Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Clearly I'm not ok and I hear that the virus is a nasty one - the effects linger. I hunker down with bell, book and Kindle, little black radio, cat purring at the end of the bed. I should just lie back and let it all be, really. But I don't. I am not comfortable being there for too long, even though the bed itself is fine, the mattress good etc. Apart from the fact that too much lying down in the day usually makes my muscles feel worse, the room, already too small for the stuff that is in it, fills up with my restlessness. Get up, go downstairs, fetch hot water bottle, shiver, crawl up stairs but I have forgotten to bring a drink - down again, up again, listen to Jenni Murray on Woman's Hour and have no idea what anyone is talking about. I catch sight of myself in the mirror in my red and white pyjamas and grey V neck pullover that I probably found at the same time I found my purple trousers, in a charity shop. I look cool - yes, even in my reduced state - dramatic dark shadows around my eyes and the unmistakeable silver/grey halo framing my head, real roots, old brown Uggs on my feet.. I am still the Queen of Grunge.

Why have I got so many old notebooks lying around the place? I was trying to find something in them but damned if I can remember what. Something to do with teaching classes, I think. Open one at random and read an entry about encouraging students to keep writing in the holidays. I feel as though I'm spying on myself:

"They asked me what they should write about. I am weary but don't show it. Write about the candle you noticed bleeding wax onto the shag pile carpet. Write about the pine needle lodged in the arm of the sofa. Write about the crack in the turning of the year when things don't quite fit together and angels slip through and young men become werewolves howling in the forest and the girl in red treads a path through the trees. Write about your grandmother picking her teeth. Write what you see, write what you don't see, make believe. Pretend. Or don't pretend. Just watch. I don't believe in magic either but I pretend I do. Or rather, I do believe and pretend I don't and the pretence is killing me. That's why I write, to keep alive - what's your excuse?

Last year at Epiphany I went to hear the a poet who said he had woken up that morning with words speaking in his head from a dream. I took the words home and wrote them in my book with leather covers. They seemed like a key to something, or perhaps they were just words. Putting the words down on paper is important - a subversive act, especially if you don't get money or fame or nobody sees the words in your notebooks. At the end, when you are asked to account for yourself, you will have the notebooks along with the time you gave the last biscuit with jam on it to someone who looked sadder than you. Jack Kerouac said that only first drafts are preserved in heaven. In other words, the notebooks that never see the light of day."

And so to bed.


trousers said...


Zhoen said...

Bell book and kindle, heh, heh, heh.

Forgetfulness does more for our need for exercise than resolutions ever have.

There is a scene in Wit, where a former teacher reads a children's book to a dying woman. Only those two will ever know of this act of immense grace and pure kindness, and so it should be. Blessings are invisible, but have power nevertheless.

Fire Bird said...

oh i enjoyed this - you remind me of lovely Natalie G in your notebook. Once again I say - I must get her off the shelf, do some writing exercises -go for the jugular!
Hope you can find the right way to rest body and mind...

Fire Bird said...

btw i love that you look cool in pyjaamas and grey jumper - i totally relate - have a whole range of clothes i call 'sloppy doppies' for slobbing at home. Favourite 'look'!

Reading the Signs said...

Zhoen, 'bell' is really mobile phone with appropriate ring tone but, you know - poetic license.

F B, I can definitely see the influence of Natalie here - and Angela Carter.

Glad you appreciate the PJ cool - it's the addition of jumper and Uggs that does it for me. And grey roots.