Beauty, 2009 (detail 2)

‘I was never more than a B+ kind of person,’ she says as she rubs cream into my feet. I like her, my chiropodist. A gentle, warm being. Her chat mixing the inconsequential with the profound.

Yes. B+. I remember that feeling. Me too. An A was a rarity. An A+ almost unheard of. And yet, like her, I worked hard. I still do. Trying to reach beyond the B+ into the realm of the A. Top marks, a gold star. What a good girl. We see you now. We recognise you now. How could we have missed you? Such a star. A gold star. A shining star stuck into my school exercise book. Can’t wait to show them. See. See. Oh, yes. Well done. We always knew you could do it. Never doubted you. Not for a second. Did we?

The anxiety of reaching out, beyond one’s own limitations. Or what is a heaven for? Asked the poet. Heaven. Being good. Shining. Standing out. Being noticed. Getting attention. Succeeding. Beyond my wildest dreams. What are they? Those dreams?

My writing clumps along. Unbeautiful, leaden and self-conscious. Can I write myself into beauty? What is beautiful writing? That which transcends the ordinary? Is not the ordinary beautiful?

We watched ‘American Beauty’. I have avoided it. Thinking it too dangerous. It unsettled me. The loss of faith. The fear of being known, of being intimate with one another. Of being found. Wanting. Watching. Beauty. What was the beauty? The girl, part vamp, part child? And if so, which girl? Or was it the disappointed wife? Or Lester in his final act of grace? Or the boy with his earnest mindfulness? Or America at her most ordinary, most lost, most claustrophobic?

‘I’m going to a town that has already been burnt down……I’m so tired of you America..’ sings Rufus Wainright and more recently George Michael.

All will be well. All must be well. Mustn’t it?