Last night was not a good night; not at all. First, I heard, at a late hour, from someone that they had lost a young friend of nineteen when an UK teaching hospital had been unable to preserve his life. While it was reported in the Italian press it was not reported in the UK when the BBC 10 PM news referred specifically only to people aged between forty five and one hundred and something having died yesterday. Why? Do they massage the numbers?
Then, I woke in the middle of the night with mild panic, displaced somewhat, that I would run out of food for Dido and Zen. (Just before going to sleep I had scoured the Internet high and low, forget the supermarkets, to find a producer of bread flour, without success.) Dido has always eaten raw food and now with the current prospect of no more deliveries from Amazon Fresh and our last scheduled Ocado order that may become impossible. I have slowly been introducing her to a high quality dried food that does not, like the majority, contain any wheat. I went online onto Amazon and elsewhere only to find that it was ‘Currently unavailable’ although I did then find a Senior version in the same product. That should work well seeing that her exercise is now rationed. I haven’t dared to check that I pressed the ‘Pay’ button.
This morning I woke up to the find that the country house hotel we had booked for a long weekend in May in Wiltshire had understandably closed. On Government advice they were closing for six months but just to be sure they would not be accepting any bookings until January 2021 unless/when they were updated that the situation was looking more optimistic. Some people say it took two years to quell the Spanish Flu so why should this be any different. Others say we will have a safe vaccine long before that. Even others say, like innocent children, perhaps they will produce a ‘pill’, (I think they mean an anti-viral but we all know the sad story about Tamiflu) that will make us all better. I hope so, I hope so. I do.
As well as listening to whatever it is my patients, I don’t, to repeat myself, mind using that noun now because we are all patients of the universe, want to share, I also admonish them to start doing house-work which can also be therapeutic. Sloshing around with a bucket and mop is almost as good as an anti-depressant. Apparently, there is a blog that all the professional home helps and full time ‘housewives’ watch called: MrsHinchHome, (she has 3.2 million followers), which I am now recommending as prescribed homework. I don’t feel qualified enough myself to offer any coaching. However, every morning when I wake up and make our bed I do thank the Universe for allowing me to remain here rather than being sent packing to the new Nightingale Excel Hospital. If they will have me…
Today, I received an email from my dear friend ‘Kit’ whose letter to the Guardian, which I included in one of my first Diary blogs never got published.
Science as rivalrous academic cat fight. Who will come out of this as the ‘star’? The Oxford paper may well be flawed but its thesis is genuinely interesting and may turn out to be right.
For those who subscribe to The Times, I do not, but anyhow I cannot work out the URL:
I know that my daughter thinks I am a bit dark but I am light too. I don’t think she will like her Dad’s picture much but yesterday I headed the diary with a fairy hedgerow. I have found that I am coping better with this universal catastrophe than I could have predicted. I have only one wish, not three and that is to repeat the wish that I will not lose anybody in my Contacts. Long before the word Psychotherapy came into parlance John Keats penned the concept of Negative Capability which means being able to endure uncertainty without reaching irritably after fact. That is what we are all having to learn to do, one way or another. As long as creativity, whether it is of the sciences, or the arts, continues to breathe my soul will continue to be nourished and we will outwit Endgame.
Today I received another gift. When I came to the end of John WC’s manuscript of his latest anthology, Boy Thing which was provoked by our long therapeutic relationship which has extended into friendship for over thirty years, I was very taken, being currently preoccupied by the concept of ‘Spaces’ with the penultimate poem. I asked John permission to publish. (Unfortunately I cannot work out how to space verse in this blog but hopefully my son will come downstairs tonight when they have put the children to bed and if he is not too exhausted he will show me the way.)
Gulls empty the sky, their squally cries
loosening my hold on things.
Late heat ticks in the tiles and guttering.
The rowan’s full breasts shine.
In the attic bedroom, where the wind’s
devouring voice in the throat
of the chimney cried out in them,
I’ve folded up volcanoes, planets,
Kings and Queens of England,
wedged the mobile in the bin,
ending interminable turnings in the internal
thermals, its stored torsions so
nearly time found reversible.
Blue and white blobs, the cornerstones
of missing stories, diagrams, splotch-beings,
roll to a globe of paint and hair,
a smear of weather. It’s too late
to touch-up picked-off wood chip shoals,
herds of animals, hunters, whatever
they saw in them on the edge of sleep.
I stick down the flap of wallpaper
over I am a person pencilled on plaster.
Their beds have gone. Only patches remain
where their heads would have been,
precious heads that made this house
flesh-tender, heads tipped back
as they looped arms round our necks
to hold us, books slipping from hands
to thump the floor above us like ripe fruit,
the whole of us listening for the way they turned.
First published in Poetry Ireland Winter 2019 John Wedgwood Clarke