gardening by hand

It’s wonderful when you have written so much that you have to go back and check before you start again.   Well, it’s wonderful to me when I think of how hard it was to persuade me to do a blog. Was I scared ?   Rabbitfaced.   And I have written what I want to write about – no editor, producer, suit or publisher to account to, nobody’s wishes to fulfil or placate.   When it has worked as it sometimes has, I have shouted with joy. And when it doesn’t, I remember “must try harder”.

Most of the time, I think of my life as I think of my fingernails, permanently a work in progress. Whatever the feminine edition of Samson is,

“Norman Rockwell edition, looking suspiciously like Victor Mature”

I am she because all the strength has gone into my hair, leaving nails like tissue and, short of the modern edition of an old fashioned studio contract where devoted minions justify their working lives by trying to repair the damage with oils and massage, unguents and idleness, I can’t see me making much headway. But I try.

I have lost hope of every “miracle cure” before I ever try it, though I do occasionally find things that are of benefit. I won’t subject you to a recital. To each his or her own.   The endless hyperbole of the perfect answer eludes me. Superlatives I can handle – I use quite a lot of them – but the constant inference of perfection puts me quite of temper. How happily named is The Favourite: right on the money.

Look at the BBC’s show on Icons – one over all ?   Cultural fascism. A healthier idea is that we live in a world which embraces the widest possible range – bits and pieces of as much as the individual can favour or understand – and while when you are in the middle of it, it may be exhausting and frustrating, at the same time it makes room for a lot more people to excel, whether in leg length or astrophysics. One over all is just a popularity contest, it’s about who appeals to you because in many cases you won’t know the name or the endeavour, you’ll only recognise the face and say (as a friend of mine does over and over again) “I always thought (s)he was a nice person” not knowing more than the fulsome paragraph she has read somewhere accompanied by a benign photographic image.

And let it be said that very often, people of great gifts and achievement are anything from a bit difficult to absolutely horrid.   And secondly let it be said that because you’re relatively attractive, that doesn’t make you honest or caring or likeable: it just means the success package may be more easily placed.

Some people appeal to us more than others and choice is personal. Others produce in us an absolute sense of withdrawal. You can’t help it – you don’t like him or her or it.   You just don’t.   You can try to analyse this and come up with some small particular that has jarred but you don’t get far.   Whatever it is, you recoil. End of.   And when you think about it, this is no more unlikely that its opposite, where you are open to persuasion and are thus indoctrinated to like this bread or that body, that smell or those shoes, by the apparently unending incantation of certain vocal themes, music, associations, colour, people, pets – anything that will make you accept that you do want whatever it is that’s on offer.   At a price.

The most useful thing about identifying my life with my nails is how long it takes to make a difference.   And I don’t mean six weeks’ long , I mean long long. In a world of mixed messages (they always were mixed, there were just fewer of them) you can see why gardening is so popular for no matter what you are promised, the process will take as long as it does, depending on weather, soil and how things work out.   Very few people are so gifted or technically apt that they can change those odds. The commitment to today leads to the commitment to tomorrow. I just wish I could find somebody who grew fingernails.     

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