Thursday, September 20, 2007

In My Shoes

Sometimes fatigue has the power to disarm me afresh – I stand back and gasp at the intensity of its singleminded purposefulness, its aim being to disable me and lay me flat. When it strikes it does so swiftly and decisively, no amount of pleading and negotiating on my part will shift its resolve. I can muffle it with pills and an overdose of caffeine but it will be whispering in my ear that it is only a matter of hours and minutes and I will be the more completely floored for having thought to go against its dictates. I have described M.E. as a stalker, but sometimes he (it is still masculine, and given the nature of my primal relationships I don’t know why) takes on a kind of god-like aspect. He is a jealous god, who will admit no others and wants to have me, by hook or by crook, for his very own and sometimes, even now, it throws me.

I have spent three days trying to get shoes. In Clarks shoe shop I sat down and wept – well at any rate, I sat down. The bored assistant with pencil skirt and polished bouffant hair tried not to look at me as I brought back the shoes I had bought only yesterday. I didn’t talk about orthostatic intolerance and how any kind of shoes seem to hurt me these days even though my shoe size is a respectable size 6 standard fit, how I have been looking everywhere for those rubber Crocs that look and feel like beach shoes and are apparently out of this world comfortable (I know about how you can get everything online these days but I need to try things on) and how I would wear anything at all, even those PVC pump things in New Look, or their expensive Italian leather equivalent in Russell and Bromley as long as they put a sole between me and the ground beneath my feet and didn’t hurt. I didn’t say any of that. I said I’d like a refund and she wondered how long till going home time. Sign here, she said, and have you got your Visa. I put the wrong pin number into the machine. We stared at each other across a great divide.

I am going to Norfolk with three writing buddies. I am taking spiral notebooks, a laptop, a new book about fiction-writing suggested by a friend, my down-at-heel Birkenstocks, black suede shoes I got in the men’s section at Pricerite for about a fiver seven years ago, Percol Americano coffee, two packets of Betty Crocker brownie mix and some fruit cake. The aim is to unblank the page and have a Good Time. As long as the former happens (and it will, we are wordsmiths innit), the rest will follow.

See you at the end of the month.


Kahless said...


I have had a taste of the fatigue when my Crohns has been active. Like hitting a brick wall and where-ever I am, just needing to rest. I remember once shopping in M&S and just feeling overwhelmed and just sitting on the floor of the shop, to rest. People stared and I didn’t have the energy to care. Just rest and work out how to get home. No my fatigue isn’t chronic, so I am lucky, but I have a window of understanding into how it may affect you my friend.

BTW, I love it that you are spending time with your passion – writing. Enjoy Norfolk my friend; and fill that internal cup of joy up!

And I seem to be the first comment again - we must keep similar blogging hours!

Reading the Signs said...

Thanks, dear Kahless - I will do this. No blogging, as there won't be any internet connection.

NMJ said...

Signs, Have a great time, sounds fabulous! I've seen plenty of Crocs, but can't get size 7s. Kahless, I love that you sat down in M&S, you were quite right. They don't provide enough seating in stores for people. Ah, Signs, I may dig out my Eliz Smart book, your wee reference put me in the mood.

Reading the Signs said...

Yes, NMJ - one of my fave books. My inner DJ (who sends me up something rotten) may also have been playing Boney M's version.
(I agree - sitting on the floor has style.)

Nicola said...

Dear Signs, I don't have ME so perhaps it's something to do with age or the age of my children that on some days leads to an overwhelming sense of tiredness. I understand every word of what you so clearly describe and know the shop assistant well! Two days ago, in Cheltenham, waiting while my daughter attended a job interview, I sat on a bench in the park in the sun. Then I lay down, hoping I wouldn't be picked up as a vagrant, and listened to the conkers plopping from the trees around me.
I admire you for taking yourself off with notebooks and friends, for making the time and space in your life. I wish you pleasurable inspiration and inspirational pleasure.

Reading the Signs said...

Nicola, I like the thought of lying and listening to the conkers plopping. I live in the perfect place for that.

Thank you - I still need to get the brownie mix and fruit cake - got my priorities sorted.

That's so pants said...

Hi Signs

I can certainly relate to the shoe problem. I was never a shoe person anyway but up until about five years ago (when a certain age thing happened), I could have run a marathon in 3 inch heels that I got from Shoe World - not stilettos mind. These days I'm far less steady on feet which are inclined to swell from hours of walking so my disdain for buying shoes has descended into fear and loathing.

Winter is easy. I wear the boots and nothing but the boots. I look after them too. But summer shoes are not so easy to maintain and they tend to seek voluntary redundancy after a couple of years.

Happily, this year I discovered a reasonably priced shoe-like product distributed by Debenhams called Easy Spirit. These are sandals with a respectable two and a half inch wedge heel, made in very soft leather with a lovely spongy insole. My cranky feet are happy to walk a mile or so in these shoes.



Reading the Signs said...

Hi Pants,

I like the name Easy Spirit but strictly no heels for me - feet won't tolerate even the suggestion of one. Actually, I think they'd prefer not to be encumbered by shoes or boots at all. I still wear my Doc Martens that I got 16 years ago in Hackney, have moulded themselves exactly to the shape of my feet and are seemingly indestructible.

Anna MR said...

Sweetie, you are a hero and an inspiration for going to Norfolk for a writing break whilst feeling like shite. Signs, as always, I salute you. (Sorry I couldn't get back earlier to comment, I realise you won't read this until you get back. Ah well, you can read it on the etherealnet, though, I'm sure.)

psngohv - a half-arsed effort at making up a Russian surname

Reading the Signs said...

Hello Anna - I should be gone now, shouldn't I? Off early tomorrow with sweet little lap top. So many PWME have it much harder than me and I send a salute to any of you, brave sisters and brothers who may be looking in here now - and to you too, Lady Penguin.

That's so pants said...

Hi Signs

When I was a kid, we didn't have to wear shoes to school. It seems unthinkable now. I could walk barefoot on melting bitumen once but now my feet are quite sensitive. I find I need a bit of a heel as a cushion against the hard surface of the roads and paths. My feet love grass and sand though.



ze dr. said...

Oh good, I'm bringing a bottle of wine, a large bag of twiglets, one orange, tumeric, garamasala, cumin, mustard seeds, cayenne, two new pens, two student papers to mark, my printer for us all to share. see you soon. xx

cusp said...

Oh Signs you'll only be up the road from me in Suffolk. Drop by and share the Brownies !

I hope you enjoy the Norfolk countryside and/or seashore and find it inspiring.

Have a lovely time. Incidentally we seem to be awash in Crocs in our little town. The posh shoe shops sells them at £28 a pair, the clothes shop sells them (with flowers printed on) at £10 and they're on the market for £3.

Tell me your size and desired colour and I'll get you a pair !

Anonymous said...

I send smiles and a tip of my pork pie cap from America.

I hope your time away is fruitful -- both in the words you collect and in the words you listen to and throw away. Anxious to hear about this "book about fiction writing," your reaction to it.

Kahless said...

Hi Signs,
Hope you have had a good time away. I have had to make my Random blog private for 10 days so if you want to read, email and I will send an invite. Otherwise it will be back public the week after next.

Reading the Signs said...

Thanks Cusp - someone has said they would bring me a pair of Crocs from the States, but I may still come back to you on that!

David, the book was called "What If" and was by Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter. It looks quite good but in the event I didn't really refer to it, just focussed on getting down to doing it. A book I'd recommend is The Writing Book by Kate Grenville.

Kahless, I'll be in touch.