This may seem sad, but it’s my reality. I have really struggled the last two or so months to put my writing ahead of work first thing in the morning, and yesterday, after days of feeling totally out of sorts, I came to the conclusion that I can’t actually function properly if I don’t start off my day with some work rather than with writing. What that says about my relationship to my writing (and my day job) I don’t know. So this morning I have already done two hours of work and feel ready to put some moments aside to write. I think this is what happens when your life is dedicated almost equally to two vocations, because, in truth, my day job is as much a vocation (and I’m lucky in that) as writing is. When my writing starts being able to pay my mortgage, then will be the time to reconsider the hours I give my day job. But now, here, this morning, I already feel much more at peace having got some work hours under my belt (and it’s just gone 9am as I start writing this).
The real highlight of yesterday was sitting in my second 5E treatment, talking to my practitioner, and hearing her tell me that I had inspired her, with the conversation we had when we first met last week, to bring more 5E treatments into her interactions with other patients (she practices 5E and TCM), and that she felt that she and her patients were really benefitting from that. This made me so happy, and, for me, reinforced what so many people tell me – that I am really good at mentoring and bringing out the best in people. I’ll settle for that – for a man constantly beset by doubts and low self-esteem that’s such a positive, and I’ll carry it around with me for some time.
Like last week, my night after my treatment was interrupted by not being able to sleep, by feeling very hot, mind racing with ideas (for writing and work). I think it’s been so long since I’ve had 5E acupuncture that my body had got to the stage where it was craving the therapy, where so many channels of my constitution have been blocked, that now the channels are clearing, I have this massive surge in energy and creativity and just being alive, that the first night after treatment is always going to be restless. However, unlike in earlier days, I’m not going downstairs, pouring myself a glass of wine and indulging the romantic fantasy that this is what writers do. I have been doing my meditation breathing in bed instead, managing to somehow revel in the fact that I’m awake when everyone else is asleep and the knowledge that sleep will come, has to come. And when that doesn’t work, I pop downstairs for some fresh water out of the tap, a quick smoke and some fresh cool air, and the back to the meditative breathing. It may not always work, but it’s progress from previous self-destructive insomnia behaviours. And that’s a good thing.
14:49 – I’ve just finished Aggie on my late lunch break.
AGGIE’S ART OF HAPPINESS – CHAPTER 68
Aggie is speechless.
Marit knocks on the door again. This time it’s ripped open. ‘Patience!’ A tall man with a shock of white hair appears out of the dark hallway behind the door, his face defined by the large nose he’s wearing. ‘Marit!’ He opens his arms wide. ‘This is a surprise. You should have called.’
‘I forgot your number.’
The man looks over her shoulder as he’s hugging her, looks straight at Aggie, and doesn’t look away, raises a white eyebrow, finishes the hug with one last tight embrace, stands up straight again. ‘And who might your companions be?’
‘Just some runaways I picked up along the way.’ Marit smiles and lets her smile turn into a laugh. ‘We need to see Mum.’
He looks across to the sheer wall of the Minster, interrupted at regular intervals by tall windows and lamps, reaches his hand out to Aggie first. ‘Robert,’ he says. ‘And you are?’
‘Aggie,’ Aggie says.
‘How nice to meet you.’ His voice is mellifluous with a hint of the round vowels of the West Country. His handshake is firm and dry, the cleft in his chin deep, which, along with his nose, gives him patrician handsomeness. ‘But I’m forgetting myself.’ He stands to one side. ‘Come in, come in. We can do the introduction behind closed doors. Please, please.’ He gestures for them to file past him into the hallway, waits for their eyes to get accustomed to the dark before he closes the door, and turns on the light. He rubs his hands, stands in the doorway to what must be the kitchen from what Aggie can see of it past the partially-closed door. ‘Come on then, Marit, the full introductions, please. An old man needs to be formally introduced.’ He inclines his head in a slight nod, something headmasterly about his manner.
‘This is Bestemor,’ Marit says, reaching out to Katharina.
‘Cassandra’s mother,’ he says. ‘How very nice to finally meet you. It’s such a shame we’ve not had occasion to do so before.’ He inclines his head again, and Aggie thinks for a moment he’s going to kiss Katharina’s hand.
‘Anna and Zav,’ Marit intones. ‘Reprobates.’
‘Look more like Secret Service to me,’ Robert says as he shakes their hands. ‘I didn’t realise they let their agents marry nowadays.’ He turns Zav’s hand over in one of his large hands. ‘But you’re not wearing rings. How very sensible.’
‘We’re not married,’ Anna says, her voice slightly quavery. ‘We’ve only just met.’
‘Plenty of time then, plenty of time.’ He smiles at his own joke.
‘And Aggie has introduced herself to you already,’ Marit says. ‘So there you are.’
‘Splendid, splendid,’ he says, turns away from the kitchen door to one of the other two doors that frame the hallway in a confusion of possibilities. ‘I have a fire going on in what they called the dining room when I moved in. It makes a much better living room when the kitchen’s big enough for dining on my own.’ He pushes his way into the warm room. ‘Please. Choose a seat of your own liking. I’ll succumb to my rocking chair by the fire again.’ He sits down heavily.
Aggie likes him, so she chooses a comfortable soft chair right by his side. The heat from the fire makes her feel relaxed and immediately at home. He must be twenty years older than Cassandra. At least. She can see what would have attracted a twenty-year-old Cassie to him.
‘Before I offer you some libation,’ he says, when they’re all settled. ‘Tell me, Marit, what this is all about.’
Marit hesitates, so Aggie jumps in. ‘We need to see Cassandra. It’s very important. We thought she might be here.’
Robert sighs. ‘Not that dreadful Valentine and his shenanigans again, is it? He’ll be the death of us all at this rate. Literally. You’ve seen the news, of course. His hand all over that.’ He leans back and folds his hands over his stomach, not large but burgeoning. ‘The thing is …’ He coughs. ‘The thing is – Cass left this morning.’ His face softens at the mention of her, and it takes years off him. ‘She didn’t say where, just said it was urgent. Anything I can help with?’