Saturday afternoon found me trying on a pair of shoes
– or at least, preparing to. I haven’t done that for two years because whatever I want shoe-wise, I don’t need and these just filled in an unexpected “It would be nice if …” So of course, the guardian angel applied the brakes and they weren’t available in my size. My Saturday afternoon purchases included light bulbs (get ‘em while you can) and a plastic box, too big for purpose. Poor spatial concept, I hear my first gynaecologist saying.
Nowadays I am sure young women would bridle but at the time, I just thought he was a man who knew his job (which he did and practised it with skill and sympathy) and that was a comment based on his experience with students and trainees – not an attack on the nature of women. I neither wanted nor needed his comment but it was a propos pain I could have been spared if the doctor whose mistake had led me to him had known better. Don’t worry I am not going down this road for long though I do think it’s fascinating that with what you might call the female surge, we have a rush of books about miscarriage, infertility and menopause though when I wrote about the war I had been through and its consequences 30 plus years ago, it was regarded as unnecessarily outspoken. Do we want to know more, do we need to know more or this just the vagaries of publishing fashion ?
What do I want ? Umpteen books.
I spent a happy hour in a bookshop recently, attracted to this, curious about that, but leave it, leave it – don’t need any of them. What a book appears to be and what a book is are two very different things and you can spend a lot of money pursuing what isn’t there in cardboard covers.
I want a dark violet roll necked sweater.
Two jumpers died this winter and it has left the wardrobe (you know, the one in the East Wing …) depleted. Years ago, the writer Vanessa Friedmann described colours which were no longer available, unless you were in a small town that made its own dyes and dark purple is on the list. So is wool and anything, as my father used to say, long enough to cover your kidneys. Do I need this item ? Somewhere between the two. The constant reinvention of self beyond bad black is essential to the ageing face.
I want a gardener. Or at least I thought I did, mostly for advice and a course of action on four plants, nerved to pay. Gardener One has never come back to me, I hope success chokes them. Gardener Two arrived with an English bullterrier so that the non follow through doesn’t count because I got to see a favourite dog unexpectedly. And then came Dinah (NHN)
one of those immensely capable women, law degree, wonderful cook, fluent French and a diploma in deprecation who talked more sense over soup and toast than I had any right to expect. I thought I wanted a gardener but actually I needed Dinah – sympathy about the lack of professional response (“I know, they don’t want a small job…”), clear instructions – every home should have one, just enough hope that you don’t feel a fool.
I want transformation, I do two or three times a year and that’s how most of the more lucrative parts of the markets for women sell. On hope and dreams and wish fulfilment. Sometimes you have a breakthrough, though not often, and the hope of it keeps you wanting it – even as you deny it.
I want world peace and countries to talk to each other and something practical to come out of the Climate Conference. And as one small human, I need all those. I want a sensible discussion with the energy supplier on Monday. There are lots of things I may want but I don’t need ,and lots of things I need that I can do without. If the last 20 years have taught me anything, it is to acknowledge the difference and incorporate my whims and wishes in a more constructive way.