We were cuddled up on comfy chairs under duvets and blankets, while Nelson played his guitar and people sang. I sang my own song, and Nelson improvised chords for it. I had not wanted to come. I felt so miserable last Monday after a pleasant Sunday that I would almost have rather stayed in my flat, rather stay miserable than have pleasure then go back to it. I am glad I went. I feel more centred and confident than last week. I also feel the misery last Monday led to useful change. Nelson also helped me with my song: I wondered what chord to use before the final tonic, but he proposed two. I sang baritone, as it means I can hold a note:
Nick has done Essence two and a half times, walking out half way through once. He said something about me being unable to come, and I can’t think why.
-Nick, I have a prostate.
-I know what you have.
At this, his friend Julie got irritated and frustrated with him. I felt her tension. “What?” said Nick, and then started protesting, it is just his way, just his sense of humour, it is the way he talks. Neither of us could explain to him, so I asked him about his painting. He is ashamed of it. He should not be, it gives him an income, but lets him stay at home rather than going out to work. He said it looks like nothing as he works on the background of the whole, and only comes together when he adds the details at the end. Earlier, he had compared my bonny velvet dress, borrowed from Helen, to curtain material. I must ask Julie if he is like that with everyone, or just me. I liked the dress, but it was a little tight around the bust, which was uncomfortable. I can’t imagine how men cope with breast-binding before top surgery.
On the train down, I met Lilian, who is from Hong Kong, here studying Geography at university. She was reading Happiness by Design by Paul Dolan, which says that happiness is not about how we think, but how we act. She highlighted certain passages. One tends to think happiness is about attitudes such as gratitude and acceptance. He says it is about finding what we want, and doing it, and I can agree. Lilian disapproves of the democracy protests. She does not feel one person one vote should be a priority in China: it is more important to improve communications with the west of the country, so that people may find work without travelling so far to the factories in the East. Not reducing soot particles in the air, either. She has made it a point to study recent Chinese history since the war, and the sufferings of her people. I do not want to challenge her- she says people often get worked up- but do say that our particular way of encouraging different points of view lends itself to voting, here.
People started arriving about six. Best line- “I’ve done a bedroom scene with Cate Blanchett”- but he was playing a German soldier in Charlotte Gray, coming to arrest her. I feel my photographs compliment people and show a little of their character, and someone came up with this. Possibly Nick.