It’s early on Sunday morning, and I have nothing in particular to say, so I’d decided not to write a blog post today, but then I thought: hold on – does having nothing to say stop the BBC, the Daily Mail, The Guardian, Le Figaro or even our nearest and dearest from saying nothing all the same? Indeed, “making something out of nothing” is, one might say, not only the principal line of business for the world media, but also the paramount vocation of humankind. It is our bread and butter, both of which have to be made before we can butter our bread, know which side it is buttered and then watch helplessly as it falls on the buttered side, in accordance with universal by-laws and municipal regulations.
There is the old Latin tag, ex nihilo nihil fit – “Nothing comes from nothing” or, in King Lear’s formulation, “Nothing will come of nothing » – yet the very existence of the universe would seem to contradict this pronouncement since before the Big Bang there was nothing, except possibly the infinitely dense “singularity” that then popped into the enormous bag of popcorn of the cosmos. It’s a bit like Parkinson’s Law: things expand to fit the space allotted, so that probably includes nothing which, in the process of expansion, becomes something or other. I hope I’m not getting too technical? Whether that cosmic popcorn is sweet or salty is a question of personal seasoning.
One legitimate alternative to making something out of nothing is making a mountain out of a molehill. This is normally decried as a foolish activity akin to blowing something out of all proportion but surely this comes down precisely to a question of proportion or scale. To a mole, after all, a molehill is a mountain, or even to a gardener whose pristine lawn is being mined by these otherwise inoffensive creatures.
As I was saying, it’s early on Sunday morning – 6.30 am, to be precise, since I am “up with the bark”, woken by a giant slobbering lick from Marlowe the dog, followed by me trying not to think about what he was licking just before. The sun has not yet come up and my plans for the day could fit inside a proton and still leave room for an echo.
The other day, a childhood friend who has given up coffee because of high blood pressure sent me – all the way from Surbiton, and at considerable postal expense – his virtually unused La Pavoni Europiccola Italian coffee machine. For those in the know, this is the king – the best manual coffee machine in the world. Unfortunately, you need a PhD in fluid mechanics and thermodynamics to operate it.
After poring over several hours of mutually contradictory YouTube tutorials, for the first time this morning the “group head” did not explode in my face and the brew was good, though possibly wasted on me alone. It had a kick like a bionic mule on benzedrine. I think I should give it to God because, on the Day of Judgement, he could wake the dead with it.
Anyway, I’ve understood how to make an espresso. The next step is cappuccino, but I’ll have to sign up for the Open University degree course first.
Today’s next micro-decision is where to walk the dog.
There are several alternatives. The nearest is straight out of the house and into the open fields, otherwise known as The North by Northwest Walk. While on this walk a week ago, I was actually buzzed by a microlight aircraft, much as in the Hitchcock film. It was only my neighbour Olivier, though, out for an aerial spin (I have « eye in the sky » neighbours like that). Another neighbour and veteran dog-walker has likened this particular plateau landscape to Andrew Wyeth’s 1948 painting, Christina’s World, minus Christina alas. The Terence Malick film Days of Heaven also comes to mind.
An alternative route is around the hamlet, a circuit that can vary in size – I have eight variants, three quadrilateral, one pentagonal and four polygonal – and be undertaken on foot or mountain bike. If the latter, I use the Trixie dog harness on the road sections of the walk (see previous blog posts on this invaluable contraption and on the art of “dog joring”).
But this morning I will break with tradition and drive Marlowe down to the village for the start of a new walk, and this for a quite specific reason: on Sunday mornings, the boulangerie is open and I can buy bread and croissants to accompany another cup of high-octane La Pavoni coffee. What to do with the rest of the day, is for the moment, largely beyond my ken.
Talking of coffee, it occurs to me that writing this blog and watching the coffee cup fill have something in common, though inversely. The coffee cup fills with black liquid from the bottom up. The screen fills with black characters from the top down. I have, in short, made something out of nothing. I shall call this the La Pavoni Europiccola Espresso blogging technique, for want of a better name, or indeed for want of anything further to say whatsoever. However, given the fact that nobody reads this blog, my conscience is clear, for I have wasted nobody’s time but my own.
In space, as they say, no-one can hear you scream.