Apr. 19th, 2015

kafj: headshot of KAFJ looking over right shoulder (Default)
'Oh, I'm so lucky!' my mother exclaims, whenever she remembers where she lives.

This is why:



Standing on her garden wall, you see Ventnor falling away below you in higgledy-piggledy terraces down to the sea, and the Channel stretching out. France is over there. Thataway.

I don't have the English Channel, but I have taken to thinking the same way about the river Cam. I live three minutes away from this. I am still overwhelmed by the fact that I am lucky enough to live here, and I've been doing it for nearly a year so.

There's something about living near water, I think. There's the huge, calming vastness of the sea. The river doesn't quite do that, but it's full of life and activity. The ducks, the rowers, the houseboats, the swans - there's always something going on, always something to look at, and you have to go out very late at night if you want to be sure of not meeting anybody.

The days draw out, and even on work days I leave home in daylight and I return in daylight, and I cycle to the shops, or I walk to the pub, or I sit by the river and eat an ice cream, and I watch the ducks flying downriver and the boats hauling upriver and the swans nibbling at the grass from the bank, and the trains pelting over the bridge, and I think, 'Oh, I'm so lucky.'

I love living near water. One worries, vaguely, about flooding and cliff falls, but they haven't happened yet. I've always lived either near water or within earshot of a railway, or, as now, both. The one time we did flood we were way out in the country, and that was the river Teme remembering its prehistoric course and coming straight through our cellar. It was all right: we lost the freezer, and that was about it.

I love the trains, too, but in a slightly different way. Water is huge and full of activity; the trains are contained. Human creations, orderly, predictable, going where they're meant to go. They make me feel safe. Even in the awful bedsit, the worst place I ever lived, I heard the trains rattling past at night, down in the cutting underneath my window, and I could think, 'I can get away. If it gets too bad, I can get away.'

Here, I have trains and water. This is what makes me feel lucky.
kafj: headshot of KAFJ looking over right shoulder (Default)
Permission to wish. Permission to really, really want something. I find this difficult. I have a superstitious conviction that letting myself really, really want something will alert some contrary-minded force to my desire, and I won't get it.

It's a defensive little monster in my mind, promising me that if I manage not to want something then I won't be disappointed when I don't get it. It's first cousin to the Angel in the House (who has been quieter of late, but is still in there somewhere) who sits in my head telling me that whatever it is that I want cannot possibly be as important as whatever it is the other person wants, and that if I get it instead of the other person, it will all go wrong and will all be my fault.

Of course it doesn't stop me wanting it. I catch myself thinking, 'well, if I get it, I'll...' - or, more dangerously, 'well, when I get it, I'll...' Wear this. Say that. Be able to do the other.

There's nothing that I can do at this point to make it more or less likely to happen. These little mental tricks will make no difference to the outcome. All I can do is wait.

I tried forgetting about it, but it hasn't worked. I'm still watching my emails, listening for the letterbox. (There's a lot to hear from the letterbox at the moment, but it's mostly Labour and the Lib Dems fighting for this marginal seat.)

Let's try an experiment. There are ten days left of uncertainty. Let's try really, really wanting it for those ten days, and risk the disappointment. Truth is, monster, I'll be disappointed anyway.

Very well, then. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. I wish...

Just for a second, I manage to really, really want it.

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kafj: headshot of KAFJ looking over right shoulder (Default)
Kathleen Jowitt

April 2015

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