Neighbourhood Watching – Part Three

I made another cake yesterday for my lawn-mower, not my lawnmower. He was out fishing all day but came round later to say thanks for the cake, we had a chat about the landlady about to move in next door (between us). He let slip a gem or two – his wife Candy is a Mason – (oh gosh)  the Landlady found out and asked to be nominated, she was desperate to join. She got her way and was inducted into the sisterhood. Not long after that her trouble-making character worked its way to the surface and she accused Candy of slashing her car tyres. Hard to imagine as Candy is fairly round and doesn’t bend in the middle easily, so she would have to use a long-handled knife to reach down to slash.

When I awoke this morning, it was quiet, no-one else was awake and it was silent next door. I remembered that Stomper had gone from number 45, he had saved up his empty bottles to throw into the recycling at 1:21am the night before last and I had seen him cross his back garden in the late afternoon yesterday but no goodbyes, I was up a ladder painting the bathroom ceiling and couldn’t have run down in time. I had hoped to wish him well, thought he would knock to say goodbye but I guess he had plans.
All the pots of dead plants have gone from the garden, if you can call it that, its more like a car park really, 5 years ago the Landlady had every blade of green removed and replaced with pink concrete car park, reaching from the house to the garage at the end and from fence to fence, side to side. Not a good look for a suburban back garden but mercifully the pinkness is less shocking now, lichen, dust and moss have arrived and made it their own. Although now there are numerous circles and squares of brighter pink where the pots once stood, to remind me of his time there, that and the welcome silence in the small hours.

Its Jubilee Weekend, so in traditional British fashion, the weather has turned grey, damp and cold. All plans to strim the 3ft long grass in my back garden have been put on hold and I have retrieved my winter cardigan from the back of the wardrobe.

On Saturday I went to a party and met a woman I hadn’t seen for 30 years, she had been a spinster whilst we were all marrying and having kids. Dilys looked almost the same, at 25 she had looked 50, now at 60 she looks comfortable as though she has reached her proper age. Later I found out that for 15 years she’s had a lover, with whom she doesn’t socialise but keeps entirely to herself. He is a one-eyed Jamaican ex-convict.

I felt around in my bag for the  turquoise rubber pod that keeps the keys from scratching anything. At midnight, there I was at my door, worse for wear after more than a few glasses of red wine, no-one at home, the neighbour with my spare set always retires at 10:30pm. I tipped the contents of my bag out onto the lid of the rubbish bin, whilst waving my hand above my head to get the PIR sensor to turn on the porch light. No keys to be had, which of my neighbours could I approach for shelter, the Shouters wouldn’t hear, the “Widow” would be petrified to open the door, I didn’t want to wake the newborn twins, I was  too wary to ask the Assassins even if they had been there. Stan would still be up but I think I’d only go there as a last resort. I found my mobile phones, called a friend who I knew would still be awake, a 10 minute walk and I was tucked up safe and warm. In the morning  my daughter and I found the keys lying on the side-table just inside the door.

At the corner near the flats, there is a lamp-post, it seems out of place standing alone in the corner of the lawn, a while ago, maybe two years back, someone tied a child’s lost scarf around it, hoping that the owner would come past again and find it there. It too was bright pink like the paving at number 45 but has faded and greyed over time. My daughter and I see it most times when we walk past and feel the urge to just untie it and throw it away but hesitate to actually do it, somehow it would feel wrong.

Chatting to a friend about my theory of the Assassins, explaining how they each have an eye that looks odd, she suggested “maybe they spend too much time peering through telescopes  or down the barrels of shotguns, watching and aiming and their eye muscles have become contracted causing each of them to squint”.

The quiet of Thursday afternoon was broken by a flurry of noise and motion. The Landlady had turned up with her kind, quiet husband and was shouting about something, we couldn’t make out what exactly. My daughter noticed that Shouter was out there too, ‘minding his own business’, kindly cutting the hedge of the father with the broken shoulder, as a cover for eaves-dropping on The Landlady. The gap between the hedges has been improved but now that it rains everyday, the pink flowers of the opposite hedge spray you with water if you get too close.
My dog-walking friend called today asking if I’d like to join her on a walk. We set off and on the next corner met the very short man coming back from a run in a gaudy orange and black track-suit. Despite many attempts I have never managed to engage him in conversation. Today was no exception, the tersest of nods and he was gone. My friend had challenged me to stop and ask him about his overgrown hedge but I didn’t have the nerve.

