Something like news underpins a great deal of broadcasting so I left it to colleagues and pursued issues and ideas. This has two advantages : it makes a change to listen to and the material doesn’t date. So you may have noticed that annalog is a Brexit free zone. Not because I don’t care. I care all right. But my throat is caught by the absolute dereliction of duty by their paid representatives to the people of the country. Whatever our problems with Europe, the enemy is within. Five of us talked about it the other day: none of us sleep and all of us worry. There will be darker hours, but not much.
I looked at the papers yesterday morning and I couldn’t write. When you can’t, you can’t, nothing to do with putting it off or even the most temporary writers’ block. Just not ready. So I began to overhaul files. I dislike very much the idea of leaving a mess behind me and as a keeper of paper goods, including books, I go through them regularly and I weed the borders of the intellectual garden.
At one time, I found myself at the kitchen table, with the upended contents of a container, sorting map pins, drawing pins and paperclips into separate piles and flashed on sorting out my mother’s sewing box – she was a much better seamstress than I but I am much tidier than her – and I also reflected wrily, how representative of where we are. Sheep and goats. How about a shoat or a geep ?
I moved on, discovering the roll of brown paper I lost last year, until I came to the box files. There are four of them, and apart from the alphabetised file in the bottom drawer of my desk, these are my main archive. And there are therein things I can’t part from.
There is a 40 year old photograph which sums up something about how I wanted live when, if you had asked me, I wouldn’t have known what to say. Truly, a picture worth a lot of words. There are several photographs of clothes I will never wear – to be fair, never would have worn, even with the time, occasion and money – but they give me unfailing pleasure to look at. I have the treasured card from the only person I ever fired. This one whole box is almost the easiest to overhaul because I know what I can let go and what I cannot and why.
In the corner of my living room are two pieces of a three piece chaise longue called la duchesse brisee. I call it the poorhouse chair. The charming owners of the shop where it was bought shortly afterward retired and it is in constant use. The picture of it (just to prove that dreams do come true) is in another boxfile, along with various other things about houses and collections of pieces about dying skills, supremely gifted women, exercise, diet, various aspects of health from open fires to HRT – I went through them all and some I let go.
The third box file is evidence (were it needed) of how much more slowly things improve than we would wish, or wish to know. I approached it with a kind of dread because the young are our inheritance and in the difficulties some children face – inexplicable problems of health or behaviour, incurred difficulties, plain old fashioned bad luck
– these cuttings record how much time, money and expertise is required to help them. Some of the stuff has been superseded by discovery or a change in treatment fashion. A lot remain a stone in the shoe of carers’ love, painful but to be borne because it cannot be banished. I keep a lot of it out of a great wish to be a witness.
And then there is travel. When I first lived alone after years in a family, I kept thinking about where I would go but the travel pages tell us anew every year so there is little to keep – less wishes than dreams and dreams change. I threw quite a lot of what I had kept there away and looked at the efforts of my labour. Let’s see…