Good morning. I hope this missive finds you cosy. 

I have been up since silly o’clock. Drinking too much coffee and trying to fix something that won’t be fixed. Frustration tempered by the bliss of working by candlelight and making Finley giggle when he discovers me somewhat drunk on caffeine. Some days hysteria rather sets in doesn’t it? Some days hysteria sets in and you find yourself dancing in the kitchen.

During the night there was a hailstorm, an auditory fright of relentless gunfire on the conservatory roof. So many ambulances went by: the blue lights illuminating a tangle of dreams during which most memorably I served Ste a rat pie and vomited in horror when I realised, before insisting that he wash it down with a pomegranate smoothie and calling the police to investigate what had possessed me.

And now I am here and it is so deliciously Wintery and snuggly I really rather wish I could invite you in. Serve you a slice of warm banana bread straight from the oven and share secrets over our teacups. I wish you could smell the amber candles burning on the tray on the coffee table. A brass pot laden with succulents glowing next to them. The blind over the window pulled down so I do not have to share my hygge with the men still nipping in and out of the outdoor loo in my garden, occasionally waving to me when I stand washing dishes in lavender bubbles or popping in to say that the fuses have blown and can they do something fiddly to my fuse box so they can carry on using our electricity to build the house in the back garden. (I do hop they aren’t powering a generator). Sitting on the wet step to remove dirty boots before they trudge in barefoot and spending so many hours just standing chatting over dirty mugs of tea that is quite astonishing that the house has gone up at all. I think I might miss them when they have gone.

I have the weekend to myself. Tonight Finley will be spirited away to Mark’s house and Ste went to work this morning and will not return until late tomorrow night. He will sleep and then return to work on Sunday morning until Monday evening. Thank heavens then for a promotion that means these endless exhausting shifts will be no more: for the blessing that a nine to five routine again will once again be. For the joy of a job that will challenge him.

But for now I am alone. My laptop my companion today and drinks with a friend planned for this evening. Tomorrow I am going to fashion Christmas for our plans have changed and suddenly it looks as though I might be in sole charge of creating the very first Christmas Day I have ever had to conjure up for a house full of guests: a rite of passage that strikes me at the grand old age of forty-four as proof that I am no longer the child someone else will look after. Though I am still blessed by Mums. My own Mum’s sister Barbie always at the end of the phone, Ste’s Mum a reassuring hug whenever I need it and Mark’s Mum, who rings me and though she has long been my shy, reassuring friend, tells me that now my Mum has gone, she is my Mum and makes me want to weep tears of relief for this unexpected kindness. I am blessed by Mums. And by those of you in my Living Room who know all my secrets and let me in the safety of our inner sanctum, spill out my sometimes ugly guts.

I quite like being alone. Watching the world go by. The girl with the mustard scarf she wears like a roll of carpet around her neck. The jazzy little geriatric in the leather pants who wanders up to the post office for a newspaper each morning pulling at what is left of his greying quiff. The Siamese cat in the little terraced house across the road. Entire days could be spent just watching other people spend theirs. But there is work to done. And as a reward for doing it, at the end of the day there will be a book so painful and elegant I cannot begin to describe the joy of it. Though joy is not quite the right word: but how else is one to describe a book that tells of unrequited love and loss in fine detail that both manages to get under your skin, create the subdued loneliness of another place and time right there in your bedroom, and have you looking forward to stepping in to that place though we anticipate only anguish when we get there? What is that? If not joy then what? The very act of reading – the experience of it, bewilders me.

I am hungry now. Caffeine burning a hole in my empty stomach, but hungry for I know not what. And isn’t that the most awful thing? To know not what we hunger for? Cheese on toast or freedom? A bowl of soup or a day lying in the arms of someone we love? I am hungry and rambling as I so often find myself doing in these morning pages. I am hungry and the kitchen floor could do with steaming. That pile of laundry carried up the stairs and tucked away. The problem that won’t be fixed tackled once again with determination. The steps up to the house sprinkled with salt so none of us kill ourselves on slippery hailstones. Maybe a trip to the shops for something that will make me feel beautiful tonight. And afternoon nap in orange blossom sheets?

I am hungry and wish someone else could tell me what for. I want to feel sated by life all over again. I want to read books like Winter for always.


Morning

The drive to school is a joy. Every day a new glimpse of Spring. Baby ducks clucking as traffic stops so their Mummy can lead them safely across the road. A literary thrill every time we pass Blythe Hall where Noel Coward and my beloved Beverley Nicols once gathered for the most debauched of parties. Horses being raced around the track in its grounds. Finley chattering excitedly all the way. About the rock cakes he will be baking in cookery. The girl who has got her eyes on him. The maths teacher he worships.

And when it is over, when he is safely delivered to the school door, the day is my own. To carry on piecing together a life in this new world of ours. To unpack a mountain of boxes. To scent rooms with musky lavender and potter about in the huge stone covered garden, planting beans and peas, and tending to teeny seedlings as if they were all my babies.

There seems to be drawers everywhere. Drawers still filled with the flotsam and jetsam of my Mum’s life. How odd to sift through all that she considered important enough to keep. A whole drawer full of plug-in air fresheners! More throwaway spectacles than one woman could ever have needed. To try to pick out what my Dad will want to keep and pack it in to a floral box full of memories as random as my Mum’s first school report and the hospital bracelet Finley wore around his wrist when he was so very sick.

