No Pooka Required (The 'Flip-Book' series, No.5)

Hello, world. 

Now stop that.  Stop it, I say!  I'm not going any further with this until you stop sniggering, and pull yourself together.  I know you might well have studied computing, maybe you learned your earliest C programming from Kernighan & Ritchie, and as soon as I spoke those two words at the start of this piece you immediately thought of that damned little scrap of beginners' code.

Now please forget it.

I wasn't dickering with elementary output statements for an Analytical Engine; I happened to be standing at my bedroom window, gazing out at creation and greeting it.  And why not?  Creation is a pretty fine thing to behold; I feel privileged to be here, now, doing the beholding, and to quote Elwood P Dowd (James Stewart in that excellent 1950 film version of 'Harvey'), "every day is a beautiful day".

Of course, it doesn't often seem beautiful to most of us, most of the time; d'you think I don't know that?  There are billions of grittily-polluted inner-city mornings, hundreds of millions of minuscule windows looking out on man-made monstrosities that pass for architecture, millions of benighted souls with no windows on the world at all, or no means of reaching one; there's no limit to the misery that human beings are inflicting on themselves or one another.

But take a step back from our anthropocentric viewpoint, and consider: none of the above affects the wonder, the ineffable thrill, of the fact that mornings occur at all.  Every day is a beautiful day.  This planet continues to rotate, our Solar System ticks over, the universe carries on expanding.  We're lucky to be here --- although we usually behave as if we'd been sentenced to our lives, rather than had them bestowed upon us.  Here's more absurdity: because we're forever preoccupied with ourselves and our futures --- and worrying as a result --- we can be in the most uplifting of surroundings and still fail to notice the daily miracle of it all.

Take me, as an example.  For a while (when I was twenty, twenty-one), I lived and worked in a Victorian vicarage on the edge of Ilam, a gorgeous village at the mouth of Dovedale, in Britain's Peak District National Park.  I awoke every morning to this prospect:

It was (and probably still is) an idyllic workplace, but I was far too mixed-up and self-obsessed to appreciate it.  I eventually drove myself into a nervous collapse and left, with a profound sense of relief --- though not as profound as the regret that has dogged me ever since.  How could such an apparently-intelligent young man have been so stupid?

Because he's human, that's how: we always find so many clever ways to be fools; we're so damned quick at being slow --- and meanwhile, behind all our human palaver, every day is still a beautiful day.

Today, Day 13991, finds me a much mellower fellow.  I'm gazing out at creation (natural and constructed), greeting it and relishing it.  From my dormer window I have an excellent view of traffic streaking along Essingeleden (part of the E20 motorway), shooting into or out of the Fredhall tunnels; there's a succession of unattractive apartment blocks along that shore, and a few scrubby trees clinging to the rock-face around the tunnel mouths; there's also a large body of water out there, just below my field of view.

It's not picturesque, all things considered.  It's far from being the best view in Stockholm.  It wouldn't stand a chance in my Top Fifty of Pretty Views From Bedroom Windows.  But here's the thing: I don't care.  I'm happy to be alive to see it.
Elwood P Dowd was spot on.


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