oh, well, whatever . . .

miracles and the rain

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It was a long weekend. Sudden, unpredictable rain plagued every walk I made.  Most days I wound up drenched and dripping and as glossy as an eel. This weather also had the unfortunate side effect of confining me to the house more than I really wanted, an experience made doubly difficult because Margaret had an attack of grumpy teeth. This condition afflicts her intermittently, rather than cyclically, and I have hypothesised that it is caused by work-related stress. It almost invariably occurs within a month of her beginning a new job, as it has on this occasion. It is in fact, at least superficially, a reliable indicator of her happiness at work, and where it has persisted for a protracted period she has in both cases given up the job. It happened at Sasha’s Pampered Pets; it happened at Underwater World.

Of course, this is a small sample, and you will no doubt argue that these could be mere coincidences, that I am asserting a causal connection where none in reality exists. That may be true.  Or it may indeed be that a causal connection does exist, but that it runs in a different direction i.e. that Margaret cannot tolerate working at all when she has grumpy teeth and that if the condition persists it is therefore inevitable that after a certain time she will abandon any job she has at that time. That, of course, would still leave undetermined the cause of the grumpy teeth.

De Kooning and I have often debated the meaning of Margaret’s grumpy teeth. It is true that no biological or dental cause has ever been established, but it is surely also true that ultimately some physiological process must inform her condition, even if it is one triggered by events of a more psychic nature.  Grumpy teeth must, in common with all other events that we observe and encounter in our day to day lives, have a cause. It cannot belong to a special class of event outside that natural order, it cannot in effect be a sub-species of the miraculous.  And even if it were, miracles too have a meaning, a special significance within their transcendental frame; they are surprising events of remarkable import at the mysterious interface between the natural and the supernatural worlds. If you believe in that kind of thing, of course, which I don’t. 

Personally, I find the assertion that grumpy teeth may be a miracle to be faintly absurd. What on earth could be the point of such a trivial and troublesome miracle?  What kind of bored or capricious deity would commission such an act? If God, for whatever mysterious reason, had taken it upon himself to discharge Margaret from Pampered Pets, would he have done so by investing in such a patently baroque miracle as grumpy teeth?  Probably not.  A simple infestation of fleas would have been kinder and far less conspicuous – and if there is a God, one of the more obvious facts about Him is that he doesn’t want anyone to know he’s around.

Margaret has taken her grumpy teeth problem to Brenda, of course, although on what basis I am not yet sure. I am assuming acupuncture, but for all I know grumpy teeth may be a problem that can be approached from any number of tracks on the New Age route planner.  It may be that, as De Kooning has suggested, it is from a Life Coaching perspective that the problem is being tackled.

De Kooning and I were sitting in conservatory late on Sunday afternoon. The sky was charcoal grey and silvery rain slithered quietly down the windows. I was drinking a cappuccino and reading an article in The Observer claiming that many are coming to see Gordon as a liability. Margaret was in the kitchen cooking turnips and beans.  She came through to open the windows because they were steaming up.

‘How are your teeth?’ I asked.

‘Dreadful,’ she replied.

I resisted the temptation to see this as a potential key to their true significance. The idea of dreadful teeth was almost too hellish for a Sunday afternoon. At that point a blackbird flew into the window. De Kooning and I sprang up.  I opened the door and we both ran out into the rain. The blackbird had already recovered and flown off.  I looked over the fence. Hugo had acquired a life-size plastic moose. It stood beneath the station clock, alone in the seemingly perpetual rain; glazed, awesome, and somehow vaguely terrifying.


Written by yammering

April 29, 2008 at 11:00 pm

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