Sunday, October 01, 2006



I have always wanted to be cool. Obviously thin and blonde would have helped too, in terms of catching the boys, but I knew that cool was what really knocked ‘em sideways. I realise that it still does. It does it in terms of getting a job, keeping a job, staying in a healthy marriage, dealing with telesales, bank clerks, life in general.

Life is messy. We pay for and are blamed for other people’s cock ups all the time. Most people just swallow. Why can’t I?

Yesterday an email from a powerful source informed me that I was fast becoming a ‘problem’. I know that I have done absolutely nothing wrong….. except not be cool.

So in the wake of the email I meditate. At first I sit with my fury at the injustice and the incompetence and the misunderstanding. Then suddenly I am aware of my tendency towards self-aggrandisement; of self-importance; of believing myself to be on the moral high-ground. (I don’t think six formative years in a specialist music school for forty-two exceedingly gifted children helped much but then not everyone turned out like me – some killed themselves or set fire to buildings). These are not nice things to sit with, so I swap them for self-loathing, disgust. And Shame. Then comes the sadness, the profound loneliness which has been there since I sat picking my face apart to David Cassidy‘s ‘Daydreamer’ in an attic room in South London; the actual physical tenderness in my body. It’s agonising but at least it is real.

Something softens. I go from hot cement tile to cool mozzarella.

It’s a small beginning; realising I have long confused cool with hard.



Blogger Peter (the other) said...

Thank you, soooo much, for sharing so honestly, and still so clearly. When I am deep in my own mental funk, I can barely think, let alone write so well. This stranger's heart fills with love for the household, musician, artist (whose daily paintings brightens my mailbox, and cat. I would offer words of comfort, but I can read that you are already passed that point and on the way back up.

8:19 PM  
Blogger Dale said...

Dear Ruth. Hugs to you. It seems to be the difficult season.

9:04 PM  
Blogger MB said...

It does seem to be, indeed. More hugs from this quarter. Oh, and being blonde is overrated. ;-)

8:18 PM  
Blogger Lesley said...

Much of the exquisite self-pity of my teenage years was acted out to the backing music of that David Cassidy album too. I think the title was "Rock Me Baby".

11:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ruth,

Due to some bizarre computer f***up I seem to have lost current email addresses for both you and Jill. Could you email me soon - that will provide me with yours, and remind me of Jill's - I really wanted to write to her from Mumbai but was unable to.

all love,

6:09 PM  
Anonymous Eva said...

Hello, not sure if you've already seen, but we've linked to you from our new website for expatriates,
Yours was recommended as one of the best blogs about living in another country, so we've listed you already! If you want to change the way we've described it, please do let me know, am very happy to make changes!

4:10 PM  
Blogger granny p said...

Never knew what cool (or the equivalent in my day was.) Only knew I wasn't it. But here I still am - uncool. Much sympathy and recognition Ruth. Sorry it's hard but as usual you put it beautifully.

6:09 PM  
Anonymous Tasha said...

Ruth! The point about cool people is ... they don't care what people think of them. They do it/wear it/say it anyway. When you get to over 40, as we are, you shouldn't care either.

And anyway - I bet you'd find you're cooler than you feel. I recently went to a college reunion and was amazed that not only did people remember me, they thought I was cool and glamorous; but of course I never knew that. People tend not to tell you what you really want to hear.

7:10 PM  

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