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Another day off.

We have some temporary Christmas staff starting this week at work. This means from next week I am, for the next two weeks at least, working for just the three days a week I am actually contracted for.

I am very much looking forward to being at work for less time than I am not at work.

It is increasingly busy when I am there, which I don’t mind too much as it helps to pass the time. It’s the size of the deliveries we are getting that are killing me at the moment. Last week, over two days, I hefted about 27 large boxes of books from the delivery loading bay, up two floors to our tiny stock room. On one of the days I was off, they got 27 boxes in a single delivery.

We have to get them out as soon as possible because there is very little space in the stock room, which also triples up as our staff room and office, so the pace never really lets up. As there is very limited space on the shop floor, because we are a small shop, getting stuff out means a lot of lifting, rearranging and shuffling about. It’s hard, physical labour which is doing my upper arms the world of good, but is doing my knees no good at all.

Back at home, Oscar is improving slowly. He had his first full day at school for weeks, on Monday. Today was therapy day, so he didn’t go in. We are hoping he will make it into school tomorrow for at least some of the day. Sleep is patchy for all of us, but there have been a few nights when we have all managed to sleep through. Thank God.

One of his best friends got diagnosed with COVID at the weekend, after Oscar spent Friday evening having dinner with his family to celebrate his birthday. We have all had tests, which have come back negative, but we are all keeping well clear of our vulnerable loved ones for the foreseeable, just in case. So many people we know are catching it now, we can’t take any chances and we are back to analysing every sore throat, twinge and headache.

I am not in the best of places, mental health wise myself. My spending addiction has been ratcheting up. Not to the point where I am causing myself or anyone else financial harm, which is good. Enough to be worrying though. It’s understandable that it’s happening. My own needs are currently about 431st on the list of things that must be attended to and there has to be some kind of release, otherwise the spending will be the least of my problems. It is the lesser of a fair few evils.

It is very difficult, if spending and reading is your thing, to be working all the hours God sends in a bookshop, over the festive period, where you spend all day long unloading lots and lots of shiny new books. It is number 4387 on the list of reasons why I am really not cut out for a life in retail.

I had a fair bit of capital in my emotional bank due to having worked very hard on my own therapy, and that has seen me over the worst of the last couple of months, but I am increasingly running on empty. It’s a race with regard to my physical and mental exhaustion to see which one hits bottom first. I am hoping that the reduced hours at work and Oscar being at school a bit more might buy me the time I need to sort myself out for a bit.

Today, although I had errands to run and therapy to chauffeur back and forth from, I did manage to spend an hour in the kitchen this afternoon cooking roast pumpkin soup for my dinner. The boys don’t like it, so they are seeing to themselves, but I wanted to make something for myself. Something that I didn’t have to rush to cook because I was hungry and exhausted, and something that I wouldn’t suddenly have to share when everyone else decided they might love it after all. I’m going to eat some later while I watch Escape to the Chateau and be grateful that I don’t have to hoover it.

The Chateau, not the soup.

A day off.

The boys are out this afternoon and I am alone in the house. It really needs cleaning but I am hiding upstairs in the office, making slow, slow progress with my latest big artwork, listening to L’il Nas X and drinking tea.

The news.

Oscar is still quite poorly. He’s not in school at the moment. We are paying for private therapy and are on various lists for other help. I have no confidence that these lists will manifest in any concrete way for months. We looked at a private psychiatrist this week in an attempt to get him some medication to take the edge off, so he can at least sleep better. We can’t get medication prescribed by the gp without a full assessment, which is why we are on a list. We can’t find a private psychiatrist whose list is open either.

This is not a time to have a teenager with mental health issues.

My heart breaks about three times a week, currently.

Jason and I are juggling caring for him between his job and mine. My job is less mentally demanding so I take most of the night shifts. The rest of the family are helping out when we can’t manage.

We are lucky. We have enough money to get help. We have family and friends who are supporting us.

Some days it’s hard to feel lucky though.

I am exhausted.

