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Sweating and psychopaths
And eighty year old ravers
Good morning all,
How are you? It’s raining here in London. It’s as grey as grey can be and I am sitting at my desk in a woolly hat, two jumpers and a fleecy blanket on my legs. Fleecy blankets are wonderful, btw, can’t believe it took me so long to discover them.*
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I’ve been ill again, which is annoying. It’s been six weeks on and off now. I just read an article in the Daily Mail about why so many of us are ill at the moment and it’s a combination of our immune systems being out of practice after years indoors combined with the fact that there are a few exciting new viruses going around at the moment, so we get better from one, go out and pick up another one.
Still I take my tendency to get ill as a personal failing and I give myself a hard time about it which probably doesn’t help with the whole recovery business.
But today and yesterday I’m feeling stronger which is a joy. It’s almost worth being sick for the excitement that comes when you feel a bit of energy again. The article talked about the importance of taking time to recover, so I’m lying low for a while more.
Before I share a few links of stuff I’ve been reading/ thinking about/ putting into my amazon basket and then taking out again, can I share a deep and meaningful thought from my sick bed?
It’s something about radical acceptance (the name of a book by Tara Brach which I haven’t read yet). As I was lying in bed feeling sick and battling myself for being this kind of person who always gets sick, I had the thought: Marianne, what are you fighting here? One of the things you love most is lying in bed watching Netflix, or sitting on the sofa reading and looking out of the window. Being ill allows you to do that so what’s wrong here?
Yes there are deadlines impending and yes, you need to earn money but look, so far you have always had a roof over your head and nobody will die if the deadline isn’t met. Nobody will die is on of my favourite refrains. A bit like looking at the stars or the ocean, it puts things in perspective. My other way of putting things in perspective is when I’m feeling bad about things I’ve done or haven’t done, is to watch my crime dramas and think, you have not killed anyone. I honestly spend quite a lot of time thinking about what that must be like to live with and being grateful I’m not in that position. (Is that weird to think about?)
Then I thought, people spend hundreds to go away on detoxes and you are here sweating and eating very little for free! I’ve wanted to stop drinking and to lose the covid/middle-life weight I’ve put on over the last few years and this marathon lurgy has done just that. I am not drinking and the thought of a lot of foods is making my tummy turn so voila, free, effortless weight loss and detox! Thank you, world!
The main thing causing the problem was the idea that I shouldn’t get ill so often. If I lost that idea and just accepted the illness, there wasn't a problem. I mean the puking phase wasn’t a total laugh but even that had its pluses. It’s impossible to think about your normal worries while heaving into a toilet. Puking is very much like skiing and meditation in that way. You are in the moment.
So, finally! I have reached enlightenment, via serial killers, puking and strong pills that Gary gave me for my headaches. I am now in a state of zen surrender and gracious acceptance of all that is. I’ll pass on your regards to the Dalai Lama and Eckhart Tolle, when we have our enlightened people’s lunch date.
Things I’ve been watching
So effing much. So basically loads of stuff that involves people killing and being killed in industrial estates and or the Yorkshire Dales. When I’m ill I seem to want to watch murder in the rain. The greyer and grimmer the better.
I watched the last series of that serial killer thing with Jamie Dornan and Gillian Anderson which I didn’t watch first time around. Very dark but Jamie Dornan is a beautiful serial killer and Gillian Anderson wears great blouses. Just had to google to remember what it’s called… The Fall.
Happy Valley! For non-UK readers it’s a BBC crime drama where the lead is a middle aged women who goes around fighting crime in between fag and tea breaks. It’s really very, very good and there are lots of articles about how very, very good it is, and how very good the main actress Sarah Lancashire is. The baddie in it James Norton, who is usually in posh period dramas. He is excellent as (another) hot psychopath.**
Other things I watched in a sweaty stupor.
An American Woman on Amazon Prime - staring Sienna Miller as the mother of a sixteen year old girl who goes missing. It’s sad and understated. It’s made by the same director who made Manchester by Sea which was also sad and understated. Sienna Miller is great in it. Recommend if you need a bit of a cry.
On Netflix I skimmed through The Pale Blue Eye and thought it was rubbish. It’s about a detective in the 1800s who pairs with writer Edgar Allan Poe (I think it’s a made up story, even though Poe was real) to solve a crime in an army barracks. Really bad. Couldn’t care less who did it and didn’t even care that anyone had done it and whether they did it again. It made me wonder what creates suspense and how some shows make us care and some don’t.
Triangle of Sadness got a poor review in the Guardian but I thought it was great. It’s a satire of the super rich and while the Guardian reckons its derivative but it wasn’t like anything I’d seen before. It made me laugh and think and the way they played with gender roles felt clever and new to me. But what do I know?
Oh and Lady’s Chatterly’s Lover on Netflix was an entertaining romp - nice sex scenes between hot young things in fields of bluebells… sigh.
