Engulf


Once upon a time I went with my friend to the ICA: the Institute of Contemporary Arts, in London.

It is not by any means the only visit I have ever made: but it was one which has stayed with me since a tender age, and which I have never forgotten.

We seated ourselves in the auditorium expecting nouveau performance art: and by jove, we got nouveau performance art.

A lot of things happened in the next hour. But by far the most memorable was the moment when the lights went up on a four-foot Pot Noodle stationed centre stage.

On danced a ballerina. Diminutive, ethereal, the Ariel of the moment: her movements impossibly graceful, the sweeps of her arms and feet the most perfect mathematical arcs.

She teetered on points towards the giant pot noodle.

We waited. This was quite a build up.

Closer and closer she came, and finally, as she reached the junk food icon, she bent: inquisitive, a perfect pastiche of dainty speculation, all gauze and air and perfume.

As she leant closer, and closer, the audience sensed the punchline.

She leant down and her head disappeared into the pot: closely followed by her shoulders and her voluminous Grace Kelly gauzy layered skirt.

The audience watched, fascinated and perplexed, as her ballet shoes followed suit, and the ballerina had been completely consumed by an item of fast food.

Unforgettable.

A dramatic and incongruous example of something engulfing something else: but by no means the only one.

Bilbo Baggins was almost engulfed, in Tolkien’s epic Lord Of The Rings.

But, just in time I think, he stepped away from it. And with a sense of drama uncharacteristic of hobbits, he chose the most attention-grabbing moment to do so: his birthday party.

I adore Tolkien’s description of the gathering of 144 guests, eating Bilbo’s food and drinking Bilbo’s drink and in no mood for long speeches: Bagginses and Boffins, Tooks and Brandybucks, Grubbs and Chubbs, Burrowses, Bolgers, Bracegirdles, Goodbodies, Hornblowers and Proudfoots.

Or is it Proudfeet?

His speech contains just the sort of dramatic exhibitionism I relish. It is how I would love to go.

I don’t know half of you as well as I should like, he tells the gathering with straightfaced mischief: and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.

He disappears abruptly, leaving them all to gossip for the next few centuries about the day that oddest of hobbits literally vanished into thin air for good.

Bilbo leaves everything behind, and we only learn later that he is headed for something akin to cold turkey at Rivendell.

For he has been carrying a heavy load for a long, long time.

One Ring to rule them all, one Ring to find them: one Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.

It is hard for the old hobbit to leave it on the mantelpiece at Bag End: so hard that it somehow finds its way back into his pocket.

Bilbo tells Gandalf that it has been ‘growing on his mind’ lately. Gandalf, it must be noted, will not be postman. It rests on the mantelpiece, in an envelope, ready for its last bearer: Frodo.

And then Bilbo just walks down the path, away from the life he has led, wandering ultimately to Rivendell, Β withdrawing from the influence which has so dominated his life.

He does see the Ring again: just once more.

His nephew arrives on his outward journey to Mordor, sheltering at Rivendell. And Bilbo tells Frodo he should like to see it just once more.

When his nephew pulls the Ring out to show him, a horrific shadow appears between them: a shadow of what Bilbo might have become, had he not slipped off the Ring one last time and put it on the mantelpiece.

The horrific vision shows them both that that thin band of metal had more control of him than either of them had ever imagined.

Sometimes, these things creep up on one, don’t they?

There is a spring in my husband’s step today; my daughter sports a dazzling smile. My son is chirpy and the dog is picking up on all that body language and favouring the running-in-tight-circles exuberance he does so well outside, and with slightly less aplomb when he is inside, in close proximity to the family china.

And the reason? Today is my 200th and last blog.

I could talk and ramble on about everything and nothing every day until the tall dark bloke turned up with his scythe: but like the giant pot noodle and the Ring which bound with such power, I disappear into these stories and rambling connections I write.

