Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com rockpool in the kitchen: 01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Burns burns

Burns night came and went ...celebrated on Granny's Canary Island in ways she doubts were ever seen north of Carlisle. But what can you expect of a Burns night dinner held in a tacky cabaret hall at the tackiest end of the tackiest resort on this island, sited next door to The Red Lion Pub ('Good English Food as Mother Makes It') and a cavernous, not to say gloomy Chinese restaurant both more or less empty both times Granny and Beloved went past, before and after their tartan party?

1. "Wee Haggis" appeared alright, to the sound of pipe music: except that it was canned pipe music, simulated on an electric organ. It then appeared on the plates of the diners. Beloved said it was the only edible thing on his plate. Granny wouldn't know, she opted for vegetarian and an innocuous stuffed pepper. Beloved, by the way, having stated indignantly, as a good Scot, that he was not going to nip down to some tourist emporium for any old tartan ribbon in response to the request 'to wear a little tartan', printed up a sample of his own clan's plaid from the internet, and glued it to his (borrowed tie.) Also probably a first.

2. The Gay Gordon in an interpretation entirely new to Granny was presented as 'Scottish Line Dancing.

3, The entire evening was compered by the trendy - and rich -Scots estate agent - the one with the long and curly hair and the trophy Belgian wife. She was decked out in a tartan mini dress. He had exchanged his usual black leather for full Highland kit, kilt, sporran, the lot. His kilt was too low, complained Beloved, who should know. Too-low-kilted Scottish estate agent waxed fulsome (Granny has always wanted an excuse to use that expression) on our Rabbie, etc, reciting poems in impenetrable Scots dialect. In betweenwhiles he performed a brief one man Wilson Keppel and Betty act (Granny has kindly put a link to a site featuring them, in case you don't know of these marvels; she herself regrets being too young to have seen W, K &B except on film) and subsequently, between courses, a not bad series of Elvis impersonations...can't imagine performances of 'Be my teddy bear' have ever before featured a sporran. It proved quite as suggestive if not more suggestive than a guitar. Really.

4. The Moira Anderson sing-alike - in a tartan sash - could have encorporated, physically, three of the real thing. At least. In between performing genuine Burns, Scottish folk songs, traditional and sentimental/pastiche both, in between demonstrating she wasn't Harry Lauder, she led a sing-song in which Loch Lomond was followed by She'll be Coming Round the Mountain; etc. Granny always glad of an excuse to be allowed to sing - a rare thing - did so lustily. Beloved sat looking appalled - it was almost worth the entire evening just to see his face.

Granny enjoyed herself on the whole. Once in a while she has a penchant of sorts for genuine, unashamed - at times sentimental - tacky. This was real, echt, advanced tacky. And how. Beloved does not share this penchant - just as well probably. She might herself get tired of it if he did.

Then this too. The evening also at one point made her cry. Quietly but deeply.

She's been sad the last few days. It is one of the - many - drawbacks of ageing; that one by one your friends are likely to fall sick, in due course start dying off. She remembers, sadly, her old dad at 80 odd proclaiming, mournfully, 'all my friends are either dead or totally decrepit.' She watches even now some of her friends having problems with diabetes, others with crumbling knees and hips, others with blood pressure, bad hearts, so on and so forth. Some of them have had strokes, already. Some are in danger of having strokes. Each night she cuddles her Beloved knowing she is lucky still, knowing that he is - relatively - praying things go on that way. Nothing can be certain. Except that people age and die.

Sometimes they die before they age. She thinks of her own mother, of her twin, both fallen prey to the family devil at not much over 50. She thinks of her dear friend H, died in her early 60's, of complications from cancer nominally, in fact much more, from many years of mismanagement by the National Health Service - that lottery which does some of us proud, others anything but. And now she has to think of her friend J, younger than her by quite a bit; who, it is true, was overweight, somewhat, smoked, a lot, drank red wine, copiously enough, and who might, in due course have suffered in result of such minor vices. But no, mini vices did not get her. She was a woman who spent her life writing - wonderfully - for the young, and if not doing that, visiting schools, talking to their children, teaching them, running courses in creative writing. Granny once partnered J in a residential writing course for 6th formers; a precious experience she wouldn't have missed for anything. And this was the cruellest of cruel things, given J's profession, not just profession, her vocation. That it was not a disease of ageing got her; that instead it was one of the most savage of all diseases, more usually visited on the young. Killing her almost as soon as it reached her. God may be love - or so they say - Granny wishes - but what is certain is that Fate isn't. Fate is anything but love. Fate is a cruel joker, fond of the most savage ironies; as this was.

