Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com rockpool in the kitchen: 01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Lifting the World

In passing: Chapters Five and Six have gone up here.Or if you want to start at the beginning, try here. After that... over to you....

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Country and Western.

Twenty odd years ago Granny and Beloved Daughter took a holiday together on the other side of the Atlantic. Beloved Daughter was about to go off to university; the trip was a farewell in a way to Granny's and her life together through her childhood and adolescence. It was a good trip, if tinged, for Granny , with that kind of sadness you start encountering when your children grow up; arriving at a life where, from time to time, you find yourself saying a glad hullo to your adult children, and then, all too soon, saying goodbye. Which is as it should be: you have your life; they have theirs.

In the course of this American trip they visited a weird and wonderful friend in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The friend is an artist and an ex-nun, a high priestess of the God-as-Mother movement. She is also a fervent American. In her usual attire of cut off jeans and jerkin she marched Granny and Beloved Daughter off to the New Mexico state rodeo where she whooped and yelled just like the rest of the audience, waved the American flag and sang the Star Spangled Banner lustily, with tears in her eyes.

Granny will not detail all the spangled lycra jumpsuits, all the spangled Stetsons, the men and women on horses and falling off them, that filled the arena for most of the evening. She will concentrate on one almost - much more - mythic event. The guest appearance of the singer, Johnny Cash.

He was at this point in his career definitely past his best. Clad as always in tight black shirt and jeans, he looked - she is sad to admit - somewhat tubby. Though his voice still was gravelled and earthy he did not sing any of his more rabble-rousing evocations of felons and felony and prison life - At Folsom Prison the most famous example; he confined himself to folksy country and western ballads about such matters as his Momma's Apple Pie. Not stuff Granny much cares for, nor did she then (unlike - by the look of her - the ex-nun artist friend.) This went on for a while. But then he threw up a hand - pointed up to the left of him, spoke into his microphone: I want to introduce June Carter, he said. And with her -THE CARTER FAMILY.

And that was it; the music, the arena, everything and everyone erupted into wild bluegrass hill-billy stuff. Granny and Beloved Daughter were soon yelling, clapping, stomping with the rest. It was enormous, electric, heart-stopping. Granny, writing this, and listening to one of her Carter family albums as she does so, is pretty much rocking now, all over again, remembering it.

Jump forward many many years to last Saturday; to Beloved Son-in-Law's 50th Birthday Party. (No, Granny will say little about what it feels like to have a fifty-year-old son-in-law; one not very sweet word will do it: OLD.) Beloved son-in-law is not only musical but has had a hankering to be a performing musician for many years. In particular, since seeing the Johnny Cash biopic, Walk the Line, he has rather wanted to be Johnny Cash. With a group of friends, he got together and rehearsed a country and western set - as lead singer he'd learned a bit of guitar to go with it. One of the songs was 'At Folsom Prison.' Come the party the group had got it all together, they performed with enthusiasm, not half badly. So far, so expected. But then Beloved Son in Law comes back for the encores. With him comes Beloved Eldest Granddaughter, aged ten. Whom he introduces. They are going to perform together.

Now Granny has expected this. She has heard the BEG performing and thought: she'll do alright. Beloved Daughter has said she thinks BEG may retreat when she sees all the people and not perform there. She was wrong. Eldest Granddaughter performs; and how - belting out 'At Folsom Prison' like.. well...let's just say Granny had not expected this. Beloved child is a performer; she has a VOICE. And how. Granny was almost in tears, so was Beloved Daughter, so she saw was Granddaughter's godmother, standing alongside her. So in fact was Beloved Eldest Granddaughter, who up till this moment probably hadn't known herself just what she could do, but if she didn't believe it had the cheering, clapping audience to prove just how good she was. Her mother had to pick up the pieces afterwards: BEG as shocked as anyone else. Can this be my granddaughter? Granny was thinking. And then; yes. THIS IS MY GRANDDAUGHTER.