I withdraw from the world and become extremely excited about random happenings and chance similarities and beautiful stories and while I leave adequate time for my family, it’s time my eyes left the laptop and were exclusively theirs for a while.

So: I will have to leave the story of Maddie’s new High Council meetings in the middle sitting room; and of Felix’s Tall Devil; of Al’s Houdini escapism, or the night Betty Driver from Coronation Street sheltered a little Julie Andrews from the bombing of Coventry.

Thanks to all the wonderful writers who have taken the time to visit me daily, and who have broadened my horizons with their various, unfailingly entertaining takes on life.

I’m off to Rivendell for a spot of cold turkey.

“I am immensely fond of you all, and eleventy one years is far too short a time to live among such excellent and admirable hobbits.

“I don’t know half of you as well as I should like: and I like less than half of you as well as you deserve.

“Finally, I wish to make an ANNOUNCEMENT. I regret to announce that – though, as I said, eleventy-one years is far too short a time to spend among you – this is the END. I am going. I am leaving NOW.

“GOODBYE!”

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58 thoughts on “Engulf

  1. I’ll really miss my early morning fix, and my inner pedant is in mourning now that school newsletters will be her only outlet….

    But I know that your sojourn in Rivendell will lead to greater things for you and I look forward to enjoying them.

    Love
    Jan ( your ‘almost godlike’ oracle)

    1. Oracle, what can I say. Two hundred posts, day in, day out: I am glad that you inhabit the same murky backwaters as I, and it is my good fortune that such a formidable subbing talent lurks here with me. I feel it is my duty to point out that you would be at home sub-editing a national paper.

      Thank you, Jan, for everything. It has been a riot πŸ˜€

      1. Kate, I hope you get this message from me…I couldn’t figure out how to leave a fresh response this time so piggy backed on your last comment to someone else. Hope you find it. Somehow I felt your absence today…went onto the internet to find YOU and read Engulf. I am saddened, so sorry, to hear your news – As you can tell I’ve faded a bit in my own blogging due to the press of other things like painting for the gallery, but my intention is to keep blogging but only a few times a month. I do so hope there will be another time in your life when you return here even if it’s once a week…Your intelligent perspective and remarkable ability to tell a convoluted tale so very well have inspired me again and again and I will miss YOU.

      2. Thanks Deborah. Your life must be very full with the new gallery and all…figured real life had taken over, and I think that’s the healthy option πŸ™‚ I shall find a bit of balance, do the things I have to do, and then, who knows. Lost my balance a bit here though, and I simply must make sure my family and life are sound. Must pop over to yours….I do look in most days just to check πŸ™‚ I love my glimpses of another life where the earth is viewed with a such wide open mind πŸ™‚

  2. Crikey, I wasn’t expecting that. (Sob)

    I suppose, as I haven’t been here from the start I didn’t know you had set yourself a target, thoughI had my suspicions you were fulfilling a challenge of some sort!

    I shall miss you, Kate, and wonder how you will feel about not having this contact with everyone daily?

    1. The friends have been the greatest blessing of all about this project, Pseu. I can still come to see all of you at your sites: I’m not jumping off the edge of the cyberworld πŸ™‚

      But I have an addictive side which must be curbed: and I have a few things I need to do with this stuff now it is amassed. Writing a large chunk of words a day and running a family means there is no time to get the words anywhere other than onto my site. I love this old cyber-room, it is a fustian book-lined sanctuary. But it’s time to shut the door…

      1. Many pieces here that are worthy of gaining a wider audience and I do hope that resting from the blogging will give you ‘head space’ to achieve this. You could easily be a widely acclaimed columnist in a broadsheet, with your skill of finding something interesting every single day, your ability to see things from an alternative angle and to do the research to back it all up. (Not that I have gone a funny shade of green or anything. )

        I’ll make a toast to the future tonight when I have a glass of something, and I shall have you in mind particularly.