Granny only heard of her death, belatedly, via the internet. It is one of the penalties of being swept into a new partnership - let alone of being swept away to live across the sea - that you see less of your old friends; that is all too easy to lose touch. She hadn't, lately, been in touch with J; though there had been talk of her coming to this island, to run a course from Granny's house. Granny hadn't yet followed this up. 'Tomorrow' she thought - 'tomorrow' - with what insoucience - no that's much too grand a word - with what idiocy - we assume there will be a tomorrow, not realising that tomorrow may be gone today, may be gone now, already, swept away by fate. Too late, too late, too late. A friend of Granny's told her years ago, after her twin died, that when someone dies 'there is always unfinished business.' The unfinished business with her twin was awful; that in this case was minor, comparatively. But it still feels dreadfully sad. Ever since Friday Granny has heard friend J's voice in her head, found herself weeping for it. She has been angry too; furious; raged raged against her cruel fate. Dylan Thomas may have got it wrong in some respects - it is not always right to 'rage against the dying of the light' - you must in some respects, for your own sanity come to terms with it. But in this case, to rage against the dying of J's light - the manner of it - seems appropriate, entirely.

Do you get used to all this loss - resigned to it? - probably not. Probably till your own last day you mourn it, no matter how accepting of the inevitable. Granny's dad seemed to her to pipe his ever more rheumy eye ever more copiously the older he got; weeping for everyone. As for her, years younger still, on Burns night 2006, she piped her own not yet quite rheumy eye most definitely. It was the love song that did it. Love songs at their best may be joyful but they are also the saddest of all human outcries, most heartbreaking, far more heartbreaking than dirges, celebrating life at its most fragile, most elusive, most transient. The petals of the rose fall even as you watch them; the seas never 'gang dry' nor ever will - the singer and the sung-to are gone aeons and aeons before such a thing is likely.

The song in question, on Burns night, was of course that most perfect and most lovely of all love poems, 'My love is like a red red rose...' 'And I will love thee still my dear till the sands of life shall run..' You don't have to compare someone to a red red rose - you don't have to love them the way Burns loved the lady he wrote for - mere friendship will do it; at the so tender so perfect, so melancholy cadences of that tune you start crying anyway. It's like that.

Granny has heard the song better sung. in less doubtful - not to say less tacky - circumstances; but on this Burns night she thought of lost friendship, of J and piped her eye anyway.

She is making herself cry all over again; oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. She will stop piping soon, wipe her still not yet but potentially rheumy eye, and resume normal service very shortly.

She promises.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Displacement activity; or Kidney Stones etc.

Wonderful thing Google - even if it is letting its Chinese site be censored. Granny looking up something quite different (no, she is not saying what, and no, she was not in search of porn for grannies) came across a journal which boasted an article on. Kidney stones: evidence for Divine Design. She will not give you the reference. If you want it look it up! She's sure you'll find it as edifying as she did. Even it she did not appreciate the alliteration/assonance of the title. (Having just been nominated as Minister for Literature by Caroline, she feels she's entitled to use these literary terms.)

Meantime, she is supposed to be shopping. But remembering her purse was left in the truck which Mr R, her Beloved, took off on a visit to Mrs R for a game of dominoes put paid to that. She could also be doing her Spanish homework - she has just started on an intensive course in order to improve her till now pidgin Spanish. Since this involves from now till late March 4 hours, 3 times a week, shut up in a room with two German women and a Norwegian of roughly her own vintage, plus any one of several Professors (all teachers here are called professors) it is likely that, if speaking less pidgin by the end of it, she will be speaking Spanish with a German accent. Laughingly, her group is called the 'advanced group.' This doesn't say much for the general standard. What is also evident from the list of names of all those coming along to/involved in the project by local authorities on this island to teach expats Spanish is how few of the names are English. Typical of British expats here - the majority - who don't look outside their own community. Shaming really. But no, at this moment, Granny is not doing her Spanish homework. You can see.

