Thursday, 25 March 2021
Tuesday, 23 March 2021
Saturday, 2 January 2021
Well, folks, at last 2021 is here and it couldn’t come soon enough for me. I expect it’s been the same for most people.
I’m normally a fairly bouncy, positive person. In fact, I’d say that being a positive presence was my ‘thing’. From childhood, I’ve seen it as my job to keep people smiling, to check that they’re okay and make it good if not. Only once I had done that with whoever was in the house or on the radar at the time could I get on with doing my own thing. I’m not an angel. I get angry with people, frustrated and, increasingly as I get older, rather bitter at contemporaries who’ve had better luck than me. But I have always tried to leave someone happier than I found them. In a frightful phrase of my own invention, I like to ‘spread sunshine’.
But last year wore me down to almost nothing. It was okay at first. Back in March, with a national lockdown, I felt I was doing my duty, that the loss of personal freedom would be worth it and, though I found it hard, I knew it was a lot worse for many other people and did what I always do - I looked for the good in a bad situation.
Then, just as we were coming out of lockdown and I was looking forward to shopping and cafe-sitting again, the Government introduced compulsory masks. I objected to the concept - didn’t feel it had a solid basis in science - so, rather than risk fights and dirty looks, I just didn’t go to the shops or my beloved cafes (where I did most of my writing and a lot of my thinking.) And I think that’s where the depression began to set in. I didn’t go beyond the bounds of my own house, the Climber’s house, and my regular walk on the hill behind my house for literally months - 3 months the first time then, after that brief foray back to sort-of normal life, another three months or so of seeing no-one but the Climber, the postie and the occasional person while I was out walking.
At the time, I didn’t think it mattered. I’ve always been the kind of person that makes the best of a bad job. Not just that, I almost relish a bit of adversity so that I can prove what a trouper I am. But the cumulative damage of being so relatively isolated, coupled with the feeling of being deprived of the small pleasures that make life easier - a bit of shopping, coffee with a friend, a couple of nights in a hotel in a new place - started to really make itself felt in the last month or so.
Added to this there have been family problems. In normal circumstances these would have been just part of the warp and weft of normal family life but 2020 was not normal circumstances. I feel as if I have spent almost the entire year supporting other members of my family, or dealing with problems originating with them and, unfortunately, it feels like there’s been little support coming back in the other direction. When I could have done with leaning on someone else’s shoulder for a while, instead I had to ‘be there’ for other people. The final straw was Christmas Day and its aftermath, with a succession of problems with my brother coming to a head. I won’t go into details here but suffice to say it has brought me almost literally to my knees. I have almost no resilience left.
But the Climber has been a star. It took him a little while to realise how bad I was feeling, how low, but he’s on board now, he’s trying to keep me perky, he’s distracting me when I get down and, slowly, gradually, I am beginning to climb out of the pit.
Sunday, 22 November 2020
Thursday, 19 November 2020
|Photo credit: Mariah on Flickr|
Until this week, I've tried to be brave about the difficulties I'm having with lockdown and masks and all the other nonsense we're being told to do. I told myself that I was in a fortunate position. I knew how much worse this crisis must have been for people with businesses, for people on low wages, for those at home alone ... and on and on. But, even so, I am now definitely suffering from stress and I can honestly say that I haven't felt this bad since grieving for the Golfer fifteen years ago.
It's insidious, isn't it? This creeping sense of futility. For me, it's come from the slow sense of loss of control over my own life - not being able to do the small things, like doing a bit of retail therapy, or getting away for a night or two, or even having friends round for dinner and a laugh. Until this week, I refused to join in with the compulsory mask-wearing and that meant just not going shopping. I got everything delivered or did without. Last weekend, I was so down, the Climber forced me to go out with him and so I broke my mask duck, so to speak. I went into my nearest large town for a proper shop this week for the first time in eight months. Eight months! I used to go in five days a week, to do a little shopping but mainly to sit in a cafe and write. (Okay - as you can see from the pic, I used to play Hearthstone and read as well but I DID write too!)
And so, for eight months, I have not done this. It's a small thing compared to the sacrifices other people have had to make, but this and other small sacrifices are really beginning to affect my mental well-being. Incidentally, although I had a lovely time at the shops, giving Waterstones and HMV lots of money, the mask wearing was unpleasant and I felt so sorry for the shop staff who have to wear the damn things all day. So I'm still down, I'm still depressed, I'm still feeling squashed. I've tried distracting myself. I've tried thinking of people worse off than me. I've tried keeping myself so busy that I don't have time to think. But none of it works for long. So, I thought I'd just share, in case anyone else is feeling bad too - you're not alone. We really are all in this mess together and I only hope that one day the people who landed us in it will be held to account.
Take care of yourselves - this too will pass...
Wednesday, 11 November 2020
Tuesday, 10 November 2020
I've been having some wonderful walks up the hill this autumn so I thought I'd share some of the images from my most recent walk - hope you like them...
