Nothing to say

Only a few weeks ago I felt full of creative energy and it seemed as if I could write about almost anything, no matter how indifferent. Words can take on an energetic life of their own and lead me into hinterlands. Writing requires emptiness. A full bowel will not do…It requires an empty stretch of time or of nothing; nothing intruding. Except it does. I like to recline on my bed and muse about the movement of wind in the tree: my weeping pittosporum where the wind glides and I romanticise about Aeolian harps. (I am intrigued about where people like to do their writing; I can only do mine hunched up on my bed.) It took me time to understand what an Aeolian harp is. It was the metaphor that spun one of my now deceased colleagues into magic words. The psychiatrist Murray Cox wrote a whole book about the use of metaphor in therapy: The Mutative Metaphor in Psychotherapy  and first had the brilliant idea of taking the RSC’s Hamlet, along with Hamlet’s conscience, into prisons.

Equally, I can be too busy to have any time to write – as has been the case during the last weekends – and yet feel that I am exploding with thoughts which are frustrated and even lost through not having Time. Today is different. I woke up convinced that I would never again have anything pertinent to say. Or, if I did it would have to be censored in case I offended the object of my thoughts. And yet such thoughts don’t want to go away.

For example. Last weekend I met a dear friend for lunch in a private member’s club. I was so engaged in our conversation that, unlike her, I had not been irritated by the intrusions of a man pacing the room on his mobile phone. I had rather liked it whereas unbeknown to me she was exasperated. The fact that he had an enthralling French accent helped. I was not, being a useless linguist, distracted by the content of his words but even found the velvet guttural of background sound and interjections – which were not aimed at me – soothing. My friend made the mistake of asking me if I knew who he was. I did not. I rarely do. She informed me that it was Raymond Blanc. I don’t have many heroes or personal icons, I might even return to the subject of ‘heroes’. And ‘celebrity. Unlike my husband, John I do not have shelving devoted to cookery books, or share his excitement at the thought of recipes, combinations and the cauldron.

Blanc is different and … Oh! it’s 7AM and time for me to eat my porridge and go to work. To be continued…

Except, as adage, to say that when I thought about the wind and wrote the word ‘harp’ my lifelong muse, friend and ‘other’ came flying across the Atlantic and Arizonian deserts and into mind. The divine Gala. She is anything but a ‘harpy’ except that the word like most has many associations. When I call Gala ‘a harpy’ I am thinking not of their macabre associations but the numinous of beauty truly blest. To the ancient poet Hesiod, Harpies were imagined as desirable and not of ill omen: ‘Fair-locked and winged maidens, who surpassed winds and birds in the rapidity of their flight.  Gala Mitchell flew into my life when we were twelve year old school girls at a boarding school in Tring. We met on a magnificent staircase designed by Christopher Wren. She has lived alongside of me ever since, whatever the geography of our cactus distance. Yes, some might even have once called her a ‘harpy’.

The Blanc anecdote to be continued soon…

Until I can ask John if he can find me a photograph of Blanc’s scenic fairytale of a restaurant, or even better the kitchen gardens, I will sign off with my beloved Gala…

We were schoolgirls once upon a time 
Gala in the late sixties

Gala was to become Ossie Clark’s favourite model when she could be found.

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