tell me on a Sunday, please
I have a rubbish singing voice: terribly weedy and thin, limited range and I find it difficult to hold a tune without going flat. But I love to sing, love it, and when I was growing up I’d sing two or three songs all the time, songs that I felt my voice didn’t strangle: Tell Me on a Sunday, Coventry Carol and Who Wants to Live Forever were my torch songs.
Do you know Tell Me on a Sunday? It’s an Andrew Lloyd Webber monstrosity with clunky yet affecting lyrics by Don Black. I hadn’t thought of it for years until last night lying in bed next to someone I love more than...more than I know, someone who quite seriously wants to leave. I’d stayed up late, well 9.30pm, rereading the last few pages of the VW biography. In the aftermath Leonard Woolf wrote himself a note – one can’t help turning the page, even though one knows one has reached the end. I remembered how bleak I was the first time I read the final words. I reached the end and turned the page.
I wrote in my journal while I waited for TA to come to bed. We talked for a while.
Me: [shaky voice] ...if you want to leave I'll understand.
Me: [understanding and fearful] But it’s not me you want to leave, is it?
Me: It’s life, isn’t it?
We held each other in the dark and then TA rolled over and slept. It’s his only relief. Tears and snot snaked their way into my ears.
I'd like to choose how I hear the news
I rehearsed the lines in silence; weighting them with more emotion than they can carry.
Let me down easy
No big song and dance
No long faces, no long looks
No deep conversation
I know the way we should spend that day
I remembered that episode of Nip/Tuck where the good guy helps his dying-from-cancer lover to kill herself. They hold hands; she takes a cocktail of drugs and puts a plastic bag over her head. It looks peaceful, she smiles. I tried and failed to write my own clunky yet affecting lyrics...
Don’t slit your wrists or jump in front of a train
Don't want to know who's to blame
It won't help knowing
Don't want to fight day and night
Bad enough you're going
Don't leave in silence with no word at all
Don't get drunk and slam the door
That's no way to end this
I know how I want you to say goodbye
Find a circus ring with a flying trapeze
Tell me on a Sunday please
Let me hold your hand and watch you go.
The snot and tears became a river and I crept into the bathroom to clean myself up. Returning to bed, I tried to get a grip. And I felt sick. Sick that while thinking through my emotions I could already be writing them down for you to read. I concentrated on calming my breathing and reached an epiphany of sorts. As TA would say with a smile on his face, “Yes, but it’s not about YOU!”
When under pressure I revert to the beliefs and certainties of my childhood as a sop. I prayed to my grandmothers – please help him find a way out of this impossible maze. Please find his guardians and help him. I breathed deeply and visualised his chakras in sequence, tried to encourage his kundalini strength to rise.
I slept, finally. And then I woke from a work anxiety nightmare, got water and slept. And then I woke from a TA anxiety nightmare, sweaty and shaking, what it was I don’t remember now. Reaching out, I knocked the empty water glass by accident and woke TA.
We whispered in the dark and I explained how I’m self-dramatising instead of living these emotions – is that normal? – and how I recognise that it’s not about me.
TA: That sounds like a good UB post.
We talked some more.
TA: [bewildered] We put animals down.
Me: I don’t want to you to put yourself through this for me, but I haven’t given up hope that you’ll find a way out.
He slept and I was left thinking that my thoughts are like iron filings caught between two competing and repelling magnets of stress: work and home. Sometimes one magnet is more powerful and all the fillings are pulled to its pole, but at the moment they are exquisitely balanced and that balance allows my thoughts to range far and wide, safely repelled from both North poles.
As predicted, I only felt close to sleep after the alarm had gone off.