I woke up this morning and during this wakefulness my wife asked me to run a wash; I went back to sleep. Later after lying in bed awaken for some time, I glance at the clock, well I shift the duvet and squint at the clock because I can’t focus on it from this distance, and guess that it is something past eleven; wow, I really must get up before the morning is totally gone. I roll out of bed and stand there at the end of the bed. I realise that I don’t want to do anything. I don’t want to do what I expect myself to do. I don’t want to do what society expects me to do. I don’t want to do anything. Inside my mind I am having a tantrum, if you looked at me though you would see a naked man standing perfectly still and staring off into another world. I wonder if I am mentally regressing back to my teenage years.
Life is about living though and whilst passivity has it place (certainly in my life), I suspect a day in limbo would not be good for my soul. I have a pee and note that my urine is too dark and I need to drink more; it fits with the dry throat I am experiencing. I look at myself in the mirror noticing my psoriasis patches flecked with bloody scabs and sigh thinking that scratching myself so I bleed is probably not a good thing. I also think my physique doesn’t look too bad considering the rather unhealthy diet I lead; standing up is always more flattering though. I put plenty of ointment on my plaques and even treat the scalp patches to some lotion. I don’t want to eat breakfast maybe I can have it for a late lunch. I get dressed into my customary shorts and t-shirt. I look around and grab some dirty washing and head out of the bedroom to the clothes basket. My dog arrives as I leave the room and so I drop the washing down onto the floor and spend some time saying hello and trying to reciprocate the same level of affection he has for me.
I empty the washing basket, adding the clothes to the few items I had brought with me deciding to risk a mixed colours wash; I leave the handwashing only clothes behind. Having loaded the washing machine the next issue is to select the programme. The default is to do an “everyday” wash which takes about an hour but I wonder if the grape stain on the hoody sleeve will come out; I decide to risk it. I need to do some writing and I need to do my cartoon course work but I don’t want to, partly because I can’t think of anything to write about (the excuse that popped into my head), and I want to write before I can draw.
I decide to go blackberry picking instead. There are some hedgerows I have seen from my bike ride covered in brambles which large fruit on them. It has been on my mind to go for a couple of weeks now, and I am almost at the point where I suspect the fruit is past picking. This feels like a good thing to do plus it avoids all the other things that are expected of me. First I feed the dog, and whilst I make him wait, I ponder if I can be bothered to get changed to go picking. I take my morning immunosuppressant pills then let the dog eat his food; I wonder if the pills will upset my bowels because I am taking them on an empty stomach. I get changed into jeans and an old blue checked long sleeve shirt with a fraying collar. The only problem is that I can’t find my car keys.
The problem with the stretch of road I have selected is that there are no convenient parking places that are out of the way. It is quite a busy, up and down curvy road so I don’t want to spend too much time walking along it (there is no pavement) and so I pull up into a field entrance. In the distance I can see two tractors doing something which puzzles me because the field is only stubble where I parked. Not wanting to impinge on the farmer’s work, I move the car to another field entrance on the other side of the lane. The fact that the gate is open concerns me but the field is empty of traffic so I decide to chance upsetting the tractor drivers; in my mind I rehearse apologising for blocking their way. I wonder if tractor drivers will understand the desire to blackberry pick, so few people do it nowadays. I pick along the side of the road and many tractors pass me. They have trailers in which I can see what I think of as swede but which are local known as turnips (as in haggis, ‘neaps and tatties); winter food for the sheep or for humans I wonder.
One of the reasons I am sure fewer people are picking blackberries is the fact that one needs to accept injury for ones efforts. Normally the damage is caused by nettles, but in this hedgerow I need to content with a hawthorn foundation topped off with briar roses and off course the bramble thorns themselves. The jeans and shirt mitigate the damage to a certain extent, but thorns cling to the shirt and skin increasing the possibility of the dropping the box of picked blackberries whilst untangling myself. I wonder if this is another activity best done in pairs for safety reasons but know that I prefer to be alone – no one to nick the best berries. Pickings along the road are not great, the fruit is dusty and the infrequent passing of heavy traffic is not pleasant, the squashed pheasant in the road a reminder of what might happen. I have reach a point where the car is no longer in view, I continue along for a few minutes but the thought of disrupting the tractor drivers pushes me to switch sides of the road and head back to the car.
There are no brambles on this side at all until I am pretty much back to the car, where I discover a large patch set back from the road which looks from cursory glances to be a gold mine of fruit. How did I miss this? I soon treble my pickings over my previous efforts and have a two litre ice-cream full of fruit. The only issue has been my bowels. The pills did upset them and despite a valiant effort to ignore my body’s needs, I had to give in and release a pile of runny poo behind the hedgerow. This is not my preferred option when doing my toilet and to make matters worse there is no sphagnum moss to be found; I make do with handfuls of long grass to wipe my messy bum. Mental note to self; put a toilet roll in the car for emergencies, at least the cramps have stopped.
Back at home, bum is checked and hands are washed; I change back into my shorts and t-shirt. The blackberries are put in the fridge for later processing and I sit down with a mug of vanilla chai in the music room. The sun is beginning to peek through the bay window, I open up my laptop and start to write.