I woke up at 3am on Wednesday morning, looked at Twitter to see what was happening in the American election, despaired, fell back asleep and didn't wake up again until I should have been on my way to work. Neither Donald Trumps victory, or my oversleeping, were auspicious starts to the day. I wish the results had been different, but they're not, and at least against all the odds I got to work on time. The rest of this week has been about seeking comfort.
I don't want to be overly pessimistic about what the future holds, or even to speculate about it, but at the moment it does feel like old certainties are dissolving. The ensuing uncertainties are not comforting, and nor is the rise in racist harassment some of my colleagues are being subjected to. It was bad enough after the European referendum result, it doesn't seem likely to get better now after Trump's anti Muslim rhetoric- even here in the UK.
Meanwhile I decided to go to London on Thursday for a change of scene and to see the Abstract Expressionists exhibition at the Royal Acadamy. It's excellent, though perhaps not precisely cheering. What really struck me was how much impact these paintings still have, despite 60 odd years in which the world has had the chance to become familiar with these images some of them still feel quite shocking. The Clyfford Still's felt particularly challenging - or maybe untamed is a better word. The Jackson Pollock's have far more impact in life, and en masse, than any illustration suggests, it's also suddenly clear how controlled they are, and interesting to find how desperately eye and mind start searching for recognisable figures (it seems like they're there, just lurking out of reach). It's all good though, in that it's an exhibition that provides a lot to think about.
Much more traditionally comforting was a quick visit to Persephone books to buy a copy of 'Long Live Great Bardfield', Tirzah Garwood's autobiography. I'd like to start reading it now, but think I'll keep it for when I'm away over New Year. It's a longish book, and deserves a bit of time to get really stuck into it, and there a few things I've committed to read first, or have half finished (which feels annoyingly untidy) so should be dealt with first.
Another book I'm really trying to keep my hands off of is an arc of Carol Dyhouse's 'Heartthrobs: A History of Women and Desire' from Oxford university press. It's not out until February, if I read it now I'll forget about it by then, but it looks so good that I haven't been able to resist dipping in and out of it (so far it's as good as it looks). It turned up all unexpectedly on Wednesday And definatley lifted my mood.
I also bought Trine Hahnemann's 'Scandinavian Comfort Food', it suggests it'll help me embrace the art of hygge* - about which I have my doubts, but I have no doubts about Trine Hahnemann, who's books I generally like.
*I don't really know much about hygge beyond that it's becoming an irritatingly overused word and marketing tool. That's been enough to put me off learning more.