Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com rockpool in the kitchen: 05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

water water everywhere

Strange being in England now; green as green and simultaneously awash with water and drought orders. Odd that. As for the long hot dry summer they keep promising; it hasn't appeared on stage yet, it's not even in the wings, it's back in the dressing-room more like, waiting to be called and making use of the time betweenwhiles to snog winter. Granny has the heating on; and wishes her sheepskin slippers were not languishing back on her islands. As she continues trying to prove she exists, is solvent, was and isn't married; or about to be. Or dying of green monkey disease or rearing vampires or Harley Davidsons for large profit, via the black economy (if only.) Etc. Etc. Etc. Wearisome. And all simply to move house.

Meantime; back on the island, her Beloved is making "improvements in the kitchen." (His words.) This is ominous. Very. Has the donkey house been moved indoors? Are there goats stabled under the sink? Or has he cut yet another ironing-board in half? She will wait in trepidation and patience both, she's not in a position to find out for some time to come. And anyway, back there the trade winds are blowing, the clouds gathered overhead, the island withering away. Not her favourite time of year. Apart from missing Beloved, she's not entirely unhappy to pretend she's a Londoner again, just for a while. The green will warm up in due course. She just wishes it would hurry up.

Oh and it's youngest granddaughter's fifth birthday today. Granny, bearing gifts, will advance on a church hall this afternoon to find twenty-five other five year olds - or about to be five year olds. Beloved (absolutely) Daughter-in-law never does anything by halves. Though she too no doubt looks forward to the day when an acceptable birthday party is three other girls + DVD for a sleepover, as with the new ten year old at the weekend. Ten, Granny remembers, is the breathing space between infancy, post infancy, the stroppiness of seven and eight years olds and the advancing horrors of adolescence. There may not have been sleepovers in her child-rearing days - or not under that name; someone should do a thesis on the changing terminology around children - no doubt they have. But the deep structures don't change much; those she remembers well.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Eeeny meeny miny mo

Granny remains in a wet and windy England. Riding down to Bristol on a bus yesterday, looking out at the lyrical, sexy, outrageous green of everything now, in May, made her think that much as she always loved it, she could never have appreciated just how lyrical, sexy, outrageous etc it is if she hadn't exiled herself lately to her dry dry island.

Enough for now. And she's in a hurry; it's eldest granddaughter's 10th birthday today. So just one more brief thing. She spent the two days before coming west recuperating from her very minor surgery with beloved younger friend, in what used to be her own house. (Another story.) And wants briefly to recount a conversation with the BYF's younger daughter, aged 5. Recounting cute comments of her surrogate or real grandchildren is not her thing, generally. But she cannot resist this.

She was baby sitting and seeing the 5 year old and her 9 year old sister into bed.

Five year old, climbing into her bunk. 'I want to ask you a question, P. If you had two daughters and were told you had to kill one of them, which would you choose?'

Startled Granny: 'I don't think that would ever happen.'

'But suppose it did. Suppose you had to? How would you choose? Supposing one was eight, and the other one five?'

'I couldn't choose. I'd love both of them too much. I'd have to do eeny meeny miny mo.'

This wasn't good enough. 'But don't you think that you'd have to choose the older one, because she'd lived longer, so it would be fairer?'


Didn't Granny say in a previous post something about the grown-up stuff being for children now? This one had it all worked out.

Oh and PS. Granny alongside eldest granddaughter watched Eurovision Song Contest for the first time in many years, surprised to find how much of middle and eastern Europe appears to have started speaking in American English. (Or anyway, singing in it.) And did she imagine it, or did the Russian entry actually have two Swan Lake dancers in the background? And was that really a corpse appearing out of the grand piano? Or is she just getting old?

She and the granddaughter watched Young Musician of the Year before that. And Doctor Who. It's called being eclectic. Or maybe just cross-cultural.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

child, bear, camera

Granny is in London for the time being; spared Beloved's trials back on the island (cat-disconnected television, no picture, airlock in water tank resulting from road works, no water; small trials in the scheme of things but tiresome at the time. Beloved sounded fed up, at least. Though Granny's absence may have had something to do with that.)

