Saturday, 31 March 2007


Trailfinders have found me!  They plopped into my letter box this morning.  Quite uninvited.  Perhaps they have heard that I'm the sort of person who can't get to Lille.

Anyway, I shall spend a happy Saturday evening looking at all the other places I can't get to either. 

Friday, 30 March 2007

Not visiting Lille

The train to Lille is leaving now. And I am not on it. 

A tiny, insubstantial part of me leapt out of bed at 7 o'clock this morning, washed, dressed, breakfasted and left the house. My long, dark hair is clean and shining, my lips are Afghan Red and I smell deliciously of my new Annick Goutal scent, the one my mother gave me for my recent birthday. I am wearing my dark Gap boot-cut jeans, which make my legs look long and slender, a dusky-turquoise, long-sleeved jersey top, slightly low-cut, with gathered sleeves. Very pretty. And black suede ankle boots. Blue glass dangly ear-rings and a blue, turquoise and metal chain necklace complete the look. At the door, I put on my black jacket and pick up the dark pink weekend bag.

I had planned exactly how I wanted it to be. I had such a strong image of myself doing this. Sitting outside cafes with my book (Suite Francaise, I thought) watching the world go by, drinking coffee, eating a delicious lunch. Then wandering around the old town, dipping into shops, buying gorgeous dark chocolates for my family and friends, spending the night in a hotel room overlooking the Grand Place. Tomorrow, the Art Gallery perhaps, then more browsing, wandering, eating and drinking before catching the evening train back to London, then home.

Thursday, 29 March 2007

Does pain have a colour?

I think my pain is white. I have never been in this much pain without something having to be removed or expelled. Labour was the last time. The doctor thinks it could be my appendix, but on the other hand it could be a virus. He's given me some strong pain killers with lots of codeine in them, that act like a chemical cosh, and for the first time in days I have had some sleep, but then the drug wears off and the pain kicks right back in again. It's hard to see that this is going anywhere I want to be. Certainly not to Lille. I packed my pink bag this morning in case it's an emergency dash to the hospital.

Life is extraordinarily simple at the moment. I am quite alone here in my rented farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. There is nothing I can do, no work, no social life, no cooking, driving, cleaning. I'm suspended, waiting for something to happen. For things to resolve.

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Tea and Toast

"And she feeds you tea and oranges
That come all the way from China"
Leonard Cohen

My tummy has a life of its own. It wriggles and squirms. It gurgles and grumbles. It holds conversations with itself. It probably has hobbies that I know nothing about! I'm thinking of putting it down for French lessons. For the last three days I have eaten nothing but toast with Earl Grey tea. It's all I want when I'm not well. Very comforting but not at all substantial. I have hardy slept either and it's not getting any better, so today I have held my ground with the doctor's receptionist and shall be seen at some stage, by someone, later this morning. I expect I will be the only sick person the doctor sees this morning, because you can only see a doctor by prior appointment - at least 48 hours notice, please.

I have phoned Eurostar and the insurers to find out if I can make a claim/change my ticket, should things not be resolved by Friday. Yes to the first, no to the second. I shall be so disappointed if I can't go on my little trip. It seems very hard.

Sunday, 25 March 2007

Pink Bag

I still think I am going to Lille next week - can it really be next week? It seemed so much more appealing when it was next month. This is beginning to seem real. So, I went shopping yesterday in the nearby market town which contains just one shop selling travel bags. Not a lot of choice there then. But choice makes me come out in a cold sweat, so perhaps that's just as well.

I found a lovely dark pink Kipling bag and despite the scary price tag, I had to have it, even though it cost nearly as much as my Eurostar ticket. It's so perfect and just the right size for a weekend away. The alternative would have been my 15 year old son's black school kit bag, complete with visible name tape. Not perhaps quite the image I'm looking for as I try to open my world up a little.

Today was spent washing, ironing and packing - not for me though but for my son. The reason I can get away for a couple of days just before the end of term is that he is going to CCF camp with a group from his school, so I get to holiday, too. Even if I don't go away when he does, and I rarely do, it still feels like a holiday as it's so unusual for me not to do the Mum thing. My oldest son turns 25 soon and I feel as though I've been doing this for ever, although it changes all the time. Now I usually go out and about without any children on me at all, but once I couldn't move without all three boys, often protesting vociferously. Who else was going to look after them? Even when I was married, my husband was in the City and had a mistress and was rarely home. No, I didn't know about the mistress until far, far too late. Silly me.

So being a single mum was always the way it was, I just don't have the illusion that I have a husband and that my sons have a father. My ex-husband came down from London tonight to take our son out for supper, because that is what he thinks being a good Dad is all about, and sporting fundraising posters for his local church in the back windows of his smart new car - good for the caring image. I handed him the leaflet about ASD which the doctor my son and I saw last week gave to me. A sort of potted version of the problems that my son and I face every day.  

He always made me feel that I had failed as a mother, that I just couldn't cope as well as other mothers. That it was all my fault. 

Friday, 2 March 2007


"I forget to pray for the angels
And then the angels forget to pray for us ...."
Leonard Cohen

My indoor shoes are quite enchanting. Black leather pumps with a small heel, peep toe and two bows perched jauntily on top. I love coming home and slipping my feet into them - so much more civilised than slippers.

I need to change my shoes when I get home because every winter I live stranded in a sea of mud in the depths of the country. To get out of the front door, I have to hop gingerly from one baked clay terracotta tile to another (my make- shift path) until I reach what passes for my drive, but is just a slightly harder mud path that leads to my car. I never actually reach the car without acquiring a rind of mud on my shoes. It is not recommended to leave the back door at all without a pair of Wellington boots in which to schlurp and schlock through what, in summer, is my back garden. I live on the water table on poorly drained clay soil.

The last time I needed indoor shoes, I was 11 years old and a new arrival at my Catholic convent school in Yorkshire. They were truly ugly things - the colour of pea soup and shaped like boats, secured to my reluctant feet with a strap. Together with thick national health glasses, bottle green pleated synthetic knee length skirts and bad hair cuts I, and my fellow pupils, were completely and utterly de-feminised. But I suppose that was the point. Perhaps that is why I am so feminine now. A reaction against so much ugliness and suppression.