She has more than one granddaughter, though. Next thing was she was having to rescue second Beloved Granddaughter, also at the party. This granddaughter, nearly two years younger is not a happy bunny at the moment, for all kinds of reasons. Her cousin's triumph was just too much. 'She's gone and locked herself in the Ladies,' cried Beloved Son, 'I can't go in there. Could you get her out.' Granny goes into the Ladies and knocks on the locked door. 'I'm here,' she says. 'You can come out.' A wail follows. 'But I HAVEN'T GOT ANY TALENTS.' (Second granddaughter is a performer too, in other ways.) Granny spends a fair amount of time explaining that this is NOT TRUE. Second Granddaughter is convinced enough in due course to emerge. Oh the agony of being a child, granny thinks. Worse than being old. Much worse.

But what an evening. She still cannot get At Folsom Prison out of her head. She goes to sleep hearing it, wakes up hearing it. Her only regret is that Johnny Cash did not sing it at the Albuquerque Rodeo. His Momma's Apple Pie wasn't the same thing at all.

PS. There is video of Eldest Granddaughter performing. Granny will enjoy that. Fortunately there is also a lovely video clip of Second Granddaughter dancing very nicely. Granny will enjoy that too, and she does hope it will help make Second Granddaughter feel better.

PPS. Beloved Son-in-Law was given a banjo - no, whoops, sorry a UKELELE - for his birthday. It'll be George Formby at the next party no doubt; Granny doesn't think Beloved Eldest Granddaughter - or Second Granddaughter for that matter - will be joining in with this.......not quite yet, anyway.

The blushing bride she looks divine,
The bridegroom is just doing fine,
I'd rather have his job than mine,
When I'm cleaning windows.


Friday, January 26, 2007


London's mixed nature is always the more apparent to Granny when returning from a more mono-cultural place - Berlin, for instance, let alone her island. Last night she went to pick up a newspaper from the Indian newsagent that carries local papers from more counties in Ireland she ever knew existed. She then tripped a few doors along to the Chinese Bakery-Come Takeaway where you can get whole meals for £2.50 (she went for chicken in black bean sauce with rice if you're asking) served by an aged Chinese man round and smily as a Buddha, who calls everyone, young, old, male, female 'Boss.' From behind him in the kitchen came the odd word of Chinese - no more than that; the whole staff, just like the Indian woman in the newsagent were watching Coronation Street while they worked. Granny wonders if being hooked on Coronation Street would count no less than the cricket taste as evidence of assimilation. She doesn't see why it shouldn't.

It's cold. Granny is wearing: one sleeveless thermal vest + one short-sleeved thermal vest + one t-shirt+ one purple polo neck sweater (cashmere - from Uniclo - heaven) +one big, green woven wool shirt, twenty years old from a woollen mill in Oxfordshire, (nicked from Beloved the moment Granny saw it; her favourite garment these days; her generation started the trend of wearing clothes belonging their male admirers - in her young days it was the only way, short of surprising the assistants in men's clothes shops, to get big sweaters in good dark or bright colours; she sees no reason to change this habit, even in a more unisex age) + a black fleece jerkin + her black sheepskin boots. (The one's that AREN'T slippers..). When she goes out she adds a thick black coat. This just about keeps her warm. Thinking of global warming - and, of her fuel bills - she does try not to up the temperature indoors; this is good of her. But she is not yet quite geriatric enough for hypothermia to be an issue, so has no excuse not to try, at least.

As you would guess, London is not sitting in a heatwave. Nor is it literally arctic. But it feels quite Arctic enough to her, thankyou. Which does not mean she did not enjoy opening her window two mornings ago and seeing SNOW. It so surprised her, her jaw, literally, dropped. Yes, she knows that's a cliche, but almost for the first time she realised that it does actually happen. Her jaw unhinged itself spontaneously and fell; she could almost hear it.

The snow had all gone by mid-morning. Living in the Canaries may leave Granny feeling the cold even more than she always did, on the other hand it does make her appreciate the glory of that ephemeral whiteness. But she of course was not forced to go out first thing and brave the predictably chaotic transport system. She spoke to a friend shivering on a platform, having waited twenty minutes for a District Line train. Lucky Granny on the other hand, layered in her wool, was safely indoors and happy to stay there.

