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Trying again, having failed to complete last month. (Not entirely my fault - two days of refusing to let me post pushed my patience to the limit.)
Today has hurt, though less than I feared. I miss you so much that this - anniversary? - is only a little more painful than the rest of my days without you. Did you think of me at all today?
I was so tempted tonight to read your blog. But I am scared of what I might find there: words written about me in anger. Or worse, nothing, no acknowledgement of my existence.
To the woman whose dog was tied up outside the shop:
I'm sorry it offended you that I tried to let you know that the poor baby had been frightened by the automatic shutters closing.
Iím sorry you were so busy with your shopping that you didnít hear me call in to ask whose he was.
Iím sorry I took time to check there was someone to look after him when he was upset and standing in a pool of his own urine.
Oops! I got it wrong! I
Ė Iím sorry that you are an ill-tempered, thoughtless, ungrateful bitch.
I slept late, and was reluctant to wake and get moving. I really need a holiday, so it's good that I have some leave booked soon. I hope the weather holds, as I need to visit the seaside - I am beginning to crave the sound of the sea, the rhythm of the waves.
I feel that I am marking time right now - for what, I don't know. Everything feels slowed down, and motivation is hard to find except in brief bursts of enthusiasm or creativity.
Perhaps the autumn will bring the fruit that summer is lacking.
Hot sand dunes, the sand fine and shifting, sifting through my bare toes. No sense of time, no watches - Mam will find us when it's time to eat.
Caterpillars on the scrubby bushes, yellow and black striped. I let them walk all over my hand. Someone told me they were poisonous, but I don't care.
Watching the batter turn into doughnuts, sizzling in the hot oil - they burn my fingers, and I have to blow on them to cool them enough to cram the sugary, crisp and soft greasiness into my mouth as soon as possible.
We always stayed in my aunty's caravan. It felt quite crowded, especially on rainy days when the games of Monopoly went on forever - or at least until my brother got into a sulk about losing.
I have a photo somewhere which my dad took using a timer on the camera so that he could be in the picture too. He rushed over to join us before the shutter clicked, and the picture shows us all in an untidy heap in the window seat.
He looked so young there. They both did. I'm old enough to be their mother now.
I used to love the amusement arcades.
Back then, the seaside was the only place you saw slot machines, and they didn't have the flashing lights and electronic sounds of the modern ones.
There were proper one-armed bandits, those heavy handles almost impossible for a child to operate. There were bagatelle machines, their highest reward a packet of fruit Polos - I liked those, because I had learned the trick of them and almost always made a profit.
On a lucky day, my pocket would be weighed down with pennies - proper big pennies that felt like real money should.
The seaside wouldn't be complete without the funfair.
All those chances to win a giant teddy bear, looking so easy, yet I always walk away with at best the tacky keyring or the plastic troll.
The Donkey Derby hasn't changed in all these years, nor its more exotic, ĎArabian', camel version. I still can't roll the balls into those holes with any accuracy.
The rides are scarier, more adrenaline-filled these days - it used to be that the Ghost Train was enough excitement, but now the ride is inadequate unless it upends me and plunges me through fire and water.
I am full of desire to see the sea again. There is something so calming to the soul about the rhythm of the waves, the tiny wavelets at the edge of the beach reaching for my toes.
I like to walk along the beach at sunset, watching the play of light on the water, sky and sea in rose and gold.
Sometimes I like to listen to music while I walk, something Celtic and haunting which matches my mood. At other times my only soundtrack is the splash of water, the whisper of shifting sand and the cry of gulls.
They were so pretty and colourful as they got on the bus. She, in her shiny silver and black striped blazer, with her girly skirt and her bright pink leggings and platform shoes. He (I think, though a certain androgynous quality made it hard to be sure) with hair dyed purple and blue and pink, spiked into fantastical shapes, splashes of rich purple in his clothing.
I had an almost overwhelming impulse to go up to them and tell them how lovely they looked. But that's how you get a reputation for being a batty old woman, isn't it?
Where did this weariness come from?
I slept late, and haven't done much of anything, and yet weariness is wrapping me like a blanket. It is hard to keep my eyes open, and much effort just to lift a hand. Something physical, or merely an exhaustion of the soul?
Still, no work tomorrow, for which I am thankful, and I can sleep all morning if I need to.
I'd better use the opportunity to gather my strength for visiting the parents on Tuesday. At least my baby brother will be visiting too; that will take off some of the pressure.
Well, you can tell I'm on leave - the weather has taken a turn for the worse. Still some sunshine now and again, but cooler and much rain.