On Sunday Granny and Beloved - they are more social these days thanks to Lin - are going to a charity dinner. It's for a very good cause, sending supplies to a hospital in the Cameroons. What they were not warned about - Beloved, at least, as a Scot, should have recognised the date - is that this is a Burns night dinner. Granny has spent her life avoiding such things. She does not object entirely to Scottish dancing but she does NOT like haggis. Nor is she fond of the sound of bagpipes. Beloved who likes both is equally dubious - about the quality of Canarian haggis as about the quality of Canarian pipers. There is also the problem of what he/they wear. As said before formal for him means a new t-shirt (smart informal = a clean one.) Beloved does not own a shirt, let alone a tie, let alone a suit. A jacket will have to do. Granny can fudge something up. But no, she does not possess an evening dress either. All bodes ill. She will report.

Meanwhile: the sun is out. A cat sleeps alongside Granny's laptop. Out in the fields she can see work going on. English farming these days being large-scale and mechanised, it is somehow re-assuring to see people still carrying implements, digging, ploughing, sowing (broadcast sometimes, really) harvesting (potatoes at the moment) all by hand. Sometimes the whole place looks like a Canarian version of the mediaeval Book of Hours, illustrating daily liturgical passages throughout the year with pictures of peasants hard at work in strip farms. (She doesn't deny that the work might be more attractive to look at than to do. In their place, she too would probably opt for the tractor.)

Less reassuring is the sight of Mr Handsome down by the wall starting to erect yet another building related to the donkey. Turns out first monstrosity was only the feed store (WHAT feed?) This is the beginning of the real thing. THE STABLE. Beloved daughter sends Granny cheering pieces from donkey websites. ('A busy donkey is a happy donkey.') Her friend, Dick, in California suggests this: 'the proper name for your donkey would be 'donkey Hotie' you being in Spain and all.'

Hm, yes. Beloved as Don Quixote, perhaps? Handsome as Sancho Panza? Neither would get it really not being literary men, unlike Granny. (See above.) Best thing she can do, one way and another, the only thing she can do it seems, is laugh.

PS. Thanks to you lot, marmalade of last post turned out DISASTER. Seville orange toffee, more like. She was so busy writing this post - and reading all of yours - she didn't take it off the heat in time. GET IT? She is blaming all of you. Sort of. Seville Orange toffee does have its charms though, even if it can't be given to paying guests for breakfast. Except as local speciality perhaps? What do you think?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The story continues

But first, before anything let me point you all to the fact that my friend Caroline, of the wonderful Trivial Pursuit, has been nominated in the Australian/New Zealand section of the Bloggie awards. Visit her; read her; enjoy her. And ABOVE ALL VOTE FOR HER. Because you know - as I do - she's worth it.

Granny is boiling Seville oranges for marmalade. One of her favourite smells. On a wet and windy day in the Canary Islands it seems a comforting kind of activity. The rain over Granny's land is practically horizantal. Means more plants, though. Good. Only problem is that all rain here is like snow in England 'the wrong kind of rain.' System can't cope with it. Roads flood. (No gutters.) Roofs leak (no slope, no gutters.) Electricity shorts thereby cutting off phone water and God knows what else (no proper insulation.) This is not surprising. Rain used to be a much rarer event on this island. The very first time Granny visited it, over twenty years ago, was in the middle of a seven year drought. Even when she came to live here three years ago there was a good deal less rain than now. Plants, flowers, such as grew were low to the ground. These days, the wild marigolds covering her land have long stalks. Main disadvantage - apart from problems above - is that it is also much colder; currently 13 C up here - not much more inside house. Since the Spanish electricity company refuses to allow its Canarian branch greater capacity and since everybody is busy turning on the heaters, at night especially, and during fiestas even more so, Granny's electricity is always blowing. She has - quite illegally - managed to increase her allowance slightly, essential when there are paying guests all wanting showers, to use hair-dryers, not to die of cold. Even so, one appliance too many and darkness falls. Candles to hand in every room are essential. (On ecological grounds being so forced to limit use is A GOOD THING. But it's hard to be glad of virtue when shivering in the dark.)

