I know what I must do. Why do I not do it?
- Because I do not imagine it will work.
- Because I do not imagine I deserve it.
- Because I am frightened of what will go wrong.
- Because before I do it I can imagine doing it brilliantly, and after doing it judge it wanting.
I know what I must do. Why do I still think about and analyse it?
- Because that is my defence against my fears.
- Because it puts off starting.
- Because analysing is the gift I love.
So strong for such a vague memory! How was it? Mum, Dad and me, I think my sister too, feeling content and at peace. Or something. Happy, possibly. Companionable. We weren’t failing to enjoy something we knew we ought to enjoy, and not understanding our feelings at that, but uncomfortable; we were definitely together rather than separate: we all knew we felt the same way, though I don’t think we articulated that. Possibly we could not be verbal about it, only pre-verbal. Dad suggested we all go to the pub in the village. Mum demurred, knowing (how all-knowing I am in my memory!) that this would not prolong the feeling as Dad hoped. I don’t know if we went or not.
So I know at least we always wished each other well, however we were together.
Three months before my father died, I went to Edinburgh to visit him in hospital. He said to me “I awoke in a world of women!” Hospital is not like that, really, but close enough for him to believe and be delighted by his fantasy of being under several female thumbs, all at once. Fxxk yeah. I get that completely. I am in utter sympathy with him.
Dad came close to admitting it before. Mum was a district nurse, and he would remark how delighted he was to see “Totty” in her nurse’s uniform, in her car, driving off to sort some patient out. A firm, decisive woman- but a nurse, which is “Women’s work” so in some way reconcilable with conservative views of men’s and women’s roles, even as it would subvert them. At the time-
yes, I know, I reconstruct memory, I don’t really know-
at the time I was embarrassed by these outbursts. I did not say anything, or I said, “Oh, Dad,” deprecatingly or something- no idea how I behaved, but I felt embarrassed. I still do. We are up a country road, between the garage and the bungalow, no-one to see us but cows and not always them and I am embarrassed and do not want him expressing this.
Oh I resent being crushed like this! I have no-one to blame, or “the sins of the fathers”, or parental weakness and failure rather than deliberate wrong, always doing the best they could, or “Society” (I read Warlord and Commando comics, tales in cartoons of wartime derring do in world war II and I, sometimes other wars, nothing newer. Different world.) So most of my energy was devoted to finding how my mother expected me to be, and being that, though I went to school and was with children my age so some of my time was devoted to finding what they expected one to be or admired and trying to be that.
Should I like pop music? (That encompasses Rock, punk, ska, jazz even…) No, it is merely screaming. It is of negligible quality. There is no tune to it. Classical music is real music. People at the school like pop, though, so I remember in the PE changing room someone naming David Bowie songs and claiming to know them, then he asked “Do you have an album?” No- then denying knowing others. Perhaps he named some twice and I claimed then denied knowing them. Just confusion.
It was much later I realised how some songs spoke to me on a visceral level, expressing just the feeling I had in the moment, realising, justifying and intensifying my feeling, helping me recognise it. I will survive…
I felt similar confusion meeting a solicitor in B—, someone in another firm whom I would need to trust, who might be on the other side of transactions- How should I be with him?
Oh, don’t be silly, I could never be that.
And feeling after I had been gauche. Of course these are the normal experiences of callow youths, not knowing how society works or how people are together, and I feel I had a handicap in learning.
F, kicked out by her parents aged 17, made her way in the world, and I wonder why she tells me stories of Glasgow in the 60s. To encourage me, show possibilities? I feel it as judgment, what, surely everyone can do that? Or most likely because it is what she is thinking of now, to help her do what she must do now, which she tells me too.