The Sorrow and the Pity

A couple of days ago, a woman I like immensely but rarely see got in touch out of the blue and, after a very few texts, we’d arranged to meet for brunch. Lovely. Then I went all paranoidy and started wondering if she knew, somehow, about my situation and was only asking me because she felt sorry for me.

This has become something of a habitual thought pattern for me over the last couple of months, since I found out about my husband’s affair. Anyone who was particularly nice, anyone who said, ‘How are you?’ in way one reserves for the particularly unfortunate, anyone who appeared to look at me with concern, I immediately assumed they knew and it would throw me into a spin. My major concern, at that point, was preventing my children finding out and, of course, the more people that knew, the greater the risk that it would get back to them. That was part of the reason it bothered me – and that sounds rather laudable and unselfish, doesn’t it? But that was only part of  it.

I hate – absolutely HATE – feeling like the object of pity. Maybe everyone does. I don’t know. To be honest, I’ve ever asked anyone. Maybe I should. And I think my freakishly calm reaction to this whole being-dumped-after-so-many-years-of-marriage thing has been conditioned by that sentiment. I’m all, ‘I’ll be fine. Of course it’s very sad, but I’ll be absolutely fine. Don’t you worry about me!’. Pride, you see. It’s the original Original Sin. And it comes before a fall, doesn’t it? Maybe that’s why I’ve ended up in this situation.

Anyway, it’s almost time to come out in the open about my situation, and anyone who doesn’t know, will know. And there’ll be plenty of ‘How are you?’s. Plenty of kindness and concerned looks and invitations out of the blue for brunch. I’ll be an object of pity. Of course I will. I’m the betrayed wife. The one they made a fool of. What could be more pitiable? But I’m learning … I hope. I’m going to shift my point of view and park that stupid pride for a bit.

Because how lucky am I, in the midst of all this mess and heartache and sorrow, to have people around me who care enough to pity me? Who care enough to invite me for brunch, to ask the awkward question, to text me just to check how I am, to see past my stupid glib assurances and my pretended strength.

Very lucky. Very lucky indeed.

Mexed Mitaphor

I am a writer as you may or, very possibly, may not know. A proper published writer of eight novels and some 15 to 20 works of non-fiction. A wordsmith, if you will. But you’re going to have to bear with me for a while because my brain isn’t working quite as it should.

So here’s the situation. For the last few decades, I’ve lived a life of more-or-less unexamined more-or-less content. Lucky me. But I think the ‘unexamined’ bit may be where I went wrong, because the rug has been well and truly pulled out from under me. And by the last person I would ever have suspected. The person I trusted entirely.

At first, in the place where the rug used to be, all I could see was a big black hole. And it looked so dark, so deep and so cold that I wondered if I might fall down it and never escape. But then I realised that there was another way of looking at things. Maybe, once the dust had cleared, underneath the rug, there might be a wooden floor that hadn’t been seen in years … if ever. Maybe, with the care and attention it deserved, that floor could start to look good again. There’ll be splinters, I’m sure, a few repairs, a lot of polishing but I think the floor is basically sound.

So that’s my project. And right here is where I’m going to be writing about it. And after all the work I’m going to be putting in on my floor, I’m not going to let anyone walk all over it or cover it up with a rug again. It’s my floor and it belongs to me! I am henceforth responsible for my own patina.


You did get that the whole floor thing was a metaphor, didn’t you?

So I’m back

Did you miss me? Did you? 

Oh well, never mind. 

Sorry for the prolonged absence and all that. I just ran out of things to say. But having blown the dust off my blogroll and checked through it, I can see I wasn’t alone in that. Things have changed a bit down here on the riverbank, though, Where before I was aiming for impersonal, detached, observational, now it’s all about me. Me, me, meeeeee! Feel free to unfollow immediately. 

And don’t say I didn’t warn you! xx

I miss my lovely, brave mum

Sure on this Shining Night

setting by Morten Lauridsen

(lyrics taken from ‘A Death in the Family’ by James Agee)

Sure on this shining night
Of starmade shadows round,
Kindness must watch for me
This side the ground.

The late year lies down the north.
All is healed, all is health.
High summer holds the earth.

Hearts all whole.
Sure on this shining night I weep for wonder wand’ring far alone
Of shadows on the stars.

