It is one of the vagaries of The Way That I Write that having reached the end I, more often than not, have to go back and change the beginning. ‘The End’ is almost always the point at which I realise that I have nothing more to say. The beginning is where I return to make some sense of it.
In my head, I am in the middle of my life, but biology, family history and that little voice in my head all compete to assure me that I am actually much nearer the end of it, and I am beginning to toy with the idea of trying to make sense of it all. Except that I really don’t want to, because every trip that I take to the beginning brings, perversely, the ending much closer. Many, many posts ago – ‘200 – A Retrospective’ – I used the phrase ‘sucking the colours from a puffin’s bill’ (which itself became the title of a later post) and seemed to me to be a perfect metaphor (simile?) for what I felt was my attitude to life: the desire to drag whatever colour was to be had from the blandest of blank backgrounds in order to fully embrace life: in the words of an old school friend, ‘to kiss the f*ck out of it.’
Such little idioms drop themselves into what is written, I don’t think they are ever consciously thought through, but this one has stuck in my head and every now and then, when I am not at my sunniest, I think about it. There have been some cloudy days in the last year – you may have spotted them – I have lost people whom I always assumed would lose me first, I have confronted demons and, worse, worried about friends who now have to confront their own, but my solace is always in writing and – each time I sit with nothing good on my mind – sticking a straw into that seabird’s beak and sucking for all I am worth is what gets me through. I don’t really do profound – most of the time I don’t even manage found – but I do try to slap a bit of colour on the beige whenever I can.
These colours do not go down like Constable’s; they do not hit pre-loved canvas like those of Van Gogh; they do not have the vibrancy of Pollock, nor the shock of Picasso, but they are there if you choose to look for them. My beloved grandma had Bragolin’s ‘Crying Boy’ on her tiny bungalow wall for all the time I knew her. It is the most god-awful, soul-crushing painting of all time, but she loved it and, as she loved it, I began to see colours in its sepia awfulness that I am sure the artist never intended. In the end, I saw what she saw, and it was full of colour, and it has just occurred to me – because that is the way that things work – that if I went back to the beginning in order to view it from the end, I wouldn’t be seeing her painting at all, I would be seeing my own. And that would make no sense at all.
I think that I am probably already too deep into the New Year to say that, whatever you face in the twelve months ahead, I wish you only yellow, orange and red, but I’ll say it anyway.