My Dread of the Longest Day

And so we had the longest day on Thursday. Ostensibly a time for celebrating. For some the victory of light over darkness. But in scientific terms, simply our maximum quota of daylight for the year. My pro-science bend featured in my previous blog – read it here. Who cannot love relaxing on chilled summer evenings? However, the Summer Solstice always leaves me with a slight sense of dread. Quite simply it’s downhill from here onwards.

Despair

In general, I try really hard to have a focus on the future being optimistic and hopeful about what is to come. However, in this instance, I know that we have shorter and cooler times in the future; the inevitability of the seasons. I’m always excited once Easter is out of the way and we can look forward to light and heat again. Obviously, we will still have many hot days this year. But within 4 months we will be facing cold and darkness.

‘Don’t cry because it’s over but smile because it happened’

Dr Seuss

A clear part of my problem is that I have some underlying negative characteristics like my ability to be pessimistic and to catastrophise situations. Why do I more often see the worst case scenario rather than the best – both are equally likely to happen? Currently I’m dealing with some financial stuff and dread dealing with things online but it will get sorted. And the possibility that Trump may be president again… I know my negative attributes are there and I have to try to get on top of them. Not easy and not always guaranteed.

“It is incredibly empowering to know that your future is in your hands.” 

Keanu Reeves

Weight: My dread of the scales

One of the things I am not comfortable with at the moment is that I am putting on weight. Denial can be a useful way to deal with things that pain us. So I didn’t talk about my weight in my previous blog as I thought it might be a blip.

Unfortunately my weight has crept up and is back over 13 stone. I’ve been here before and I can get below that key figure. But it’s not going to be achieved by laissez-faire eating whatever I want. I actually need to cut back and be hungry. It’s not easy but I need to make an effort so that I can look forward to checking the scales rather than facing it with a sense of dread.

lose weight now

Gym: My fear of when it’s gone

I also have a worry about my gym. And that, as a small independent gym rather than part of a big gym chain, is that it could close down one day. But my beloved workouts will be gone one day, whether through my gym going or me not being able to exercise. So every time I go, I have a small sense of dread fearing that it may be closed.

And it was on Wednesday though simply because part of the flooring had to be replaced. Instead I went on one of my big, long, purposeful walks which really did knacker me out. Thus just 2 gym workouts last week. On Mon and Fri mornings, both with me really pushing the weights and getting that lovely ache feeling that I had exercised for the rest of the day.

58 gym sessions since the start of 2024 divided by the annual membership = £9.50 per session.

Swim: Time for a new costume

Just one swim last week, on Tues afternoon in a surprisingly not too busy pool. 22 lengths done, primarily front-crawl. Had also planned to go on Thurs morning but just felt too knacked when I woke up. I think I should focus on trying to do less lengths but going more than just once per week.

And I realised it was time to get a new swimming costume. I’ve had my old ones for quite a while and they are so comfortable. But swimming costumes start to disintegrate after a while. I’m sure it’s to do with the chlorine which has the power to destroy many things.

Nice American arse

The unpredictability of caring

Much of caring is about dealing with static situations. The person you are looking for who can’t go out. But then the unexpected happens. We so often live with the dread of things taking a turn for the worst but there can be times where things go better than expected.

Mum is desperate to go to Hammersmith to do some clothes shopping. When you are unwell, you crave opportunities for normality. We’ve planned this trip several times but each one has fallen through due to bad weather or mum not feeling well. Our visit planned for Fri didn’t go ahead as mum had to urgently attend the doctor’s. But the tablets she got seemed to have an instant impact and I was so pleased with how well she seemed on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Patrick is doing really well. I saw him alone on Saturday morning as Dave was working. Out for our usual coffee and breakfast before I went back to see mum. After our recent successful trip to the Isle of Wight, Patrick is now keen to visit the Bluebell Railway in Sussex as he’s a big fan of steam trains.

Dave’s difficult week

My partner Dave is a bit like me in that he is also a perfectionist. And that, in so many ways, causes problems as we channel far more energy into things than they actually require. Dave’s had a big event that he has done a lot of work for during the past few weeks. And it went brilliantly as I knew it would. The worst thing was the pressure he put himself under but so many of us do that.