I’m it …

The lovely Patroclus has tagged me for a meme. This is good because, to an extent, I seem to have mislaid my mojo. There are all sorts of reasons for this and I’m not too worried about it overall, but it’s still nice to have something to focus on. I’ve got another couple pending too – including one from Mr Locker – which I will get to presently (honest). In an ideal world, this present meme would involve making a podcast but I don’t have the first idea about how to do that (tbh, I’m not even sure I know what a podcast is), so you’ll have to make do with links to …

Anyway, the idea is to list seven songs I’m particularly into at the moment. The only problem has been paring down the list. I listen to music a big lot, and I’m very subject to earworms (please say you know what I mean by that). Like Patroclus, I will throw in – free of charge – some vacuous commentary. Don’t say I’m not good to you.

1) The Cure: Friday, I’m in Love

This is an acoustic version and very lovely too. I’m a big fan of deceptively simple jingly jangly pop and this hits the spot. Doesn’t the bass player (Simon Gallup?) look like David Tennant? My daughter nearly fainted when I played this for her. Anyway, I’m very interested by Robert Smith – he seems to have huge talent and integrity. And his hair is a bit like mine. Really!

2) Talking Heads: Listening Wind

I remember vividly the first time I heard this one. I was living in Paris at the time. I was at a friend’s appartment in Rue Amelot. It was very late. There was a bloke I was vaguely interested in there. Maybe I was a little bit drunk. The bass line – probably Tina Weymouth – is fantastic, don’t you think? I used to have it on vinyl but I recently replaced it with a CD from Tesco – yes, I know, I know. It has a slightly world music feel to it too – although world music hadn’t been invented back in those days. Y’know, if I could have studied anything at all, money (and practicality) no object, I think i’d have done ethno-musicology. Which sort of brings me to …

3) Tinariwen: Cler Achel

This is the song I’ve got on my Myspace profile – that’s how much I like it. I’ve managed to miss seeing them twice in the last couple of years, but I have high hopes for this summer! I can’t even remember where I first heard them, but there’s something about the instrumental part that reminds me of Fairport Convention! How weird is that? Ooh – that bloke in the middle there – that’s what my hair looks like today. Well, a cross between that and Robert Smith.

4) The Clash: Rock the Kasbah

Ludicrous video. Great song. It’s almost disco, isn’t it? This really dates me, of course – I don’t care. Listen to that bass line – so supple! Poor old Joe – a sad loss to British music. I saw them a couple of times – unforgettable. Is that how you spell Kasbah? Totally unrelated (but while I’m on the subject of Kasbahs), I went to Marrakech with my daughter lately – and Essaouira. It was wonderful.

5) Steve Reich: Music for 18 Musicians

Not a lot of people know this, but I originally studied music at university. I am, to all intents and purposes, the most tremendous geek. I’m very fond of minimalism, and Reich is one of my favourite composers. It was very difficult to find a clip that adequately gets over how fantastic this work is. This is made up of lots of little fragments but the whole piece is quite long and very intense. Try listening to the whole thing – really – it’s hypnotic and, I think, very uplifting.

6) The Kinks: Waterloo Sunset

Listen to those lyrics. Poetry, isn’t it? So tender and so Londonish. And Ray Davies has GOT to be one of the coolest men alive. I used to live in Highgate, and so did he. And I quite often used to see him walking around the village. And I’d go all wobbly and try not to look as if I was staring (which I was).

7) Matt Weddle: Hey Ya

Please listen to this one, even if you don’t bother with anything else. It’s like one of those optical illusions where one minute it looks like two faces and the next it looks like a vase. You think you know this song – the original version by Outkast is great – but this is like a completely different song. If you haven’t heard of them already, the band Obadiah Parker, of which Matt Weddle is a member, is really worth getting to know. The audioclip on their Myspace is better than that Youtube link, actually, but it doesn’t have the advantage of cutting between Weddle and Andre (Ice Cool) 3000. What’s going on with the timing here, btw? Is it an 11-bar phrase? Say of 2/4 bars? Curious.

Notable ommisions: B-52s: Roam (I’m going to see them soon); Stranglers: Duchess; Bob Dylan: Boots of Spanish Leather; Couperin: Les Barricades Mysterieuses; Palestrina: Missa Papae Marcelli … gosh, I could go on and on.