When Ken came to thank me for the cake, I mentioned that I was nervous about getting embroiled in confrontation with The Landlady, she can be difficult, we have adjoining gardens and my fence is very dilapidated, I’m waiting for a friend to help me replace it. The thought of trouble brought out Ken’s macho New Zealand  character  “If she gives you any trouble at all, just let me know and I’ll sort her out” Ah my knight in shining armour.

On Wednesday morning as I left the house I met a woman walking past, we grumbled together about the hedge. She lives around the back and across the road on the ground floor of some council flats. It used to be filled with couples and a few families who’d all been there for years, they kept it clean and filled the beds with flowers and helped each other out. Now she, at 86, is the only one who clears the drain so that the tarmac area doesn’t flood. And it is she who puts up with someone from the flats above throwing nappies out of the window aiming for the communal bins – and missing. Her parting remark, typical of that generation who suffered the hardships of WW2, “I feel so sorry for all those people who lost everything in the floods last week.”

There’s a man I often see out walking, he walks with an odd gait, very short steps, almost a shuffle. He has only a few teeth and habitually smokes roll-ups, in rhythm with the puffing on the fags, he puffs out his chest like preening bird. He is a jolly man always happy to pass the time of day with a smile and a toothless chuckle.

Neighbourhood Watching – Part Two

The Assassins keep themselves to themselves pretty much all the time, I think if you asked one of the neighbours to point them out in a crowd, they would fail. They don’t look around them as they come and go, it seems important to get from the street into the house without being noticed. I suspect that they have hypnotic powers, when you look into their eyes, you forget everything about them. I know I have asked their names several times but still don’t know them and I have never seen them anywhere except within 20ft of their property, not on the bus, in the shops, or anywhere.

Shouter Candy used to have a fancy man, who sometimes slept in her house or in his car out the back, if Ken  was away. Ken didn’t know about him and I was sworn to secrecy.
Candy tries to get me in her clutches so she can read my horoscope, tarot cards and tea leaves, I learned the hard way not to get caught. A two hour visit left my head full of far-fetched prophesies and a sore spot on my shoulder, as she has the most curious habit of prodding me to re-inforce every point she is making in each sentence.
I asked her to feed my cat for two days while I was away but she said she didn’t know how.
Ken and Candy upset the “Widow” next door because they built a conservatory, she felt it would stop her sunlight, it doesn’t but it was 5 years before she would speak to them again, even though Ken cuts her lawn too.

The Stomper gets his lawn cut as well, even though he has a mower and an alright back. Earlier this week I heard a mower out the front and thought that my lawn was being cut but no, it was the Stomper, cutting his own lawn but not returning the favour and cutting the Shouter’s, or mine.

Dawn, the purple and turquoise wearing absentee wife used to live here in numbers 20 and 22 all the time and taught at a local school. She was very energetic and gossipy. Now she rarely speaks, just nods and goes quietly about her business. I spoke to her a while ago, she’s been very ill with cancer in one eye but she is recovering and philosophical and there is a vestige still of her energy.

In our little pedestrian area there are thirteen houses and two flats, laid out in an L-shape with odd numbers 39 to 50 on one side and even numbers 18 to 24 on the other, the two flats in the corner. No-one knows where the other numbers in the series are.

In the upper flat, lives the German Walker, she’s out all the time striding purposefully, dressed for English weather. She is friendly but shy, so we stick to weather comments as required by the British Stiff Upper Lip Society. She grows flowering plants on her East-facing balcony whilst dreaming of English lawns rolling gently down to a slow green river, bordered by cottage garden plants staked out with twigs to keep them upright during summer showers.

Number 50 had a new porch built a few years ago with a luxurious downstairs bathroom for the elderly lady friends who lived there. As is the way of these things, one of them died quite soon after – the one who could no longer climb the stairs. They and their husbands had met as students in the 50’s and they had spent their whole lives living near each other, holidaying together, retiring together, the two wives moving in together when their husbands died. One of them was called Phoebe, we had a cat called Phoebe, they loved our cat, she loved them. Our flirtatious cat would watch and wait each morning for the two ladies, to be made a fuss of as they passed by to run their errands. Later she would follow them home for afternoon tea. Now our Phoebe has gone and the other Phoebe lives alone with her luxurious downstairs bathroom.

