February 26th, 2012

A Footnote

"The worst thing that happened last year"

So what year was that exactly? Some year in the 1990s, but off-hand I've no idea which one. And was our falling out with x and y really the worst thing that happened in it? I suppose I must trust myself and agree that it was but, really, of all that anger and hurt not a squeak remains. It's not something I think about much- and if I do it is perfectly clear to me that I behaved like a prat. So did they. Honours were equally divided.

The poem, of course, anticipates my eventually feeling this way. 

Giving Up The Ghost: Hilary Mantel

The first half of your life you spend collecting ghosts; in middle age you start to let them go. Breath in, pause, breath out. With any luck by the time you reach old age there won't be any of the little buggers left.

Mantel writes about her working-class childhood in Hadfield, Derbyshire and then about the illness that blighted her adult life. When she's being a child she sees things as innocently and acutely as Dickens did in the early chapters of David Copperfield; when she writes about her illness and the culpable uselessness of the medical profession she is very, very angry.

If you have a taste for Mantel's fiction this book will tell you something about the roots of her art.