It's been a bit of a miserable week. In the scheme of things a cancelled swimming race, more perpetual rain and yet more dental issues (suspected gum infection this time, necessitating mouth temperature food and exceptionally nasty antibiotics) are frustrating/annoying/painful and only grim in lowercase. But it seems like GRIM things are happening to so many people who I know and are close to at the moment that they are by far outnumbering the GOOD things. And even though there are good things happening, such as tomatoes continuing to grow and getting to the end of the week, it feels like they are so small that they can't possibly counteract the grim things. It's a balancing dilemma that has really been on my mind.
So today, I tried to think about things a bit differently. I'm not going to be able to do anything necessarily to counteract the GRIM things. And I can't stop the little grim things from getting me down. But perhaps I can try to achieve some small good things and eventually they will start to add together and make things feel a bit better... A culmulative effect perhaps, I hope it will work a little.
So, with a cancelled swimming race, I decided that I could still swim outside, but that I would prefer to swim somewhere nice and warm given that it was cold. About 6km from where I live is the little town of Woodstock which has a small 25m outdoor pool which is usually too warm to swim in, but today it was just the job. It takes about half an hour to cycle there as it's uphill and invariably into the wind, but the cycle ride back (it's a circular route) takes you through Woodstock, and gives you glimpses of Blenheim Palace and Oxford airport, and through some country lanes. It's only the second time I've made this outing, but it is a perfect Saturday trip. The pool was practically empty, and swimming backstroke looking up at the sky made me feel very small and insignificant but strangely grounded.
The other reason for going to Woodstock was the rather wonderful Woodstock Bookshop. It's an independent, few of which seem to exist these days, and always stocked with lovely books that I want to take home. Mother-in-law gave me a book token for my birthday which I discovered last night was far more generous than I had expected, and I'd asked the WB to get in a copy of the Slightly Foxed edition of Look Back with Love by Dodie Smith. It is a mark of the sort of bookshop that WB is that they already had a copy on hand. Browsing idly, I also picked up The JM Barrie Ladies Swimming Society. Given that I smelt of chlorine and had wet hair and had been cheated of my openwater swim this weekend it seemed like a good thing to get. I had been offered a lend of a copy, but a book token is a good excuse to buy a book to read right now.
Oh, and if any of you have had anything significantly more GOOD than GRIM happen recently, please share it. I'd genuinely love to know that good things are currently happening to the people that I know and care about.
Mavis Gallant’s “Madeline’s Bithday” (1951)
5 hours ago