There. That's better. Nice big writing.
I think my appearance is improved without my glasses on, but it's so hard to tell. I realise nowadays I have this kind of blind look in photos without my specs. That would be because I can't see anything much.
It's the end of the day (that's why it's dark in the picture - because it is actually dark).
I finished the book I have been writing, today. It's gone off for its first editorial, to the kindly (but beady-eyed) Badger. Next it goes to Julie Faraway for perusal. Then it goes off to the publisher on its Journey of Hope and Pitiful Optimism.
I think it's come up good, but I'm so tired and wrecked after the tossing seas of Grim Concentration Against All The Odds that it's quite hard to say. I'll see what the Badger and Julie Faraway tell me when they've Inspected.
But peering dimly to see what was left inside after the book is all done, I felt a bit surprised to see fear. Fear of what? Oddly, fear of my mother coming upstairs.
Let me explain.
I have this problem with having haircuts. Afterwards, the hairdo always looks fine, very pretty - but it looks like a hairdo still, not like a person. It never feels like me. And very little time elapses before I think "I don't want this", and chop off a bit here and a bit there with the sewing scissors, until it looks more normal, more hacked about and less professional; more actually me. And that's what I did today.
Now, when I was about . . . ooh, maybe five or six . . . I decided to cut my hair. After I cut it, I was scared. My mother would come upstairs and see. So I stuck it back on again with sellotape. Funnily enough, she noticed anyway. She was neither thrilled nor filled with admiration.
My life has lurched unsteadily from day one through this landscape of threatening looming disapproval, the OMG What Have I Done of so many inadvisable Bids For Independence and ill-judged Acts Of Self-Expression. Though by nature timid and reclusive somehow Trouble has followed me with its Terrible Nose on the scent of my vanishing fear. It knows. It finds me.
I joined a library, but I forgot to take my book back and then my card went mouldy, and I never dared go back again after that. This would be about . . . ooh . . . nineteen years ago?
I'd go to the doctor for pre-natal check-ups, and he'd look down his nose at me and say: "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, Mrs Wilcock." He also thought I was Very Tall. I'm not really. Only five foot seven. If you don't count the flamey bits and the wings. When my first child was born, the consultant did his Grand Tour of Frank Shaw Ward saying "That's What I Call A Baby" etcetera: until he came to me. "What did you have?" he asked. I was polite. I didn't say, "A baby, duh! Dork." I said, "A girl."
"Ah!" he said, with but the faintest hint of a sneer: "Another one to argue and fight with the doctors." That was where he went wrong, really. I just said: "Yes."
And teachers . . . oh, glory . . . "You have passed the point of no return"; "Penelope's attitude has been a little more pleasant this term" - and it was all downhill from there, really . . .
The trouble with the hair is if I ever go back. Trembling with horror and disdain, the artiste combs into the air a skein of my scratchy wool. "Who cut this?" the ominous questions begin: "This looks as though it has been cut with a razor!!" (Yes. The Badger's.)
I have left school, praise be to God on high. I have left the library. I guard my health like the Crown Jewels and stay as far away from the doctor's surgery as life will permit. My mother's kindly, guiding light of disapproval reminds me I am still alive and this still must be me. And I've blown it with the hairdresser now haven't I? I will never dare go back. Have to just let it grow again, I guess.
Oh! That's better still! You were there all the time! I can see you now!