I went to the park yesterday

Because I thought I could avoid politics in the park. I tried to leave politics at the gate as I walked in and smelled the flowers, saw the grass – and for a moment I saw happily that the people in the park were just people, not voters.

Like everyone I know (yes, I’m one of those people with a completely left-wing social media feed who doesn’t seem to have a single ‘out’ Tory friend) I’m devastated by the result of Thursday’s election and terrified for the future. I spent Friday grieving; I wept for the NHS, for the poor, the hungry and the disabled, and for the many people I’m worried will actually lose their lives – not just what little quality of life they have – because of the people in charge of our country. Then I had to pull myself together and focus on Saturday’s gig, and in doing so, told myself to take a break from thinking about it (as much as possible) for a couple of days.

Yesterday was Sunday and day two of trying (and mostly failing) not to think about our new situation. After I’d seen Gareth off at the station, I went to the Millennium Gallery to look at a photography exhibition. It was great, except a photo of Cameron and his family took me by surprise and I hurried past as if it was a spider. I went home and tried to take a nap – we were up late – but I couldn’t sleep, so I set off for the woods.

On the way there I felt a pull to the park – my brain said it needed an open space to be in, to find some kind of perspective – so I headed to the middle of the field and sat on the grass for a while. It felt good to be in the midst of so many different groups of people and I wanted to be around them all, not alone in the woods just yet. Other people were on my mind, not just me. Unlike some. And so, though I had tried to leave it at the gate, politics found me again, in the park.

On Friday, a part of me was scared of being really upset for a couple of days and then slowly beginning to get on with stuff as usual; an act of acceptance, submission. I keep finding myself making painful ‘jokes’ now; the clock in the living room stopped and I blamed the Tories. A friend told me about the free dental care she gets on the NHS as a new mum and I told her they’re taking it away (she believed me for a second, and why shouldn’t she?).  But every time I say something like this, my stomach lurches, because it’s not a joke. When I decided to take a couple of days to not solely dwell on the news and its consequences, I was also making a vow. I was telling myself – take a break now, because there’s going to be lots to do over the next five years.

I don’t know what I’m going to ‘do’ yet, or how much I can help – I’m listening to other people’s ideas and waiting to see where I can fit in – but whatever happens, I will do more than moan.

Later, in the woods: white noise on the bridge, a bluebell path, two hearts carved on a tree, wet dog footprints but no dog.

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Don’t give in
Be kind

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4 thoughts on “I went to the park yesterday

  1. Hi nat,
    I was so pleased to read such a thoughtful piece. I am old enough to remember musicians/creative people generally when so many of them seemed to give a damn and the term ‘left wing’ was a very good thing indeed. How often was the term used in the election coverage? There are a lot of like minded people out there and I hope they (and I include myself in this) can find their own way to fight for change. I work for a mental health charity and I see day to day how difficult peoples lives are under the current government.
    Best Wishes
    Jeff
    p.s On a different subject. You were kind enough recently to offer my daughter a few tips on learning the guitar, I ‘m pleased to say she’s doing really well! She’s inspired me to pick up the guitar again and I’ve signed up for the future learn song writing course!

    • Hi Jeff, thank you for saying so. Preventing further attacks on mental health services is so important as part of all this, I imagine they can’t take any more strain, and more power to you for doing such a job.

      But yes on a much lighter note I’m glad to hear your daughter’s guitar playing is going well! And I hope you enjoy the course when it starts.

      Best,
      Nat

  2. You’re right, Nat. Literally millions of people will suffer thanks to this election result and those most affected will be the ones who already have the least. But this isn’t the time to give in to the despair – that’s exactly what the Tories want. They think it will make us passive and easy to walk all over. Fuck that – they’re the enemy and you never give your enemies what they want. Take any opportunity to throw it back in their faces instead: ‘don’t give in’, is exactly right.
    For me, it’s no more possible to have a Tory ‘friend’ than it is to have a racist friend. The Tories force terminally ill cancer patients to look for non-existent jobs while they’re dying or lose their benefits. Anyone who votes for something as twisted as that is someone I don’t want anywhere even near me, let alone as a friend.
    And what the hell is a photo of Cameron doing in the Millennium Gallery?!

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