I slept well for years and mostly still do.  But like eerie soft toys,

I take to bed pictures of the Ukrainian war, some part of the troubled planet, the non-resolution of my edf problem (annalog/ghostbusters), concern about dentistry and eventually, on this occasion, rose at 3.00 or so, to heat milk.  Of course I know people to whom the mention of milk in any form is repellent, hot milk unthinkable and the jolly types who expect you to add spirits.  Hot milk helps me sleep.

Except that this time I managed to spill the milk

into my slipper, down the stove, on the floor – it’s amazing how far a small amount of fluid goes.  And it was so ridiculous, having to clear all that up, that I began to laugh at myself.  And the milk was not my usual, full of preservative and didn’t work.

Since then it’s been the downward road in the peace of mind stakes.  Wal has had a serious operation and the private hospital in which he is currently safe and through the worst thank heaven has wonderful nurses, good food and a switchboard system of glaring inadequacy.

I often read book reviews (they’re cheaper than books) which led me to the first person account of a handsome woman with a difficult childhood who managed to come to awareness of her alcoholism (good) but after having been a pain to all who knew and loved her for years. I have never forgotten the man, now dry, who told me “You drink to kill pain” and a bit like antibiotics, it kills other things too.

Offered pages by a woman who was John le Carre’s lover, I still don’t know why she wrote the book.   Or why anybody is surprised that someone who has been involved in what we used to call Special Services is odd.   Like many great talents, I would imagine le Carre was difficult and functioning unbalanced, causes partly familial, partly professional.   Sex takes your mind off all sorts of other things, leaving you free to go back to writing.  And writing is such a strange business, where you use words alchemically to make pictures and structures that other people can’t imagine.

The endless recital of somebody else’s sexual experience doesn’t do anything for me. 

Porn only works on the innocent or the addicted and I am neither.  I don’t want to see or conjure what you do.    Because the recital doesn’t teach anything except indifference.  

There was a time when I had a Marilyn Monroe library. I admire Monroe. The great director Billy Wilder said (approximately) she could drive you mad but give you something unique.  I am not sure which we have most trouble with in the present world, the idea that somebody is clever or the idea that the clever make mistakes too. 

But do I want to see her acted (Netflix) ?  Do I want to see that acted Monroe used all over again through the recreated savagery of her experience of the movie industry ?   No and no.  The idea that we can only appreciate the journeys women take into creative expression and a measure of success

(there’s a chimera) by talking about rape, beating and every other kind of unkindness is eerily fictive.

It can’t be right – or indeed helpful –  as in morally not right and socially not helpful – to be defined by what goes wrong as in “I know I have a career/ a tv show/ a partner/  my own house that I can afford to heat  – but I have painful periods.”  In years and years of talking to people, I don’t recall anybody who had it all.  We all have our difficulties and we choose, not always wisely, how to deal with them.  Moreover we choose – change our minds – and try another way. This used to be called growing up and for some of us it takes a very long time.  I can be patient with how long it takes, it has for me.  But don’t describe me as a victim because I have my troubles. Everybody does and most of the time, that’s how we learn.   Not by sweetness and light and roses round the door but by thought and disturbance and disquiet, and the balancing act between them.      

One response to “disquiet

  1. Stuart Marshall-Banks

    My grandmother used to hate spilling milk – she always said it was a sign of sickness.
    She much preferred to spill sugar – a sign of joy!
    Must be a northern thing…..
    A beautiful read.

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