She herself spent yesterday being a real grandmother; muttering to herself distractedly; 'child, bear, camera' 'child, bear, camera.' This was her day to take middle granddaughter to the theatre. It was just her luck that it also happened to be middle granddaughter's weekend to mind her class bear and to write up his diary. Much as Granny applauds such a creative approach to education, she kind of wishes it had not been her fate to make sure not only middle granddaughter got home in one piece - she was and is a child liable to disappear over the horizon on some project of her own the moment her parent/grandparent turns their back - but also to make sure that the almost as irreplacable bear and the more replaceable but expensive digital camera on which she had to record the bear's exploits did too. Child, bear, camera, Yes.

Bear got photographed on train, outside Tate Modern, inside Tate Modern, drinking granny's coffee in the Tate cafe, viewing St Paul's, crossing the Millennium Bridge, and finally, outside the children's theatre, the aim of the expedition; where Granny, grandchild and bear then viewed an extremely jolly piece about death and ageing..... (Grandchild said when asked by her parents 'it was about a baby that kept getting lost and a granny who died.' No comments were recorded from the bear.) Actually the piece was brilliant. Since the advent of physical theatre, and animators like Pixel in California and the Wallace and Gromit people, taking a child to the theatre or cinema is no longer the feat of endurance it used to be, when Granny's own children were little, let alone when she was. She is now delighted to have the excuse to go, even it means dragging one or or other child along with her. (And, by the way, the pleasure includes some mainstream stuff. Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, now done without the spoonfuls of sugar delighted her too.) In such matters the world has grown up, it seems to her. At least when it comes to children. It's teenage, not to say adulthood has opted for the infantile, all cheap thrills and cheap sex. Forgetful grannies? Dying grannies? Grave yards? Kids don't turn a hair, and an audience full of grandparents entertaining grandchildren, appreciated it better than most. Yikes. Not just 'YIKES!! - it's the name of the piece, which she can't recommend to you, alas - those of you of any age- within reach, because today is the last day. But she would.

It was altogether a better outing than those of the two days before; the first spent treading the pink linoleum - or pink carpets - of the Royal Marsden Hospital. No, granny is not ill again. She is merely having the results of last year's operation tidied up, in a minor way; she has opted to remain one-sided - the alternative, reconstruction, was not only iffy in her case, but also meant being wedded to the hospital for some time to come. SHE CAN'T BE BLOODY BOTHERED - even if it means being wedded instead to that charming thing called 'mastectomy fashion' (ie discreet necklines and artfully shaped pieces of rubber) for the rest of her life. But WHAT THE HELL There's some advantage to ageing after all. (Another was finding, last week, that most Spanish museums are free to 'pensionistas', saving 7 euros or so a pop. Whoopee.) One or two days of the pink linoleum; not to mention the company of the mostly monochrome people waiting, either looking depressed or desperately cheerful (the patients) or the blue-striped or white-coated ones looking desperately busy (the medical staff) is more than enough.

The second day she spent having needles jabbed into her (acupuncture.) And then, as if that hadn't demonstrated her reality enough, proving she existed to estate agents, mortgage lenders, lawyers. So on and so forth. It's one of the features of modern life - terrorism may not blow many of us up but it does add to the delights of the bureaucrats and those like our dear Mr Blair currently bad-mouthing human rights legislation....So get out the passports, the driving licences, the electricity bills, the demands for council tax. Yes. Granny may be one breasted. (That ought to do for 'distinguishing marks' surely.) SHE'S ALSO EXISTS ON PAPER. Doesn't she?