She's off here there everywhere over the weekend. Which means she won't be back here before Monday at the very earliest. Meantime she has put up two more chapters on her unpublished story, here. Just to keep you happy. OR NOT. It's up to you.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

new steps

Well, friends. Here's a how-de-do. Granny has been thinking (you must be thinking; well she doesn't usually. You might be right..). She's been thinking about this for a long time in fact and not done anything about it. Only, two days ago, she read about someone who's doing something similar. So maybe she will try it too.

Two years ago a new book of hers for teenagers was sent round a number of publishers, all of whom turned it down. Granny being an arrogant writer didn't think it deserved that - no, she doesn't think they were rejecting George Eliot or Zadie Smith, the bastards, (the publishers she means, of course) - but she thinks this book has its merits. She's going to publish it here, chapter by chapter. Or you can get it via her profile.

It's called Lifting the World, for reasons which will be entirely apparent.

It seems to her a funny way to publish stuff. Not least it will come out back to front. But she can't help that. Life is back to front too, sometimes. Or often.

Anyway: she'll risk it. What adventures.

On top of that - thanks to Beloved Son - she can now sent messages on her mobile using predictive texting. Wow. She's growing up. Or down. A bit like Merlin in TH White's unique book The Sword in the Stone. Which she recommends you read now, if you haven't.

It's cold. She's cold. And off to cook her supper. (Cauliflower and pasta cooked the Sicilian way with anchovy, pine nuts, raisins and saffron if you want to know. She has dear friend in Berlin to thank for that. Yummy.)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Berlin Blues

Here is Granny who had planned to beat post Berlin blues by leaping out of bed and taking herself swimming; instead she is still in her dressing-gown watching Murray play Nadal. No apologies. Why the hell should she apologise? She is a doddery old pensioner, isn't she? If this post comes out jerky it is because she will be retiring to watch/groan/or as at this moment cheer; Murray having just won the third set...whoopee. Really she is only writing it to offset her decadence; marginally anyway.

Sorry no fairy story yet. She really does have to wait for her feedback. This story is not about her.

She thinks she said somewhere that all the rain not falling -alas - on her small island was falling on her big one. She was wrong. It was falling on Berlin. She got wet. So did Beloved Son. Beloved Son has longer legs so walks faster. Granny has much experience of trailing along behind males with longer legs. In this case, as always she ran often to keep up, which was wearing but better than getting still wetter. Going around with your adult children can be tricky at the best of times; as she said to Beloved son at one point, crossly, it is the role of ageing parents to irritate their adult children. This is one reason she elected to take him to a city where a dear friend lived, thereby easing the pressure on both of them. Even despite the ordeal by mobile phone (Dear Friend's nutty girlfriend on one hand, Beloved Son's work crisis on the other saw them taking turns at furious texting or disappearing into corners, phone pressed to their ears - Granny can't quite decide whether this was worse or better than the interminable searches for working public phones which she remembers on holidays in the past) cool was mostly kept, company mostly enjoyed, rain or no rain a good weekend was had by all.

This was her third visit to Berlin. The first was almost immediately after the wall came down; mostly, by then, it hadn't come down. By her second visit, the following year, it mostly had, but its course was still obvious; where it had been was wasteland still. Now, 16 years later, but for the carefully preserved sections it would be hard to know it had ever been; new buildings have filled the space. Both those times too the difference between the consumer glitz of West Berlin and the run-down lack of it in the East was striking. Then the only reason to visit the East for reasons other than simple curiosity was to go to museums or the opera; there was no incentive to hang around otherwise. Anything but. Everything was grey; the delapidated nineteenth century buildings; the concrete blocks built for the workers by the GDR. Friend living in the revived East Berlin said he could hardly believe it could have been like that. Oh but it was. This time round Granny found it hard to believe herself looking at the elegant buildings painted pink, yellow, cream, whatever. Only the odd building left untouched hinted at how it had been before. The consumer fest has appeared too; it has hit in particular Unter den Linden and Friedrichstrasse, the street that leads from Checkpoint Charlie. Etc etc. But it has hit in a way which hasn't spread into the back streets. And which seems more restrained somehow. Guyana Gyal asked in a comment on her last post if she'd got into country outside Berlin. No, she didn't. She did 16 years ago and found a country untouched by consumerism in any way. No ads, posters, nothing, the few places to eat - where the elite GDR lot used to go - like those in the Germany she encountered in the 50's as a child. She is told that it feels pretty much in a timewarp still. But she is only reporting what she heard from someone else. She hopes that's right. It's good to know that there are still parts of Europe where you are not bombarded by people trying to sell you things.