I am still gainfully employed. I find the job difficult for many reasons, not least of which is that my son is unwell and dealing with people who want to know why the latest Lee Child book isn’t in paperback yet is not something I particularly want to prioritise right now. Having said that, everyone I work with is lovely and the strain on our finances is considerably less now that I am more or less working full time (I should be part time, but there are staffing issues), and that is a good thing.

Contrary to popular belief, I spend very little of my day chatting to people about books and most of it dragging huge, book filled totes from the basement up two floors and loading them onto various trolleys whereupon I get to push them around a shop that is already full, looking for space to shelve things. It is a hugely physical job. Most people I work with have bookseller’s back. I do not. I have bookseller’s knees.

The house looks like a bomb site. We are mostly existing as best we can from day to day right now. Finesse can come later when we all have room to breathe again. When we’re not holding it all together and trying to believe that things must be improving, incrementally, but improving nonetheless.

I keep telling myself this is happening. It’s easy to lose sight of. Most days are a cross between some kind of hideous endurance race and feeling trapped on a hamster wheel.

I am doing nice things from time to time. I am mostly too tired to appreciate them fully and not entirely relaxed due to being worried sick every time my phone beeps at me in case something terrible has happened.

It will change.

I thought I might feel a bit better writing some of it down. I’m going to go and have another cup of tea and think about it.

Still here.

Still hanging on.

Oscar Is Fifteen

Dearest Oscar, you are fifteen today.

As usual, despite birthdays coming around rather regularly, it takes me by surprise that time can be measured this way. It’s been quite the journey from the small, round bundle that got delivered into my arms on this day fifteen years ago, to the towering giant looming through the hallways of our house, stopping only occasionally to pat me on the head. You grow, I shrink. That seems to be the rule these days.

It’s been a hell of a year, boy. You’ve lost a lot this year and I’ve been sorely grieved to see the pain you’ve endured and continue to work through. My birthday wish for you this year is that we finally find that fabled magic wand to make it all better. Or that a ‘kiss it better’ really could resolve all that pain for you. In the absence of that I hope that we managed to take your mind off things for a few hours yesterday and set a marker and a reminder of what life can be again.

You told me a few weeks ago that you were ashamed that you were not ‘man’ enough to deal with things as quickly as other people seemed to. You said: ‘I’m fifteen now. I should be over behaving like a baby.’ I told you then what I’m going to write now, but I’m writing it down because I hope one day that you find this and it prompts you to re-remember and assess how you felt then.

A man, and I use this word advisedly, is someone who is alive to ALL his emotions and who is willing to sit with them, think about them and deal with them appropriately. Feelings are difficult because they don’t come in neat packages. They squiggle about. They bleed at the edges. They get caught up in other things. Sometimes we feel two opposite feelings about one thing at the same time and the conflict pulls us to the edges of what we think we can endure. Anyone who tells you that facing, owning and dealing with your feelings is not a manly thing to do, is doing you, and themselves a massive disservice.

A man is prepared to be hurt, to grieve, to sorrow, to own confusion and anger and articulate them. A man owns both the softness of themselves and their edges. A man is prepared to admit that things are too difficult rather than barrelling through and putting a brave face on things. A man is loving and kind and generous and understands that allowing that vulnerability to shine out from them doesn’t make them weak. Owning your vulnerability and being willing to show it and share it is one of the greatest things any human being can do, let alone a man.

A man is willing to care and show that in a multitude of ways. A man is someone who is strong and brave enough to ask for help when they can’t help themselves. A man is someone who is able to admit that they don’t have all the answers. A man is someone who knows that loving someone else is the greatest and most dangerous adventure they can possibly go on in their lifetime and that it risks everything, but the rewards are the greatest. Whether that’s the love for a partner or a friend. A man understands that love is not narrow and restrictive. It blooms, if you allow it to.

A man is what you have become this year. I know that none of us would have chosen this to be the way you shed the last of the boy in you, but sometimes fate dictates that our path will be harder than we would like, and it is how we rise to meet it that is the measure of who we are, and you have surpassed all our expectations on that front.

