Betwixt and between. It’s a wonderful phrase, partly because it sounds so good, all that alliteration and rhythm and balance, and partly because of its meaning – neither one thing nor the other, somewhere between the two. Grey is a good example: it’s neither black nor white. And Grey is my middle name, and I’m telling you the truth, so being neither one thing nor the other has been etched onto my DNA. But what exactly am I between? I’m between the old and the new, I’m between old age and youth – I’m stuck in the middle.
Increasingly, just like most people, I’m spending more and more of my life on-line, running websites, writing blog posts, handling a weekly avalanche of emails. And then there’s Facebook and Twitter, those necessary evils if you’re trying to make a go of a creative career and there are people out there who want to know what’s happening. It’s all very stressful, isn’t it, juggling these digital balls, making sure you don’t miss something important, even though 99 percent of what’s on the internet is…well, let’s not go into that. But there are joys, it has to be said –someone who regularly comments on my blog, someone I’ve never met in person, sent me a book to read, a real book, it turned up in my letterbox.
Speaking of my letterbox, something else miraculous turned up recently. A postcard. An actual postcard! On the back were handwritten sentences about a trip to a rehabilitated clay mine in Cornwell, followed by fish and chips overlooking the water, we just hope the weather holds for our canal-boat trip starting Monday. What really caught my eye, however, was the correspondent had correctly addressed my house: she’d used my house’s name: Leitrim. Yes, my house has a name, because it’s an old place, 1890s, high ceilings, picture-rails, a Hordern and Sons coal-burning fire, and leadlight windows. I adore it, I really do. Slowly I’m filling it with old furniture – my guilty pleasure is spending Sunday afternoons scouring shops selling secondhand goods in the hope that I can find something beautiful I can afford, like a chair, or a piece of cast-iron.
But still this house is where I update my Facebook status and send tweets.
Betwixt and between indeed.
(First published in Panorama, The Canberra Times, 28 July 2012.)