About Anna Raeburn
Anna's 40 year long award-winning journalistic career as an adviser (nowadays we say "agony aunt - she loves the job, hates the title) has spanned magazines, radio, television and newspapers; including a 14 year run at Capital Radio with her groundbreaking show 'Anna and the Doc', and 7 years at Talk Radio hosting 'Live and Direct' and her work was rewarded with a Gold Sony award and induction into the Radio Hall of Fame....Read More
There are days when you feel some latent anger leaching out into the street, it pulls stickily at your shoes, makes the air smell of soiled plastic bags: when whoever brushes against you feel unfriendly, or worse.
Days when there is metal in the coffee and your teeth don’t feel clean.
Days when you don’t know what to eat and whatever it is doesn’t taste right.
Days when, if there is a theme to your nightmares, it sits on the back of your eyelids waiting for you to sleep and then letting you know that, if you try, you’ll get the frighteners.
Oh, the voice of the cool telling you you’re “a little bit paranoid.”
Darned right and do you know – just because you think they are after you, doesn’t mean they are not.
Truman Capote’s most evocative phrase is “the mean reds”, Holly Golightly’s blues-plus from the book (not the film) of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, when the sky sits like a pot lid just above your head, your eyes ache, your hair shivers with a mixture of electricity and anxiety.
And dark days lead into white nights, when your eyes don’t close and your worries magnify in the silence.
They are not generous, these worries. They are not about the dangers to the planet, the end of species, the unraveling of the economy.
It’ s the small stuff, the personal, the difficulties you have to negotiate your way through, because you can’t go round.
And whatever your take on things during the day isn’t relevant. How things feel at night is coloured by the dark.
Years ago the American writer |James Baldwin compiled a series of pieces into a book illustrated by the photographer Richard Avedon. It was called Nothing Personal and it cost 12 guineas. As they are now both dead, it’s worth a great deal more but I lent my copy and it never came back.
That was the week somebody made me a chocolate cake and I ate it every morning to save for the book. I had to have that book.
I admired Baldwin as a writer and speaker but mostly I just rated him for being himself and finding a way to himself, the thing I most longed for.
And Avedon ? Gosh, Avedon – black and white and wonderful.
In Nothing Personal Baldwin writes that half past three, four in the morning is the loneliest time in the world.
And peace to the clubbers, busy driving down the demons with the foetal throb of the bassline and enough alcohol to strip a liner, and the night workers who have accepted another reality to survive –
it is still so.
At that time, you don’t call, not even your friends. What would you tell them ?
Nobody died. You aren’t even afraid of dying.
You’re just afraid.
The first time a mouse crossed the bedroom floor, I lay in the night of my bad day and thought “I must have come a long way. Shouldn’t I be scared ?” And in the back of my mind echoed my father’s most irritating comment “You’re much bigger than it, it’s much more scared of you.”
So over time I set traps, I put down poison (I still want to know how to pronounce it because, if it’s Rodeen, do the mice squeak poshly?) , I confronted the very idea of mice.
But spiders I cannot deal with.
I know they are not interested in me. I know they keep the flies down. I made myself watch Charlotte’s Web and I know (thank you Father Freud) why the movement horrifies me but if I fixate on spiders at 4.00 in the morning, I begin to sweat. And worst, I cannot close my eyes because if I do, that is all I will see, leading into a log of horrors my brain has saved for what we used to call “a real downer.”
Why did I want to write about this ? Did I hope that writing it down would banish the nasties ? I am not so hopeful.
Did I want to examine what my family called my over-sensitivity in a more positive light ? I doubt it. I spent years in psychotherapy, coming to terms with myself.
But I think of the horrors of the world, the noise and the destruction and man’s inhumanity to man, from the smallest unkindness to the greatest cruelty and remind myself – don’t we all ? – that this too shall pass.
And, boy, am I glad when it does.