Wednesday, March 31, 2010

William Hazlitt simply the best

'The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves,' written by Hazlitt.

'Happy are they who live in the dream of their own existence, and see all things in the light of their own minds; who walk by faith and hope; to whom the guiding star of their youth still shines from afar, and into whom the spirit of the world has not entered! They have not been "hurt by the archers", nor has the iron entered their souls. The world has no hand on them,' by Hazlitt.

William Hazlitt, the son of an Irish Unitarian clergyman, was born in Maidstone, Kent, on 10th April, 1778. His father was a friend of Joseph Priestley and Richard Price. As a result of supporting the American Revolution, Rev. Hazlitt and his family were forced to leave Kent and live in Ireland.

'Prosperity is a great teacher; adversity is a greater,' Hazlitt.

The family returned to England in 1787 and settled at Wem in Shropshire. At the age of fifteen William was sent to be trained for the ministry at New Unitarian College at Hackney in London. The college had been founded by Joseph Priestley and had a reputation for producing freethinkers. In 1797 Hazlitt lost his desire to become a Unitarian minister and left the college.

While in London Hazlitt became friends with a group of writers with radical political ideas. The group included Percy Bysshe Shelley, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Charles Lamb, William Wordsworth, Thomas Barnes, Henry Brougham, Leigh Hunt, Robert Southey and Lord Byron. At first Hazlitt attempted to become a portrait painter but after a lack of success he turned to writing.

'The only vice which cannot be forgiven is hypocrisy. The repentance of a hypocrite is itself hypocrisy,' Hazlitt.

Charles Lamb introduced Hazlitt to William Godwin and other important literary figures in London. In 1805 Joseph Johnson published Hazlitt's first book, An Essay on the Principles of Human Action. The following year Hazlitt published Free Thoughts on Public Affairs, an attack on William Pitt and his government's foreign policy. Hazlitt opposed England's war with France and its consequent heavy taxation. This was followed by a series of articles and pamphlets on political corruption and the need to reform the voting system.

Hazlitt began writing for The Times and in 1808 married the editor's sister, Sarah Stoddart. His friend, Thomas Barnes, was the newspaper's parliamentary reporter. Later, Barnes was to become the editor of the newspaper. In 1810 he published the New and Improved Grammar of the English Language.

'Wit is the salt of conversation, not the food,' Hazlitt.

In 1813 Hazlitt was employed as the parliamentary reporter for the Morning Chronicle, the country's leading Whig newspaper. However, in his articles, Hazlitt criticized all political parties. Hazlitt also contributed to The Examiner, a radical journal edited by Leigh Hunt. Later, Hazlitt wrote for the Edinburgh Review, the Yellow Dwarf and the London Magazine. In these journals Hazlitt produced a series of essays on art, drama, literature and politics. During this period he established himself as England's leading expert on the writings of William Shakespeare.

Hazlitt wrote several books on literature including Characters of Shakespeare, A View of the English Stage, English Poets and English Comic Writers. In these books he urged the artist to be aware of his social and political responsibilities.

Hazlitt continued to write on about politics and his most important books on this subject is Political Essays with Sketches of Public Characters. In the book Hazlitt explains how the admiration of power turns many writers into "intellectual pimps and hirelings of the press."

Hazlitt's marriage to Sarah ended in 1823 as a result of an affair with a maid, Sarah Walker. Hazlitt wrote an account of this relationship in his book Liber Amoris. In 1824 Hazlitt married Isabella Bridgewater but this relationship only lasted a year.

In the The Spirit of the Age: Contemporary Portraits. Hazlitt provides a series of contemporary portraits including Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, Robert Southey, William Cobbett, William Godwin and William Wilberforce. This was followed by The Plain Speaker and Life of Napoleon. William Hazlitt died in poverty of stomach cancer on 18th September 1830.

He is worth knowing so seek him out and read his text or an essay.

