Category Archives: relationships

I slipped

I came back from yoga as sweaty and in need of a shower. Ashtanga is a bit of a work-out. I turned on the shower, borrowed supermum’s latest seriously-expensive shampoo (the hairdressers see her coming from miles away but, well, she’s worth it) and hopped into the bath tub.

Then I slipped.

The foot in the bath went sideways and I overbalanced, smacking the side of my other knee against the enamelled ceramic. It was hard. I shouted. There may have been swearing. I regained my balance, hopping and yelling

“Ow! Fuck! Ow!”

Supermum appeared at the bathroom door and asked if I was alright.

“I slipped. I bashed my knee on the bath. It hurts.”

Supermum attempted to keep a straight face, failed and began to laugh.

“I said it hurts.”

More laughter. Or rather, sniggering.

“Oh, go away.”

“Are you really okay? I mean…”

She broke down again into giggles at the spectacle of her husband, standing on one foot, stark naked, rubbing his knee and swearing.

“Well, it was a fright. I was frightened. I mean, I felt…old. This is what is old people do – slip in the bath.”

We’re both quiet for a moment. Then she starts to giggle again.

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Homemade Tarot birthday card

I’ve been engaging with Tarot cards as a source of imagery, creative prompts, speculation and self-exploration on and off for about thirty years now.

Recently, I’ve been dipping into them again, blowing the dust off a favoured deck or two and, in parallel, exploring runes (that’s another post but much of the most interesting stuff to be said about runes comes from academic runologists rather than occultists if you ask me. Not that you did).

Anyway, I couldn’t find a birthday that really worked for supermum so I bought a pack of Sharpies, some A4 card and sat down in a cafe late last night. This was my second attempt. Note: I’m not an artist!

 

The card is the Three of Cups and it’s obviously informed by the classic Rider-Waite. The runes are Anglo-Saxon (the names translate as Wealth, Joy and Gift – runes all have names, not unlike ideograms, though the forms themselves are purely symbolic). It’s interesting how the simple ‘X’ rune has come to carry a whole additional freight of meanings. The stylised sunflowers came zooming in from the Sun major trump. Also (supermum reminded me) we saw a lot of sunflowers at that Anselm Kiefer show at White Cube we went to.

I see the Three of Cups as associated with creativity, joy, birth(days), new beginnings. Supermum asked why one cup was suspended in mid-air and I suggested that two cups are grounded, enabling ones creativity to actually result in something being concretely created (what else would any kind of a birth be?) but acknowledging the need reach into the unknown, to step out into thin air (which would remind one of the Fool).

Much else could be said but I thought you might find this of interest.


Date night

“I’ve booked a baby sitter for the night of your birthday. What would you like to do?”

I suppose the fact that my initial reaction to this was disbelief, followed by pre-emptive disappointment, mild dread and common-or-garden fear suggests that we’re out of practice at hanging out with each other outside of the well-formed rituals of post-dinner Scrabble or Buffy and Angel DVDs. It has, in fact, been about a year since we last tried “going out” as a couple when I dragged supermum off to see the Hold Steady. It wasn’t a successful night. Crowded, deafeningly loud and I spent of most of the evening worrying about whether supermum was enjoying herself. She wasn’t.

“Please,” she said, “No more gigs. Unless I get to sit down.”

We’ve fallen out of practice because of the baby-sitting problem. Even if I’m at home, little elf, who’s nearly four, goes completely doollally if supermum leaves the house in the evening. Leaving her with a stranger has been out of the question. We’ve tried exchanging baby sitting with friends but once they’ve done it for us, it’s literally very difficult to return the favour. “It’s okay, my mother’s doing it.” Or their sister. Or Aunt. We’ve tried begging (“No! Please! Use us! We need to get you back in our debt!”) but to no avail.

We do go out. Just not with each other. Supermum has evening life drawing and yoga classes she attends religiously, week-in, week-out. I also do a yoga class I manage most weeks. She periodically heads off on ‘mums’ nights out’ and she’s off doing a drawing class this afternoon. I’ll go and see bands (Wolves In The Throne Room next week!), sometimes even with other people. But I think we’ve both come to view time spent in a structured ‘date’ environment with each other with a certain amount of trepidation.

But now she’s found a babysitter who little elf (apparently) won’t attack on sight and we’re supposed to go out. We’ve talked about re-establishing a social life with each other and other people as a couple for ages but I suppose I’d kind of got used to the idea that we probably wouldn’t have to deal with this sort of thing for a while to come.

And I really don’t know what to do. Supermum isn’t working any more and she actually met me for lunch the other day. We spent most of it walking around whilst she vetoed every every cafe, restaurant or sandwich shop* within half a mile of my workplace (in Bloomsbury – that’s a lot of catering to dismiss) and we finished up mostly talking about how we didn’t really like the food we’d finally ended up with. Then we talked about vasectomies.

So, somehow, we’ve got to work out how to spend two hours ‘conversing’. It’s seems really silly, considering that we normally talk a lot, to splash out all this time and effort to put ourselves in an artificial situation where talking is actually more difficult. But there you go. It’s my birthday and we’re going to have ‘fun’. As a ‘couple’.

I want to go out together. We love each other, dammit! But just I’m too tired to get through the emotional labour involved in ‘fun’ at the moment.

* Supermum would put this very differently, viz “You only picked out places that you should have known I wouldn’t like.”**

** It’s possible she’d also put that differently too.


Always different, always the same

I am watching supermum paint Brazilian carnival dancers onto a large board with face sized holes for children to stick their faces through. It’s for the school fete. We are in the kitchen and her glass of wine is untouched. I’m switching from one CD to another, listening to her talk (“What about passion fruit? Can you have that? Are there small yellow fruit in Brazil?”) whilst her hand and brush move decisively about the wood. Simultaneously, I’m standing in a memory of her in her studio space at art college nineteen years ago as her hand moves in the same sure, concentrated way and the air about it and us is stilled and quiet, regardless of the chatter in the cavernous shared space for Fine Art Year Two, or the music in our crowded kitchen and the neurotic cat under her feet.

Nineteen years changes people a lot but it doesn’t change everything. Some days I can even imagine believing in a thing called a soul.


Three things I tell dudelet each night

Warning: Contains parenting. And sentiment. And a teeny bit of very un-Dad Who Writes-like slush.

Something which supermum and I noticed a while back (and continue to struggle with) is how a bad day with dudelet (nearly seven years old at this point) can overshadow all his many wonderful qualities, actions and general all-round fabulousness.

So, much to my surprise, I introduced a little positive thinking practice into our bedtime routine. The last thing we do before “lights out”* is for me to tell him three things he did during the day that I loved. I’ve set myself a few parameters

  • No reference to anything bad that’s gone on, like particularly naughty behaviour
  • No comparison with his little sister
  • No use of something I’ve heard from supermum – they all have to be from actual, real, concrete interactions I’ve had with him.

On work days, this can be tricky. But I manage it. If I forget, he reminds me. Ands recently, he’s started asking me to add three things that I’ve done during the day that I think where pretty good or worthwhile (I’m paraphrasing). So I suppose he’s now reforming me a little.

Is it working? Who knows? I suspect all parenting techniques are essentially homoeopathic, if you see what I mean.

But at least we both remind each other that every day, he’s given several new reasons to love and value him so it’s probably doing some good somewhere.

*It’s actually “Lights turned down a bit” as dudelet often reads himself to sleep