Moira’s mouth has a tragic and graven quality, down-turned, thinly incised, which, along with her hooded eyelids and watery blue eyes, gives her a profoundly disapproving expression, something you could imagine at Judgement Day, looking out across the smoking ruins of the world, with a caption in Gothic script that reads: I told you so.

‘I spent a great deal on his education so it’s about time he started paying some of it back,’ she says, the point of her elbow dug into the armrest so she can hold her bandaged hand straight up in the air like a courtroom exhibit.
‘When did you last see him?’
‘Simon? Yesterday. He stayed the absolute minimum and then he was off to another meeting. I said to him: What’s more important – work, or the health of your mother? I won’t be here much longer. If it’s going to go on like this, the sooner I go, the better.’
‘Where does Simon live?’
‘Where doesn’t he live. It’s absurd. He’s got enormous houses all over the place and he spends most of his time in hotels.’
‘Couldn’t you move in with him?’
She turns her eyes on me.
‘He’s a businessman, dear. Not a saint.’

It’s been a long and difficult assessment. Moira has the issue of her hand, of course, but it strikes me that her biggest problem is depression, a bleak and palpable thing that sucks all the light and life from the air, like a black hole opened up in a riser-recliner and someone tried to disguise it with a dressing-gown.
‘I asked Jenny upstairs if she could go out and get me a paper. And d’you know what she said?’
‘What did she say?’
‘She said No.’
‘No. Just like that.’
‘Pretty harsh.’
‘Harsh? I’ve known her twenty years. I think it’s positively murderous.’
She pats her hair with her bad hand and then winces as she lowers it back to her lap.
‘I shan’t be bothering her again,’ she says.

The phone rings. Moira mutters and frowns.
‘Shall I get it for you?’ I say.
‘I’m not dead yet,’ she says, and then makes a huge, sighing deal of picking up, reciting the name of the town and the phone number when the handset eventually makes it up to her ear, as brave as a telephonist being martyred at the stake, making one last connection amongst the flames.

Oh. It’s you… Well how d’you think I’m getting on? … I’m not, and that’s the whole point… Yes, he’s here now… How should I know what he thinks? He just sits there making approximate noises… Not at the moment, no. I haven’t finished with him yet. When I have I’ll get him to call you… Yes, thank you. I think I have everything I need – excepting a son who gives a damn.

And she hangs up.
‘That was Simon’
‘I guessed.’
She observes me closely.
‘He sends his regards,’ she says, after a very long while.

dogs & what they do

Working three long days straight is a sapping experience, so it was a relief to have the day off today and start with a good long walk with Lola through the woods.

It didn’t start well. We’d barely made it over the park when Lola got a little snappy with a chocolate lab. It had wandered over to have a sniff whilst she was relieving herself against a tree, so she growled and bared her teeth. Luckily the owner, an elderly man who looked so friendly and soft and grey he could actually have been a life-sized cloth puppet, was perfectly easy about the whole thing.

‘Serves him right,’ he said, laughing. ‘He’s got a nose for trouble. D’you know – yesterday – he found this disgusting old rabbit carcass, and he was munching away like a diner enjoying the most delicious meal. But I really couldn’t bear it, so I called him off. And blow me, today, as soon as we were within a mile, he made a direct line back to it and finished the damned thing off.’

more mushrooms

As I was walking I was thinking about my guided meditation that morning (using the Headspace app – thoroughly recommended). In the last few sessions, Andy had been exploring the idea that sometimes we have certain emotions that we come back to again and again, emotions that end up defining us and our way of thinking. Ironically, the resistance we put up to these emotions can end up giving them strength and permanence. He put the idea that it would helpful not only to recognise what these recurrent emotions might be, but also recognising when the usual pattern of resistance was happening, so that we could rob them of their power by letting them go. (I think that was the gist).

He put the question: What would it be like to be free of them?

Depression has been a problem with me for so long I’ve come to accept it as a fact of nature, like the weather. Sometimes worse than others, exacerbated by circumstances, no doubt, but always there, a latent voice, a bad-mouthed genie in a dirty bottle I’m doomed to rub at certain phases of the moon, ready with the same old tropes, scenarios in which I’m the hopeless case, the dreamer with nothing to offer, the bad lot, the waste of space.

What would it be like to be free of all that?

And actually – I could imagine it. Bizarrely. But then where would that leave me? It’s been the way I’ve orientated myself in the world for so long, I had the light-headed feeling I’d be left with nothing.

But wouldn’t that be great? A blank slate. A chance to start over. A chance to be myself without fighting against some wormy, outdated version of myself.

Anyway,  that’s where I am at the minute. I’m definitely carrying on with the meditation, because this is the furthest I’ve got with this, and it feels right, and anyway, it’s less fattening and blurring than SSRIs.

As I was walking and thinking about all this I was taking more pictures of mushrooms. I was particularly looking for raddled old, slug-sculpted specimens. Don’t know why – just seemed appropriate!



new poem

trailer b 2_sm
Trailer B II

I wrote another poem today. It carries on from Trailer B, so I suppose it’s really Verse 2





Thanks for reading!