Another feature of modern life: she noted. As she sat in the estate agent's having her documents scrutinised, a stream of young women accompanied by older ones came in and went out. Seems that the only way to afford a flat in London these days as a first time buyer- assuming you're not a young man in the city pointlessly shoving money around - is to have a rich mummy. Or daddy. She didn't have either - but HER first house, bought in the dark ages with husband no 1 cost -wait for it - £3000....Leading her usefully in her more cash-strapped years to the life of a dragon landlady. As well as to current adventures in property. What would she do now, she wonders? Migrate probably. Just like now.

The sale of her flat- she now has a reliable buyer - the acquisition of the council one -goes ahead. Much work will follow. As far as her island is concerned Granny has gone outside for a while. Child; bear; camera. She may be gone for some time.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Beloved thinks a kestrel has been nesting on the roof. Granny isn't so sure. But she loves the idea of it. Such unhomely birds, kestrels; the look in any hawk's eye comes from another planet. To have one at home on your roof. .... Feeding young, encouraging them to fly. Oh yes. Certainly there is a kestrel here driving away ravens, perching on the balcony, hunting over the land -the way it dips down deep means that the hawk hovers eye-level sometimes, just outside her kitchen window. But a nest? TOO much.

Last week she was in April London - full of hot scents blown on cold winds. Unreal - to her. Here looks like burnt summer already. Last week too, come to remember her writer friend, she sat in a large not very full church surrounded by writers and publishers, all of them dressed in the way people do for these kind of events - black? too much maybe? Bright colours? ditto. Black with a coloured scarf/tie then? That will do. The effect a bit like an aviary full of grey/brown/black birds with the odd red beak, or yellow crest - rather melancholy, but not totally downhearted. Granny, also melancholy, but not quite downhearted either, felt this not just for her friend but for the fact that the whole group turned into her into a kind of Rip Van Winkle. This was once her world - inasmuch as any world ever was/is; she is not a joiner. But is not her world any longer, not really. She'd somehow, what with this, what with that, left it behind a long time ago. It is one aspect of growing old(er), the estrangement from once familiar worlds; full of ghosts now of those who are no more; full of life that no longer has much to do with you. (This is not a complaint, you understand; just a resigned comment.).

Many faces she recognised and couldn't put a name to - no doubt a few of the half recognised faces thought the same of hers. Some people had aged, greyed, dimmed; others looked as if they had been sitting in a box since she last saw them ready to be brought out for such occasions, looking like new. Readings from her friend's work, mostly very funny, set the congregation laughing. As did the address from one of the doyennes of this particular part of the writing world, narrating her sometimes prickly relationship with the dead writer. Bob Dylan followed Bach. Hymns were played but not sung - no hymnbooks. (Did they think reading them too much of a busman's holiday for people whose job was to write and read? Or maybe they just dreaded hearing them sing.)

At the end while the congregation sat wondering who would move to leave first, a voice rang out across the church; no proper tune at first -just the equivalent, in American musicals, of recitative in opera. Everyone looked puzzled. And then, suddenly, there it was, a great burst...'SIT DOWN SIT DOWN SIT DOWN SIT DOWN, SIT DOWN you're rocking the boat...' Granny laughed out loud here; so did several others - the ones not looking stunned. As an epitaph for her awkward friend - as prickly in the rather awful manner of her death as in her life- it couldn't have been bettered. The tune has been playing in her head ever since. The only problem is that the lift of joy, not to say exhiliration, which always overcomes her when she hears it, will now, always, have running through it a darker, sweeter thread of grief.

Ah: kestrels. Such unhomely birds.

Granny did not stay for the post ceremony drink. She sloped off and bought some t-shirts in a shop in Regent Street, conveniently close by - the not too decollete kind of t-shirts that don't dip too deep and show what's missing. Not that she cares about that but other people, the squeamish sort, might.

And now here she is again, though due to head off again on Thursday. Sorry about that. She'll be back in a week or so, she promises. But writing from London, for how long she does not know. Today she should hear whether or not she is about to move house. Property buyers - many of them - are much more awkward than her dead friend. And in their case entirely without scruples. She sighs and awaits her fate.

See you all soon.

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