Around another corner from there, in the proper street lives the Man with no Nose, actually he does have a nose, he just can’t use it for smelling, he lost his sense of smell on a hillside a long time ago. Tall and skinny, he wears a battered old leather hat with a wide brim, some kind of stetson maybe and he carries two miniature dogs around in shopping bags. He told me his sad tale – ‘walking in the countryside one summer’s day on a hillside I nodded to the walkers passing by, “lovely spot for a walk” “yes but  a shame about the smell, we won’t be coming again” – “what smell?”  “the pig farm, down below” He had  turned and looked down on a vast field of pigstyes and it dawned on him that he no longer had a sense of smell. Just occasionally though he can smell shampoo when his daughter blow-dries her hair.” He is wistful but surprisingly not angry.

Stan from numbers 20 and 22 is the kind of man who leans slightly forward as he walks and doesn’t put his heels down to the ground, he looks tense and alert, at the ready to jab or to run. He comes and goes with a furtive look, as though he might have something to hide. When the weather is good he hangs out his washing on the line in his garden, which runs right across the view from my sitting room window.
Today it is seven pairs of mid blue heavyweight Y fronts, yesterday it was blue shirts and a purple vest, though there is never any of his intermittent wife’s laundry

The Man who cannot smell used to have the same kind of car as I did, a blue Renault Megan Scenic, he parked it on a corner one evening, quite close to a house with a wooden fence. During the night, his car spontaneously ignited, the fire spread to the fence and into the corner house. No-one was hurt . Later I heard the happy ending – the neighbours opposite invited the elderly man, who was terminally ill, to live with them so that they could look after him whilst his burnt out house was rebuilt. How ironic that the man with no nose whose car had caused the fire, was the only person in the area who couldn’t smell the acrid after effects that hung all over the neighborhood.

On a far corner to the south, lives a Japanese woman who has built a Oriental garden where each part and plant is tended with patience and purpose, it is calm and decorative, a place for contemplation. Her black and white cat sits on a shed roof and waits for my daughter to walk by, they have a mutually beneficial relationship of cooing and purring, stroking and rubbing.

The Sri Lankan boy who seemed to grow 2ft overnight and his petite sister lived at 24 for a while, once I heard them laughing loudly and looking out of my bedroom window to see them in their back garden, the two of them spinning the rotary airer around. What was is making them laugh so much? Then I saw their cat up inside the wires, clinging on and terrified.

Stomper is moving out this week, he just told me that the new people are moving in straight away, except that they’re not new – SHE, the landlady from hell and her husband are moving in, in order to do it up before selling. There is also some suspicion that she is giving this house as her usual abode in order to sell it without incurring CGT – I hope that’s not true but its really none of my business!

The Assassins worked in the back garden again today, lots of noise of stone cutting equipment, shifting of gravel and general noises of bodies being buried. I’m surprised they didn’t wait until dark but I suppose they can just about do it without being seen as the shrubs are well-placed to conceal most of the garden. How does one broach the subject of a contract I wonder, this is highly theoretical of course, I could never really ask them to dispose of the Landlady – could I?

Meanwhile the hedges which were 18 inches apart are now only 16 inches apart as all the lovely pink flowers have bloomed, its very pretty but now too narrow to allow two people to walk side by side or to pass each other. How can I muster the courage to ask him to cut it back? Perhaps I should start a “Petition on the Restriction of Hedges” after all there is a clause in our Leasehold document that states “The frontage of each property is restricted to be laid to lawn with a single small tree allowed in the centre of each plot, no other plants or surfaces may be allowed.”

Neighbourhood Watching

In the bright morning sun, birdsong is the sound that wakes me, living in my 60’s terraced house on a pedestrian way in a London suburb.
Suburbia though, as we know, has dark undercurrents. Here is no exception, not sinister perhaps but odd. Over the years I have absorbed compelling details of my neighbour’s lives and habits.

The couple at 41, in their early 40’s are assassins, they live here only about a third of the time and they each have matching strabismus in one eye. They never draw their curtains and they do “Projects” in their back garden which involve earth moving, gravel and big chunks of wood. They cycle a lot and leave at odd hours of the night with large full suitcases.

The man at number 20 also lives at the adjoining number 22 connected via a single door between the third bedroom of number 20 and the main bedroom of number 22. He lives alone, with two of everything. He has a wife who wears a lot of purple and turquoise but she lives somewhere else. He is trying to kill the listed tree in his back garden.

Number 45 is the rented home of the Stomper who is addicted to stair-walking, he cannot resist going up and down, fast, furiously and noisily multiple times in a row, I’ve lost count at eleven times in a continuous session. He likes also to save empty bottles to throw casually into the recycling box adjacent to my bedroom window at three a.m. Incidentally his landlady, who mercifully visits rarely, is quite the rudest and most offensive person I have met.

