Monday, 27 September 2010

dear jane

Dear Jane

I met you a little over two months ago and was instantly entranced by your story. I marvelled at the courage you had to endure such a troubling childhood; an orphan in an unwanted and unwelcome home. But you were strong. At school - the break you needed, craving and clinging to your books for strength - you showed the same spirit. You, Jane, were always a fighter.

After your education you became an educator yourself. First, it was at the same school with the same lessons, which you recounted, day after day, in the finest of details. But soon this took you forward, into the beams of a welcoming house. Little Adele became your student and friend and also, it seemed, the one who would open the door to your love.

Because you met him there, at Thornfield. And it was frightening and it was glorious all at the same time. You spent months tiptoeing around the truth of your love and he, he sat back, watching from afar. He tested you, he challenged you, he favoured and worried and fretted about you. Yet it was in fragments; wisps of fog that you couldn't quite cling to. And then one day, in the gardens, he confessed his love. And you, you challenged. Because you were not like the women of your age, not submissive nor retreating. I suppose that is what I admired about you; you were fearless in the face of opposition. That, too, is what he admired.

Most of your story after that became a blur to me, not because I was uninterested or bored or too bogged down with your account, but because I was fixated on you finding your love. I needed you to rekindle the romance that had been lost in Rochester's seedy revelations. I needed you, desperately, as proof that romance is real. The pastures that you had travelled in loneliness and isolation and the bravery you had shown were never more apparent as when you moved away to Moor House and carved a new, independent life for yourself. I had never felt your pain more acutely; I had never empathised with you more fervently.

As you closed your tale I felt a warmth and an assurance. You had had your heart broken and healed over and over again by the same man. You had shown me the rawness of pain and the beauty of union. There were parts of your story that I didn't like - perhaps your detail somehow hushed the suspense; perhaps I was somehow lost in the angles of your description - but it is still a story that will stay with me for a long time, broken up by the enzymes of my thoughts.


friday's finds...

...on Monday.

On Friday I meant to do a little round up of all the interesting things I had found on the internet during the week. Somewhere I got distracted and fast-forwarding two (wonderful)* days is appropriate. Here are my finds for Friday.

This little book mobile is beautiful.

What a brilliant idea!

I found the comments on this article the most revealing when it comes to gay rights in the US forces. And here is the Lady Gaga video that is illuminating it.

The top ten books challenged by parents.

I want one of these.

And now I must return to reading John Locke.

*Two days inside, out of the rain, basking in the comfort of Autumn. Decorating pumpkin gingerbread, icing cupcakes, watching The Labyrinth, cuddling.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

poetry wednesday

When summer began I laboriously filed away all study notes, all the instructions and quotations and ideas I had absent-mindedly scrawled on torn and travelled paper. Yet for some reason I left a stack of seminar notes beside my bookshelf and in them, a poem I remember liking. Today as I went to shuffle them away, in a final fresh-start sort of way, I realised that it is not the poem I remember. I cannot spy the metaphor I once admired or hear the voice that once echoed, resoundingly, in my heart. Maybe it is a different poem altogether and maybe that one, the one I remember idolising, is somewhere else; under another stack, perhaps.

Yet in this one there still is something. And so I share it with you.

When his beloved died
he decided to grow old
and shut himself inside
the empty house, alone
with his memories of her
and the big sunny mirror
where she'd fixed her hair.
This great block of gold
he hoarded like a miser
thinking here, at least,
he'd lock away the past,
keep one thing intact.

But around the first anniversary,
he began to wonder, to his horror,
about her eyes: were they brown or black
or grey? Green? I can't say...

One Spring morning, something gave in him;
shouldering his twin grief like a cross,
he shut the front door, turned into the street
and had walked just ten yards, when, from a dark close,
he caught a flash of eyes. He lowered his hat-brim
and walked on... yes, they were like that; like that.

Don Paterson, "The Eyes".

