Sometimes I wonder, just wonder, if I should try and take life a bit slower. Then I do try and it doesn’t really work. Because one thing that living with the threat of inherited disease has done for me is to make me very determined to live as fully as possible.
I give myself over to the process of a day, and part way through it I’m always humbled and amazed at how much I am enjoying the sheer variety, the juggling, the surprises and serendipities.
Let’s take last Thursday. Lovely man (who I’m blessed to have been with for 21 years) brings us tea at 5.15 am. Very welcome as I’m finding it hard to wake (this is rare for me, it has something to do with mild celebration last night re small but significant writing success). There is sunshine again. Big boost. Make lists on my phone, in bed, which somehow renders today and tomorrow manageable. Deal with some email, also on phone, in bed, and yes I know I’m addicted, but it means I can get on with other things more quickly later. Ha!
After lovely man has left for work at 6.30 am, I check the paperwork for the OU marking I did yesterday, ink in all the forms, double-check them, and pack the whole lot into the brown envelope for Milton Keynes. This hour is generally my first writing window of the day, but this morning the marked papers must take priority. That’s ok.
Wonderful moments of free thought in the bath, then dress and take car to be valeted. I do this once every three years whether it needs it or not. It does. It will come back unrecognisable, new. Walk home across town as everyone is going to work and the town is waking up. I never tire of walking, so much to see, take in. This morning the light is clear and the hills are intensely green.
Get home to find builder’s van parked outside. He is waiting for the delivery of bathroom kit for works to take place in a couple of weeks time. This will be hell to live through but wonderful when done as we have relied on one bath between all of us for nearly a year. A bath should be a luxury but in fact sharing this resource is tricky, whichever way you look at it. However, by the end of July we will have not just one but two showers. And a bath. Hooray!
Water, it’s all about water. That’s what I spend much of the morning thinking about, in relation to my new project, which is a collaboration with the painter Mary Anne Aytoun-Ellis – we’re exploring hidden and mysterious water sources in Sussex. We’re currently waiting on several developments, so I answer emails and keep my toes and legs crossed under the desk.
The draft programme for the Attentive Writers conference in Glasgow, August 23-25, has gone up on the Glasgow Uni School of Critical Studies website, and I see my ‘Self-portrait without Breasts’ session is scheduled for first thing on day two. That’s great. Make note that I must book trains and somewhere to stay. I am so looking forward to that conference, http://www.gla.ac.uk/schools/critical/research/conferences/attentivewriters/, and I’ve never been to Glasgow before.
Break to make tea at about 11.30 am. Entertain the dog who is bored of lying in the sun and threatens to dig more holes in the (already dangerously pot-holed) ‘lawn’ if I don’t walk him in the next two hours. I negotiate for a later walk, when my day will be a bit more sorted. He looks disapproving.
Lay dustsheets in readiness for delivery of bathroom stuff. And oops, while I’m in the cleanliness department, take out large load of washing from machine, and peg it out on line.
Back to the other online world, where a correspondence is mushrooming between me and one of my employers, since I appear to have been tossed off their payroll system and then ‘rejoined’ (sounds gluey and painful) with an emergency tax code applied, and all because I didn’t invoice them for any work for three months. That’ll teach me. Sixteen email exchanges on this subject scatter themselves through the next two hours of the day, as various details don’t add up. In the end it’s sorted. I was right about the details. Absurd triumph, purely moral: I will still have to wait another two months to get back the tax that’s been wrongly deducted.
In between whiles I construct and fiddle with the beginnings of a new blog for the Springlines (Sussex water) project and answer phone queries from various people.
Then a good friend and writing colleague emails to say she has been offered a two-book deal. WE BOTH SHOUT AT EACH OTHER OUR DELIGHT IN A FRANTIC AND HAPPY EXCHANGE OF EMAILS, PEPPERED WITH EXCLAMATION MARKS!!! Such good news, and a joy to share her pleasure.
Doorbell. Dog goes nuts thinking one of his many dear friends has come to visit him. But this is CP Hart with a delivery of large quantities of white ceramic objects in vast cardboard boxes. After about twenty minutes of men heaving and grunting, the objects in boxes more or less fill our front room. The glimpse of a shower tray makes me very excited.
When the delivery is complete, I stop for a bowl of reheated pasta, and then the phone rings. My ‘new’ car is ready for collection. Before setting off to collect it I quickly run the dog in circles in the garden, narrowly avoiding a twisted ankle as I skip the holes. He has missed out today. Double-length walk tomorrow.
I hot-foot across town, picking up reheeled boots from the cobblers on the way (well, who trusts the weather this year?). On arrival at the valeting place, I am thrilled to find a blue car with silver wheels!
Back via my collaborator’s studio where we plot the next stages of the water project, laugh a lot and agree that today, for each of us, has been wonderful. I think that’s why we work well together. We both tend to live like this.
And there is still the evening to come. But not yet. The designer for the imminent small pilot show of Springlines has emailed me to say he’d like the last bits of text asap. I make myself a cuppa and go back up to my study, where I can sit with the window open on to my courtyard garden, with a view of budding roses and birds at the bird feeder, and I work until my lovely man gets home. We will have an omelette and a glass of wine and will retire to bed by 9.45 pm to watch one crime thriller or another.
Which of these elements could I possibly cut out and still feel whole and happy? None.