Tuesday, 3 April 2018
One year on . . . .
. . . . and last month I hit rock bottom. Just as that heart specialist (how apt, ‘heart 'specialist) told me a year ago, that the end of the first year would be hardest to cope with. I’ve barely been able to rouse myself to do anything at all, off my own bat, that is. When other people have encouraged me to do things I’ve given in and done them. But as soon as I’ve been out from under their well-meaning efforts I crawled back into my cave. The weather was awful too, cold and damp and wet, with snow and ice for a week twice, which meant that I couldn’t even get out of the garage and drive to a supermarket. Did I feel sorry for myself? Not really, it was more a dull ache, a feeling of loneliness and abandonment. TV, books, chocolates and wine were my constant companions, but even they didn’t do much to lighten the mood. I wonder what I’d’ve been like without those crutches.
What I need is a passion. I have friends who sing in choirs, work in spite of being in their late sixties and seventies, endlessly help with grandchildren, work on village committees and church affairs, run all sorts of do-gooding charities. None of these activities tempt me. Not for the moment, anyway. I’ve said it before, I am not a joiner. My voice is a croak, proper work has long left me behind, my grandchildren are grown up. I’ve been on committees in the past and hated it. Quiet, behind the scenes charity is more my bag than noisy, front of house, ‘look how hard I work and how marvellously I run the show’ charity. I have to admit, if anything were down to me it would probably not get done. Or get done without fanfare.
So, how do I get a passion? Gardening was once one, I’d love to start again when the weather improves. In fact, last week I already did a full morning’s work and several short spurts and paid for it. No matter, easy does it. I have gone back to the gym after a break of a couple of weeks, worked out and paid for that too. Aches and pains are the natural outcome for sudden onset of physical jerks by the elderly.
I kid myself that going back to college would do the trick, retrieving my failing memory of Medieval European history, for instance, but blame living in the sticks for non-availability of any academic, interesting courses. Perfectly true. Online courses don’t quite answer the need for human interaction.
It’s only been a year, perhaps it’s still early days and I should not feel guilty for my lack of enthusiasm and my inability to ‘look on the bright side’. Positivity, Arghh.
There is the theatre, of course. I had a couple of injections of stage dust. First, "Imperium, The Cicero Plays," a seven-hour, two part version of Robert Harris’ trilogy about the rise and fall of Cicero, the Roman lawyer and politician. (Robert Harris described it as ‘like the West Wing in togas’). We stayed overnight at a delightful boutique hotel dead opposite the theatre, which allowed us to do some shopping in Stratford, an interesting town quite apart from the Shakespeare connection.
Then came ‘Macbeth’. Shakespeare’s bloody tragedy of greed, ambition and lust for power is everywhere at the moment. We saw the RSC version with Christopher Eccleston (ex Dr. Who) and Niamh Cusack.
Both plays are gripping, of course, but hardly a bundle of laughs. What is it they use in theatres for blood? There is such a lot of it in Macbeth. Barely anyone left standing at the end of the evening. Sitting in the front row I got sprayed with what I assumed was meant to be snowflakes during the final fight between Macbeth and Macduff; the stuff stuck to my black cashmere jumper and wouldn’t come off. It has now, without any brushing. Clever people, back stage personnel.
We also went to the opera: the Mid Wales production of ‘ Eugene Onegin’. The opera combines Pushkin’s compelling and heart-breaking story with Tchaikovsky’s sweeping lyricism in a stunning exploration of love, death, (more death) life and convention. Filled with breath-taking arias including Tatyana’s great letter scene and one of my personal favourites, Prince Gremin’s aria, the tale contrasts the simplicity of country life with the sophisticated excesses of Russia’s pre-revolutionary court and tells of the fated love between the innocent Tatyana and the world-weary cynic Onegin.
In spite of Mid Wales Opera being very much a provincial company and the orchestra being reduced to one representative of each instrument for lack of space in the pit, the evening was a success, as we told a lady with a pad and pencil taking notes of what we said. Is that how reviews are written? Get hold of audience members standing around after the performance and take down their freshly received impressions? We didn’t realise we had attended the first night.
Although the opera made for a pleasant evening, much more memorable was the meal beforehand in a pub/hotel in the centre of this small Welsh town just over the border from England. The place was heaving, very noisy, with beefy young men milling about everywhere. One giant TV screen was
showing an important rugby match between Scotland and England, (The Six Nations Championship is an annual international rugby union competition between the teams of England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales. The current champions are Ireland, having won the 2018 tournament.)
These for the most part young Welshmen bellowed their approval every time Scotland had an advantage, (I don’t know the rules of rugby) and their dislike of and disdain for the English team couldn’t have been expressed more clearly. We were just barely half an hour away from the English border; amazing how much animosity there exists between some Welsh and the English. I had a taste of that myself once when an elderly Welsh lady pushed me and Beloved off a bench on the promenade at Aberystwyth by shuffling closer and closer, first to the middle, and then to our side of the bench. We gave in gracefully.