Warm regards,

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Today marks 186 years since the death of this scandalous lady

Elizabeth Christiana Hervey Foster Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, 13 May 1759 - 30 March 1824, is best known as an early woman novelist, and as the close friend of Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire. Elizabeth supplanted the Duchess, gaining the Duke's affections and later marrying him.
Sir Joshua Reynolds. Lady Elizabeth Foster

Lady Elizabeth was the daughter of Frederick Hervey, 4th Earl of Bristol. In 1776, she married Irishman John Thomas Foster. The Fosters had three children; two sons, Frederick and Augustus John Foster and a daughter Elizabeth, who was born premature on 17 November 1778 and lived only 8 days.

The couple lived with her parents at Ickworth House, the ancestral Bristol home. The marriage was not a success, and the couple separated within five years, plausibly after Foster had a relationship with a servant. He retained custody of their sons, and did not allow the boys to see Bess for 14 years. In May 1782, Bess met the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire in Bath, and quickly became Georgiana's closest friend.

From this time, she lived in a ménage à trois with Georgiana and her husband, William, the 5th Duke of Devonshire, for about twenty-five years. She bore two children by the Duke: a son, Augustus later Augustus Clifford, 1st Baronet, and a daughter, Caroline St. Jules, who were raised at Devonshire House with the Duke's legitimate children by Georgiana. Lady Elizabeth finally married the Duke in 1809, three years after the death of his first wife, during which time she had continued to live in his household.

Angelica Kauffman painting of Lady Elizabeth Foster

All that and she wrote. She was the author of seven novels over the course of her lifetime: Melissa and Marcia, or the Sisters. A Novel; Louisa; The History of Ned Evans; The Church of St. Siffrid; The Mourtray Family. A Novel; Julia (which was never published); and Amabel; or, Memoirs of a Woman of Fashion. This last novel was the only one published with her name attached during her lifetime, and it was not on the cover, but on the dedication page. The rest of her novels were published anonymously.

Oh and there are letter too, Lady Elizabeth was a friend of the French author Madame de Staël, with whom she corresponded from about 1804.

And a wink, Lady Elizabeth Foster is the great-great-great-Grandmother of Vogue magazine's Anna Wintour.

I think her a captivating personality and I read her history with open fascination.

Warm regards to all,
My love and care,

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Fantastic Mr. Parkes

Fun, spiritual, thoughtful and brilliant, Michael Parkes for sometimes all that is required is idly whimsy and erotic fancy.

Angel Affair

He is to me both heretic and staunch believer. His art transcends the sometimes awful snobbery associated with fine art. If you are not familiar with is work here are a morsel to brighten your day.

The man is a devout to his craft and I encourage you to seek him out.

water music

Wishing you a brilliant Sunday.
Warmest regards,

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Eroticism of Decency

Or a love void of ego but not dripping in self-sacrifice

Andrea del Sarto's Saint John the Baptist

Yet another one of my writing ideas that went nowhere.

It was meant to be about how much one experiences light and laughter when in company with another. A sort of excellent love without the parasitic hold but then it did not make for a very good romance novel. For as it turns out a romantic story needs the high drama of longing, the anxious tension that pulls at heart and a measure of madness that drives desire.

Here is why I feel it did not work, decency is one dimensional and for a novel to be compelling or simply readable there needs to be layers of complex human traits and experiences.

So in this my private ambitions is superseeded by my lack of foresight and the romantic ideal set in place by those long published.

It is spring and the weekend so I'm grateful.
My very best to each of you,

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Everything I know About Art I learned In High School

For this reason I support art in schools

This too was written in my high shool by Jennifer Blazina. It is to me a most brilliant piece and I never forgot it. I often wonder if she still writes.
I saw your face just once.
Only once did I feel the warmth of your smile.
Then it disappeared in sorrow.
I heard your voice just once.
Only once did I hear you call my name
But the echoes soon ceased.
I felt the rain, but just for a moment
Before it mixed with my salty tears.
And I watched you walk away,
Turning your head back, but only once.
A brilliant day to each of you.
All my love and care,

Monday, March 22, 2010

Antonio Canova for I weep with delight at his genius

That and his work is brilliance at its purest.

