Gargoyles and earphones

The earphones came in a neat silver container in which they could also charge up between uses. But I couldn’t master them. There was a tiny switch on the right side of each phone you needed to shift and then wait till a red light flashed into green and they were charged. 

It sounds simple enough but for me it was complicated. I could never work out whether they were on or off and given I had wanted them to make housework easier as I listened to my podcasts while cleaning out the bath, I hoped the absence of wires would make it all easier. No more tripping over loose wires. 

Once or twice the new pods nearly fell into the toilet which would have been a sad end to my earphones. 

How the earphones connect to the gargoyle is largely semantic.

I asked for a writing prompt at breakfast this morning and my son in law suggested I write about gargoyles even though I’ve written before about the gargoyles that sit over our ponds, one in the front garden the other out back. 

A terracotta gargoyle that could just as well live on the roof of some Edwardian house somewhere but for our purposes is better suited to sitting over our pond. Besides it’s attached to a hose and pump and spews out pond water rhythmically instead of the rainwater a rooftop gargoyle might send flying. An antidote to any idea mosquitos might have of settling their unhatched offspring on the surface. 

A gargoyle would have no truck with earphones. Earphones especially those that operate blue tooth could have no interest in gargoyles. I’m losing track of my sentences.

A sudden thought I might be losing my mind. All the new technology we need to embrace and my struggles to get beyond the use of earphones that refuse to switch on in logical ways.

My daughter insists they’re easy to use but I cannot be bothered arguing with those flashing lights.

Years ago, when I first started to write there were people, purists to my mind, who believed that the best writing came about only with a pen in hand. You could not write as creatively on a typewriter and years later they believed you could not write so creatively on a computer keyboard. They cited studies of the brain to demonstrate that different parts of the brain lit up when handwriting as opposed to the parts of the brain that lit up while on a computer. 

We don’t need gargoyles anymore, but handwriting remains a must. Whatever the lit up parts of our brains tell us.

Ship wreck

I’ve fallen out with time. Caught up with an image in my mind I can’t shake. Shipwrecked close to shore, my fingers will soon lose their dexterity, unless I can stave off the arthritis that crept into my mother’s knuckles when she was my age. 

When I was a child one of the nuns suffered severe arthritis in her hands and feet. She wore thick black shoes, the toe section elevated into a convex bowl to accommodate the bulk of her crooked bones. Her fingers were like gnarled tree roots.

This nun disliked me. I was not agile with numbers and she taught mathematics and science. She taught us how to do logarithms from a thin orange book filled from top to toe with figures. She taught us algebra, about equations, and the square root of things, but I could only take in the words, not the ideas behind the words, and most of the time I sat in her class fearful of letting her know. I could only guess the answers to the questions she wrote up on the board, the sums she set. 

Irritation stamped on her face like an angry question mark whenever she noticed me. 

‘What’s wrong with you,’ she said. ‘Why can’t you do even the simplest sums.’ 

My youngest brother once told me that mathematics is a language no different from any other language. If you can find the patterns in a language, he said, then you can find the patterns in the numbers.

But I could not. 

Even now a sea of numbers swim before my eyes and I lose focus. My eyes blur. I cannot hold the page steady. Already, at first glance, I have decided, this is too hard for me.

Too hard because my father told me before I even tried to add one and one together, before I tried to rote learn my times tables, that I was one of the many females in the world, just like my mother and sister before me, who were useless as maths. 

Girls can’t count. Girls can’t perform complex tasks that require intelligence. Girls are dumb. 

It stays with me this notion of my intellectual inferiority even as I have worked over the years to dispel the nonsense of my father’s prejudice. 

Time consists of numbers. And any fiddles with time, including the agonies of day light savings changes, requires concentration to get my mind around the shifts. 

My mind is a shipwreck. One I can view safely from the shore. I can see the once tall masts jutting out from the sea line on an angle. Sea birds rest on its topmost tip, its sails in tatters. Under the water, I can imagine the bowels of the boat, fractured where the rocks ripped her apart. Scuttled on the seafloor close to land but not so close I want to swim inside. Best to view her sad ending from a distance.