Friday, 9 October 2020
I am a bookseller. Well, to be more exact, I used to be a bookseller. I closed my little internet bookshop, which I have run for 11 years, yesterday. And, honestly, this morning it feels good to be free. I seem to have spent most of my adult life serving other people, whether as parent, daughter, carer, pet owner or in my career. All my jobs have been book-related and serving the public - librarian and bookseller, both as proprietor and drone in Britain's largest chain bookseller.
Gradually, over the last fifteen years, my responsibilities have melted away, sometimes with joy, usually with sadness and grief. Parents died, husband died, son left home and increasingly went his own way, beloved dog died. Before I was fifty, I found that I had nobody (except the aforementioned beloved old dog) to look after any more, nobody to put first. It was not a situation I expected to be in. I'd always assumed that family would always be at the centre of my existence and the meaning in my life but it was not to be. Before you all get your tissues out and have a good cry, though, let me also say that it was tremendously freeing. Very difficult to adjust to (and I still am trying, fifteen years on) but there is no doubt the pleasure of only having to please yourself.
So, partly due to the current situation in the world and the stresses it has brought to all of us, and partly because I am now in my sixties and want to please myself for the first time in my life, I have gradually but steadily over the last few months grown more and more certain that I was ready to close the door to my little bookshop and do other things instead. Yesterday, I spoke to the folk at Abe and Biblio and all of a sudden that was it - my shop no longer existed.
Today, I must admit I am a little down but that's to be expected, I suppose. Selling books has been a part of my life for decades. Also, the Climber didn't help - I invited him to wander through the shop, picking out anything he wanted to take for himself and he spent most of the time saying "what a shame, what a shame" - not exactly what you want to hear when you're trying to look forward!
But I AM sure that I've made the right decision and I can't wait to do WHATEVER I want every morning when I wake up. And, best of all, I am now a book BUYER again and, instead of having a bookshop, I now have a private library that's mine all mine!
By the way - this ISN'T my library...but a girl can still dream, can't she?
Saturday, 3 October 2020
Friday, 2 October 2020
Say what you like about the Covid thingy, it's certainly brought the world together, if only because we are all suffering because of it. I don't know why I didn't think of picking up my blog again right back at the start of the pandemic, and particularly when lockdown was announced here, but better late than never.
So, what’s my tuppence-worth on this thing? Well, like a lot of people, I started off scared of the virus and completely compliant with the UK government’s instructions to lock down. Then, after a couple of months, as the government and the media were continuing to terrify us every day with tales of death and disaster, I began to have difficulty reconciling that with what was going on in my world. True, I live a quiet life in a quiet part of the world, but none of my loved ones had died (a thing I’m sure we were all preparing ourselves for at the beginning). In fact, none of my loved ones had even fallen ill. Trapped at home with only the Climber for company, and a few scattered family members to chat to online and on the phone, I got my information about the wider world from the postie and from the many, many delivery drivers that satisfied my need to shop. After about four months, after talking to them and hearing the experiences of the Climber’s many friends around the country, I knew personally four people who had caught the disease, and they all caught it abroad, skiing. Through wider contacts, I heard of three people who had died DUE to Covid-19 - one caught it abroad and sadly died, one went into hospital for cancer treatment, caught it and died, and the third, heartbreaking, account was of a man in his nineties in a nursing home who killed himself because he’d simply had enough - he wasn’t ill with Covid, he was one of the silent many for whom the ‘cure’ was worse than the disease. (I should add that, another three months on, I don’t know of anyone else to add to the sickness or death figures.)
Because of the mismatch between what the government and the BBC was telling me, and what I was seeing with my own eyes, I began to look for alternative sources of news. That’s a whole other story which I might save for another time but, suffice to say, I found myself peering down the rabbit hole and contemplating jumping in, head first. I pulled back, mainly because it was just adding to the stress so now I am back to alternately scratching my head at the bizarre and random decisions being made by Boris and Nicola Sturgeon, and shouting at the telly. That’ll do for now - just wanted to make a start...more to follow...
Tuesday, 29 September 2020
Well, folks, according to my records, it's been a couple of years since I last blogged here. I always seem to do it when I've fallen out with my boyfriend...so guess what? Here we are again!
What interesting times we live in. The Climber and I have quite a feisty life together as it is - surprisingly feisty for two such mild-mannered people - but 2020 has put extra strain on everybody's relationships and we're suffering, like everyone else.
Our most recent arguments have been specifically about how we each are dealing with the Covid situation. The Climber favours accepting everything the BBC tells him and obeying the restrictions we are subjected to, so long as they don't interfere with his climbing. I, on the other hand, while naturally a very conventional, law-abiding person, began to question what I was being told after the first scary couple of months. This, apparently, makes me a conspiracy theorist and a trouble maker.
I'll write more in the next post about Covid and stuff (just in case you hadn't had enough of the damn thing already) but that'll do me for just now. Hope you're all well and thank you for sticking with me through the long, long silence - I'm back!