Here he is at work

Antonio Canova (1757-1822) was an Italian sculptor made famous for his masterful marble sculptures that his genius hands delicately rendered to resemble nude flesh. His pieces are the epitome of the neoclassical style. Canova’s work brilliantly marked a return to classical refinement of the Renaissance masters after decades of the theatrical excesses of Baroque sculpture.

A detail of his extraordinary talents

Canova was considered the greatest sculptor of his time and one has but to look at his work to see how very true that assessment was. His work and gentlemanly personality became a model for all sculptors for many years.

Canova's bust of Napoleon

In 1802, Canova was invited to Paris by Napoleon, in order to carve marble portraits of the emperor and his mother and sister.
Cupid and Psyche
'Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss' was commissioned in 1787 and acquired by Joachim Murat in 1800, and entered the Louvre in 1824. Canova was a prolific sculptor, and he seduced the whole of Europe with his mythological compositions in which the purity of contours was used to portray a discrete eroticism.
My personal favorite 'Nu'

Canova illustrates the Romantic Classicism that was so valued at the time: he creates daring images of seductive elegance and form. Both the supple figures and tactful features of his work recall the earlier Rococo, with its charm and realism, but he is firmly Neoclassic in his approach.
The three graces

In the area of portraiture he was the absolute champion of idealization. He displayed a sensibility both to naturalism and to the early Renaissance, opening the way to two dominant trends at the beginning of the century: skilled realism and historical subject matter.

A lovely way to start the week, I think.
My love, my care,

Saturday, March 20, 2010

It is so very bleak today

And there are a handful of invitation to which I must attend. Baby showers for a few of my former brides, two birthdays [one for a 40 year old anther for an infant], one house warming [done so my friend B.B can show off her new space] and the first wedding invitation of the season.

Yuqi Wang's Portrait of Fiona Wilmot-Sitwell

Oh, the little things we do for love

You gave him your body not a month after vowing it to me, for he said, “His body jumps when you are close.”
It seemed so simple a thing but it had pulled at your vanity and desire. I saw that even from across the room.
You pulled blood biting into his flesh in order to muffle your cries as he took your virtue in the coatroom at your Aunt Edith’s funeral but then you are no good at self-denial.
I’ll pretend not to notice for we are but a month married, that and I fucked your maid of honour the afternoon I picked her up from the airport for our wedding.

I long for summer today.
All my love,

Thursday, March 18, 2010

An Odd Sort of Expression

I love this painting even though I was never truly able to read her expression but then I think that was part Stewart's intent as a part of intimate space and us the happy voyeur.
Julius LeBlanc Stewart's In The Boudoir

Still I miss you
You were there one quarter of an hour before I notice and I thought it meant indifference.
I saw her at your side and felt nothing but peace that you were able to find happiness elsewhere.
You took my hand in greeting and I was capable of articulate speech so naturally I believe it an injury healed.
I was certain of my recovery until the instant I all but broke into tears when my husband asked at the end of the night, “If I had a good time.”

I've been a rotten blogger friend lately but I'll call as soon as time allows.
All my love and care,

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Allow me to present Patricia Watwood a modern master

She is a truly talented painter and her work makes me rhapsodize.

Patricia Watwood Psyche's Doubt painted in 2004

So I may feel your want

Take my hand and let me know how much you want me.
Whisper in my ear a wicked request.
Run your hand up my skirt and lay claim to your want.
Bit my lips for kisses are no longer enough.
Take me in hand, as one does the neglected for it is the only way to show me how much.
Lick the sole of my feet and hold my eyes until I remember why I can never say no to you.
Put your hands on me.
Remind me with touch what it is like to be held by you.

Music and Poetry by Patricia Watwood

Seek her out for she is worth knowing.

All my love and care,


Sunday, March 14, 2010

William Hone Master Satirist and Defender of Freedom for the Press

William Hone (1780-1842) radical, satirist, and antiquarian. His victorious court battle against government censorship in 1817 marked a turning point in the fight for British press freedom.

He was born at Bath into a Congregationalist family, but moved at the age of ten to London, where he worked at first as a lawyer’s clerk. By the age of sixteen he had joined the London Corresponding Society, and had become a cynic in religion. In 1792, Hone takes his first adult position as "factotum" for solicitor in Bishopsgate Street.

