Thursday 2nd April The Coronet Diaries.

Avignon (photo John Haynes))

I have managed some housework today which always makes me feel good. And Yoga. I even washed the mattress cover so we will have to wrestle with the bed again tonight. I think what I enjoy most about staying in hotels is the immaculately made bed. The second thing I do every morning after meditating is to make our bed and gather up the cushions but there is nothing professional about the finale. Tuesday is when we change the sheets, (mattress cover needed to be dried). Then, I feel quite delinquent leaving the bed unmade until last thing at night, when exhausted and irritable and liable to flare, we try to work out which part of the duvet cover goes where. I have already mentioned that due to Dido’s needs we have a bed eight foot square.

Dido’s chilling

I have been threatening to write about the narcissism of writing or the narcissism of my feeling compelled to keep a diary of the extraordinary months ahead of us. Yes, it has turned into as much a compulsion as my addiction to my phone. I have COVOID OCD, (obsessional compulsive disorder), by which I do not mean I am obsessed with COVOID. I am not. I have stopped watching the news and only check in once a day. There is no way I am going to fall asleep with morbid statistics as my bedfellows. But, I cannot stop touching my phone. I promise myself that I will turn it off and give myself a break but there I go: off/on/off/on/on/on imitating the way that OCD stops sufferers being able to get out of the front door. I wake up in the middle of the night to find that I am hugging my phone.

Privately, I like to think that I am becoming something of a John Pepys (this will horrify my ‘Best Friend’ who thinks that Pepys rightly numbers amongst the greatest observers of the Restoration). In fact Pepys, like Ann Frank, had no intention of his diary being made public. It was never intended for publication; in case it ever got read he often used cryptic codewords, particularly when talking about his own affairs while I spill the beans across the page just like John spills flour all over the kitchen. In fact I shall interrupt this confessional to reveal his success of the day. Nigella’s fruit tea loaf. John knows that I don’t like tea cake or loaf or Simnel cake, but everybody else in the house does. I’ve just realised why I have got so much energy today. It is because I feel well. I can feel the migraine departing and I want to celebrate my return to health..

Nigella’s Fruit Tea Loaf ‘Feast’

Part of my compulsion to write my diary is that I do want it to be read. Truth be told I always want what I write, other than personal letters, to be read. The only other exception is when I accidentally forward an email to the wrong person. Easily done from an iPhone. As I wrote earlier when I developed writer’s block last July it infused me with shame, because I knew it was born out of my hurt at rejection but also it felt like a malady of the soul. I am not one of these people who is good at many things.

Even with my passion for words I am terrible at Scrabble, struggling with Bridge, no use at baking. I am tone deaf and sing out of tune poorly co-ordinated and useless at almost all practical tasks. I do not play an instrument, cannot do a cross word or jigsaw but I think I can write. It is not an exaggeration, although it may be histrionic, to say that like the pelican I write through wounds. Yet, that does not provide an answer as to why I think anyone else would be interested in my wounding. One consolation is that almost not a week passes when someone or other does not WhatsAp me a poem they have written, or send an excerpt from their manuscript, or whatever… the same is not true of people who paint but maybe Instagram which I don’t subscribe to is the visual equivalent. I’ve just seen my phone flashing and I see there is to be another collective clap for the NHS at 8pm tonight. Unlike the previous occasion it will still be light and I’m already in my pyjamas. Now, as I write these words I see my phone flashing again with a message from a young medical protege of mine although she has graduated from being a junior doctor into a consultant who is now, tonight, right in the front line at UCH. She has some anxiety she wants to share with me about one of her children so I better get back to what I do best and stop navel gazing. And in order to chastise my narcissism I am going to publish this without a single edit…

Yikes! It has just occurred, while we wrestle with the mattress cover that my last sentence spills/spells narcissism like John’s flour.

3 thoughts on “Thursday 2nd April The Coronet Diaries.

  1. Cake looks delicious, but although I like the idea of clapping for the NHS staff, I cannot think of anything more ineffectual- better would be to raise their pay, exempt them if taxes or something more tangibly useful to them, just an opinion…
    I’m glad you are feeling better….

  2. Dear Jane,

    It has been a while since I replied to your posts. There seems some catching up to do. I notice too that these replies to you form part of my rhythm of writing about these times. The first to respond to is the pleasure on hearing of the reunion with your grandchildren, their delight and their capacity to recover in the old games and ways of being with you both. The frightening tale of the hazmat suited medics and the policeman pounding on your door, and you recording the tale, much like in Hitchcock’s *Rear Window, *though the wheelchair is replaced by the collection quarantine. And the flashing phone, the pull of more knowledge and also of connection, but always in demand of us. Compounded by the laptop screen being the main medium for sessions with clients. I am a therapist and my daughter recently has said to me, more than once, *”Your not very good at listening you know!”*

    I long for a page to turn, but by the time the end of the day comes I am weary. For Christmas my Aunt generously gave me an annual subscription to the* New Yorker* Magazine. It’s a weekly, and the articles are wide in scope and research, the impression I get is they might take months to come together, giving the reader a comprehensive picture of any particular theme or world issue. I’ve noticed in the last three weeks corona virus slowly coming to hog the limelight. I wanted to share with you an article about the history of literature about pandemic/plague, I think it touches on some of the themes you are describing, about reading and writing, for yourself and in this global moment. I am fully aware it is another invitation to engage in more screen time, and that may be unhelpful, if you have a printer at home and the inclination you could have a paper copy to enjoy.

    Enjoy Bridge, a wonderful game, my grandmother taught me when I was a child spending summers in rural Quebec.

    Take care and be in touch,

    Love Rob xx

    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/03/30/what-our-contagion-fables-are-really-about

    On Thu, 2 Apr 2020 at 19:17, in the consulting room wrote:

    > Jane Haynes posted: ” Avignon (photo John Haynes)) I have managed some > housework today which always makes me feel good. And Yoga. I even washed > the mattress cover so we will have to wrestle with the bed again tonight. I > think what I enjoy most about staying in hotels is t” >

    1. Dear Rob, very good to hear from you and thank you for the link which I will embed into today’s diary. When we were consulting at 59 Gloucester Place the world felt solid now it feels precipitous and the only way not to fall I find is take take each day as it comes and celebrate the easeful rise and fall of the breath. Love Jane XXXX

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