30 June 2013

So. A bit of a fever, a crimson red cheek, sore gums and throbbing upper jaw. Today is Sunday and the sun is out at last. The week's laundry is drying outside. Woke up last night just before dawn. Tooth ache and this song in my head, I swear. I will postpone the rest of my life until I have seen the dentist tomorrow. I am scared shitless. But what else is new.

28 June 2013

and I don't feel too good

After all those serious talks and tests and drugs over the years tooth ache stills floors me like nothing else did. This evening I was waiting at a traffic light and cried I was so fucking scared. 

The friendly dentist - as gently as he possibly could - had just tried to fix another one of these ongoing gum inflammations with some of his magic, drilled and sanded away a tiny spot of decay. The next couple of days will be a bit rough, he said. 

I am 55 years old and have only 24 teeth left in my mouth. Four were sacrificed for beauty when I was a kid (my mother loved orthodontics) and another four got lost in the great dentist disaster of 2007 and today I have been told that maybe, maybe not, another one is at risk. This one could definitely be collateral damage. The drugs keep me alive but I pay for it with my teeth.
(Now, I am a dental hygiene fanatic. Always have been one. If there is anything I am really proud of as a brainwashing mother it's the fact that my child has almost perfect teeth.)

I have been told that my liver could pack up within years, that my kidneys are at risk, that without the drugs my hearing could go in an instant, my eyes, my heart, my lungs, all the parts of my body supplied by small blood vessels - basically everything apart from maybe nails and hair. Serious, but, well, yawn.

But tooth ache makes me weep like a lost child. And so I sit in the car with my tears running down my sore red cheeks when someone knocks on the side window, makes a sad clown face, a funny clown face, blows me a kiss and runs off. And I notice that the radio is on.

26 June 2013

I have no reasons to despair. I don't even have any problems, at least no serious ones. I am presently not afraid of death despite the fact that soon enough I will be - again. As it happens every so often.

I worry, obviously. It's a habit, a game. I can get myself deep deep into worry. Like having a bath. Almost enjoyable but too hot and hard to get out of.

When TV series show women wearing low cut sleeveless dresses, those elegant plain coloured ones, beige, off white, grey, short and tight around the hips, while the male characters walking beside them are all tucked up in long sleeved shirts with sensible cotton T-shirts underneath, blazers, ties, even coats, don't these women freeze? I do worry about them, they must be shivering most of the time.

And then I worry about their ridiculously high heels, I see them stumbling over the Persian carpets, fractured bones, broken noses, pearls rolling under the sideboards or in one of these fancy offices, headlong across the shiny boardroom floor, iphone flying through the air, skull against the hardwood conference table, unconscious.

I worry about their eyes too. All those dark bushy lashes. Shaved baby skin all over and a regular forest sprouting around the eyes. Listen, it just takes a single bitsy stray lash getting under a contact lense or simply moving high behind the eye balls. Agony. Inflammation. Blindness.

And another thing: Stop turning to face and talk to each other when one of you is driving. Keep your eyes on the road.

One of the reasons I never go to the theatre is that I worry someone could forget their lines. And then what?

23 June 2013

It started with the cat. Or maybe not. It started when I looked at the rain coming down in sheets thinking something along the lines of surely not here. Not again. And then I noticed the cat looking down the basement steps and acting weird. Yes, there was an odd noise. A gurgling sort of noise. The noise of water. Water coming up through the drains in the laundry room, through the cat flap of the basement door, through the tiny cracks in the stone floor, through the basement wall for heaven's sake. And I am standing in the middle of it holding up the lawnmower in one hand and the hoover in the other hand and the view through window of the basement door is of a magnificent waterfall. Down the garden stairs. Having shoved as much as possible as high as possible and with the water rising to mid calf by now, I try and find a phone that works. No luck. I run next door and even before they answer I can see they are worse off. We try to laugh. Eventually I get hold of R and then he is home and the rain stops, the water has started to run back out through the drains. We empty ten buckets out of the boiler room. I make a pot of tea, we look out over the garden basking in glorious sunshine.

22 June 2013

Failure is just another name for much of real life: much of what we set out to accomplish ends in failure, at least in our own eyes. [...] Who told us we had to succeed at any cost?

Margaret Atwood

19 June 2013

Nick Drake would have celebrated his 65th birthday today.

Now take a little while to find your way in here
Now take a little while to make your story clear
Now that you’re lifting
Your feet from the ground
Weigh up your anchor
And never look ‘round

The sky is covered with a stainless steel grey layer of thin cloud, the odd glimpse of hot sun shimmering from behind. Sticky, yellowish air, still and heavy, from time to time a current of exhaust wafts in from the main street up behind the trees.
I opened up all windows at four in the morning to let in whatever fresh coolness was out there. Walked out into the garden to feel the dew under my feet. By half past seven, it was already gone. Breakfast below the rambling rose with my cold porridge, a handful of fresh raspberries and a cup of tea. The little old cat was not interested in chasing the blackbirds busy in the currant bushes. We both sat there leaning into the faintest breeze.
Somewhere to the west, the thunder is rolling and maybe by night time it will have moved close enough for the sky to open up, like a boil releasing the thick fetid air in one long hiss.

