Penetrating. The smell of guavas is penetrating, which is why I can smell it at all. I can scarcely breathe through my clogged sinuses and am smell-derived right now.
Guavas are I suppose exotic if you live in a rainy south of England country town and only get to see apple orchards behind sheets of rain, but out here guavas are fairly commonplace and taste like they look, yellow and bubblegum pink and seedy. I have guavas ripening by the hour on a small tree in the garden and each afternoon I go out and eat a guava or two because they are crammed full of vitamin A and good for me. Besides which, I can smell them and that is a treat.
The goose ran off and hid from its killers and now I would rather have a live goose strolling around in the sun than a roast goose dinner. Why aren’t we all humane and vegetarian I wonder? The goose killer phoned me to apologise.
‘I am so very sorry not to have your goose,’ he said with clacking dentures. ‘But it is the fault of the goose who ran away when we got out the axe.’
‘Oh help,’ I said feebly. ‘Spare that goose. Let the goose live.’
‘No, no, the goose must die,’ said the axe-murderer. ‘My wife has already spent the money you will give us for the goose.’
‘Would you let me have the goose alive then?” I asked plaintively. That smart goose hiding out in the woods.
‘No, no,’that goose is no good. A naughty goose,’ said the killer. ’I will bring you nine baby gooses for R80, perhaps. Or more.’
‘Goslings,’ I said. ‘No I don’t want a goose farm I just hate having the goose killed.’
‘You are talking nonsense,’ said my friend on the phone. ‘Everything must die.’
Then I went back to bed and read from my battered copy of Animal Farm and thought about George Orwell and the goose. My bronchitis is racketing about like a tin can full of metal bits. I cough and cough.
And my temper has grumped down again. I have been reading reviews of a new biography of Jean Rhys which describes her as volatile and a woman of changeable moods. As in this description: “the blue hour was also the hour when the lap dog she saw herself as being during the day turned into a wolf.”
Oh tra-la, well yes indeed, the mysterious blue hour when our personalities inexplicably alter in the gloaming. When the vulpine scavenger emerges out of the forests.
Jean Rhys was severely alcoholic and would hit the gin at six in the evening. That was what turned her inner lapdog into into a wolf. She wasn’t enigmatic, moody, a victim of the men who used and left her. She was an alcoholic who could not take care of herself. She worked as a prostitute because she couldn’t hold down a job. She battered two of her husbands, stole from friends, was thrown into prison for using foul language and assaulting people in the streets. She bit a constable, smashed milk bottles against fences, chucked a brick through the neighbours’ window. She was not haunted by displacement from her Caribbean childhood. She was not neurasthenic and sensitive. I doubt she was a ‘borderine personality’ She was a drunk, an untreated active alcoholic.
And despite that tragic life of active alcoholism she managed to write one of the most startling and revealing novels of the 20th century, Wide Sargasso Sea with its terrifying depiction of the first Mrs Rochester, the archetypal Victorian madwoman in the attic. Imagine what else she might have written if she had been able to stay sober.