West Berlin itself - or the older part - Granny is not talking about the world corp festivals of glass sprung up nearer the wall - looks tacky now. They pulled down most of the older buildings left up there and what they put up was not distinguished and hasn't aged well. The East is altogether quieter, pleasanter. And in parts much more distinguished; the survival of the nineteenth century entirely to its advantage. In the West the more interesting architecture pointed out by the guide on the tour bus almost all belonged to embassies, all newly built and a credit to their countries. Guess which one wasn't? No, don't - even the Queen, apparently, was not impressed - or rather, the guide said 'not amused'. This is the more ironic when almost next door are the wonders done to the Reichstag by Sir Norman Foster, no less.

There are all the new government admin buildings of course. There is also a huge new railway station made mostly of glass, held up by steel. One large piece of which fell off in the storms of last week (let's not talk about them; Granny, moaning faintly, was flying through what felt like the middle - imagine being on an erratic rocking horse a long way from the ground - not nice. ) The station hasn't been opened long. Nothing fell off any of the old buildings, pointed out a taxi-driver, gleefully, breaking into the English conversation in the rear of his cab. (Imagine a London cabby breaking into a conversation behind him in perfect German. But then all the cabbies, she noticed, spoke good English, except for the Turkish ones, whose very German was dodgy.) Apart from which - no, Granny will not canter you round the museums and picture galleries visited or anything else for that matter - she will limit herself to mentioning the odd fact that ninety percent and more of the women having dinner in the same restaurants as she did wore black. Oh and that it rained a lot; which she has already said - rained so much it almost needs saying twice. And that compared to London the streets in East and West alike felt empty.

ANDY MURRAY HAS LOST. Ah well. It was an amazing match. Granny declines to hear the commentators discussing how many break points he missed and now has no excuse not to throw her clothes on and go swimming. Toodle-oo.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

wet suits....

Granny is sorry for being so uncommunicative ... she's in London, chasing here there everywhere as usual and trying to avoid getting wet. Very difficult when all the rain that hasn't fallen on her little island seems determined to fall on her big one; and when the wind chases her everywhere. Last week she flew from small to big island in howling gales - not nice; tomorrow she is promised more gales when she flies to Berlin with Beloved Son to visit an old friend. Granny is a nervous flier at the best of times; she does not enjoy being thrown up and down. Maybe she's being punished to adding to her Carbon Footprint. (Even though she's paid her due for what it's worth.) But this is, after all, Beloved Son's Christmas and Birthday present, in part, sort of. Which justifies it; doesn't it? A visit to Blackpool mightn't cheer him up in the same way. Plus Granny likes giving presents she gets to enjoy too. She hasn't been to Berlin since just after the Wall came down. It will, she suspects, be very interesting; not to say different. So that's two reasons for not putting up more posts. The third reason is that she is writing something long and complicated which needs someone else's eye on it before she can put it up here. Sorry to be cryptic. It's a fairy story - but only of sorts. All will be revealed next week. But meantime, for now, this quick hullo and goodbye will have to do.

Friday, January 12, 2007

wet suits

Odd this blogging business. Stats, comments etc. They rise and fall like the sea. Granny never gets enormous amounts of hits - but why some days does she attract as much attention in an hour as she does in a day other times? The most recent example of that was after she'd headed one post 'Old Goats.' Did it have some esoteric sexual meaning? She googled 'Old Goats' to find out- and got no esoteric sex; just a joke, some science, a firm called Old Goats.com which makes screen doors, and so forth, and ditto, only .net instead of.com that appears totally bizarre and doesn't make it clear in any way what it is - very coy this site even when you get into it; Granny suspects has something to do with Satanism. (What do you think?) Which would explain not only its reticence, but possibly also her added hits. If those extra visitors were after Satanic rituals they did not get them. Heaven forfend. Certainly none of them commented. Oh the marvels of the internet.