A “widow” in inverted commas because her husband is still alive, lives alone at number 49, he lives in a home, having mislaid his mind somewhere, almost 10 years ago. She has to visit him every single afternoon, where she must watch him sleep for 3 hours before returning to her solitary marital home. If she misses a visit he becomes violent. She is frail and pale but has a steely look in her eye and a laugh like a peal of bells, but we don’t get to hear it often enough.

The Shouters are less noisy since he retired from being a pub manager, he used his lump-sum to double-glaze the windows so now they only disturb me in the summer when the windows are open. She emits loud rants about immigrants taking our jobs, and writes horoscopes, he only ever shouts the one word “Candy!”. He doesn’t know that she is 13 years older than he thinks she is, he likes to go fishing in the early morning, leaving at the same time as the assassins who then don’t know which way to look.

At the corner, there lives a short man with a very big shiny car. He won’t cut his hedge so now that summer’s new growth is here, the path has narrowed to a mere 18 inches. I think the problem may be that he is simply too short, he forgot all one summer and then it was too high and now he’s embarrassed to be seen next to a hedge nearly twice as tall as he.

Further to the hedge issue, the new couple opposite bought the house from an old Burmese lady  who had never cut her hedge either. I had high hopes when they moved in as he started slashing away at undergrowth in the garden which brought him good luck and bad, she gave birth to twins but a week later he broke his shoulder and three fingers in a cycling accident. The listed tree in their back garden is now 90% dead as the local ‘‘tree surgeons” employed earlier by the previous owner, were actually butchers and did a very good job.

Candy’s husband cuts my front lawn as I have a back problem and in return I make cakes for him, which I like to make but can’t eat as I am trying to regain my girlish slimness and Candy can’t eat because she is diabetic. Always chocolate, prune and almond polenta cake, I gave some to the new parents opposite too. The grass in my back garden is now more than 2ft tall and lurking within in it, like sunbathing lions, are an old basin and bidet which the plumber refused to take away with him two months ago when he worked on my bathroom. I don’t own a car and can’t take them to the dump on the bus as it doesn’t go that way.

At the opposite end live another new family, a girl born 6 months after they moved in is now the charming thief of the little inedible fruits  on my weeping ornamental cherry tree, she speaks Spanish and English and calls out “Bolas, bolas” in chirpy excitement as her tiny fingers force them from their twigs.

The Stomper is due to move out, the landlady wants to sell, so I am eager to discover who my new neighbours will be, the previous occupant was from a Gospel Church and held prayer-meetings there three times a week,  worshippers came and went like a tide, twenty or so at a time,  streaming across my lawn with a flurry of bell-ringings, greetings and door-slammings.

The much missed previous occupants of the Assassin’s house were renting; a shy Scottish architect who painted portraits of his house-mate in bright shades of green and orange and the sitter, a lithe young man from Brazil who liked to dance pirouettes in the living room but suffered from migraines. He was an I.C. nurse at St Thomas hospital. I met him again by chance last year and he told me of how his migraines had been caused by a tumour from which he almost died soon after they had moved from here.

Their landlord had been a young man who wanted to change the world, he left to sail around the oceans on the Raleigh International Project,  helping young people to learn about the world and themselves. He left 26 small Cyprus trees in his garden and returned eight years later when they were 26ft tall, with his New Zealand wife and baby. My garden had been in darkness for years, on that first day, I asked him tentatively “could you maybe cut back your trees a bit ? “ He smiled and nodded. Early next morning I looked out of the window, a scattering of cut greenery and an abandoned machete was all that was left. Sunlight has bathed my house and garden ever since, though the energetic young seafarer has long gone, he’s building a paradise above the clouds in Costa Rica.

William Fiennes and First Story

William Fiennes, our tutor and author of The Snow Geese and The Music Room has started a writing initiative in schools with Kate Waldegrave called First Story. He told us about it whilst we were at Totleigh Barton and I wanted to pass it on, its such a positive scheme and is helping to bring out powerful new young authors. William read us some examples, that were rich with the imagery and language expected in professional writings and yet they were written teenagers. Each student involved in the scheme gets their story included in an anthology which are for sale on the First Tory website. You can also find out about donating, volunteering or even watching cricket.

