The world is too much with us. Both too much, and the wrong bits of it.

The thing that propelled me out of bed yesterday morning was the sudden conviction that I HAD to have a swim, my first swim in almost four years, coupled by an equal conviction that in fact, I could manage the £5. That a holding pattern can’t last forever and that you have to have your health, and really the aching and pains and sore back and stiff everythings have been getting worse and worse. The past two weeks with my back have just not been pretty. My ankles seem to have got weaker, after making so much progress after that bad sprain three years ago. And the mattress being like a giant sort of bowl doesn’t help either.

So, as an alternative to the horror of the municipal leisure centre, I went to the London Fields Lido. I went in between calls from some social worker about having to section my aunt in Mile End hospital under a Section 2 – because she had threatened a staff member with a butter knife, under the misapprehension that the doors of the ward lead to a horrible death chamber or something, where ‘people are dying’ – and trying to find out exactly what’s been happening from the nurses, who had not yet regaled me with this event, and then GOING to the hospital, across which we will draw a veil.

I always used to swim about twice a week, and then various things happened which have disrupted things over the past seven years or so, and that has been sufficient to trash me. The result of yesterday is that, although I ache all over, I ache in a slightly different and much better way. My back hurts – it’s the bags, the trudging around with heavy bags of papers and books and electronic devices. My 8th-grade science teacher Mr Balukas, rest his wonderful soul, warned me of this when I was 12, prodding my neck and telling me scornfully that it was like iron. He didn’t tell me the next bit, which was that I should learn to drive as a matter of urgency and never think twice about having a car.

So the pool was wonderful, and although I went really, r e a l l y slowly, I did keep moving for 45 minutes and did loads of stretches and it was under the real sky and with real trees in sight over the edge of the building. It was a strangely emotional experience to just float. The clouds and coolness made it even better.

Anyway, in the wonderful pool I had a sudden revelation, which was that I should put something under the mattress at the point where it dips, like a pillow or something. It would be hey! presto! This is the kind of idea you can only really have when you are swimming.

So I got home utterly shattered and beaten down by life (you haven’t lived till you’ve seen your nearest and dearest screaming at everyone in sight to let them out so they can get a little stuffed cat, which they are calling a dog, to the vet because it’s DYING RIGHT NOW, and then sobbing uncontrollably over it. And you really haven’t lived till you’ve been the only person who has the power to calm down and soothe that person and make them fit to carry on… ) – so at bedtime, utterly shattered and faced with my gully, I remembered the revelation of the pool. And I folded up two old quilts quite flat, and put them in under the mattress. And a pillow at the bottom corner, where it’s now lower than the head. And ohmigod, they’ve done the trick. (They’ve done the trick a treat. That’s wrong, isn’t it…)

Er, so today we have a day of sorting out the stuff at her flat for charity, the Final Cull, no wonder my poor aunt is flipping out over in Mile End. I’m just pathetically grateful to have my kid and his girlfriend in on it, so it isn’t just me. I’ve got a flatbed scanner to get back on the train but I’ll be careful. It could maybe go under the mattress…

… and in other news, let’s see. The new MsLexia magazine has arrived, with my piece in it about marketing for self-publishers. It’s putatively about writers self-publishing e-books, but as with allt hese things, in one sense we’re all doing the same thing now, so it’s applicable for other writers too. MsLexia really is a brilliant writing magazine – for women or men, even though it says ‘women’ on the tin.

I’m picking up my new reading glasses on my way to Chiswick: the final step, I hope, in reclaiming the Baroque eyesight and making it possible to – for example – read Bring Up the Bodies, or maybe MsLexia. Can’t wait.

All I need now is some rose-tinted goggles, and then I can swim even on a sunny day…



Sis June 29, 2013 at 11:36 am

Oh, I wish I had something wise and soothing to say. Lucille Ball’s got nothing on you – xxoo

Annie Freud June 29, 2013 at 1:18 pm

love ya xxx

Julie Parmenter June 29, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Lovely to see a new post from you. I loved Bring Up The Bodies. She’s never predictable in her descriptions of human nature.

Martin June 30, 2013 at 8:09 am

Put me down for some of those rose-tinted goggles, Katy. And I don’t even swim!

Afric McGlinchey June 30, 2013 at 9:17 am

God, Katie, how do you keep up your good spirits? Anyhow. At least we can control one thing. We can stretch, and exercise, be good to our bodies. We can be so inside our heads that we forget to MOVE. So easy to forget that we need to move every day, spend longer at that than sitting hunched over our laptops. Sitting is bad. STANDING to write is better. I’ve rigged up a tall table for myself, which I can put outside in the shade while I read/write on the laptop. Now to go for a swim. Thanks Katie! You’re a gem.

Afric McGlinchey June 30, 2013 at 9:19 am

Bloody hell. Sorry. Katy!

Simon R. Gladdish June 30, 2013 at 11:59 am

Dear Katy

You’re not the only one with aches and pains. Rusty and I are looking after a mad Alsation in Fontainebleau for a couple of months. He sleeps in our bedroom and gets me up for his first walk at 5 a.m! After two years of zero exercise I am now feeling sore in every muscle. If there were a cool crystalline pool to dive into, I would be the first in it. I bought a copy of ‘Lionel Asbo’ by Martin Amis at Cardiff Airport. It’s not great literature but it is bloody funny in places.

Love from Simon & Rusty

Ms Baroque July 1, 2013 at 4:27 pm

Simon, I think that dog will be the making of you! Enjoy your summer, what an idyllic place to be in. Let’s see if either of us actually manages to become fit.

Maggie July 1, 2013 at 3:31 pm

I actually think of Mr. B from time to time because it was due to an exchange I had with him that I first understood that one can hurt another person’s feelings without meaning to and never remedy the damage. (How old we’re we? Thirteen? I wonder if I should have learned that lesson sooner.) We had class with him three times a week, right?, and in addition to teaching us the names of various types of rock, he would occasionally chat with me about our mutual interest in horses. There was some type of rock that had a sorta scatological sound to its name, which the boys in the class found intensely amusing, of course. Can’t remember what type of rock it was. Maybe it was the name of a geological era, not a type of rock ( sorry, Mr. B!). One day he brought in a photo of his white Arabian mare who he said was terrific with his 3 year old granddaughter. Bad photo, blurry, very awkward perspective from below her muzzle looking upwards. My comment was unflattering and I still remember the look on Mr. B’s face. He definitely was disappointed that I could not see from this photo what a tremendous animal Layla was. He never spoke to me again outside the formal role of teacher/student, or about any topic other than geology.

Ms Baroque July 3, 2013 at 9:24 am

Maggie, I’m still thinking about this story. He was all about taking responsibility – and definitely not someone who was going to pander to people’s little self-deceptions. But you were a kid! (I did once actually hear myself snapping at one of my kids, when they were being some kind of a pain or other, ‘Oh will you just GROW UP!’ Er… ) xx

Pants July 3, 2013 at 9:06 am

Hi Katy

How brave you are. I wish I was there to help. I’m quite good at packing!



Ms Baroque July 3, 2013 at 9:31 am

Thanks a million, guys, you are all stars. As usual, a bit chagrined to get all this sympathy and praise etc, though it does in fact help… It occurs to me that I was only trying to justify not writing anything for so long. And I didn’t even frame for the Halls of Baroque my baroque printer saga! You’re spared. (I’ve now got a Brother mono laser office-style printer and I love it. It cost as much as one set of Epson ink cartridges. That is all ye know and all ye need to know.)

Sis – thanks! & Martin, I’m on the lookout.

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