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My Teenage Diary

Yes you read that correctly. I’m in the process of clearing out the family home in Yorkshire. I opened a laundry box to find it full of letters, diaries and a scrapbook from my mid-teens to early 20’s I guess. I have so many diaries, but they all peter out after a few months. As does this one. The book was given to me by my brother as a congratulations for winning a piano playing award. No idea what. Words in italics are my blog comments:

Tuesday July 14th 198..

Hooray! Today I decided to write a sort of diary in the is book which I have had for quite a while now. Pop my mother’s father has been here for two days now. Mum was washing this morning and in a bad mood as usual interesting. It is the first day of the Yorkshire Show and the roads were packed as I went to get a paper for Pop and post Janet’s next door neighbour engagement cards and Mum’s letter to Austria I was about to go on an exchange there. Later Mum went to the Planning Office with Mrs Dale one of her friends to look at the Harlow Grange replacements WHY? Nowhere near where we lived. I spent today doing very little except playing the piano. Arranged to go to the Yorkshire Show with Simon lived up the road and same age as mewent to Infant and Primary school together tomorrow. But Mrs Black my Year 6 teacher rang up to see if I could help take some children tomorrow. I refused harsh but can you blame me? and then had a row with Dad about what? but Mum calmed things down. Mum and Dad both out this evening where I wonder….

Bert’s Back

I haven’t written since August last year. So much has happened in life that writing this just went off my list. But for some of the time I kept a handwritten journal, although in the grimmest weeks that stopped too. So I will reproduce some of it here to get you all back on track with me.

4th October 2019

Woke up feeling very tired which has remained with me all day. We did the shopping and I took books and stuff I have been clearing (and have been living in piles in the corridor) off to charity shops. I feel that I am beginning to find life a bit overwhelming:

  • job situation continues to be wobbly
  • my back has been painful
  • short of money this month
  • so many outgoings

It’s that home/work/health balance and the bottom line is money. It struck me today that I’m clearing out because I have so much stuff around the flat – in cupboards, under the bed, on top of drawers, filling up the box room. I need to get the box room cleared to get my teaching files in there, as they are lying on the floor.

But of course the root of all this is worry about Mum and Dad, and the upheaval we’ve been through having the windows replaced and the flooring re-done. I can’t/don’t want to think about anything in the future as I’m in the middle of so much.

Then I’ve got the stupid cow making my life so difficult at work.

On the upside went into Foyles and bought Sarah Perry’s Melmoth and Kate Atkinson’s Transcription with the money Mum and Dad sent me.

Upshot – I need to talk instead of bottling up all these feelings so they turn into resentments and then anger.

Intermission

Three weeks. See you later.

Work Catch-up 3

And now it’s the wonderful Adrian Mole The Musical, which I absolutely love working on. A show whose book, lyrics and score are fresh, wittily complex and surprising, put together by a very talented hard working team, and which is still making me laugh out loud night after night despite having to work through a relentless 414 cues in two hours.

Quote

The unfed mind devours itself.

Gore Vidal

Work Catch-up 2

Waiting to open Door 4.

Work Catch-up 1

I had three very happy months working as part of Stage Crew for The Twilight Zone, during which I was known as The Spinnerman because I had to deal with the bloody bastard spinners (see above), which eventually I made my peace with. I was also Door 4. No one who worked on the show will forget Door 4 in a hurry.

Talk Talk

Just had a very hard session talking about my Mum. He said if together we don’t help me sort out my problems related to her before she dies, I’ll end up on pills. which pulled me up sharp. I know he’s right. So he suggested I need to take a period of time I can control, every day, to think about the “bad stuff” between her and me, and then let my thoughts be as normal for the rest of the day. So job done and I’m moving on to other things – see photo.

(I also acknowledged how much of my coping mechanism through life has been with the weapon of humour, but that’s a subject for another day.)

Looking On the Bright Side

I’ve just re-read that last post. It’s so gloomy and I’m doing OK, so here’s a photo of a lovely tree near where I live. I have no idea what it is.

35 Minutes

So for whatever reason my blogging has dried up for months. Despite all the family nightmares I’ve been through, I stopped writing my diary (partly because the quiet periods I had to do it at work were taken over by busy shows), I paused this and I wrote less social emails. I used to write a handwritten letter to Mum and Dad every week. Dad has filed them all away neatly in a box. I think he hoped I would publish them. Then when Dad died I stopped those, as Mum couldn’t really read them.

On the upside though I have completed two plays, and I am in the middle of a third, and early signs are this latest one will be a breakthrough. So I have been writing (despite the fact that the t key on my keyboard isn’t working properly). And reading, and going to the theatre and exhibitions, and I’m taking a holiday soon.

I started seeing a psychotherapist to help support my mental health through the stress of dealing with my parents, but inevitably I’ve ended up working on myself – and as he says, the magic is beginning to work. I thought I was quite “normal” and problem-free, having no idea of how highly anxious I am because of stuff I won’t write about here. Although I still have a way to go, the changes I am experiencing are amazing. So I guess the talking has taken over from the writing.

Mum is in a care home, something which I promised her would never happen. But she wanted it, and we could no longer afford the care she needed in our family home. Soon we will have to sell the home to pay for her care which will break my heart.

The personal nightmare of the past nine months has played out against the broader canvas of divisive, unsettled times everywhere, which made everything even harder. It’s been a perfect storm. But as my Dad always said, there’s far more people worse off.

I’m still stuck with the Devil Cat, now renamed Villanelle. 18 years old, deaf, arthritic and with years of hyperthyroidism, she’s going nowhere other than into a battle of wills between me every day.

Life goes on.