I’ve got the mubble-fubbles. I hope that’s how you use the word correctly in a sentence. I have no idea. Apparently, it’s a 16th century word for ‘despondency’ or ‘a sense of impending doom’.
When I came across ‘mubble-fubbles’ the other day, my thoughts immediately ran to Covid-19, and I went ‘huh!’ and gave a quick, tight smile at the dark humour of the context. In these ‘strange’, ‘unprecedented’- or whatever else you want to call them – times, I imagine it’s a word that sums up how lots of us are feeling, for a shared reason. I found it via Susie Dent.
For those of you who’ve never heard of her, Susie Dent is a lexicographer and etymologist. She’s also the one in Dictionary Corner, in 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, which is how I know of her, and being a lover of words and linguistics in general, I decided to follower her on Twitter; thus I discovered ‘mubble-fubbles’.
I struggle to make sense of the world at the best of times, but recently, my brain has been at critical mass. I was thinking about ‘mubble-fubbles’ and ‘impending doom’, and I wondered if this – 2020 – is what the Apocalypse actually looks like; if, like so many things you imagine happened suddenly – like falling in love or the extinction of the dinosaurs – they actually creep up on you, and this – Covid, Brexit, people stabbing people all over the place, endless wars, a million species facing extinction, climate change – is it, and we are living through it right now. I asked my dad whether the world had always been this mad, or is it just that now I am in my 40s and have a child, I am paying more attention to the world outside my bubble. As it were.
I forget what he said in answer, but applied some advice he gave me years ago: you’ve just got to get on with it. So I do what I can and try to play my part in ‘being the change I want to see’, and do what I’ve always done – I write.
My second novel, Glasshouse – a story that runs alongside The (D)Evolution of Us – is almost ready to send for its professional edit; my third novel – currently called Underrated – is rapidly filling a notebook. Is ‘getting on with it’ innate survival programming? Is it a coping mechanism? Or am I simply being lazy, and it’s denial?
Last month I took part in #augustauthorchallenge2020 on social media, and on day twenty-something, I was asked to name my favourite trope. I chose my use of corvids (crows – it’s not a spelling error!) to imply impending doom. Someone came back to me saying that this was a misrepresentation, because corvids – especially ravens – symbolise wisdom. In my apology, I commented that doom brings epiphany. Isn’t that how life goes? Crisis, epiphany, redemption, in an endless cycle? And is this destiny or physics? And does it matter either way?
Eventually, I end up writing. It’s an outlet, a compulsion, a way of making sense of things. It’s also good fun. And when I need to escape from the workings of my own head, I pick up a book that someone else has written, and disappear inside another world.
Halloween is coming up – the time when the veils between worlds are thinnest, depending on what you believe. To celebrate, I am reading from The (D)Evolution of Us, live on my Facebook page. What happened on Halloween when Cath and Kayleigh were thirteen profoundly affected their lives, and I wanted to do it for them. That may seem a bit bonkers, but it’s a fact. Weather permitting, I’ll be doing it outside, under a full moon, with a glass of red wine, and candles flickering in pumpkins my little boy and I will carve in the morning.
In spite of Covid, we’ll be celebrating Halloween. This years, there’ll be no trick-or-treating; no children’s party at the pub down the road. But what do I do – tell my little boy I have the mubble-fubbles and the world is falling to pieces and that Boris had cancelled Halloween because of The Germs? I have suffered with my mental health since I was a child, and, as I said earlier, my brain feels like it’s on the point of exploding. But I love autumn – October in particular – and I love Halloween. So I am getting on with things. Yes, no doubt I will spend many more nights lying awake, wondering, worrying, crying. But on October 31st, I’m reading live from my own novel, I’m carving pumpkins with my little boy, we’ll dress up and have a party of own, and when he’s fast asleep and the clock strikes midnight, I’ll be reading The Raven and The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe on Exeter Authors’ Association Facebook page. I’ll have a another glass of red wine – maybe the rest of the bottle.
Because I am compelled to get on with things. I love getting on with things. So here’s the link to a video Muse posted last Halloween: https://youtu.be/GO81TnRw1Mc. They’re covering The Cramps’ New Kind of Kick. Check it out – there’s truth in it for me. As for the mubble-fubbles, they can fubble off.