Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Spring arrives with a dull thud


First day of Spring, at last more day than night. This brightness and vivacity, with daffodils bursting out all over seems to offer some kind of challenge which I don’t think I can meet, which makes me sad. But it is easier setting out for an early swim now the weather is milder.

Did remember to take my swimming things this time, but found that my swim suit was on inside out and after a very good swim, realised I had forgotten all my underclothes.

9am. Set off to hand in a painting to the BP Portrait Award up at Arnold Circus. No, no one does know where it is. It’s an obscure mark on the map, somewhere between Old Street and Liverpool Street. I can never find the right exit at Old Street so decided to try Liverpool Street instead. Had to ask people to point me in the right direction, but still ended up going the wrong way.

Got there feeling too hot, bought some paint and got back to Trafalgar Square by 11.30am. I had to meet some people from the church at lunch time for a tour of the Coliseum, one of our Lenten outings.

Drifted or was it glided around the National Portrait Gallery for an hour feeling like a ghost; listening in to tourists and their guides. An American woman pointed out how much a portrait of Mary Tudor resembles Kate Middleton, which was impressive of her. We all gazed at the Duke of Buckingham’s ruby lips and long silver legs in awe. Their elderly guide said that he probably wasn’t gay, even though King James called him his wife, and didn’t get a wife or children until after Buckingham was dead, murdered by a male admirer. What did one have to do to be gay in those days?

In the Regency rooms I listened to a guide talking to two smiling American ladies. They seemed to think that “Regent” was some kind of surname, after it had all be explained asking if George III was called “Regent,” too. They were interested in Wellington but vague about Napoleon, which was a surprise as I thought he was somehow international. The young guide, who looked like a student was patient and full of information.

I couldn’t hang around too long listening in so pottered on feeling increasingly gloomy, through the glum faced Georgians. I knew I was sad because Spring is a marker of change and I’m still alone in the world and feel the shame of it.

The tour of the theatre was very informative but I couldn’t concentrate and felt listless. I enjoyed standing on the main stage under the blue and white lights fed through a stencil, preparing for that night’s performance of Swan Lake. Going behind a flat, I found the little boat, complete with Perspex feathers by which Odette sails away at the end with her prince in pale blue tights.

It was interesting to visit the orchestra pit too, as I have never been in one before. So cramped and uncomfortable it reminded me of being below decks on an old boat.

When I got home at 3pm I had to face the fact that I am now leading a useless empty life, not even an enjoyable Regency style, useless and empty life. The cancer shoved out such ideas, but now they are coming back. I really need a job.


Another good swim followed by a trip to the doctor to get some Asprin which I take every day as some trial said it was good against cancer. She says she has never heard of such a thing but agreed to give it to me. Tell her I am losing my memory, no underwear again. This could be due to menopause, chemotherapy, stress or Alzheimer’s, or all of those things at once.

She says it is nothing to do with the menopause and I “must have been reading things in magazines.” She asked me to name the Prime Minister and for a moment I thought she was joking, then realised it had almost deserted my brain along with my pants and bra. Managed to summon it up in time, and got the other questions right, even counting backwards.

I was glad she asked me the dates of the Second World War, made it more interesting, but I wondered if they reserve that question for everyone, even people like me who came along some time after it. Maybe she’d ask my mother about the one before it, and anyone over 95 about the Franco-Prussian fiasco.

I am glad she didn’t ask me questions about the Treaty of Westphalia, or the Boer War because as an example of how odd my brain is, at different times, I once knew a great deal about both of them, answered detailed exam questions on them, but by about the following day couldn’t remember anything much about them at all.

She said there are no preparations available which can do anything about memory loss and my condition was most likely caused by stress. I ought to stop worrying and learn to “live in the present.” She is right of course.

I was walking out of the door when she realised she had forgotten to give me my Asprin prescription.

No cheque yet from Colin Firth. Perhaps my letter has slipped his mind. He has probably been carrying it around LA in his pocket for weeks, meaning to reply.

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