Friday, 26 July 2013

I am hiding.

There is no doubt about it, I am hiding.

I have filled my house with foreigners, I have made some hefty changes in my life and now, I want everyone to go away.  Not the foreigners, they are paying my mortgage and are no trouble.  In fact, no one is any trouble, I just don't want to talk to anyone.  Ever.  I have reached my cut off point, and that is that.

Let us recap and let us make sense of this outburst.  I have friends coming tomorrow, and I am looking forward to seeing them.  I have Fancy Girl, her boyfriend and his parents coming for a large breakfast on Sunday, and so, unless we all talk this thing through, no one will have any fun, and I may find that being grumpy costs me my social life.  And so.  Some gentle probing.

There comes a time when one realises that the steady climb up the mountain of success, physical, mental, financial, spiritual, emotional and professional success, is not a simple matter of getting from A to B.  Some of us have huge mountains with many peaks, some of us have a singular mountain that soars into the air with a distant peak and no visible footholds.  Some of us have a series of smaller craggy mountains with many paths, and some of us are content with the odd hillock.  Progress is not just a matter of making a decision to do something, doing it, and moving on to the next thing.  Achieving even one thing is often quite enough to be going on with, thank you very much, for the time being, especially if it is a big thing.  No, there are stages in between these achievements, and those stages in between are often quite exhausting.  Those in between stages are like being in a holding bay, where we sit down, frazzled and emotional, for a rest with a cup of tea and a currant bun, before plunging onwards and upwards, to our next mountain/hillock/molehill.

I am most definitely in a holding bay.  I am hiding in a holding bay and I don't want to come out.  My holding bay has big comfy sofas in it and I am on one, looking for a paper bag to put over my head so that no one sees me.  There is a hint of bad temper here, and that needs to be addressed.  It is not you, dear friend, that has put me into a bad temper. I am simply reacting to events.  I am resting at last on my holding bay sofa, allowing the pent up emotions of the past few weeks to catch up with me.  Here is what I have done. Here are a small selection of mountains and hillocks and molehills that I have been scaling with varying success.

  1. I have filled every spare room and cupboard with a rent paying foreigner.  I did not seek foreigners, they just happened to turn up and were splendidly able to pay rent and move in within ten minutes.  My foreigners are excellent people, and because English is not so easy for them, there is not much chat.  Excellent.  I like this.  This is most certainly a mountain, I have done well on this mountain, I have not wanted to fill up my house but now that I have, all is well; it is the Bognor Tower of Babel.
  2. I have been very tough with my son and it has been dreadful to be so tough.  I am not tough, I am nice and jolly and when I play Monopoly, I like to cooperate and am happy to waive rents and consider lending my money on a nought percent rate of interest so that my opponent feels good about themselves.  I have taken a risk with my son's life, and have wanted to go back to when he was a little boy, and do it all over again to try and prevent the mess that we have got into.  I am told by those who have seen him, that he is doing OK.  I hold on to this as if everything is going to be fine. This too is a mountain, a difficult one, with few footholds, the summit still hidden high above the clouds, too far away for me to see it. 
  3. I have taken on a job, which I do not want.  It is a smelly job and I am cross because it always has been a smelly job, but I didn't want to see it.  It will never get me beyond the holding bay, it will just prolong my stay there and I want to cut my losses and flounce out. This is a hillock.  A silly one.
  4. I have no idea at all, any more, what I want to do in my studio.  Or life. This is not really a mountain or a hillock or a mole hill.  It does not really exist, so I shall say that it is a temporary pile of rubble, which will be moved on in the near future.
  5. I do have an idea.  I want to lie on the sofa and read books and watch Traffic Cops on the laptop. And nothing else. Forever. This too is not a mountain, it is a hissy fit.
  6. I have joined a slimming club and after a good start have unaccountably put weight on this week.  This has made me angry because it is not fair, and I don't want to be a fatty boom boom.  I am angry because the scales must be wrong, the lady must be wrong, the whole system must be wrong, and everyone is out to get me.  I am not wrong.  However, instead of being on my way to being fascinatingly elegant and just like Ursula Andress in the James Bond film, I remain not quite there yet.  Ah.  A mountain.  I have climbed this one before and know the way, so this mountain is high, but familiar.  I still wish I was further up it.  On a chair lift.
Weight Watchers Angel.  Acrylic on canvas.  She is the colour of Cadbury's Dairy Milk.. 

 The over view of all of this, is that I am out of my comfort zone. These are only some of the things that have made me want to hide and not talk to anyone.  There are others, but I am being noble and not telling you about them, in case you start to feel that you, too, want to sit on a sofa in a holding bay with a paper bag over your head.  Being tough with my son (I remember when he was about seven, he asked for a little hideaway to sleep in, so I made him a tent over his bed and fixed it with fairy lights inside so that there was magic for him to connect to) - being tough with my son has made possible, finally, the reordering of the house and influx of the foreigners.    

I have had to address my gentle and sustained weight gain.  I can't fit into my Summer clothes. They are hanging up in a spare wardrobe in Giant Boy's room. In my room, I have a selection of nice elasticated clothes in bright colours, that do not make me look wow and sizzling, but do make me look deeply appropriate, as if I always take my library books back on time and am nice to kittens.  

And I took on the job thinking it would give me extra experience in the work I am doing with A Graceful Death, but it doesn't.  So here in the holding bay, I have to decide what I am going to do about it all.  

Here is what I am doing in the short term!  I am running away!  It is one step further than hiding away!  I am going to stay in Dorset in a friend's remote little cottage while she is away, and I am going to sort myself out.  I am going to have long furious chats to the horses in her fields, and I am going to make flip charts to plot my next moves.  I am going to lie around so effectively on her hammock that I will forget mealtimes, and become like Sporty Spice in no time at all. I won't talk to anyone for a whole week, at all, and will either go mad or come back so laid back that I won't mind what I do or how I do it or who with.

Because of the above, my life as an Artist has simply evaporated.  The studio sits silent and uninhabited in my garden, like Scott and Shackleton's hut.  Abandoned and sad and magnificent.  I cannot go in there until I have sorted out my home, family and waistline.  And now, after a week or so of standing forlornly in the garden, (the studio, not me) we have found ourselves strangers to one another.  This has been another thing to be cross about.  But Art is not dead!  Oh no, while I have been sulking on my sofa in my hypothetical holding bay, a email arrived to tell me that the Overview of the Compassionate Communities Report in England, commissioned by the Dying Matters Coalition, is just out, and A Graceful Death is in it. Oh good.  And then, my dear kind clever friend in Brighton has just sent a message telling me that he and his partner have found a venue for A Graceful Death in next year's Brighton Festival.  

Perhaps after all, I shall be nice to my guests this weekend, and I shall take the paper bag from my head.  But perhaps my guests would prefer I spend the day in silence with a paper bag on my head.  I hadn't thought of that.

At the top of a mountain a few years ago with two of my brothers.  See, I have been to the top before, and not always on my own..

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