Saturday, 1 August 2015

Warding off brain rot

Recently I re-read some of my old blog posts, going back quite a few years. There are accounts of my travels, and of my life with Dr P, his decline and his death, and all the things that had to be done and coped with in the aftermath. Life is simpler now, but lonelier. And in many ways it feels as though my life has contracted, and that I am becoming? have become? a less interesting person. Although, how does one judge how interesting you are?

This all made me think of that common remark sometimes appended to school reports. Must try harder, a useful catch-all summary.

OK, so I will try harder. And I do try.

There ar lots of things that I continue to do, and to enjoy. Singing, crocheting, music, reading and learning. And I make jam - too much jam, but it is a satisfying thing to do. the quince season has ended and there are many jars in the pantry. Last week I found some cumquats at the market, so I made cumquat marmalade. This is the best marmalade you could ever taste.  However, I suspect that I did not soak the fruit for long enough before cooking it, so perhaps I should not give jars away until I have either reassured myself - or what? It is probably edible.

There are papers to get in order, and bad habits of letting papers accumulate into a distressingly confused and confusing set of inchoate heaps. Yesterday I spent several hours sorting out all the material from the Italian classes. In one of the classes we students took it in turns to write an article. There they all were, higgledy-piggledy. They are now sorted, although what remains to be done, for my own essays, is to write in all the corrections, so that I have a perfect copy. (But I won't throw out the copies with all the mistakes.)

This particular set of tidying came about because the topic of the city of Matera came up, at my Italian class. Our teacher has returned from his Grand Tour, and he described his visit to Matera. And indeed, it is an unforgettable city, where the poor lived in caverns cut out of the rocks, and where they had to work for hours to get to their work in the fields, and had to leave their children alone all days. So they drugged them.

Now, if I were a novelist, I would have cunningly adopted a strategy of working backwards, but instead of such a meaningful and pre-decided strategy,my increasingly haphazard mind is doing quite a lot of butterfly-like flitting.

In a couple of months I am travelling to France and Spain, and I enrolled in an intensive French course. It is 50 years since I did any French, and, unsurprisingly, I was the worst in the class. There is, however, some French somewhere in my brain, and who knows what might pop out if put to the test.

I studied Spanish several years ago, and found it very interesting and appealing. As the knowledge is now well below the surface,  I enrolled in a Spanish class. This clashed with the Italian class I have been attending for many years. Never mind, I though, I will return to Italian next year.

When I arrived last Thursday, half an hour before the Spanish class was due to start, I tried to find its allocated room.  As I stood wondering whether anyone was going to turn up, the lift door opened, and out stepped my oldest stepdaughter. There has been absolutely no contact between the stepdaughters and me since the legal settlement was reached more than three years ago.

We said Hello, but nothing more. I felt very churned up. It makes you wonder about chance - how in such a large city we could encounter each other accidentally like this. I keep seeing her face. And I wonder how her sons are. I was fond of them, and of Dr P's other grandchildren. All the past history is running through my mind. I wish it would not.

I went downstairs to find out where the class was. Oh, the receptionist said, that class was cancelled.
Oh, I said, Nobody told me.

We enrolled you in another class, on Tuesdays. Oh, I said, nobody told me. So, of course, I had missed the first class.

The good thing is that I can continue in my Italian class. It is one of the joys in my life.

Perhaps Esperanto was devised to cope with this sort of concatenation of events?





2 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

Oh dear.
Wouldn't it be nice if we could erase some memories...
Congratulations on continuing to wrestle with language. And have a wonderful trip.

Pam (Isabelle) said...

At least you could both say hello. That was civilised.

I think you're very interesting!