“A glimpse of the horrible pit”

I am always shocked when people stand up to speak in public 10-ways-to-be-an-excellent-public-speaker-07and don’t do it well. Yes, of course, different people have different gifts but surely it is some measure of personal intelligence not to mention honesty to know when you aren’t good at something like that ?   I will refrain from listing all the “ordinary” things I can’t do but there is a list and I acknowledge it. There are different ways to be a good public speaker 10-things-awesome-public-speakers-do-differently-640x300and one of the most wonderful I ever heard was May Hobbs who fronted the Nightcleaners’ Union: just wind her up and let her go !   I heard John Gerassi speak and followed him blindly through the crowd afterwards. He was Pied Piper to my charmed rat. James Baldwin’s tones are as unique in speech as Nina Simone’s are in song. Different animals going into the same ark.noahsark

So welcome (but only with a member) to one of London’s most venerably respected clubs, whose very name invokes literature, science and learning (I checked) to a man with a string of academic titles who couldn’t speak intelligibly to most of the people in the room. I think he spoke in English but of that rarefied variety which is deliberately obscure – what my family called “highfalutin’”. I am deeply fond of the friend who took me and the meal was wonderful, thank heaven.  So that was Monday.

On Tuesday I had stiches removed (gently and kindly) after skin biopsiesskin-excision – and in the freezing cold went off to eat and drink something (I rarely eat out) where I was served by an Italian called Hercules.   I presume he told me he was called Hercules because he thought I couldn’t say Ercole. Same difference. hercules-hero-2-hDo you look at a stranger sometimes and think “You’re not happy”?   I couldn’t begin to hazard why but I felt sure he wasn’t. There was a story…   So we were nice to each other – because I was so grateful about the stitches being out and he to have a human for a customer instead of another boy in a bad suit on speed dial.

Donald Trump acceded to the White House.

After lunch I went on one of those fools’ errands to look for something I wasn’t sure I wanted in a store I didn’t want to be in but the taxi driver was Moroccan born, London raised (Aziz) and we talked about recognising emotions, sharing space, differing opinions and he waved me out of the cab thanking me for my “positive energy”uc_12 – which made us both laugh – we agreed we’d need it.

On Thursday I heard that a dear friend had had what we call a knockback. Bad stuff can’t bear to be lonely, it so often comes in matched sets.

And on Friday I burst into tears in Waitrose.   I was thinking about my father in the 14/18 War and the two minute silence finished me.  hope_inside_heaven__s_tears_by_haamaiah-d5b0t6l I had not realised how frightened I was when I began the treatment that required the stitches.   I think about my family more and more as I get older because I am closer to them as people, over and above adored parents, and I heard my father’s voice in my ear talking about “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month …” and the Armistice – and I have various worries don’t we all ? and they rose in my throat and came out of my eyes.

“You all right, Anna ?” asked Deb, built like a battleship, heart as big as all outdoors. “No” I sniffled. “I need a hug” and I cried all over her.


So when I started today’s contribution, I looked up “don’t quit” and it led me to Psalm 40 from which I chose the title of “the horrible pit”, I found a reference to “tender mercies” (I never knew where the phrase was from) and lastly “He has put a new song in my mouth.”

To me, a new song in my mouth means get yourself up, dust yourself down and start all over again.   There was a wren in the camellia and he knows why he’s singing.wren-singing-in-a-hedgerow%2c-strumpshaw-fen%2c-elizabeth-dack%2c-15-may-2016-small

3 responses to ““A glimpse of the horrible pit”

  1. I love wrens their song is so beautiful. I am sorry about the stitches. I also think, as I get older, more about my grandparents. It was an incredible love that I miss very much. Going to their house every Saturday.

  2. Hope you’re okay. Powerful post. Things like that are hard and the Remembrance is hard. War goes on more than ever as we never learn, even with all our so called progress which is sometimes anything but.

    I went to the Remembrance Parade by the Cenotaph two years ago and a Chelsea pensioner smiled at me. I visited their place last year and the same gentleman served me in their shop so I reminded him. We had a laugh. They’re very strong and cheeky despite what they’ve experienced.

    I wish you strength and get well soon.

  3. Do not regret growing older it is a privilege denied to many. After losing a relative at 26 who never got to see her 2 babies grow up I am forever grateful that I have got to my late 50s. I also have days where I feel more in tune with the ending of ones life at some point and I think that is only human. Enjoy each day and try not to get bogged down with the heavy stuff.

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