Anyway; here's more old goat goings-on for anyone interested. Granny's adventures with her Wet Suit. Or wet suit. (See if that attracts new readers. Anyone for rubber?)

So why does she need a wet suit? She will tell you. Granny likes to swim. Or rather she doesn't much like to swim, what she likes is maintaining some degree of fitness, well-being, plus what's left of her figure, and given this, given that the only gym at all nearby is full of macho males heading to be ironmen therefore not, she thinks, for her, she swims. At the local sports' centre to which during the winter, come all the pro cyclists, boxers, etc , from all over Europe - she encounters them pounding up and down the pool, but not usually in the slow lane patronised by her; so that's all right. It's outdoor this pool; in such a climate that's alright too - more or less. It is even heated. But in the winter, for her, it is not heated enough. So in the months before Christmas, she decided to kit herself out. With a wet suit. Labelled small to medium. Um. But wet suits have to be tight. So that was alright. Wasn't it. Or wasn't it?

Winter came very slowly this year. Then she went away. Then she got sick. Then the weather got warm again. Etc: etc. It was only last week therefore that she decided that the wet suit was called for.

Oh dear. Like she said. It's meant to be tight. But she thinks she's supposed to be able to get it on. Well she did get it on; eventually. Hauled lower parts up over rather more medium than small thighs; difficult - very. Hauled even more laboriously over ditto sized bum. More than difficult. Hauled it far enough up for her to wriggle in one arm. Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear. But that was the easy part. With one arm IN, trying to put it round to get the other arm IN remained more like other arm OUT for a long time while Granny hauled, wriggled, writhed, cursed, hauled again, wriggled some more, writhed some more, cursed a lot more. Even when she did manage to have both arms in - more or less - and hauled up more medium than small size upper arms, she then had to ZIP IT UP. Ouch. She doesn't think she'd have achieved it at all had she been possessed of two bumps in front rather than one. And even then it sagged down the back of her neck, and trying to do up the neck meant strangling herself. (That's another one for those in search of kinky sex sites perhaps; it should do wonders for her stats.) Also; she knows wet suits are meant to be tight otherwise they don't do their job, but aren't you supposed to be able to breathe in them?

And after all this she was meant to be able to swim?

Well; holding her breath all the way she drove down to the swimming pool. She took off her outer garments, hoping noone would notice the sight that appeared from underneath. Plunged into cold water. Which really was/felt less cold. That was the success part. Swimming wasn't. She struggled up one length with great difficulty. You need to move your arms to swim. Moving her pinioned arms was like swimming through well-set jam rather than water. The water meanwhile came all the way down her back because she hadn't done the neck up. This was not what it was supposed to do. She got cold. She was not supposed to get cold. Was she?

Anyway to cut a long and tedious story short - like her swim - she did get a swim; some of it; sort of. Then she climbed out. Next problem - guess what? - was to take wet suit OFF. One shoulder was easy. Two? Forget it. She put her clothes on over the wet suit, drove all the way home and waited, shivering, for Beloved. Taking it off with his help was a doddle; relatively speaking.

Her mistake? Buying a wet suit sometimes before Christmas, and thinking she'd still be able to get it on afterwards?

Or buying a wet suit at all? Possibly.

Or leaving Beloved at home in the first place? (Except he wasn't at home.)

One thing she knows for sure; she is not going to post a picture of herself wearing it.

