion that we are actually doing something.

The funny thing is, that if I walk on city pavements, concrete sidewalks, asphalt parking lots, polished terrazzo floors in local malls, etc., my legs would soon go numb. I would be numb from the waist down. Walking on a hard surface, wearing hard shoes, has an impact on the lower back.

There is a peculiar gait to someone who is actually going somewhere. I'm just some guy piddly-bopping along and wondering why we have to go for such long walks in the woods looking for some guy named Charley all the time.

Yeah, I know it is derivative—but it's good derivative.

Here’s something that’s weird about walking in crappy weather. I’m wearing two hoods. One, light cotton hoodie, and then the hood of my jacket.

After a while, the neck, shoulders and upper back sort of begin to nag at you. That’s because you have the weight of some of that clothing tugging on the top of your head as you walk, as you turn this way and that looking at birds or whatever. By springtime, the old neck will be ever so slightly stronger. This comes into play when cycling or swimming, in fact the first time you ride the bike you are always surprised by how much things like necks, shoulders, elbows and wrists can actually hurt…

By walking as often as possible, by getting up and away from this desk as much as possible, we’ve learned something about managing our bodies and our expectations in a way that resulted in an improvement.

It’s a process of experimenting on ourselves and seeing what happens.

Now, when spring rolls around, we might be in a little bit better shape to climb on that old bike and go for a ride.

Stronger legs, stronger hips and stronger lower back makes for stronger swimming. A stronger neck isn’t a bad thing either. There’s nothing wrong with oxygen, and putting our bodies out in the cold once in a while probably stimulates our immune system as well. (This is borne out by certain studies of runners, but with my back I simply don't run.)

Walking is a nice, light aerobic exercise, and the world of back streets at night, that more intimate little neighbourhood view, really comes alive sometimes. It's an entirely different perspective on the world.

It’s a lot different than seeing it from a car going by.