The past three weeks have been…. what’s the word? trying. Not awful, because Stefan is home and much better, not easy, because I put my back out (he thinks I was just making a grab for attention), and not depressing, because work is exhilarating, relief is exhilarating, and I am so grateful to our wonderful boys who flew immediately up to Seattle: one to drive back with me, the other to fly back with his father. I have told them now it is official: they can do no wrong. In fact I feel grateful for everything – lying in bed the past few nights watching the moon rise out of the water, the heavenly birdsong that I can’t remember hearing before, so maybe we have a new feathered resident, grateful for Vicodin, whisky and Ambien. Grateful for my customers who have been so understanding, grateful for my helpers, grateful for our friends in Seattle, so supportive, and friends down here.
I didn’t know the Rapture was supposed to be this week, but for days I have been feeling that something was happening, a feeling like music in the air, like a great tuning up for – what? an entrance? and ending? a gathering? I don’t know, but it has been as if the veils have lifted, as if something meaningful has moved closer. I think of something and it is delivered, I think of someone and they phone, I cut my fabric and it is accurate to the thread.
At the same time the opera buffa of life continues in counterpoint. Yesterday there was a horrible smell, like rotting fish, just where I was sewing. Cat food? Cat sick? Dead raccoon under the floorboards? I don’t know, but yesterday I crawled around sniffing so much I got light-headed. Today it is gone.
So it all boils down to the realisation: I don’t know anything, but I’m thankful to be part of it. I have decided my role model is Margaret Rutherford and I have been pestering Stefan to hunt down DVDs of her films, no easy task. I have just finished reading Singled Out by Virginia Nicholson, about the ‘surplus women’ after World War 1 – heavens, half my teachers, and our redoubtable headmistress Fifi Hawthornewere that generation. Margaret Rutherford typifies them for me: indomitable, great-hearted, clear-eyed, and with a joie-de-vivre which hinges on their own experience of despair, and all the more precious for that.
I have a way to go before I am that age, but is there anything wrong with having an end in view? Not an end of how I appear to other people, but how I want to be, and it will include the small gallantries of earrings and bright colours, and the inestimable benefits of making the effort.
I have been so cheered today by playing the piano concerti of Saint-Saens, who I love even if he did interfere with the choirboys, indefensible. His music is so arrogant, macho, I love the subtlety and complexity of his orchestration, and it is one of the great pleasures of my life that I can soak myself in music, or poetry, or political analysis while I work. Can’t ask for more.