Dad has gone to make a home within my sister’s family: a whole new life in beautiful Oxford. And though he will shuttle back and forth between us, in these first few days I am feeling his absence as fiercely as I do my Mum’s. How much has changed in just one year! My Mum gone. A betrayal on a scale I could never have imagined. The house. Finn’s school. Dad moving. Ste. Step-parenthood. So much change I would never have predicted! If I stop to think about it I am utterly overwhelmed. Astonished by my own resilience. By Finn’s ability to ride the perfect storm that has been our life in the past twelve months. By Ste.

Yes Ste. This weekend he bought me a ring. Two hearts linked together on a silver band. A promise ring. We ate tapas and made quiet plans. For this relationship is quieter now. No longer the butting of heads it was as we tried to forge a life together in the midst of unmitigated grief. And so this ring marks the end of the battle and the beginning of a life together. Step-parents to each other’s boys. Hard places for each other’s weaknesses. 

It is scary. Of course it is scary. I fear consequences for happiness. As if resting on the laurels of this gentle joy can only tempt pain. But this is about faith isn’t it? And while fear may be the arch-enemy of faith, I have a good man standing right by my side this time. And so I am bedding in to a new life. Negotiating children. Carving out grown-up time. Making time for Ste’s lovely family. Missing my own. Making plans to visit them. Shaping a home not quite yet ours. Growing up a son. Walking a dog. Still selling a house. Fashioning a business I can continue to love, despite the beating it has taken while my mind has not been my own. 

So much to do. So many lovely reasons to make it wonderful. Today then, these morning pages to clarify this life in my mind. A laundry space to carve out in the big, cold garage. A walk through the muddy woods just across the road. A Thai green curry in the slow cooker. And those rock cakes Finn will bring home from school, stuffed with glace cherries and wonder at the magic of baking. 

So many lovely reasons to make it wonderful.


Here begins a new series on BrocanteHome: the occasional, unedited spilling of my morning mind on to the screen. Approximately seven hundred and fifty words  of stream of consciousness, transparent writing inspired by Julia Cameron. So you can dig a little deeper in my head. For my eyes only,  for no doubt I will say too much.  And for those of anyone who cares to set their own minds straight in the morning time, by feeling inspired to do the same

Funny how middle age creeps on you. Like a gently faded peach my skin bruises at the merest touch and I lie in bed in the morning flicking the bristle of my one chin hair until it is time to get up and pluck it out. There is too much to do today: a whole list of things I will not end up doing. It’s constant this list of the undone. While I come undone. Spilling out of my bra. Muffin top. Bingo wings!! Saying too much and bubbling up happy thoughts in the cauldron in my head. I don’t care for small talk. Sit down with me and lets talk our worlds better. Together. The house has never looked like this before. I don’t like it.

No. The house has never looked like this before. No-one to blame but myself. Wandering around dizzy and in denial. It’s pleasant this taking a chance on life. There are no tomorrows: just the here and now. But I am eating bread again in this here and now. No thoughts for the swell of my stomach later. That can’t be good. A person needs to project herself into the future if only to predict and come to terms with possible pain. Tummy ache. Heart ache. I’m not scared.

I’m not scared. Only of mice. Once upon a time a mouse nearly drove me to drink. But now all the nooks and crannies of my heart and home are stuffed with paper and bound with tape. A  makeshift life is this one. Perfectly acceptable as long as the paper is sprinkled with roses, ha!  I’m not scared. Perhaps I’m dead? One of those living dead ladies you see wandering around supermarkets. Tears pooling in their mouths, spilling out in miserable growls. No. I’m not dead. Not like the woman who told me off last night for shoving my trolley into her hand-basket only queue. She was definitely dead. Only the living dead are ever quite so bitter. I’m too old to be told off, lady! There are wrinkles on my head to prove it.

I keep talking about botox. Of having my lips pumped into a permanent pout. But I won’t. Mostly because I would get addicted. Start living on baked beans so I could afford fillers in the lines etching themselves into craters either side of my chin. I would turn into one of those batty cat ladies. The corners of their eyes pointing to heaven and their mouths stretched into a pillowy smile. I am intensely vain. Addictions to everything from pretty words to wine o’clock and handsome serial killers. Until I expire and move on. But I never do move on. I am intensely loyal to houses and relationships and businesses. Scared of dropping the ball and having to pick up the pieces.

The coffee table is covered in junk. Piles of books. Jambusters: a History of the Woman’s Institute. A bowl of fruit. Dust. Never was there a house as dusty as this one. Two cups with the remnants of morning hot chocolate. A scrapbook full of lies. I cannot put my phone down long enough to tidy up. Put it down. Put it down. Put the damn thing down.

But my phone has got my life in it. People that matter. My business. Ah, if only I was a natural businesswoman. If only I didn’t fret and worry myself into an almost permanent stare of catatonia. There is still cake left. Cake and a cup of tea. Finn needs new socks. We leave them everywhere and I don’t care enough to chase them. Terrible thing this state of don’t care. I haven’t taken my tablets again. Is it any wonder I cannot pull my ring off my finger? Catatonia: repeptitive or purposeless activity. Negativity. Powerlessness.

And still I cannot stop smiling. I laugh a lot. I laugh loud and hear myself and feel embarrased. That women laughing? Probably me. I keep filling other peoples gaps. Perhaps they like them. I can only do silent gaps with those who lean their head against mine and whisper shhhhhh… People who remind me that silence is ok. That other people may or may not be dying inside our silent gap but that I have no obligation to fill it. Oh but how I want to fill it. And poke them and say what is inside your head? What the hell are you thinking? My intense need to know makes enemies of those who will not allow themselves to spill their heads, even when they are drowning in unacknowledged depression. Hell I wish I could shut up.  Stop thinking. Oh lordy. I am one of those woman who think too much.

They are a rotten lot aren’t they? Those women who think too much. Them and me.