Monday, 8 February 2010

I have sinned ...

Which way? I cannot see the wood for the trees ....

Today, Raymond and I celebrate our 52nd wedding anniversary. We have both had a hectic working day; and delighted in together preparing our evening meal. We talked and talked, of our wedding day in 1958 - icy cold with snow in the wind - of the guests we invited, the embarrassment when we decided to marry of going from church to church within the near environs of the London districts in which we both lived to find one we 'liked the look of'; to then explain to the incumbent priest that we wanted to import our own vicar (my godfather), our own organist (my uncle) and our own choir, fellow musicians from the Royal Academy of Music, where Raymond and I met in 1957 as students; he studying the clarinet and I the teaching of theatre and speech and drama. (And I was only studying there because my father was professor of conducting.) We met, Raymond and I, though it wasn't love at first sight on my part; we married, we had (and have) three beloved children and nine grandchildren, set up our own publishing business; and the rest, as they say, is history.

I digress from the title of my blog: how have I sinned? I was reading the latest copy of 'Artful Blogging' and the advice given to intending bloggers: thou shalt and though shalt not. In my case, "advise your followers when you will be absent from posting for a while." I have sinned because I did not say that I would not post from 1st January until now, more than five weeks later.

My apologies. Had I known what was to happen in the last five weeks, I would have said. But I didn't know - how can you explain in advance that in the coming weeks you will need to survive winter temperatures the like of which we have not experienced since 1963; of the need to earn even in so-called retirement because our life-savings - all we have ever worked for since we set up our own business in 1967 - now earn but a few paltry pounds a month. The lock on the door fails so we cannot turn the key, we shiver outside in the cold, wrestling with it for ten minutes, are about to smash our way in; the boiler throws a wobbly and disintegrates, flooding the floor; the clothes dryer shreds a bearing; all need replacing. Bottles of olive oil cloud and all but solidify on the kitchen shelf; we only have heating from the wood-burning stove in the living room, and the load of logs I bought was not seasoned as advertised, but green, green, green- sycamore and chestnut (not oak) and will not burn.

So I spend hours canvassing articles, researching those that are commissioned, have to meet deadlines - five features in two weeks right now. This is not a sob story, for I really love the retirement career we have carved for ourselves over the last ten years; what I cannot admit to (though now you will know what frightens me) is that the mind may be willing but the body faints. No longer can I manage the all-night writing sessions of years past; yet I must remain as professional as I ever was; age is no excuse. Something had to give - I am afraid it was blogging; I signed in of an evening, read my favourites but lacked the energy to even respond or upload photos. Thus have I sinned.

But reading blogs has sustained me throughout my absence; thankyou so much to my three followers who have supported me because you took the trouble to email in my absence (you know who you are); thankyou to those who have become recent followers - if you have an email I will make contact; thankyou to all those who have been reading my past posts even though you may have wondered if I had dropped off the planet; and I am sorry that I have lost others along the way, that is galling. I can understand.

My love to you all. I am as wild a child as ever; just not as young as I once thought I was. But, as I read only recently in the poignant 'To Travel Hopefully' by Christopher Rush: "A man must keep moving in his mind and soul, otherwise he goes dead." For man, read woman. I tap away arthritically on my laptop; Raymond is watching the tv Parliament channel; illuminating, but so soporific that his eyes close. Snow is forecast again this week, the north-east wind blows bitter into every nook and cranny of this old house. But in the orchard, hazel catkins suddenly elongate, yellow and limp with pollen; within the 'plum patch' - snowdrops emerge and the first faint whisper of amethyst crocus tinge the grass overnight. Our 53rd year begins, and we have more projects on hand than ever before. Where there's a will ......

a faint breath of Spring; though it is grey, the sun does not shine and the pale crocus petals remain unfurled.

P.S. A warning received from my blogging friend, Helen (formerly Cocoa & Blankets); beware comments in Chinese; a hoax and malicious virus through which she has lost all. You can follow her new blog at 'A Time to Dance', the first post as lovely as were all her former ones.