The last week has been one of ups and downs, filled equally with things I love and things I hate. Hate is a strong word, there are few things I hate, although being shouted at by someone with a damaged brain is definitely one of them and there seems to have been enough of that lately.
I have spent the last few years reading a lot about the brain, not just to understand what doctors were saying about my mother, but because it seems to have been my lot in life to have to pick up the pieces for people who have damaged brains.
I don’t think you are your body, though the popular adulation of tall, slim, white young women with long hair seems to be causing difficulties for many girls who do not have that physical appearance. I do think you might be your brain because that is where your construct of the world lives and where you make the decisions about how to interact with the world of your perception. A healthy brain, working well, is one of the wonders of the world and must be one of the greatest because it is responsible for all the other wonders that have been made by people.
A brain damaged by disease, at birth, by accident or by substance abuse is a difficult thing to deal with. I cannot admire enough the people who choose to make the care of people with damaged brains, their work. In my life, so far, it has been my lot to have to care for and/or interact with three of those four categories. I have not had to deal with a person with significant head injuries, though perhaps if there is acknowledgement from the outset that damage has taken place, no one is expecting ‘normal’ behaviour.
I do know a young person born with an incomplete brain and I have taught children whose brains, either poorly nurtured or damaged before they were born by parental substance abuse, were never going to reach their potential and would struggle just to live independently. I knew Downs Syndrome children and married into a family where there was an inherited gene responsible for the condition, there were a number of unsuccessful pregnancies and some children with the condition who survived, one to maturity. Such children are a constant source of worry to good parents, especially ageing parents. In the course of all Dolls’ House activities, I met quite a few families with these types of problems, both as collectors and exhibitors and interviewed a fair few. The Dolls’ House is the family where the maker calls the shots and ensures that everyone is well and happy and beautiful and has everything they possibly need. When I began miniaturising, I thought it was because we had failed to sell the house and move to the new town with the commuting OH. It took some years before I twigged that it was about the people, though you’d think as I knew I was adopted and didn’t have people of my own I’d have realised earlier. Some miniaturists have been so badly treated and have had such experiences at the hands of others that their houses are devoid of people; they just have perfect rooms and tidy, clean furniture without any pesky people to mess things up. Queen Mary, who made the House that inspired the nation between the wars, doesn’t even have a servant in her house, though there is a snail that is reputed to move around the garden when no one is looking.
When I began I used all the evenings in the week when the OH was down the pub to miniaturise and, as that was every evening, except one, I got a lot done. Thirty years later I am still alone every evening, making dolls and I still don’t think much of some real people, especially those who destroy good working brains by idleness, by dehydration, by alcohol abuse and then use what’s left to harangue me. I thought that had finished with my mother but apparently not.
So to the things I love, which are, of course the dolls. I have spent a week pouring 48th scale, three days cleaning and the kiln has just gone off. I did have a huge wastage rate, about half of what I poured. My right arm is still not strong, picking dolls up to clean was a bit hit and miss and when my arm got tired I was clumsy and broke dolls at a great rate. I had not realised just how dextrous I previously had been. But two kiln shelves full later there will be 48th scale dolls for all the people who have been asking. For the next few days I will be china painting and then assembling, so, if it was you asking, I’ll be dressing soon, all requests considered.
There might be a slight hiccup. The current conditions of stress have given me some physical symptoms which need to be explored surgically. It would have been this week, as I have been fast tracked, but it has been put back a week by the hospital. As usual I am so grateful they are helping. I am doing everything I can to help myself, I am working out, I am positive thinking, I am making dolls. I should be making Christmas cards but I don’t have the heart.
Over the years I have collected some friends who have also had lives that were not easy. I used to say to them it was proof that they were the hero in their own story because, if you’ve ever watched an adventure film, you’ll notice that a lot happens to the hero and it’s never of the ‘hero goes shopping, gets some great bargains, goes home and has toast and tea’ variety. In reality, of course, the Die Hard hero would have done exactly that in a dirty vest, years ago; Indiana Jones would be gibbering to himself in a care facility for the completely loopy otherwise-abled with a selection of interesting tropical diseases and Lord Greystokes would be sitting quietly in the corner of his cage trying to stick a banana up his nose.
Would that real life were shoved into two and a half action packed hours with popcorn. Reality, I have discovered. is twenty four long hours in every single day and, whilst nothing lasts forever, maybe, under the onslaught of it all, neither will you.
Will your hero survive and triumph? Will I be last woman standing? Will I break anything else and be left incarcerated with ranting all day because I’m still not allowed to drive my car? How will the dolls come out of the kiln?
For the answers, or very possibly, a load of new questions, as ever, watch this space and, I would like to add, one of the things I love is that you are reading. (Otherwise, you know, I’m just muttering away to myself.)
Once I’ve got the dolls I might begin the countdown to the next show ( which is the 70th) or is that tempting fate?