More animals. (Sorry.) Currently a seven month old tabby kitten is acting as rather prickly neck-scarf. Her brother is yowling somewhere in background. (He's hungry; too bad. Lunchtime is some way off. ) Meet Feline Lorengar (she has the nicer voice) and Feline Manrique (he's prettier.) FH they aren't, but it is nice having healthy cats around after the misery of the last month or so with the ever sicker orange one. And kittens are always engaging - Granny is glad to see them developing their mouse-catching skills around stray pieces of paper, etc, though she'd rather they didn't do so on lurking pieces of crockery; much more breakable; at this very moment a loud crash. (Pause to pick up pieces; CURSES -one of Beloved's own creations; hide pieces; FAST.) A donkey as yet there isn't. The one on offer turned out to be an entire male; ie - to those of you need this further information on the genitals of the ass in question- ungelded. Liable to be noisy at the first sniff of a female, claimed Beloved. Not to mention obstreperous. Granny did go so far as to visit it. It did not seem obstreperous in the least - 'docil' she had been assured: more like 'dopy,' it turned out, or even depressed; it barely showed interest in the carrot thoughtfully provided by Beloved. Granny wondered if it had in fact been dosed with something to make it seem docile. Either way Beloved has given it the thumbs down. Good. Not so good is his mention of the noise made by donkey. This 'rural paradise' (sort-of) is supposed to be a haven of peace. But between two crowing cockerels, two yowling kittens, two barking dogs, and any moment now a braying donkey, quiet it isn't. Bring earplugs everyone. You'll need them.

Anyway it is now all, donkey-wise, up to Beloved. Granny has washed her hands of the matter. If Beloved he wants a donkey, let him have one. He can do the work! She'll confront the goat problem when it arrives. And not before.

She is reminded of her parents a little; also like Beloved full of wild schemes, though less likely than him to put them into action. The pig never arrived for instance. Nor the 14ft dinghy. (A bit difficult to manage that; the nearest water a muddy trickle called the River Darenth, good for sailing paper boats but not much else; the sea a two hour drive at least.) One that did come to fruition was Khaki Campbell ducks, which turned a large part of the garden into a sea of mud and produced eggs that noone would eat. Another time - this was a money-making scheme of which they had many, mostly ill-advised - came the idea of breeding standard poodle puppies.

Granny for her eighth birthday had been given the mother - the runt of a litter from a very pedigree mother, whose father it was reported had won the championship at Crufts. Since she had been the wrong shape, colour etc - the Kennel Club, wrecker of many breeds, were sniffy - she'd been handed over for free. This did not stop Granny's parents thinking they were onto a GOOD THING; as soon as she was old enough they introduced her to a suitably aristocratic mate. First litter, they thought. Two or three puppies, four at most. Sell them for a fat profit. MONEY. (Granny's parents always felt themselves poor; by middle-class standards they were; but not by anyone else's.)

Actually she produced eight. And did anyone want them? Does it need saying? NO! Standard poodles are large dogs; they eat a lot. This was at the time of meat rationing. And although horse meat on which the dogs were fed did not count it was not always easily come by and expensive. (Oh the sweet smell of it that used to float round the house when Granny's father boiled it; not as bad as his chicken food, but bad enough. Unlike the rest of the family, Granny's dad did not have a good sense of smell.) Had they been miniature or toy poodles the puppies would indeed have sold for good money; but they weren't miniature or toy poodles; far from it. Granny's parents managed to find homes for four of the puppies - but not for money; they had to be given away. Four of them stayed on, making five large dogs in all. Never mind, everyone said; they're nice - they were too, all different colours - champagne, orange, russet, black and a magical etherial silver, each lovingly named by Granny and her siblings -and all entertaining to boot. But oh the cost - oh the smell - of the ever-increasing quantities of horse meat. Which they didn't seem to think adequate, even so. Unbeknownst to the family they ganged-up, took themselves off and raided neighbouring chicken-runs - very crafty about it they were - one went inside, to chase the hens out, two caught them, one stood guard. The mother meantime sat helpless in the distance, clearly worried about the whole thing. The chicken owners protested. Some went to the police. The dogs' owner - Granny's dad, ended, inevitably, in the local magistrate's court.

After Granny's father died she found in the book of family clippings that, sweetly, lovingly, he kept all his family's life, a piece cut out of the Sevenoaks Chronicle, their local newspaper, detailing the case. 'It is not only human parents that have delinquent children..' it began. A large fine followed on top of costs, of reparations to chicken-owners etc etc, on top of the fortune on horse-meat. The dogs, apart from the mother, disappeared - the children were told that homes had been found for each of them after all; Granny wonders now if this was the whole truth; never mind. What was certain was that yet another money-spinner - not the first or last - turned out anything but. Her parents were like that.