Story-writing

I feel I’d like to invent a new genre, not just Fiction nor Faction but Friction – studying the abrasive contact areas between people – here is my somewhat adult themed story, not for people of a nervous disposition. NB this is a story not a memoir.

Reprisal

The vain hairy man had been enticed to come to me again, he was easy to trick into submission, he responded well to flattery.

He was lying on the bed on his back, naked, his limbs heavy and unresponsive, his breathing slow.  Tall and overweight he filled my bed, his arm swung out wide nearly reaching the other side.
The gas fire was keeping the room warm and dimly lit. I had long enough to take my time and be very thorough.

I was well-prepared with pots of cream, wax strips, cotton buds, scissors and tissues, sleeping pills, his Gillette razor, a plastic sheet to cover the bed. I knew exactly each step I was going to take and how it would be done.

His clothes, as always the pale chinos, checked shirt and black corduroy blazer thrown on the chair, the black suede crepe-soled shoes below. His boxers lay on the floor where he had stepped out of them leaving a hollow form of his shape. I was tempted to throw them all out.

I took photographs to record him like this in the blueish light, lying there languid, peaceful and unguarded. His chest hair, the bushy eyebrows and curled eyelashes. His genitalia, the centre of his world. His hands, the short fingers that I didn’t like.

It was an effort to get the plastic sheet spread out over the bed beneath him and to roll him onto his front, his head pointing away from me, clear of the plastic, I didn’t want him to suffocate.

How might he feel if he knew what was about to happen, beyond his obvious horror, I couldn’t guess but he wasn’t going to be given the chance to change my mind. His wine glass stood empty on the bed side table, just a trace of white powder in the bottom.

Wearing a disposable apron I worked fast, shaving the greying wiry carpet across his back and shoulders and on his buttocks and legs. Then smearing the cream to remove every trace, his flesh soft and freckled made me feel queasy. I scraped the mess away with the plastic spatula that came with the tube and wrapped the stuff in tissues, I washed him down with warm water and blue j cloths wiping away the smears of shaving soap, cream and hair, rubbed him dry with the old towel I had kept for drying my cat.

I turned him over, laying him on his back, arms and legs akimbo.

The skin of his chest and belly was delicate I didn’t want to cause damage by scraping too hard. This was about humiliation not physical damage, the familiar patterns disappearing, his torso turning pale and smooth as I worked, looking more like a side of pork than a man, physical beauty reduced to a slab of pale, flabby meat. The physical changes altered my perception of him too.

I shaved away his greying beard and moustache, leaving the cream longer to make him seem baby-faced and unable to grow a beard. I cut him a couple of times, tiny nicks, on each one I pressed a piece of torn tissue and left it to dry. I smeared the paste on his eyebrows, waxing and pulling would surely wake him. I tried plucking out his eyelashes with tweezers but his lids were too slack revealing his eyes beneath, watching me so I snipped them off instead, the cut hairs lay curled in rows across his cheeks reproaching me but I took a photo, then just blew them away.

His hair had been the first thing I’d noticed about him. Back then it was long and curly and made a kind of halo round his face as he stood against the light. He would spend too much time looking at himself, from various angles in the mirror applying stuff to make it stand up more or at least stay where he put it. Now it was grey, cut short but still curled between my fingers.

His ears looked too small, tight against his head as though they had never properly unfurled.The skin stretched taut on his skull was blueish, gleaming in the soft light as it was uncovered by the razor.
His flesh felt repulsive, cold and clammy, under my hands and though some areas had flushed pink as I’d scraped and rubbed, everywhere now had a pale and bloodless look.
Standing up to stretch my back I saw what I had done, a single moment of remorse then his face was alien already, no longer the man I knew, hardly a man at all.

All the detritus of hair covered cloths, empty tubes, clumps of soggy tissues went in a black sack along with the plastic sheeting and apron, the spatulas, razor, scissors and the towel.
I took more photos in harsh flash-light then showered, washed away the last of his semen and erased the smell of his skin on mine.

I wanted him to see what I saw, I printed out one of the photos  and wrote a message on the bottom in black felt tip pen and propped it up where he would see it when he woke.

I stood thinking back on our years together in the shared room on the third floor of No 7 Chantry Road with the bath directly below the attic window,  and of how comprehensively I’d been fooled. Those malignant scenes were becoming as distant stills from an old film, fading into grey.

The taxi would be here soon, I sat by the gas fire and sipped the rest of the wine as the sun came up above the roof tops to the east and thought about nothing very much.

