I want to write to them all. All those people that for the moment I cannot go and see. I find emails so unsatisfactory. They are fast, certainly but there is no beauty to them, no personal touch. So I’ve begun writing letters. I cannot say how they are received. Perhaps they are seen as weighty, and coming with an expectation of a return. I hope not. There is no obligation. I do it for myself mostly. I want to be with them to hold them in my thoughts for a while and to send a gift of a letter seems a nice act. Is it not? The letters reflect the people I write them to. Some are short others long and thoughtful. I feel love for those people, those warm beings who have both peppered and affected my life. I hope they feel it.
Now I must get to work. There is much to do and solve. And it is to be rice for a week so no oat-milky tea, alas.
He’s gone to Ireland leaving his mother to his brother’s care. He won’t need to do much, for at 101 she is still very self-sufficient. We heard his voice through the kitchen window as we walked past. The next one is an anagram, he shouted. He needs to shout or at least talk loudly for she is profoundly deaf. It begins N O, he continued. They do crosswords together too. Like us. Though often I get a little cross, my mind doesn’t function too well until I have some food, then, apparently I get rather blase.
I went out yesterday. It gave me some anxiety even though it was to do not unpleasant things. And to see women that I like and admire. Hair has been removed and hair has been cut. I am neater. I asked about their business. They are working to half capacity. And they have to wear those dreadful shields. It makes one feel impure. I wore my mask. Few people around town did.
I managed to walk before the rain came. Thank you for that. Today I shall solve it. I um and ah. Let it be light. And kind. And joyful.
I’m re-reading Jane Austen. It takes me over. I know the books inside out, that is, except for Sanditon and Love and Friendship and her juvenalia. I love their restraint, their details and mores. It is an escape, clearly but a joyous one nevertheless.
I’m to go out into the world today and it makes me edgy. Things need to be done to the body. But my work routine is unsettled and there are also these infernal admin things to do. But I need to clear the deck, always.
A misty morning. A thick fog of it. Autumn is coming.
Was it the weather that made me so agitated yesterday? It was hot and muggy and then there was that deluge of rain. Torrents of water gushed from the downpipes and I rushed around shutting all the windows. People call such flooding biblical and the evidence of it was clear this morning as I walked into town. The pavements had dried but the drains were all filled with debris – twigs, leaves and scraps of litter hugger mugger-ed together all sodden. It was a small thing and I blew it out of all proportion (it’s been awhile since I’ve done that, I thought I was growing calmer, wiser). A broken egg, still in its box but spilling wet into the bag and soaking the other contents. We do things differently. And he does his best. And I don’t want to hurt him but I hear my voice beginning to criticise. Ah, me. He understands. He does. And I carry it into my dreams.
We were in South America in an airport I was travelling back to see Mum. I needed some sustenance to take with me. All the food courts were full of fresh produce – cabbages, lettuces, carrots – they looked like greengrocers. I saw some rhubarb. Lovely but how would I cook it? I watched a woman take a bite of some raw. I opted for a banana and went to pay for it. But then I forgot that it was in my bag and went to pass through the turnstile. Then I remembered and went to a till. The woman kept passing my banana back and forth on the conveyor trapping it in between where it feeds in and out till it was getting all mashed up. I didn’t know what to say and when I tried to find the coins to pay for it in my purse I couldn’t.
A nothing dream about irrelevant fears that sometimes take over my day. Monday’s are busy. Though the busy-ness is of my own construction.
A mist hangs heavy over us though the sun is trying to come out. Will there be another crop of blackberries?
Work now. I go in and out of confidence with my ideas. Keep me steady.
I love to hear her voice. Perhaps not initially for I sometimes expect that I am disturbing her. And it is hesitant at first, croaky. When she warms up so do I. Sometimes I even joke with her a little. A tender being. Sensitive. Like me. We talked of her tomatoes. Greenhouse grown they are still green. They need sun. Don’t we all. Don’t we all.
He told us he is off to Ireland today. These brave beings setting out. She is to go to Devon. I long to be off and yet I am wary. Things won’t, aren’t the same. He travels alone like I used to. Off in his car. Freedom. A show of it. Family will take care of his mother for him.
The Pelican Bakery was shut today. I missed the smell of bread. It is there even when they are not. Not today. Not today.
We sat in the not so sunny sun and talked about my working and the juggling of it. I have so much I want to do. Always have. He helps. He helps me find out what I’m trying to avoid. And I am. Because it is hard. And I don’t know what to do. Or what it is meant to be. And for whom. It’s all these infernal questions that derail me. And yet I know that really all I need do is start. Just start. There is power in the beginning of something, Goethe said. I listened to Andrew Rissik’s play A Man Alone yesterday with the excellent Ronald Pickup as Tremayne. Such beautiful writing. ‘I can’t seem to invent anything,’ says Moore, his childhood friend, admitting that he can’t write fiction, ‘or make something up.’ And then there was Tremayne himself musing about love as ‘a curios and rather crooked emotion.’ I filch words from it, scribbling them down in between stitches like ‘maladroit’.
Once I’ve finished the commission I shall get down to it. I shall. I shall. And she mentioned the wasp story too. That could be sent out there. Why not? Why not try?
My dreams were a muddle of events. In one we were travelling to China or at least I remember a border control of sorts. H. my travelling companion had forgotten his documents. They were very forgiving allowing him to go back for them and giving me, for safe-keeping, the plastic holders in which to put them. I remember feeling for them in my pocket. Yes, there they are, quite safe.
