It’s been a struggle to write in the past two week because for most of my time has been spent at my desk, hardly moving at all. My fitness tracker buzzes at me regularly, telling me to get up and move, but mostly I ignore it, attached to my screen but not feeling any sense of accomplishment, more like the feeling of wading through mud. Is it a January thing?
I wonder if part of my lacking inspiration to write is because Bloganuary has worn me down. I don’t know if anyone else has been struggling, trying to hold up with the prompts that felt more and more like awkward first date/interview questions? I tried responding to only the questions that interested me but even those got thinner and thinner as the month wore on. Somewhere around the 20th I just gave up on it. I think the last one I saw was “Describe yourself as a tree.” No thank you.
Physically typing has also been difficult as I’m suffering arm pain again. I say again, the last time I had this was in the early days of the first lockdown. I’ve started doing the exercises my physio gave me back then but I still have pains in my arm. Sometimes I wake up in the night with my arm in pain, sometimes I try and cut food this causes a sharp pain in my wrist. I’m feeling broken but persisting with the exercises. Last time she told me that the pains in my wrist were referred pain from the aggravated nerve in my neck, and as I persisted with the exercises, the pain should move back up my arm to my neck and then disappear. Which I remember it did do last time. I hope it will work this time too.
I blame partly the non-moving nature of the past few weeks but also my recent obsession with jigsaw puzzles, which also cause you to hold your head at a strange angle. Our most recent puzzle was the Sistine Chapel. It was horrible. Well, maybe not horrible but much more challenging than others we have done recently. Symmetry is a bitch in a puzzle; small details also. Husband suggested we get ourselves a magnifying glass for our puzzle work. I’m starting to think that is a good idea. (I have no idea where they sell magnifying glasses nowadays. Is there an old people’s shop?)
They say a change is as good as a holiday but I think a holiday is pretty good in itself, so I have booked a week off in February. International travel still looks difficult so Husband and I are heading back north to the Peak District again – staying in Buxton and Sheffield for four nights each this time. It’s February so the weather won’t be great but I hope we’ll have enough clear weather to get out for some hikes. I’ve found a nice 6 mile circular walk around Ladybower Reservoir from Sheffield; and another walk around a kind of tableland area called Combs Moss from Buxton. We may even get to visit the little town with the charming name of Chapel-en-le-Frith. Husband is busy marking his online map with key points of interest in the towns where we’re staying (mostly the highest rated real ale pubs). I’m doing the walks and transport options research.
Book club updates:
Local bookclub had another meeting which I didn’t attend because I had forgotten about it and hadn’t read the book (Heartburn by Nora Ephron). Some people actually turned up this time and someone has even added some friends of theirs to the group so maybe with more members there will be more people attending. I saw the woman who sent the snippy messages about “being in a book club means reading the book and showing up to the meetings” has left. There’s a poll coming to pick the next books. I’ll see how I feel. Maybe I should leave it too if I’m not going to actively participate.
International bookclub also had a meeting that was much more fun. We chatted for an hour and half – sometimes even talking about the book! Untamed by Glennon Doyle – mixed reactions from the group on this one from someone who loved it to someone who couldn’t finish it. For me, I had a mixed reaction. Some of her thoughts I agreed with, others had me rolling my eyes. But the book led to bigger discussion about things going on in the group around issues of addiction and mental health and marriage break ups and blended families. The next two books for international book club are Philip Pullman La Belle Sauvage (fantasy – not something I read much these days) and Keri Hulme the bone people (New Zealand fiction – a Booker prize winner from 1985).
And I bought some more books on the weekend (what can you do when you find a charity shop offering four books for £1?!). I also finished two more – French women don’t get fat by Mireille Guiliano and Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions by Mario Giordano. The reason French women don’t get fat? They walk everywhere, they drink plenty of water and they eat plenty of seasonal fruit and vegetables (the author’s tales of her idyllic countryside upbringing and picking fresh blueberries, harvesting walnuts from the walnut tree, picking mushrooms in the forest in autumn all got annoying after a while). They don’t deny themselves pleasures, but they accept that there must be balance and pleasure in all things, and better to have a small piece of quality chocolate that you savour completely than a snickers bar that you eat without noticing. Am I taking any of her tips on board? I am taking time now to chew my food and really taste it, and bumping up my water consumption. I read Auntie Poldi pretty much in one day, starting in the afternoon and finishing it the next afternoon after getting up at 1am when I couldn’t sleep and sat reading for 2 hours. I have to read more books. The books are piling up.
While there is some stuff going on in the background that I’m worrying about, and I hope to tell you about soon, there are other, bigger issues out in the world to worry about:
· UK Politics – many stories are emerging of parties being held in Downing Street at a time when the rest of the country was in lockdown. Political people were getting together for wine at a time when the rest of the country was not even able to attend the funerals of loved ones. I am beyond angry at the arrogance of this.
· Ukraine – Russian troops have been massing on the border for months now and I really hoped this was going to be some kind of empty posturing gesture and there would not be an invasion but Europe and the US seem to be gearing up for conflict. I’m watching this happen and thinking, “Wait, so no-one is going to stop this?” This feels like jumping back 40 years to the Cold War face offs from my youth.
. Further proof the police are not on our side – an academic has just been awarded damages by the Metropolitan Police after being subjected to ‘sexist, derogatory and unacceptable language‘ after her arrest. Her arrest seems to have been linked to her intervening to hand a card outlining legal rights to a teenager who the police had stopped under their stop-and-search powers. In response to this intervention, she was arrested, strip searched (her clothes were cut off her). “Treat her like a terrorist,” the custody sergeant said. (He faced – and was cleared – by a disciplinary panel in 2018.) “Any way in which you have not complied, or you have stood up to them, or you have resisted, is taken as a justification for an escalation of force and violence against you,” she said.
And congratulations to anyone who spotted the Morrissey reference in the title of this week’s post.