No test, no exam, no job or figure in your bank account will ever make me prouder of you than I am right now. The dignity with which you have faced adversity. The willingness you have shown to love others. The bravery of your decisions to keep moving forward and to work through everything life has thrown at you, makes me burst with pride when I think about it. You are the very best of us and I love you so much it physically hurts.

I know that you have felt so alone in recent weeks, but know that we are always here for you, no matter what. No matter what you think or say or do with your life, you are ours and we are yours and home is where we are together and you are always a part of that. We can always sit with you in the dark days as well as the light ones, and although we cannot take the pain away, we can bear witness and love you and help shoulder the burden in any way that you need.

I hope you manage to feel some joy on this day, because we felt it fifteen years ago and every day you have been in our lives since. You enrich our lives beyond measure. Thank you for choosing us to be your parents.

Back, back again, etc.

Just checking in mostly.

It’s tough, here at Boo Towers.

In a nutshell:

Jason’s work is at a pivotal point and we are waiting on external factors to see what happens next which means things are very tense and stressful. My poor boy is struggling with everything and I am spending nights sitting up with him and days negotiating with a largely unhelpful educational system. We are also navigating the labyrinthine ways of supporting him therapeutically. The rest of the time I am still figuring out how to do my day job and how to balance the demands of that with everything else. I rarely see my husband except in passing and when I do we are both battered.

We did manage to sneak off for dinner the other night when Oscar went to see the girls and even though I had only just finished work and was extremely tired, I did not fall asleep into my ramen, so I count this as a date. I am hoping we might fit in another one before Christmas. It very much feels like the wilderness years of parenting small children at the moment. There is never enough time, everyone is tired and anxious and there are inevitably tears before bedtime. Also, things get very sticky, because housework is currently number 9571 on my list of things that must be done in the small windows of free time I am gifted.

I am reading a lot, because by the time I’ve finished all of the above (which is never finished) I am not fit for much else. I did start making another artwork but progress is glacial due to all the see above-ness of life.

I am also eating a lot because frankly, what else is there? Despite the fact that I spend all my time at work on my feet, wandering about, hefting boxes, rearranging teetering piles of books and come home feeling like I have been beaten with stair rods, my jeans are noticeably tighter. It shouldn’t matter, because I am an emancipated woman with no scales who thinks the diet police should get in the bin, but in my weaker, more exhausted moments, it is another thing I find trying.

In good news:

Today is my second day off in a row. 18 months ago Andrea booked tickets for us to go and see Elbow, because she is a wonderful friend and supports my undying love for Guy Garvey and his mellifluous ways. Because Covid End Times the dates got moved and moved and moved, but finally last night was the night.

I did all my sad and challenging jobs in the morning and then grabbed Andrea who is helping her parents out at their family farm in between having a day job and a house somewhere else (because this is life for us types now). We hot footed it down the motorway, abandoned the car at her flat and set off to Hammersmith with hope in our hearts. This is not something I usually associate with Hammersmith which does have lovely bits but seems to be largely built around a very complex traffic system which attempts to kill you at every turn.

We had a leisurely dinner with no-one but ourselves to please and then spent a joyous hour or so jumping up and down and singing loudly. The sign of a good gig was ringing ears, a tendency to shout hoarsely when asked questions and bass so loud it makes you feel you might be having a heart attack. They played a stonking set list with a good mix of old and new material and played Station Approach, which is one of my favourites and one I haven’t heard them play live before. I left the gig feeling happier and more alive and like myself than I have in months.

By the time I got home at 2.20 a.m. this feeling had worn off somewhat, and today I feel rather like a pensioner, but it was worth it.

There has been a lot of grief in our lives recently.

Grief is a demanding emotion. It asks a lot of you. It doesn’t accept that ‘real life’ is happening all around you and you are still expected to be a part of it. it doesn’t accept that time moves on. It keeps pulling you backwards into a past that is behind a glass you can’t move through but are constantly pressing up against.

