Bristol January 28th 2020

Slept badly last night and it occurred to me what a rarity that is now in my life.

I’m cured.

Cue: vision of man waving hands evangelically and dancing a jig while praising the Lord.

But seriously, it’s great. How many times have I written about my problems with feeling adrenalised and unable to sleep or feelings of anxiety? And it has been years and years of feeling really awful over this, so thank goodness. Long may it last. I’d love to say it’s all natural and fully resolved but sleeping pills still feature regularly in my nighttime routine but also only working two days a week with relatively well behaved kids and kids that I actually have had a chance to get to know has made a massive difference. Also the great help of David Bowerman and his simple ideas about seeing anxiety as just a thought and trying NOT to think has been hugely beneficial.

I listened earlier to a Radio 4 programme with the psychoanalyst Josh Cohen talking about the advantages of not working – greater creativity and self knowledge was I think what he was saying – and how we attach so much importance to work or to being productive. This is something that eternally I criticise myself for while also looking for some sort of recognition. I’ll see someone who I knew from the past who has become successful and wonder if I shouldn’t be like that myself. I am rereading Artemis Cooper’s biography of Patrick Leigh Fermor and I secretly aspire to be like PLF. But why? Why not just be happy with how and what I am. I’m not as clever or as ambitious as these people I think of and that should be just fine.

I am happy – mostly. I am mentally healthier as I just alluded to. I am solvent. Yet, there’s always something nagging me and all of us, I guess. What is the person that I want to be? The person that I want to be should be the person that I already am. Remind myself of what I’m good at.

When I got back from Suffolk yesterday it was about 1.30 pm. Parker was moving out and into the basement. Another tenant gone. The search begins again. What a variety of people have walked through these doors. Anna, Wassim, Beth, Agus and now Parker. In all cases starting afresh – 3 of them having moved from their home countries to try a new life in Bristol. And then gone. The moving on moves me. Yes, the passing of time yet I am happy here and would like to stay for the moment.

‘..he wanted to be good, he wanted to be kind, he wanted to be brave and wise, but it was all pretty difficult. He wanted to be loved, too, if he could fit it in.’

As I unpacked my stuff I looked out of my window to see that Nick’s car had had all its windows smashed and had been set on fire as had a lovely old Triumph motorbike owned by one of the neighbours and always parked under the street lamp on Buckingham Vale. What a thing to do. The bonnet of Nick’s car was sticking up in the air all blackened as was the engine and the tyres. The bike was on its side with the petrol cap missing. This didn’t seem like just a simple robbery. It was more violent than that unless it was an accident but it couldn’t be. It looks like deliberate and excessive vandalism. My immediate negative thought was about the hatred of privilege in Clifton but this seemed much too far-fetched to be a likely reason. Poor Nick.

The strangest thing of all was that I was the first person to tell him although it had happened at 11 O’Clock last night. Neither he nor Parker had noticed while the people opposite had been really affected and phoned the emergency services.

‘Didn’t they call you?’ I asked Nick.

‘No, they don’t have my number.’

No neighbourhood watch in this part of Clifton. Not for the first time I think how everyone seems to live in their own little worlds on this street.

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