Blackpool is not sounding inviting right now, though if the rainy weather persists into next week then I shall just have to be somewhat wet and chilly at the seaside. I'm not going to miss out on my few precious days of escape because of some precipitation!
I had a fairly lazy day today, but I did start organising the craft materials which are strewn around the flat awaiting a creative impulse.
I'm not sure if you realised it was your birthday.
You certainly weren't eager to open your presents - I had to coax you, like a distracted child. I think you liked the card I made for you, a little at least. And you were pleased to see me.
Where did the father I used to know go? The garrulousness was always there, but your words used to make sense. Now, I nod and smile, and haven't a clue what you're saying. You ramble about plots and deception, or make some long and incoherent joke whose point Iíll never get.
Small joys today:
Sunshine, after yesterday's torrential rain.
A lengthy chat about museums and libraries with a Big Issue seller, ending in a promise to look out for some books for him.
Two teenage girls kissing tenderly in the middle of Market Street, completely oblivious to the passers-by.
Blowing bubbles to float on the wind to a dear friend.
A charming infant of indeterminate gender playing peekabo with me on the bus.
The comically mobile eyes of the chameleon.
The tiny perfection of the carnelian-coloured frogs.
The satisfying snip of scissors as locks of my hair tumbled to the floor.
I spent the morning at an exhibition of and about children's art. It was full of colour and creativity, bold images made with enthusiasm and energy.
There is something uplifting about the freshness of vision which children bring to art, and their lack of the self-consciousness which can hold us back as adults.
It is a shame that art lessons in school so often seek to squeeze that creativity into the mould of 'proper' art. Technical skills are valuable in their place, but not if they are gained at the expense of that bright vision, that pure delight in making.
To the art gallery today with a friend, to see two very different exhibitions.
, was a series of life-size sculptures by Gwon Osang, using hundreds of photographs to create their surfaces. There was something haunting about his figures, and the poses were disconcertingly lifelike.
The other exhibition,
Green Drops and Moonsquirters
, was an exploration of the wonderful, imaginative and somewhat absurd world of Lauren Child, creator of Charlie and Lola and other illustrated childrenís books. There were so many children enjoying the interactive, fun activities that it made us both want to be six years old again.
I don't much want to write one hundred words tonight. But it's nearly half way through the month, and it would be a shame to give up now.
Should I take shorts with me to the seaside, or is that too cruel to the bystanders? (And where did I put them, anyway?)
I love the friends who will send me hugs without question, just because I ask for them.
Is that rain I can hear outside?
I need to spend at least a couple of hours tomorrow making bookmarks. Which means I really should get up early.
Off to the seaside in the morning, and I've nowhere near finished packing. That is partly because some of the clothes I'm planning to take are still drying: bad planning, I should have washed them yesterday. It is also because I can't make up my mind what I need to take with me. The weather is so changeable that I don't know whether to prepare for heat or cold, rain or sunshine.
I am sure Iím going to forget something I need to take. I dreamed last night that I had to come home to fetch something Iíd left behind.
The rain outside my window should be depressing - here I am at the seaside and there is precious little sun to go with the sea and sand. And my feet are aching from walking along the promenade.
Yet I am feeling more content than I have done for some time: I have walked on the beach and let the sea soothe my soul.
Not to mention that my stomach is full of chips and gravy and mushy peas, which I ate from a tray with a flimsy plastic fork while walking along listening to the sounds of the gulls.
I am exhausted this evening - tried to cram a lot into one day.
Didn't quite make it to the top of the Tower (the strong winds made it feel too scary to be up there), but I did walk across the Walk of Faith and look down through the glass.
I only managed to sit through half of the circus. The clowning was quite juvenile and irritated me, and I was very conscious of the way the female performers were objectified. Why does a trapeze artist need to wear a costume which disappears up the crack of her bottom?
I realised tonight that I don't much like watching jugglers.
They make me nervous. I am constantly waiting for them to drop a ball, to fumble that plate, to let the clubs slip through their fingers.
And if they do, I know I will wince with embarrassment, will squirm in my seat.
I used to feel (still feel) that discomfort watching Frank Spencer, or any other comedian who relies for laughs on physical or social clumsiness.
Perhaps I dread their humiliation because I have experienced it myself, and so I cringe for my remembered self as well as for them.
I miss the sea already, and I only said goodbye to it this morning.
This little break has been healing. Perhaps I should live by the sea. Maybe I'd be a calmer, more peaceful person if I had daily contact with the healing sound and sight of the waves.
