SUZANNE HARRINGTON: Duvet days would’ve been a lot less hassle

So retrograde has Mercury turned out to be that I have found it safer to remain mostly under the duvet, for fear of encountering confusion, delays and frustration, writes Suzanne Harrington

THE internet tells me that Mercury is in retrograde until April 15 and that I should avoid communication, new projects, travel, signing contracts, buying cars, and making speculative investments. Fine. I’ll stay in bed. I just wish I had known about this sooner, and I would not have attempted to get my hair cut, find a new lodger, upgrade my computer, or communicate with other humans, particularly teenagers.

No, I’d have taken to my bed the second Mercury started sliding backward though the heavens, like a bowling ball with a broken handbrake, crushing all in its path via miscommunication chaos.

Copy this, I tell the hair stylist, pointing to a photo in my phone of me the last time I left the salon, sporting the same straightforward hair cut I have had since the Bronze Age. The stylist nods, stares fixedly at the photo, and proceeds to commit first degree topiary on my head, like Edward Scissorhands chopping a hedge in the shape of a turkey. Later, surveying the damage, I seethe. The internet says I will encounter lots of unusually angry people while Mercury is in retrograde; it forgot to say “including yourself’”

Oh well. At least I don’t know what speculative investment actually means, so no potential for miscommunication there. But back in real life, waiting until Mercury is facing forwards again to find a new lodger seems excessive and unaffordable. So I contact various charities and local authorities to rent my spare room to a refugee or asylum seeker, but Mercury is having none of it. I am profiled, police checked, assessed, monitored, poked, prodded, analysed and ultimately rejected for a variety of reasons — dogs that are too big, kids that are under 18, an off-site partner… or my favourite, “because you are in recovery.” Not “because you are in active addiction”, but because I am not. Mercury appears to be not only retrograde, but in recto-cranial inversion. I give up and get students.

Still, it’s a good thing I don’t actually believe in any of this Mercury nonsense, and have gone right ahead with a systems upgrade on my elderly computer, complete with shiny new email address. Two weeks ago. And have I received a single new email yet? Enjoyed a frictionless upgrade, causing me no throbbing temples and gnashed teeth whatsoever? Erm, no.

Have these past weeks been filled with lucid positive communication with truculent teens, on-the-spectrum manfriend, IT helpdesks, airline websites, local train stations, and faraway friends? No again. So retrograde has Mercury turned out to be that I have found it safer to remain mostly under the duvet, for fear of encountering confusion, delays and frustration.

Here, in the safety of my home, I can continue working on my second novel, which is about refugees and asylum seekers and exile, and in which I have been deeply immersed. At least until Mercury went retrograde on my ass — I suspect when I email this column it will ping itself back to me. Repeatedly.


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