When you live alone and you aren’t ever going to see 27 again, you have to bestride differing needs. The day needs a shape
but if it is always the same shape, you risk making habit into necessity. If it has no shape, you can waste hours watching or reading rubbish (there is a lot of it about), eating cheap biscuits and waiting to be rescued.
From time to time, we all want to be rescued – men from one thing, women from another, or both, or the other way round. Me too. I have harmless dreams of being called on, discovered, appreciated and renewed. Spineless of me, because in the great tradition of quality rather than quantity, I get better feedback than anybody I know. But there is always a day when your knee hurts and the sky is what I call pot lid – low and grey, when this one is irritating and that one doesn’t come through, and what you really want is
a knight in shining armour.
Except that I know that if the knight came, his horse would tread on my toe, he’d have bad breath and I’d wish him gone in a hurry. If there is one thing I learned in this life, it’s forget going round – go through. That way, when it’s over, it’s really over – bits of the bad times do not linger in your pocket or down the back of the sofa. Of course people want to belong and fit in and so do I – but markedly less. I want to be more at peace with myself,
other people come later. When I get becalmed I sit and consider the nature of the block, and then begin to work my way through.
Last week I went back to see the optometrist to have the spectacles updated which had been driven off course by her discovery of my macular degeneration two years plus ago. The news was good. And Anna the South Korean cut my hair though she had had an asthma attack and was frail.
I got up at what I thought was 6.00am to have a bath on Friday and when I was clean and creamed and dressed , discovered I had got up at 5.00. By midday I was out on my feet, just finishing the wonderful book on the world’s biggest fishing owl .
This is the third book about wild land I know nothing about, arcane skills and patience, and I find it very healing – I always did, even before the war. (They’re listed at the end in case they are of interest.) Mind you I am always up against the writing because there is certain writing I cannot read. It may be English but not to my eyes, before which it passes and the connections remain unmade.
Paraphrasing a quote from Erasmus, I’d agree “When I have money, I buy books and sometimes food.” And on Saturday morning I read a review of a book about British myths and legends.
I have been looking for something like this so I went off to see if my local Waterstones could help. It was there that I asked to order the book about the fishing owl and it was produced from downstairs. This time, the assistant grinned over her screen and said “I’ll just get it from the back .” I admitted checking the writing to see if I can read it. And after abbreviated shopping, I came home, the second day in a row of a different shape.
Of course I should be buying used books but I rarely get beyond the purchase of two or three new before common sense and self preservation re-assert themselves and books are better for me than anti-ageing cream.
I gave up on a good film last night because it was “too good”. It was about a priest abusing three boys who as men stay in the church, raising families in its observation, and their confusion and actions to protect others. And the power of the community, religious and social, shone through the cinematography and the performances, sugar for the unbearable pill. I could feel myself begin to choke. I went to bed and counted my blessings – friends, eyes, warmth, books and no bombs, fried eggs and purple sprouting, clean water …
Reindeer People by Piers Vitebsky (Harper Collins)
The Great Soul of Siberia by Sooyong Park (William Collins) – amur tigers
Owls of the Eastern Ice by Jonathan C. Slaght (Penguin)