Tuesday, 21 September 2010


Because I guess I live my life through trying to please. Not just you, or him, or her - but everyone, everyone slotted into the spinning top of our lives. Because I guess I live my life through the validation of others, seeing the reactions of pride or joy (and sometimes despair) panned across their faces. So when you ask me what I want to do or what I like or how I feel, I guess I shake. The assurances falter; the focus is changed. But that doesn't mean I am putting all my faith in you. Although I am. Because you are the one I have chosen to share life with and support throughout. But more than that, you are the one I see the greatest potential in. So maybe sometimes you do take up the spaces in my life; the love or the looks or the long, lazy hours.

I wish I could say that I was sorry for that- but I would be lying if I did. Because sometimes you can't see it (and sometimes I am guilty of this too) but I love you for all that you are. And maybe I do shake and I do falter through all of those things I do not pretend to know, but maybe that is just because my heart has not yet told my brain. Because in there - and this is where I would point to my chest - I am full of ideas about where I want to go and what I want to see and who I want to meet, I just don't listen. But I promise you next time I do - next time I feel it rising - I will tell you about it and we will talk it through. Because sometimes I think that is what we're missing.

Although most of the time, I don't think we're missing anything at all.

Monday, 20 September 2010

good weekend

This weekend has been refreshing.

On Friday I went to a book-signing. In the moody interior of a local bookshop, I queued for 2 hours in the hope of stealing a few seconds with a hero of mine. And steal seconds I did. For many years I have basked in the the wit, humility, creativity, intelligence, empathy and true English gentlemanliness of Stephen Fry and for years I have berated myself for not meeting him when I had the chance (a few years ago I missed a similar book-signing). But now I have. And the humble, true gentleman that he truly is turned up early, signed more autographs and happily shook my hand. I could not have been happier. His new book "The Fry Chronicles" is the second instalment of his autobiography. Sadly as I embark on a second year of literary studies I am unlikely to have a chance to read it before Christmas, but the instalments I have so far read seem as promising and as revealing as the first.

Sunday I travelled to a relatively local seaside town for an arts festival. It is one of the very, very few towns that make me feel genuinely unsafe and genuinely fearful of its populace, so crowded with violence and disrespect do the streets seem. Yet the festival itself was actually very enjoyable. It had the right level of tradition and of surrealism that I often think more main-stream carnivals lack. And it proved that surrounded and engulfed and intoxicated by passion, enthusiasm and creativity, the worst of the world (or your world) can be forgotten - if only for a while.

And that, in a nutshell, was a good weekend.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

on dressing well

When it comes to clothes, I am a dress kind of girl.

Whilst I love to wear them - and I do, daily - I also like to window-shop. ModCloth has become my favourite place on the internet high street.

All courtesy of ModCloth.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

on feeling out of time

I have always been old-fashioned. Always admired chivalry; domesticated women and artistic, humble pursuits. Lately I have felt this force of admiration much more strongly than before. I have looked at my modern surroundings and longed to be in a time where my old-age pursuits were the norm. I like to bake, I like to read, I like to sew (although my talents in these, especially the latter, are very, very modest). The types of peer-pressure I have felt in my life is not to dothings - not to rebel, or shock or frighten - but rather to stop doing things - to stop having polite morals, stop being so reserved and refined, stop going out of my way to create things, from scratch, that can otherwise be bought in convenience. What someone is making me see today is that it is not the pursuits I long for; it is simply a different channel of behaviour. That is something I will never be able to re-create; I will never be able to swim back into Victorian times or float back down to the '50s, but what I can do is continue the hobbies that most excite me. Whilst they might not always fit into this world, a world dominated by technology, convenience and frequent promiscuity, it does not mean that I cannot channel the facilities of that very world to help.

So I will read, write, photograph, draw, bake, sew, walk and adventure using the freedom and amenities I have in 2010 and eventually I will find people who feel exactly the same. I've already seen that they are out there.

(Homemade, vanilla sponge with vanilla icing)

Thursday, 2 September 2010

the first day of diana

As soon as I got her, I took little Diana down to the seaside.

Here's what she came up with.

Or rather, here is the best of what she came up with.

I guess it might take a little while for each of us to know what we like and how.