      2. Thank you, friend. Precious words from one who has such a way with them: and latterly with pictures too! That camera has opened a whole new box of tricks and shown such a talent. I look forward to reading you everyday, simply as a humble visitor. Never a post goes by when you do not make me think. It’s lovely having someone who is so close by, with your talent for seeing the tiny details, living the same England I am.

  3. Ah, no more fantabulous pieces of Kate writing to read every day … 😦 Funny, I was just wondering the other day – when I was on the bus – if you were going to write a book, or compile all of your posts into one. Hmmm, wondering still …
    It’s been wonderful meeting you in this cyberworld, Kate – hope we’ll continue to be in contact?
    Sunshine xx

  4. I am so very, very sad to hear this news.You were so generous in your support of my blog and I enjoyed yours. It was enriching to have little chats with an interesting, smart and educated person on the other side of the world. Maybe just one post a week? PLEASE. You are the third person to withdraw from blogging that I follow this month. You will be missed. Your “I never really got to meet you friend” Carl D’Agostino

    1. Carl thank you. I’ll still come to see your wonderful daily posts! I’m a bit addicted! As to the future, one never says never. The fat lady has several decades left before she sings on my behalf.

  5. You surprised me on this one, Kate, and, I must admit, you drew out a tear or two. At the end of the day, however, I always say “a gals gotta do what a gals gotta do”. I’ve enjoyed your posts immensely, and learned a thing or two in the process. Thank you. So, off you go, with best wishes from my little kingdom to yours – and a hope that you will stop by to say hello once-in-awhile,

    1. Penny, I shall be visiting as always πŸ™‚ I have learned so much about that little kingdom of yours, and can’t possibly leave the future of the red fox and the Christmas buck in question. You have such a wonderful style. Long may your documenting of life on the Cutoff continue…I am looking forward to the coming of Spring over there.

  6. Oh My Dear Sweet and Loving God! But Katie, I hardly knew ye! I understand why you are going, but you’ve left no ring on my mantle! I am now engulfed in my misery. Please leave the site up so that I may go back and read and save your archives, to make the withdrawal a little easier. I have counted on your extraordinary talents to show me what good writing is. I have many wonderful teachers, but your unique, capable, and witty voice held within it the sounds that I most valued on certain mornings when nothing seemed to be going right.

    I hope that you will allow me to e-mail you occasionally. I promise not to bug you too often. I do hope and pray that Rivendell is all that you remember and dream, and that your family there will appreciate all that you are doing for them, as I know through your writing that you appreciate and love them. So sorry I found you so late. I’ll be forever grateful to Paul Newman for bringing us together! πŸ˜€ All the best from your grateful “student.” I wish you above all things, enough. . .

    1. Oh, Paula, what lovely words πŸ™‚ The site stays there for the time being at least: I shall be using it to flog my wares shamelessly. What a wonderful wish for the future: enough. I think the ability to recognise it when it arrives would be a wonderful side-dish πŸ™‚ See you around, Paula x

  7. Wow, crikey – a bit lost for words here but feeling the need to make a comment all the same. I don’t get to see you and your wonderful family anything like as much as I would hope to, and this was a wonderful way of getting a daily dose of contact and inspiration.
    I expect that the other incarnation of miff73 will be along later to share a comment as well.
    Reading today’s epistle I was just thinking to myself, “excellent, some Tolkien material today – I understand this stuff and will at least be able to make something of a meaningful comment”, but then you knock us all sideways with goodbye! It is so tempting to be selfish on this and plead for more, but if the blog has become to you what the ring became to Bilbo then so be it.
    Your blog has inspired me greatly. Firstly as you might have noticed I am doing my best to post a little post each day, and have made it through nearly a whole month – whether I get anywhere near 200 remains to be seen. As you will no doubt have also noticed, my posts are mostly nonsense, unlike the thoughtful and thought-provoking insights that you’ve been sharing with us on a daily basis. Secondly, you have shown me that I am missing out on some great literature (evident to me given the number of your literary references that have gone sailing straight over my head over these last 200 days) and I am also starting to make small steps in the right direction. I finished reading a book earlier today that I read because of a mention on here.
    Be warned, next time I see you we will fix up a pot of coffee, and I will expect you to provide me with one entertaining story for each day between now and then to make up for the lack of blogs.
    Missing the Shrewsday already!
    Miff xx

