Society is sick.

There is a sickness in society. It undermines all the beauty and truth there is to be found in living. It subverts every notion of common human decency. Wherever you are in the world, it is statistically likely that you will know someone who carries this perversion inside them. You may not know that you know them; you may think that in fact everyone you know shares your values. But they always give themselves away. The ones that hide in plain sight, that is. There are others who congregate, wearing their sickness for all to see. But that’s all right, because we know to avoid them. It’s the ones who mostly keep it quiet who are the real worry, because who knows to what lengths they will go to spread their perversion, undermining the fundamental concept of the defining principle of what it means to be human: LOVE.

Homophobes. They make me sick.

A couple of days ago I learned that I too had a homophobe in my circle of online acquaintances. I found this out because, evidently frustrated by the (glacially-paced) political shift towards equality under law for gay marriage, he chose to vent his feelings on his Facebook wall. Fair enough, it’s his wall. And of course everyone should be free to express their personal opinions, however misguided I or anyone else may consider them to be. But the point is, his ventings showed up in my timeline. And I was offended. Offended to the point of fury. That anyone can consider it right to deny the rights, privileges and freedoms that they enjoy as a matter of course, enshrined and protected by law, to anyone else because they disapprove of something fundamental in someone else’s being, is bigoted. Pure and simple. To label homosexuality as an ‘alternative lifestyle’ is insulting, since it implies that being gay is a choice. It isn’t. It’s no more a choice than being black is, or being female. Either you are, or you are not. But of course what this is about, is fear. Fear of people. Or rather, fear of other people. Tragic, really.

So. In response to the sadly poisonous outburst, I made a stand on my Facebook wall, as follows:

Dear people, Facebook friends new and old, know this:

I take homophobia very seriously. I strongly support marriage for EVERYONE, regardless of who they fall in love with. If you love someone strongly enough to want to make that public commitment, then you should be as entitled to do it as the next couple, with the same rights and privileges under law, REGARDLESS of your gender. I refuse to accept that it is right to oppress human beings in what is basically the most fundamentally important concept of humanity – that’s LOVE, people – just because some people feel threatened by it. IT’S NOT YOUR BUSINESS.
So. If anyone chooses to take issue with this, please, feel free to unfriend me. Because it’s your problem. Not mine.

Sincerely,

Anna J G Smith.

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Tonight, the stars shine for me.

Today, for the first time in a long time, the year has felt like it is at last where it should be. Today has been one of those idyllic July days; infinite blue sky, heat without humidity, the scent of cut grass, good coffee, lingering honeysuckle. All that was missing was the old fashioned tang of creosote – it was a good day for weatherproofing your exterior woodwork – the thock of leather on willow, and the low hum of a light aircraft crossing from there to elsewhere. And neither unfeasibly wet, nor unseasonably hot. Really, that’s how good it felt, like one of those perfect days that seemed to last forever when I was a child.

And the night has been a good one too. I went to see The Dark Knight Rises with my friend Nina. We loved it. I’m not going to bore you with any attempt at a review – there are enough both glowing and detracting out in the wilds of the net if you want to judge by other people’s opinions. All I will say is that it hit square on all the plot points it needed to hit with the character ensemble, and it did it loudly, and stylishly. It made me – and a large number of the other audience members – jump in our seats. It pulled no punches. But some of the little details… the minor things that niggle, or distract you from the full suspension of disbelief… come on Hollywood; you don’t have to get such simple things wrong. And that’s all I’ll say on the matter. That, and that I REALLY want to go and see it again. Now, preferably.