But then on Sunday he fell over again hurting his ribs again plus his face. I wasn’t with him but I’m sure shock and personal annoyance were the things that bore down on him. I tried to be extra nice on Sunday night as he was feeling down.

Tired man asleep or despondent

‘Weyward’ by Emilia Hart

A well received book which is a nice read. The lives of 3 women from the same family, one in the seventeenth century and two in the twentieth. All have bad stories to tell. Based around the dread of male violence and pregnancy often unwanted. In themselves, these are worthy stories that need to be told.

Where the book goes wrong me thinks, is the emphasis on magic. The 3 women are all witches. Not in a satanic way but women with knowledge of healing and potion-making. Plus with the ability to communicate with animals and insects. And in particular is their partnership with crows which in many ways sounds act as the ‘familiars’ which were always taken to be a sign of a witch.

I’m really not sure the problems women have faced (and are facing) like domestic violence are made more approachable by jazzing up with new age nonsense. But, as said, it’s still a decent read but I still feel it could have been better without the clumsy connecting up of the stories with mystical links.

A black crow

For weeks, I have been talking about getting some more art and culture in my life. Finally, the week gone, I managed to make that happen. When you are nursing dread and anxiety in your life, one of the best things you can do is to take yourself out of your current physical space and immerse yourself in something else (very true for addictions as well).

‘Now You See Us’ at Tate Britain

Sub-titled ‘Women Artists in Britain 1520 – 1920’, this is an exploration of the main British female artists over four centuries (details here). What this exhibition illustrates is the prejudice that women have had to overcome. Stories of how women were discouraged from becoming artists sometimes by their own husbands. With one woman being told by the person she painted that seeking payment for her work made her a ‘slut’.

Women were not seriously allowed into artistic societies until the latter part of the nineteenth century. And even when they were allowed into art schools, they were still banned from life drawing classes. Plus certain artistic forms were deemed non-serious art, many of which women excelled in like embroidery and the use of pastels.

Yet women managed to paint and there is some great art. Predictably the latter part of this period dominates. But the earliest stuff is always inspiring as it must have been so difficult for women to be taken seriously in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. By the late nineteenth / early twentieth century, women artists are heralding many of the new art movements that will become prominent.

Yet there is also the sadness that women were restricted in what they could paint. Primarily self-portraits and other women as well as ‘safe’ watercolours and still life paintings of flowers. What this exhibition demonstrates is how minorities have to be persistent to be taken seriously. Also, that there is so much talent that goes to waste if it is not nurtured – so true for many areas of modern life.

‘Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.’

Carrie Fisher

Good things to come

My dread of what is to come will stick around but there are still many highlights to come this summer (despite the disappointment of the final episode of the Dr Who series). One of these is Glastonbury which is great fun to watch. And we’ve still got the Euros plus the Olympics to come.

Over the weekend just gone, I had the pleasure of watching the Isle of Wight Festival on TV. Ably assisted by dry and (relatively) sunny weather outside. Strange to think me, Dave, Patrick and Frances were on the island only a few weeks ago. The Festival is quite retro-focused with an appeal to Gen X people like me. It was great to see sets by artists that have defined my cultural identity such as the Pet Shop Boys, Feeder, Keane, Simple Minds, and Green Day.

Sun with glasses

  • Assuming my fear of the gym not being open doesn’t come to pass, I should get in 3 sessions. Target is at least one swim, two would be great. Must remember that walking to the pool on Tuesday will be hard with my route interrupted by the Emperor of Japan’s state visit.
  • Time to be spent with mum and Patrick again particularly as Dave is off visiting Germany for part of the week. Fingers crossed that me and mum will finally get our visit to Hammersmith done. Plus we have a planned hospital visit on Saturday. A pub lunch with Patrick and Frances on Sunday, mum may also join us for that if she feels well enough.
  • Should finish all 3 books I am currently reading: ‘Alchemy’ by S J Parris, ‘The Book of Form and Emptiness’ by Ruth Ozeki, and ‘Fireball’ by John Christopher.
  • Real action needed to push my weight back below 13 stone and avoid the dread of getting on the scales
  • Carrying on with my daily language learning
  • Looking forward to a catch-up dinner with my old mate Dom on Wed evening
Cold War Steve
KGB News via Cold War Steve

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