Posted by Tania Kindersley.
Historical events happen in Libya. I hear snatches of the news. Did someone really say at 7.30 this morning that Colonel Gaddafi was quite possibly holed up in a bunker under his palace? Are hold-outs firing AK47s at journalists? I like to think of myself as a citizen of the world, but for some reason all this news seems distant and unreal.
The blog, meanwhile, gets more and more personal. I notice this, and cannot work out if it is a good thing, or not. Should I be taking on world events, and wading into high controversies? Then I think: but there is a place for the personal. It’s not just navel-gazing, not if you do it right. I read a brilliant piece recently, I think it was in The Observer, and I stupidly can’t remember the name of the writer. She was a poet, from somewhere in America, and she wrote of the death of her mother, and it was not self-indulgent or morbid or mawkish. It was clean and true. I read it slowly, and said: yes, yes, yes.
I think, I think, this is what I am trying to do here. It’s about identification; it’s about no woman being an island. I have never really understood this putting of humans into different categories, ordered by culture, religion, gender, sexuality, skin colour. (The pigmentation thing always baffled me; we all started off in Africa, after all; it is, literally, skin deep.) I think human beings are much more the same than they are different. The basic needs and desires do not vary much. I think they are: to love well and be loved in return; to work with purpose; to know hope; to feel that your life has some small significance. I think that is why you can read something by someone who lives a distant life in a far country and think, yes, yes, I am not the only one. That’s my theory and I am sticking with it.
I wonder too about revelation. I am, at heart, quite private. I am not guarded or reticent; I have a terrible habit of saying anything to get a laugh; sometimes I will be a bit edgy, just to show I am not bound by bourgeois mores. But I do not go around randomly revealing my darkest hopes and fears. It took me years to admit that my greatest terror is that I shall go mad in the night, and wake up thinking I am Queen Marie of Roumania. I told this to my friend the Playwright, one sunny early evening in a hotel bar in Mayfair. He roared with laughter. My dear, he said, how positively Shakespearian. I love him very much for that. (He really does talk like that, too. He is the only person I know who can without sounding at all pretentious. I think it is because of his gleaming streak of the ironical. I could listen to him talk all night.)
Apparently it’s a thing, the going mad in the night. It’s one of the definitions psychologists use to differentiate extroverts from introverts. Extroverts’ greatest fear is that they will be left quite alone in the world; introverts’ highest fear is that their internal world will disintegrate.
Yet, for all my essentially private nature, I find myself telling you more and more things. The regular readers come back, and leave kind comments, and I feel a small sense of community, of safety, which is not something I anticipated when I waded into the wilder shores of the world wide web.
But I want it to be for something, not just undifferentiated gush and spew. I think, I hope, that it might be like that piece by that poet. If even one person reads these rambling musings and sighs the sigh of recognition and relief, then my work is done. People like to scoff at the internet; all that tweeting and Facebooking and YouTubing. Oh, they say, it’s the twenty-first century disease; everyone thinks they and their immediate concerns are of intense fascination. I think of that great line William Hurt said in The Big Chill, which went something like: ‘I’m so sick of people selling their psyche for a little attention; Alex was classier than that.’ But then I think perhaps the great miracle of this internet is that, if you use it right, it can remind you that you are not alone. The critics’ festival of self-indulgence is my global village.
All of which is, I think, a very long way of saying: it’s not all going to be jazz hands. It’s not, despite my desire to be shiny and fine, going to be the written equivalent of someone doing tricks on a unicycle. It’s not look, Ma, no hands. Loss lives in me. There is room too for joy and delight; there are the keen daily pleasures of the garden, my work, my dear canine, my family. But the missing continues, pulling at my heart. And sometimes I need to say that.
As always, after I indulge a little in the mildly plaintive, instead of the more British antic, I attempt to make it up to you by giving you many pretty and diverting pictures:
My little white geranium:
The newest laurel:
The lovely shrub whose name I cannot remember:
The cotinus tree is going multi-coloured:
A delicate hydrangea:
A cotinus bush:
One of my favourite blue geraniums:
The cyclamen really is that colour; sometimes I can hardly believe it:
The last of the salvia:
This amazing creature is a catmint flower:
A smaller more discreet version:
As I was taking these, I heard a snorting, snuffling sound behind me. It was the Pigeon, having a great big roll. She is so funny when she does this. She does a lot of heavy breathing, as if she is harrumphing; she snaps her teeth at herself; she waggles her legs in the air. Half way through, she stops abruptly, pauses for dramatic effect, and then goes back to it with renewed vigour. Tonight, it made me laugh and laugh. I managed to take some rather bad action shots, because I really did want you to see:
When she had finished, she looked up to see me with the camera, and gave me this look, which made me laugh even more:
I put a colour filter on this one, so she would look like something from the 1950s:
I’m not sure I ever saw anything so sweet in my entire wide life.
Today’s hill is slightly out of focus, but I rather love it because it looks like a painting:
Dear Readers, thank you for bearing with. You really are the most tremendous bunch, and I do not take a single one of you for granted.