Writing Home.

La Casa Del Gato Gordo, Canary Islands, March 26th 2020.

Dear Son, 

So this lockdown business, what a fucker isn’t it,  I had plans, lots of plans & they’ve all gone tits up. It galls me somewhat that instead of being in India I’m 9244 kilometres away from where I intended to be & am now holed up in the Canary Islands. Now fair do’s I get it that my predicament is not unique, and that actually I am in a far better position than most. Friends in India are having a really rough time just finding a shop for food, so I really can’t complain that I’m not there.

Here the little supermarket is just a hundred and fifty metres from the house & it always has food. There is a queue, but never too long & its all quite orderly and manageable. When I’m there I do my best to blend in with the natives by looking Spanish. Not sure quite how convincing I am, but by not saying anything and just making gestures if anyone approaches me and attempts to communicate it seems to be working so far. Also saying non hablo espagnol as a last resort is a winner. Then when I get to the checkout I just wave a couple of 50 Euro notes at the person behind the till & that works a treat. I think I have it covered. 

I clocked a couple of weeks back that a lockdown was on the cards & after a bit of scrambling around for somewhere to hole up I chose the Canary Islands, still European, but off the coast of West Africa, so warmer & drier & with beaches. Clever aren’t I?

But then that didn’t go so well. It’s rained almost every day I’ve been here, the locals say this never, ever happens. It’s also not so warm. But what the hell. There were things to do, I had planned on doing lots of stuff, the main one being writing, what better time or place to write than in the middle of a lockdown?

For some reason however I’ve written bugger all, and instead watched Netflix, Now TV & Amazon Prime. Yesterday it finally dawned at me that there was,  after completing a 28 episode German costume drama set in the 1930’s absolutely nothing else worth watching that I’d not already seen. And come to think of it plenty I had seen that wasn’t worth watching in the first place. 

It’s remarkable also how many mini series & movies there are about viral infections, plagues & end of the world scenarios. Were I of a sensitive nature the pure volume of them would probably have turned me into a quivering wreck. 

I’ve been thinking, (for me always a dangerous thing ) of ways to occupy my time and not write. These have included learning a language – still a possibility, or earning some money, this might be a good thing as I am gradually running out of what I have in the bank. 

With Covid many people are working from home. Why don’t I? 

Now I know you will think this is nuts, but  I’ve been thinking of maybe setting myself up as a Cam Model. Maybe there’s a market amongst the older ladies out there for a slightly past it Silver Fox? I’ve thought it through, a kind of Crinkly Cam……. And a screen name, well Randy Rambler, or Tan Tastic maybe that needs a little work……………. I found a pic on my phone, from my time in Kathmandu when I was discovering sexting with an old girlfriend ( well actually she was quite young tbh ), its the only half decent pic that I could use for a cam profile.

I still want to do the writing thing, about travelling mainly, but I am being useless at it, to try to keep myself kind of in the mood whilst not being able to travel or write I post a pic on instagram each day of somewhere I’ve been or something I’ve seen over the last few years. Today it was of a spiders web in Galicia when I was on the Camino. There I was early on a September morning, out in the wilds, nobody around and I’m going through a patch of woodland and along the trackside verge are dozens and dozens of these enormous spiders webs, all covered in the morning dew. I was just struck by the moment, the space and the peacefulness of it all. 

So today I posted the pic on Insta & then look for a quote or somebody else writing to pin to it ( not feeling up to concocting my own writing ). I come across Robert Service, who I didn’t really know before. He was from Preston in Lancs, took himself off to Canada at the age of 21 & travelled from Mexico to the Yukon. He had an incredibly interesting life, from hobo to millionaire, writer of verse ( he and those in the know didn’t think him worthwhile the accolade of Poet ).

Here follows the full lines I liked for the cobwebs pic, along with a link to a Wiki page about the author, if you’ve time its worth a read. 

The Joy of Little Things by Robert W Service 

It’s good the great green earth to roam,

Where sights of awe the soul inspire;

But oh, it’s best, the coming home,

The crackle of one’s own hearth-fire!

You’ve hob-nobbed with the solemn Past;

You’ve seen the pageantry of kings;

Yet oh, how sweet to gain at last

The peace and rest of Little Things!

Perhaps you’re counted with the Great;

You strain and strive with mighty men;

Your hand is on the helm of State;

Colossus-like you stride . . . and then

There comes a pause, a shining hour,

A dog that leaps, a hand that clings:

O Titan, turn from pomp and power;

Give all your heart to Little Things.

Go couch you childwise in the grass,

Believing it’s some jungle strange,

Where mighty monsters peer and pass,

Where beetles roam and spiders range.

‘Mid gloom and gleam of leaf and blade,

What dragons rasp their painted wings!

O magic world of shine and shade!

O beauty land of Little Things!

I sometimes wonder, after all,

Amid this tangled web of fate,

If what is great may not be small,

And what is small may not be great.

So wondering I go my way,

Yet in my heart contentment sings . . .

O may I ever see, I pray,

God’s grace and love in Little Things.

So give to me, I only beg,

A little roof to call my own,

A little cider in the keg,

A little meat upon the bone;

A little garden by the sea,

A little boat that dips and swings . . .

Take wealth, take fame, but leave to me,

O Lord of Life, just Little Things.


Meanwhile here in the Canary Islands in El Casa del Gato Gordo nothing much happens, Cesare is hogging the Sofa & growling – Cats are not supposed to growl. It occurs to me that if I don’t find any inspiration soon that I will turn into a human version of him; meanwhile in idle moments between naps and Netflix I imagine myself writing a book.

Yours in hope of inspiration. 

Father Incarcerated 


2 thoughts on “Writing Home.

  1. Martin, this cat is too fat needs exercise, but you look amazing on the picture. Wow… well done. I had the most stressful time in the past few days – but reading your plans sent me to histerical laughter… I thinks that is your gift you should, be stand up comedian for the nation. Channel it online – like the Nation”s PE teacher soon you will have million followers. Take my word for it! I wish I was in the Canary Islands. I actually know someone who works in a hotel there – you might be able to get some connection and a job … the Full Monty act. All those middle aged tourist starnded there might have some fun nights in this miserable time we live in. London is BORING!!!ZSxxx


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