annanotbob2's Diaryland Diary


Day 92

First off, this:


Yes, that's 50 consecutive days of meditating with Headspace. I think it's helped, though I can't remember precisely what I was feeling like when I wasn't doing it, I just remember it was crap.

I didn't wake up till 9.30 this morning, with the last Thursday writing workshop at 10, which was also crap. I decided to let myself be a bit late, to still have a cooked breakfast with poached eggs and my turmeric latte, and to not rush, but not to bother getting dressed or properly cleaning my teeth, just put a cardie over my nightie, run my teeth under the hot tap to soften them up, bung them in and we're good to go.

The first exercise we were set, after a load of chat, twenty minutes - I could have dressed - was to let our inner critic hold forth, to write down what they have to say. Straight away, before I'd really thought about it, I said, "I'm not doing that." And I didn't. I was quite proud of myself. I'm not doing that to order, suddenly without warning, opening that can of worms and and reading it out live to a bunch of people I hardly know. No, you're all right, I'm passing. Instead I wrote a bit about keeping myself safe, putting my feet on solid ground and god knows what else. For the second exercise she asked us to write a quick list of 'firsts' - the first time we did something, anything that came to mind, two minutes. Then we had to pick four to write about. She wanted us to write two as memoir and two as fiction, but I didn't do that either as I don't have anything going on to create fiction at the moment. I just wrote. We had to do the first one and keep going till she said 'Next!' - probably seven minutes each. These are mine.

First spliff

At the Isle of Wight festival, 1970, afternoon, hot, dusty, in the crowd, all denim and sweat, sitting down squashed up close, waiting for the next act - The Doors? French bloke sitting next to us, rolling a fat cigarette, crumbling something in. He catches my eye, 'You want some? You like smoke?' Bill nudges me, 'Say yes! Go on!' I do, I inhale deeply, cough forever, French rolling baccy, like Gauloise on steroids. I cough and cough and cough and cough but when I get home I seek some out and try it in the park with my mate Graham - we still laugh about that - he mentioned it on Facebook this week, fifty years later.

First Poem

Sitting in the minibus going to school. I'd forgotten my English homework. Write a poem for the school magazine. Leaning on my suitcase scribbling with my fountain pen, the first words that came into my head. "...Ink, it makes me think/of the sea/well/both are blue/and how are you?" The words float up from the past, 1966, bumping along the Marlborough Downs, in a panic about not having it done. They put it in the magazine, the only one from my year group. But I wrote it in five minutes, with no thought - how can this be true? I didn't feel good or proud, I felt cheated, that surely poetry was more than this, more than the product of five minutes panic. It didn't make me feel like a writer.

First Heartbreak

Danny Hines. Oh how I loved that boy. He was a shocker, went to the tiny boarding school for delinquent boys, but I loved him. He came to my house one half term morning and asked me out. I answered the door in my ratty, ancient, candlewick dressing gown, unbrushed hair, no make up. He didn't even notice and I never bothered with make up again, quite literally. We went to the dance at the village hall and became a couple. All was fine till he met my sister, my much younger sister. I was pleased they got along but then he dumped me, saying he wanted to go out with Sally. She didn't - she was only 14 and she's my sister but I was heartbroken, locked in my room, listening to Leonard Cohen. "I loved you in the morning, our kisses deep and warm... hey, hey that's no way to say goodbye"

First teaching moment

I didn't specifically want to be a teacher - I just wanted to support myself and my kids. The only vocational courses that came with a grant were teaching and IT. So, give teaching a go, though I'd always been naughty at school myself. Naughty and lazy. But I couldn't sit at a screen all day. So... My mentor in my teaching practice school said Y10 were doing Silas Marner for their exams and half of them wouldn't read it, so I'd have to read it out loud, the whole thing, lesson after fucking lesson. George Eliot. 19th century prose, all those long words and long sentences, to a bunch of disinterested 14 year olds. It was hard getting started. They fidgeted through the first few endless sessions until one afternoon it changed. When Silas Marner finds the little girl - suddenly I had their attention - that golden silence when you can hear a pin drop. Rapt in the words of George Eliot speaking across the centuries, filling the minds of these city kids, taking them away from thoughts of Xboxes, the cup final, the pop stars, into a world of babies left on doorsteps, melting the heart of a lonely old man.

After that I went to the beach and met my beautiful wonderful kids and we sat in the wind for hours chatting shite and laughing and I only cried a bit at not being able to hug them



On the way home I had to stop and take photos of the shop with this on its windows




Fucking hell is all I can say to that. Amazing. We have to see this through. I don't know how or what or where it's going but this is a fucking wave of good intent and something good and concrete has to come of it. Surely?

Good night xx

1:21 a.m. - 12.06.20


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