Grief is an absence and a presence all at the same time. It fills your days with holes to be navigated around and things you walk, smack bang into.

Grief is not just sadness. It’s fury and resentment and impatience and nostalgia. It’s not just emotional. It’s sickness and shaking and aches and a thousand ants crawling under your skin.

Grief is terror and boredom all mixed up together in a hamster wheel that never stops squeaking, that keeps you awake all night and makes your days foggy with exhaustion.

And it can be strangely beautiful and full of tiny joys that lift you up and make you part of something bigger and which hurt like the devil but which remind you to keep putting one foot in front of the other. It constantly reconnects you to life to be lived, even if you don’t want it to.

Grief is not a ‘thing’. Grief is a lived experience.It is a complex, often lonely journey that people don’t want to talk about because it hurts and it’s awkward and there never seem to be the right words. It seems shameful not to just be able to get over yourself and be ‘normal’, even though you will never be ‘normal’ like that again, because grief marks you out and ages you and forces you to walk a different path into the future than the one you were so sure of before it derailed you.

And grief is not just about people we have lost. Although that is one of the rawest forms it takes.Grief is about lives we didn’t live for ourselves, choices we made that took us to places we didn’t want to go to, things we lost along the way.

And grief is not linear. We are not sad one day and less sad the next. It ebbs and flows like the tide. It can disappear for weeks and then we can find ourselves sucked under again. Our life experiences can crack open old griefs we papered over, people long gone, moments from the far past that rise up to meet us.

And I think it’s time we talked about it. It’s time we made room for it. It’s time we started to figure out a language for it instead of hiding it because we do not feel adequately equipped or we don’t want to upset people. Because our silence is not normal. Our pretending to be fine is not healthy. Our filling our days with ‘doing’ to avoid the pain of ‘being’ is not helpful.

And we need to make not just new words, but new stories for this stuff. We need to start using words to create the paths to help us out of the darkness and sadness. We need stories to fill the holes and populate the shadows. We need to talk our way out of the worst pain into a healing and remembrance of the best of us and what we have lost, because as the great Terry Pratchett (GNU) said.

‘Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?’

Hey loves.

The world keeps turning.

We incrementally inch forward. Some days we slump back.

Things are very, very hard right now.

The boy had his first day back at school on Friday. I called repeatedly earlier in the week to try and speak to his head of house to make sure he would be supported. I finally got through on Thursday afternoon. She assured me of all kinds of things, only some of which they actually delivered on Friday. Too little, too late and some not at all.

I am honestly furious.

What made me most furious was when I finally got hold of his head of house on Friday after school she said, ‘He was fine when he spoke to me. He’s doing really well.’ I was very good and didn’t march down there to set fire to the school, but did point out that I didn’t think he would particularly want to confide in her and that instead of her five minute assessment of a boy she barely knows and hardly tolerates and has had repeated run ins with in the past, that perhaps it was best if she took it from me that he really wasn’t.

My main takeaway from this is that we do a good ‘talk’ about mental health and being open, but in practice, most adults want kids (and everyone else) to spend a maximum of two days being sad and then to go back to ‘normal’ as quickly as possible because a) they are busy and mental health is not compatible with time tables and b) they are emotionally constipated and don’t like feeling uncomfortable when emotions don’t comply to a handy meme or a tick box Ted talk.

And it is no wonder that children’s mental health services are in crisis.

We have had very little sleep this weekend as a consequence.

I have promised the boy I will not make a formal complaint, but all bets are off if they mess this up again.

I have other news.

I start working as a part time bookseller at Waterstones on Wednesday. I need regular, paid employment as our financial situation is interesting.

I may be a part time bookseller but it appears I am a full time filler in of pointless paperwork right now.

I can’t say I’m excited about the job, because my home life is such that I am holding things together on several fronts and I am existing on about four hours sleep a night at the moment with one thing and another.

I always wondered how an in real life job would fit in with my unpaid vocation as the holder up of many lives.

We are about to find out.

