Shades of Grey

Coming back to London has been a shambles. After a 25 hour flight (delayed because we had to let a sick woman get off the plane at Bangkok so she could go to hospital, half an hour after we’d boarded), and waiting another 40 minutes for my luggage (delayed because of the rain – surely if they worried about the rain in this country, no one’s luggage would ever arrive), I stumbled onto the Tube. It was grey outside. The buildings were grey. The trees were grey. I was reminded of a fragment from Praed’s transcripts, during a conversation she’d had with a spirit named K, who’d said to her: ‘For pleasure I can’t imagine anybody wanting to live in England. The grey sky – the grey mud – the prevailing colour is grey.’ It seems that dead people don’t like London either, even when they’re dead. And yet again I asked myself, ‘What on earth am I doing here?’ Aside from the dosh that Melbourne Uni has given me, it’s because I’d be bored if I stayed at home.

I woke up at 3.30am the next morning and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I attempted to deal with the luggage strewn across my floor, gave up, got dressed and trudged to the bus stop. The bus took forever to get me to work. The C charge has been extended and everything is slower than before, because of all the people turning away on the rims of the zone. I contemplated buying a bike but it’s hazardous because I can’t hear the traffic around me, and my mother would probably crucify me first by screaming at me down the phone, ‘You can’t do that!’ Although whenever someone tells me I can’t do something, I go and do it.

At work they’d written on the whiteboard, ‘Welcome back to work, Jess,’ which was sweet. I distributed Warheads, Freddo Frogs and Caramello Koalas. By the end of the day I was so tired I couldn’t speak.

Wednesday was payday. I discovered that I’ve used up all of my savings and my wage only just covers my living expenses. I can barely afford to walk out of the house now. I was plunged into gloom. I tried to sleep before going to M’s talk but I was too overwrought and had to cancel.

I kept waking at 5am. Thursday I went to the physiotherapist about my knee. It was a bloke feeling me up this time, so one couldn’t complain. He gave me different exercises to do so maybe these ones will work and I can start running again. Friday, the tuner came to look at H’s piano. The poor man, red-faced and friendly, plucked and banged and struck for four hours and then gave up on it. Then the washing machine man came. It transpired the washing machine has a broken fuse and we can’t get it fixed for another week. I think I have enough undies left to last me that long. Meanwhile A-‘s clothes are piling up in the bathroom.

While checking my emails that morning, I came across a ‘gentle reminder’ from the Intimacy conference organisers that papers were due in that day. I haemorrhaged for 15 minutes – I thought I’d had weeks to do it – then pulled myself together and started writing the paper. It was just a cut and paste job, and I was too dispirited to care about it much, so it didn’t take long to do. When the pinao man left I tried some scales and realised I had forgotten pretty much everything my music teacher had taught me. So much for the thousands my parents ploughed into my piano lessons, and I hope they don’t read this bit. By the time H came home I was too depressed to move. I cancelled on T and we watched Crash, which kept me awake. It was a good movie though, and I liked that it was so nuanced about racism. H complained that it won an Oscar above Brokeback Mountain, and I said that maybe in a few more decades there would be movies made that were more sophisticated about gay relationships and homophobia.

Saturday I shopped and baked Russian Tea Cakes, then Wtk came over in the afternoon. I realised it had been three months since I’d seen him, which is appalling.

That was the end of my first week back in London. I think ‘grey’ sums it up pretty well.


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