My Tourette’s is back with a vengeance. The Older Child heard me effing and blinding away in the kitchen the other day, when I burnt the arse out of a saucepan, cremating my chickpea curry.
In she trotted, forefinger aloft. ‘MUMMY,’ she said, ‘there is NO NEED for that sort of language.’
Luckily she wasn’t in my sub-consciousness last night, when in a dream I told a man we know that he was not just a misogynist, but also a narcissistic c**t. In the dream a friend was remonstrating with me, saying that I had really ‘let myself down’ and needed to ‘have a word with myself’. I woke up most perplexed, although IRL, the man in question is both of the above and would have deserved the lambasting entirely.
‘I must moderate my language,’ I sighed to LSB as we headed to Harper’s Yard this morning. ‘It will be my New Year’s Resolution. In fact I’ll use up all my c**ts by Christmas.’
‘You do listen to the news don’t you?’ he said. ‘Good luck with that.’
It would be easy, wouldn’t it, to slide into a funk after those election results. But sometimes, one has to look around, and when I do that, I see I’m surrounded by the good people of South Belfast, for which I’m most grateful.
Take yesterday morning, when I nipped down to Ormeau parkrun. Sometimes, especially when it’s 4 degrees and you’ve brewed a pot of Fair Trade Rwandan coffee it can be hard to prise yourself out of your pyjamas. But since I had arranged to meet my friend Grace, off I hopped, leaving a hungover LSB with the children, who were watching ‘SpongeBob Squarepants’. I think I got the better deal.
Arriving late, I found Grace deep in conversation with a couple of park run tourists, one of whom hailed from New Zealand. ‘That volcano,’ I heard Grace tell him, ‘had been rumbling away for ages. They shouldn’t have let anyone near it.’
He nodded, and on they talked about seismic activity. It confused me, so I turned to his friend.
‘Are you from New Zealand too?’ I asked him.
‘No, I’m Dutch,’ he replied.
‘Oh, Grace speaks Dutch, I said.
‘Hallo, hoe gaat het,’ he said to Grace.
‘Het gaat goed met mij dankjewel,’ she replied.
I don’t think either of them expected this chat as they shivered at the start line, but then they haven’t met Grace. Grace is 91 and has done over 50 parkruns. Her running career began at 89, after open-heart surgery put paid to her mountain hiking days. I want to be like Grace when I’m a nonagenarian, though given our current world leaders, the chances of the planet surviving the next 50 years, never mind me, is looking increasingly unlikely.
Speaking of leaders, who should we meet next but Claire Hanna. Any other woman, given the week that’s been in it, would have stayed at home, jammy clad and cosy, but not Claire. There were hugs a plenty for her, and rightly so.
Had it not been for news of her success on Friday, I could have sunk into a deep despondency. Why I’m even remotely shocked at politics anymore, I don’t know, but how that cabinet remains in office, with the collective moral integrity of the African dung beetle, baffles me. It’s hard not to feel that something very wrong is afoot.
But one must have hope.
‘It’s desperate, isn’t it?’ I said to Grace, as we ran round, her like a sleek ninja in her black hoodie and leggings. I was supposed to be offering her encouragement as we ran into the icy wind, but on I moaned. ‘I find,’ said Grace, as her glasses steamed up with her exhalations, ‘that you must have hope, and count your blessings. That’s what I try to do.’
Life has tried to quash Grace, but she’s not having any of it. This week she told me that she didn’t have time to go out walking in Belvoir Forest, as she had too many ‘old people’ (her words) to visit in care homes around Belfast. She baked a Christmas Cake, and taught English at the weekly classes for refugees at her church. In the New Year she’s going out to the Bahamas to help residents displaced by Hurricane Dorian.
So, if you’re feeling a bit wobbly after that election, my advice, for what it’s worth, is to be a bit more Grace. It’s hard to feel low when you’re looking to the future with hope, grit, and determination.
Then this morning at Ormeau Bowling Green, I drank coffee and ate cake at Harper’s Yard, the community café run by my friends Martina, Claire and Brian. Lots of my friends were there, and some had brought their dogs. I find petting animals soothes me when I’m fraught, so I was in luck.
At each Harper’s Yard event they support a local charity, and this time they were raising money for the NI Hospice. Taxes really, should be keeping the Hospice afloat, but since the Tories don’t give a f**k about the NHS anymore, or people, whether they’re dying or not, I guess it’s up to volunteers to bring in the funds.
So in the New Year, I’m going to try and replace the ubiquitous ‘c’ word with another one: ‘community’. I think we could be in a right auld mess under Boris’s direction, so sticking together may be more essential than ever.
Keep going, I reckon, and if you have to turn the air a bit blue while you’re at it, then so be it. There’s worse things after all: just look at the PM.