“Time passes. Listen. Time passes.”
– Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas
Juliet died two years ago today.
Today I and the Long-Haired Pixies had lunch in Jamie Oliver’s restaurant in Oxford, very pleasant. This time last year, the LHPs and myself were in New York, followed by Washington. Holiday last year, lunch this year – Juliet would have approved. I changed my Facebook profile photo at midnight – see below – and will change it back again tonight. J wouldn’t have been so keen on that, but hey.
What else has happened in a year?
In the late autumn I split up with my new partner of 14 months and joined a running club (the two facts are not unconnected). It was a very miserable Christmas and New Year. I got into the concept of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and touched on Mindfulness, and I’m a better person for both.
I did lots of dating – and I mean lots – and many girlfriends came and went, but not yet The One. What was it I read the other day? “If you were happy with the wrong one, think how happy you’ll be when the right one comes along“. That’s a reference to the Ex, not J of course.
I kept up with culture, mostly in Oxford, including Dylan Thomas (Under Milk Wood), but also Shakespeare and Moliere! I finally got to the end of “Troubles” by JG Farrell, recommended to me by my Mum, on account of the final beautiful paragraph. Which I shall quote here:
“As it turned out, this lady of white marble was the only bride the Major succeeded in bringing back with him from Ireland in that year of 1921. But he was still troubled by thoughts of Sarah. His love for her perched inside him, motionless, like a sick bird. For many weeks he continued to think about her painfully. And then one day, without warning, the bird left its perch inside him and flew away into the outer darkness and he was at peace. Yet even many years later he would sometimes think of her. And once or twice he thought he glimpsed her in the street.”
Earlier this year I went on holiday by myself for the first time (didn’t like it), to the Lake District (loved it). Lots of hill-walking and some running.
Lucy finished her second year of university, Alice her final year of school. Where are the years going?? Alice and I visited Lincoln, Bournemouth and Kent university open days, with the favoured choices being in that order. She turned 18 a few days after my last blog post.
I had my eyes lasered and now have 20:20 medium and long distance vision but with the downside of having to fumble for reading glasses to read labels on cooking ingredients. Fortunately I don’t do much cooking. I did buy a posh, expensive skillet pan, to the derision of the LHPs, but all I’ve cooked in it have been scrambled eggs.
I bought a ukelele but found it harder than I anticipated, perhaps because I want to hold it left-handed, like Paul McCartney. The musical resemblance stops there. I will have to keep trying.
After having a clean driving licence for many, many years, I got three speeding tickets in quick succession, so am now on the maximum nine points. And driving around with the cruise control locked on to the speed limit, which is boring but necessary.
My sister had a breast cancer scare, but cross fingers, looks like she will be OK. She was detected in time. Juliet wasn’t. That’s the difference. In true Hodkin family tradition, Rebecca blogged about it, here.
I also did lots of running, not very good at it, but the distances have steadily increased and the times slowly reduced. I ran my first half-marathon and have two more booked, including the BUPA Great North Run in September. You can sponsor me here – it’s for the NSPCC rather than a cancer charity, as I won the entry place via a Facebook competition! and first direct bank will match £400 if I raise that on behalf of the NSPCC. A worthy cause anyway. And, yes, I suppose I will do a marathon, at age 50. So from November onwards.
I volunteered to be a marshal at the Katharine House Hospice Midnight Walk in June, which was dull but worthy. And met the founder, Neil Gadsby again. I told him that I’d be one of his staff in September, for I volunteered, was interviewed and have been accepted as a voluntary bereavement counsellor working there from the autumn onwards. That may help me regain some of the fulfilment that I’ve lost at work over the last three to four years.
Just a few days ago I revisited the flats that J and I first moved into and then purchased, in Crystal Palace, in 1987-8 or thereabouts. A bit upsetting, but interesting at the same time. Seemed a million years ago, another lifetime.
Myself and the LHPs are planning a Garden Party in mid-August, to mark what would have been our silver wedding anniversary (20th August 1988). Any excuse for a party. I’m hoping it will be a re-run of the funeral wake, with happier overtones. As before, the garden is being made over (actually “dug over”) by my regular gardener, Mr. Trim – I guess he was born to do that job. Shopping for plants on Friday – that will be expensive. But it will probably help the value of the house slightly. For that is in the back of my mind for spring 2014 – sell up and move on. From the autumn it will just be me (and two guinea-pigs) in a house that once held a family of four. Downsizing to somewhere in Oxford is my thought. It’s being frowned upon by certain close family members but I’m afraid it’s my life, and we only have one of them.
Perhaps I’ll post some pictures of the party in late August. Here’s some from a party we had in 2008 to celebrate Margaret’s 70th birthday:
Juliet is wearing the black pearls I bought her from Mauritius the previous year. I notice and crave little details like that these days. For example… a few weeks ago, Margaret arranged for an artist friend to visit my house. She is to paint a portrait of Juliet. Not my thing, but if J’s parents want it that’s fine. Anyway, the artist needed to see some photos, so we went through the hundreds on the digital photo frame that I gave Richard & Margaret for Christmas. To my surprise it didn’t take long before I was in tears. There was a story behind every single photo – what she was wearing, why we were there, what else we did that day. All… not lost, but history now. Time passes.
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