I spent a considerable part of the day throwing things out: books I will give to a charity shop, paper to the recycling. However much I throw away, there always seems to be more - stuff that I don't need or use, no-one else would want it, but it seems wasteful to just throw out. I am trying to simplify in every way possible, and bring some kind of stability to my days, an underlying rhythm that will support what I need to do. Difficult with M.E., which behaves predictably only in the sense that it will almost certainly scupper long-term plans.
When I was growing up I envied children who had predictable lives. When I was thirteen I came home from boarding school and went to a crammer in Hammersmith. Things were chaotic at home, I never had breakfast, ate sweets and chocolate bars in the few minutes between lessons, scuttling from one room to the next, then nothing very much until supper.
In the underground, I would try to choose the same carriage every day, judging the distance along the platform from the tunnel. This was so that I would see two girls that always got on a couple of stations after mine. They were dressed in school uniform and went to St. Paul's School for Girls. Their conversation was trivial (by whose standards I was judging this I can't think): to do with last night's homework, what they ate for supper or breakfast and how the new stocking tights already had a small ladder at the side. I found it mesmerising, though, and listened as if caught in a trance, knowing that on a Tuesday they had French, so there would be talk about that and possibly a recitation of some irregular verb. On Wednesday there was Latin and on Friday there was chemistry. On Friday there was the additional spice of some possible revelation about what they were doing at the weekend. There would be nothing more interesting than a teatime visit to or from an aunt, a trip to the shoe shop with mother to buy some new school shoes and, of course, more homework. The more ordinary and mundane the detail the greater my satisfaction in hearing about it.
I pictured the bedroom of the larger girl, who always sat down with a comfortable plump before arranging and patting her skirt. I imagined that she would have a soft, fluffy candlewick bedspread, cream or pastel pink, that matched her slippers and dressing gown; one of those ceramic hedgehog night lights, perhaps, left over from childhood; everything very neat. As the train came out into the open and drew near to our destination she always, at exactly the same point, drew a dark beret from her school bag and began the business of arranging it on her head. It had to lie flat at the back and be slightly raised at the front, never just pulled on. She would be patting and adjusting for a good five minutes before it was just as it should be. Her friend always came with beret already in place. The patting and adjusting was more, I sensed, that just putting the beret on for the purposes of adhering to school regulations (what troubles lay in store for those caught beret or tie-less), but was a way of becoming the person she needed to be in order to go through the day as she needed to. It was like putting on armour before the battle, checking the point of the sword, buckling up.I did not want her life, that was for sure. But sometimes I wanted to feel what I though it must be like to be her - to have no thought for the next day other than the completely predictable - just to know what that might be like.
The rockanroll life goes on.