    1. Miff, what a wonderful set of comments. Jewels from my daughter’s godfather. I have loved the regular blog postings over at your cyberroom, they are to me what this is to you: a wonderful way of being with you, day-to-day.
      Sorry to save such a great writer as Tolkein for this day: but I have always felt an affinity for Bilbo at this time in his life. I think he was not a sensitive soul, and nor am I: there were those in the Shire that mourned his going, and the abrupt departure, with no appreciation for how those who loved him would feel, has always resonated strong with me πŸ™‚ As indeed, have Pot Noodles. With my digestion, anyway.
      Coffee soon. We shall have fun. Hug that wonderful boy for me. He amazes me more with every day, month and year.

  8. Well, this is NOT what I wanted to read this morning. Fortunately, Paula alerted me to its contents on Sidey’s post about Exaggeration, or I would have had a tougher time with the ending.

    You must, of course, do what feels right for you and your family. But would an occasional post ~ once a week, or once a month ~ be a possibility?

    If not, I certainly understand . . . or I will once the withdrawal symptoms subside.

    Embrace all with joy. Relinquish all with joy. Cheers, Kate! Your words WILL be missed.

    1. Never say never πŸ™‚ Hmmmm, relinquishing with joy: withdrawal symptoms from writing will be considerable, I fear. I’ll let them subside, make sure I’m living fully in this life of mine. Get unhooked from those stats. Send away some stuff, nag some papers.
      Thanks for those words, Nancy. I will visit often if I may πŸ™‚ Spirit Leads The Way’s perspective is fabulous.

  9. Oh my! No please. I have just settled into the delight of being daily Kated. What shall I do with those moments?

    Please let me know if you finish your cold turkey and come back.

  10. Oh my goodness! I never thought you’d leave, loved your blog – an utterly charming and informative mix of the personal and universal, earth-shattering facts and unsubstantiable (if that’s a word) trivia, delightfully wry when called for, … what can I say? But, of course, you must go where your heart leads…. I wish you all the best in your continuing journey.

  11. Kate, I’m sorry I didn’t visit you sooner. I saw your name on comments of mutually visited blogs, but I have over-subscribed myself so had stopped finding more blogs to follow. When I read Cin’s blog tonight, I decided it was time to visit you. Seeing the quality, I will be spending some time here – glad you’ll leave the site available for a while.

    I wrote about managing the “bloghood” because I saw my time was out of balance. You are doing what concerned me…becoming ‘addicted’ to the point of having to make a decision. I have gone through several phases of “shoulds” and, thankfully, have stayed as true to my writing purpose as I could and still leave room for diversity. I stay away from doing a daily post.

    May your new writing objective bring endless outlets for self-expression.

  12. I am sad, Kate, but I wish you well for the future. I hope you come back in some shape or form in the near future. Until then, please take care of yourself and your family. Best wishes and God speed.

    James xx

  13. This is FAR too high a note to end the aria on. Some pathetic, played/out writing would have been far more appopriate. You charm some potential new friends and then get thyself to a nunnery? Tut!

    I love the noodel and Bilbo images, though. Perhaps they should repeat that sketch with a hamburger as the Audrey centrepiece…

    1. Colonialist, there is only one thing for it, and I’m not sure us busy bloggers have the time: read backwards. I’m sure you, like me, have great affection for past posts…I hate to see them buried and never read…
      Thank you for coming, and for providing me with a diverting new project. I do hope Rivendell has a giant hamburger somewhere within its walls.

      1. That I will do. Will come a day, though, when backward goes no further, and at that stage I trust you won’t be backward about coming forward again. by Gollum!

