Pulling my bedroom curtains this morning I felt a warm cozy glow at the sight of those frosty rooftops and the rose-hued morning sky. It is winter, the view told me, and everything is in order.
Looking out of my back windows however told a different story.
I am entering the third week now in the great building a new bathroom drama and my small back garden has turned into a rubbish dump. There is no sense of order here any more than there is inside the house either and there won’t be until the builders have gone, hopefully tomorrow.
Living in a small early Nineteenth Century terraced house with small perfectly formed rooms, any major building work means chaos because there is nowhere to store the overflow from the room under attack and nowhere for the builders to put their, er, tools.
Any way, it has destroyed my sense of orderliness and I am surprized just how unsettling that is.
There are bigger problems in other people’s lives, I know, and all this work will lead to a splendid new bathroom, I know that too, but in the meanwhile I have to admit that I am going through a mini, and , yes I know, neurotic trauma.
There was the sacked tiler, Jack. Nice man, crap worker. Infuriating whistle and an ability to spread dust and grouting through out the house and up my major orifices too. Worse of all he stole my pencil.
My pencil, my poetry writing pencil, is a simple wooden B leaded object. No paint on its shaft just simplicity itself.
Well, call me simple, but I carry that pencil around with me all day…I write with it, suck it, chew it, conduct with it and generally live with it. Sadly, on the day that Jack was sacked, I lent him the pencil to mark up some measurements. So the pencil, my pencil, has gone with the much less lamented Jack.
On Friday, it all came to a head when the electricity packed in just before I was set to go off to London. My train time came and went and still there was no light and just as illumination returned the telephone rang and the bank told me that my debit cards had been used by some rogue to buy hundreds of pounds worth of gadgets with my money. This too was resolved after alternative train schedules went up the spout.
Amazingly I had a great night once I got to the restaurant and my friends even though I was eating when all the others had long finished their meals.
Late arrival meant late departure so I got the last train home via Brighton and an expensive taxi ride and got into bed at somewhere around 3.00 in the morning.
Even since I have fought the consequences of my neuroses with a grumbling migraine, a throb on my haemorrhage site, a increasingly annoying stammer and a general feeling of malaise. I need to get back into my own private world and to close my front door, just for a short while , on the rest of the human race.
Snap out of it I kept telling myself but it was no good. I felt, um, what is the polite word for crap?
Back to that view out of my bedroom window.
Orderliness and beauty did it for me as did my choice of music whilst eating breakfast. That most forbidden of classical music pleasures, Bach violin and keyboard sonatas with a modern piano instead of a harpsichord.
So there I am. A sunny frosty morning, listening to Bach and eating my customary home-made muesli with skimmed milk and a hot mug of Indian tea. That is my idea of orderliness and those, to quote Julie Andrews, are some of my favourite things.
I could see Herr Bach at that moment. Sitting in his study smoking that famous pipe and smiling. We don’t know the trouble he had seen even though we can feel his mastery of his emotions in his music. This morning my great uncle Johann Sebastian was saying, “don’t worry, Wolfie, everything will be alright.”
And it is. Just as the darkest of moods can come from nowhere so too can those compensating moments of joy.
Here is a recording of that sonata played by the wonderfully wild Glenn Gould on the piano and my old friend, the great violinist and human being, Yehudi Menuhin.
Yehudi was one of the few celebrities I made friends with out of the many I have worked with over the years. He too knew about orderliness coming out of feeling and he too could be very comforting.
As I sit here and think, or try to think with the sound of drilling beneath me, all I need now is another simple wooden B leaded pencil and all would be well.
“That’s raight!” I hear Yehudi say with that gentle international Hebraic accent. And it is.
Oh yes and in that pile of rubble that is my back garden, quite unexpectedly my newest rose bush, Golden Celebration has burst back into flower. My headache has gone and I have got a grip. “That’s raight.”