Hello lovely people.

It has been a while.

A lot has happened since I last wrote and I will fill you in on lots of things later on.

I am able to tell you why I’ve been awol now though, so I will.

One of Oscar’s closest friends died, very unexpectedly and it was a complete shock to all of us.

Oscar has been devastated by the news and we have been doing what we can (which seems precious little) to support him.

He isn’t sleeping much, which means I’m not either.

It’s a lot, right now.

We’re hanging in there. Holding each other a bit tighter. Loving each other and getting through what every day brings.

I’ll write again soon.

Much love to you all.

My darling Tallulah got three grade A A Levels this morning. Her girlfriend got A*, A, B and we are delighted for them both because this last year has been an absolute trial of endurance for them both in terms of education. And anyone who says that they were graded up this year can get in the sea, frankly. They have both had more exams and assessments than anyone has ever had for A levels and they have worked incredibly hard under extraordinarily trying circumstances and both with their own personal, mental health demons to fight on top. They are superwomen both and I love them with all my heart.

Mind you, I would love them with all my heart even if they had burned the school down and run away to join a circus with no qualifications whatsoever, but I am overjoyed that they are overjoyed and that this, interminable part of their lives is now done and dusted.

In other news, we as a family had some horrendously tragic and sad news at the weekend. I am not at liberty to share it, but it has caused an enormous amount of heartbreak and grief here and I am aching with sorrow over the whole thing.

What was a great comfort to me was that when we found out, all the members of the family who weren’t at home, came. They dropped everything and came. And they stayed. And even in the midst of all the grief I was in awe of what a beautiful, compassionate and loving family I have. And I include my beloved Bred (Tilly’s partner) and Dani (Tallulah’s partner) in that word, family.

We held each other. We cried. We laughed. We stuck together. We watched terrible films and ate terrible food and stayed up with each other when we couldn’t sleep. When everyone went home the next day, they have still checked in, multiple times a day. They have kept talking, kept sharing and accepted the whole, messy, terrible, devastating, loving parcel.

It was like watching my family building itself around me, around us. Each one of us separate and together, different and the same.

And there was so much love.

And it was so simple and easy. It was in a cup of tea, a proffered slice of pizza, the pat of a shoulder, the swiftness of a hug. It was in the things they said to each other and the things they didn’t. It was in the absolute acceptance that they are there for each other, no matter what and they might not always get it right, but they always turn up. They are always there.

And as much as I ache with this sorrow, I also ache with pride and I am bursting with love, because what they did for each other over this last few days is worth a thousand A Levels.

I love them so much.

I am a lucky woman.

Hello, hello.

Weather is now boiling hot and sticky. So that’s nice. Yesterday the heating was on. Today all the doors and windows are open. It feels like a toddler has been left in charge of the weather thermostat.

Therapy yesterday. I thought I might be at a point where I could leave things for a bit. It appears not. I suspect this is good, as I am lazy and tend to leave things until they’re bad enough for me not to ignore them and that’s not terribly wise. I plod on. It will end eventually. I say end. It never actually ends, does it? But there may come a more comfortable plateau on which I can loaf about for a bit. That would do, frankly.

I have more writing to do. I have a slightly different theme this time. I am moving away from childhood things to my disastrous first marriage. I thought this would be easier to deal with than childhood stuff because I have written about some disastrous first marriage stuff before. Some of it here on the blog. I am not in denial about how rubbish it was (at times. There were good bits) and yet it seems clear that there is some unresolved stuff. It would be good to get rid of it. Nobody wants to be haunted by an ex-husband forever. I am slightly annoyed that I will need to spend time thinking about him and rather upset that I will be raking over some of the more painful and grief filled days of my life.

I got home feeling like a pot that was about to boil over on the stove. I threw myself into all kinds of displacement activity and then ended up bursting into tears over one of the cats later on. So that was nice.

