“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.” Usually it’s the words of pop songs that come to mock me in the middle of some personal crisis. “Stand By Your Man”, as an example, played repeatedly – in my head, I mean – when I was breaking up from my first husband and clearly not doing what Tammy Wynette’s chorus kept urging me to. It was “Three Times a Lady” by the Commodores when embroiled in a disastrous relationship with an angel-headed, drug-abusing psycho and Helen Shapiro’s “Walking Back to Happiness” when committing to a terminally boring secretarial job in a windowless office so I could get a mortgage. The serious poetry comes when the vacuum cleaner breaks down or the sink gets blocked. Now it’s Yeats’s “Second Coming”. What is wrong with my head?
It can’t be denied, though, that things are falling apart in the world of Signs in a relentless, albeit mundane, fashion. Everyone knows that machines, appliances etc. talk to one another and the minute one of them breaks down you can be sure a couple of others will do likewise in sympathy, or perhaps it’s just spite. So anyway, the car’s engine is malfunctioning, the washing machine is dripping, there’s something wrong with the fridge/freezer and the vacuum cleaner. And in other areas domestic: I can no longer ignore the damp patch that is spreading its evil fingers from the corner of the bedroom ceiling; and my beloved cat has been unwell, necessitating frequent trips to the vet in my now unreliable and possibly unsafe car.
As anyone even moderately encumbered with M.E. symptoms knows, it is enough to be doing the essential stuff of life – and when one is artistically inclined and wishing to work on one’s novel, sequence of poems, pastel drawing, piece of competitive crochet, or whatever it happens to be, the essential stuff is more, much more than enough. It has gone mid-day and I am still in my “wake me coffee time” nightshirt. I want to bathe and wash my hair before dressing, will need to rest after, so it must wait while I bash out blog post about the falling-apart centre of my domestic life and then – yes – add another few hundred words to the magnum opus. I also want to see the new Harry Potter film with a friend and it’s important, yes, because I like stuff like this and Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Northern Lights (can’t wait, really), magical, fantasy, get-you-out-of-this-world stories, and I have to wait until Christmas for The Doctor to come back.
Working on the premise that doing as much of what one likes is a good thing, and vital for the chronically ill/disabled, then seeing Harry Potter, (all two and a half hours of it) is obviously appropriate. But there are things to see to, food to be bought, supper to be cooked, food and supper being high on the list of priorities because I want to do my bit for Him Outdoors who has been - outdoors, or elsewhere since early in the day, dealing with office politics, the M25 and long hours grafting (and has the exquisite grace, in relation to yours truly, to call himself Patron of the Arts). Preparing nice food is something I am usually good at, though this too is going through a rocky phase, not sure why but things I have cooked for years and ought to be able to do in my sleep are turning out wrong and I end up with a pig’s ear of a dish – as I was moaning to NMJ last night after making kedgeree.
“Surely some revelation is at hand”: I think (and hope) not. It’s just that things fall apart sometimes. The centre holds, as it must.