Friday, June 03, 2022

A long letter from home

I was sitting here in bed yesterday morning trying to decide exactly what to say to you. Should I say I was giving up the blog? Or should I say I was taking a break?

I don’t want the blog to deteriorate into a sad, dull description of some of my days and experiences, but for the last month or so I have not felt ideas bubbling into my head that I’ve had an urge to share with you. And when I’ve been troubled by some of life’s private dramas and sadnesses I’ve wanted to keep them to myself. I don’t know if this is a new phase of my life. Is it different being 72 in terms of sharing stuff with the world? 

Or is it to do with no longer thinking of myself as a writer? Now when old friends visit and ask about my writing I say ‘Oh, I’m not writing any more, I’m painting.’ This is the current painting I'm working on: a celebration of Derbyshire May verges. It's huge. I am thinking about how to develop it.

My father stopped writing in his seventies too. And no matter how we urged him, he wouldn’t or couldn’t. Did he feel like me? That he had said everything already and that more writing would be rehashing it all?

The blog has been meaningful for me over the years, not only in working out how I feel about both big and small things but in a more basic way too - as a handy record of our life at Hepworth Towers. Dave will ask 'When did I insulate the attic?' and I'll find out by checking the blog. But the other more important meaning for the blog has been connecting with you. 

As I said, I was sitting here yesterday wondering what to do and an email arrived COMPLETELY out of the blue from my dear friend Jan in New Zealand. We email each other just a few times a year. She had just been reading the blog and wanted to write to tell me:

You know, dear Sue, your blog (nearly) always makes me smile. It's like enjoying your favourite chocolate bar after a few weeks without, only much better.

When I had closed the blog today and found myself still smiling I thought I should Tweet. (But I refuse to sign up, sorry.)

Thank you for being a gleam of sunshine and integrity in print and for being such an excellent writer in a world where hideous books both in content and style often seem to float to the top of the pile. Call me old fashioned?...xxxxx

So I emailed straight back and told her I was that moment thinking of ending the blog and this is what she replied:

Don't do it! You are a writer and you need to write; you are an artist and you need a gallery (love your paintings); you are a wife, mother and grandmother-we need to hear of 'normal' families and experience vicariously your love and joy and sorrow and travel plans. Who did not have moist eyes when you posted the picture of greeting your Boulder family after covid? And learnt about margaritas and bears? We learn about Quakers and silent demos of integrity and the plight of the refugees...How about the sequel to Days are where we Live, ten years on? How better to record the historical events, the despair of lock down and the gross unrighteousness and duplicity of the Trumps and the BJ's? And the utter delight of a trip to London after those difficult years? And the lovely poems and book and film reviews...And you are right about recording your personal ups and downs is what makes the blog. It must be hard.

The upshot of all this is that I am not giving up...yet.

I love Jan's phrase 'the gross unrighteousness and duplicity of the Trumps and the BJs' don't you?  I am checking in on the news more often these days, so I can delight in the drip drip drip of Tory MPs denouncing the gross unrighteousness and duplicity of their leader.

Footpath on my favourite local walk

So what has been happening at Hepworth Towers? Here are some disparate happenings and thoughts:

1/  I can tell you one thing: my sweet peas are a flop this year. I planted 80 seeds in pots on the windowsill and 14 came up. This may be because of the compost I used, or the seeds may have been duds. Whatever the reason I've had to buy some seedlings to plant, but even they are sad. They need sunshine and rain and its been dry and cold here forever.

2/  Hepworth Towers is a Jubilee-free zone. We are republicans. Nuff said.

3/  When the school shooting happened in Texas I was numb to it. I do not expect America to ever see sense about their guns. Because of this, I don't read news about the latest obscenity because if I did I would have to imagine my darling Colorado girls being in that situation and that would be unbearable. There is nothing I can do about any of it, so I put it out of my mind. If I lived in America I'd be protesting along with everyone else with brains. But I'm here. Our gun laws constitute one way at least in which the UK is superior to the USA in these dark, dark times.

4/  Dave has been working hard on the garden to make it look tidier in places that have been disreputable for years, and I am so, so grateful. He is not a natural gardener. He has always done landscaping, mown the lawns and done heavy jobs I've asked him to, but every few years he has a yen to grow something. This year it's sunflowers. He currently has 48 two inch high sunflower seedlings sitting on the table tennis table in the back garden, out of the way of the slugs. Every time we want to play he has to lift them off. He checks on them throughout the day and comes in and says sadly 'They don't seem to be growing.'  He thinks that because he can make a table in a couple of days, the sunflowers should be ready to plant out tomorrow and ten foot high by next week. 

5/  The living for pleasure mantra which now guides my days is working very well, except when it comes to cake. I don't know how to tackle this, as putting on weight would not bring me pleasure.

6/  I am reading two books at present: Thinking Again by Jan Morris, which is like a blog in print form, and Philip Pullman's Grimm Tales. They are both dipping-in books. I have taken a break from The Bee Keeper of Aleppo. It was too sad. 

7/  It occurred to me recently that if an Alien landed in Derbyshire in February and then came back in May they'd think it was a different place. This is what our lane looks like this week:

I love living here.

Wishing you all a happy weekend, whatever you're doing. 


Lina said...

Sue, I understand why you may want to give up your blog. As your New Zealand friends, your writing about the ordinary and tedium of everyday life, your painting and your moments of pleasure and happiness speak to us all, make us smile and remind us that we are not alone. You are a writer. Please keep going if you can (although we will understand if you decide that you can't).Your blog gives great joy.

Anonymous said...

Your blog is one of life’s pleasures. Your generous sharing makes me more aware of and respectful of the need to keep connected. You inspire and motivate me with your activism. I love your love for your family - thank you x

Sue Hepworth said...

Thank you, friends, for your lovely comments. I’ll keep on as long as I can.

barbara conn said...

Can I echo the comments of your New Zealand friend? Your blog, Sue, invariably reflects my own mood and thoughts and I always enjoy reading it. You are a rare voice of sanity in an increasingly mad world. To silence that voice would be a great loss! Your paintings are beautiful too!

Sue Hepworth said...

Thank you very much for your encouragement, Barbara.