I don’t want to do the work, which is usually a sure sign that the work needs to be done. I started writing some stuff today. I’m giving myself a good long run up by wading into my disastrous history of men who I have loved and lost and would, in hindsight rather not have loved or found at all. Why is it that you always see the patterns after you’ve flogged your way through this stuff? I should have written a note and had it stapled to my forehead. No addicts. No co-dependents. Twats get in the sea. It could have saved me a lot of grief. But it was not to be.

I remind myself that it is not for them that I am writing any of this stuff. It is for me. I am coming to the conclusion that a lot of my more self-destructive programming are just behaviours that got embedded really early on, and which I was too young or naive to question or think about. A lot of this stuff, when you are a kid, is simply presented to you as facts or ‘the way things are’, or ‘because I say so’. And because you are short and young and you rely on these people for food and love and shelter and you don’t get out much, you accept it. Before you know it, it has either become a habit or a belief and it’s embedded in that part of your brain that does all the unconscious stuff and unless you have a torrid time of it, you never actually get it out and look at it properly.

And sometimes, even if you do get it out and look at it properly, you’re not in much of a position to do anything about it, because you’re busy or tired or up to your eyes in looking after other people first and putting yourself last and so it goes on.

But my new theory is that if most of this stuff is habit, habits can be broken and new habits can be formed. So, it’s worth putting up with the sheer bloody anguish of dredging all this stuff up to the surface and staring at it, because then I get to decide if I want to keep it and what I want to replace it with if I don’t.

And that’s what I’m telling myself so I keep going. And things are changing. When I started doing this I was crying pretty constantly almost every day. Now I only have a serious weep three or four times a week, which is progress. Some days I don’t cry at all, which is, after the last eighteen months, frankly miraculous.

Small steps.

On top of all this we spent most of last week trying to help mum and dad sort out their complicated financial situation and what they may or may not do in the future. Today they came round and we went through things like power of attorney, which you now have to have two of, and which are slightly daunting due to the considerable number of pages in each form.

And that’s turning out to be about as much fun as you would expect.

In less challenging news, I excavated a bit more of the garden by the wild bees’ nest and Jason crow barred up one of the slabs which we thought might have a well underneath it. It turns out that it isn’t a well. It’s a deep, square, brick shaft with a drain running along the bottom of it. We have no idea of where it is coming from or where it is going, but it’s there, about seven feet down. We dropped the slab back on top of it and Jason jumped on it to make sure it was in place. I nearly had a heart attack as I was convinced I would be calling an ambulance as he went through the slab and plummeted to a sticky end below. Thankfully the slab held.

Our house is full of surprises.

I’m slightly disappointed there wasn’t a body or some doubloons to be honest.

Hello chaps. Still here.

The weather is terrible. I have gone from sweating about the place to wearing jumpers and putting the heating on.

I had my hair did on Friday. I am back to being pink again. I don’t feel pink at the moment but I am hoping to fake it to make it. Jenn did a bang up job and it looks great, it’s just my insides that don’t feel pink. It is very nice not to have two and a half inches of dark roots and a fringe I cut with a pair of nail scissors in sheer frustration though. That’s very satisfying.

My migraine is on the way out. Some days it doesn’t appear at all. Others it has taken to lurking at the edges of my brain and just delivering the odd, sharp stab to remind me who is boss. I have stopped doing yoga again for a bit as that seemed to aggravate things. This suggests it is stress related as I tend to store a lot of stress in my neck and shoulders and as I release it with the yoga it does like to make its presence felt, so I am having another small holiday from Adriene until I get back on an even keel.

I have done a fair bit of walking in the last few days though, so I’m not entirely in a vegetative state.

On Saturday I went to London with Andrea to see my friend Claire and go to Greenwich to see an exhibition at The Painted Hall. We were a month late for the exhibition, which is about right for me and my adventures, but we did get to see the Painted Hall. This is wonderful if you like fat women wearing bath towels and showing their nipples and kings crushing their vanquished foes under their foppish shoes while being gazed at adoringly by fat putti. I do not like this at all, I’m afraid. It is my second least favourite style of painting after brown Dutch landscapes. This is why I rarely go to the National Gallery as it is teeming with this kind of thing and it’s just not my bag. I’m more of a Jackson Pollock kind of girl.