She's now in London. She will do her healthy exercise in a heated pool where no wet suit is necessary. If she does enough of it, maybe she'll be able to get into wet suit - and out of it - more easily, back on her island. Or maybe she won't.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Three Kings, four camels and a man in a hat

Well - here you have it; the man, flashing eyes and all - and the camel, circulating gently round him. But now Christmas - at last - is over. There were two men and a van up by the roundabout this morning dismantling them. Christmas does take a long time to go away here. No relief straight after New Year. You have to wait for the Kings to come and go with their presents and their sweets. All over Spain they come by different means: limousines, floats, Rolls Royces, boats, horses, helicopters. Here of course, camel island, guess what? They have a ritzy camel version down in the main town, glitter, floats, you name it. Up in Granny´s town, out in the sticks, is the plain version. Complete with a blacked-up Melchior; the sundry Moroccans, Senagalese etc arrived illegally by patera - open boat - now resident don't seem sufficiently resident to be drafted in. Also complete with drum band, stilt-walkers and mini Gigantes - people wearing large heads. All of them wearing all too visible jeans and trainers underneath their costumes, regal and otherwise.

None of the kings seemed used to camel riding. One was distinctly nervous. The camels were led by camel men from the breeding place, togged out in kaftans. They got themselves together at least half-an-hour after schedule. This is normal here.

The children, all carrying plastic bags pick up the sweets the kings chucked at them. Here they are. The sweets are all boiled sweets. Granny - being a granny - sighs and thinks of their teeth.

The Kings have now deposited their bikes, skate boards, barbie dolls etc etc to all the lucky children. Granny was not so lucky: she did not get so much as a telephone line. Oh yes, Telefonica came and went. The line came for a while. But it also went. Again. Granny has resorted to the local Internet Cafe. She suspects this post, photographs and all will not be as well-formatted as it should be. She has lost one picture for sure. Sorry. It was either that or wait for Telefonica - again. ¨24 or 48 hours.¨said Madrid when rung for the 5th time. Not good enough said Granny - to no avail. The Madrid operators vary from the helpful and clued-up to the unhelpful and unclued-up; this was - how DID you guess? - the latter.

The Kings didn´t bring any rain either. Meantime it has been warmer than usual- and sunnier - which has its merits, it must be said. On the other hand -island should be green now: it isn´t, Granny´s land should be covered in flowers: it isn´t. The rains might come - some are cautiously forecast for the end of the week, but only small ones. Not enough probably to allow the planting of the already long prepared fields. Granny won´t be there to see the rain, the planting/ not planting anyway. She is off back to the UK on Thursday, on family business as usual, and won´t be back on the island till February.

Next time she will be posting from London; assuming she has a working connection there. Hasta luego.

Update. Local Telefonica turned obliging, if in impenetrable local accents, which swallow every consonant into some inseparable soup of sound. Are baffled, despite, first (vainly) having attacked part of drive with a pickaxe, then, equally vainly, urging reluctant Beloved and still more reluctant Mr Handsome to shift very heavy bookcase, full of VERY heavy books (Beloved's) so that they could get at the entry point of phoneline. It turned out to be in perfect order. So now what? They leave promising to come back. They didn't. But phone currently working. Good. Granny uploads missing picture. Tomorrow, with or without a working phoneline, is a new day.


Saturday, January 06, 2007

Nicholas Hellen +?blackmail

This isn't a proper post. This is connected with a blogging world campaign against a totally disgusting piece of journalism by a Sunday Times journalist, Nicholas Hellen. The Sunday Times you may know is part of Rupert Murdoch's stable; what can you expect of anything/anyone connected to that turd. Who has defined journalism for the worse ever since he got started. Everything following The Sun has been on a track, downwards. Blackmail of this kind just about touches bottom. Let the name of Nicholas Hellen be mud among us all.

Thanks to Guyana Gyal for putting me onto this - and many others thereafter. The more of us out Nicholas Hellen on this one, the better. Keep his name on Google shame.... And let's all shout for Abby Lee, the Girl with the One Track Mind. (And what an entertaining one it is...)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Old Goats. And young

The Thursday before Christmas, first thing, Beloved said: ‘Mr Handsome and I are just going down to the village in the truck. We won’t be long.’ Granny did not take much notice. Beloved and Mr H from Blackburn are always disappearing on errands of one kind and another. A little later she saw the truck on the land, but thought nothing of this, either: or nothing beyond ‘More bloody materials for the putative goat pen.’ And – ‘I wish they wouldn’t drive the truck onto the land. It degrades it.’ ‘When I’m ready,’ had been – yet again - Beloved’s response that very morning when she asked him when he was going to get his goats. After so much time, she’d begun to think – hope - the time would never arrive. Silly her.

