Sunday, 6 July 2014

Hiding happily in Dorset and eating someone else's food again

Lizzie Hornby, musician, teacher, friend and Unitarian preacher, called last week and said that in return for clearing up her cottage a bit with a hoover and a duster, I could have it for a month.  "I'm off!" she said, "to America and Canada, touring with my music."  "Is the Pope a Catholic?" I replied, and so here I am in Dorset, hidden away in rural cottage heaven, with permission to eat all Lizzie's food (I have finished all Eileen's food from last week, a pattern is emerging) in return for hoovering.  I will more than hoover. I will have her cottage marble clad and have Corinthian pillars installed.

Inside this cottage, someone is eating cashew nut butter with a spoon.  Cashew nut butter that belongs to someone else.  Eating food belonging to other people is becoming a habit.

It has been a good week and I am much less tired.  I have been doing a spot of thinking and this is what I have come up with.

  1. I am always like this (tired, dispirited, lost, hungry, annoyed, stunned) after a big exhibition.  Always. 
  2. The tiredness is not just physical, it is emotional, mental and spiritual.  This is true for most of us, it is important.  It is also important to know that it is very hard to recognise, and we need to spend time on recognising what is happening. 
  3. If I get too overwhelmed and tired, I talk utter rubbish. Difficult to believe of course, but the proof is in the startled expressions of the people I am talking to, and the way my mother phones and says I need sectioning.  Not really, she just says I need some early nights and to get a grip.
  4. Just because I don't know what I am doing doesn't mean I am not good at it.  Whatever it is.
  5. It takes a long time, and lots of will power, to really stop and recover.  Like driving a car very fast and suddenly putting on the brakes, you are no longer driving but the car is still pelting forwards and it all gets very stressful.  Stopping the car and making the decision to get out so you are no longer driving and, are no longer in the car, is blindingly obvious after you have done the other braking at top speed thing.
  6. Life is bigger than you think and surprises are always around the corner, and when you stop and surrender, that surrender is the thing that releases you to recognise those surprises (nice ones in this context) as they saunter round the corner and into your arms.  
And so, here I am in Lizzie's cottage.

Happy times.  Lizzie shows how life can be wonderful if  you let it
 I have eaten her oat cakes and jam, and have had a pot of tea.  I know where the cashew nut butter is and have noted the price sticker on it.  I will build up to eating that (with a spoon, from bed, at midday).  This, though, is a whistle stop visit, I am away again tomorrow and if all goes well, I will be back in a week with my painting things to paint this month's commission.  Alleluia. Christening portraits each for two angelic Ethiopian babies who have been adopted into this country after having been abandoned at birth in their own.  Think bright colours, said the commissioner.  That will be difficult I quipped.

Conversations on Wednesday!

Here is a link to what the local paper says of the event

On Wednesday I am holding my Conversations in Bognor.  Sadly Gail Willington cannot make it this time, due to pressure of work, and though I will miss her, I will carry on regardless.  Perhaps I will pretend she is there and keep addressing an empty space until someone asks what I am doing.  "Have you met Gail?" I will say, gesturing to the empty space with a waffle on a plate, untouched, on the table in front of it.  I expect I will be asked to go back to Lizzie's cottage as quickly as possible and stay there.  

All are welcome, please come and join in.  Waffles and coffee or tea provided.  It's worth talking about death to get a free waffle, isn't it?

There's Gail, there, with a waffle, in the corner
  There was a wonderful response in Chichester to these Conversations.  I asked the New Park Community Centre if I could leave some leaflets in the cafe.  No was the answer.  Too many people leaving too many leaflets in the Centre as the Chichester Festival is now running gets out of hand.  But, on looking at the poster, the Manager asked me to go to her office to talk about putting one on there at the Centre.  "We do not allow ourselves to talk about this," she said, "we would welcome you doing a Conversations here at New Park, please let me know".  I took between a quarter of a second and half a second to say Yes and so, I will set that up after this one on Wednesday is over.  What a wonderful manager of New Park Community Centre.  

I am happy to have with me here in Dorset the one and only Mr Bedford.  He is in Lizzie's sitting room next door, in both agony and ecstasy, I can hear him through the door suffering badly watching the Men's Finals at Wimbledon on his laptop, identifying deeply with each move, each sigh, each move made on court as two giants of tennis slug it out for the Champion's cup.  For Mr Bedford, this kind of thing is personal.  As a sportsman himself, (ex American Football) and as a devoted tennis player now, he is on there, on the court, and lost in the experience.  The Grand Prix racing was on just before the tennis, and that was very tense too.   I think he won that, so he was in a good position to take on the tennis afterwards.

Mr Bedford feeling the pain but helped by a Licorice Allsort
Mr Bedford is being helped to get through the match with a packet of Licorice Allsorts, a bag of crisps and a bottle of diet coke.  Here he is, Allsort poised half way to his mouth, playing tennis in spirit at Wimbledon Men's Finals.  I am next door, with a pot of tea, a laptop, oatcakes and jam and a growing obsession with the cashew nut butter which I know is in the cupboard and I need it.  Together, and separate, we are happy in our own worlds, together in spirit and understanding, and separate in different rooms doing different things and eating different foods.  

The tennis is over!  Mr Bedford has lost!  He has gone off in the car to find food for dinner tonight, and I am finishing this blog.  When he comes back we shall sit together in the garden and feel the peace that comes from a job well done.  He played as well as he could, Mr Bedford and Roger Federer, and I have written my weekly blog despite wanting to raid Lizzie's larder.  We shall spend the evening in happy peaceful companionship, and in the spirit of surrender and letting go of tension and tiredness, tomorrow is another day.  Aaaaah.

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