Tears Before Bedtime

Since you’ve been gone, today has been very difficult.

I guess the fact that sleep wasn’t much of a thing last night, set the day off on the wrong foot. But although the sun kept shining, there was no feeling of hope or optimism, and it’s not just me who seems to be in the doldrums.

Number 4 has had a very hard day. She was brave enough to initiate a conversation that was never going to be easy for her – and for which I applaud her. But it has set off a chain of upset and I think most of us in the house will have had tears before bedtime.

Which doesn’t really help the butterflies that have been gathering in my stomach all day long. I am looking forward to tomorrow. I really am. But I’m also not. As usual, I am a catalogue of contradictions. If I live to be 150, I think I will ever be thus.

Ah well. At least I’m honest about it.

Stay gold.

Quiet Domesticity

Since you’ve been gone, I have tried to keep myself busy.

The sunshine has been kind and allowed several loads of washing to be dried. In a fit of efficiency, I then ironed and put away the clean laundry. The house has been cleaned, vacuumed and tidied to within an inch of its life. Funny. I feel a bit like that myself. But it’s all to the good… for a few days, anyway. Until it all needs to be done again. Forth Bridge and painting rings a bell.

Still. The benefits of feeling a little bit in control of something cannot be underestimated.

Number 2 has come home for the weekend. As usual, she has brought with her an abundance of laughter. It’s a tonic to see her.

I watched a very strange, South Korean subtitled programme, with Number 4. One lead character said to another that she was so small, he could fit her in his heart with no difficulty, but was worried that because he was so big, she would be unable to keep him in her heart. I don’t remember the exact words. But they were very poignant, in a bizarre kind of way. The truth is, the heart is a hugely elastic muscle. When you think there couldn’t possibly be room for any more love – boom! – there it is.

Perhaps tonight I will be so tired from the day’s busyness that I will sleep well. Apparently, there’s a first time for everything.

Stay gold.

Change can really hang you up the most

Since you’ve been gone, I have been trying to embrace the positive. Ahead of my start date on Monday, I went to visit my new place of work and moved a few personal things in/ onto my desk. Mostly new items of stationery. And to be honest, any excuse to get new stationery! It’s almost been worth the pain of the last year and moving jobs, just to buy new pens and notebooks. Almost. But probably not quite though, hey. I am beginning to feel ready to face this new challenge. I hope my optimism doesn’t dessert me when my alarm goes off on Monday morning. Time will tell. Despite my confidence, I am still terrified. But I guess fear isn’t always a bad thing.

I spent the rest of the last Friday of the holidays doing things I mostly wanted to do. The sun was shining (a definite bonus) and I went into town, bought some new clothes, ate cake and drank hot chocolate. Tomorrow, of course, I will have to turn my attention back to household jobs. But today was mine.

There was a man in town, busking. He was playing classics like, ‘What a Wonderful World’ and was drawing an appreciative audience. For no other reason than that he was bringing music into my life, he reminded me of you. But it is also true to say that you brought a whole lot of wonderful to my world. It made me feel happy and sad, all at the same time. I guess I’ll have to get used to that.

There is a lot to look forward to and I am very much trying to focus on the future. That’s not so difficult when the days are sunny. But I know that there are clouds gathering on the horizon and at times it will be easy to lose sight of the sun. That’s when my resolve will be truly tested.

Change can really hang you up the most. I hope you will forgive me for stealing and, ironically, changing that phrase. To continue the song title thievery, I suppose it’s time to follow David Bowie’s advice. ‘Ch ch ch ch changes… turn and face the strange…’

Stay gold.

What Am I Gonna Do (With the Rest of My Life)?

They say that when you’re happy, you enjoy the music, but when you’re sad, you understand the lyrics. On this occasion, they, whoever ‘they’ are, are right.

There’s something really powerful about music and the connection it makes with our innermost beings. For me, nothing comes closer to echoing the cries of my heart than country music. I’m not talking about the modern pop that masquerades as country, but the classic artists, such as Merle Haggard, George Jones and Kris Kristofferson. Perhaps they’re not quite so fashionable as once they were, but as far as I’m concerned, ‘three chords and the truth’ will always resonate with me and never go out of style.

My heart is breaking right now, and nothing articulates my anguish better than my favourite country songs.

Consider some of the lyrics of:

‘What Am I Gonna Do (With the Rest of My Life)?’ By Merle Haggard
I can make it for a day or two without you
And maybe I can make it through the night
I can smoke I can drink and probably be alright until morning
But what am I gonna do with the rest of my life?

‘Looking For a Place to Fall Apart’. By Merle Haggard
Looking for a place to fall apart
Trying to find a place that I can leave my heart
I need to be somewhere hiding when I feel the teardrops start
Looking for a place to fall apart.

‘He Stopped Loving Her Today.’ By George Jones
He said “I’ll love you till I die”, she told him “You’ll forget in time”
As the years went slowly by, she still preyed upon his mind
He kept her picture on his wall, went half-crazy now and then
He still loved her through it all, hoping she’d come back again
Kept some letters by his bed, dated nineteen sixty-two
He had underlined in red, every single “I love you”
I went to see him just today, oh but I didn’t see no tears
All dressed up to go away, first time I’d seen him smile in years
He stopped loving her today
They placed a wreath upon his door
And soon they’ll carry him away
He stopped loving her today.

