It’s been 45º colder here in Chippenham today than it was in Thailand four weeks ago where it was 42º Celsius. Today has been a very hard day as there has been little reason to leave the house and it was far too nippy to venture out even if there had been. For the first week of spring the weather has been awful and, to bluntly coin an old phrase, I’ve been feeling as cold as a witch’s tit.
I have been out this evening to buy some petrol for my car. Lucky car, I thought. I was tempted to drink a drop of it to warm myself up but, not knowing how many calories there were in a litre of unleaded, I was worried it would muck up my progress with the Cambridge Diet I have been pursuing quite successfully since January (I’ll tell you more when I’m completely skinny). I was even tempted to douse myself in petrol and strike a match to warm myself up, as Thich Quang Duc the Vietnamese Mahayan Buddhist monk and some of his fellow monks did in the 1960s. Actually, he wasn’t feeling the chill, he was protesting against government persecution. Come to think of it, I often feel a bit persecuted by our abominable government as well as cold, so if I followed Quang Duc’s example I could kill two birds, and myself, with one stone.
Twenty nine and a half of the last thirty hours of my life have been spent in my house with the central heating on and in silence. I don’t know if Buddhist monks take vows of silence but I felt as though I had done today, and I reckon I spent more money on my gas bill than is required to keep a Buddhist monk alive for a year. Also, I have shaved my head, I haven't eaten meat and I haven’t killed anything today (it’s been too cold even for cold blooded murder) so, with all of these things taken into consideration, I feel like I have joined a holy brotherhood of one, here in Chippenham, that most holy of holy places.
What has added to the misery of my icy solitude has been the fact that I have spent the whole of it sorting out my photographs from my recent Indo China jaunt. I am absolutely delighted with them and every single picture has brought back a happy memory and made me yearn for a land that I came to love. However, there was an awful lot of them to sift through and tart up and thin out so it has taken me a whole day and now, as I upload this scribble to my blog website I am simultaneously uploading over six hundred photographs to my account on the Flickr website. Who said men can’t multitask? Perhaps I’m not turning into a monk after all. Perhaps I’m turning into a nun!
Any road, there’ll be a link on here in a day or two for anyone who is interested to see what I got up to on my trip eleven thousand kilometres away from the Arctic wastelands of England. In the meantime, here’s a snap of my current hero and mentor to keep you going. Do you think he looks a bit like me?
The very brave and very holy Thich Quang Duc.