We sat in the late afternoon sun for half an hour after supper. Just perfect.
I’ve letters to write before I begin to sew. Chop chop.
There are strangers about. Visitors. The Marine is open, as is the Pier Nightclub. The harbour is jam-packed with cars and mobile homes. I heard distant shouts as I walked, and two kids were kicking something in the railway station. My hackles rise, I feel a little unsafe. I was just coming down South Road and turning into Bridge Street when I heard the sound of someone approaching. I stepped into the road. A light mizzling rain had been falling ever since I’d set out and I’d put up my umbrella against it. The man, for it was a man, was clearly shocked at seeing me. He was small but thickset and wearing a bold striped shirt and carrying what looked like a takeaway burger carton in each hand. Jesus Christ, he said (stressing heavily on the Jees), you bugger. I let it pass and walked on. A large seafood lorry waited in the harbour, it’s refrigeration generator still humming but driver asleep, the fishermen are clearly not yet due.
A day for my own work. Letters read, emails done and the sun begins to come out. I never thought it would.
I dreamt frequently last night. The influence of the moon still playing. He was to wait for me, I’d been away. I couldn’t see him in the gloom. I want to go away, he said, to India. For good, it seemed. He laughed when I told him of it at breakfast. Another dream had me in the food floor of a department store unable to choose what to eat. No explanations needed there.
I put her card up on my pin board. Some blue irises by Elizabeth Blackadder. It takes me back. How I loved her. Still do. But time and experience has separated us. I just want to kindle it a little. I will write soon. x
I have a little orange moleskine that I use to scribble down my dreams when I wake. I often write my notes in the dark when the need for a pee wakes me from a dream. Reading them in the morning is virtually impossible. My scrawl is uncharacteristically large and sloping. Last night there were two descriptions. One was of my showing the footballer Lionel Messi to his room (I thought it was Oliver Massinet – he soon put me right, what do I know of footballers?). Did we have a hotel? He’d certainly stayed with us before – he was familiar and chatty. I asked if the room was OK. I didn’t recognise it. It was a huge suite. He went to try the shower and ran it over the carpet. There was a girl there too. Heavily made-up with bright pink lipstick she flirted with him openly. I asked if he’d worked that day. He was sharp. I work everyday, very hard. Surely you didn’t play a match today, I said. No, but I trained very hard. I woke then with my painful head and went into him for comfort. Dosed up with Ibuprofen and Paracetamol I slept dreaming of trying to find our acquaintances’ hotel (they are in administration, bless them) and coming upon a host of homeless people sleeping on the steps of what was a large indoor market hall. One shouted at me when I wished him good morning saying something about having been in the army. I was intimidated and sorry that I had nothing to give him. I walked up the steps – it was like an airport departure hall but darker, more intimate. There were ethnic clothes stalls and coffee shops and then down some steps and I came to a reception with several women in smart uniforms. I was in London. Whereabouts? I asked one of them. She went in search of a map. I know it’s the South East I said, recognising some of the names on the map, like Kensal (is that South East?), though I prefer the North. Why did I say that? I thought on waking, or was it in my dream. For I don’t. Not particularly.
A fine misty rain fell during the whole of my walk. The harbour was a car park again. A pair of feet stuck out of a lit white van. I didn’t look in. They might have been asleep. Our neighbours have grown some sweet peas. How I long, like Rapunzel’s mother to steal out and clip some. The smell is divine. Next year. Next year.
I’ve been avoiding her. No, not her exactly but I’ve been avoiding the street on which she’s been living. It’s too much. And in the morning I just want to clean myself out, in my head, that is. And she weighs heavy. I feel bad. I should face it, all of it. All of the misery that others have to bear. But sometimes I want to take another street. She wasn’t there. I went along that street without thinking this morning and she wasn’t there. No bags, no dying plants in pots, nothing. It had rained quite heavily. Was she sheltering somewhere? I felt a pang. Had someone come to her rescue? Could she be rescued?
I dreamt that he was trying to push me up a very steep escalator. I think I was in a wheelchair. I felt unsteady, scared. I might fall. He didn’t seem able to contain me. I saw several men behind him trying to help, to keep me upright and climbing.
Still grumpy this morning. I can’t shake it off. Will work help?
I baked him shortbread and made the house and my clothes smell of it. They smelt of butter and brown sugar. It pleases him. I like to please him. A poet comes on at the end of a programme about Josie Long and talks about stealing things. He meant words and the sound of people talking, like John Humphrys reading poetry. When he gets depressed, he says he needs to keep his world small, to shrink it so he listens to the same thing over and over again till the words lose their meaning.
My night was full of dreams. I tried to write the first one down in the dark. I can hardly read my scrawl. It is something about a policeman being jumped by a terrorist with photographs and pills and he has a bomb. I cannot remember it. The images don’t come. Then I wrote a sentence that came at the end: ‘Besides after being plain magisterial is simply a bonus.’ The second dream is clearer. I’m with my friend and her. We are in a house I don’t recognise preparing for a journey. She has found me a job one day a week in Huddersfield, teaching. Prior to that she and her partner have sold me some of their clothes. Then we are at her workplace, in the office with her secretarial staff and colleagues. She looks unwell and they are poo poohing it. I grab her face in my hands. Look at her skin, I am saying, it’s going green. I shout at them. Turn away from your computer I say to one of them, and look at her.
He has gone for his walk. And the plumber has taped up the loo, it should do for a bit. A misty rain is coming. Work now. First tea. Then get down to it. It is fine. It is.