Because Myfanwy is my pen name people are a bit anxious sometimes – is it ok to call me Myfanwy? or my given name? Either, I say – I answer to anything. But that’s not quite true, as a dream last night reminded me.
I was looking for the loo, something I often search for in dreams. I blame my granny for over-potty-training me as a tot because missing loos are obviously a source of Foxy subconscious concern from their frequent occurrence – or rather, absence – in dreams. I was in a sprawling, ramshackle old mansion, that had apparently been converted into some kind of Con-Dem prep school – every bathroom was filled by noisy, frolicsome infants who didn’t seem inclined to make way for someone of a more sensitive disposition preferring a peaceful audience-free pee.
On my explorations I met a charming chap I knew – in the dream, that is. Never met him in real life though with hindsight he might be a dissolute uncle of Fergus McGonigal. Charmingly he pounced, charmingly he swept me into an embrace, ‘Lavinia,’ he breathed, moving in for a snog.
‘What?’ I wasn’t charmed.
‘Lavina,’ he repeated, with clearer diction – obviously used to deaf old bats.
At the age of eleven I grew far too fast, so that starting secondary school I was one of the tallest in the class and a size fourteen. It meant everyone knew who I was and I was a handy target for all the lazier bullies – especially Mr Stanning when he wanted to hurl the board rubber at someone in the back row: he couldn’t miss. I took to sitting at the front. Besides, it was the only way my myopic vision could see the board – or Mr Stanning’s expression – in the first place. Everyone knew who I was. I hated it. (A year later other kids had caught up and whizzed past me; I stopped growing at twelve, pretty much spot on average height for our cohort but by then it was too late. Meanwhile, I became an academic.)
Now, however, I sometimes have to pinch myself to make sure I exist at all. When I ask my teens to do the dishes or some other minor chore there’s a resounding silence and, later, denial of all knowledge. I am their house elf.
At work it’s not always more comforting; one of our volunteers – let’s call her Nell – can’t tell the difference between me and manager, Tess. Admittedly, Tess and I are almost identical – we’re both female. So what if Tess’s three feet taller than me, ten years older than me, short blond hair not long dark hair and totally different dress sense – it’s amazing anyone can tell us apart.
The other day Nell arrived while I was steaming a rail of clothes. ‘Hullo, Tess.’
‘Myfanwy. It’s Tess’s day off.’
She peered at me, frowning, checking Tess wasn’t taking the piss. ‘Oh, yes. Myfanwy. Make me a cup of coffee.’
Helen Mort has a fascinating blog post on names HERE. Some people cannot recognise faces. Others cannot remember names. Either must be a problem as we are apes that thrive on intricate social connections.
I never did find a loo in my dream. Instead I woke up, thanked god I don’t have to work with that many children, and came up here to write this (any metaphor the reader finds is intended).
My decrepit but much-used and loved compact camera died a few days ago; it had been through a lot over the years but bouncing six feet down a jagged rocky gully into a stream proved too much – cracked screen, damaged lens mechanism and innards. It was more than ten years old and had taken thousands of pictures – some of which I was rather pleased with. Not worthwhile to repair, sadly.
Here’s a chap we met on the hills on that outing:
And this is its very last picture, a view from the east flank of Worcester Beacon looking over Great Malvern towards Worcester:
(Early birthday present from husband: new camera, just arrived – hurrah! But now to get to grips with all its fabulous intricacies and potential…)