Thursday, 1 December 2011

Notes on a Book

Hi again

Well, I did some work on the book last night, kind of.  I was really tired, but I made rough notes of the chapter headings and a few lines on each, up to about Chapter 8, just so I felt I had done what I set out to do.  I suppose I can build on that...

I went to the Ladies Group at the local church tonight.  I feel a bit odd about admitting to that - I have this childish inclination to scoff at organised religion, although I find myself becoming more spiritual as life goes on.  In actual fact I have an unshakeable conviction that there is definitely a God in the world, because I am so happy these days - which as my atheist friend pointed out, is most egocentric of me.  But when I am in church, I feel this rebelliousness, as if I am still a cynical, unhappy and disillusioned thirteen year old sitting in school assembly feeling that everyone around me, quietly praying and conforming, is deluding themselves and trying to decieve others by holding out false hopes, mirages.

(The next bit is in the book, you can switch off if you have read it).  I was a very religious child - I loved reading, and the Bible was my default setting when I had nothing else to read.  Jesus was definitely the man for me, and I was very disappointed at the age of eleven or so to be told he didn't exist and that I was Jewish from now on.  I came to embrace Judaism, but unfortunately it didn't feel the same way about me - as a reform Jew I never felt that I was properly accepted as one of the clan.  But a person can't keep changing their moral bedrock, and although there are a lot of churches around where I live, all staffed and populated by lovely and welcoming people, I have got out of the 'Jesus habit'.  Apart from anything else, I feel it would be betraying the Jewish race to become a Christian - I have read so much about their (our?) struggles and the Holocaust and so on.  I have been to Yad Vashem, for goodness sake. 

As people sometimes put on their Facebook status, 'It's complicated'.  So I have come to the conclusion that my belief in God is best kept private and that organised religion is not for me - but I love the ladies group!  One of the ladies there is a proper maverick - she told everyone present this evening that you won't find God in church (I know her quite well and although she is a very active member of the church she seems quite disillusioned with the politics of it all).  She is very sensible, lovely, and makes me feel that not only is it possible to believe in God on your own terms, it is actually the best way.

Lights are always dim in the Ladies group, to lower the reserve, I believe.  Tonight's meeting was aimed at opening up, talking about ourselves, and attendees had been encouraged to bring something to show, which said something about who they were.  One lady brought a journal, another showed the contents of her handbag, another had a cobbler's last.  It was extremely interesting.  I love the stories of peoples' lives, and almost everybody shared something (I didn't, but I have spoken before to this group, so most of them present already knew my stuff, about the book and this blog and so on.  In fact, the reception I received from them originally, when I read out excerpts from my poetry book, really helped me to open up generally).

I haven't been to the group for quite a few months, but am going to start attending regularly again.  Apart from anything else, there is always a welcoming cup of tea, fresh flowers on the tables as well as chocolates and sweets, and tonight there was cheesecake and chocolate eclairs and champagne truffles!  Enough to cheer up anyone and make you feel valued, even without the sense of fellowship and fun...  Just a little prayer at the end, but a sensible one and one that did not mention the word Jesus, so nothing I couldn't say a genuine 'Amen' to.

To go back to the rest of the day now... I visisted my niece after dropping Toddler at play school.  Her baby was sick all over me almost as soon as I arrived, so I had to go home and change.  I was soaked, literally, to the skin.  I walked the dog.  I saw my counsellor (I could write reams about this counselling, but shouldn't and so won't.  I asked for counselling six months ago, anticipating a period of stress around the release of my book, and the sessions have finally started.  Fortunately, in the meantime I had weathered the period of stress, but decided to go ahead with the counselling, since there is always room to improve.  Well, there certainly is in my case.)

Then I tidied.  A lot.  Last night Paul went into the loft to get the advent calendars and Christmas cards that were left over from last year.  We are not feeding the children year-old chocolates by the way, these are refillable advent calendars, with little fabric pouches  that Paul spent the evening stocking with Roses chocolates and then tying up the tiny red ribbons on.  Top Daddy.  Meanwhile, I was busy trying to start my new book. 

Anyway, Paul had also chucked down a load of bin liners from the loft filled with clothes that I had put away at various points over the years and needed to sort out again.  Also old cuddly toys, ancient duvets and so on.  So this morning I got up and made my bleary way to the kithcen through a hall filled with all these bags of stuff,  and felt quite overwhelmed by them - although I had asked him to get it all down for me. 

I didn't feel that I was going to be able to tackle the mess.  But I had to - because the alternative prospect, of steering around the clutter for days, was worse.  So that was my day - sorting out loads and loads of old tat (some of it not tat at all actually).  I did the same on Tuesday - a massive tidy of my younger daughter's bedroom, which took almost the whole day.  I know what I am doing - finding excuses not to knuckle down properly to the writing.  Displacement activity, they call it.  But the side effect is a tidy house, or something heading, almost certainly temporarily, in that direction.  So, every cloud has a silver lining. 

Louise x


  1. Your husband is a saint. He seems very involved with family life. Good for him and you.

  2. He is rather wonderful. He actively wanted four children (although I had to nag him a little to want the fourth) and you couldn't say that for many men!