Hone disliked the law and was employed by the booksellers as auctioneer to the trade, and had an office in Ivy Lane. Independent investigations carried on by him into the condition of lunatic asylums led to business difficulties and failure. In order to keep himself and his large family fed he contributed to magazines and reviews.

An unflattering caricature of George IV of the United Kingdom as Prince Regent, by George Cruickshank, illustrating "The Political House that Jack Built" by William Hone

In 1815 he started the Traveller newspaper, and tried in vain to save Eliza Fenning, a cook convicted on thin evidence of poisoning her employers with arsenic. Although Fenning was executed, Hone's 240 page book on the subject, The Important Results of an Elaborate Investigation into the Mysterious Case of Eliza Fenning was a landmark in investigative journalism it also demolished the prosecution's case.

This is typical of satire for which Hone would be tried

From 1 February to 25 October 1817, Hone published the Reformists' Register, using it to criticise state abuses, which he later attacked in the famous political squibs and parodies, illustrated by George Cruikshank. In April 1817 three ex-officio informations were filed against him by the attorney-general, Sir William Garrow.

Three separate trials took place in the Guildhall before special juries from th 18th to 20th of December 1817. The first, for publishing The Late John Wilkes's Catechism of a Ministerial Member (1817), was before Mr Justice Abbot (afterwards Lord Tenterden); the second, for parodying the litany and libelling the Prince Regent in The Political Litany (1817), and the third, for publishing the Sinecurist's Creed (1817), a parody on the Athanasian Creed, were before Lord Ellenborough.

Alphabet for Beginners by William Hone
The prosecution took the ground that the prints were harmful to public morals and brought the prayer-book and even religion itself into contempt. The real motives of the prosecution were political: Hone had ridiculed the habits and exposed the corruption of those in power. He went to the root of the matter when he wished the jury "to understand that, had he been a publisher of ministerial parodies, he would not then have been defending himself on the floor of that court." In spite of illness and exhaustion Hone spoke on each of the three days for about seven hours. Although his judges were biased against him, he was acquitted on each count, and the result was received enthusiastically by immense crowds inside and outside the court.
William Hone a truly brilliant fellow.
A lovely week to you all.
My love and care,

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Vera Wang One of the 100 Women Who Inspires Me

Because she came to her destiny despite disappoint and is still at 60 a remarkable talent.

Vera Ellen Wang Becker was born and raised in New York has in a few decades has become synonymous with the ideal wedding gown.

She attended The Chapin School until her graduation in 1967 and went on to complete her education at the University of Paris and Sarah Lawrence College, obtaining a degree in art history.

While in high school, Wang trained as a figure skater with pairs partner James Stuart, and competed at the 1968 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. When she failed to make the US Olympics team, she entered the fashion industry.

Wang was a senior fashion editor for Vogue for sixteen years. In 1985, she left Vogue after being turned down for the editor-in-chief position currently filled by Anna Wintour and joined Ralph Lauren as a design director for two years. In 1990, she opened her own design salon in the Carlyle Hotel in New York that features her trademark bridal gowns.

I adore Vera's elegant take on the wedding gown and her urbane approach to fashion.
Warm regards and a lovely weekend to all,
My love my care,

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Someone who is quick to laugh

I had a late supper with a few of my girl friends late last night. Talk eventually turned to relationships and now I'm left to wonder...

Patrick Devonas' Ein Wanderers Nachtlied

Can a comfortable silence pass for love?

For I’ve seen it you know, a couple at dinner for two hours and not bothering to make conversation above the polite. No laughter. No flirting. Not even a bitter stare or sad longing.

Just civility.

I don't remember how it came to be a point of conversation but we all thought it a strange sort of thing to love one who detests tendre sentiment and even stranger still to do so for you fit well into the hollows of their body when you lay as spoons on the sofa to watch foreign films they interprets in an entirely different light than you.

