I’ve mentioned before about not being in touch with my emotions. Today I’m not even that sure how the day went. Either a good day in which quite a few stressful things happened, or a stressful day in which nothing really bad happened.

J wasn’t in the office today. He’d picked today to drive to one of our other sites, but it turned out there were floods from the heavy rain and he couldn’t get in, so he went home and worked from there. I go in on the Tube, so it didn’t affect me. There wasn’t a lot to do, so I ended up phoning people who hadn’t paid their membership fees yet. It led to some awkward calls, although no one got angry with me (which has happened once or twice) and I did get two credit card payments and a couple of other people promising to pay soon, including someone who didn’t realise she’d cancelled the standing order to us, thinking it was going to somewhere else.

It got a bit lonely in the office by myself. I felt overwhelmed by the afternoon, which might have been the phoning or the several cups of tea I’d drunk. I probably drink too much caffeine at work, given I have low-level anxiety much of the time there. I have a cup of coffee at home over breakfast, a second when I get to the office, and sometimes a third if I feel really tired. Then a cup of tea for lunch and three or four more during the afternoon to keep myself going. I could drink decaf tea, but I sometimes find it tastes funny to me, plus part of me feels I need the caffeine, even if it makes me anxious.

I usually struggle with winter, but I feel much worse than I usually do at this stage. We’re still in the midst of autumn, let alone actual winter (in my head, winter starts in December) and already I feel I can’t cope. I miss E a lot. We’re not likely to get married before spring, which makes it (spring) seem impossibly distant. Winter usually feels like it won’t ever end, especially once we get past Chanukah and the bank holiday season and it feels like endless January followed by interminable February. Starting chatan and kallah (groom and bride) classes yesterday should be a step forward, but somehow it doesn’t feel that way. I guess I still can’t believe I found someone who wants to marry me, with all that entails and feel it will somehow go wrong, because “obviously” I can’t be happy.

At the moment we’re waiting nervously for E’s visa. There shouldn’t be any issues, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be any, especially given the Home Office is not the most efficient (or compassionate) organisation, and it’s under stress with Ukrainian refugees and the stuff in the news about over-crowding in refugee centres. At least I have my trip to New York at the end of the month to look forward to, even if there may be a very long wait until we can see each other again afterwards (I couldn’t go later in the year for fear I would miss my sister’s baby being born).


Yesterday in therapy I somehow got on to the subject of wanting to share controversial political views with people online. I say I don’t want to do it, then I seem to seek out people who don’t share my views and read what they post online as if I’m daring myself to disagree. (I didn’t say this in therapy, but another view comes to mind, which is that I’m trying to “collect” online friends with all sorts of different views to my own to prove to myself how tolerant and broadminded I am. I hope this isn’t true, because it’s basically using people for my own ends.)

I mentioned that earlier this year, I got annoyed about an antisemitic news story and wrote a two or three page satirical squib, a dystopian satire, to let off steam. It started connected strongly to the news story, but grew to take in a lot of other stuff I don’t like. E loved it and said I should expand it to a novel and for a while I did think about it, but I was already working on my current novel and decided to leave it for now. I am collecting ideas for it, though, and I would like to have a go at it at some point.

The fact that I was working on a different novel (although not far enough to absolutely have to stick with it) was a good reason to leave it for now, but I was also scared. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to keep being funny for 80,000 words. I’m learning tricks to jump-start narrative and character development in my writing when I get blocked, but I don’t know how to do it for humour. I guess I feel there is no way of doing it for humour: you’re either funny or you’re not. And I worry I’m not. I know this is the voice of the school bullies, and, as my therapist said, a bunch of teenage boys are probably not the best arbiters of whether something is really funny. But it’s hard to turn that voice off.

A bigger worry is offending people or upsetting people. I would really like to write a Swiftian satire parodying everything I hate about the modern world and that’s bound to upset people in our intolerant and cancelling age.

My therapist asked if there was an image that summed up my thoughts about creativity and putting controversial or satirical ideas out there and immediately I thought of the traditional sign for the theatre, with two masks, one smiling for comedy and one miserable for tragedy. It’s like I’m only allowed to use the tragic one (actually, tragedy can be comic e.g. Hamlet). The therapist suggested satire as a bridge between tragedy and other forms of comedy. It’s an interesting idea to play with, but I’m not sure where it will take me.


