It is all go in the Signs household. I speak relatively, of course, always bearing in mind that I do not, and am unlikely ever again to, juggle my life. (That, by the way, is something that used to be on the spine of Cosmopolitan magazine: “for women who juggle their lives” – perhaps it still is).
We went up to London to see the daughter singing jazz in the Poetry Café. This is the kind of thing that falls into the category of Perks of Parenthood, pure and simple. We hadn’t heard her sing or play (as she accompanied herself on keyboard) in public for a long time, and she was good, even though I say it myself, being the mother. Son has also been singing jazz with his a cappella group, competing in an inter-collegiate championship event. I love it that my kids are musical and that they are always busy with music in one way or another. The formative years of listening to me strumming and singing Joan Baez songs may have played its part, or that when I was too tired to speak I found I could still sing. Son is home for a bit before touring, after Easter, with the group in the USA in April. As far as I can gather, they will (apart from a couple of nights in a hostel) be sleeping on student floors.
I can’t decide if it’s good or bad that it doesn’t take much for my life to feel busy. When you live as I do, a little goes a long way and I know quite well that if I am to work at a piece of writing on a particular day, then that is virtually all I can do. It isn’t the writing itself so much as the spaces in between bursts of it where I need to inhabit the half-dream but alert state that may or may not lead to something like inspiration – with poetry, that is. When writing prose, I find (or used to) that the main thing is just to bash on. One needs much alone-time, but not the ill kind, and the only reason I have so much alone-time is because - well, you know. To be alone and ill for long periods is not fun, so one must distract, take drugs (good old Co-Prox), speak to a friend, go to the flicks and eat popcorn and above all believe that all is achievable and possible in this, the best of all possible worlds. Actually I do, I do juggle. Damn.
I have been to see an eminent quack because of something or other to do with immune (mal)function. Briefly, my dentist told me I had to if I wanted him to go on treating me, and since my dental problems are second only to those suffered by Martin Amis, and since the dentist in question is the only one who appears remotely able and willing to address those problems, my arm was kind of twisted. The eminent quack is German and made much of the fact of my Jewishness. Jews, he said, had a great sense of humour and were very creative. I have heard this, and similar, so often I no longer have anything to say to it. I am supposed to feel gratified but in spite of my great sense of humour, reader, I did not smile. I lay on the table thing that was strangely reminiscent of a sacrificial altar and shut my eyes while he prodded my pressure points and asked me to tell him on a scale between one to ten how much it hurt. I was never good with numbers, with measuring, that’s one of the reasons I didn’t progress much with CBT. But anyway, I did the business. Then the dentist, who occupies the floor below, came up and the two gentlemen talked about me and I sat on a chair and looked up from one to the other. They tutted and shook their heads and I counted the seconds and worked out that it was costing me £2 per minute to be there. I had told the secretary of the Eminent one that I would only commit to one session, so as to enable necessary dental work to proceed. I will be getting screeds of notes and instructions. One of the things I am supposed to do is switch off all the mains electricity in the house before going to sleep at night. But this is the only thing I have been told to do that isn’t (from the point of view of one living in our particular culture) either weird or very weird. There are a number of conversations I am to have with the dead, ancestors, beginning with my dear Dad who would be splitting his sides laughing. Well he would, wouldn’t he – being a four-be-two?
The things we do.