Then we had cake and old boyfriends were dragged over hot coal. The one from my pass that was roasted had been a lover who felt everything keenly, as sun magnified through glass. He was forever burning with some emotion. When we parted he in some grand passion had stated fervently his distaste for what he called my ‘tidy rationale and tasteful decadence.’ I didn’t think his words fit me and told him so in something I’m guessing was calm logic for he flew off the handle as if I'd done so to deliberately provoke.

These days I tend to go for men who are quick to laugh.

We had too much red wine and were all done in today... so a good time was had by all.

Love and care,

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Or the relative beauty
Peter Paul Rubens’ Venus at a Mirror


A soul with room for growth peers out from beneath puffy brown eyes looking at the goddess I want to be but only seeing the woman I am.

In the mirror there are the telltale signs of my mouse brown roots that have seldom been the same colour or style from one season to the next.

Despite the change in my hair this always remains constant.

I like the soft round of my belly and the gentle curve of my hips. I especially love the tender fullness of my breast even if they are no longer twenty-two.

Now I’m smiling for in that moment I’m beautiful. Hands on face, lips parted, eyes sparkling with glee and face flushed with some private satisfaction.

My body is alive with immeasurable joy and I'm suddenly glad to be a woman.

Then misery intercedes with cold feet on wet tiles for while I laughed the tube ran over. I don’t mind for now I’m made to frown for I’ve see the hairs on my leg.

I’m a beast, covered in hair I must tend – shave, wax, comb or tame – I’m forever grooming.

I laugh out loud at my quest and the absurd nature of the body beautiful, my body beautiful.

While I contemplate the imperfection misery vanishes and is replaced with an overwhelming feeling of vulnerability.

It takes a full hour of tending with moisturizers and toners enriched with vitamins minerals and supplements all with the promise to improve.

Make beautiful.

I’m a woman of sound[ish] mind and body so I have the application process down to a science exfoliating, rubbing on and then off.

Then and only then do I sigh with something like relief but while I dress to face the world I feel it.


 Girl at Mirror Norman Rockwell

My love, my care,

Monday, March 8, 2010

For Mondays Can Be Ever So Contentious

I give you…

Alfred Steven’s the bath.
And Bliss Naturally

A calm gaze that peers from an ocean of blue is the source of her torment.
His skin is the texture of bliss.
With lips that taste of joy.
She closes her eyes and sees no more than his blazing copper skin and those strong warm hands.
His sent lingers in pillows, sheets, his discarded garments and her flesh.
There was nothing else for it but to take a bath and wash him away.
A blissful week to all.
My love, my care,

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Elizabeth Smart One of My 100 Women that Inspires

She wrote By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept a book which I've read every year since I was 16. I adore Elizabeth for she was a brilliant writer and a fiercely passionate woman.

Elizabeth Smart was born in Ottawa to a fairly affluent family on December 27, 1913. Smart was sent to private schools and, upon graduation, went to study in England. There she had a relationship with Lord John Pentland, attended the King’s coronation and partied at Buckingham Palace. It was also in England that she picked up a small book of poetry by George Barker, a protégé of T.S. Eliot's, and supposedly decided then and there, sight unseen, that she would marry him and have his children.

"A pen is a furious weapon. But it needs a rage of will. Everything physical dies but you can send a mad look to the end of time." -- Elizabeth Smart (Rogues & Rascals)

In 1938 at a party she met Jean Varda, a flamboyant and arrogant painter of Greek origins who lived in a run-down, 22-room mansion in Cassis, France. Smart was invited to accompany Varda and a group of friends to Cassis. Others who had stayed there were Picasso, Braque and Miro. Henry Miller was a big fan of Varda who also attracted the attention of the ladies. It was here with Varda that Smart is said to have had her first sexual experience.

Eventually stifled by Varda, she went to Mexico to escape and visit friends Wolfgang and Alice Paalen. He was a surrealist painter she had met in Paris. While in Mexico, Smart had an affaire with Alice Paalen, who Anais Nin described to Henry Miller as looking “like a Mexican-Indian woman”. Varda showed up in Mexico and he and Smart ended up living together in Big Sur, California in an artists’ colony, even though she was becoming less and less enthralled with his charm. In California Smart wrote a novel based on her lesbian experiences with Paalen entitled Dig A Grave and Let Us Bury Our Mother. It would appear posthumously, edited by Alice VanWart, as In The Meantime in 1984.

