Saturday, December 03, 2022

Leaving the past behind

This week in pursuit of turning my writing study into a painting studio I have been clearing out my desk and sorting through papers. I came across all kinds of things, including a dozen abstracts of my one and only research paper published in an academic journal.

I saved two copies. It's hard to let go of my former lives. I've been trying to give away my old academic books and have only managed to whittle them down by half because I'm oddly attached to them. I have a general rule that if I'm not going to read a book again I take it to the charity shop. But although I doubt I will ever read again Experiment, Design and Statistics in Psychology by Colin Robson, I am too fond of it to let it go. I think it's because in a world of mangled jargon and abstruse ideas I loved it for being simply written as well as downright useful. 

I also found a cache of old letters. 

Some were tiny things I had written to my gran when I was very young, that she had saved and then when she died my mother  had saved. There was one I'd written at 14 when I was on a French exchange, and another when I was 17 and working as a chambermaid for the summer in Guernsey.

Some were from my children to my mother (their gran) when they were teenagers and students; some were ones I had written to my mother and gran when Isaac and Zoe were teenagers and the-family-member-who-declines-to-be-named was a toddler. Those are tough times for various reasons and the letters reminded me of the struggle, and sometimes unhappiness, and because of this they were upsetting to read. 

I discussed this with my dear friend Het, who said "Don’t keep old papers unless they’re celebratory," which I think is good advice.  

You could argue that family letters form an important historical archive. For example, I have letters from my grandfather to my grandmother (over 100 years ago) when they were engaged, that I once told you about on the blog years ago. When I first came across the letters and read them, I fell in love with my grandfather, whom I had never met because he died before I was born. I also have letters my father wrote to my mother when he was on a travelling scholarship in America in the 1960s. They’re fascinating and amusing because he was such a good correspondent. Go to this old blog post and scroll down and you'll find some excerpts.

What I've decided to do is acquire a sturdy box to contain ALL the old family papers so they are there for future generations who are interested in social history and our family in particular.

The other papers I've been reducing have related to my writing, so for example the proof of But I Told You Last Year That I loved You is now in the box of scrap paper we mine for all kinds of odd uses.

Yesterday Dave helped me determine the best position for my table in the small square room that as of today is officially the studio. Liz came for the official opening this afternoon. I lured her - not with champagne - but with good coffee and one of Dave's homemade oatcakes topped with my homemade lemon curd.

She cut the ribbon with panache. Bless you, Liz, for being so supportive and encouraging of my change from writing to painting. And thanks to my other friends too.

And here it is:

Yes, yes, I know the flowery dust sheet looks naff, and it's going to be replaced with something more fitting. I have to have something down because the carpet is fairly new and I am impossibly messy.


marmee said...

A studio worthy of you Sue!!

Elisabeth said...

Creativity is the answer. I love it that you have moved from one mode to another. Your room looks lovely.

Sue Hepworth said...

Thank you, friends. 😊

Anonymous said...

Sue, I love the variety of greens that show up in the photo of the same room. I really like the colour as shown with the dust sheet. What a joy to have a room just for painting.

Its exhausting clearing out things that have emotional ties to them - well done

A confession: I have never before watched Grace and Frankie and now I have watched 6 episodes of the first series in one evening.[thank you Netflix] I might watch another before bed. I am going to have to revisit all your books (and your blog) and notice all the references.

Greetings to all


Sue Hepworth said...

Hi Jenetta, it’s nice to hear from you. Thank you for your comments. Dave has now found me a box online for the papers and so there is more progress.
You’re so lucky to have only just started watching Grace and Frankie. It gets better and better after the first series. And there are only a few dud episodes. I love the growing friendship between G and F. It’s heartwarming and hilarious.
But I don’t think I mentioned it in any of my books except possibly DAYS ARE WHERE WE LIVE - but yes, it’s been on the blog a couple of times. Although - yes- there might be a fleeting mention in EVEN WHEN THEY KNOW YOU.