I was late to bed last night – 3am – because I sat up transcribing a small out of print book I have borrowed from a friend. It was published in the 1930s, there is no trace of a copy or even a mention of it online, so though it is precious she has lent it to me, and I am slogging through the slow process of typing it up so I can refer to its wisdom at leisure.
When I finally went to bed, I lay with a small, dim light still on, admiring my shelves. They are beautifully tidy and calm. After years of struggling in this direction I seem finally to have tamed my clothes. I like everything I own, it is all comfortable and the shapes suit my body. Everything I have is stretchy or (if woven not knitted) strung on elastic, so I can expand and shrink without fear of expense. My shoes are all comfy and good for walking in. I have warm clothes and cool clothes, snuggly and soft. I have thick leggings and tights for winter, different undergarments to suit the seasons, everything is modest and everything, except nightdresses and some undergarments, is purple. My stuff is mostly herded up in baskets and it all feels spacious and well-organised and this brings me peace and well-being. I lay a long time looking at the shelves, occasionally getting out of bed to re-organise something that caught my eye, just to make it perfect. And eventually I put out the light and drifted off to sleep.
Because I went to sleep so late, though I woke early as usual I dozed off again. I finally came to about 9.20 and within five minutes my cellphone rang. It was the Badger urgently needing details of his passport to book a flight to a Christian book conference. We puzzled over the final detail being sought, which correlated with nothing on the passport page. In the end he asked if I could scan the page and send it to him.
We have a new printer, wireless. It works fine, but I had never tried to print wirelessly, so I took my laptop downstairs – which is a bit of a performance because it has something wrong with its bios and the battery holds no charge so I have to rush it from socket to socket like a medical emergency. And the socket by the printer is on the floor behind the sofa so I almost expired through crushing my internal organs (yes, gentle reader, I am too fat) hanging over the back of the sofa trying to plug it in. Actually that’s not too bad because all you have to do is push – unplugging it is the challenge; you need powerful fingertips.
At first the scanner denied all knowledge of connection even though ‘Emberputa’ came up clear enough on its little screen. It pretended the broadband was down or it wasn’t turned on or there was no computer. Sigh. I printed out a couple of notelets with violets on I designed yesterday evening just to try and jog its memory. It liked the violets but refused to have anything to do with the passport.
Then I remembered that our Alice, who used to work at the library and has long and bitter experience of This Kind Of Thing, showed me how to establish connection through the computer control panel not through the scanner’s own computer. So I did that. The first PDF came out upside down and I don’t know how to rotate on a PDF so I made a second one and sent it off to the Badger, pointing out how ultra-cunning I had been in remembering to take his passport out of the scanner and put it back in the file so that when he tries to get the aeroplane we aren’t searching wildly through heaps of paper in the garret wondering where the heck his passport can be.
I made some delicious vegetable soup for lunch and while tidying out the pantry came upon some Nutty Knobbly Nougat in a carrier bag with something in a jar – chutney or whatever, I didn’t really look, I was fixating on the nougat which I love. And though I certainly didn’t put it there I ripped it open and ate some even though I had dessert (sticky toffee pudding and HALF FAT crème fraiche – yes I do know I shouldn’t have) after my soup, with a cup of tea. Sorry if it was earmarked for something else.
Then this afternoon I watched the episode of Broadchurch (gripping TV crime drama) because today I didn’t need to be here or there or even anywhere doing anything in particular - and I got the book I was writing finished and in to my editor as planned at the beginning of the week (hooray!) so I made an executive decision to award myself chillout space.
I corresponded a bit with one or two people about things going on with them, I felt guilty for not getting round to Morning Prayer and decided as it was by then 4pm it’ll have to be Evening Prayer today.
I typed up some more of the book and fetched in some wood for the stove and brought in the wheelie bin – and took out the trash that should have been in it when the bin lorry came round.
I photographed a bookcase and advertised it for sale on eBay as it seems to have no family takers.
I opened my mail and enjoyed reading news of a friend in the other (West) half of Sussex, and perusing a copy of Our Lady of the Lost and Found which arrived from Thrift Books late this afternoon.
