Friday, February 02, 2007

Letters, novels and phone calls

Feel rather better today, thank goodness. Though I could enter into the British Olympic Sneezing team and do quite well, in all likelihood. Still, it's good to have a hobby. But for that reason alone, Lord H and I have decided to give the play we were planning to see tonight in Woking a miss. If I sneezed at a point of high drama, the serious Surrey playgoers would probably lynch me. It's like the old Wild West out here in the shires, you know.

I had a brief word with Mother this morning, who rang at 8.15am. Which is nearly lunchtime for her. You can take a girl out of the countryside, but you can't take the countryside out of the girl. Except in my case of course - but I was never really there in my heart at all. During the week, I've been getting strange messages which appeared to be from her - hey, my own mother is stalking me; what a great henlit plot that is! - so I rang last night and left a message to see if she was all right. I was starting to have visions of my stepfather having tied her up and locked her in the office, and her only means of communication was to dial my number with her nose to try to call for help. Yes, I know. I should meet reality one day. I might like it. Especially as my stepfather is quite harmless really and was only ever remotely cross the once, when I ruined his raspberry patch by accidentally driving his car over it. Hey, anyone can make a mistake! We knew he was cross then as he sighed and one eyebrow went up. Anyway, all that's happened now is my mother has a new phone system and the shortcut button with my number on it is supremely sensitive. She reassures me that she's sorted it out, so I shouldn't get any strange calls while she's in the Canary Islands next week. Or no stranger than normal.

This morning, I finally got round to writing my letter to thank St Peter's for their book tokens gift. It's been preying on my mind all week, but I haven't really had the energy to put pen to paper. Well, today I've done it. It took longer than I thought it would, to be honest - I think because I wanted to say more than just "thank you and goodnight" - after all, whatever the current state of my religion (no, for God's sake, don't ask ...), they've been very sweet about the way I've been slowly withdrawing over the past year, ie coming off the Parochial Church Council, abandoning the prayer rota and finally giving my Sacristan notice in last September. I think I've hit the right-ish balance in the letter between keeping it light and being honest about things, but as always with one's own stuff it's bloody hard to say. I have to admit I got quite emotional at the end and had to sit and stare into space for a while before writing my final paragraph. It strikes me that I don't actually know what I'm saying goodbye to: being Sacristan? St Peter's itself? God? I don't know. This might be one of the few times in my life when I'm not sure which direction I'm heading in or where I'll end up, so it's hard being in this place of uncertainty and, yes, emptiness. Especially for an obsessive control freak like myself. After all, I've been a Christian for 24 years, in a variety of flavours and with a huge range of different dedication levels, and after an experience which was more deep, subtle and shocking than the sum of all my parts. It's difficult to let that go now.

Ah well. God, eh? Bloody hell, but you can't trust Him. And don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise ...

Anyway, gathering myself in, in the time-honoured fashion of many an Essex Girl, for the rest of the day, I've been chipping away at "The Gifting". 95,000 words done in total now, and it's feeling a little more like a real story rather than a series of disjointed scenes and sentences. I enjoyed it too. I may even have scaled my "middle of a novel hump", at least for the moment - though I'm sure there'll be more humps to come before the story finally disappears over the horizon and those magical words, "The End", arise mysteriously from the keyboard. Yes, I know - too bloody fanciful. I must get out more, and soon.

Tonight, I shall ignore the cleaning on the grounds of continued convalescence, watch mindless TV and not attempt the difficult sudokus - after all, that's what Lord H is for!

Today's nice things:

1. Speaking to Mother - strangely
2. Writing to St Peter's - bizarrely
3. Getting on with "The Gifting".

Anne Brooke

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