Having been quoting Yeats on Thursday, here we are with Dr Johnson now, who I think said something like "Be neither idle nor solitary". On Friday I shook myself off, like a dog emerging from water, and set off to meet bodran for lunch and to have a look at her new shop. I had thought long and hard about why I had been feeling so bad - something to do with my desire to stop working and a deep, deep fear of what happens if I do. So no easy or immediate answers but time to be kind to myself, to acknowledge that I am stretched too thin just now and that it might be best to just to let things go for a while. There is a time for action and solutions and a time to deliberately step aside, to turn away, to let time pass, see what the mind can do by itself when I let it be, below conscious thought.
Jo's shop is in Denbigh, a small Welsh town which hasn't yet made it as a tourist destination despite a fabulous castle and some lovely old buildings. It is less well off than some of its neighbours but feels like a town teetering on the brink. Which will win? the beautiful old library, the market hall, the sweeping beauty of the views? or the charity shops, the battered old Woolworths, the sense of decline? For the town to feel more prosperous again it needs its High Street to flourish and shops like Jo's are part of what brings people into town.
The shop is towards the top of the hill, near the library, in a higgledypiggledy building added to over years. Yesterday it did not look when I walked in and found jo on her knees as though there was any chance that it could open today. The shop itself had been painted and decorated with some fabulous wallpaper and a clean calm style that makes you want to smile. But there were boxes and boxes of clothes waiting to be hung and steamed and shoes in boxes and where was the jewellery and weren't there some scarves somewhere? We went for a quick sandwich and then I thought I would give Jo a hand for an hour. Four hours later when I staggered home she was still going strong with another friend arriving and hours more to do.
God knows how she did it (no sleep, amazing energy and a great eye for what looks good might be part of it) but she opened this morning at half past nine. When I arrived today for a look at about half past two the whole place was shining and gorgeous, scented geraniums in the window, at least half the stuff we had painstakingly put out already sold and the shop full of excited customers practically falling on Jo's neck with joy and gratitude for finding a shop like this. There was a French market in the town and instead of its usual slightly abandoned feel the town was full of people and as far as I could see practically all the women over thirty passed through Jo's shop. The clothes are just gorgeous, organic cotton, simple and immensely flattering and not silly prices either. You could see people wondering whether it was worth coming inside and getting giddy with the affordability when they did.
I wish you all the luck in the world Jo. It is a great place and deserves to be a big success.
And here is quick chick update for those who have been wondering: all seven of the survivors are well and eating for Wales. They are feathering quickly so are losing the impossible cuteness of fluffy chicks. If you take the top of the box now they fly up onto the edge, curious and interested. I am still trying to handle them every day, really hoping to get these tamer than our other bantams which, though ready to feed from your hand, are very reluctant to be picked up. Another couple of weeks should see them feathered enough to go out into the shed which will be good for the smell of younger son's room. We will have to work out how to make them a totally bombproof, dogproof run but so far, so good!