  14. But I don’t want you to go. I need you to tell me what’s going on in interesting parts of the world. This is not what I wanted to read just before making my way to bed.

    But I know what you mean about staring at the laptop, and I suspect there’s someone who might be pleased to see me follow you into real life.

    I wish you well on all your endeavors. And I’ll check in regularly, so if you ever feel like posting, be assured it will be read. And if you ever feel like sharing a picture of Macaulay, please do.

    But I really don’t want you to go.

  15. Ha! I’ve got it . . .

    You’re related to Nanny McPhee, aren’t you, Kate? If we want you to STAY, you must GO (and vice versa).

    So, if we tell you to GO . . . will you STAY? πŸ™‚

    1. Cold turkey is cold turkey. It is hell: Felix yesterday asked how many atoms we breathe in with every breath; Maddie has discovered that such things as Moonlets exist; and Big Al has begun to learn Swing Low Sweet Chariot.

  16. That’s a pity, Kate – but perfectly understandable – I think my other half would be very happy if I gave up mine. Will miss your very interesting, intelligent posts. Best wishes. bb

  17. Oh no! I am so sorry I didn’t catch this post until now. Blasted being so behind in my reading. I will certainly miss you but I understand wanting to catch some air. Blogging is nothing if not time-consuming. I hope you enjoy that family of yours. Give the puppy a scratch behind his ears for me.

    1. Never mind being behind in the reading, those posts are inspiring! Your voice is proving quite an inspiration to others. behind, schmehind. Will scratch Mac as instructed πŸ™‚ I’ll be popping in on you and Shiva from time to time…those posts brighten my day…

  18. You know, Rivendell can have good visits without precluding blogging. Since 2007 I spent about 2 years with three posts a day (my other blog), but slowed down to about one post a day for another two years – which is what I currently strive for. In that time I still published four fantasy novels, and wrote four 70-minute albums of classical music. I also managed time for a multitude of other things. So … *meerkat stands up on hind legs with forepaws neatly tucked into front, and puts on a cute pleading expression*

    1. Gracious, my dear Colonialist, are you still reading? I would have thought to have bored you senseless long ago! Thank you!

      You are a persuasive suricate, that’s for sure, and a prolific one πŸ™‚ I’d love to read some of those novels and hear some of that music: lovely to have found a composer out there.

      I do have a husband, two kiddies and a deeply unsavoury dog to minister to.

      My Mother-In-Law has a wonderful dour northern English phrase: “I won’t discount it”, she says, meaning she will continue to entertain the possibility. And nor will I, and so will I. Thank you for such a lovely comment πŸ™‚

      1. *one-…er…several-upmanship* I minister to a wife, daughter and hubby, granddaughter, a Pooch Pack of seven, four demanding cats, a resident troop of monkeys, meandering mongooses, nesting hadada ibises and yellowbilled kites, fish, toads…

        Samples of the novels are linked to the badges on my blog – you click ‘preview’ on the publishers’ site. Some of the music is on the player in a post not too far down. I had it on a badge, but lost it and have forgotten how to put it back. I am particularly pleased with the Second Symphony final movements.

        Keep refraining from discounting! πŸ™‚

  19. kate i have fallen in love with your family ventures, that hairy beast of yours, your father’s lovely comments, and the lovely way you’ve taken us on these winding colorful rides with each post. you’ve been so well behaved posting daily and so full-of-thought. thank you for the lessons, for this virtual friendship, and for your kind notes on the ugly earring. if you do return to this virtual world keep me posted.

    i don’t want you to leave.

    1. UE, thank you. Your posts are such jewels, I can’t keep away! You have taught me so much through a snatch of words and a perfectly chosen image. As I’ve said, I don’t want to leave either: just need to remember I live in a world which is not virtual. This blogging: finally a place where we can say what has been waiting there all our lives to be said, without the struggle of the publisher and the gallery. Just us and whoever turns up to listen.

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