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Child

Brian Cox during his interview last weekend with Lauren Laverne on Desert Island Discs, exhorted us to nurture the child within. And he didn’t mean some psychoanalytical notion of a child, but as we once were. It’s who we are really are, he said. Yes. I agree, Brian. It is. It still is after all these years. My child is about five or six, and very earnest. Sensitive, quick to cry but also quick to feel joy. An optimist yet a worrier, life is full of pleasure for her but also pain. She senses things deeply. She has a huge amount of empathy for others, she seeks out the vulnerable, the weak, the abandoned ones. Lame ducks, her mother used to call them. They were the ones she brought home for tea, the ones she keened towards at parties. Those shy, reticent ones. Her mother couldn’t understand why. I carry her with me as I walk. Sometimes I take her hand. I like her. I always have. She had lovely skin and a sweet dimples on her face when she smiled. She had so much potential to shine. She worked hard at everything. She was careful, diligent. Quiet. Are you disappointed in me? I asked her yesterday, as I walked. No, she said. You have done the best you could, always. Is that enough? Of course, she said, with a smile steeped in a wisdom beyond her years.

I felt better walking this morning, my legs weren’t so stiff. And I was less edgy about being stopped. I saw more people out and about. A dog-walker, a couple. All were far off. No one disturbed me. One of the windows of a house on a terrace of dwellings in one of the streets that lead onto the harbour had been covered in a child’s drawings. They were taped onto the window, painting side out. They were glorious. They were of blue skies and rainbows. A happiness of painting. Shared with us. Thank you.

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Writings

Supermarket

I was stressed about going. It felt like a great mountain to scale. What would it be like, queues all through the car park? And then when we got there, nothing. No one there. So there we were standing outside the doors at 5.50 am, waiting. It looks well stocked at least, he said. A member of staff turned up and pulled aside the doors. Better wait for the manager to open them officially, he said. Yes, we said. By 6.05 I was abuzz with agitation. I just want to get it over with, I said. So he stepped forward and pulled aside the doors, and we went in. This is OK, I said, where is everybody? We went our separate ways, he going to one end I to the other. It must’ve been five minutes later that one of the staff, the one with the ponytail, asked how I’d got in. Had they opened the doors? he asked. I don’t know, I said, feeling my nose start to lengthen. Then he said, it’s just that we’re not meant to open until 8. My heart sank. Then the manager turned up, followed by him, looking a little nervous that I might lose it. There were no signs, I said. There are, she said, and we played it over the tannoy all last week. She was very nice about it, wheeling my trolley-full away to put behind the customer service desk. What a bugger. I don’t think I can go through that again, I said to him. Let me do it, he said. What a love. And he is going to do it too. Soon. I feel bad letting him, but perhaps it is best. I am useless at this loss of control over the life I live. It’s the minutiae that gets me. The bigger stuff I am better at. Mind you, that will come. That will come. So I got home feeling at a loss and did a meditation. And promptly fell asleep. It’s all sliding. The structure has gone flaccid. What am I, anymore?

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Writings

Police Questioning

They pulled up beside me along Llanbadarn Road. The passenger window was rolled down. Can I ask what you are doing? asked the policewoman. Yes, I said, I’m having my walk. We are allowed a walk still, aren’t we? Yes, she said, and her male colleague at the wheel nodded and smiled. I thought I should explain further. I forget sometimes how odd it must seem for someone to be walking at such an early hour. I thought, I said, that walking at this time I’d be less likely to encounter other people. Again, the male policeman nodded in agreement. The policewoman was less affable. Just so long as you remain mindful of what the prime minister says, she said and then rolled up the window. Why do they always make you feel erroneous?

Yesterday was a bleak one. The clocks have gone forward and the dawn wasn’t too long in coming, thanks to you. There was no one about except for a lone police car. It was probably the same one. I hid a little behind a telephone box until the drove past. I want my silence. And then I climbed the hill up to the Buarth.

A simple day today. I want to let it all fall away. To slough it off. And see. And see what happens, what emerges.

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Writings

Structure

I wake up and test my mood. It’s usually the same. A bleak one. I try to reason it through, to analyse, to step back and apply some logic to it all. But it doesn’t change that the fact that I wake up blue. And it isn’t a question of space, or indeed, what the day holds. It is always the same, this grey, underlying bleakness that floors me. And I have to pick myself up from it every morning, to bath, to dress, to walk and to prepare breakfast. The light of morning helps a little, but even now, I am not much lifted. I need structure. I need to know that I am doing it right, living the life I should be living. Properly, mindfully, kindly, living well. Am I? Giving up the structure, as we have been forced to do, is unsettling. I am left adrift. What am I? What am I for? What is my purpose? Am I living right? And the questions hover around me, dogging my steps. I just don’t know. I have drifted along in life. Following what felt right. Is that good enough? Will I be held to account for not being proactive enough, for not designing a proper, useful life? He thought I was ‘stirred’ up by Ria’s plight in Butterflies. I’m not. That was too long ago and I am appreciated. The fight is my own. It is internal. A not-knowing that eats away at me. How can I be peaceful? How can I be kind amidst all this internal warring? Can I make it stop?

