my backpack sits slumped over
from where it was thrown –
coming in from going out –
gathering dust –
and when lockdown was announced
there the backpack remained –
the shoes piled around it,
like loose stones around a rock –
the contents of time suspended –
loose mints, and receipts –
a water bottle, and pens separated
from their lids –
pads and wipes –
lip balm –
a notebook –
and until i remembered
to throw it in the bin –
some days later into lockdown –
a half-eaten lunch –
i didn’t dare to peel back the foil it was wrapped in.
This book runs the gamut of one woman’s life. It begins in the present day of Doreen’s domestic life in the 1960’s, where she discovers the debts, and alcoholism, of her French husband. Previously a photographer in Fleet Street, Doreen gave up her career to raise their 2 children. When she makes this discovery, Doreen must return to work.
The narrative then takes us back to Doreen’s childhood. Her mother suffers a miscarriage and that triggers a depression that lasted throughout her life. Her mother’s story is a familiar one for women of that time. She became carer (i.e. skivvy) to a deaf mother, live in grandparents and siblings. This was what was expected of the eldest child.
‘domesticity became her reason for living. Somehow, like millions of other women in those days, she persuaded herself it was the highest calling a woman could have,’
Doreen’s father was where her love of photography came from. He had an editorial role at a largely distributed newspaper at the time The Daily Herald. It is he who encouraged Doreen to achieve her dream of being a photographer.
While in a school of photography, as a young woman, Doreen observed this,
‘all these people wanted to create were pretty paintings, smooth glossy images of bland perfection shot beside an urn with roses or a pair of fake French windows,’
Remind you of anything?
In those days in London, Fleet Street was the place newspapers were put together. It was also no place a woman was expected to want to work. Doreen didn’t care for that. From school we join Doreen in her early journey of capturing on film Lapland, America, Einstein and young royalty. She accompanied famous photographers at the time and learnt her craft.
Back home, Doreen found herself at a crossroads. She was invited by a friend to France, where work was available. This is where Doreen finds romance and her future husband. The narrative tos and fros between France and England, as they marry and have children.
This is when we return to where the book started, where Doreen’s husband is a struggling photographer and is also finding it hard to fit in with English culture. Doreen’s return to work as a newspaper photographer is a success, but this also causes friction within the marriage.
Doreen’s husband slowly retreats into his alcoholism and he loses virtually everything, as eventually Doreen is unable to help him and ends their marriage.
This book has many human stories and it’s a great read. One of my favourites.
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i suffer (i sUfFeR) with depression and i am a writer. i am a writer who likes to share their work and sometimes that can become draining causing burnout – sharing on social media, updating a blog, Patreon posts, readings, sending subs out to publications etc.
if you’re a writer who likes to share their work, self-promotion is very important. It can consume you. i don’t do much of it anymore because of my aforementioned depression.
When i am depressed i do not want to share my writing. i don’t even want to write. i don’t want to do anything.
It can be difficult to recognise when you have stopped sharing.
i only notice when i have edited some of my poems, i have liked them, and i felt like sharing them. Then i’m like wait i want to share something new? and i realise it has been a while since i really wanted to do that. For me, sharing my poems is about connection. One thing you don’t want to do when depressed is be connecting with people. There’s a disconnect. And wanting to share signifies i want to be vulnerable and open again.
i feel with depression so much shit builds up – it’s like a dam waiting to burst. And it’s a relief to be able to finally let it out. Which with poetry is a great combination. Any writing.
Hello. I hope you are ok.
I was going through my blog recently and editing some older posts or deleting them altogether. I cannot remember why but I changed my blog name a few times during this period. This blog starts at 2018 and right through to now.
I find my depression is so evident in this blog. There are huge gaps where I don’t post for weeks, and when I do – the quality of the post is not great. Apologies. I was trying to do a regular interview series called 4 questions with, which I stuck with and I am proud of. But in terms of my theme and the look of my blog, I had no idea. 2018 was the worst year of my life in recent memory. 2020 is trying hard to compete with it. in 2018 I started to realise and process what had happened to me when I was 17/18 years old. Sexual assault and rape. It was like a stuck record had suddenly started to find its groove and play again. The memories I had made me feel violated; any good memories felt tainted. My anxiety was crippling. My depression was too. I lost the habit of washing and relearning that was fucking hard. I did not leave the flat much at all, certainly not by myself. I tried, but I would get out of breath by the time I had gotten to the end of my road. I pushed and pushed myself, because I still had this thought in my head that I had to work, work, work. Otherwise I was failing and lazy. To be honest, a walk to the end of the road should have felt more like a victory at the time. That’s why I also struggled to blog because I had no Wi-Fi in my flat and I could only use the Wi-Fi in my public library. Obviously, getting to the library was difficult. I had to get my boyfriend to come with me and he was not always a willing participant. I could not settle in the library. if there was too much noise, it set my nerves on edge. I would lose motivation quickly. The library did not feel safe. Being around unpredictable people felt like being on a ship during a storm. The one place that did feel safe was my bedroom.
I look at some of the books on my blog at that time, books I was looking forward to reading, and I still haven’t read them. That makes me think – how much time have I lost feeling stuck and being sick? So much stuff collected and collected. I am now 25 years old and I could not tell you what I have done in these last 5 years. Apart from rot in my bed. I do wonder how on earth I am still alive. I have treated my body awfully and it hasn’t broken down yet. Every time I have tried to destroy myself, my body has refused to die. Bodies are pretty amazing, with what they can do.
for those who are curious
in sights and sounds
as the senses meet
the shadow of the trees branches
on cobbled streets
as suitcase wheels bobble
and twist on them
people have stopped, to find a lighter in their pocket,
to call to someone,
the yellow of umbrellas flashing across puddles
then the violence of honking cars at cars not breaking
a man seeking reason, expressing relief
whilst speaking to a woman, and trying to put an arm across her shoulder
cigarette smoke snaking over
wonder is at the heart of all
which is curious
digging out the whys and identifying all the little details.