Some days are easier than others. Today’s had its share of difficulties.
I decided to go to Ilford on the bus. Ilford has a decent shopping centre which includes the best ‘pound shop’ I’ve ever been to (it’s actually a 99p store). It’s not part of a chain, and the owner buys lots of stock from the States. It’s the only place I know in the area that sells Irish Spring soap, for example.
Last time I was there I bought some Plantolin lotion, which I’d never heard of before. It turns out it’s great for psoriasis, but I didn’t know that when I bought it. I looked it up online, and it seems to be out of production or sale in the UK, so my ‘uh oh’ radar was on, because I suspect that what they’d had in the 99p store was a load of bankrupt stock, and once that’s gone, it’s gone.
I decided to get the bus to Ilford because there’s a direct bus from the station where I live, and parking at the station is free on Saturdays. Parking in Ilford is difficult and expensive, and the round trip on the bus would be just £2. Easy-peasy. Yeah, right.
The bus is meant to be every 20 minutes. Which means I had to wait 35 minutes for it (luckily with a seat on the bench at the bus stop). There were a few old ladies waiting for it too (including a rather stern looking woman who had a sweet little dog - a whippet who was wearing a little winter coat), but when the bus came a young woman barged straight on ahead of everyone else.
But I managed to get a seat, and I do enjoy bus rides if I have a seat, I really like to look into people’s houses and gardens, at the street scenes, and not have the stress of driving.
So, my first stop was the 99p store. As I suspected, they had no Plantolin lotion. But I did get two bottles of posh vinegar (red and white wine vinegars – no, they don’t contain alcohol) and a couple of other bits and pieces.
There was a Christmas market on in the town centre, where I bought some lovely French cheese from the lovely French man selling it – three little packs for £5 – a brie, a chèvre and a Provençale cheese (which has a lovely earthy, mushroomy flavour). The goat’s cheese I will probably use to stuff inside chicken breasts, along with garlic and basil, before wrapping them in pancetta or bacon and roasting them.
When I came to get the bus home, laden with shopping (well two bags, not all that heavy, except for the two bottles of wine vinegar) it was a 40 minute wait for the bus (did I mention the bus runs every 20 minutes? Yes, I thought I did), and when it came, although I was at the front of the queue, there was a surge of people who barged on in front of me, so again it was a struggle to find a seat.
They appeared to fall into two groups – kids who have been brought up with no manners and/or with this sense that their needs are more important than anyone else’s and who live in a world where ‘waiting your turn’ does not exist, or men who for cultural reasons (Ilford has a diverse ethnic mix) see no reason to allow a woman to go ahead of them.
A few stops later, the whippet lady got on, and nobody offered her a seat (she was probably about 70). I was sitting so far back that if I’d got up, she wouldn’t have got my seat.
So although I try to reduce my carbon footprint and my personal expenses by not driving everywhere, it’s trips like this that make me realise exactly why I dislike travelling by bus so very much.
From a personal point of view, it’s not been a great day. I struggle so much with low self-esteem, that feeling of worthlessness that’s dogged me since I was a child. I find it very hard to be kind to myself, and when I’m sad or anxious, the self-doubt and self-loathing sometimes overwhelm me.
I’ve been sad since last weekend when I went to Jon’s funeral. It’s not a good time for me, mid-November, because on Friday it was 3 years since George died. And I’m anxious about something at work – paradoxically not a ‘bad’ thing, quite possibly a good thing, a very good thing. But it’s something that I have no control over, so all I can do for now is sit it out and wait for things to pan out, hopefully in my favour.
I grew up being told that nobody would ever love me because I was unlovable, and I believed that there was something about me that was so disagreeable that I would be destined to live a solitary life, without friends, and – without doubt – never a partner.
My sister, on the other hand, was told all the time how pretty, talented and wonderful she was, and she grew up never having to – never needing to – make those massive adjustments and compromises that were essential for me to make just so I could find my way in the world.
You know the kind of thing. Or maybe you don’t. Keeping my expectations low, never asking for too much, or hoping for too much, because then I couldn’t be disappointed. Now I’m daring to dream about things that could happen which would turn my life around.
Dare I dream? Dare I?