18 June 2013

Following a mention in last weekend's papers I have been reading about Jeremy Bentham and his Panopticon. From which follows panopticism and before you know it, you are right there with all that surveillance and spying stuff. Which of course is an attack on privacy, on the rights of the individual. This ugly busy body attitude that involves collecting data from anybody anywhere and at anytime - precrime as they say. Reminds me of Minority Report. And that is supposedly science fiction.
I imagine some people are disappointed with their man of hope, the one with the wide smile and the calm voice. That's a tough one. But he is not the only one, they all do it. The best democracies around the world love spying out their citizens.
But here I am, an indifferent, borderline exhibitionist user of the world wide web inmate of the panopticon.  It would be foolish not to admit that I knew all along that emails are not a safe form of communication, that cell phones reveal where we are, that every clip I watch on youtube, every read and written post, regardless of my so-called anonymity, leaves a trace. 
But who cares. I'll just go on as before. Let those nerds in crypto city read whatever they want. Let them drown in my data. 
I'll pretend I am blind and deaf. I don't want to give up the idea of a digital society with no hierarchy, of a transparent culture which some believe will one day transform the analogue world into a better place.
So obviously I will continue to write here, send emails, exchange pictures, post on my friend's fb pages.
Of course I understand that the definition of what is desirable, dangerous or secret data changes all the time. And shit could happen, governments could change, whatever, and who knows where I'll then be with all my stored opinionated emails and posts. 
But the real beauty - yes beauty - of it all is that while the prism nerds and their chums are predictable, I am not. They will always do what is barely legal and technically possible. 
But I will remain unpredictable. We all will remain unpredictable because we are so diverse, so alive, so human, so careless.
We could even switch off, write letters on paper and go outside and talk to real people.

15 June 2013

14 June 2013

 More here.

I should write something about these protests, about the way most of the media here now - after a first week of disbelief and even admiration - is trying to discredit it as a the unruly behaviour of a mob of wannabe Woodstockers, rich kids playing revolution. But this is the usual story and was to be expected. What remains is that my own heart leaped and continues to leap everytime I come across people who put their own heart on their sleeves, who let it all out, the love and the anger. The hopes and the ideas. I believe that for a time in our lives we all see the open corruption, the abuse of power, we see it clearly, we feel we cannot breathe, we must do something. It's a tiny window for most, open and shut before we bow to the pressures of so-called normal day to day living. I could say that opening this window in my life has cost me my glamorous career, but for that I am eternally grateful. Much harder is the never ending taste of sarcasm, mixed with a heavy lump of disrespect, that has been at the back of my throat ever since.

12 June 2013

Some nights you wake up at 4 am and you remember what you forgot to include in your tax returns. For a very brief moment you consider the consequences in minute detail before you realise that you have no idea. Other nights you wake up to your child's laughter, you are driving the ridiculously unsafe old car and you watch her in the rear view mirror, her damp hair curling around her face while she talks to the puppy dog on her lap. Then again, you wake up and you are nowhere. You find your breath and you place your hand on your chest to feel your heart beating and as you exhale this sudden jolt is going right through you. And once again you understand, this is not something you just run under the cold tap. This  will not go away.

10 June 2013

there you go

deep inside a Poppy
Angelica with bees
lots of Elder
strawberries all the way

09 June 2013

The summer before I started school my father came home one Thursday evening and told me that if I could figure out how to ride a bicycle by Saturday morning, we would go into town together and buy one for me. If not, there was no way I could start school after the summer.

It all worked out in the end. I spent the next day begging the older kids to let me have a go and at some time during the afternoon I was cycling along the edge of a muggy carp pond with a gang of kids running beside me, my sister one of them, terrified that I'd fall and drown while on her watch. Worse, that I could damage the bicycle. We were way outside our permitted area. Miles from home as we often were but falling into a slimy pond would have meant real trouble.

There are different directions here for my memory. 

The way my parents set us a task, a challenge and watch - or not even watch - us figuring it out and often enough, fail. A friend once called this the brick wall parenting. The glee and open disappointment when we slipped, missed the right note, fell off the horse, lost a match, when our grades dropped, our teenage skin developed acne, our light blond hair turned darker. 

But there is also the wild secret freedom when you have to learn early on how to look out for yourself, how to hide the worst and hope to somehow be able to sneak inside without them noticing the dirty dungarees, torn sandals, cigarettes on your breath, trashy mascara, cut-off jeans, lousy school report, illegal substances in your back pocket, that big messy wave of your youth, so infuriatingly different and completely useless.

It also is the memory of my first bicycle. I have been cycling ever since, almost daily. But that is another story.

01 June 2013

My father is making plans, as always. His whole life is one long schedule. Over the phone I imagine his disgust with my organisational skills when I tell him that I cannot note down this date because I haven't got a diary for 2014 yet. He despairs in me as usual. No wonder, I hear him mutter. No wonder what? Before we get into the usual litany of my failures (which are all due to the fact that I - for reasons he cannot fathom - decided against what in his imagination was the most promising academic career ever) I try to change the subject and start talking about the weather. Clever move. While he goes on about jet streams and Atlantic depressions and the effects on the national agricultural output, I quietly empty the dishwasher letting the phone rest on the kitchen table. For a second I worry that he somehow will notice and in an instant I am 15 again, trying to hide the packet of fags in my back pocket.