From the pen of Turlough Ó Maoláin ...

The Chronicles of Bulgaria

Lazing On a Thursday Afternoon


Caught in a lull between two storms, I’m stuck in an uneasy stay-in-the-house kind of frame of mind, reluctant to open the back door even though the sun has been shining for most of the day. Tomorrow will be grey and wet, as was yesterday, so I ask myself what’s the point of not feeling grey and wet today? Why interrupt the pattern? Even if I did decide to shake off my wintry mood and venture outside where it is pleasantly autumnal again for a solitary day, for public health reasons I wouldn’t be able to put a foot beyond the garden gate. The Bulgarian Government dictates that, because I touched some people on a recent trip to Manchester, I must self-incarcerate for ten days. This is nothing to do with virus control; it’s more to do with the fact that our health officials know all about what goes on in Manchester. 

This leaves me feeling at a bit of a loose end. It’ll be dark in an hour or so and there’s not much I can do outside in that time. I’ve already sat for a while with a book and a pot of coffee whilst inhaling a bit of fresh air, and I’ve made a mental list of what I’ll do when the garden springs back to life in the aptly named spring. Sweeping up the leaves is normally a good way to occupy myself without overdoing it but the few that we had remaining were blown away during the storm before last. I should have saved two or three wheelbarrows full of them to keep me mildly occupied on days like this.

I have a long list of things that need doing around the house but any hope of shortening that list is blighted by a total lack of enthusiasm for anything that can’t be done without me getting off my backside. If only vacuum cleaners came with a remote control like television sets then I wouldn’t feel so much like I was wasting a day. We don’t own a television in this house because we don’t believe in sitting around all day wasting time by staring at a screen. But if we did have one I would probably now be saying that I have wasted a day sitting around staring at a screen instead of saying that I have wasted a day sitting around doing absolutely nothing. Perhaps I would experience a miniscule sense of achievement from this. Everything is relative, I suppose.

Most days we have an almost daily Cat of the Day competition, the hotly contested title going to whichever of our seven former stray felines has impressed us the most. Points can be gained for exterminating rodents, eating the food our dogs have left, looking cute, not shitting on the flowers in our garden, or snugly falling asleep on our laps when we have fallen asleep in the chair on days such as this. Today’s winner is Sam (written as Сам in Bulgarian, his name being the word for ‘alone’ because we found him alone in the street in the snow when he was only a few weeks old). Today Sam is the only one of the little Bulgars that hasn’t been fighting or trying to open the door of the fridge. It was an easy decision that didn’t take up anywhere near enough of our time, though I haven’t checked the condition of the flowers in our garden.


A Malki Chiflik late autumn sunset.


Our evening meal is already simmering in the oven, thanks to my dear Priyatelka (Приятелка ... the Bulgarian word for girlfriend or female partner). We no longer drink alcohol, so as well as not being able to get out of my chair I’m unable to get out of my tree. I’ve spent so much time reading today that my fingers are lacerated with paper cuts and I’m confident in saying that the current state of my personal hygiene and grooming is exactly as it should be. So there is nothing to do except sit and wait for the next storm, which I understand will probably contain snow.

I’ve spent a considerable chunk of the daylight hours reading some of the other writers’ wonderful work on the ABC Tales website. In the ‘pending’ folder on my computing machine I have an assortment of unfinished stuff that I will eventually post on the site. There’s a couple of half written poems, a story about a leather umbrella and a tub of industrial lubricant that still needs a bit of honing (and maybe censoring), a thirteen-line sonnet and a haiku that’s still two syllables short. I struggle with haikus. It has even been known for friends to describe me as being two syllables short of a haiku. Sometimes I think it might be easier to express myself with a haka instead, but that really would involve getting out of my chair. All in all, my head isn’t in the right place for writing today, even though it is full of ideas (which is a roundabout way of saying that I’m a hopeless daydreamer).

I’m also a member of an online mathematicians’ group, 123 Tales, and I thought about posting something on there to pass the time from my sedentary position but, at the point of clicking on the ‘save’ button, they always ask that I write a poem or short story to test whether I am a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

I have plans to do a bit of procrastinating later on, but in the meantime I’ll sit and watch the sun go down from the comfort of just beside the living room window. It’s beautiful this evening.


File under: Drivel.


Image: Today’s sunset, created by me, but I couldn’t have done it had planet Earth not been spinning on its axis around the sun at an angle of 23.5 degrees. So I’d be a fool to claim all the credit.

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