I have been busy. A simple statement like this carries baggage, as regular readers will understand. First of all, being busy, for PWME, does not particularly look like busyness to the casual observer. And then, every item of activity is clocked up by the invisible Chief of Police and appropriate fatigue penalties imposed. I have the electricity-in-the-body thing which feels just like, well, electricity in the body, but not as in “I Sing the Body Electric.” It necessitates much lying down and taking of analgesics. Well what did I expect, bombing (well walking) up Lewes High Street on Sunday after a fine gathering of writers reading their stuff, and lunch at beautiful Bill’s?
Son of Signs touched down for a brief visit before going back to Oxford for a singing rehearsal, and today he is off to Israel for a “birthright” holiday that is offered free of charge to young people who can prove they have at least one Jewish grandparent. He has purchased a pair of Birkenstock sandals and I inwardly smirk because for years he and his sister swore that they would never be seen dead in a pair of those – understandably, I suppose, seeing as their mother lived in them. I am picturing him going to all the places I went to: Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, Masada, Galilee.
I was there for about ten months, working on a couple of kibbutzim, picking oranges and inseminating turkeys (artificially, you understand). Picking oranges was ok at first – plenty of time to talk to people or just think your thoughts as you went around clipping the fruit from their green stems and filling up the big wooden crates that waited to take them to the small factory that made canned orange juice. It did become boring though, and the turkey shifts seemed to promise a certain romance and excitement as one had to do the work at night, the turkeys being more amenable at that time. I wasn’t going to tell you about this, but now I’m here I feel it’s only right: to inseminate a turkey you first had to grab your male turkey and get the necessary substance. This involved one person holding him upside down and massaging the appropriate area while another stood at the ready with a pipette and rubber tube which had to be sucked in order to direct the substance into the pipette. When enough was gathered from the males one had then to go round all the hutches and grab the females in order to insert the stuff with a syringe, being careful to choose the correct orifice. Are you still here? No, it was not my favourite occupation. And sitting in the wooden hut at break time, brewing up the coarse black coffee we drank to keep us going, watching the sky turn from black to blue, was not enough to compensate for disrupted sleep rhythms and the sense that this was all, somehow, wrong. I couldn’t eat Christmas dinner for years after. But still, happy days.
One of the “busynesses” of my life are the various writing and workshopping activities that I engage in, and I hang onto these for dear life, so it is rare that I miss one, whatever my condition. I had to last week though, because my mother has been unusually fragile and needing my help with a number of things. But at the Sunday gathering, when a number of us spoke about the various things we did, I mentioned that I wrote a blog where I talked about M.E. and creativity. As it’s not something I have been in the habit of putting about much, I surprised myself. A writer there, someone I’ve come to know over the past year, asked me for the link to pass on to a friend of hers who has M.E. The idea that people who have it might find something in these posts that resonates touches me more than I can say.