On my car journeys to Dublin I am accompanied by the radio set to my default station of BBC Radio 4. Mostly the signal is good apart from a short distance on the M2 in the shelter of the Cavehill, but the view of Belfast Lough on a clear day helps numb the pain of losing the programme until I round the bend and descend to the lower level of Belfast.
Once more back on signal I have company all the way to just north of Drogheda in County Louth. The sign for the exit to Monasterboice, with the historic ruins of an early Christian settlement, is where the voices become white noise and I switch off the radio and turn my mind to my destination ahead.
It is really only from Drogheda on that I meet the heavier traffic and with large trucks, heavy rain that brings swishy swashy road spray (we had a full year of rain!) that I do really need to have eyes at the back and the sides of my head as well as the front. Approaching the turn off for Dublin Airport, the flight path crosses my line of vision. Sometimes the planes are so low I expect them to land on the motorway in front of me.
It is at this point I need to make a decision. Do I need to take the N32 lane to my aunt, the City Centre/Port Tunnel lane to my sister or the M50 to Elly. City drivers have little patience with the hesitater or ‘foreign’ number plates. You need to drive with determination, backed with caution. Not like the guy who moved crablike across five lanes about one car length in front of me on the M2 one day. He did NOT have a blow out, it was pure selfishness and he never used an indicator. That was enough to cause a heart attack or worse. I can do without pain like that.
My last drive south was on 28th August and true to form I listened to my friends on air. Two programmes in particular stayed with me and I managed to listen to both of them again the other night.
The first of these was a 28 minute programme, part of the series Soul Music, this time on the Largo from Dvorak’s New World Symphony. I always loved that piece, first becoming aware of it as the music in the TV advert for Hovis Bread, and later with the added lyrics Going Home sung by Paul Robeson, but hearing Albie Sachs Anti-apartheid campaigner and others so movingly tell what the piece means to them and how it got them through pain. The pain of incarceration in prison in South Africa, and for someone else through the pain and desperation of loss of job and lack of money to feed his family, and away from the brink of suicide. I will never hear that piece of music again without a lump in my throat.
Then followed half an hour listening as Rowan Pelling took us on a short journey through procrastination, a problem which she said, was a blight on her life.
That one word is enough to give me a pain in my water!
‘Procrastination is the thief of time.’
How many times did I write that with a scratchy dip pen on a handwriting copybook as practice for joined up writing? How many occasions was writing it out twenty times a punishment for not answering a question fast enough? Get half way through the exercise and smudge or add an inkblot unintentionally…. and you had to begin all over again.
Getting over that memory I learned from the programme that Douglas Adams author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and I, had something in common.
He had a fear of the blank page.
When he died at the age of 49, he was twelve years late on the deadline for the book he was supposed to be writing. He wasn’t actually a procrastinator, he was a perfectionist who was just terrified of the empty page.
Victor Hugo was also a procrastinator. He used to write naked. He gave his clothes to his valet because the temptation of going out to the pub for a drink was so great, the only way he could deal with it was to remove his clothes to stop himself from going out and then sit down to begin writing.
Now if I had a valet and stripped naked (to write my LBC Post every week) he would take off screaming like a jet engine with fright, and it might take the full contents of a pub to calm him from the pain of the nightmare he just witnessed!
There are other forms of pain,
- The pain I am working my way through, you have heard more than enough of it over the last fortnight.
- The pain of childbirth. Never as easy as squeezing the paste from a tube of toothpaste.
- The pain of death, for those on the journey, or for those left behind to deal and come to terms with. The buried feelings they had either forgotten or were unaware of.
- The pain of heartache due to unrequited love.
- The other heartache when you feel like someone has put the blood pressure cuff around your chest and pneumatically inflated it, leaving you unable to breath.
- The pain of abuse, verbal, physical or mental.
- The pain of hunger.
- The pain of rejection.
- The pain of loneliness.
- The pain of being invisible.
- The pain of ageing and losing independence.
The topic Pain was suggested for us this week by Conrad, who I am sure in his time has felt pain both for himself and for his loved ones. Time now to ease your pain and hop on over to see how our other active members deal with the subject: Anu, Delirious, Maxi, Maria/Gaelikaa, Maria SilverFox, OCD writer, Padmum, Paul, Ramana, Shackman speaks, The Old Fossil, Will Knott.