Doctor Who time: E and I are watching The Invasion (1968). It’s ahead of its time in that it’s about an evil Big Tech genius who wants to take over the world – so far, so 2022 – but it’s of its time in that the focus is on innovative hardware, not software (as it would have been in the eighties or nineties) or algorithms (as it would be now).

There’s a weirdness about some Doctor Who stories of the late sixties, in that the Doctor (a time-traveller from a super-advanced civilisation) doesn’t like computers. It’s never made entirely clear why, but it seems to be on the spurious (to us) grounds that they’re inhuman and inauthentic, stifling true creativity and humanity. The Ice Warriors is the story where this really comes to the fore, but it appears in others too, including this one. It’s where the programme shows its roots as primarily Romantic and concerned with emotional authenticity rather than scientific progress per se. This is why the Cybermen are the most frequently-appearing foe in this era, as they represent technology without humanity.

Although my main takeaway so far is that the music and sound effects in this story are really good. Sixties Doctor Who was more about the sound effects than the visual effects, with the late sixties stories blurring the lines between incidental music, sound effects and ambient atmospheres. This story has a score that sounds like a Western and sound effects that sound unearthly.


17 thoughts on “Always Winter and Never —

  1. Satire is a sophisticated form of humor, and many people don’t get it. I had an issue trying to explain to some angry folks on-line that a piece was satire, not real. It wasn’t my writing, but the blown-up reactions were a little terrifying.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Something to consider with satire is that cultural context is everything. Satire is often only recognized as such within the same culture. It can be tricky to share satire with someone from a different culture.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Although I suppose it could be considered two different “cultures,” this was political satire and so ludicrous that it could have come from Mad Magazine or the Onion. The site describes itself as satire, and if those outraged readers don’t believe the About page, any and every fact check organization would have disproved the article, once they got finished laughing disbelievingly–but this group doesn’t believe in any fact check sites.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. How about 40,000 words? Novella size. My political satire book Switching Positions is a novella and I think I sustained the funny. I just literally had to explain a joke to two smart friends, so yeah… not everyone will get it… 🙄

    “We all have our favorite words.

    Trump: disgraceful
    Hillary: deplorable
    British Royals: delighted
    Elon Musk: dm me your routing number”

    I’m pretty proud of that 😁

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Funny, I recently switched focus from the plot-flawed novel I was working on to a silly, “so stupid it might actually work” humorous political satire novel myself. I think there are different types of humor too, and one type might suit your work better than another. Also I don’t know that every moment needs to be laugh-out-loud hilarious in order to be an enjoyable satirical read. One last thought – absolutely no one in my entire life ever told me that I was funny or that I had a sense of humor, in person or in writing…until I started blogging. Like I didn’t even think I was capable of writing anything funny. So I think humor writing skills can be developed.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Also what is included in Jewish premarital counseling? I thought of doing it someday but I have a feeling it will just be about the ritual side of marriage (i.e., when to go to a mikvah) and nothing about the emotional side (keeping peace in the household, being kind to each other, etc). What is your experience?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The first class was about the Orthodox wedding ceremony. I don’t know exactly what the other classes will be about, but I suspect (as there are only going to be a couple) mostly on the ritual side. I would like to explore the emotional side, but I don’t think that’s on offer here, although I suspect in the States there may be more options available.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. So I got married by a Chabad Rabbi and he happened to be running a general, open to the public, 6 week class about marriage, so now-Husband and I attended that. But actual chatan and kallah classes were just on the mikvah, taharat hamisphacha… nothing emotional. My more secular siblings working with non-Orthodox rabbis (I’m not Orthodox either, but our wedding and mesader Kiddushin were for my wedding) had premarital classes focusing more on the emotional aspects.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. I don’t regret having an Orthodox mesader kiddushin or an Orthodox wedding, and circumstances being what they were, I’d do it again. But as someone non-Orthodox, looking back, I may have gotten more out of it spiritually if working with someone non-Orthodox whom I was close to had been an option. I may do a longer post on my own blog on this at some point.

          Mazal tov on your engagement!


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