A lazy weekend of reading in bed brought me to an old but brilliant Autostraddle article: a roundtable of writers thinking about the future in terms of how they want to feel, instead of what they want to do.
I haven’t read the book which inspired this piece, but the idea of envisioning goals in terms of feelings, rather than achievements, really struck a chord.
In the little apothecary, “how do you want to feel?” is the question I most often ask when helping people choose a remedy, or some suitable natural skincare. It works so much better than “what do you want?” Out of all the products in the shop – let alone in the wider world – how do you even begin to choose what you want, or figure out what you need? Identifying how you want to feel is a good first step.
So: how do you want to feel?
At the Liverpool Poetry Café last Thursday night, David Constantine described the notion of the plân-an-guare, the Cornish playing place. These empty spaces at the heart of medieval communities were used for all kinds of communal gatherings, most famously for the Cornish miracle plays, which transmitted Christian values by means of “bawdy and entertaining“ performances. The notion of ‘play’ – in all senses of the word – is central to these spaces, too few of which survive in modern Britain, and it was to this notion that the poet called our thoughts. His poem, The Rec, commemorates a space in the Salford of his childhood, which he describes as a kind of plân-an-guare: “a place you went to, it cost you nothing and being there did you good.”
He’s droving in the great Northwest,
I don’t know how he’s faring;
And I, the girl who loved him best,
Have grown to be past caring.
In the Autumn of 2010, I sat in a church in Beckenham and listened as Jackie Oates sang those words, simply and beautifully, her unaccompanied voice swelling to fill the building with her song.
Two days earlier, my then-brand-new boyfriend had left on an aid convoy that would pass through Libya on its way to Gaza. Those of you with long memories for political upheavals might guess what was to follow; I, meanwhile, was preoccupied with trying out this strange, new role of the one left behind, waving my intrepid beloved off into the unknown and waiting stoically for his return (words that make me wince while typing, but they’re honest; I have a touch of the hopeless romantic…)
In the small harbour town of Burry Port, 84 years and 6 days ago, Amelia Earhart touched down in a small seaplane called Friendship, and became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic. She was a few days shy of her 31st birthday.
Welcome to the nettle patch!
I have kept a few tentative blogs before now – as Cadno, the fox, and La Galesa, the Welsh girl in Spain. They always fall by the wayside in the end; my unruly interest in everything soon overgrows the boundaries of topic and theme.
Instead of setting out a focus for this blog, here, by way of introduction, are some strands in the web of connections that give my life the shape it has right now, suspended in the virtual amber of this post until/unless it is updated.
The title was taken from a poem by Edward Thomas, whose quietly absorbing work I first encountered at a second-hand book stall on a street in Spain. I went to Spain as a runaway – first from small-town West Wales, and then from my studies – eventually returning to spend four years in London. The London years saw me working as a market trader, a barmaid and a tour guide; moonlighting as a bassist, and studying herbal medicine in my spare time – in other words, doing precisely the opposite of anything that might be expected of me, once.
These days, I am a part-time apothecary, aspiring tarotist, amateur folklorist and Pennine rambler.
And, if you are reading this, I suppose I am a blogger.