You know that feeling when there is an itch and you would scratch it if you could only locate it; nothing serious, you just can’t concentrate on anything else until you’ve found it. Or, as one of Charles Dickens’ ladies of a certain age (but I can’t remember which one) remarked: there is a pain somewhere in the room, if only I could find where it is – or words to that effect. There is something skewed, and it surely isn’t to do with the apples that have passed their prime and are dropping to the ground in disconsolate fashion and then just lying there waiting for the worms, or me to gather them into harvest home. And it surely isn’t to do with the the season’s turning and the nights coming on us, it seems to me, unseasonably early. Go to, in any case, and read your Manley Hopkins, or at least Spring and Fall – no, no, I am autumn’s child and do not suffer from seasonal affective disorder – unless – but no, this isn’t that. I am, though, it has to be said, uneasy. I make a mental checklist:
Kids’medical and dental things being sorted.
Cat – ditto.
My health as usual and certainly not the worst for which one is always thankful.
Him Outdoors’ work situation ditto.
Finances – obviously overspending but ostrich mode ok for now.
House – might have another stab at selling the old girl.
Extended family – nothing particularly nasty brewing (or at least nothing new) in the dysfunctional quarter, though one musn’t get complacent.
Writing – ouch, oh.
I haven’t done any since before Edinburgh and it is like playing a musical instrument or dancing or anything that requires you to turn up and do the thing regularly; the days, hours and minutes begin to stack up and turn against you. I offer no coy excuses about not being able to get down to it – there are, as always, practical reasons why not and these have to do, as usual, with available energy. I have also, since my return, been experimenting with walks, seeing what happens if I take myself on a more demanding than usual stretch. I know from experience that this is a complicated negotiation with no clear victory and damned if I do or if I don’t – but I am driven to try following a period where I have walked more than usual with no long-term (for the moment at least) bad effects. Trouble is if I do that, the energy ration is used up. Added to this, I have been doing some proper cooking again. This kind of thing really falls away when I am at all focussed on writing. I could never quite bring myself to kill the angel in the house, though that is, as Virginia Woolf said, one of the tasks of a woman writer. But I’ve never been much of a domestic angel. Cooking, though, is something I do that belongs to me in a way that other domestic tasks do not. It’s something I do well that I can offer and enjoy at the same time. Yesterday I made ratatouille, the slow-cook way. Today I will make lamb curry and tarka dhall with cucumber and onion raita. The apples that “ben ripe in my gardayne” are asking me to make a crumble or a pie tomorrow, perhaps.
And the words and stories, dear reader, press on me with purposeful intent. Quia amore langueo. Begin again, as always, a new leaf.