Given her own she was born the daughter of a
princely Prussian house. She married a British double barrelled bully and after a long time with many ups and downs, he has gone to glory (where he will bore the saints) and she is facing being alone. Alone is always a challenge unless you are one of nature’s loners. Yesterday she remarked “ I just feel so unsettled.” And I asked why wouldn’t you ? She said “You feel it too ?” I said I did. Yesterday I watched the news on Al-Jazeera and if you wanted clarified the idea of the world in uproar, there it was. I lasted a few minutes. She agreed and we worked our way round to how we survive.
Years ago Johnson and Johnson
manufactured pantyliners and as she would talk about most things, I was asked to address the local sales force. Informed about female hygiene, I knew how such an accessory might be useful. I also knew from what I had heard that they were planning to sell it to everybody all day everyday upon which I remarked unfavourably. Shutting of ventilation from the area has never been advisable. “And you’re promoting anxiety. We don’t need any help.” And we surely don’t now.
Excessive unease is part of the dictionary definition of anxiety. Judi Dench once famously remarked that there was such a thing as good stress and I am sure that you can be nervously wishing to do your best, whatever the context,
and the anxiety will resolve into the realisation of something good ie he’s lovely, you cleared the high jump or you got the job.
The anxieties of the present age get under your nails and into your soul.
For years, the consolation was to go out and buy something, even something small. But small and modest is in shorter supply than it has ever been, even supposing it’s effective. And you hesitate – the ordinarily moneyed hesitate – to spend money on anything you don’t have to have.
Food prices continue to rocket. Two of the most famously inexpensive supermarket chains are now putting their prices up.
Every kind of work structure costs more – more to clean, more to light, more to heat, more for tea and coffee, more for unguents, more for waste. If you can keep work. Over the shoulder for many leers the malign ghost of unemployment.
It’s easier to hide your troubles when times are easier. You can evade them, go out, go to the movies, a concert, an exhibit, have one two three drinks and stagger home in a taxi. None of that, not now. You watch and make the money go round. There’s one more wash in the bottom of the box of soapflakes. Another month to get out of those shoes.
And much as I long to be able to support – even if only by looking – I have never seen such ugly lines as is offered to women in what are called fashion stores. I had an hour or two looking around last week and it sent me home to count my blessings and change my scarves. They are what I call “standing still clothes” – shoes too – OK if you’re slight, young and modelling but absolutely incongruous if you are wearing them and moving in them.
The psychological interpretation of standing stock still and hoping not to be noticed comes to mind.
Years ago just after the Japanese tsunami, I met a Japanese woman in the local branch of a dress shop I liked. Of course I asked after her family and she ended our short conversation with a bow such as I have never seen, though read about. A couple of weeks ago and 12 years later, we met again. She remembered me, I remembered her. And we spoke about the world, bad news and my determination to find the good and think of the beautiful as a means of spiritual survival. In conclusion, she reached out and took one hand of mine in both of hers. “You live your life” she said. She said it twice with an emphasis on “your”. We looked at each other, she bowed like a leaf. I said I would.