Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Intertropical Convergence Zone

Or Doldrums to you and me.

There's something odd about January, apart from it being the first month in the year. Nothing much seems to happen, and it seems to drag on for ever. I suppose in part it's a reaction to the excesses of Christmas and the new year; people have been away for a while and need time to get themselves back into the work thing. But whatever the reason, the first month of the year never seems to bring much in the way of motivation.

Take this post, for instance. I started writing it yesterday, then put it to one side whilst I went away and did something else. I hopped distractedly from task to task for the whole of the day, and quite forgot about my two or three loyal readers. Sorry.

Still, tomorrow's February, if my calendar's to be believed. And on Friday I head north for a great adventure. Well, not a great adventure so much as house-sitting for my parents whilst they go away on holiday, but it's a change, and that's as good as a break,* or so I'm told.

The plan is to spend three weeks re-reading and rewriting Benfro book three, plotting book four and thinking about the sequel to Natural Causes (might as well jump the gun, why not?), which sees our beleaguered Detective Inspector McLean haunted by a violent episode from his past...

As for the Intertropical Convergence Zone, or Doldrums, it's the area of the earth roughly 5 degrees either side of the equator, where the intense heat leads to warm, moist air rising, low pressure and occasionally long periods of total calm, famed for stranding sailors. Perhaps the most famous description of the doldrums comes from Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner, where the ship is becalmed and all but the mariner himself are carried off by Lady Death.


Down dropt the breeze, the sails dropt down,
'Twas sad as sad could be ;
And we did speak only to break
The silence of the sea !

All in a hot and copper sky,
The bloody Sun, at noon,
Right up above the mast did stand,
No bigger than the Moon.

Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion ;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink ;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

The very deep did rot : O Christ !
That ever this should be !
Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs
Upon the slimy sea.

About, about, in reel and rout
The death-fires danced at night ;
The water, like a witch's oils,
Burnt green, and blue and white.

But the doldrums are behind me now, or will be tomorrow. My shipmates have all fallen silent and dead to the deck, their souls whizzing past like crossbow quarrels to their fate, and now I make my way to my more favoured waters, the Horse Latitudes.

No, I haven't got a clue what I'm talking about either.

* but having had a broken leg before, I'd opt for a change every time.

2 Comments:

Anonymous John Schramm said...

Pomegranate week! Yay!

Hope you ride out the doldrums, James. I'm still wading through myself.

Good post. I've always liked Mariner!

February 02, 2007 6:48 am  
Blogger JamesO said...

Thanks, John. It's one of my favourite poems too. I used to be able to recite it all from start to finish, but my brain's too full of other useless toot now.

And it's February now, which promises much more than January ever could. Onwards to the Horse Latitudes, I say.

February 02, 2007 11:41 am  

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