Poetry trickles in between the fault lines of this working and family life; like water it finds openings.
(Philip Gross, from an interview in Iota, Issue 88).
I’ve had one of those tricky weeks when I’ve struggled to find time for myself, especially for reading and writing. It’s more than that, though, I’m also craving some being alone, staring out of the window time and some long, muddy walk and being in my head time. You might have noticed that I’ve been faffing about with my blog theme and I suppose this is a sign that I’m feeling uncertain and dissatisfied – as if I can’t make up my mind how I want things to be. On one hand, I’m pleased to be working for a not-for-profit organisation that creates life-enriching projects for some of life’s most neglected people; on the other, I’m frustrated that my writing time has been impinged. I started this job in November so I keep hoping that I’ll learn a routine and go back to being almost as productive as I felt I was before I started working for The Reader Organisation.
Things haven’t been helped by the fact that there’s some nerve damage in my right hand (which I cut on a glass recently) so two more visits to the Royal United Hospital in Bath have been required. It’s not serious, just slightly painful and inconvenient since some of my dexterity has been impaired. But I can still write with a pen and type so that is a huge blessing. I’ve been referred for physiotherapy and been given an emergency appointment for which I’m incredibly grateful. So, not a moaning blog, and I am, believe me, completely aware of how blessed, lucky and privileged I am. I’m just struggling to fit everything in. But I’m reminded of and vastly encouraged by Philip Gross’ quote at the start of this post and I have hauled out my notebooks this week, switched off all screens and got down to some re-writing and even started something new but not enough of either!
Of course, I still found time to make my husband a hand-made St Valentine’s Day card: one sheet of A3 paper, folded twice, one tiny heart (cut from a freebie magazine that was handily pushed through our door), four fallen leaves from a dying Christmas poinsettia and one stick of glue was all it took.
And, lest you think that he’s the only one who gets the treats in this house, I was extremely pleased with Andrew’s present to me:
And, by the way, this post is sarcasm-free – honest!
Because it was St Valentine’s Day, I brought love poems to my shared reading groups and we had a grand time reading Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 aloud to each other and talking about which lines stood out most for us. One woman read the sonnet aloud to her 94 year old mother sitting next to her; several couples attend the groups, so some people read aloud to their spouse. As usual, we focussed on how the poem made us feel and what it made us think of, rather than analysing its meaning. One man said the mention of summer flowers reminded him of when he and his wife were “courting” and went off to pick wild bluebells in nearby woods. (“We know we shouldn’t have!”). He remembered driving back into their Wiltshire village on a Lambretta scooter, his wife-to-be riding pillion, and everyone stopping to stare at them and their bunches of bluebells. I wish I’d been able to film this lovely man, in his seventies, reading the sonnet aloud to his wife, also very lovely, who has dementia. “Do you remember?” he said to her. “Yes,” she said and they gave each other the sweetest smile.
On reflection, it really hasn’t been a terrible week and poetry certainly has trickled in.
Here’s David Tenant reading the sonnet.