I am cold! Seems I was beginning to think I would never write these words again – and the same could be said of the polar bear … refrain from exclamation mark. Refrain! No, too late. The thing is, our summers are, now, characterised by sticky, humid heat – often beneath cloud cover – and bouts of tropical rain. Certainly not the weather one has come to associate with Old Blighty. In fact, let’s face it Nature is just doing her own thing, fed up with us arrogant, ignorant beings destroying everything in our wake. One reaps that which one sows …
I was about to start writing, blank document before me, and then I decided to quickly look something up – what day is it? No, something less important. Anyway, panic averted, I noticed one of these infuriating adverts had popped up at the bottom of the screen: Portable Pizza Ovens! How did they know? Seriously, though, why? Just why? Try and read any newspaper article online, these days, and one can barely see the text for adverts everywhere – and, worse, they don’t even have the decency to be static, instead, moving up and down as though just to be difficult. Look, if I want to order something, or just find out more about an item, I can do that. However, if I want to read an article on the screen, do not flood it with unnecessary rubbish, supposedly chosen especially for me. Thank you!
Back to business. The news this week on the home front? Jane Austen is dead! Yes, yes, I know she, actually, died in 1817 but my point is, I have, finally, finished the book: JANE AUSTEN A Life by Claire Tomalin. Weeks is not in it; it has taken me months, I am convinced! No disrespect to the author but I consider it heavy going. Perhaps, that is largely due to my hour of reading – when I, finally, meet my bed in the early hours having said I must retire at 10pm – but, regardless, I have a feeling it would still be heavy going. To begin with, concentration is a must to keep up with the Family Tree: notably, children in their droves thus giving way to cousins everywhere! Forget counting sheep … However, I started and, thus, I had to finish and I feel I am deserving of a pat on the back. It is a book I should have read years ago, having spent a term devoted to Jane Austen at uni – my glory days with Dr Jack – and, yet, ignoring any great detail of her life. At last, it is a life with which I am now familiar and it is quite a sombre tale, in truth. The seventh child in a family of eight, she was one of two daughters born to the Reverend George Austen, a rector in the Hampshire village of Steventon, and his wife, Cassandra. A close family they, nevertheless, struggled financially and Jane and her sister knew that they must marry someone of means. Sadly, Tom Lefroy – the Irish nephew of a family friend with whom she fell in love, aged nineteen – fell short on that front, alone, and it was not to be. Jane never married, devoting her life, instead, to her beloved sister – Cassandra – whose fiancé was killed in action, her writing and her many nieces and nephews. She was only forty-one when she died, suspected, now, of some form of lymphoma. Her completed novels – in the main, Pride & Prejudice – achieved only meagre success in her lifetime, soaring in acclaim in the wake of her death to ensure that, today, she is regarded as one of the nation’s most beloved classic novelists …
Thoroughly glad I persevered, I have, at last, gleaned the knowledge deserving of forty years past. Help! Read that at speed and omit to dwell … Something else apropos Jane Austen – and much of the information my brain computes of late: I am constantly aware of subject matter which may constitute a question on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? In other words, I am swotting! I suppose there is always a first. Perhaps I would have been safer applying for Mastermind for which I could have chosen my specialist subject? I can already hear The Voice in My Head – Pop – with his customary sarcasm: some rubbish, or other! Clearly, he felt his money had not been wasted on my education.
It is Tuesday now, as I write, having had to dash off, yesterday evening, to Edinburgh to see Passenger at the Usher Hall. Weird being out and about at an event amongst the public: the Scottish public! Confined for too long, most had enjoyed a few too many ‘sherries’ even before entering the building and, of course, they made their ignorant voices heard with their shouting and heckling. Please Sir, do not lump me with them! There were masks and no masks; the nervous and the relaxed. Interesting to observe. Passenger – Mike Rosenberg – himself? The storyteller with the acoustic guitar, he is a unique talent, as he, effortlessly, taps into one’s emotions, a lone figure on the stage. He captivated the drunken mob, obviously, for an hour or so – notably shorter than usual – though his set list was a little random. Playing only two of the less melodic songs from his last album – Songs for the Drunk and Broken Hearted – thankfully, he did include one or two classics. I have written about his song, Holes, before; one which has special meaning for me, Becca and Manny, the lyrics resonating at a difficult time in our lives. His encore in November 2014, the memory of us, three, arms round each other singing our hearts out, defiantly – me, tears streaming, of course – remains extremely poignant, and vivid. He chose the same encore, last night, and, somehow, I just knew he would …
‘Well, we’ve got holes in our hearts, yeah we’ve got holes in our lives
Well, we’ve got holes, we’ve got holes but we carry on.’
He came out to say ‘Hello’, back then in 2014, happy to chat and have photos. Last night he stayed on the bus. COVID or just a case of different time, different guy? Sadly, he made no effort to dispel the latter.
Let me leave you with the image of Michael Gove, ‘raving’ in an Aberdeen nightclub at the weekend … Answers so many questions, not least why we are where we are today. As part of the governing body, supposedly, running our country, it would appear he has no idea where he is. Doors to manual. Women and children first … and absolutely no apologies!
‘You see all I need’s a whisper in a world that only shouts.’
This is Trish, signing off.