Every Tuesday I wake up to a special note of excitement. Pension day! While most of my friends have their state pensions paid into bank accounts, I go to my local Post Office to collect mine. I do this because I want to help ensure that there IS a post office. Also I enjoy waiting in the queue, chatting to people and reading the messages on the cards that are for sale. When I get to the counter I enjoy seeing Deidre with her warm smile and her barmaid cleavage. She calls me by my name and I like that, as my name is part of what give me a shape. I chose it myself some years ago, when everyone thought I was waving and only Stevie Smith saw that I was drowning. Too far out all of my life, I finally gave up and surrendered to a new name. It worked a treat and I’ve never looked back. I tell a lie. I look back all the time to check where I am and I like where I find myself. So why am I contemplating moving from the Warren and giving the Boy a call? Shaking it all about in my boogie-woogie way?
As well as calling me by my name, Deidre gives me the opportunity to offer a weekly thank-you to the invisible forces that shape my destiny, conspiring to give me at sixty the means to live a simple but stress free life in the new world that I am fashioning for myself. But things are on the move. I am feeling the first twinges of restlessness. It could be because Mimi is approaching her birthdate and the little one is getting ready to fill the space we’ve shifted up to create for him. It could be because Spring is rising ever so slowly from deep underground. They say that in Spring a woman’s thoughts turn to babies or pink hats or overhauls of some sort. Spring cleaning.
All the years I’ve been collecting my pension I’ve got into the habit of spending some of it in the golden triangle of charity shops within which I live. Charity shopping is much like fly fishing and I trained from an early age in jumble sales to patiently map my pool, to caste and to play my find. Both fly fishing and charity shopping require a fine intuitive eye and a certain steadiness which I am happy to say I have developed over the years.
But now the fish have deserted my particular stretch of stream and the keeper has put up the fishing fee. Bric a brac has become tediously modern, the volunteers cream off the best and the prices are rising beyond the call of my pension pocket. Bargains are becoming rarer. After years of filling my home with well- caught delights the cycle has turned and I am taking more to the charity shops than I am bringing away from them.
So what was it that lured me there in the first place? Acquisitiveness, the love of a bargain, a deep commitment to recycling, the past reflected in old objects? All and a bit of each. I’ve had fun finding and keeping a while but I never have trouble letting go again. It teaches me about the nature of the universe as we bump along the road to entropy. I’m now enjoying the lighter feel in the Warren, feeling the spaces between, in whichI can appreciate the beauty and/or the usefulness of what remains. The meaning lies in the pauses. In music, drama and life, the secret lies in what you leave out. Leave out the third and concentrate on the missing tone, David Mamet suggests. It’s what gives Waiting for Godot its power. The gap where a C chord sits poised waiting to resolve to G. Ah how I love that moment of poise as I await the moment that inevitably comes and watch how it resolves. When I used to think I had control over my destiny, things became discordant. Now I know better.