Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Don't let them catwalk over you

I've been overwhelmed with fear. It had been a while, but Jack riding his bike to school for the first time, on his own, tipped me over the edge.

I watched a philosophy programme on TV the other day which had a beautiful image on it, which explains how I feel when I get so overwhelmed. The philosophy professor was sitting next to his pond, in which floated some water plants. He grabbed one, and said 'Imagine this plant doubles in size every day. Each day, where there was one, now there are two. It may take a hundred days for this pond to become half filled with water plants, but the next day it will be completely full.' That is how my anxieties seem to go. One day I'm doing well, functioning fine, but then the next day my whole pond is filled up entirely.

I'm working hard to clean up my pond. I'm trying to breathe. Be kind to myself. Think through worst case scenarios. I try to remember that even if he gets knocked off his bike sometime (I want to touch all the wood in the world even though I'm not superstitious), it's not going to help if I sit here worrying day and night. He may survive, too.

I was running in the park, worrying that my first novel is all I have in me, that my inspiration for this blog has run dry, that my knees may give out, that An, may she find her destiny in sparkly technicolor, is not happy, that Jack may be getting wet or hurt at his sports day, and so on, and so forth, and then I realised with clarity that the only way out of this bind I'm in is to embrace my fears, use them as fuel, look them in the eye, and transform them into something that means something to someone else. Which is why I'm sending out this little balloon - for you, for An, for anyone out there who needs it.

Be kind to yourself, look at your fears and use them. I will start by trying to be less stressed around Jack, and to put all that energy into taking care of him better. And by sharing this -

I believe it will help.

Friday, 4 September 2015


When I woke up this morning, I had to jump out of bed and run to the toilet. Too much information? Whatever. It's that kind of day. A tracksuit trousers, running to the toilet again, blue screen of death while I'm editing kind of day. And I have to go back to the locksmith for the third time because the keys I had made for Jack, who now cycles to school by himself and keeps falling off his bike, still don't work. The refugee photos, the weather, the anxiety about trucks driving close to my baby, are all fading into each other until I can't move.

I'm using this day as an excuse to take it a little easy. I'm still working, writing, editing, but I also watched a BBC programme about the Bloomsbury Set. I've often read bits of Virginia Woolf and always loved her writing, but I've never managed to read a whole book of hers all the way through. I think it was too disturbing, too close. I'm ready for her now.

It's a melancholy September day over here, with drizzly rain and the heating on for the first time this year. I need a cup of tea.

Thursday, 3 September 2015


You know what bugs me? These shows on TV where people look for a house, and they all use the word 'property' in every other sentence. I don't mind them looking for houses - I quite like to peek in other people's bedrooms, I'm always interested in how much the houses cost, and I like to shout at the TV if someone is being stupid because they 'simply will not compromise on having a dedicated and fully set-up model railway room' or something silly.

It's just that word property. As if that's the most salient thing about the house you will live in. That you paid for it, and that a piece of paper says that you own it. In the system designed by the people of your country, this part of it is now considered yours to do with as you see fit. Until you get evicted, or a hurricane comes, or the sea rises too high. And how far down does your 'property' go? Tunnels could be dug underneath, and surely we don't all own the core of the planet.

How presumptuous is it to think you can truly 'own' a piece of this planet? A piece you have to share with hundreds if not thousands of spiders, flies, mites, bacteria? A piece you have to take care of and leave for future generations? A piece that may be conquered by other nations, taken off you by the law, sued off you by someone with a better claim?

It reminds me of people who call themselves 'dog owners'. I've always found that odd. How can you 'own' an animal? A life? A being? I know that technically, legally, you do, in humanland - where animals can be bought and sold. But surely no one who loves their dog would truly want to own it. I suppose it gets murky once we're talking about animals to eat. If I ever allowed my mind to truly go there, I would have to go back to being a vegetarian again.

Back to the land, then. And the 'properties'. In my mind, it's much more respectful to speak of land, house, home. Less callous. Less financial. More human. More loving.