Monday, 20 January 2020

A Big Fat Daddy.


I am busy again, it is wonderful.  All that blether about taking a Sabbatical and working out what I want to do, about focus and keeping myself from going into overdrive has been joyfully thrown out of the window at the first opportunity, and the window firmly closed behind it.  It is fine, I say, I am back in the driving seat, and all is well. 

Bring it on, I say, I can handle all this, I am the Daddy, I can do it.

I am really busy, it is true.  I am a little watchful too, because this enthusiasm for projects has been hard to handle before, in the end.  What seems to happen is that I do too much, can't cope and my head explodes.  Then I announce that I am becoming a recluse and I will never work again.  After a while, with good sleep and nice healthy meals, I am inspired by someone, something, and off we go again.  It looks like I work too much, or not at all.  This is not sustainable, so bear with me, I am going to unpick this in front of your very eyes.

  • What do you think you want?  To plod away at stuff, getting it all done, with timetables, order and proper mealtimes.  Each project has a little folder, a file, a chart and some coloured pins to track progress.  Each project has a name and all the information needed is updated daily in triplicate and I keep to the allotted hours per project per day so I always know where I am.  Everything runs like clockwork, and when I get a surprise phone call, or something isn't working to plan, I am so calm and ordered, refusing to flap or panic, that I bring order back into what could have been an unwelcome disruption to the routine.  I am, after all, the Daddy.  
  • What do you think you have?  A blunderbuss approach where everything is massively exciting and all my notes are on bits of paper, in my head or teeny notes on my phone.  Where I make plans to spend a day in the studio but have to do the dishwasher first, then check my Instagram, then do a bit of emergency gardening.  I have said yes to many different things
    because I read something about them recently in a book and now I think I am an expert.  Each project seems like a great idea, and very do-able until I see that I have said yes to 5498503 of them.  Now there isn't much time and I rush about making a start on all of them, blame the people who asked me for asking me, and then eventually my head explodes.  I am joining an enclosed order of silent nuns I say, and for a while, I mean it.  Everyone else just laughs.  
  • Is any of the above really accurate?  No.
Let us now turn to what is actually true.  I have agreed to many projects, and I know I have tendencies to exaggerate.  So, if I am not a plodder or a blunderbuss, let us see what I actually am.
  • What, actually, are you?  I am a well meaning artist.  The sabbatical was very helpful and enlightening, so now I am also enlightened.  It was a time of rest and thought, much lying on the sofa, eating peanut butter and thinking great thoughts, so I am now fat.  I am older and wiser at the start of the new decade, which makes me sensible.  I have very good health thanks to my grandfather who, along with his eight siblings, all lived until they were between ninety three and one hundred and four years old, so that makes me invincible.  Being invincible means I can safely do what I like which could make me incautious, but it doesn't.  I am sensible, so that is a relief.  Finally, I have been doing my kind of work for twenty years, so I am both experienced and accomplished.  
  • Wonderful.  List all the things you are then - An artist, enlightened, fat, sensible, invincible, experienced and accomplished. 
  • What, actually, are you up to?  I am working on the following
  1. The exhibition called Addicts And Those Who Love Them opening in May in Brighton
  2. Finishing my book As Mother Lay Dying 
  3. Taking Grief Cafes at our local Womens' Centre
  4. Taking Loss Conversations at the local Job Centre (pending)
  5. Supporting three clients with cancer for Macmillan
  6. Taking the A Graceful Death exhibition to the Dead Good Day Festival
  7. Performing a one woman show, the Soul Midwife Sofa, at the Dead Good Day Festival
  8. Taking a workshop with a lovely palliative care nurse friend called How To Sit With The Dying
  9. Finishing a double portrait 
  • Anything else? Yes! Of course! A re branding of all my stuff, a new website, joining Patreon and world domination.
  • So, are you working too much, or not at all? Here is the thing - I used to be like that.  I am not like that now.  The most important work is the Addicts exhibition, and that is taking up much of my time with a deadline of the 2 May so there is no messing about there.  I have also, being both sensible and accomplished, decided to simply do the best I can.  Very zen. The book is ongoing.  The Loss Conversations are to be confirmed and will be every second week.  The Grief Cafe is once a month.  My Macmillan clients are every week, and this week I am taking one of my clients, aged eighty four, to London for a day out.  We are taking the train up, riding the double decker buses and ending up at the National Gallery.  It will be like the Famous Five reduced to Two, and very elderly.  The A Graceful Death exhibition has been going for over ten years now, so setting it up is easier than it used to be.  The workshop on sitting with the dying is fun, and I have done plenty before, the double portrait is just a matter of application and concentration but the one woman show, well - that is going to need a bit of preparation.  That does make me nervous.  But not so that I become mad.  I am invincible, sensible, fat and accomplished.  I know I will sort it all out.

It seems the sabbatical and the new decade have enabled me to be artistic, enlightened, fat, sensible, invincible, experienced and accomplished.  That is awfully helpful if it is my destiny to take on a thousand things at once, if I am doomed by my own personality and character not to be a one-thing-at-a-time kind of person.  So the conclusion is, that yes, I do tend to work too much then not at all - but now that I am so wise and fat and accomplished, I can see problems coming from far away in the distance, galloping along the horizon, and I can take evasive action.  I do not have to wait until my head explodes to rest, I do not have wait until a convent of silent nuns is the only way to stop.  So it does seem that I am still the Daddy.  It does seem that I am still in the driving seat, and I am a new and improved enlightened, fat, sensible, invincible, experienced and accomplished Daddy to be reckoned with. 

Oh bring it on, Sisters.  I'm on my way!


  1. Love it! You do make me laugh Antonia xxx

  2. Love this Antonia thank you - will go and buy some peanut butter