Wednesday, 21 May 2014
Places and petals
I do apologise for not having posted for so long. Hopefully, I am getting my mojo back now, after so many weeks of being ill, followed by depression and worries. I might even be able to start writing again. Haven't even looked at my book for weeks.
Have you ever lived in a place you really disliked - a place that doesn't suit you at all? That has been one of my problems for the last seven years, since Mr Grumpy had his strokes and I moved from the vitality and camaraderie of my corner of north London to look after him. Day after boring day, I found myself wilting like an unwatered flower. There was just nothing to DO around here! None of the things I was used to, including the ability to dive down to central London in half an hour, to meet friends or see a show, and get home easily, perhaps even in a cab. And even if there had been something, there was nobody to do it with and I am too shy to go to group events on my own.
No theatre on the corner, no Sunday poetry readings, no old time music hall in the pub. No dashing out for a coffee or a snack with friends, or a glass of wine in the evening. No dinner parties. No friends - because nobody wanted to make the trek out to the sticks where, after an hour and a half on the tube or train, they then had to wait for a bus to take them the final two miles. (Nobody wanted to drive down the North Circular, either, and who can blame them!)
As months grew into years, I sank deeper and deeper into myself. Mr G has never liked going out, and his illness made him even fonder of the sofa. In my fifties, I was living like my parents did in their eighties, spending every single night in front of the TV, Mum with a glass of whisky and the cat, and Dad with a cup of tea and the newspaper (or, in Mr Grumpy's case, his android pad). It got so that going out by myself - making that trek - seemed too much effort, especially once Mr G gave up driving and a ten minute run to the station because 45 minutes on two buses. And that's before the real journey even began!
Things became a bit better when I made a friend in the area, a woman of my age and a spookily similar background, both from the north of England, both having worked as journalists, and both having been involved with music and literature. Then my new friend was diagnosed with cancer and has bravely fought it over the last year and is now, we hope, in the clear. She is not a 'popper-outer'. She likes a properly organised event. So on Friday night we are going to see an amateur production of an Alan Ayckbourn play, a first for me as I am not familiar with his work at all.
She has also been kind enough to run me to Ruislip for a series of anti-ageing facials I am having (don't laugh) and together, we have discovered that Ruislip is a fantastic place. We're both very excited about it. It's got everything that my own area lacks. Lots of arty events, a gallery, a wonderful weekend market and the most amazing historical buildings dating back to the 13th century. Yesterday, we stood by the duck pond, looking at hordes of fluffy ducklings and baby coots while a dragonfly whirred by. We have discovered that the local Cafe Rouge does the most divine fish cakes, and you can have coffee and cake for around £4. (Yesterday, we had lunch AND coffee and cake!)
I don't think I will ever grow to love this part of outer west London. I ache and yearn to get back to Highgate and East Finchley, to walk over Hampstead Heath, to return to streets that were home to me from 1968 to 2007. But I feel slightly better now I have discovered Manor Farm and have made a good new friend to explore with. I think I have been homesick and lonely for ages. (I went for a psychic reading at the spiritualist church and was told it was as if I had fallen into a deep pit and was trying to climb out. That's exactly how it felt.) Years ago, I used to tell people I would never feel lonely as I had too many interests. Oh, how naive that smug statement was! But I feel that my spirits are starting to rise now. I have found somewhere to go, somewhere to walk, somewhere that feels like 'me' and, having started to worry that I was going mad, I now feel more like my old self. Still a bit fragile, but lifting my petals to the sun.