Over half way through May already, how did that happen? I’ve been so wrapped up in the At Maria’sproject (www.mariaandhelen.co.uk if you want a peak) that my words have been somewhat back-burnered with the mute button firmly pressed. Silenced.
Funny word, ‘silence’. I can never make up my mind as to whether it’s a cross, ticking-off command or some nirvana I should be seeking. What I do know is, that I’m not very good at it; I talk loudly, I sleep loudly (apparently) I even type loudly (currently on a ban from writing in front of the telly by a certain someone). When I run, I wear headphones in an attempt to drown out my gasping with music and if we’re jogging along the flat (rare in Wales) I chat (I know, I should be running faster). I sing along to Ed and Abba whilst I’m cooking, I have the radio in the car and the birds make a right (and beautiful) racket in the garden. When I write, I have a whole load of ‘mood-playlists’, jolly, sad, slow, angry – I choose the tempo to match the scene I’m writing (I’m hoping that doesn’t sound bonkers, I’m sure all writers do a similar thing).
Recently, I’ve had some imposed silence, working as an invigilator. A bizarre and slightly scary experience with an added topping of responsibility (never my favourite). No talking, not a sound, for hours on end, not even possible. I’ve never been with so many teenagers and experienced such peace, just the occasional sound of paper flapping. It’s so quiet I find it hard to even think because I’m sure someone will hear me. I’ve perfected my silent walking (unconvinced the technique could be applied to running), learnt to sneeze soundless and conquered drinking from a plastic bottle without making that ‘squelchy’ sound. Utter silence, the no sound aloud silence, is a weird feeling: it releases me from the noise in my head, the lists - the to-do’s, the why-can’t-I-run-Parkrun-faster, why can’t I write 2000 words a day (I know why, because too busy practicing how to run Parkrun faster) and all the other junk swilling around my drowning brain. At the end of the exam, as the earing din of a hundred chairs scraping across the floor, I have that sensation I get after a long, muddy run followed by a blistering hot bath to wash it all off, my mind tingles. I’ve solved a plot dead-end in my book and resolved to not care (too much) what time I get at Parkrun. Maybe, a bit of silence is the ‘supplement’ brains need, like calcium for your bones and good bacteria for your gut.
Although, I’m currently writing this with a tune (not so) quietly playing in the background...and the TV’s on low…and the washing machine is chugging away…dishwasher’s sloshing…other than that, the silence is golden!
After days of mist and rain the air in this spring sunshine is damp and heavy, the ground steams. The gradient of our track, now that we’re walking it, feels close to vertical, I’m unsure that I’ll make it up to the village. Hedges crowd over the path reaching out snagging brambles, bluebells push through primroses. We crunch upwards, Finn swipes at things with a stick he’s found, slashed flower heads spray in his wake.
The House With Old Furniture By Helen Lewis