Today, on this day, I made a pie. A chicken and spring onion pie. A marvellous pie, fortified with bay leaves, spring onions, cracked black pepper and home made pastry. I also made it with my son, and so it has become known as ‘cat pie’. By the wonderful, eccentric and often profound law of the three year old, he decreed that it would be adorned with cats and stars. Well who am I to disagree? It was a marvelous experience, and has resulted in me amending my New Year’s resolutions. Every week, I shall make a pie. I shall decide on that day, and it shall be known as pie day. I vow that when confronted by anxiety, I shall hear Brian Blessed’s voice in my head, and he shall bellow FEAR NOT, FOR TONIGHT YOU SHALL MAKE PIE’.
I felt anxious this morning. As any fellow officiates of anxiety will know, it arrives unannounced like the Spanish Inquisition in Monty Python (yet is anything but funny). Once on the scene, my anxiety then lingers and loiters, occasionally screaming or juddering in my brain just to keep me on my toes. What a twat. Kingsley Amis described being enslaved to his libido as being ‘shackled to a maniac’, and this is the closest I can get to explaining what anxiety feels like to me. It is being and feeling yourself, yet being bound to a malignant, unpredictable presence that seeps into mind and body. It is a spectre that yanks you away from functionality and hapiness. I hate my anxiety, but today I made pie, and it made the anxiety go away.
I must have a guardian angel looking out for me who sends me messages, because amidst a nasty anxiety-fuelled tombola of worrisome thoughts, a vivid image came in to my head. A pie dish. Anxiety is a clever bastard, because it turns logic and rationality upside down, and puts all foresight into soft focus. Not so if one thinks of a pie dish, apparently. With this hallowed image of a white, blue-rimmed tin vessel, I felt the anxiety slacken the cuffs. I focussed on finding a recepie, and where I could procure said tin. My brain snapped in to HD. I pictured the anxiety in my head, and called him a cock-womble. He didn’t reply. The game was afoot, or rather a pie. Not a game pie.
Once returned from ASDA, I had a new focus. I had locked eyes with several other of my anxious brethren. It is magical when that happens. There is a silent but tangible understanding of one another, and often a nod and smile that goes with it. I literally bumped in to one chap reaching for a pie tin, and nearly hugged him out of sheer solidarity. Perhaps I should make a badge with a symbol that means anxiety-ridden of the world unite’! I digress. Fuelled and soothed by a purpose, the making began, and it was wonderful. The best bit was watching the pastry rise, as it undulating in the heat of the oven like shifting desert sand dunes. That, or my son grabbing a pristine pat of butter by the half-opened folds, laughing his head off and saying ‘Look Tom, a bumblebee’. Superb.
The supreme irony of being in the thrall of the ‘A’ word is that to the rest of the world everything looks just fine. It is an invisible challenge. You have to suit up in psychological armour and fight a battle that nobody else can see. Well, I have got me a new shield today. I know this is lame and clichéd, but I’m going to enjoy reaching for that pie dish. My shield. I will suit up, grin at my adversary, and make.