New Zealand Books asked me to review ‘Beyond the Scene’, a book compiled by Otago University academics about our identity and images of landscape. The deadline was mid-July. I delivered on time. Yesterday I received an email saying my review would not be published in the forthcoming issue but carried over to the summer print-run. Disappointing but not unexpected – par for the course.
Last night I had a two-fold dream. My first recollection is having a shower. It was at our previous home – and there was no caregiver or stool, I was managing very capably on my own. Indeed it did not seem a big deal. Savouring the sting of the water jets I revelled in the sensation. After drying and dressing I hopped in the car and drove to a coffee shop to have morning tea.
A friend joined me He had just bought ‘The Listener’. ‘I see you’ve got a review in it’ he said. I looked at it – a piece on education - and it was completely garbled. They’ve edited it so much they’d distorted all my meaning. I drove home angrily. I know it was to the old house by the vegetation I went past. I bounded up the steps.
The scene changed. How I have no idea. But now I had the walker and a laptop. I’d left the house and was sitting in the park at the end of the road, tapping in a letter to the editor about the alterations to my text. Realising it was getting chill I trundled uphill towards home. Puffed I reached the steps and suddenly the thought bounded into my head that it was no longer ours. It now belonged to Amanda. There was no way I could get up the steps to ring the bell.
At this point my ejector button cut in. I came awake and lay there confusedly wondering about it. Had I written a piece on education for 'The Listener'? It should be noted I did do one for the blog last weekend. It took a while to realise that it was not for real.
My sub-conscious was looking back in nostalgia. Anne and I had been happy in that house. (We’d left three years ago). Our decision to downsize as it turns out was very sensible. But it was more than happiness. We shared command in the garden, kitchen and house, I had mobility and therefore lots more choice.. Our holidays were a change of scene. There were freedoms I now lack. The evening we left that place I was rushed to hospital in an ambulance. It’s been downhill health-wise ever since. Dramatic, but we now know was inevitable, sooner or later my illness needed attention. .
Well, all I can do is smoke that particular pipe dream. I’m fed up with the new age books for oldies that burble on saying the best is yet to be. That’s rubbish. The best has passed. Be grateful it was a good best. What is necessary is to make the best of what’s happening. But the vividness of the separate parts of last night’s dream lingers clearly in my conscious mind.
The 2018 Book Council Lecture
2 days ago