Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Reviewing the Situation

Shingles seem to be winning at the moment. I had no idea – how can one with a name like Shingles? It sounded so musical and benign, a nursery book kind of a word or Brighton beach, surely no worse than having, say, the Sniffles, and just a bit of a rash? I heard people refer to it as painful but was never close enough to anyone who had it to know what that might mean.

When awake the best thing is to keep distracting myself, but one is limited by not being able to focus for very long and being tired. I can only lie down and sleep for an hour or two before pain kicks in and the only thing to do is get up. I have been given carte blanche by the doctor to take as many prescription painkillers as I want but they don’t really stop the pain – apparently nothing does with this (apart from drugs with side-effects I can’t tolerate), you just have to sit it out and hope it goes away sooner rather than later. Having M.E. does of course add a further dimension to the picture. It may be time for some therapeutic self-pity, but that, like the pills, doesn't really hit the spot . I have, for the moment, given up not smoking. It is, as Lou Reed once said, “a health measure.” In his case, it stood between him and a heroin habit. In my case, it just makes everything feel better to say that at least I can punctuate the day (and night) with a cigarette here and there.

I have, though, been considering the Doppelganger character. I said she had to go but she is still hovering around, which is a bit of a liberty considering I haven’t even written about her that much. Though she pretends to be me, she isn’t at all. For a start, she has never smoked, though she may have had the odd puff of home-grown marijuana in her teens. The real difference between us is that she is essentially English whereas I am the daughter of refugees (it’s a long story) and have never felt myself to be that. She is wisteria, damp gingerbread, pressed flowers and sagging curtain hems. I don’t mean to sound disparaging, she just is.

It is of course possible that I am a figment of her imagination but, not being a writer, she won’t know what to do with me, whereas I can do whatever I want. She might take herself off to see a counsellor and between them both they will finish me off or I will be in some way absorbed by her so that she and I become one, a more rounded, integrated sort of person, but essentially tame. I won’t let that happen. But wait:

“What does it mean,” says the counsellor, “that this shadow side of yourself is someone who refuses to be tame?”
“I suppose,” she will dutifully respond, “that it’s the part of me I never really wanted to look at or admit to.” The counsellor smiles encouragingly.
“And what do you think she would be saying right now if she were here?” Doppelganger blushes, discreetly so no-one would notice, but she can feel the heat in her cheeks and the back of her neck.
“I suppose she’d swear a lot.” (Damn right I would, sweetheart).
“Yes?” says the counsellor.
“And actually, she’d probably –” but she won’t say it of course, it would be rude, so I will say it for her. She’d put the money down and say thanks, but no thanks, like the hip gunslinger that I am and she can never be. Ok – it’s not what I would actually do, but I’d be completely conscious of wanting to, which she isn’t. Or is she? Bugger. Are we merging already?
“And what does she look like, the shadow?” says counsellor, still on the track to balance and integration.
“Well – ” she hesitates. (Don’t say it, just don’t). “She looks a bit like me, really.” Fuck.

But she wouldn’t wear a cast-off grey hoodie, would she? Especially not one with a Weirdfish logo that teenagers wear, no, she really wouldn’t. She has an embroidered cotton handkerchief in her hands that she twists and twists as she talks, and she smooths the folds on her crushed cotton skirt.

Other than this, she talks about her children and her unfulfilled ambitions (which were what?) and the shadow that follows her, the sense that there is something just around the corner waiting to reveal itself because she is a (what did they used to call them?) – a “Sensitive” – a clairvoyant (which is not the same as reading the signs, so don’t think it), only she doesn’t know it yet, and the counsellor (who is nothing like Ms Melancholy) may well be sneaking a look at her watch wondering if the hour is up yet and whether it isn’t time for her to go.

Perhaps she will catch shingles.


Anonymous said...

I really should hold my tongue until after someone who knows what the hell they are talking about (like Ms. Melancholy) comments first, but . . .

