Often when I write I think about a woman, maybe waiting for a train, with jeans and boots and long hair.
'New Walk' is burning a hole in her bag and she cannot wait to get settled in a seat and get reading again.
That person I’m writing for could be me or my sister or many of my friends.
I just want a few people to love this book. That’s what I’m after. That’s my goal.
Do you think that might be you?
Have a look at the prologue below and see.
New Walk, by Ellie Durant
‘A profoundly moving coming-of-age story, where midwifery, birth and the decisions life throws at us combine to shape a young woman’s life’. - Pinter and Martin, publisher
Sunday, 5th August 2001
It’s my choice, I have a deep sense of rightness about that. I’m glad to be in a country where I can make this choice and I’m glad all the physical stuff, the pain and bleeding and everything at the end, was here at home. Despite the sadness, a bit of me is standing back and assessing the experience for anything that might be useful. I have a kind of morbid curiosity about the emotions and sensations.
This is not the kind of learning anyone would ever want to hear about, though. Even if a woman you were caring for had gone through the same thing, you could never tell her. God forbid you raised your hand in a lecture and talked about it in front of the cohort either.
It’s an hour or so before sunset and the temperature is dropping which I’m grateful for because digging is taking a bit of effort, the earth is dry and set and I’m sore. Despite everything being neglected, the garden is bright with the daisies and red asters that Mum planted. They come up year after year. The birds are talking to each other in different calls and my emotions are blowing around like the breeze.
I’m also thinking about how judgemental I can be. Even when Dad is hiding from me because he’s rolling his tenth spliff of the day and I want to wash his body warmer and feed him a healthy tea with green vegetables, or Ali is stalking around in Leicester in heels and an almost entirely theoretical miniskirt, they are surviving in their own ways.
I put my everything into this life. For years now I’ve been the passionate, responsible one, reading up on embryology in Mum’s old books, studying Spiritual Midwifery birth stories over and over until the cover came off, taking every opportunity to learn skills like blood pressure and resuscitation and how to listen. Midwifery is my distraction of choice and I’m proud of that.
But it’s also my obsession and underneath I’m not sure I’m coping. I get so angry sometimes. I got so busy lording it over my Dad and my sister that I’ve found myself here.
I lean the spade against the fence. Before I put the box into the ground I apologise out loud, standing there in my welly boots I’ve put on to dig the hole. I’m truly, deeply sorry.
I’m beginning to understand now. I’m not in control of life; no-one is. It never turns out the way you expect. You just make the best of things. This is not always a bad thing; it’s just a true thing.
It’s both the magic and the catch.