By then Smart had been in touch with poet George Barker, buying an original manuscript and exchanging letters. Smart had sent some poems to Lawrence Durrell in 1938 and he had suggested Smart and Barker should meet--because Barker was short of money. At this point, with Barker teaching in Japan and Japan was about to enter the war, Barker approached her for funds to flee the country. The money was raised. Smart met him in Monterey and was taken aback to discover he had his wife with him. It is this scene which opens By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept.

Smart found a wooden hut in the wilds of Big Sur, California where they lived as friends until the inevitable happened. In the novel she wrote, "Under the waterfall he surprised me bathing and gave me what I could no more refuse than the earth can refuse the rain." Despite the presence of Mrs. Barker, the pair were soon having a sexual affair which resulted in Smart’s pregnancy. Eventually they came to Canada, were rebuffed by her Ottawa family and ended up in Vancouver in a run-down hotel room with very little money, a state Barker found himself in for most of his life. Just how she came to choose Pender Harbour to have her child and write her famous novel is a bit of a mystery.

In Pender Harbour Elizabeth made a few friends, the most remarkable being Vienna-born Maximiliane Von Upani Southwell, some 20 years her senior. As Smart’s pregnancy and manuscript came near completion, Maxie took her in, despite her own poverty, and assisted her. Elizabeth, in return, dedicated By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept to Maxie.

Elizabeth used her own Ottawa ties to get Barker a job at the British Army Office in Washington. After their child a girl Georgina was born in August, Smart left Canada on December 7, 1941--the day Japan attacked Pearl Harbour--leaving Georgina with Maxie in order to meet up with Barker. He failed to meet her at Grand Central Station.

I love By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept and read it obsessively. I wish I could have known her.

A lovely weekend to all,
My love, my care,

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Lapse in Judgement

Or a funny sort of Thursday.
Francesco Hayez's Odalisque

Sanity was replaced with the touch of complete satisfaction.
Now hours after the bliss in the promising dawn you cling like second skin.
Lust takes on the form of gratification and even in sleep the after glow is memorized by your sentimental heart.
I haven't the heart just yet to wake you or to say all that remains of the breathless fulfillment is my regret.
I'm filled with guilt for my usual self-control stood idly by while you abandoned virtue.
I let you sleep.

We have arrive at the end of the week.
My love, my care,

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Some of the Romantics

It could be argued that Romanticism was more successful in changing history than Enlightenment for the romantics changed the definition of what it means to be human while the engligtened were only made aware of self. I'll present to you evidence to support my claim in a series of post over the next month or so.

Henry Fuseli's The Dream of Eve

Here now the first bit:

Individuality is a by-product of the romantic era. Self-definition, self-invention, adolescence or the time to fine oneself, the idea that the best path to faith is through individual choice all of these things are products of romantic celebration. This and the whole notion of the individual at the expense of society and tradition.

William Blake's Pity

There is no doubt the romantics were driven by sentiments of affection, sorrow, romantic longing and that their art evoked all manners of irrational scenes designed to pull strong emotions but it was not all silly and tender. The romantics explored the conflicts between moral and sensual values. They also passionately defended reason and the individual rights to pursuit happiness.

Do not dismiss the art for both Blake and Fuseli exemplified what it was to be romantic without too much of the sweet.

So much to do and so little time but you be patient with me for I'll call on you very soon.
My love, my care,

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Words and a Painting

I've always felt it so...

Mikhail Nesterov Portrait of Pavel Korin

You are a live wire without end, coiled tight around me to suffocate. I’m kept alive because of the violent electrical charge. I conduct well your energy for I've been made wet with anticipation of the agonizingly slow melting of nerves. I laugh at the conduit that would protect me against a sudden jolt, for your only desire is to burn me. Mark me as your own. I struggle against it for fear I’ll be consumed. I pray you’ll be consoled by my want until it matches your desire.
A lovely week to you all,

Monday, March 1, 2010

March First Equals BlogSplash

Today I am participating in a Blogsplash for Fiona Robyn below is an excerpt from her book, Thaw, which you can read online for free! Ruth's diary is her new novel and this blogsplash is meant to promote the release. She has decided to blog the novel in its entirety over the next few months, so you can read it for free. Ruth's first entry is below, and you can continue reading tomorrow at here.

