Sunday 7 August 2011

Chin Up, Chest Out, Best Foot Forward, Smiles All Round

I am fine.  I am wearing pink.  I am glowing with a gentle tan applied a few days ago and still here, I have not taken a bath in case I go all white again.  My studio feels like home once more, and yesterday I had the birthday meal to end all birthday meals .  I had chips, crisps, sweets and a white bap with processed cheese and overfried onions. I drank diet coke and sweet tea from a polystyrene mug.

My hair it shineth.  My kids, they joketh.  My house, it is clean forsooth. And my garden, it noddeth (with flowers) and all is peaceful in the August sun.  

Yesterday I was 51. I had the most wonderful birthday, I had so much attention and kindness from everyone that somehow the tension from the last few months feels as if it is evaporating.  There was a certain Oh what the heck! in my heart as I woke this morning, and a very slight bubble of excitement in my tummy as I thought - I am going to make a list!  This list was a sensible list.  It was a real Can Do list of small and effective actions that I could do today that would, possibly, make tomorrow easier.  It was six items long.  It involved lists of people to email with teeny requests and reassuring statements.  It involved phoning a certain lady who I want to speak to about training to be companion for the dying. And it started with a very sensible item, "Ask for help". 

Two wee miracles happened in the space of two days that enabled this recovery.  The first wee miracle -
I have been longing to go away on my own to paint and write.  Just a week, I reasoned, one week of utter silence.  In a small cottage, by the sea, in a thriving little village, where I can be solitary amongst other people, and use the silence to create.  St Ives!  I said to myself, is the answer.  Well, the cost of getting there, the cost of staying there and the difficulty finding a nice place that would suit me was too difficult.  "Woe," I said finally.  "I live by the sea in Bognor Regis, I have my studio here and a constant food source.  I will stay here and create my St Ives holiday here.  Woe."  The next day, a busy travelling and seeing people day, I received an email which was titled "St Ives Invitation".  I was just getting out of the car at the time I received it, and managed to say "What the," before falling out of the door.  I sent it on to Alan and asked him to read it because I thought it was a joke.  A while later the email came back via Alan saying It is true!  Go!  St Ives awaits!  

An old school friend that I have not seen since about 1976 had seen me on facebook, had read a few blogs, had looked at the work, and had had an inkling that I should be there, in St Ives, in her renovated cottage while it was waiting to be sold, in order to lift my heart and spirits.  She had intended to write and offer a wee holiday there before, but had not got round to it.  But the day she did send the invite, was the day I most needed it, and the day after I had thought that it would not be possible. And she lives in St Ives!  Blimming heck that is spooky but welcome.  So I am going.  I will work out when, and I will go.  

The next wee miracle -

I have been doleful and morose of late.  It is true.  I have not been able to work, I have felt empty of inspiration and heavy of heart.  I have been fatigued right to my very soul.  "Wassit all about?" I asked myself morning noon and night, as I trudged around the house eating bread and butter and feeling fat.  Yes, lots of worrying things were happening with my boys, my Youf of Bognor, and still are - but - the effect on me was to put me into a state of Shut Down.  Why, I would mumble, when I could bring myself to remember all my painting enagagements and deadlines, am I watching my artistic life slide away from me?  And I cannot for the life of me, give a jot?  And then there would follow a terrible feeling of panic and helplessness.  Haven't I done enough?  I would say with sad eyes, to the wall, to have made some difference in the world out there, without always having to push myself and work so hard?

On Friday, the Sunday Times contacted me about an interview for A Graceful Death.  

Enough said.  Even if nothing comes of it, someone out there, who writes about The World beyond Bognor, was interested enough to want to talk to me about my work.  That contact from an established newspaper has woken me up.  "I am fine now!" I said to myself.  "Time to wake up." 

And today, because of the two miracles and the lovely birthday, I have made my list of six things.  I have already done four of them.  I have stepped out of the coccoon I have been in and am emerging slightly crumpled, as an Artist again.  Next week I go to France with Alan to join a house party.  Until a few days ago I had planned to run away and hide there.  Only Alan would be able to see me, I would be the Recluse that Must Not Be Disturbed.  Now, thanks to the St Ives and the Sunday Times email, thanks to my lovely birthday, I am taking my painting things to Cherbourg with me, in Alan's lovely posh car, and spending the week painting the portrait of Nush Khan Levy that I should have painted ages ago, for A Graceful Death.  And I am excited about it.  

"Ahhh," says the Dalai Lama reading this.  "All things have ebb and flow.  All things are cyclical.  You have just finished your ebb and are starting your flow." Thanks Dalai.


  1. Enjoy St Ives. I loved it and think its really you. Daphne Du Maurier used to write there. Its very Nana!!! Let me know how you get on

  2. You'll have a wonderful time in St. Ives - what a lovely thing to happen. I'm with Ralph - I think it is very you.

    Time to brush off the cobwebs and face the world again - I think this next picture will be one of your best ever.

  3. Hi Antonia,
    I was introduced to your blog by my lovely friend Eileen (above), and I'm so glad I was. I just wanted to say I love your writing and your stories and will be visiting often. And when it comes to St Ives - well, isn't synchronicity a wonderful thing!! I hope you have a lovely and productive time there.