I know I’m getting well when I want to swap murder and heartbreak for documentaries about inspiring people and some kind of decluttering/improve your life program. Yesterday I watched The Home Edit on Netflix, started looking at cupboard organisers on amazon and thought, yes, you are getting well!….but I can’t say I recommend the programme. Drew Barrymore was having her TV kitchen cleaned up and giving a speech about how it’s gonna help her do what she needs to do in the world and I found myself rolling my eyes. Is a drawer for your five cheese graters really going to change the world? And then I start to get irate about the madness of us humans that we buy so much stuff that we need to buy boxes to put the stuff in and label makers to label the boxes to put the stuff in… and this is the point I know I’ve watched too much television and it’s time to clean my own drawers/get back to life.
Which is where I am now.
I reviewed You are Not Alone by Cariad Lloyd for The Times. It’s a funny, honest and helpful book about grief. I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t get something from it. It reminded me that that death can be a very funny business: She describes her dead dad being in the wardrobe for ten years and when they finally did decided to scatter his ashes in Wales, a gust of wind blew him into her eyes. Which part she wonders? Something similar happened to us when we scattered dad. Also did you know that Carrie Fisher had her ashes put in a jar shaped like a Prozac pill? Anyway, a great book. Highly recommend. When dad died there were so many funny moments but it felt disrespectful to share them and I felt guilty about the laughter. I shouldn’t have. This book gives us permission to say it how it was.
And I was interviewed by my former colleague Anna Wharton who has opened her own bookshop and asked me to pick some books to recommend for the new year. I get shy about sharing these kinds of interviews because I always worry I come off a tit but then I also want to support the people who are kind enough to want to talk to me… and I really like Anna and what she does. In between ghost writing and writing her own books she offers mentorships to working class writers and has a really helpful newsletter interviewing writers about their craft. She is one of those I don’t know how you do it people.
Oh and I am three quarters of the way through Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow which got rave reviews and which is reminding me of a less traumatic version of A Little Life. It’s three friends over decades and the ups and downs and traumas underpinning each of their lives. A lot of the book is set in the gaming/virtual world which isn’t really my thing and I’m sure there are big metaphors and points made about our online future that I’m not quite understanding but the characters are very engaging.
Having said in last week’s newsletter that I was only going to share gentle things, I read this piece by Julie Birchill slagging off Vivienne Westwood and I have to say I liked it. Birchill’s views are original, fearless and funny and she doesn’t seem to care who she upsets. Being a ‘good girl’, lets all be nice to each other type, I find this uncomfortable BUT also we need writers like this to question power structures and call things out. In this case she is calling out the hypocrisy of Westwood talking about saving the world while her own fashion company did not have a good track record of making clothes in a sustainable way.
I have a book on my shelf that is called The Courage to be Disliked which I must read. I think it might be very liberating to stop trying to be so ‘good’ all the time.
Loved this in the New York Times about seventy something club night which starts at 6pm and ends at 9pm!!! Yes, yes, yes! There are some lovely quotes in it, especially this: “They have the most fun,” said Chelsea Anderson, a 31-year-old bartender, who has been working the happy hour for six years. “Everybody loves each other. It’s a stark difference from the late crowd, where everyone is upset and barfing.”
There is a London club night called Before Midnight that is meant to be great by DJ Annie Mac. It starts at seven and ends at midnight. I haven’t gone yet but would like to if I can ever get to the tickets before they sell out.
Oh and speaking of Before Midnight, you know the movie? About the couple who meet on a train and spend the night together? I just read that it was inspired by a real story… which had a sad ending.
Oh and one more thing. When I was ill and feeling quite sorry for myself, while being grateful that nobody was dying, I hadn’t killed anyone etc etc. I kept repeating in my head: I love you, I love you, I love you. I suppose I was trying to love myself better. It made me remember a book called Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It by Kamal Ravikant. It’s a really short book that I read years ago and I remember loving it at the time. Here is a summary of it.
Ok that’s probably it for now.
Thanks again to everyone who took the time to reply to my last two newsletters. I appreciate it so much. And thanks to all who are showing up for WRITING FOR FUN AND SANITY. This week we had people Canada, Boston, Mexico, Sweden, Malta, Dublin and… the UK. We spend the first five minutes comparing weather. ‘How much snow do you have?’ I want to know from the people in Canada. 45cm in Quebec at the moment, fyi… ‘and what’s it like with you in Mexico?’ I want to know. ‘The warmest winter we’ve had in years…’ Fascinating!
We’ll be doing writing sessions every Saturday in January if you fancy joining getting a live zoom weather report from around the world.
*Did I mention before that my friend got me one for Christmas and told me that you can get fleecy sheets and duvet covers? I worry they would be sweaty but she informs me from her fleecy onsey, inside a fleecy bed that any sweat is worth it for the feeling of sleeping in a teddy bear land. Speaking of sweat, I have been eyeing up these infrared sleeping bags. .***
**I wonder if TV shows have to cast their psychopaths as good looking in order to make people watch it? Would it be too much to watch ugly psychopaths do their thing?
*** I’m aware this newsletter has mentioned sweat a lot.
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