And tonight the Badger hurtles back in from publishing Christian books in Oxford to drop panting to the floor for a short night before leaping into action again and rushing up to Tunbridge Wells to take three teenage girls (!) to Spring Harvest Christian Conference in search for further Christian authors to write books for his publishing programme.
So runs my life.
At the weekend a new historical (or should I say histrionic?) drama called The Village began on the telly. I wanted to watch it despite its author telling us Life Was Hard in Those Days (oh no, not more of the harsh and gritty) but an hour before it started I discovered a (widespread as it turns out) problem with Google Blogger – a glitch whereby you can add a new gadget to the side pane in Layout, but not edit any of the existing ones. By the time I’d tussled unsuccessfully to defeat this and finally settle on a ruse that satisfied me (if you start a new list but don’t give it a title it looks near enough like a continuation of an existing list on the page), The Village was in full swing. I hurried down to join the Badger in watching it, but came into the living room just in time to get a large screenful of a young woman in a pretty dress undoing a man’s trousers (Oh, right. That kind of hard). This eventually necessitated the person in question putting down her dachshund which she left to Run Wild through the rough ground of the woodland where We All Knew What They Were Up To as soon as we saw the doggie wander off. Apart from that we saw a farmer running amok in uncontrollable rage, swinging randomly through his wheatfield with a scythe that nearly saw off the cameraman’s head, never mind the heads of grain, while his young son looked on in surprise and disbelief, as I did myself. I went back upstairs.
And in the episode of Broadchurch I saw this afternoon, we had prison and paedophilia, mobs, drugs, sinister types everywhere, adultery, murder, despair, anger, underage sex, rude teenagers, destructive journalism, lies, secrets, and hot competition to get into the knickers of the woman in the pub (the plumber was the first but by no means the last). And why was the vicar so keen to be so helpful to all these women?
And I wondered, where are the ordinary people? Why does my life bear no resemblance to the lives on the telly? I wouldn’t dream of propositioning our plumber – never, not even when I was young and tolerably attractive. My children have hardly ever been rude to me – I can think of two occasions between all five of them in their entire lives. The strongest drug in our house is Kenco coffee. Or Earl Grey tea. Nobody would murder even a spider or a wasp. And if I had responsibility for a dachshund, for sure I wouldn’t let it scamper off to leave me with both hands free for unfettering someone's genitalia on a chilly English day amid docks and thistles. It isn’t practical.
Where is the quiet contentment of a skilled job well done? Where is the profound wellbeing of fireside conversations with someone you have faithfully loved for years, as the evening draws on to night? Do they never play Scrabble? Don’t they knit or bake cakes? Aren’t there rooms to be swept and windows to wash? Don’t they ever pray, or sing, or stand for a moment to look round and locate a singing robin up in the tree, in the middle of hanging out the laundry on a breezy morning? Why are they so angry so much of the time, always lashing out at each other in bitter, contemptuous fashion? Why is no young woman on TV, in any film whatever, capable of leaving a room without throwing some offensive and insulting smart-alec quip over her shoulder in parting – unless she’s left in a sobbing heap by her thug of a husband who’s just broken all her teeth.
In my opinion, my life has not been boring. At times I’ve been poor, terrified, at my wits end, in love, full of hope, despairing, elated, troubled, tested. I’ve sat up into the small hours talking theology with friends or working out ways and means with household accounts. I’ve thrown myself onto the floor before the altar in an out-of-hours empty church, pleading with God for the wave of His Spirit to lift the beached life of a stubborn congregation. I’ve worked till I felt sick with exhaustion, and I’ve stood on the beach and watched the sunrise over the sea, overflowing my soul with the glory. I’ve sat with dying people in their last hours, I’ve grown a garden where I found only dust and concrete, I’ve sat up half waking in the dead of night feeding infants at my breast. I think it’s fair to say I’ve lived.
Why doesn’t any of this seem to make it onto the TV? – just an endless weary procession of preoccupation with tits, bums and dicks (are the camera operators or directors going short of something at home?), all bathed in a predictable vinaigrette of lasciviousness with rage and jealousy and bitterness as the tedious side orders. For heaven’s sake! Seriously, it’s enough to drive you to Sudoku.
But ooh, look: