Funnily enough, another hobby of mine is writing. Once upon a time I wrote poetry but whereas I am enamoured with other people’s poetry, I don’t think I particularly excel at writing it. Joseph does and I think it was upon casting my eye over his profound and moving poetic offerings whilst he was at uni, that I decided this. I’m good at spontaneously dreaming up funny rhyming verse and I can replace lyrics to adapt a song for my own needs, but as for trying to live up to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s ‘the best words in the best order’ catchphrase, that magical re-ordering of words is best left to proper poets such as him. (And Joseph, it would seem. And as a child, Rhiannon wrote some astounding poetry which, in true mum style, I still have.) Even if I find The Rime of the Ancient Mariner too dolorous to read unless I’m teaching it to Y9 … Actually, who am I trying to kid? I feel disturbed after every lesson within that topic. I purposely shot through it last year and managed to squeeze in The Lady of Shallot while the rest of the department were still on Part I. In addition, I struggle to write any worthy poetry unless I’ve dug myself into a hole of gloom in which to wallow. Karen Carpenter famously sang in All You Get From Love is a Love Song, ‘the best love songs are written with a broken heart’ (or ‘the best love songs are written with a broken arm’ according to kissthisguy.com) and cheesy though those lyrics are, I think they could reach out to most people. Both those lyrics – the real ones and the misheard ones – reach out to me, if we extend the metaphor to embrace writing in general. I became inspired to write a fantasy novel whilst married to (soon-to-be-ex) hubby and yes, the divorce IS taking an EXCEPTIONALLY long time considering the presumed simplicity of it. Anyway, I found myself pondering portals into other dimensions whilst walking Rusty one day, as I gazed across an ideal area of scrubland for a TARDIS to land. On my return I gushed my ideas to (soon-to-be-ex) hubby who was very encouraging, being the nerdy bookish type and so I set about my new project. However, after writing a plot outline, a back-story, character summaries and a chapter-by-chapter synopsis, I felt suitably fulfilled to tuck it away on a USB stick and in so doing it also became tucked away into the furthest reaches of my mind. Until afore-mentioned hubby walked out and in-between other calamities, I picked up the unfinished story – or rather the barely begun story – blew away the metaphorical dust and found myself in the throes of writing mania. Then I snapped my wrist, which was the topic of previous blog posts, so I won’t revisit the whole sorry saga, except to say, for the benefit of new readers, that it was a bad break involving surgery and I couldn’t do much with that limb for a while, even after I was minus the splint. So The Barely Begun Story was abandoned after a frenetic flurry of attention. Other neglected pastimes included piano-playing, although that was, eventually, partly due to its residence for quite some time in the hallway of my current home, as that was as far as the removal men would move it. In desperation, it has quietly sidestepped (with some assistance) into my bedroom. Along with a spare sofa. (It’s a sizeable bedroom.) I had begun to teach myself the violin too, but proceeded as far as one YouTube tutorial before the whole wrist-snapping thing.
Fast forward to January this year and I felt suitably inspired to start a blog. Gosh, I’m writing about writing. Blogging about blogging, in fact … Is this meta-blogging? I will not tarry on this topic lest I bring about something unintentional … Like the opening of a portal to another dimension, maybe! Sorry – I guess my mind is on my fantasy story now. Back to my blog. It owes itself principally to a hankering for catharsis. Secondary to that, enough people said in jest that I ‘should write a book’ after yet another recounting of yet another fiasco in my life, that I thought I would. Well, a blog, anyway. I felt the need to offload about the graver fiascos in my life, but not to a person. Or even to a medium which might be read by a person. I never aspired to gain an audience; I only started sharing on Facebook because after I casually let slip that it existed at all, people asked about it. I’m very glad it is being read, for a variety of reasons and I continue to be both surprised and thankful for the interest shown. To speak with candour, the latter has shaped my blog. It may have been one long whine if people hadn’t started reading it. I progressed to funny Tinder moments because friends had laughed at the antics of my clinically insane chickens and my misunderstanding of ‘come and see my Buddhist altar’. But just a couple of months of flirting with Tinder meant that the material was finite. Then after the sequence of events that brought me to The Folky Pub on a night magically tinged with fate, I sourced a new supply of material … The Rastafarian. Of course, I could not access it immediately because I was unaware that this relationship would actually become a blog for a time, but eventually, the honeymooned shine of new love dulled from being lied to, cheated on and wrung dry of money, patience and comfort. And that mishap of a relationship has provided me with enough material to have a complete blog dedicated solely to him, if I felt inclined to grant him such an accolade, so credit where it is due: special thanks to the reggae-playing rogue.
At the close of my last prosaic offering, I promised news on the Rastafarian and more writing. As in ‘news on more writing’, not just ‘more writing’, because the latter is a given, really. So, at this juncture, I could branch off in either direction. This post, thus far, has been a journey to the ‘more writing’ promise of my last post, but I find myself referring to the Rastafarian. I’m sticking with my original plan … news on the Rastafarian can wait.
So, being in writing mode, when I was asked if I would like to write a feature for a website on a movie of my choice, eagerly I agreed. A thousand words. Two thousand words later and still counting, I thought I needed to stop. The dog thought I needed to stop too. It took me longer to edit it than to write it. The trouble with editing, is that in sifting through your work in order to glibly slice swathes of it out, you find yourself re-wording the stuff that is staying, sometimes in lengthier ways and also thinking of new material to add. But I almost got there … I was granted an extra 600 words so the finished product was 1,600 words and now I am the proud owner of a feature about one of my favourite flicks (Georgy Girl) published on a movie website. I am, officially, a guest contributor now and am writing a review for another movie. Indeed, when I sat down at my iPad today (doesn’t have the same ring as ‘type-writer’ or ‘computer’, does it?) I had to choose between writing that and my blog. But as I should re-watch said movie first and the sun was pouring forth Mediterranean warmth, I chose my blog as I could sunbathe simultaneously. Multi-tasking at its best. Earlier this week, when I wanted to sunbathe but felt guilt pangs about neglecting the house, I weeded the garden. So sunny was the weather and so keen was my desire to tan my tummy, that I have weeded the whole garden.
Some time ago I took the Rastafarian to court for money he owed me. He agreed to repay me at the paltry rate of £20 PCM but it was better than the alternative, which was nothing. He did not begin the repayments and so a charge was put on his possessions. I knew he was at risk of eviction and concerned that the bailiffs would have a wasted trip if they visited him, I messaged him to ask if his eviction was imminent.
‘Yes,’ came the unusually straightforward response.
‘When?’ I asked.
My feelings were a jumble. Frustration, that I knew I had narrowly missed getting some of my money back after the inevitable sale of his goods, had the bailiffs seized them. Disappointment, at the lack of progress. Anger, that he had managed to dodge justice … Again. An indescribable feeling of slight nausea, at the reminder that this unscrupulous man had extorted so much money from me. And lastly, pity. He did not deserve my pity, but regardless of the carelessness with which he lived his life that had brought his lifestyle to its knees, the prospect of homelessness can’t be pleasant. And when an undesirable character endures an all-encompassing hardship such as being without a home, it is as if they have been stripped back to just themselves, so that there is nothing they can hide from you. He could not duck and dive out of this predicament, although I felt sure that he would. But who wants pity anyway? I don’t see my pity for the Rastafarian in a positive light and I doubt he would, either. He asked if he could come and live with me but, agonising though it was, I refused his plea for help. I have spoken to several people about this and the response is always the same – of course, you said ‘no’? Of course, I reply every time, because I did and so he isn’t living with me. I don’t want him living with me: we are not in a relationship, he has treated me badly, I intend taking in a lodger for my spare room, he would abuse my hospitality in every way possible but mostly by never leaving, my resentment for the treatment I have hitherto received from him would increase … I could continue. But my steadfastness flies in the face of values I hold dear, so my choice has not sat well with me. One person only understood but that is not a criticism of those who don’t; moreover, that one person did not figure largely in my life throughout my relationship with the Rastafarian and so conversely, perhaps it is he who is lacking comprehension and the others understand only too well why I had to say ‘no’. But if ever I need consoling, I can recall the words of one friend who wisely said, you can’t reduce the lives of your children to enhance the life of one who does not deserve it. And of course, one’s children are priority. Joseph has finished uni and although he is keen to find his own place, is at home until he does. Rhiannon is switching courses and so is at home also, for the foreseeable future, until she can take up a place on her new degree course. But even if they weren’t, it is the family home and as such, is there for the enjoyment of my family, not the Rastafarian.
However, it weighs heavily on my being that a man with whom I was in a relationship once, is living on the streets. I have stumbled across him a few times, with other people who are similarly bereft of a home and, presumably, family, or at least one that is in a position to assist. Usually, to be tactful, he is not clear-headed. He is always pleased to see me and asks for nothing. I can’t help recalling Simon and Garfunkel’s song I Am A Rock, because he seems that way now. He has no need of anything anymore. Evidently, he has a ready supply of alcohol and other recreational drugs and he never did eat much. It is summer, so the nights are kind to him and when I commented that he doesn’t smell as if he is sleeping rough, he said that he swims in the sea, fully-clothed, to wash himself and his clothes. He was getting sufficient money to get by through busking, but a fellow homeless person broke his guitar, so that particular avenue of income is no more. Recently, a friend said he could stay in her house whilst she was away, so currently, he has somewhere other than the pavement to lay his head and he has gained some work through one of his zero-hour contracts. He tells me that he is on a list for housing, so possibly, as Autumn gives us a taste of wintry nights and dark mornings, he will be able to pick himself up off the streets and find himself housed once more. There is little distinction between his life with a home and his life without a home. It was not out-of-the-ordinary for him to socialise with the homeless on the streets and on sultry, summer nights, he would not consider it strange to stay out till the first light of dawn, drinking, chatting, singing, dancing, in Pavilion Gardens or another ‘homeless hotspot’, soaking up the camaraderie and cheer only found in the summer months when being homeless seemed liberating rather than desperate. Foreign students would sometimes join the unofficial party, maybe not fully realising the situation; or realising, but not caring, because they could wobble home at some point to a comfy host house or hostel. At worst, the Rastafarian is a narcissistic, grasping, deceitful man capable of riding roughshod over people’s feelings and abusing their goodwill. At best, he is a complicated individual whose free-spiritedness is his best feature and the best way for him to live his life, without getting too close to people to eventually wound them. So being homeless seems to suit him, put bluntly. He does not appear to be adversely affected by his new-found state and so I take some comfort from this. He calls me and messages me but not compulsively, as before, presumably because of lack of funds. He is deluded to the point that he believes us to be in a relationship still, so rather than continuing to re-iterate this point, I ignore these delusions, pick up if he calls, reply if he messages me and chat to him if I see him down on the boardwalk or idling on the sparkly benches opposite the Theatre Royal. He does not deserve to lament my lack of hospitality, but I expected him to, so I am taken aback by his calm accepting of his dire circumstances. Perhaps this is old ground for him, or perhaps it is because this is a life not so dissimilar from his previous one, or perhaps it is because he survived a genocide, so any life is better than his experiences of hand-to-mouth survival. Or perhaps, just perhaps, the free spirit within is sitting back on his haunches and whispering in his ear … It just doesn’t get any better than this …
There has been a lull in the singing hobby, as The Dude has a cornucopian supply of reasons to not play at any more Open Mic nights, so I am very grateful for other offers of accompaniment. Also, my task of treading carefully around his feelings, to tell him that I wish to sing with other guitarists also, is made a little easier. In fact, it isn’t a task anymore, as I am presuming that he has lost interest in being a local musician. I am grateful for his commitment at the start, as I would not have attended the charity Open Mic night without it and therefore would not have attended the one at the slightly scruffy Art Deco cafe near to my home. And of course, it is because of my attendance there, that I gained two other accompanists. One of those is on holiday till September and the other has only offered to accompany me at the afore-mentioned Art Deco cafe (which, incidentally, is the very cafe where I was treated so kindly when I snapped my wrist). So, more time for writing, sorting areas of the house not yet sorted post-moving, meeting friends and looking for a job.
As for the last two, they became a little too intertwined … So, last year it was Toby Hunting (on the pretext of a day-long celebration that school was ‘out’ for the summer) and this year it was … Well, end of school forever for me. That school, anyway, so it was just ‘School’s Out’. My colleagues and I met at a beach bar at midday down on the boardwalk, moseyed up to a cocktail bar in the centre of town in the evening, giggled our way to a music bar in The Lanes later on and then rounded off the evening at The Folky Pub, having run through a labyrinth of alley-ways first, merrily sniggering at cheeky lingerie shops that weren’t even there anymore. I fell through the front door at around 1am, to find my children still up and conversing more lucidly than I was capable of doing at such a time after such a day. For some reason I took it upon myself to check my emails, only to find that I was being invited for interview at 8am the following morning. Now, I would have declined and requested a re-scheduling, but as I had missed the deadline for this job and begged them to consider my application, I felt obliged to accept the offer. Which I did. I even sent them an articulate reply and read it and re-read it for obvious howlers like kisses at the end and proclamations of drunken love and then proceeded to set my alarm for 6am, before taking myself off to bed. I was ready and waiting at 8am, my top half looking passable for a Skype interview. My bottom half was clad in blue and white stripy pyjamas, but they would never know this. I had coffee to rival Singapore Airlines’ jet fuel to my left, out of view (to be stolen in incremental gulps whenever my interviewer looked away) and the interview went oddly well. I wouldn’t recommend an early morning interview after an entire day of imbibing Prosecco, cocktails made from popcorn and ice-cream (during Happy Hour so I had two) and Guinness, but it does prove that the most unlikely outcomes are possible. I’m still awaiting news, as I’m still awaiting the result of my appeal against my redundancy.
Lovely Friend and I met up for Pride and to quote from a song, it really was one of those ‘lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer’. We basked on various patches of grass, some surrounded by over-priced (but delectable nonetheless) hippy food stalls and beer tents, where we deliberated over the cheapest way to drink as much Pimms as possible (pre-buying from a supermarket would have worked) … Others surrounded by nothing and no-one, just grass and azurean skies. We sang along with twinkly cabaret acts and danced in the streets – a throwback to our past lives, melting under bright stage lights and flitting from one side of the Dome stage to the other, trying to keep in time with 30+ kindred souls, not mindful of the finite nature of our youth and that there would be a last time we would see each other. Until recently – Lovely Friend, I know you are reading this, so just to say, I’m glad you are back in my world. We lost each other for a time and then found each other at another friend’s flat on the seafront, where we took time out from the revelries to drink lovely drinks and eat mojito flavoured popcorn (which is awesome, by the way). I’ve just realised that I’m wearing the pink jacket that Other Friend kindly loaned to me as I wasn’t really dressed for the street party anymore, after the evening stole the sun and replaced it with saddening skies. So, if you’re reading this, Other Friend – I will return it to you soon (it was much appreciated)!
Signing off to watch the meteor shower, as I believe it peaks tonight. I’m a tad premature, but maybe a rebel Perseid or two will give me a preview, as I may not stay awake for the full show. I gained nothing from last night’s stargazing, except a crick in my neck. I thought I saw a shooting star and in my excitement I took a step to the left and slipped on a slug. Would have been worth it for a shooting star, but it turned out to be a light-coloured moth flying at point-blank range.