A Rather Haunted Life

I love the above title of the Shirley Jackson biography I’ve been reading this week. The irony of the word ‘rather’ is especially ironic. This week was all work again, very little writing or thinking time. The birds are back at the bird table in the yard now that it’s draining properly. The rabbits continue their love affair. I can remember one day only without rain in the last two weeks. The office was so bright (and the blind had broken its hinges) we had to Blu Tack pieces of paper across it so we could see our computer screens – good old Tories funding the NHS! Yesterday we went to see Beauty and the Beast with literally everybody else in the local area. There wasn’t a seat free and we were squashed up in rows beneath the screen where rowdy, teenange girls looked at their phones, laughed hysterically and threw popcorn and M&Ms at the rest of the audience.

We decided to drive to Wasdale Head for dinner today but had no idea the impact the rain had had on high fells. Waterfalls sprung from nowhere, bursting through stone walls and over the road. As we got nearer, cars stopped to warn us ‘the Head’ was flooded. There was nowhere to turn ’round, even if we’d wanted to. The lake heaved against its banks. As we got nearer, it had actually broken through and the road was all lake. Luckily we were in the van and crept through slowly. My car would’ve been stranded. Walls and trees were up to their necks. The narrow drive to the Wasdale Head Inn was a full flowing river. Tents had been unmoored and lay against fences. The shop where we planned to buy a book on the coffin route over the mountains was ‘closed due to extreme weather conditions’. We got some food at the Inn and a welcome drink. The ground was so saturated, there was no chance of a walk. There were a few people in the pub. The slate floor was wet from boots and dogs. We realised we had no diesel on the way back. I was on the lake side and, at times, the road runs so close to the lake-drop I watched it like a hawk, ready for the ground to fall under the pressure of the flooded fells.

I enjoyed the Andrew Marr show (recorded) this evening and also the latest Crimewatch with Jeremy Vine. I started watching it in 1986 when only me and one school friend were allowed to stay up that late (not as late as the ‘update’ of course). It was like an event witnessed by the privilidged and we felt we were an elite twosome allowed to watch something prohibited and shocking to middle class Oxford parents.

I’ve been plagued by bad dreams and ‘night terrors’ this week, the sort that don’t disappear on waking. Sometimes you wonder how your mind has conjured these horrors up and that in itself is a disturbing feeling. These have stayed with me all day.

We made it home anyway from the wilds of Wasdale and now, writing this in bed, the rain has begun again on the bathroom skylight. One more week until I go on my first ever writing retreat. I’m scared. Time for some Shirley Jackson escapism before more work and Monday’s shadow.


Author: kittydonnellypoet

Kitty Donnelly was born in Oxford in 1979. Her mother was born in Cumbria, of Irish origin, and her father was born in Newry, Northern Ireland. She has lived in London, Cumbria, Swansea and Chichester. She had poems published in Acumen in 2005, as well as being long and short-listed for several poetry competitions. She was also published in The Samaritan's Anthology and by The Forward Press. In 2007, she took a long break from submitting poems after having her daughter. In 2016, she has been Commended in the Southport Writer's Circle Poetry Competition, long-listed for the Canterbury University Poet of the Year 2016 and has had work accepted for publication in The Dawntreader. She currently lives in Cumbria where she works as a psychiatric nurse.

4 thoughts on “A Rather Haunted Life”

  1. I love reading your blogs Kitty. It makes me feel much closer to you.

    Feel for you re the insensitive editors! Fuck em. Keep writing honey.

    Masses of love to you and Evie xxx

    1. That’s a lovely thing to say Kath. It’s just a couple but it’s so disheartening, especially with dad’s brilliant books sat here with those sort of comments about ‘deceased authors being unprofitable’. I’m still writing xxx

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