Saturday, December 10, 2022

Downhill all the way

It's been a challenging week. 

On two early mornings I tried and failed to make a transaction on telephone banking. This involves holding on for 15 minutes and then going through a series of annoying questions that on both occasions ended in failure. It made me feel old and useless and incredibly frustrated.

I have felt old and useless a lot of this week. My memory is hopeless and I keep leaving things in strange places. Last week I posted an urgent item to Zoe and forgot to write her postal code on the letter, and this week I wrote out her address again and realised I'd put 'avenue' when it should be 'road.' I was hugely upset but Dave gave me a rare unsolicited hug and told me not to worry. "This is what getting old is like, and it happens to everyone."

One bright spot of the week was Monday in Bakewell when we held a craft, coffee and cake morning for Ukrainian refugees. We didn't have as many guests as we'd hoped for but the ones who came thoroughly enjoyed it and asked us to run another one in the Christmas holidays for their children. 

I was at a meeting on Tuesday and then I was hit by a strange fatigue.

Wednesday morning I dropped my phone in the loo. 

"Quick, Dave! Google what to do when you drop your phone in water!"

He thought I was joking and ignored me so I found my iPad and did it myself. I've had the phone for 4 years (I think) and this was the first major mishap. It seems to have survived.

Wednesday afternoon, a long-time friend came to visit and we walked in the sunshine and then sat by the fire in my studio drinking tea and eating sub-standard stollen and laughing a lot. It was life enhancing.

Thursday, I stayed in bed until 10.a.m. writing Christmas cards.

Friday, I found out I'd offended a friend and was mortified and miserable.

Friday, I sat in my new studio and could not think of a single thing I wanted to paint and thought what an irony it was that I now had a studio and could not paint. Was there such a thing as painter's block? I was miserable about upsetting my friend: that was a major reason. 

I made myself choose a canvas (actually a piece of board from an old wardrobe) and painted it all over in pale violet. I always paint a support (that's what artists call the thing they paint on - pretentious? moi?) all over before I start a picture, and then scrolled through my photos and could not find a single thing that inspired me. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Misery prevailed. Should I do a still life? e.g. paint my old blue boots? I considered it and decided against. Nothing appealed.

I made myself go out for a walk in the cold grey countryside.

When I got back Chrissie had emailed to ask me for news and I responded with  my misery and she was so lovely and sympathetic, and thank you, Chrissie.

One undilutedly happy thing happened this week: Dave made me a writing table to go in the corner of the bedroom. It's to give me a space now my study no longer exists, and I'm writing at it now. It was done precisely to my measurements and spec with a shelf underneath to put away the laptop when not in use. He made it from an old door. 

Isn't he great?

He has probably made more tables in his life than anything else. 

I am so happy with the table! I've been telling him every half hour. You wouldn't put me in the pit of ingratitude.

The backdrop to my challenging week of aging and seasonal affective disorder has been an underlying despair about this rotten government and their unwillingness (or inability?) to see and care that millions of ordinary people are leading desperately miserable lives; their refusal to engage with unions; and a vilification of nurses - good luck with that. The public are behind the nurses. 

I don't want a fancy dinner at Christmas. I don't want presents. Seeing my family is all I want. That and a warm fire. I am so fortunate to be married to Dave, who is a firewood-gathering-machine. 

And before you ask, it's an OFF Christmas this year, but it's off for so many people, through no choice at all. So from now on, I'd like to bury the concept of the ON-OFF Christmas.

Despite everything, I'm going to try to be cheerful today: I've made up my mind.

Auch der Hass gegen die Niedrigkeit
Verzerrt die Züge.
Auch der Zorn über das Unrecht
Macht die Stimme heiser.

Even hatred of deprivation

Twists the face

Even anger about injustice

Makes the voice hoarse.


But I'm leaving you, myself and this post with this thought from Maggie Smith (the poet) in her book Keep Moving.


rowantree said...

You're not the only one making silly mistakes owing to Christmas looming and worrying about the state of the nation! On Wednesday, I had quite a busy day ahead and when dividing a bunch of grapes I snipped the tip of my left middle finger, ouch, and had to deal with the blood before I could do anything else! I've never done that before. Later when addressing a card I used a friend's original surname rather than the married name she's had since about 1976. Luckily I had some Tippex to hand. Most of the time I'm just forgetting what I had planned to get on with. However, I did remember to post the parcels I had got ready on the way to the hairdresser this morning, so not completely incompetent.

I'm sure your friend will forgive you, and take things easy!

Sue Hepworth said...

Thank you, friends, for your very kind comments.

Lina said...

Sue, Your blog is wonderful and keeps me sane just to know that someone is having similar thoughts and feelings. No matter how bad things seem, your posts always give me food for thought and smiles - long may you continue.

Sue Hepworth said...

Thank you, Lina. That’s very kind, and encouraging.

Chris Smith said...

Sue, your blog is a wonderful treat, as far as I’m concerned. I have so many forgetful incidents and I can tell that they are slowly increasing in frequency and severity as I age! I have Maggie Smith’s book, but it’s another thing, remembering to read it! Good advice though, but not easy to adhere to.

Dave is lovely and so very clever. What a beautiful table, made with love.

I hope you and your friend can put whatever it was behind you. If you’re like me, you probably imagine it to be worse than it was. I’m glad that your week has had some good times. You do lots for others, which brings its own rewards.

Our family is shrinking rather than growing, but I too am looking forward to spending Christmas with them. Regrets and losses, I’ve had quite a few and they come to the fore about now, but I’m learning to value the simple pleasures. I have been going to a painting and drawing group, where I am the least experienced and talented, but nevertheless, they are a lovely, kind, diverse bunch and tomorrow, in the sports pavilion where we meet, we are having our Christmas celebration. Fish and chips delivered from the village, Prosecco, crackers and mince pies! I feel as excited as I did as a child, taking my labelled plate and cutlery to the school Christmas party!

My lovely sister came last week and put some pictures up for us and in return I baked her favourite macaroons. Today we went and fetched our Christmas tree, which my husband gets very excited about. I hope you have a lovely time. xx

Sue Hepworth said...

How lovely to get such a long comment from you, Chris, and to hear about your forgetfulness (very reassuring) and your Christmas. The art group Christmas celebration sounds perfect - fish and chips and Prosecco - definitely my kind of thing. I hope you enjoy it, and good luck with your art next year. xx

Christine said...

You were very welcome, Sue. I am so impressed by that beautiful table!