‘We have neither of us anything to tell; you, because you do not communicate, and I, because I conceal nothing.’
In times of confusion, I often turn to Jane Austen for clarity and a pick-me-up. This quote resonated with me last week; it helped put a (full) stop to an ellipsis.
Marianne Dashwood to Elinor Dashwood, ‘Sense and Sensibility’ (chapter 27), Jane Austen.
‘Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets.’
Arthur Miller, The Ride Down Mt. Morgan (1991)
Once upon a time, the campus of the University of Essex was simply Wivenhoe Park. Now, the University expands ever-faster with ever-increasing student numbers and ever-changing demands – so, much of the Park has been built over. Of the few spaces remaining in which to breathe and be still, this is my favourite – by the lake. This is where I take my breakfast before starting work, and where I take my time at lunch. I tell myself that, on this seat, eyes front, Constable might, just might, recognize this view.
‘This monument is dedicated to all the animals that served and died alongside British and allied forces in wars and campaigns throughout time’
So reads the first inscription on this tribute to animals in war. Recently, I crossed Park Lane in London on my way to Hyde Park and saw this memorial for the first time. It’s a calm oasis in the middle of a busy thoroughfare, providing a space for reflection and gratitude. Designed by the sculptor David Backhouse, it was unveiled by Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, on 24 November 2004.
The second inscription reads:
‘They had no choice’
She looked down impassively at the animal zipped into her handbag and felt only pity for it. It returned her a disdainful side-eye. Not the dog’s fault, of course, that it’d been given to her as a let’s-save-this-pathetic-excuse-for-a-marriage gift. She’d tried hard from day one to love the creature, and failed. Now, three years on, she and the pet had learned how to co-exist, her social media status had switched from ‘It’s complicated’ to ‘Separated’, and she was reluctantly forced to admit that a canine greeting at the end of a long day was better than none. Both gave good public face, especially today in matching clothing. They were going to the vet to find the one good thing that did come out of that marriage. Somewhere, inside the dog, were her Tiffany rings.
It’ll be a while until I sleep through the night again, but tonight the silence of solitude is a welcome blanket
Last year, in my travels, I came across this.
A note attached to someone's computer.
I don't know who wrote it.
I won't say where I found it (in case they're still there).
I will say that I do hope they've escaped and run far far away.