Us & Them

7.14 am

I had panned to lie in but I am awake. Why is it that I am always awake when I hope to lie in? Sore eyes, muggy, but I am awake. I’m sat in bed writing, I do want to have a rest, fall back to sleep, dream of nothing. But I can’t.

One, two, three, four, five, six pigeons sitting on the ridge of the mill roof. Beside me Patrick, soundly sleeping, its Sunday so there are few cars on the road.

My body is drained, I shouldn’t have had so much heavy red wine to drink, but then, we so rarely get out, it would be a shame not to celebrate the occasion, I think its been about a year since we had a night out together, but to be honest I couldn’t actually remember when it last was, so maybe longer.

We held hands walking down the road. We clunked glasses together with a dear friend, sounded our  cheers.  My friend always looks glamorous, Monroe hair, black dress, black lacy bra, cleavage, curves; she points out that my lipstick had spread all over my teeth. I am clumsy at glamour.

We ate a meal at a corner table for two in the restaurant upstairs from the bar. Cheap Tai food, bowls of spicy soup followed by red curry. Music and the sound of talk sweeps upwards. We discuss politics, the upcoming election who will vote for who. Politics in our house stretch from red sea to the green lawn . There will be heated discussions over the next few months. I wonder if our votes will count for anything, change anything, better anything. I always vote, always, women, and men laid down their lives so that we could vote. Us/Them. We talk about art, we talk about the children, we talk about our mothers, about ageing and health. We talk uninterrupted and sip from our glasses. We sometimes disagree. There is always a little conflict bubbling under the surface, its probably what keeps us together.

One, two , pigeons sitting on the ridge of the mill roof. Mum and Dad looked after the children so that we could go out, it was only for a couple of hours, just long enough.

I switched the heating on, its clear and cold outside, maybe there has been a frost. I am not a fan of the dark side of the year I see though that it is getting lighter.

The bulbs are pushing up.

It was gone six last evening, and the sky was only just beginning to blacken to night as our car drove back into the arms of the valley.

We spent Saturday running around a National Trust house with my parents. Our house is a tiny two up two down workers terrace, but a stately home is big and has plenty of room for romping and stomping. There is something about National Trust places that makes me want to misbehave. It is easy to misbehave. There are so many do not touch signs, red ropes to keep you out, volunteers to direct you in a one way direction around a designated, controlled path of reverent nostalgic heritage. Very controlled. Lips pursed. Bottom clenched. Stand up straight. Don’t fart. I don’t feel at all reverent or respectful of a palaces built out of the slavery of the common man.

Boring and strange portraits of aristocracy, pale, fragile, waif children in fancy clothes standing beside fierce thick set hunting dogs. Long mahogany polished table lain with sparkling crystal goblets and empty plates of imaginary feasts. Heavy carved wood of four poster beds, intricately embroidered throws, proud standing baths resting on dismembered lions feet, pristine servants quarters cleansed and emptied of toil, silenced harpsichords, guilty gold leaf flora and fauna, large mirrors reflecting inward, red leathered books, blue veined vases and the blood, sweat and labour of  lost souls swept under carpets and tidied away.

The volunteers/sentry guards of this place seem ok, they don’t frown at my boys squabbling and romping and running down red carpeted corridors. The children’s rebellious running reminds me of a  scene from Goddard’s film , Band a Part, where  the main characters run through the corridors of the Louvre.

The boys have no interest in heritage, but they do enjoy the space, the acoustics, poking at things that you shouldn’t. Naoise finds the inner mechanism of the outside clock. You can see its wooden pendulum swing, and it makes a lovely tick, tock, tick, tock hollow sound.

We run outside in the garden, more silly signs saying “don’t walk on the grass, the bulbs are sleeping”. So many do’s and don’ts rules and regulations inviting me to misbehave. We walk around the lake, where Mr Darcy of Pride and Prejudice rose. I throw my arms around his handsome torso and whisper sensually in his ear. Maybe I will buy a tea towel with his image upon it, and now he is embracing me and my washing up.

Meanwhile my Mr Darcy is snoring beside me in bed. An alarm on a wrist watch sounds. I need sleep, my head is spinning again from the red wine hangover.

Patrick took some photographs of me on the lawn in front of the house, I am playing, pretending that the stately house is my home.  I’m trying to pose like a model from Tattler, I’m trying to look like a debutant, the landed classes- I am trying too hard, I am not sure that I am pulling off the look…….I am trying to look demure, polite, passive, proud. This isn’t much of a revolt, I need to revolt. I need revolution. I need to change.


We all need bread and roses.

I am sick of Downton Abbey ( though I’ve never actually watched it), Harry Potters, Doctor Who’s in bow ties that look like Tory Party leaders, pointless competitions about baking cake, and empty stately homes that belonged to them  that now pretend to be for us but that can only be reached by car, and are only accessible to those that behave and follow the rules. I am sick of behaving,  how should  a family behave? I am sick of compliance and fitting in. Its all too nice here, its all a veneer, its all a veneer. Its all about pretend, make believe, control, cleaning up, pushing under.


I need to fight back, I need to do more than petition click with my mouse, that’s too easy, I need to demonstrate with mind and body. I need to stand up. I need to be physically present. This is all too polite, all too clean, words are not actions.

I need to act, make a mark, not just write. I need to combine voice and body and mind and art. I need to stir it, mix it, bake it, make a delicious devilish cake.

1 comment

  • Peter

    The past is gone, the future is still to come, all living takes place in the present. This story is told fully in the present, I sense the writer is in a good place

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