That glass. You know the one, the one that we describe as half empty or half full. Life’s glass, the image a friend offered to me at the end of an anxious, tired conversation about the ills of our world (which I am not going to list, who needs a negative incantation ?) “And well, you know” she said “ for me, the glass is always half full.” “The glass is half empty” I said. “I drank the first half” and we laughed. It is very difficult to have a positive conversation without sinking into toe-curling bromides.
But I am serious. I had a wonderful time. Yes, I have had sorrow, defeat and loss but I have had joy, victory and gain. You will note the absence of “also” in that sentence. The balance is kept in another place, I don’t do ledgers about life. I mean what I say and it is still true.
One of those small decisions we live by was that I would have a desk diary. In one sense this is ridiculous. I no longer work beyond annalog, social life was nearly in neutral before the bug and will continue to be so. I am not as self sufficient as some of my friends. There are still days when I need a voice first thing in the morning as much as I need my two glasses of cold water (here’s to you, Vera Atkins, SOE). I was absurdly and unreasonably hurt by the people who didn’t come through on the telephone during lockdown. But then others I had not expected at all did. It’s that glass again …
The desk diary however gives me great pleasure and with one exception, it’s been the same diary for years – Redstone Press. One of those places you email and they reply ? Unlike finding a gardener which took me four goes including a cold as a stone chit who told me “We don’t give advice.” “Oh really ?” I said. “Then why don’t we just forget the whole thing …” and then I hit a home run. I am not being grand, I am being (gawdelpus) sensible. If I went up a ladder to fix the honeysuckle and made a mess of it, or me, it would be one more thing for my son to cope with.
In the desk diary I put birthdays and dates of importance. This has already paid dividends. We are human, we like to be remembered, we like things about us to be remembered ie the anniversary of the day the big job came through, your father’s death, in my case, both parents’ birthdays, days of good omen. I noted the death of Ho Chi Minh, Kristallnacht and Oradour, the day I saw the neurologist, sayings that appeal , the plagues of Egypt, how correctly to address Her Majesty . All sorts of bits and pieces that need to be noted in a safe place you won’t lose, and should you need them, you will know where to look. The Redstone diaries have wonderful written things in them and pictures, and like my cherished New Yorker date-a-day, it’s something new, inexpensive, personal and positive.
Don’t talk to me about the new normal, another irritating slogan. The recent normal was about as far from normal as you could get, I mean for about the last 50 years. Greedier and greedier, less and less thoughtful, more and more synthetic. Bound to rupture and it did. And then “thousands of children fail to show up for school” (Times 16.09.20). My grand daughter was at school for two days before she was sent home to isolate as a suspected Covid contact. Normal.
It’s not my favourite word. It has quite specific connotations. Thrown about, it is just another buzzword. Like “woke”. What is normal really is to have the glass both half full and half empty at the same time. It’s the same glass and unless you are a member of the Magic Circle, it will be the same bit that’s full – the bit you have still to get to. Here’s to you.