Today, because lamb joints were half price after our strange lockdown Easter, I’m roasting some lamb. It’s ages since I cooked a joint of any kind and it felt almost ceremonial as I rubbed the meat with salt, herbs and oil and left it at room temperature to breathe… it felt like a proper old fashioned Sunday and I felt like a proper old-fashioned huss’iff.
My husband would have enjoyed this one-week-late Easter feast but I know he would have said, as I served up the three veg and the roasties and the gravy and the Yorkshire pud, “Oh, not sausage and mash?” He could be really really annoying. If he hadn’t died naturally, I might have been driven to kill him.
In that strange way that our thoughts wander off-piste, I started thinking about appreciation, how we show it, how encouraging it is, when it can be a bit patronising, when it’s simply flattery and pointless….. and I realised that I am not good at giving encouragement, and many others are just as bad. There are things I do in everyday life that seem to be done in a vacuum, with no response from anyone, so that I never know if they need to be done differently, or ditched completely. Because there’s no response at all, and I see no results, I don’t know how to improve and grow and it’s easy to lose heart and kick it all in the bin. I have no idea if what I’m doing annoys people, or if these small chores are even needed. Not really. What a waste of time if they’re actually unwelcome or even irritating. I could use the time some other way – take up hang-gliding or bog snorkelling. And then I thought about these blogs;
I don’t have millions of readers, and I don’t want millions. I don’t even have hundreds. I don’t ‘do’ media platforms, or advertise my blogs, or even tell people how to find them. I just write them. Those who come, come, and that’s fair enough. Some regulars will respond but it’s always the same four people (you know if it’s you). Most leave no comment at all, add nothing, criticise nothing, no feed-back, zilch, vanish without a trace. That’s OK, it’s who they are, and I have no argument with them but it means that from time to time I feel self-conscious about prattling on to an empty room. But I love writing and it’s how I marshal my thoughts so I always come back, even when I’m wondering if there’s any point.
At that very minute, right then, as I put the lamb into the oven, with my head full of ‘It’s all completely pointless and I’m going to jack it in’ thoughts, an email pinged in. It was from friends in Holland, a kindly Sunday message, and in it they said ” Keep writing, Lucy. We read your blog every time it drops into our email box. We are hungry to read it.”
Do you know, that gave me such a lift! I’m one of those awkward writers who has never ever read reviews, ever. Good or bad, I simply don’t read them. From the very beginning of my writing career I understood that writing isn’t about approval or fame or money. It’s about writing. My stepmother used to ring me up, trying to read my reviews to me and I could never quite get her to understand that I didn’t write for reviewers. One incident that I remember so clearly, was when she rang me up to say that a well known British critic, Peter Paterson, who really hated my work, had given me a good review. I said I didn’t want to hear it, she insisted. I said I didn’t want to hear it and she said “But it’s good“. I said I didn’t want to hear it and she said “But he’s praising you!” and I said… anyway, she spoke over me, in the way that sometimes happens in phone calls and she said “Listen, listen, Peter Paterson says “This is a small step up from Lucy Gannon’s usual lack-lustre offerings.”
Hahahaha. I think maybe she did it on purpose.
And when they made a South Bank Show about me and AA Gill gave me only a very reluctant ‘almost-good’ review, my pals were furious but I was delighted. I loved the late AA Gill, I miss him, his wit and insight, and it was a privilege to be even in his consciousness.
I don’t need or want praise, it’s crap. It’s not a good reason to do anything. Praise is empty and belongs only to God. But there’s a huge difference between praise and appreciation, and today Wendy and Henk showed appreciation, and I am so grateful. Maybe I’ll keep keeping on for a bit longer.
And they sent me a great pic of my favourite animal, the hare.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds, Hebrews 10:24