Sunday, 12 November 2017

Colour everywhere

On Saturday,  Frog, Ellie and I go for a walk by the sea.
Even though it’s a grey day and nearly winter, there's colour everywhere.








In the evening another bird flies out of the black hole:
sorrow.

I cry for my lost innocence, so precious to me and so unimportant to the other person.
I cry for all the pain those events have caused Frog and me, and my family.
I cry for the person I was over forty years ago, so frightened and so alone.

I hug that person in my imagination and tell her that everything will be all right.

Friday, 10 November 2017

The short version. So far.



Many years ago when out with our dog (not Ellie – a previous one) I heard something that sounded like canvas in a gale. The noise got louder and louder until eventually I stumbled on its source – a tiny crate in which were imprisoned three black crows who were beating their wings against its wooden slats. Shaking, I started to undo the knots in the string that held the crate shut. At last, after about five minutes, I had them undone and was able to lift the lid. The crows rose like rockets, turned south and vanished into the distance.

Freeing those crows was probably the naughtiest thing I’ve ever done and I’m shaking, writing about it now. What they were doing there, I don’t know, but I do sometimes see dead crows hung up at the edge of fields and I believe farmers use them to deter other birds.

I remembered that incident this morning when discussing with Frog how I could possibly follow the last two posts. Since lifting the lid on one of the most painful incidents of my past, so many emotions have rocketed out that I haven’t known how to begin to explain. The two strongest however are anger and shame.

I was angry because I felt I'd been treated as a disposable commodity. I was ashamed because I’d been an idiot and because I’d been immoral (since he was married).

And why the black hole? Three things, I think. It was the sink into which I put all the emotions I couldn’t deal with. It was the culmination of an upbringing (and I include school in that) that valued only the intellect and neglected body, emotions and spirit. I wasn’t equipped to deal with life and I had no one to turn to except friends who were as confused as I was. Thirdly as a woman, for lots and lots of reasons I felt like a non-person. The black hole was the lowest point of my life and the springboard for everything I’ve done since.

So what did I do next? I left my job and joined a friend grape-picking in Australia. After a year working my way round that generous, exciting and beautiful country I came back to the UK, went to university as a ‘mature’ student, and met Frog. Some of the rest you already know.

Well, that’s the short version. So far.

And here is a picture from my walk this morning. I tried to capture a picture of crows but they kept flying off. So this will have to do instead.

Monday, 6 November 2017

An island no more



On Saturday, as I worked up the courage to write the previous post, I walked in some nearby watermeadows.They are not open to the public and I reach them by climbing over a series of gates marked ‘Private’. That way, I hope to be alone.

I headed for a part of the river I last visited in March a few days after my mother’s death. I was looking for an island that Ellie and I had reached by wading through some shallows and where I had sat and brooded for a good hour, watching the swirling water.

But it was no more. The river level had dropped and the island was now the tip of a stony peninsula. Notwithstanding, Ellie raced over the stones ahead of me. She remembered the place.

On the 'island', with the stony causeway to the right
On the causeway, looking towards the 'island'
On Sunday, twenty-four hours after I'd published the post, I wanted to delete it. I was overcome with embarrassment. How naïve I’d been, led astray by my own romanticism and lust. What a cliché. How could I possibly tell the world about something so private? How could I possibly let the world know how human I really am underneath?

‘Keep going,’ said Frog. ‘This is the whole point.’







Saturday, 4 November 2017

Breaking down walls



I’ve told you about my difficult relationship with my parents and I think the telling has helped in that the last time I thought of them it was with love. Now I’d like to tell you about something else. It’s not something I’ve ever told anyone except for Frog and my counsellor and I’m not quite sure how to go about it.
    It always helps to have a theme because then you can come at the subject from an angle rather than head on. You can take one aspect instead of trying to describe everything all at once.
    So I’ve decided that the theme for this post can be walls, and the breaking down of walls, for several reasons.

Yesterday Frog, with me as gofer (fetching tools, unscrewing towel rail and looroll holder, catching one end of the plasterboard as it came off, taking carpet outside and giving it a good clean, offering annoying advice), started to remove the wall between our bathroom and the small spare bedroom next to it.
    It’s all the fault of our friend Jo. She used to do up houses and she suggested that instead of struggling to squeeze our new bathroom into the old space (which meant that we couldn’t do more than update what we already had which was not what we wanted), we should expand. So that’s what we’re doing. Help!
The vanishing wall between our bathroom and the bedroom next to it

Women everywhere (and some men) are at the moment breaking down the wall of silence around sexual harassment and sexual assault and these, I’m afraid, are my subject too. (I might get to it eventually.)
    When I lived in London in the 1970s both were rife. It was just what happened. Women were fair game. They were there to be demeaned and intimidated – mostly it has to be said by strangers (in the street, on buses, on the tube) and people I worked with, rather than friends. You never thought to report it.
    I made the mistake of falling for someone I worked with. I thought he was different. He liked books, music, art. He was intelligent, unlike the hooray Henries foisted on me by my parents. In addition he was twenty-seven, seven years older than me, which gave him a certain glamour. At least, I thought I’d fallen for him. He certainly pursued me with a vengeance and sometimes it was hard to distinguish one’s own feelings from the mass of lust that came at one from all sides. One’s own feelings didn’t seem to matter. You weren’t supposed to say no.
    I’d led a sheltered life and never slept with anyone before, which only seemed to increase his ardour. ‘You’ll never sleep with me, will you,’ he said one night as we sat together in a trendy Thai restaurant. I didn’t see that for the challenge it was. I decided to prove him wrong.
    Afterwards, when he’d gone back to his wife and I sat in the bath watching my blood seep into the water, I found myself falling down a bottomless black hole.

That black hole has been with me ever since.
    It’s a secret I keep from everybody except the two mentioned above. It builds a wall between me and friends: how can I possibly begin to explain?
    It stops me feeling. I stand on the edge of the precipice, too scared to make the final leap. I have no trust. It’s been a barrier between me and Frog ever since we met.

And I want rid of it.






Wednesday, 1 November 2017

I think she's feeling better . . .



I’ve received so much kindness and concern about Ellie that I thought I’d better update you about her condition.

She’s off the lead and out of her onesie. Her stitches are gone and the wound’s nearly healed.

Here she is today helping me level an area behind our shed that’s going to be decked and turned into an area for Frog to store stuff out of sight (or at least that’s the idea).

I couldn’t decide which picture to use so I’m afraid you’ve got them all.