Maybe Doppelganger cannot catch shingles, perhaps she is shingles, or M.E. or perhaps illness herself. She presents herself as perfect, as someone better than you, someone who could control you, or so it would seem on the surface, but in fact she is vulnerable, filled with holes and is "damp gingerbread."

I hope you are better. Shingles is obviously hitting you a lot harder than it hit me and I send my very warmest wishes for great strength and a quick recovery.

Anna MR said...

Signs, Signs, Signs. You poor wee duckie. I am really sorry to hear how shit you are feeling, but very happy to find (and tell you) it isn't having a detrimental effect on your writing - almost the contrary, it's giving you an angry edge which I, for one, enjoy, I would say, if I wasn't too sensitive and emotionally aware and able to empathise (you may smack me now).

Keep on those fags, girl. They just help, don't they? And you can always stop again later.

You'll love this: nhnkissg. No, I am not making it up. The system is sending you a kiss with hot smothers attached. Whaddaya know?

Reading the Signs said...

Thanks, kind goodthomas, but I assure you that she and "I" are no more or less than a couple of characters I'm having a bit of fun with.

The shingles head is of course a real pain - but it's good to rant and at times like these one almost has an obligation, I think.

hey (hei)luminous anna who shall perchance be Prince of Denmark hereafter - one uses the tools at one's disposal. Happy you enjoyed.

Yes, the cigs - that's what I'm saying to myself. Anyway, if I didn't slip up now and then I'd be perfect, and that wouldn't do.

Being kissed by my own word ver system is something, I can tell you.

Pixie said...

I've found my way here via cusp. And I would like to say you write wonderfully even if you are feeling like shit. Can i say that on your blog.

I'm a therapist, but please don't hold that against me cause I'm lovely really. And I do a passionate and fine line in swearing as i think that works better than soft emotional feeding back to you.

cusp said...

Bastard Shingles. 'The Bells of Hell go Shing-a ling-a ling for you but not for me'.... tra la. Well they did shing-a-ling for me too 14 years ago but I got the anti-virals and it was bloody miserable even with those, so I cannot imagine how horrid you must be feeling.

Can I confess that I'm beginning to take a bit of a shine to Mlle. Doppelganger. Not in a 'please will you be my friend' way and not in a sexual way (not sure she'd be into that anyway from what you've written --unless it was in Laura Ashley nightie with the blinds drawn, lights off and extra sound-proofing in case the neighbours heard anything [or maybe she would ?? secret siren ??])...anyway, I mean in a literary, oh all right then, a nosey way.

I'm intrigued now and want to know more. Maybe she's dying to tell someone her story (you?) and she just won't/can't leave it alone until someone opens the door on her story. Maybe that's why you seem unable to ignore her.

Go on, please.....give her a probationary period. Let's see where she takes you....even if it is up a blibd alley down The Lanes. You're the only one who can do it. You hold the key.........

Reading the Signs said...

Hi pixie - thanks for the lovely comment and you are most welcome to say that on my blog. Not only will I not hold your being a therapist against you, I will make a beeline for one such as you (passionate and fine line, I like it) should the need arise.

cusp, is that the other line to "death where is thy sting-a-ling-a-ling"? Well it's bloody lovely and I never knew it.

Now you've tempted me, cusp, I'll be honest. She's around somewhere, dabbling around with hand-dyed silk scarves if you want to know. She knows about me now - still thinks I'm a figment of her imagination - and I'm considering this and should warn you that if I am, then anyone who has anything to do with me is as well!

cusp said...

Well it kind of is the next line but altered to fit your dread disease. We used to have the LP of 'Oh What a Lovely War' at home when I was young and it was on there.

What sort of perfume or scent do you think La D. wears ?

Liezl said...

I like where all this is going...

I'm not sure I'm comfortable with the word 'lie' being in my name.

Reading the Signs said...

liezl, for goodness sake, the "ie" is pronounced "ee" so you don't have to worry about it sounding like "lie". I should be telling about your own name?

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