Having said that, it was good to be in London, the weather was nice and we walked for miles and miles. Eventually we washed up at the Olympic Park, which I haven’t been to before, so that was quite good fun. We wanted to find The Line, which is a sculpture trail, but we failed miserably. It seemed that art was not at all for us on Saturday.

On leaving Andrea’s house, where I had parked my car, on Saturday evening, my sat nav decided to go on strike and I got hopelessly lost and ended up weeping in a cul-de-sac in Pinner, which is, I think, something we can all relate to. In the end I rang Jason, who has a tracker thing on my phone and who knows how to work technology, so he tied it all together and talked me through extracting myself from the byways of London and back onto the M1. It was quite the adventure and I am not going to live in Pinner when I grow up. Sorry Elton.

On Sunday I went to a local car boot sale with Tallulah and her girlfriend. It was my second early start and this time we had a nice, fine rain that wets you through to accompany us as we picked our way through the sheep shit and people desperately trying to keep their stock dry. There was virtually no treasure to be found, although I did pick up some Victorian glass for mum and dad, which we delivered to them after the car boot sale and bagged ourselves some breakfast while we dried off.

I managed to sell some things at the weekend which was jolly good as I am flat broke. I staggered to the post office with them today before going on a mammoth walk with my friend Kim. We trekked around the park several times, putting the world to rights. With perfect timing, we got home just as the heavens opened.

I have done lots of therapy writing which was as grim and miserable as ever. Should anyone ever discover this great work they will think I was the least fun person ever in the world with the most miserable childhood in the world. I am not and did not, but I guess the whole point is that I don’t want to dissect all the nice times I had and talk about how great everything is. That’s not the stuff that wakes me at three in the morning in a muck sweat or stops me functioning as a human being. I sometimes find myself writing stuff and feeling really guilty and that I should be making more of an effort to be perky. Then I remind myself that it is my constant expectation that I must be jolly and perky that got me here in the first place and I carry on churning out words that make me cry and give me lots of things to share with my therapist. Because of COVID and other life stuff I haven’t seen the poor woman for nearly five weeks. I am seeing her tomorrow afternoon. I may invest in a box of tissues to save her having to break out the big guns.

Reading wise I finished the Anthony Horowitz and the Talk Art book both of which I thoroughly enjoyed. I’m now reading Oliver Postgate’s (inventor of Bagpuss)autobiography, which is absolutely delightful in many, many ways. I’ve started a memoir by Nancy Spain who was a deeply eccentric celebrity chef, journalist and bon viveur back in the Sixties and who I came across when my mum gifted me her wildly and inadvertently funny recipe book. So far I am also enjoying this immensely.

Oscar seems to be finding his rhythm with the garden in the last few days. He has failed to break any more tools or to dig up any plants I actually wanted to keep and the garden is looking rather good at the moment. He found he was actually in credit today so immediately went out to the cinema and for dinner with his friends, thus meaning he is back in hock and the garden will receive more attention in the next few days. I should be grateful he is so gregarious. It means quite a lot of stuff I was putting off is now getting done, which is jolly.

With regard to my ongoing tussle with cats and carpets, we are almost sorted except on Sunday when I woke up to find all the cat boxes brimming with wee and Derek crapping on the carpet. Ronnie P has also taken to using the boxes now, which is annoying as the boys were going outside, which made life a little easier, but no. That’s not allowed and we must all join in. Some days I feel like having a go myself. I might as well.

I’ve almost got rid of the smell, which is good, except the carpets here are so old and grim anyway, that when it’s damp, if you don’t have the heating on, they just smell old and fusty regardless of whether anyone may have pissed on them or not. The more I live with carpets, the more convinced I am of their utter pointlessness. I hate carpets. When I have my own house again I am having no carpets at all, anywhere and investing only in magnificent rugs and corks for the cats’ arses.