So this newsletter was supposed to be:
Not always about birth.
Hmm. I think I’m failing on all fronts, but it’s been that kind of week if I’m honest! Last week I felt like I was really getting into my stride, I was going running again, getting my ducks in a row with my online courses, and I’d even given up alcohol from Sunday to Friday, two or three weeks in a row. Well, maybe two. But I felt like an over-achiever, anyway.
As usual the universe sensed a hint of order, or maybe even smugness, about my demeanour, and dished me up a large serving of overcooked spaghetti in an indeterminate sauce on a plastic tray. Well actually that was what they brought my daughter on our second day in hospital, she had appendicitis and we stayed two nights on the dreaded Children’s Ward. I can report that the positives were: some really fantastic staff, and that the negatives were: appalling food and a cleaning routine that didn’t have ‘global pandemic’ written all over it from where I was sitting. Thank goodness for the local pizza takeaway. And soap.
So we are out now and when I wasn’t in the recovery position I ended up on BBC Radio 2 talking to Jeremy Vine about vaginal exams as a gateway to having your partner with you in labour. You can listen to the programme here, the discussion starts at 1 hour 9 minutes in. My poorly daughter was on the sofa watching Sleeping Beauty while I did the broadcast from an upstairs bedroom, and was largely disinterested, although she now calls Jeremy Vine, ‘Jeremy Vagina’.
As a result of being on Radio 2, I was asked to write a piece on the issue for Telegraph Women. I haven’t done any journalism since the pandemic began - my last piece was written in February for the Telegraph about rural isolation - it got dropped since my moans about not being able to join a decent book group or eat sushi with arty types somehow hit the wrong tone in March 2020.
Give Birth like a Feminist pin badges
These have been going like hot cakes but I still have a few left if you want one in your stocking. I can ship them internationally, too.
I want to write poetry but nothing ever seems to flow - I guess I have the emotion but not the tranquility in which to recollect it. Except when they are all on ipads but then, even though it’s quiet, I still have the background buzz of guilt that they are all staring at their little screens when they should be out flying kits and preventing train accidents with their red petticoats. I’ve got a poem brewing - I have the title ‘Small Legacies’, and I know what it’s ‘about’, and I know some of the content, but I just can’t get it onto paper. I want to somehow express the tiny influences we have on other people’s lives, often without knowing, and how these influences are then passed on. Hmm. Maybe this weekend it will all flow out.
In the summer I did an online poetry workshop with Kate Clanchy via the Arvon foundation, which was one of the highlights of my lockdown, if I’m honest. She got us all writing about lockdown, here’s my hastily written effort which I don’t really like - but who does like their own poetry? Whenever I talk about poetry I always remind myself of Pitt the Younger in Blackadder reciting, “Why do nice girls hate me?”
Anyway if you know of any other poetry groups or courses, or would like to form a Bad Poet’s Society, please let me know (clearly I need help!)
On the first day
We waved goodbye to the teachers
Some cried, knowing deep down
This was bigger than an ending.
On the second day, the politicians
Said we must follow the science
In one direction, or another.
It was up to us.
We listened out for the briefings
Alert for signs of the end.
In our windows, rainbows faded
And the heat said, enough is enough.
We saw the numbers on slides
Made by people we did not trust
From facts that fit their story
Only in retrospect
Looking back, we should have known
What starts badly, ends badly
The birds will still sing
As we walk to the block
On the thirty fifth day I let go
Of my grip on the facts
On the thirty sixth day
I cut my own fringe.
This time of tumbleweed
Everything overgrown, and no key to the garden.
Love to all, Milli x