Monday, 28 January 2008
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.