Wednesday 17 August 2011


As you will have noticed, it is the really funny side of a three score and more than ten external life being lived by an inner forty- year old that fascinates me and, I hope, Dear Reader, you, too. However, sometimes, it has to be acknowledged, real life is not always that ready to afford us the fun. This came to me, recently, after a conversation with someone in the position of being something of an expert in the matter. The matter is survival. (You will come to see its relation to the planets as you read on). This lady sees herself as exisiting on a very small planet circling, as it would, around the main, huge one. She moved there some years ago when life on the main planet became unmanagable. I believe she would find it fair if I told you just a little about how that came about. She was living what she saw as a pretty normal life, in pretty normal circumstances with the usual expectations of the present and future and a clear enough view of the past with its dark and light, joy and disappointment: an ordinary woman with an unexceptional story, millions like her out there on Planet Reality. Over some time, she suffered a number of losses. Some were sudden, some were gradual, some could be incorporated and some, well one in particular, she would need to accept were incapable of incorporation. What to do? She made valiant efforts to continue her life on Planet Reality. Weighed down by the excess baggage of the grief and pain she suffered, feeling unsupported, afraid and at risk of becoming too demanding of the good, reliable things still available to her, she decided to decamp to a much smaller planet, just to the North West and still in sight of Planet Reality.

This was Planet Survival. As everyone of you will know, travel is far from easy, these days. The only direct route to Planet Survival was via a budget airline. Not only that, her new home was not going to be big enough to accommodate anything like the bulk of her possessions. Two such predicaments will need some ingenuity in the resolution. What to do? What to take? What to leave behind? Having booked a flight, the priority was to plan the actual trip. As, yet again, you will be aware, one is allowed only 100ml of liquid in hand baggage on any flight. It was clear that tears would have to be left behind, or, anyway, strictly rationed. 100ml - I hope kind readers over the Pond will excuse the metrics - is not much liquid so that would take some getting used to. Vulnerability had to go in hand baggage, too, much as she would like to have left it behind. As for hold baggage, one suitcase weighing 15 kilos was the limit. Thus, most of her history, in its heavy books, would have to be abandoned or, at best, archived so that she could access it should things ever change enough to make it possible either to glance at or even read some of it, again. Sadly some friends would, inevitably, remain on Planet Reality . She could take only those of whose love she was sure enough, even if love was more realistically evaluated by a capacity to speak the same language as she.Ah!love: too difficult to make a decision. No doubt there was some love that was there and might have gone with her had it but known. It was so tied up with tears, though, she would surely have exceeded 100ml. If ever she reached a sensible decision about love she could always send for it. Loneliness: some left behind, some must be taken. There was room for only minimal family. That went on the very top of her hold baggage, love squeezed in beside it. Next, she packed her sense of fun and laughter. Fortunately, they were light enough that there was an enormous amount in before she got to 15 kilos. After that, music, filling all the remaining gaps: not too many slow movements and no Lutoslawski.

I gather she has been living on Planet Survival with great success. She can see Planet Reality and, truth be told, has been known to spend the odd week-end there. Sometimes, a phone call, a sighting in the street, some seemingly obscure reminder, will pull her reluctantly back to the feel of life on Planet Reality. As things stand, though, she does not see herself going back to live there, permanently. She is happy and, for the most part, secure on Planet Survival. At any rate, her postcards back to Planet Reality make sure there is no hint of anything but the Good Life she is thoroughly enjoying, refreshed by new and exciting elements never available to her on Planet Reality.

Now, it is absolutely no good you trying to guess, even if you thought you had enough data, of whom I speak. I made it all up. It was, though, triggered by the predicament of several acquaintances and former work associates and an imagination too used to seeing things in visual images. But next time you glance at the night sky, blow a kiss at the smallest planet as it circles a big one and think of Tinkerbell. Bora da


liz mountford said...

I have had so many emails about this, and other posts. Thank you all. I wish it were technically easier to leave a comment on the actual post.

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful image you have conjured up, Liz, and I feel a great deal of empathy with the person. Perhaps we all sometimes retreat to another planet - I know I spent some time on one although I finally returned here. We have a phrase, don't we - to "come back to earth"! Thank you, once again, for a lovely blog, full of insight and wisdom.