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Writings

Letting Go

I decided to put it away for a while, to have a rethink, to stop, it. It needs to change. I have lost my way with it, allowed it to get too big. This is better. This is good. And talking to him yesterday really helped. I get a lot from that kind of interaction. I am interested. I care about these spaces. And I like to problem-solve. The project had lost its heart, in my desire to reach the deadline with all ts crossed and dots dotted, I lost my way with. Where is it’s intimacy? I want it to be conversation, a tete-a-tete, a one-to-one. So I will retrench, re-think and continue talking to people. And if it is smaller I will have more time, more flexibility. I’m in it for the long haul, she said. She wasn’t but I’d like to be. With this. With good people. Like him and him. So breathe a little. Do domestic things, sew, bake and sit in the sun when you can. Let it go. Leave it go, for a bit, for a while and let it percolate.

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Writings

Re-thinking

I always take criticism personally, I know I shouldn’t, for it mostly isn’t. People don’t know me. And, in the main, criticism, if it is creative, is constructive. She was spiky, but then again, as our discussion was a written one, it is hard to say for sure. If we had met, face-to-face, it might have felt warmer. She has left me wobbling. But then again, I have always wobbled too easily. My confidence, as he pointed out this morning, while sitting on the bed getting dressed for our bi-weekly adventure to the supermarket, is brittle. It was ever thus. Can I change? I doubt it. So what do I do now? The powers-that-be have cancelled all new funding applications, so it is halted anyway. Perhaps it is timely? Can I make this into a good thing? Why not? It was getting large, maybe too large. Possibly taking stock is the best thing I can do at the moment.

The sun is out already and it’s only just gone 8. Another lovely day is promised. There was a new manager at Tesco’s this morning warning us that next time we shop we will have to go in alone. Only one person to a trolley, he said, looking sadly apologetic. And you must keep 2 metres apart from other people, he continued, and there will be police in to enforce it. Ah, it is beginning to frighten me, this. In my agitation I assault one of the self-service tills. He shouts out my name embarrassed at my infantility. And I am soon shame-faced. He forgives me, as does S, one of the managers. Everyone does it from time to time, she says. You take care now.

And you. And you.

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Writings

Parmesan

The Food Programme did a fascinating take on the virus and its impact on food delivery last Sunday. Scary but fascinating. There is so much to think about. And somehow heartwarming to know that a factory in Italy is making sure that their parmesan cheese production is still going ahead as they draft in ex-employees to fill the places of those off sick. It is heartwarming, even if it seems unimportant, it’s something to do with national pride and the place that certain foodstuffs hold in our lives. I started to panic on waking and late last night about the notion of shortage, what if I can’t get this or that. And then I am ashamed. We need so little, really, we have just got used to abundance and accessibility.

Meanwhile, we continue to watch Butterflies, one a night. ‘Why can’t you just be a housewife?’ Ben asks Ria. Good question. That is, why can’t you just be satisfied with you lot and make mine a more peaceful one, eh? ‘But I’m not a peaceful person,’ replied Ria. No, nor am I, Ria and yet how I long to be.

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Writings

Distractions

We watched another episode of Butterflies last night. I hadn’t realised as a teenager how clever the writing was, mind you why would I? I was a naive little thing back then. Still am to some extent. Ria typifies that cosseted boredom so well. And her trials in the kitchen are hilarious. I thought of her as I cleaned the flat this morning. Hoovering is so dull, is it not? There must be more gratifying ways of keeping one’s space clean. More restrictions are being imposed upon us, necessary of course, but alarming all the same. We are not used it. I am not used to it. The sun still shines, and the rooks on the roof still chirrup. They talk of them lasting three weeks, but maybe longer. He comes home for coffee now, no more coffee shop pourings over the paper. We move inward, imploding. Meanwhile I push away at my application, still not sure if it will go ahead. What else can I do? Keep safe all my loves and those I do not yet know. We are in this together, are we not?

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Writings

Butterflies

We’ve finished the box set of As Time Goes By and last night we began Carla Lane’s Butterflies. The marvellous Geoffrey Palmer is the common denominator. It takes me back. 1978 or thereabouts. You were sixteen, he said, and I was thirty-one. I forget the age-difference. That massive gap of both experience and wisdom. He has it in legions, I wobble. He massages my back. He is good at it now. I love to watch Wendy Craig. And the eldest boy, what a crush I had on him. Andrew Hall I believe he was called. He’s dead now, he said. Yes. Time passes. The sun shines again. Tesco’s was better this morning, not as bad as we feared. And still I have to hold back my instinct to amass. Don’t. It is only fear. Yes, but I am riddled with it. We snap at each other between the aisles. Not in public, he says and looks so cross. I don’t know what to do. Do I go ahead with it or postpone? Call him, he says. I will try. Will anyone respond? Is there anyone out there?

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Writings

Funeral

It was just a rogue sentence, caught mid way. I heard it in my head as I woke. ‘At your Mum’s funeral,’ it said, ‘you clearly…..’ And that was it. And the use of the word Mum. Is that significant? Wouldn’t I usually say Mother? What it meant I cannot say.

The sun is out and I am way behind schedule. There are so many little bits to deal with and I want to stop, to sew, to switch off. So I will. I shall make a large pot of tea and begin. Mending first. Then sewing. And The Archers.

I hope you are all safe. I miss my loves. I wish they were near, each and every one of them.