On the other hand, maybe I need to learn to carry my oceans within me. That way, I can hear their music however far inland I may be, or how surrounded by the noises of traffic and overloud stereos and all the chaos of the city.
Perhaps I should do that.
I have my Pride wristband - a lovely shiny green, and I would be happy to wear it, except that:
The lass at the gate said to me, before putting it on my wrist, "You'll be wearing it all weekend, is that all right?"
My response was "Yes, as long as it's not too tight. It was too tight last year and it drove me crazy."
It felt a little too tight when she put it on, but I didn't want to be awkward.
Now, six hours later, it is very close to cutting off the circulation to my hand.
The Pride parade was, as always, uplifting Ė colourful, noisy, energetic, but most of all full of a sense of community. Not just the GLBT community, but also the wider community of those who came along to share the fun, blow their whistles, wave their rainbow flags and show their support.
There were people of all ages lining the parade route, and it was delightful to see the children enjoying the brightness and sometimes downright silliness of the costumes.
Afterwards, walking through town, I smiled to see two elderly men crossing the road, and instinctively reaching out for each otherís hands.
I am sitting on a wall in a pleasant summer shade which is dappled by the sunlight coming through the leaves. I am surrounded by happy, beautiful women (and today they are all beautiful, young and old, whatever shape or size) waiting to hear Rosie Lugosi, Manchester's delicious lesbian vampire queen - it doesn't get much better than this.
There are days when happiness seems to be such a simple thing.
It won't last, of course, nothing does, but it's good to be reminded that there can be moments like these.
They are something to hold on to and cherish.
Tonight was the climax of Pride, the candlelight HIV and AIDS vigil.
This was my first vigil, and it was beautiful and moving. The park was full of people, all still buzzing from a long weekend of music and celebration but also ready to remember a deeper purpose for coming together.
There were speeches Ė short but meaningful Ė and a memorial poem for a lover which made me laugh as well as cry.
At a signal, we all lit our candles, and the park was a sea of flickering light while we stood in silence for a minute.
And then fireworks!
The first day back at work after a holiday can seem overwhelming. There is so much to catch up with that by the end of the day I feel like I need another holiday to recover.
There should be a sort of gradual easing in to work, like the stretching at the beginning of an exercise session, instead of this abrupt resumption of the usual activities with the added strain of all the accumulated tasks.
There is some comfort in knowing that this is a four-day working week, so the week is already a quarter over.
Three days to go.
Summer is very nearly over, and it feels as if the year is tumbling faster and faster towards its end.
The years go so much more quickly now that I have fewer of them left - it seems unfair that the summers of childhood lasted forever and a day, when there were so many future summers in prospect, and now they pass in a moment.
Still, summer's end is autumn's beginning, and I love the richness of red and gold leaves touched with the light of an autumn sunset.
Oh yes, and apples - there will be apples to savour.
I am tired, I am weary
- the lyrics of a song are somewhere at the back of my mind but I'm too tired to remember which song it is. It will probably come back to me when I least expect it.
I think I must be sickening for something, but I really don't have time to be ill right now.
It is never a good sign when the thought of a soft pillow and a snuggly duvet is more alluring than any more decadent temptations.
Decadent! Now I remember:
Venus in Furs
I could sleep for a thousand years...
I sometimes think I could become a hermit.
There are times when it drives me to distraction to have other people around. They are noisy and fussy and above all unpredictable. If I am trying to write, or make something, I don't want to listen to someone's heavy-handed typing or have someone rummaging through papers. (Or even breathing. Sometimes breathing is enough.)
Yet I chat to strangers on the bus. I spend time talking to my work colleagues. And I treasure online conversations and phone calls with friends.
So, a part-time hermit only, I think, at times of my choosing.
Persistence of memory.
A woman got on to the bus today carrying a bunch of roses (so carelessly that I felt sorry for the flowers) and their scent reached me across the aisle.
It made me remember how as a child I had tried to make perfume from the roses in our garden. However long I steeped them, I could never extract more than the faintest ghost of a scent from the velvety petals; even that would be lost as they decayed.
An early lesson in the transience of beauty, and a reminder to smell the roses while I can.
Another month over, and the summer is almost over without ever really beginning.
The leaves on one of the trees outside the block of flats are already beginning to change colour.
I like the subtleties of autumn, the colours richer and less gaudy than those of summer, the earthy smells and the way the light seems filtered through coloured glass. It is a time of possibilities and enchantment, where the boundaries between the worlds are thin.
I should make some little magics to leave where they can bring unexpected beauty to strangers.
There is never enough magic in the world.
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