The Arvon Foundation

Here I am at Arvon, it’s raining but that doesn’t detract from the atmosphere at all. We spend our time in the company of two excellent writers and tutors, Mark Haddon and William Fiennes. We talk from dawn till lights out about writing, we do short workshops and read our efforts out loud to each other, 16 wannabes in awe of the prose of the Pros. Tears and laughter are both common as is the red wine in the evenings. Learning is accelerated and confidence grows. Tomorrow we must each read out our chosen texts of just 5 minutes length. Of course these snippets are still being composed, their authors frantic and emotional hiding in their private writing spaces, the garden, the barn, their beds or the sitting room. Everyone thinks their work is rubbish and everyone else’s is fabulous. No prizes though just the gift of a head full of ideas and hope that we can take the best quality advice of the tutors and cut, cut cut to the bone, to reveal the magical ability of inspiring complex realistic images in the minds of our audience. I might post my story here . . . But I might not . . .

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Writing Week

I have signed up for a residential writing week in May – taught by William Fiennes (The Snow Geese) and Mark Haddon  (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time) in the gorgeous, extremely rural setting of Sheepwash in Devon under the auspices (love that word) of the Arvon Foundation. I have attended a couple of writing workshops before and I’m really looking forward to this one “Adventures in Imagination”. I am definitely not a poet and in writing memoir I tend to become somewhat mawkish (best avoided), whereas I admit to loving the feeling of telling a true story with plenty of lies/embroideries chucked in for fun.

Here are a couple of pieces I wrote a while ago

Urgashay – Memoir

The smell of apples, a little bruised, takes me back to Urgashay and memories of my family Somerset home in those peaceful post war years.
Arranging autumn’s crop in the barn loft, placing them in rows on makeshift tables bowing under their weight. “Give me the brown spotted ones for the kitchen” reminds Auntie Dot, making room for another crop, “not one must touch another or they’ll all rot” warns Ernie.
The weekly ritual of cleaning seven pairs of shoes, that was my job, to clean everybody’s shoes, brushes clearly marked Brown On, Black Off and their counterparts.
Learning to jump – leaping from outside steps, out and down to the bouncy safety of the old mattress lying in the yard. Timidly at first and then at last – with a push on the back from brother one – jumping from the top with fearless exhilaration.
The sticky smell of hot Stokholm tar applied with sticks to the bottoms of the hundred deep litter chickens, to stop them pecking at each ther, the clenching of their rectal muscles and their deafening, affronted squawking.
Secret asparagus – the thrill of finding hidden spears in the long grass, squeezed into a little patch of earth by the electric fence of the top field and the row of swishing pines.
Breakfasting on cold-milk cornflakes in the hot summer Sunday sun at the long split oak-log table made with my dad’s endeavours.
Daring to copy my brothers crawling climb along the concrete topped wall wide as a yard but feeling narrow as a knife, then the steep upward curving corner all in one go, “don’t stop” to the top, way above my tall mother’s head.
My brothers and I all in our measles uniform of old-stockinged arms, safety pinned to pyjama shoulders, an invention of my attentive mother to stop us scratching.
Dancing in the dark of the panelled dining room in my daddy’s arms to ballet music, always Delibes’ Coppélia.
The four adults and three of us, three generations in three pairs and then me the youngest child, we all had our jobs, all had our place.
Then brother one sent away to school and brother two, with polio, taken away too.
“Tell me when are they coming home?”

And below – a perfect example of mawkish, poor poetry – I am determined not to write like this anymore, mind you – I don’t feel like that anymore, thankfully.

My Well of Sadness

My well of sadness overwhelms me
fed from sources lying deep below the surface.
Like water, it seeps and flows and finds its own level.
It belongs not only to me, it is all the world’s supply
Everyone’s sadness is there for me to feel
I have no option than to haul it up bucket by bucket
Perhaps to nourish and give succour to living things
Or lie in pools to evaporate in the sun.
To empty it of sadness and fill it up with joy

Tiredness makes me want to quit, to hold it at bay with
A granite boulder that’s fits so snugly
That I can’t hear the damp dripping echoes
Or see the beauty of the moon flickering on the surface

And so the days go by, in hope that my well will run dry
but it is ever deeper and the sun seems weak and watery
I am awash in cold damp despair and long for a time
when my well was filled with hope.

And to end on a cheery note – for a recent birthday I made spongecake ducks on an alumnium foil pond with huge candles – the ducks cooked in a little vintage French chocolate mould I found in a shop in Paris.