I know it’s pretty chaotic at the moment but walking in the woods today I felt a sense of calm a feeling of gratitude and I found myself saying thank you to the trees. Yes again – I hear you say but there wasn’t anybody else around to thank and anyway Tod is in some of these trees
I remember not so long ago trying to fit in a walk in between a somewhat frantic schedule and reciting that iconic poem “What is this life if full of care…. ” etc etc and uttering those magic words “if only”. Well ‘if only’ is here and I do feel fortunate. I can if I chose ‘stand and stare – as long as sheep or cows’ and I can most definitely see ‘where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.’
And while I know I have complained about being on my own and having too much time and so on today is a good day and I appreciate being able to do exactly what I want with my time within of course the constraints of lock down restrictions. So much so that this morning in the middle of my yoga I stopped, switched off the zoom, because I just wasn’t feeling it. And what’s more I didn’t feel guilty. There’s a first. My life has been so governed by ‘shoulds’ and ‘ought to’s’ deadlines and guilt that I am feeling quite pleased with myself right now.
Instead I went for a long walk, sat on Tod’s bench, had a conversation with him albeit a bit one-sided, ignored passer-by’s who thought I was probably just a mad old lady, and enjoyed my glorious woods. So, William Henry Davies I am today ‘full of care’ and have as much time as I want ‘ to stand and stare.’
There are some good things too about being an insomniac – as well as the quiet it also allows me to catch up on the Radio programmes I have missed. Last night I delved into the archives of Desert Island Discs on Radio 4 and listened to a recent one with Sir Keir Starmer – hopefully our next Prime minister. The verdict is out on Lauren Laverne she doesn’t quite have the laid-back quality of Kirsty Young or Sue Lawley.
I then moved on to the Late Chief Rabbi Johnathan Sacks interviewed by Lawley just before he was inaugurated. Interesting both he and Starmer chose Beethoven’s 2nd Symphony. And while Keir (like me he also hated his name during schooldays and wished he could have been called something more ordinary like John or Michael or Peter – I wanted to be a Susan or Jane ) ended with Artists for Grenfell, Bridge over Troubled Water which sent me into floods of tears- not just for Grenfell but because it was Tod’s favourite song. It sometimes shocks me just how deep is one’s grief which most of the time can be held at bay but when it comes out – it is like an eruption. Thankfully no-one was around. Sacks ended his discs with Sholom Katz – Lest We Forget which also left me in tears remembering all those that perished in World War 2. Not sure this is exactly the best way to lure one into a peaceful sleep.
I had met Rabbi Sacks on several occasions when I interviewed him for the BBC. He was an impressive spiritual man of great intellect and a brilliant orator, but I think that he was conflicted by the pressures of a diverse Jewish community and he walked a fine line between the views of the ultra-Orthodox and those on the progressive wing.
I am excited to have discovered a whole host of other incredibly interesting people on Desert Island Discs which was first broadcast with Roy Plomley in 1942 and since then over 3000 programmes have been aired. So for starters I will be listening to:
Bruce Springsteen, (so sexy don’t care that he is getting on a bit) Tracey Emin (I think I finally understand her bed!) Hugh Masekela ( one of the first guests on my embarrassingly failed C4 chat show) Maya Angelou (“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ) Princess Grace of Monaco (always been a bit intrigued by her it’s the fairy tale princess fantasy) Bill Bryson (read all his books) Malcom Gladwell ( nearly read all of his) Nicole Farhi ( love love her clothes if only I could afford them) Shirley MacLaine ( because she was my mum’s favourite actor) and Steven McQueen ( 12 Years a Slave director whose anthology of films is currently on the BBC. So far Small Axe – brilliant and Mangrove have been aired. Each of the five films tell different stories of Caribbean people living in London from the 1960s to the 1980s. Growing up in Leicester and sneaking out to what was ostensibly and very exciting black blues parties was a highlight of my early teenage days.)
With all this on offer – who needs sleep. A veritable feast awaits me.
“Let’s be careful out there”