No I don’t mean when you think you have learnt
that the Princess Royal had electrolysis or “that nice boy” is having an affair with a married man who happens to be your nephew. I don’t mean when your daughter who has always planned to be a nail technician announces she is going to be a wildlife ranger – or the other way round. I don’t mean putting your hand on to or into an insecure power point or the sinking sensation that accompanies the opening of your credit card account. Shock has a medical meaning
– look it up – it’s fascinating.
Attending for the fourth in a series of eye injections at Moorfields, I recounted to my surgeon that the only thing I couldn’t work through and rationalise is the shock. She asked what I meant and I explained. So far, I leave the hospital, come home, eat something light – ideally soup, soup I make is the answer to quite a lot of things – lie down, get warm and go to sleep. That is what the body demands. I am very pale and quite cold. A minor form of shock.
But not this time around. The doorbell rang – packet. The telephone too. Then the telephone again and the doorbell a second time. Buns tells me he has learned to ignore these interruptions when they were not what he wanted. I fear someone at the door to tell me something has happened to my son, while early life experience indoctrinated me into answering the phone. I lay down – again !- slept for half an hour and woke so cold I thought I had a fever.
Feet like blocks of ice.
I went into the kitchen and put on the kettle for a hot water bottle which I still prefer to any electric device ever made. Hottle in hand, I returned to the living room, closed the shutters (solid wood, good at keeping in warmth) but for a couple of inches, put the heat at my feet, the rug over me and eventually went to sleep.
Three hours later, I woke. Perish any thought of waste of time. Either one of my parents would have said “Then you needed the sleep.” The body doesn’t do that unless it needs to. Twilight was falling,
I like twilight. I lit the candles on the mantelpiece, the big one in the kitchen, another in my bedroom. I made what is called a nice cup of tea, unless you hate tea … And I sat in the half light – still a bit through the window – and read the two newspaper articles which interested me. And I moved through the evening with profound gratitude that my eye no longer felt as if it had half a heated metal box in it.
So often, words no longer mean what you thought they meant. You have to ascertain not agreement but mutual respect (up to and including begging to differ) before using a word like, for example, moral.
The meaning has narrowed, the wider meanings are ignored. Nowadays moral is too often a word to do with sexual behaviour rather responsibility to the wider society , presumably because any sense of “society” and thus social implications doesn’t come readily to mind. Perhaps it is a new definition of friendship that there are such words, the wider implications of which you understand even if you don’t accept, in the mouth of some people. I count myself lucky to know about half a dozen, my kind of friends.
I am sure my body is not a temple but I am sure it is a wood. There was a wood near Acklam School when I was a little girl, with squirrels and dormice and all sorts of birds, things that slithered and things that crept, all with systems of life that interlocked and separated and permitted coexistence. Discovery in the age of lockdown has to be wider than online workouts and overpriced exercise gear, puppies you shouldn’t have bought and children you shouldn’t have had. Look at the wonder of the body’s ability to absorb shock and move back into gear, a million times more subtle than any screen and finer than any Ferrari.