It is much easier to write about what is wrong than what is right. A great deal is wrong and it’s much easier to bitch and moan and stamp and rage – and of course I could. But you can’t live on a diet of displeasure (if you do, it ill becomes your face) and last night’s wildlife programme taught me something. Don’t hope for too much. I went towards it expecting a wonder which it certainly was not. There was indeed some rare film of a panda mother and baby in the wild but otherwise I was left drowning in sub Wagnerian caramel, watching BBC recuts … and I gave up halfway.
In a week where both ends of the computer function conspired against me in the middle, I am happy to tell you that two friends who have been through years of travail have emerged into the sunlight of relative happiness. Nova (not her name) spent years picking up after her adored but difficult father who eventually died leaving an estate scattered far and wide for her to settle, further complicated by two brothers who just wanted the money, and the disintegration of a long relationship with a man who doesn’t want her but doesn’t want anybody else to have her. Then, as we say, she met Someone. No knight on a charger, no flourish – just quiet steady happiness – and much funnier about it than Mesdames Keaton, Bergen, Fonda and Steenbergen in a film I keep being told I’ll “love” though I doubt it.
While Bunslove shinned down his ivory tower, went and met and talked and spent time with, and managed to make a move towards buying a house because, he said, “I can’t go on not knowing where my pants are.” To begin with I thought he meant pants (US) as in trousers but no, he has been betwixt and between for two years and while this has been a useful change of pattern in every sense, he now no longer knows for sure if he’s dressing in Dorking or Dublin. I offered to buy him spares but he says he can’t go on doing that so the offer is in, for only in a place of your own can you be sure what’s in the drawer !
And as he was telling me all this on the phone, and I was hearing his voice working through “what have I done?” to “we’ll see”, I was watching my garden, then sporting a full complement of robins, great tits, sparrows and blackbirds. I was thinking about smaller simpler animals, closer to home, not because I have become disinterested in the faraway but sometimes just because you must look at what is there in front of you, rather than far away. Far away is almost easier, rather remote from you – yes a challenge, yes a dream – but you have to look at what is right in front of you too.
Later, walking through a once attractive road now full of boarded up buildings acquired for great trading names and scaffolding, as they are all over London, I saw a slight gentle faced woman, sweeping in the front of one of the remaining small shops. I smiled and she smiled and as it was early in the morning, I crossed the street to tell her how welcome the smile was. She greeted me warmly, we exchanged a few sentences and she commented on the radio past of my kind heart. I caught my breath, recalled all the times I had psychologically pushed and shoved (I don’t regret it but it risked sounding harsh) and thought to demur – but you can’t wave the offer of a kindness away as if it were stale bread.
So I carried that away with me, to an unfamiliar market of junk and jewellery, where I found a paste necklace which I priced. “I couldn’t sell it to you “said the stallholder, a heavy pretty woman with a mane of hair. “But I like it,” I said, not understanding. “It has no catch, it will need repair, take it” she said. So I kissed her cheek and said thank you and she looked at me. ”You’ll be Anna” she said.