Last week two vibrant young women came collecting for Scope,
and wanted me to put a questionnaire on my phone. I explained – no phone. “We could do it on your email” said one but they couldn’t, to which the second girl sighed “everything to do with communication is so complicated nowadays …” She must have been every day of sixteen.
When we went through a phase of writing notes to each other at school, I remember my mother shaking her head. “Say what you like” she said. “You can have an argument and clear the air. But don’t write it down.”
I grew up with the idea that writing things down was serious and I didn’t do it lightly. This probably affected my letter writing, which is rarely as good as I would like it to be, though to be fair to myself, I do better at business letters than personal ones.
So when I had to cancel gardeners number seven, I sent an email. And then I sent it again two days later, both times asking for acknowledgement of the cancelled date. Not a sausage. Then I printed it off, put in an envelope and sent it marked “Please read.” On Saturday I opened the door at 8.00 to the young man whose time I had sought not to waste. So I may be serious about writing but clearly his boss isn’t and doesn’t read anything except texts or bank statements.
Very early on the two year haul to get sense out of the energy company, I declined phone calls – an art form of meaningless – and everything was written down. I thought thus I would have a record and at one point in desperation,
I copied out the dates of every contact, name, brief summary and compiled them. Not to say “… and I was very upset” because they clearly didn’t care, just to show the waste of everybody’s time. When through the good offices of a LinkedIn executive and the energy broker next door, we got to a name and thus some sense of responsibility, it became clear that she did not read it. It was too long.
As the audial sense of news, opinion and promotion gets narrower, more confusing and closer to the Tower of Babel, I take a daily paper.
I don’t have to agree with everything it says but I have time consider what I read without often discordant voices. I find things of interest. I spend time with writers I have learned to appreciate if not trust. It’s not the Word from On High but it is more thoughtful and tempered than much of the fashion for news nowadays which, like the weather forecasts, seems to have been influenced by the least pleasing kind of sub-Sunday school peptalk – “Don’t worry, there is some sun coming…” or “Peace may break out …” In Daisy’s immortal phrase (she was a headmistress whose husband has PD) gawdelpus.
What is written remains magical to me, stories untold, things I never heard of, thoughts unformulated, worlds revealed. I sat the other night and read poems from The Faber Book of Beasts, poetry about animals.
The candles played on the wall, the trees murmured outside. It cost not very much and it sent me to bed with a smile on my lips. Of course you have to be in the mood for it and if you are not in the mood for it, it doesn’t work. You may read something again and it plays differently to you or you may read something for the first time and feel its impact land. Either way you will avoid the repetition which is one of the most disagreeable features of our current television.
Occasionally somebody will ask if I have a picture of my son ? I haven’t, I never have carried one. Various peoples including the Rom think the camera steals the soul. What I carry is a number of things he has written – notes, lines from the front of books, an early piece of typing. Not much, not a library but a few words from various times in his life which evoke him
and make me smile with gratitude and pleasure.