This is the second in a series of Guest Blog Posts that I am hosting this year. More are forthcoming. The first was by Beverly Rycroft.
With thanks to Josephine Corcoran, whose details are at the end of the post.
Once I’d learned to read and write, you moved in with me. You’ve been my friend for about 45 years. I haven’t written in you every day, in fact, there were whole years when I cold-shouldered you altogether.
I’m afraid I might have been drunk.
Or asleep, while my small children clambered over my body, undid my fountain pen and stabbed holes in you.
Or I was at work in a job as joyless as a pair of shoes with a hole in the sole on a wet Monday morning. The only marks I made in you then were in your calendar section, where I scored out your days in tiny slanted lines like flowerless stalks in a brisk wind. Yes, I love the way you never judge my mixed-up similes and ornamental prose.
You listen to everything. You lay yourself bare and allow me to drape myself across your pages using any colour of ink I fancy. You pass no comment on grammatical errors, repetitions, hyperbole, gossip or boasting. You accept my absent-minded doodles with the good manners of a Saint. You probably know a little too much about my sexual history and my bowel movements.
These days, you’re a series of exquisite notebooks. I refuse to demean you with anything I don’t consider beautiful to look at and to hold. I like to offer you my fountain pen or a Mitsubishi Uniball Vision Elite but if all I have to hand is a scratchy ballpoint pen you never show your disappointment.
You accommodate lists, however mundane: guest lists, shopping lists, holiday packing lists, fan lists, book lists. You are accepting of goals, plans, ideas, memories, self-revelations, epiphanies, confessions, rants, disappointments, excitements, miseries and joys. You accept all gynaecological information willingly.
You are the place I act out the confrontations, the comebacks, and the smart remarks I am too timid, slow-witted and afraid to perform in real life. You know my true feelings about everything.
You know where I would like to be in five years time and I laugh and cry when I read where I was five, ten, and fifteen years ago.
I tell you first about writing ideas and projects. You allow me as much time and space as I need to detail my plans. And I always break the news about acceptances, commissions, competition wins to you because you’ve never betrayed my trust. You store all of my feelings about failures and rejections.
I’ve written in you in French (why?), code, and capital letters. I’ve tried out new handwriting styles in you (that was in the early days). I’ve practised signing my name in you. I sometimes write about myself in the third person for the back of a book that nobody has yet commissioned or accepted.
You hold the names I was thinking about when I was pregnant. In you, I’ve written the lives of two babies who died before I held them in my arms. And there are other deaths; people I loved who live again when I read them in your pages. And there are failed love affairs: days of tea and chocolate.
I have noted in you, dreams, observations from different windows, comments made by house guests. Flies, spiders, wasps and at least one moth breathed their last in you. You made a space for their blood.
Travelling without you, I sense there’s been a medical operation and a part of me has been removed. I carry you in bags and baskets. Sometimes I’ve opened you at random and found beach sand and lolly drips.
Confidante. Listener. Soother of angry moods. Soaker-up of boredom, irritations, celebrations. Long, long, long may your long lines run on and on and on. Thanks for the companionship.