Island Blog – Bindings and Absolutes

The other day I took delivery of a new shower curtain in pale grey with black dandelions leaping up from the hem. Well, there wasn’t actually a hem, nor weight to prevent the whole thing flying towards me as soon as I and the hot water became a team. I admonished it, the curtain. Social distancing if you don’t mind, I said as it wrapped around me like a clammy hug. Hmmm.

The old shower curtain, white and weighted, I removed because of memories and stains that won’t quite wash out. This curtain is the right length and the correct width for my disabled shower. It hangs quietly, and without any rush of affection towards me, against the lock-and-load glass panelled defences which keep the water both in and out depending on which side I stand. I decide to attempt a removal of the length of plastic hold-me-down from the white curtain and to affix it to the grey one with leaping dandelions which, by the way, is not long enough. I am not too concerned about that because of the lock-and-load defences. The water will still remain in its allocation. I am also not surprised. If I ever have to measure anything I always get it just a wee bit wrong and sometimes a big bit wrong and this failing of mine has irritated me, but not taught me, for decades. I am just not interested enough in measurements. That’s what I tell myself and it is okay. I am very good at plenty of other things after all, but there have been disastrous times, such as that time I took up the hem of Himself’s smart trousers and cut off the residue material before he had tried them on. That wasn’t a good moment.

I bring down the grey curtain with leaping dandelions and lay it across the sitting room carpet. I carefully remove the plastic hold-me-down strip from the other one and find it to be 2 inches short. No matter. I turn up the hem and pin it. Then I call my sewing machine into action. Come on old girl, we have a job to do. I can see her eyes roll. She knows, as do I, that her accurate brilliance will, once again, be confounded by my lack of ability around straight lines. Making encouraging noises as I take my place at the table, I insert the start end under the needle and we are off. It looks like a range of gently rolling hills but I do manage to avoid the needle connecting with the thick plastic which is definitely a ‘Good for Me’ thing. As I work, as we work, I scoot back to sewing classes at school and the frightful mess I was making of a knitting bag. Who on earth wants a knitting bag anyway? I loathed ever single minute and obviously showed it. The teacher, who could have made anything from a space suit to a pin cushion with perfect, neat stitching, even with the lights off, called me to the front, to her desk. She sighed. This stitching is quite dreadful, she said, in a louder voice than I felt necessary. I hung my head. I just don’t enjoy it, I ventured, bravely. I must have been reading Greer or Woolf or Wollstonecraft at the time, although Miss Seamstress wouldn’t have known that. I concealed such insurrection within the hollowed out bindings of The Holy Bible.

You don’t enjoy it? She gasped, her eyes wide as saucers and her breath coming in distressed pants. I shook my head. Class? she yelled and heads snapped up. I would like to make it very clear to all you girls, she continued, banging her hand on her desk, that learning is nothing about ENJOYMENT!

It can take a lifetime to unlearn such absolutes.

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