Having grown up with such eccentricity, though, you can see why she loves her Beloved. Most of the time.


Friday, January 20, 2006


(Warning to animal haters. BEWARE... This post contains little else.)

Granny has returned to her island; which is cold and grey today but not as cold and grey as the London she left. She is sitting wrapped in her red shawl and with her sheepskin slippers on, accustoming herself once again to adding layers of clothing when coming into the house, rather than going out. Beloved still wears his t-shirt and sandals, regardless. They are quite a sight in the evening, sitting by their stove, Beloved, bare-armed, bare-toed, Granny wrapped in her various forms of sheep's wool...

Ah Beloved. Oh dear. Every time Granny disappears to London she wonders, in trepidation, what will turn up in her absence. One time the driveway had been blocked up by a (still under-used) court for Canarian bowls. Another, there was the beginnings of the (still unlit) bread-oven. When she returned from her hospital adventures last November, among other things her ironing-board had been cut in half and stowed, awkwardly, in a previously useful kitchen cupboard. (The ironing-board got in the way, was Beloved's explanation for it; not a good enough reason in Granny's view. Now it gets in the way in previously useful cupboard.) This time the dark hints coming via telephone led her to hope that what really needed doing - eg sorting out the - her - office, somewhat wrecked by being used as first a chicken then a cat hospital - or finishing off a patio which had stayed half finished for several months - was being done. At last.

But no; patio is as ever, office is as ever. 'Then what?...' she asks; at this moment looks out of the window. 'WHAT IS THAT?' A large shed has appeared against the back wall of her land, just along from the chicken house. A VERY large excrescence of a shed, made out of glaring new wood. The figure of Mr Handsome is to be seen alongside it, doing something,

'That?' says Beloved. 'Oh THAT. That's the stable for the donkey.'


You always said you wanted a donkey,' says Beloved.

'Yes, followed by statement that it was not something to be thought of really, in practical terms....'

'Then why didn't you say so?'

'I DID SAY SO. You never listen.' (Latter statement borne out by equally tiresome - if more short term discovery- that Beloved has arranged that a) Thin German Cosmetic Therapist and b) Mr Handsome might go away on holiday on precisely the two weeks, Granny had earmarked - loudly - for her and Beloved to do so, before she has to go back to London for her reconstructive surgery in May....)

'So what's going to eat then, this donkey?'


'What hay?' (This is an island where nothing grows for up to 6 months. Keeping horses, for instance, is a very expensive business.)

'Oh a donkey will eat anything. We (WE?) can just go out and collect stuff in the truck.'

'What can you do with a donkey, for goodness sake, apart from ride it?' (No thanks.)

'It can pull a donkey-cart.'

'What donkey cart? And what for? - we've got a perfectly good truck.'

'It doesn't use petrol, though. More ecological.'

Granny decides to let this sneaky argument pass. She just says. 'Oh and what's it going to do for company?... donkeys get lonely.'

(She knows this because once a upon a time she used to take her grandchildren to feed a donkey called Canela - meaning 'cinnamon' in French and Spanish both, that lived down the road from a house where they stayed in France. It lived by itself in a field and was not a happy donkey, pathetically grateful for the carrots, apples and attention it received once yearly from Granny's family.)

'We can always get goats to keep it company,' suggests Beloved.


Granny has been imagining a simpler future; one in which she and Beloved, free of responsibilities could go away more, the way retired people do. Many retired people. Or else one in which she has time to write more books noone will publish. Now, instead, she contemplates one spent scouring countryside for donkey food, in betweenwhiles hanging out round a donkey and chatting to it to stop it getting lonely (and to leave no excuse for acquiring goats.) Or else riding round, very slowly and bumpily, in an as yet unacquired donkey-cart while passing tourists take pictures of her as an example of a picturesque local. (Memo; when drawn by donkey always wear big Canarian hat.)

The donkey is not just a myth either. At lunchtime today, by phone, the go-between was heard inquiring of Mr Handsome when Granny and Beloved were coming to see it. Obviously Mr H and Beloved cannot be left alone, Granny thinks. What will they come up with next? (One of the worst things is how offended they get - especially the prickly Mr H - when she queries these adventures; when she suggests, even mildly, that they might have consulted her first. 'I've done all this work'.. etc.)

