I wonder what the Dalai Lama really thinks. My cousin Maddy, when the chips are down, says think Loveliness. The Dalai Lama does Loveliness, and is trained to be above average in the human being stakes. He twinkles and smiles, he does meditation and politics, he fasts and wears robes and does not do cold turkey without a cup of tea. He is full of mindfulness and love. But what does he really think? While he is meditating and slowing his heart rate to a tenth of, say, mine, does the image of a cheeseburger cross his mental line of vision? Does he ever wake in the morning and say under his breath as the icy air creeps under his robes while dressing, "No more Mr Nice Guy. I am going to smack someone today." As people queue up to touch his hand, does he ever want to say, "Gerroff."
The Dalai Lama is the top Lama. There are plenty of other Lamas, all of whom are trained to be Other and Wonderful. What do any of them really think? Because the Dalai Lama is a public figure, I am very taken with his hypothetical book, which will never be written, called "What I Really Think."
So as ever, comparing myself with the Dalai Lama, I have been thinking of the difficulty of writing a book called "What I Really Think." If I wrote about all the things that happen and what I thought at the time, this blog wouldn't be the jolly, measured account of life and love in Bognor Regis. It would be a teenage tantrum about things not being fair, and how I hate everyone and it is all their fault and why does everything always happen to me etc. And there would be a list of people I hate and what I want to happen to them. I would be lost in self pity and want to tell you all about it so you could plan revenge on my behalf and I would be the centre of attention in the playground. But - I work through that stage before coming to write it all down for the world to see. I do Loveliness, and think of things like consequences, and have a cup of tea. Often I don't even mention the things that really bother me, in case I tell the truth to all of you and get really personal. I am always in danger of folding my arms and pouting and wanting to stun people into submission by my silence. I suspect that it never works because the victims of this powerful tool of Pouty Silence are quite relieved and think oh good, she has shut up and now I can get on with my life. I, on the other hand, hope they are saying, goodness how wrong I am, it is all my fault and her stalwart silence is covering a truly broken heart and a gentle righteousness that is a lesson to me. Does this ever happen to the Dalai Lama? If he maintained a pouty silence, those around him would think he is just meditating again and leave him alone. Don't make a noise, they would say to each other, he is in another realm. Whereas the DL is wanting some real attention and someone to say poor you, have a cream cake and tell me where we have gone wrong.
I am always wanting to find peace and love. And adulation and glory. I want to do the right thing and I wish I was wise and deeply memorable. But I want that while being fed my favourite foods and being told at all times that I am fab, my paintings are fab, that my writing is fab and that really I am the bees knees. At all times. And when someone tells me they don't like me/my work/anything about me, it is because they are simply jealous.
I did go to France with Alan, to join the wonderful novelist Olivia Fane (her new book On Loving Josiah is out now) and her husband, and 20 other people in a Chateau in Cherbourg. I did paint there, and I did almost finish the portrait of Nush Khan Levy. I did feel very vulnerable too, because the people who we were holidaying with were very cultured indeed, and I realised that they may not like what I paint at all. No one said anything about the portrait, I didn't get the Blimey you are Marvellous comments that I long for, but then again, I didn't get the sniggers behind the hand either. I loved painting in this holiday in France. I loved how easy it was to set up in the attic there, and I loved how I actually did it. One guest staying there was an art teacher and an artist of high renown. When she came up to see what I was doing, I was afraid that she would say this, Antonia, is on a par with painting by numbers. But she didn't, she gave some very helpful practical advice which I followed and felt even more proud of myself for even starting to paint on holiday. Instead of just talking about it, you understand.
So what do I really think? I think I must go now and collect Eileen from the station. She is coming to stay so that we can work on A Graceful Death together, and for her to have a bit of peace. Eileen always tells me what she really thinks. If I don't go and collect her on time, she will think that I have deserted her and fallen forever into a pouty sulk. I had better go and get her, and tell what I really think, which is that having just arrived at my house, she should do all the housework for me.
You can imagine that Eileen will not spare her words telling me what she, too, really thinks.