Monday, 28 January 2008

Scaffolding

You wake before dawn, restless and feverish, some hovering virus that doesn't quite crescendo and take you over, but won't leave either. You toss for ages until sleep falls back heavy, and wake again late, then in and out of clammy dozing, 10, 11, until roused finally by wires of pain threading a forehead folded into tight, hard ridges. You fight for the will to get up and find painkillers, lie down again to wait for the drugs to numb. As pain recedes its place is filled by depression at the thought of another day when the simplest thing feels hard. You reach for the radio on-switch, the dial turned away from news - you can't take the cheery narrative of tragedy and fear and stress, so these days it's music only. On Radio 3 at one there should be Early Music and magically Lucie Skeaping tells you today from Versailes, the French Baroque ensemble, le Concert d'Astreé, playing Rameau, Leclair and Dauvergne [listen online until 2 February]- a group whose varying line-up sometimes includes Ruth. You went to see them at the Barbican a couple of years ago. Picture: a woman lying in bed next to a radio. Thought bubble in top right-hand corner: Ruth and her cello planted solid and upright on the stage, controlled flames spiralling upwards. Thought bubble: the conductor, Emmanuelle Haïm, that day in London heavily pregnant, with an injured arm pinned to her side like a wounded bird, all the music in her one good arm and inside her body. You're remembering, as it washes over you now in this gorgeous playing, the reason why you can go on, though growing older, sicker, lonelier and ever more sourly, wearily aware of incompetence and failure in every area of life. Because more and more that's not it. Because there is also, unaccountably but unequivocally, more bliss. Because the moments of joy in form and colour and air, in poetry and story and music and connection, grow only stronger and sweeter. So now you can get up and do another day, what's left of it, what's left of you, the strings quivering and patterning in your head.

15 comments:

rr said...

Oh my god. What a transcendent picture. What a beautiful post. Yes, yes, yes, yes. YES.

Vibrating like a tuning fork here. Resonating :-)

xxxx

Bill said...

In southern Missouri (ozarks, USA) there's a bit of hill rhetoric, said of a downpour:

"Do you think it'll hurt the rhubarb?"

Beth said...

Jean, this will help me. Thank you. I've been pondering the same questions - how to go on, when life seems to get harder and more unfair and the pain of others, let alone your own, more and more obvious? And that's the answer, but somehow it helps to feel it, and try to remember it, in solidarity with others. (I hope you feel better too.)

Pica said...

(o)

Dale said...

You might want to add a contemplation of transcendent success in reaching lonely people by image and word, moving them to joy and to mending their lives, to the contemplation of all your supposed failures.

Though I know, it's not the point -- and no one ever wins an argument with that voice, whatever their achievements. But still.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

I love it when you write because you're so damn good at it.

Tall Girl said...

this music is beautiful...
the image ethereal...
your evocation of your state, as others have said, resonantly human and moving...
Thankyou

Reading the Signs said...

"Because more and more that's not it."

And you have named it, I think. Good to be reading this.

Sorry - those deleted things are mine. Something went a bit askew.

Udge said...

Ach Jean, you too? Perhaps it's the season or the weather... A fine post, though, you expressed the mood wonderfully.

Wishes of Gute Besserung and comforting thoughts to you from across the North Sea.

Lucy said...

Bless you, bless you, bless you for this.
You do for me what they did for you.

ruth said...

i am deeply touched by this post, jean, and of course your saying this makes it worth going on, playing through tendonitis, getting on the next train (in fact to play lully with the concert d'astree), contemplating yet another 6 weeks aay from home....thank you thank you for the music of your words and the courage of your heart.

Rosie said...

thanks Jean, I needed that

am said...

Thanks so much for writing this down and sending it out.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Did you know this got shortlisted for Post Of The Week last week, in what was described as 'one of the strongest shortlists in ages'? It didn't win, alas... but nevertheless I thought you might be pleased to know.

Jean said...

I didn't know. I've kind of lost track of Post of the Week. Thank you, Zinnia, for nominating me! Your good opinion of my writing means a hell of a lot.