He called them ‘tacits’, those gaps on records. Breathing spaces. Silences. I liked that. Something is tacit, unspoken, an understood silence. A comfortable silence.
A friend has been visiting over the last few days. She didn’t stay with us, our flat is too small. A neat but tiny cupboard. She stayed in a hotel on the prom. She loved it. We drove out into the landscape, sweeping along those winding roads. I was in the back, concertinaed up. I didn’t mind. We both suffer with car sickness. Sitting on newspaper was suggested. She tried it but wasn’t convinced. We lunched in hotels, lounged on sofas, drank copious cups of Lapsang Souchong, Earl Grey and Green tea from shiny metal teapots. Just lovely. Just perfect. We talked and talked, of literature, of mothers, of daughters and of mutual friends. What a joy. I was filled up with love. An enriching time.
I woke from an angry dream last night. I was trying to find something and going down and down these circuitous steps. It was a class, a class about poetry and we hadn’t been told how to find it. I got there eventually but the class was ending. I was fuming. The class members left but the teacher, a beautiful, calm, generous woman stayed behind. I began to cook and we talked as I cooked. You’ll want to go, I said and stopped cooking. She didn’t reply but I understood that she intended to stay and share what I had missed. I returned to my cooking. Just before my alarm, I heard myself saying, it was about the metaphysical poets, wasn’t it?
I feel so little anger these days. Sometimes rage leaks out into my dreams.
Radio 4 Extra has been running a feature on Somerset Maugham this morning. He always makes me think of being an au pair in Norway. My employer had a small library in the upstairs of the house. I used to do the ironing in there. Mountains of white linen napkins. As I ironed my eyes would read the titles of his books. There were books on Homeopathy, Radionics, Philosophy, Law, Religion, Art but very little fiction. Though a well-read man, he found it relaxing to read Crime and Science Fiction. Neither were my cup of tea but I did find an anthology of Somerset Maugham’s short stories. It felt odd to spend a cold Norwegian winter reading tales set in Malaysia and Thailand. Nevertheless, the association is forever fixed in my mind. When I returned to work in Oslo almost thirty years later, they too had a Maugham anthology. Is it peculiar to Norwegians, this love of Maugham – that quintessentially British writer?
She didn’t call. I didn’t think she would. It is OK. It is hard for her. I am learning to forgive. No. There is nothing to forgive. There never was and never is. It is just people doing the best they can. She and I. Always. Let it be. Be at peace with what is. It was painful to talk of her but good to. She wanted to understand, to know how I felt. That was a gift. A loving gift. A gift of loving.