for writers and readers….
I haven’t yet spent a whole 24 hours without seeing someone I care about, but I will if not today, (I’m expecting a supply of Earl Grey tea via my sister) then tomorrow and the next day and the day after that and…you know the story and it may be your story too.
I am very lucky. My sons and granddaughter are close by and have decided that the best way they can protect me is by keeping their distance. They ring, text silly cartoons, send messages, will deliver groceries to my porch and collect prescriptions: we are together apart.
Leo Varadkar, the Irish Taoiseach (prime minister) calls this kind of radical distancing as cocooning the “most precious parts of our society”. Words matter and those are good words. Of course, it feels terribly wrong. I want to be the one out there, fetching and carrying, guarding them from the rest of the world, sleeping on their doorstep (metaphorically if not literally), the gatekeeper between them and the dangers of this new scary world. But that time is past: it’s their turn to to be the carers and nurturers and it would be wrong of me to rail against it. It is how things should be and my husband, their father, didn’t live long enough to pass the baton on: I have.
But I don’t have to be passive about it. I can be creative and creativity takes all of kinds of forms, but mainly I think it means making something that didn’t exist before:
A blog post
A square of knitting
A flower bed
A journal entry
A vegetable patch
A memory set down on the page
A something I haven’t thought of (please fill in the gaps!)
I’m only going to tackle a fraction of that. It would be a very hungry man who could eat one of my cakes…but I am determined that this blog will be more creative. It’s been running 10 years. However, over the past year it has been semi moth-balled to help me concentrate on my own writing (which I do very, v e r y slowly). I’m shrugging that off and coming out of a self-imposed wardrobe of quiet restraint. So introducing:-
A housekeeper with attitude
There’s going to be lots more stuff on here. Writing stuff. And other things that catch my attention and make distancing less solitary and more communal.
And there’s going to be:
MRS AINSLEY HOUSEKEEPER AND AGONY AUNT from the 1830s
She’s a character I play at events at The Regency Town House, a 200 year old building that is a hub of community history in Brighton and Hove on the south coast of England. And she now coming to life here and on twitter with my co-writer Paul Couchman, the Regency chef.
MRS AINSLEY is self-assured and opinionated, vulnerable and naive, runs a superior establishment with confidence while potentially being the butt of her servants’ jokes. And she’s here to answer questions on love, life and mildew.
Want to know how to bring oak wainscoting back to life? She has the recipe (it involves a surprising amount of beer).
Desperately in love with the under footman? She will discuss your options. Scared you will make an error in your table setting? She will put you right.
I hope you like her. You might even want to ask her a question….