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.