Meantime Granny is looking for another cat - or cats. Island turns out to be full of middle-aged German women rescuing abandoned dogs and cats. The Beautiful Wimp came from one of the canine versions. Granny was dispatched by lovely Pedro the vet to see a feline ditto this morning; who had nothing suitable but has put her on to a compatriot who happens to live just down the road from Granny and Beloved. She is coming round this evening bearing several young cats for them to choose from. Now that Feline Houdini has departed to catch heavenly ones, the mice are too busy turning this house back into mouse heaven to think of following him; there are signs of them everywhere. If no donkey (she hopes) if no goat (she hopes) a cat, or cats, it has to be.

Sunday, January 15, 2006


1. At lunchtime yesterday, Granny in search of culture headed for the Underground, clutching her Tate Friends' card and her orange-jacketed travel Freedom Pass. (Don't mock the latter. There has to be some compensation for getting old.) Line closed for weekend. No trains.

2. She proceeded (with difficulty: see above) to Tate for last chance to catch Toulouse Lautrec. Other people - many - had come up with the same idea. Tate heaving. No tickets. Granny, disappointed (but less so, she suspects, than the two schoolboys overheard outside, one saying to the other in tones of deep disgust, 'I thought there would of been some pictures of naked people') retired to the less predictable pleasures of the Turner Prize shortlist. She was pleased to see a - not naked - Granny featured; she wished this exhibited Granny had won - of course she hadn't. A shed had. A very fine, characterful shed with German writing on it that at one point thought it was a boat. But. The disappointed schoolboys cannot have visited the Turner Prize Exhibition; some bona fide naked bottoms were featured in the very next room. If they had missed them, though, noone else seemed to have done so. They featured on a large proportion of comments posted by visitors to the exhibition. Granny would have expected the tone to be loftier in a national temple to high culture. Silly her. (Not that they weren't fine bottoms. Also finer, Granny thought, than the characterful shed. Silly her again.)

3. After such a catalogue of disappointments (see above) she retired to Kensington High Street needing retail therapy; only at this point discovering that she had forgotten to put money or cards in her purse. It did not need another senior moment to tell her no money, no shopping. Curses.

4. The useful 49 bus taking her from Kensington High Street almost to her front door, she decided to catch one. Kensington High Street was gridlocked. Granny eying 3 stationery 49 buses set off walking, after all. Since none of them had made it to her home bus stop by the time she reached it, this was a wise move. In some ways. It started raining; hard. Had she thought to bring an umbrella? Guess.

(She did though discover 3 pound coins and some coppers in her coat pocket; and so, en route, was able to fulfill Beloved's request for 2 packets of nigella seeds and one bottle of rosewater from an Iranian grocery. Better than nothing.)

Thursday, January 12, 2006


Granny's chief concern in London at the moment is keeping warm; outside. Inside her flat it's warm, no problem. On her island it is the other way about - as in all places considered to have a Mediterranean or quasi Mediterranean climate, as soon as the temperature drops such heating arrangements as exist are quite inadequate, especially when sitting still, writing or reading. Beloved Daughter has given Granny a pair of black sheepskin slippers; not the kind of thing she has owned in her life before. Now, how she loves them; regrets that she cannot wear them around London streets as well. On the other hand she thinks they may be perfect for when she is at her desk in her cold house on her island. (In London she would prefer a sheepskin coat; dream on, Granny).

But oh the pleasure of the wool against her feet. The rise, the glow of delicious warmth. Sheep, skin inside, wool out, have it the wrong way round, poor things. Shouldn't someone tell them?

Sunday, January 08, 2006


Sad news from the Canary Island. Feline Houdini, still tended by vet after his operation, did not survive it after all. He died last night. Granny heard by telephone on a miserably grey wet cold day in London. No she will not say the skies were weeping too. That's a device called 'the pathetic fallacy' much used in nineteenth century literature... But this is the 21st. Let's just say the rain and grey felt appropriate to Granny's feelings, there, then and all the way down in the bus to Bristol with Beloved Eldest Granddaughter. It was raining on the road too. It is raining here in Bristol.

On the other hand, Beloved has a new octopus in his rock pool; Granny hopes he can keep it alive along time; she wants to admire his eyes. Better still, Daisy the Speckledy hen has laid her first egg. Life goes on.... It really does. But how Granny wishes it would still contain too, her cool, orange, maddening customer of a cat, her FH. When she cuddled him before leaving him at the vet's last week, he purred loudly. 'That's because he likes you,' said the vet's assistant.

