Sunday, 31 January 2010

Doggedly Trying

Last week I was utterly useless. Utterly. Useless. I sat in front of the computer and couldn’t even find the impetus to fill in my status bar on Facebook. It was something to do with the cold and sleet and the constant audio backdrop of radio news from Haiti; the sound of so much terror and pain.

After sitting like someone drugged I would get up and make coffee or walk in circles or stare with exasperation at the huge pile of filing growing exponentially next to my desk. Sometimes I even went outsdie and stood around glumly in the garden or cleaned the kitchen but writing wise I remained loggerheaded.

On Thursday, to try a new tactic, I went out with my brilliant buddy L and got totally smashed. I vaguely remember loudly debating positive psychology versus religion, the probabilities of meeting either a soul mate or a lunatic by on-line dating, buying double rounds of Dalwhinny whiskey on my debit card and talking in Zambian pigeon English to the poor taxi driver on the way home.
‘Kukamba Chinyanja my brother? I kept asking.
‘I’m from bloody Bangladesh,’ he kept telling me looking over his shoulder for support from my equally wasted buddy L who was gesticulating wildly in the back seat in a rant about small change.

The hangover on Friday was monstrous but that didn’t help kick start my writing again either. So much for Fitzgerald / Hunter Thompson School of Creative Writing.

Today thank goodness the rusty cogs started creakily turning but it is still like trying to squeeze the last of the hand cream out of a tube when your hands are already slippery.

Grace, having been banned from the park for an entire month due to her five weeks of near continuous free-running whilst on holiday, (guide dog trainers rules..not mine I promise) is not helping. Every few minutes she brings over a stinky soft toy and sticks it on my lap with eyes huge and solemn, in an effort to get me to play with her. A pile of half gnawed rubber rings, fluffy elephants, teddy bears and rope pulls has built up next to the filing. When I don’t respond she stands at the door and whimpers to be let out. Five minutes later she whimpers to be let in. The door to the garden is next to my desk and every time I open the door the temperature drops by several degrees forcing me to get up AGAIN and find extra socks, shawls, jumpers etc which sets off the cycle of coffee, washing up...
I end up barking at her (in a strange role reversal), ‘Not NOW I am TRYING to WORK!’
So today she is lying in her bed with eyes rolling, sighing dramatically and looking forlorn. All together now..’Its a dog’s life..!’

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Back In Blighty.

I know, I know and I do apologise...I have not blogged since before Christmas It seems odd to now ensconced in 2010. 2010. It’s not the sci-fi world I had quite imagined back in the late ‘70’s. Where on earth is my plasma gun?
'Dad' (c) T.Bush Dec 09
And so folks...I best fill you in.
Zambia was both wonderful and at times very difficult. On a positive note Dad’s condition got a little better for a while and by the time my younger sister arrived for Xmas he was up for cooking in the evening and enjoying visitors. My sister arrived anxious about the trip and feeling a little as if she were carrying her past on her back like a rucksack of paper cuts and although we did much together to dull some of those tiny little knives it was still sometimes hard for her to cope with all the changes in both Dad and the Lusaka she had last seen over 6 years previously. But she held her own and her last evening was a revelatory riot of fabulous stories from her time working in the Zambian bush and the local zoo.

Zoe on the hill' (c) T.Bush Dec 09
It was also good to have a sister-in-arms for a while against some of the bullying we had to put up with from my father’s partner. Although my Dad has been with her for nearly 12 years and although I know she can be a kind and thoughtful person, her jealousy and insecurity about his children still exceeds her sense by a very great deal. (Saying she is difficult is like saying Dick Cheney is not really a ‘people’ person, or that Bill Gates has spare change or Tiger Woods has got balls. Sorry.. 'had’ balls. It is a tad of an understatement.)

But I don’t want to dwell on that stuff because I was there for Dad and I got to be with him every day over the five weeks. It was great to see him feeling strong enough to go out for a meal and to cook salt beef again, to sit calmly next to him when he was hyped up on steroids and listen to the opera ‘Leonora’ at full blast (or as I call it ‘steroid-sound’,) to sit chatting with my sister, Dad and great friends and food on a cool porch in the New Year.
'SJ's Porch' (c) T.Bush Jan 10

There was my beautiful friend’s 40th birthday party and more weight training with my dear buddy EM and that wonderful bright gold light that flooded into my bedroom at 6am every morning. (Sometimes not the most soothing thing for a hangover..) 'Tash and Me' (c) T.Bush Jan10

But time ticked on and I had to go.

At the airport in Lusaka at 6.30am on a Thursday morning, Dad and I said goodbye and for a moment I felt just like the 10 year old kid going back to boarding school. I wondered if I would throw up on my shoes.
‘I love you Dad,’ I said and walked into the trolley in front of me. From behind the barrier Dad looked anxious and pale, sweat beading his forehead, leaning on his cane. I tried to pull myself together and gave him a grin. It must have looked ghastly but vaguely convincing. He nodded and turned away and I staggered through customs to the boarding queue.
I finally sucked up the last drops of glittering hot African light from the runway and holding them deep in my lungs ducked into the dark cabin and was immediately waved into what the cabin steward called ‘the naughty corner.’
‘Give us a moment love,’ he said winking ‘You’ve been upgraded.’
That same steward drip fed me Kir Royales and delicious nosh until I could no longer figure out what buttons on the sleeping chairs did what and passed out happily.
There there was several hours on a creaking coach through the night
and there I was..
in Cambridge,
in my flat, iron cold, dark and empty.

‘Shit,’.’ I thought, sat on the edge of the bed, still clutching my wash kit from Buisness Class and feeling my tan ebbing.. Even the duvet felt damp with cold. Sometimes lonliness makes mincemeat of us.

Grace arrived a few days later thank goodness. Due to inclement weather and a few other problems there was no chance for her to do refresher training before she arrived. For five weeks she has been ‘just a dog’ competing for food, toys and love with three or four other dogs, two horses and a bunch of chickens. She charged around my small flat then sat down, head cocked and looked at me with both love and confusion.

‘How do I reboot her?’ I asked the trainer nervously scanning Grace’s tummy for red buttons. As it turns out it was me who needed rebooting. My brain was so full of Zambia, so higgledy piggledy with emotion I had forgotten even the simplest commands. Grace however although slightly shell shocked has seemed more than happy to reassume work. She took me twice to London last week ...but that’s another story and I’m sure you have things to do and other blogs to read so I’ll let you go. More soon I promise! Grace back at work. (c) Tim Jan 10