Picture by AFP
I have never once thought that blogging could be detrimental to your health, but just lately, I have come to think that it could be.
Surely not, I hear you say, and I will admit it doesn’t seem likely, not on the surface, anyway.
I was nervous when I first started writing/blogging. Could I get to grips with the technology involved? Would I be any good at it? Would anyone ever talk to me?
I had a million questions, which are all very natural when you embark on a new adventure, and although at times it has been a frustrating and difficult journey, overall I have enjoyed every single minute of it.
So what on earth am I on about?
Just lately, a strange feeling has been creeping in, insidiously, like wisps of smoke. The internet is like a mirror, reflecting everything we bloggers do. As a good proportion of bloggers are writers, you get to see what their lives and careers are like and it can be very reassuring if they are struggling just like you, facing the same problems and difficulties, but the more successful ones are an inspiration, showing you what you can accomplish if you work hard enough.
We have been blogging for nearly eight years now, and have met some amazing people. Helpful, considerate people, generous with their advice and friendship. You gradually become part of their world, a world where anything is possible and you can afford the luxury of dreaming.
I can hear some of you tapping your fingernails, wondering where all of this is going, so I will try to explain.
Everyone says that with patience and hard work you can achieve your goals. But I have been patient and worked as hard as I can, but no nearer to anything even remotely like my goals.
And this was my epiphany… maybe my goals are wrong?
Something must be wrong with me, for on a bad day my enthusiasm wanes. All that wonderful optimism seems to leave the building.
I have been thinking about this year and it is clear that I must come up with some resolutions that work before the men in white coats come to take me away!
Not that this year can be the same as before for so many things are different now, starting with trying to get my head around it being 2020!
Then there was my number one symbol of the New Year, Big Ben. Seeing him up to his ears in scaffolding was a little upsetting on New Years Eve…
Big Ben has always been a very special symbol in my life. I grew up in London hearing the deep resonant sound of the bell. The imposing majesty of the building is one of my most enduring memories of my time there.
London has many such landmarks and I love them all, but that tall clock tower on the river Thames embankment is by far my favourite. By rights, my favourite should be the river itself, feeling as I do about water, but no. Very close though.
‘Big Ben’ is really just a nickname for the great bell itself, inside the famous clock tower at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London. Built in 1858 and 96 metres high, it is the largest four-faced chiming clock in the world. But the bell itself is not the biggest. St Pauls Cathedral has a slightly bigger one, weighing in at 17 tonnes.
Scarily, the tower leans slightly to the North West, apparently caused by the tunnelling for the Jubilee Line Underground train.
I came across this picture of Big Ben a few weeks ago, and I was instantly transported me back to another New Year’s Eve so many years ago.
That particular year, my friends and I had decided to celebrate the coming of the New Year in style. We would attempt some kind of pub crawl, visiting as many bars and public houses that we could manage, in spite of the volume of people all doing the same thing; ending up at the embankment for the fireworks and Big Ben’s majestic chimes.
We had such fun that night even though I knew I would not contemplate doing it again, as the number of people all seriously intent on having as much fun as possible, created more madness and chaos than I ever thought possible and a lot of the time I was scared to death.
You see all the crowds on television, but could you imagine being there?
Of course, there could have been so much more trouble than there actually was. That many people, most of them hysterical with excitement and booze could have deteriorated into a riot. But it never seems to. No matter how squashed, drunk or freezing cold you happened to be, there is some kind of reverence going on, as if it would be a sin to ruin that night in any way.
Our journey around London that night was exciting, but I was glad when we found ourselves by the river just before midnight. We had left most of the throng behind and it was almost eerily quiet by the water. The fireworks were further up river and we seemed to have Big Ben all to ourselves.
It was very cold that night, but at least it wasn’t raining. I was one of the few people in our group that didn’t have a partner, something I knew I wanted to change in the New Year. I had no idea of the direction my life would be taking, no plans and not many dreams either, for I had already learned that dreaming was futile.
So that evening ended on quite a solemn note, and as the hands of the clock above us moved closer to the 12, the tears were not far away.
I had never been that close to Big Ben before and was not prepared for how loud the chimes would be. First came the melody and the vibrations seemed to travel up my legs until my whole body seemed to be humming. When the big bell started to chime the hour, the vibrations became longer and deeper and it felt as though my heart would break.
More than fifty years later, the sound of that bell has the same effect, instantly transforming me back to that lonely young woman who had already taught herself not to believe in dreams.
I obviously knew a thing or two back then, for my life has not been full of the stuff that dreams are made of, rather the opposite. But I am still here, not quite ready to give up. So is Big Ben, although undergoing major refurbishment along with the Houses of Parliament. Seeing all that scaffolding around the tower was worrying. If anything went wrong, we could lose Big Ben forever…
©Jaye Marie 2020