RIP FH. What is it about orange cats? Why do they all - Granny's anyway - die young? This one was not 4 years old. And his real name - let's shout it aloud now - was Maurice.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


Very small update: Granny is off tomorrow back to UK to greet new great-nephew - dead twin's second grandson, her honorary one. Also to take 3 little girls to the theatre - 2 granddaughters, one god-daughter. Separately. What a good granny she. Back in 2 weeks. Meantime, home at the ranch:

1. Poor Feline Houdini deteriorated and had to be operated on after all. He turns out to have a tumour - status not clear till next week; but operation went well and he's fine so far. (An expensive cat...)

3. Flowers are emerging all over. At least 1o species flowering or beginning to flower on Granny's land. When she comes back there will be many more. Rain is promised - a good sign as far as this is concerned.

4. It is cold. For here. But England promises to be a lot lot colder. On with the clothes, Granny. Shiver,,

Monday, January 02, 2006

An aspirational orange

Here you see an orange which clearly aspires to be a pumpkin; maybe it even aspires to being turned into a coach for Cinderella. Back on Granny's home island it is the pantomime season, after all. It probably isn't the pantomime season on Gran Canaria, the island which this aspirational orange comes from. It is, though, the season for breeding oranges like this one; all quite unlike the neat Valencian breed of orange that have taken over the orange market and fill all the supermarkets in the UK; to the detriment of other orange producers like the Mallorcan ones and the Greek ones. And the Canarian; though the Canarian production hangs on in the Canaries themselves. Even if Granny has never before seen even a Canarian orange aspiring to pumpkindom, they are never tidy fruit. They go their own way -and shape and size. They are sourish but flavoursome. Granny likes them.

Here on the other hand you see a chicken quite happy to be a chicken; she so very nearly wasn't one. Meet Daisy. Granny wishes her photograph was better; but Daisy has a habit of moving at the wrong moment. Clearly she has no interest in being the poultry world's answer to Kate Moss.

Here you see a Beloved also quite happy to be where's he at. Cooking in this case. Making food for the New Year's Eve dinner. Which was delicious thankyou. And included 'HAPPY NEW YEAR spelt out atop a succulent mushroom puree.

And here is Feline Houdini; quite happy being a cat; but not happy at being a still unwell one. Two steps forward; three back. He has taken to bedding himself down in unlikely places; like the bath; or on top of high cupboards up onto which he can jump, but then can't quite jump down from. Granny's new year's aspiration for him is that he returns to being a well cat. ('Stop worrying about him,' orders Beloved. Alas she can't quite manage to. Silly her.)

And here is Granny. Her you will just have to imagine. Wishing she was thinner, more beautiful, wittier, more talented, nicer, once more twin-breasted and definitely YOUNGER. What's new? What's it matter? More generally - more importantly - she wishes everyone - most people - well for the new year; starting with her family; going onto all her friends; continuing with her internet friends. Of the tourists... well she doesn't wish them ill either: or only in passing. She has just been to take the Attic Woman out for a New Year lunch. Unfortunately this involves traversing the national (volcanic) park. Wonderful to view from a distance, but not easy to ride through in a hurry; what with tourists going at two miles an hour in the middle of the road (especially the British ones); or stopping - on bends usually, or the brows of hills - to take photographs of themselves, their spouses, their children, their mothers, fathers, grandparents, uncles and aunts, Old Uncle Tom Cobley and All disporting themselves on lava fields; or queuing up in long lines to go up to the Park Centre to eat chicken grilled on volcanic flames (which tastes no better than other chicken, in case you're interested) thereby turning the road into one lane; or trying to come past above queue the opposite way to you, hooting indignantly; or riding bicycles in gaggles of straining buttocks and beetle hats; or causing exasperated locals to career past the lot never mind if any of the above blocks their view of what's coming the other way. (Dangerous that.) Etc. Happy New Year to all of them too. Really. But somewhere else.

For the world generally, Granny aspires... well peace. etc. What she thinks of these times probably best summed up by the following.

She agrees, firmly, that those who don't know history are condemned to repeat it. Historians therefore should be listened to; Simon Schama is a very good historian and still better writer. She apologises for leading you to so long a piece. Never mind, stick with it. We bloggers. like it or not, are in some respects part of his warning. (Join granny's Iblog anyone?)

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