These hands are ninety-three years old. They belong to Charlotte Marie Bradley Miller. She was so frail that her grand-daughter had to carry her onto the set to take this photo. It's a close-up. Her emaciated arms emerge from the top corners of the photo and the background is black, maybe velvet, as if we're being protected from seeing the strings. One wrist rests on the other, and her fingers hang loose, close together, a pair of folded wings. And you can see her insides.

The bones of her knuckles bulge out of the skin, which sags like plastic that has melted in the sun and is dripping off her, wrinkling and folding. Her veins look as though they're stuck to the outside of her hands. They're a colour that's difficult to describe: blue, but also silver, green; her blood runs through them, close to the surface. The book says she died shortly after they took this picture. Did she even get to see it? Maybe it was the last beautiful thing she left in the world.

I'm trying to decide whether or not I want to carry on living. I'm giving myself three months of this journal to decide. You might think that sounds melodramatic, but I don't think I'm alone in wondering whether it's all worth it. I've seen the look in people's eyes. Stiff suits travelling to work, morning after morning, on the cramped and humid tube. Tarted-up girls and gangs of boys reeking of aftershave, reeling on the pavements on a Friday night, trying to mop up the dreariness of their week with one desperate, fake-happy night. I've heard the weary grief in my dad's voice.

So where do I start with all this? What do you want to know about me? I'm Ruth White, thirty-two years old, going on a hundred. I live alone with no boyfriend and no cat in a tiny flat in central London. In fact, I had a non-relationship with a man at work, Dan, for seven years. I'm sitting in my bedroom-cum-living room right now, looking up every so often at the thin rain slanting across a flat grey sky. I work in a city hospital lab as a microbiologist. My dad is an accountant and lives with his sensible second wife Julie, in a sensible second home. Mother finished dying when I was fourteen, three years after her first diagnosis. What else? What else is there?

Charlotte Marie Bradley Miller. I looked at her hands for twelve minutes. It was odd describing what I was seeing in words. Usually the picture just sits inside my head and I swish it around like tasting wine. I have huge books all over my flat - books you have to take in both hands to lift. I've had the photo habit for years. Mother bought me my first book, black and white landscapes by Ansel Adams. When she got really ill, I used to take it to bed with me and look at it for hours, concentrating on the huge trees, the still water, the never-ending skies. I suppose it helped me think about something other than what was happening. I learned to focus on one photo at a time rather than flicking from scene to scene in search of something to hold me. If I concentrate, then everything stands still. Although I use them to escape the world, I also think they bring me closer to it. I've still got that book. When I take it out, I handle the pages as though they might flake into dust.

Mother used to write a journal. When I was small, I sat by her bed in the early mornings on a hard chair and looked at her face as her pen spat out sentences in short bursts. I imagined what she might have been writing about - princesses dressed in star-patterned silk, talking horses, adventures with pirates. More likely she was writing about what she was going to cook for dinner and how irritating Dad's snoring was.

I've always wanted to write my own journal, and this is my chance. Maybe my last chance. The idea is that every night for three months, I'll take one of these heavy sheets of pure white paper, rough under my fingertips, and fill it up on both sides. If my suicide note is nearly a hundred pages long, then no-one can accuse me of not thinking it through. No-one can say, 'It makes no sense; she was a polite, cheerful girl, had everything to live for,' before adding that I did keep myself to myself. It'll all be here. I'm using a silver fountain pen with purple ink. A bit flamboyant for me, I know. I need these idiosyncratic rituals; they hold things in place. Like the way I make tea, squeezing the tea-bag three times, the exact amount of milk, seven stirs. My writing is small and neat; I'm striping the paper. I'm near the bottom of the page now. Only ninety-one more days to go before I'm allowed to make my decision. That's it for today. It's begun.

Continue reading at here

A lovely week to you all,