I enjoyed it so much in fact, that I danced all the way home along Slad Road. It helped that my iPod shuffle threw me Hallogallo; vintage krautrock doesn’t come much better than this. And walking away from the orange streetlamp glare, into the tall shadows cast by dark houses, high hedges, framing the night sky away from urban light-spill, the stars shone clear in all their millions, strung across the sky. The night breeze and the stars, and the music and me. The kind of night where it would be so simple just to keep on walking, into the darkness until the sky turns light again. And I stopped, mid-step, and gazed and gazed. And I saluted the sky. I did. And then I carried on dancing. And yes, there was a lone cyclist who doubtless thought me completely mental, but I really don’t care. Because all during that homeward dance, I was perfectly happy. And the stars shone, for me.

London, Summer 2012

I went to London for the weekend. I felt very nearly like a person I remembered being, before. I stayed with my brother, and we watched Absolutely Fabulous, and laughed a stupid amount. We also did a lot of singing along to the Eurythmics, loudly, in the car, because that’s what we’re like. And we went to see the new Spiderman flick, which I rather liked – it was FUN. And loud.

But mostly the weekend was about Picasso. On Saturday afternoon I went to the British Museum to see the Vollard Suite. This was one of my favourites,

a strong yet ambiguous image; what is the Minotaur doing? Will he wake her or kill her?

Sunday was the last day of the Picasso And Modern British Art exhibition at Tate Britain. It was interesting, but did not quite grip me as much as the Vollard Suite had, although the Hockneys did amuse me.  It was also very crowded, which afforded a wonderful opportunity for people watching. In fact when it’s so crowded that you can’t get to the paintings, people watching is all there is. One woman I overheard was unsure whether or not she’d already seen a particular painting; she was explaining to her male companion that she was almost certain that she hadn’t, because she didn’t recognise the frame. She gave me rather a strange look as I tried to smother my giggles in my sleeve…

Last night…

The benefits of standing barefoot in the garden in the rain are not to be underestimated. The decking, rain-slicked yet still holding some of the day’s warmth, and flecked with fallen rose petals; the pergola, smothered with hundreds of tiny, dark pink roses; lemon balm and thyme spill over from their respective pot and bed, a warmly medicinal scent, clean against the deeper sweetness of honeysuckle and philadelphus. All these things offer a simple restorative to a turbulent mind – and especially if one manages to avoid treading on a slug – when night thoughts grow too dark to bear.

But there is something better. To stand in the garden, skin bare to the night rain’s cold caresses, roused to a state of almost wanton wakefulness, is both stimulating and soothing, as I discovered last night. And if it rains again tonight, do not doubt but that I will be doing it again.

A moment of clarity.

It has been a while since I managed to complete even a first draft of a story. It is not that there is a dearth of ideas, far from it; I have several pieces that are waiting for me to able to get back to them, and several more waiting to be begun. But as I sit here in the near darkness, poring over my notebooks, it occurs to me that the problem is an existential one, and absolutely linked with my depression. It is not simply writers’ block, though <insert deity of choice> knows that’s bad enough. If the writer is no longer sure, absolutely sure, of who she is, what becomes of her voice?

Falling, not flying.

It feels as if it has been a very long time since I could say that living – let alone writing – felt like flying. Lately my days have grown ever darker. This is without doubt the worst I have ever felt, and I fear there is worse still to come. Depression is binding me in, leaving me lonely, and isolated. In the end it comes down to what a person will, or will not do, rather than what they think they can, or can’t; something I should have realised a long time ago. The price for misplaced trust. I’m paying for it now.

It is a constant struggle to maintain the appearance of things-as-normal, when I am out among people. Endlessly fending off the enquiries as to why I’ve lost so much weight – how does she do it?! doesn’t she look well?! – when the truth is that ‘well’ is the last thing I’m feeling. It is hard, horribly hard, to remember how it felt to take pleasure in anything. Writing is almost impossible. All I want to do, is hide. Vanish.

There may be some of you, reading this, who will think that I haven’t said enough. Others, that I have said too much. But I will not tell the why of my darkness, so do not ask. Yet I feel that I have to tell the fact of it, or implode. I am my darkness, and my darkness is me, and I do not know how I will get through this.