October already. Christmas soon

October already. Christmas soon

The leaves are changing colour. Spectacular reds and yellows are livening up the mottled green of trees in autumn, and curly leaves litter the pavements, skittering along with puffs of wind. There’s a chill in the air, overpowering the diminished efforts of a fading sun, often reduced to what P.G, Wodehouse would call “a weak splash of gamboge.”

I once wrote a poem about this time of year:

The autumn days are full of clouds,
The longer night’s a purple shroud;
The wind strips leaves from slender tree
To skid and drop me to my knees.

Each passing year goes quicker by,
We all observe how time does fly;
So different from our days at school,
When time’s slow progress was so cruel.

I think the first Christmas trees have already been spotted in shops.

Were you afraid to ask about Bitcoins?

Many column inches are currently being devoted to Bitcoins, the so-called crypto currency that few seem to understand. But are afraid to ask. It’s like those trends that suddenly surround you, making you feel foolish about not being up to speed.

Regular currency I can understand. It’s a piece of paper or metal that represents value in something tangible, like gold or tins of baked beans. You can exchange your currency for those tangible things. So the money you hold represents your buying power, and is guaranteed by the nation’s central bank.

Bitcoins are different. There is no central bank that either issues them or guarantees their value. They seem to represent what someone else will pay for them, but you have no control over the causes of fluctuation in their price. They appear to have no intrinsic value, because they are not valued against tangible assets.

Descriptions of Bitcoin are couched in obscure terms that baffle and intimidate outsiders. No wonder one is afraid to ask.

Are spiders vegetarian?

I have a wall of sweetpeas in my garden and there, right in the centre, is a delicate spider’s web, about the size of my open hand. A tan coloured spider, 1.5 cm long, sat motionless just inside the 2 o’clock position.

Suddenly a small object hit the web. It was a light blue colour, so I took it to be a portion of the petal from a flower, but the spider came to life and raced to capture and wrap it into a bundle. It was a rapid, efficient piece of work.

Then the spider proceeded to suck it dry. I saw the parcel gradually diminish in size, and wondered if the spider was draining it of its moisture. Spiders don’t eat flowers, do they?


In the mornings I walk the road to collect The Times and The Guardian, my remaining connections with England, and exchange greetings with an assortment of locals. The English and anglicised Irish will say, “Morning”. But the real locals in the shop will say, “How arya?”

When I first moved here I took them literally and would tell them. But I could see in their eyes that they didn’t want to know. You get used to others’ ways, don’t you?