‘For the Good Times.’ Kris Kristofferson
Don’t look so sad
I know it’s over
But life goes on
And this old world will keep on turning
Let’s just be glad
We had some time to spend together
There’s no need to watch the bridges
That were burning
Lay your head upon my pillow
Hold your warm and tender body
Close to mine
Hear the whisper of the rain drops
Blowing soft against the window
And make believe you love me
One more time
For the good times.

I could go on and on. There are so many of them. And each of them speaks to me like an old friend who knows every single thought, good or bad, and yet still loves me unconditionally.

The music doesn’t make my pain go away. Just now, I don’t believe the aching will ever stop. The best I can hope for is that I will learn to live with it. But what it does do is to remind me that I am not unusual – I am not alone. While I will never have the gift of words and music that these musicians were blessed with, I can share in their interpretation of what it is to be a human at their most fragile. And more than that, the music gives me permission to grieve.

In the Clink

In the way that these things usually happen, yesterday I stumbled across the meaning of an expression I have grown up using and never thought to question.

Well, I say ‘stumbled across’. More precisely, I walked past it. My route from Borough Market to the Golden Hinde on the south bank of the Thames in London (both subjects worthy of blogs all of their own!) took me down Clink Street and past the site of the infamous ‘Clink Prison’.  This place gave birth to the idiom, ‘in the clink’ – meaning, in prison.  A blue plaque on the wall of a building which now houses the Clink Prison Museum, celebrated its history as a ‘most notorious medieval prison’ and gave the dates of 1144-1780.  Just above this, a rather gruesome prop hung from the wall – a cage with a fake skeleton inside, leaving no one in doubt as to the kind of treatment anyone held at his/ her majesty’s pleasure were likely to receive.

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The site of The Clink Prison.

A gaggle of people were grouped outside the entrance to the museum, looking excited about going inside and having a tour of all the delights that lay within, and I was struck by a shiver of distate, similar to one I experienced many years ago when visiting the dungeons of Warwick Castle.  What passes as amusement for us modern day folk was a death sentence to those poor unfortunate souls who didn’t have the privilege of walking in and out at will. We take a macabre interest in the tales of torment of those who were inmates of The Clink, dungeons, or any other house of pain. We enjoy being horrified by the instruments of torture and the stories of those who suffered their use. I wonder whether they ever thought their last, dark days would one day be the stuff of a ‘good day out’?!

These days, we all like to think that we are so much better than our ancestors. No longer do we find it acceptable to seek out public executions, watch men fight it out to the death in the arena, or animals pitted against each other in cruel and violent ways.  But is human nature really any different? Have we really moved on in our collective thinking? We all like to revise history to suit our modern sensibilities. Judgements are passed on all those who went before us, and the further their beliefs and actions depart from the perceived wisdom of the day, the more vitriolic we are in our sentencing of them.  I sometimes wonder what future generations will think of our behaviour, and how uncomfortably we will writhe under the microscope of our great grandchildren’s ideaologies.

The popularity of such places as the Clink Prison Museum, would suggest that time passes and fashions change, but we will always love the rather less wholesome stories of our forebears. Whether because it excites our historical interest, or out of a sense of ‘there but for the grace of God, go I’, we are fascinated by the gory details. And please don’t think I consider myself to be any different! Given a little more time and disposable cash in my pocket, I might have been tempted inside for a closer look. For my own future reference, and in case anyone here is interested, the link to The Clink is here: https://www.clink.co.uk

Continue reading “In the Clink”

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

When I first decided to start my own blog, I was more excited than I had been in a long time about anything, and I was dreaming big. I wanted to write about ideas, music, people, places … anything! Anything that grabbed my attention. I thought it would be cool to be able to share my perspective on the world with someone other than my long-suffering cat, and to give others a glimpse of what it’s like to see life through Kat’s eyes.

I love talking. Proper talking. The kind of talking that goes on late into the night and digs deeper than the obvious, asking all the probing questions. (Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Why does a brown cow have white milk when it’s always eating green grass?!)

I also love writing. As the years have rolled by, more and more often my writing seems to have been limited to proof reading and typing other people’s words. Not that I have any objection to making a living, but that’s not as fun as it sounds. (And there are no prizes for guessing how much fun it actually is!)

So blogging. That’s just combining the two, isn’t it? With the added attraction of making it look pretty with pictures and maybe throwing in some links to audio-visual treats. What could be better?

But after navigating my way through the sign up and set up process, I have finally sat down to a blank page and an even emptier mind, and I am suddenly doubting myself.

What if I have nothing to say?

What if nobody reads it?

What if nobody likes it?

Then I realised, there are always a million reasons to doubt yourself. A thousand excuses why it’s not worth bothering to try something new. Countless other more important things on which to spend your time. And sometimes, you only have one opportunity to prove yourself wrong.

When was the last time you did something for the first time? For me, it was today. Not only that, I’m still in the process of doing it. If I’m honest, I still have absolutely no idea what I’m doing, how it’s all going to pan out, or where it will end up taking me. I’m still familiarising myself with this site and how everything works. At the present moment, I actually have no idea how to add those interesting pictures and links I referred to back there.  Please bear with me, while I bear with myself!  I can’t let the not knowing stop me.  We all have to start somewhere, sometime.  Well I am here, and my time is now.