Next time she looked out of the window at what had been originally the donkey house on the far side of the land, she saw something moving in the enclosure. Had Beautiful Wimp got himself locked in there? More wishful thinking; though a similar colour to parts of the BW, the animal she saw was not the Beautiful Wimp. It was…no, not a donkey, but.. ‘A bloody goat,’ shrieked Granny, at the very moment Mr Handsome arrived in the kitchen behind her. Mr Handsome looked between bashful, awkward and amused. ‘None of my doing,’ he said. ‘I know what you think. But I can’t get into this. I just do my job. You’ll have to talk to him.’ A classic excuse if ever there was one. And did he have to find it so funny at the same time? He was right on one thing: no use talking to him. But Beloved, alas, was not among those present. He’d already sneaked off to do his teaching on the other side of the island, having decided - probably rightly - that coming in to say goodbye might not be prudent. And that facing the music later might be easier too, because, in his absence, Granny was going to the airport to meet aged bachelor cousin – his – and that Granny’s response if not muted by time, would necessarily be muted by the presence of the aged bachelor cousin – his: damn it.

Altercation was indeed, much later, conducted in furious whispers, plus the occasional – shush – equally furious - from one or other of them. ‘But I didn’t know you didn’t want goats,’ claimed Beloved with a familiar kind of smirk, the kind men have when admitting to hanky panky with some new woman, halfway between guilty and smug; disgustingly smug. ‘You knew I was getting them. Why did you think I wanted that cheese? And you were asking me when I was getting them only this morning. Asking what I was going to feed them on?’

‘Only to point out the problems. And the expense. If you didn’t know I objected why were you so sneaky about it? Of course you knew!’

It was not much comfort to Granny to think afterwards that the adulterous smirk contemplated new adventures around the mammaries of females other than human; a rather different kind of faithless. But still, in her view, faithless. Especially in view of experience two weeks in; of Beloved’s twice daily disappearances – one of them early; even on Christmas day; even on New Year’s day. (No late mornings in bed these days -not that there ever were many; Beloved is not the kind of sybarite who likes to linger on the pillows with coffee and the Sunday papers and so forth; more a siesta man, him.) And one of them late. And there they stand, now, still, Granny’s two relentless, single-breasted (a bit like Granny that, she thinks) rivals, one between pale brown and cream-coloured, the other, smaller, prettier, a mixture of black and white. There they go spending their days in that impregnable Colditz of a run – Mr H and Beloved both promise it is impregnable - it had better be – on the far side of the land. Granny can see them now, from where she is sitting. But wishes she couldn’t. (And no, till Telefonica has been, she cannot offer any pictures.)

Let’s make it clear. She has nothing against goats as such. These are nice goats, as goats go. They are beginning to sniff her hand and accept offers of apple pieces. The thought of two kids – little black and white nanny goat is almost certainly pregnant – has its charms. She just doesn’t want them round – or at least so close to - her life; which she wants to be nice, uncomplicated, both her and her Beloved free to come and go, while they still can like normal retirees of their age, not lumbered with Beloved’s view of himself as farmer, in a small way. (When she explained this image of himself, why, up at the market, Beloved was buying the kinds of woven straw band people on this island use to contain their newly-made cheese, the comfortably rotund seller, sitting there in her local hat and skirt and scarf, rocked merrily, could not contain herself for laughing. Clearly such an Englishman had never come her way before. ‘Why should it be so funny? And I don’t see myself as a farmer anyway?’ said Beloved, a little offended. ‘Because it is funny; and you do a bit,’ said Granny. ‘IT IS FUNNY.’ Inasmuch as she is amused; now and then.) And by the way; the fresh cottage cheese for breakfast each day is nice, too. She has to admit it.

And this; the aged bachelor cousin – his – was a nice enough man; a sweet man even; but not entirely house-trained; the kind of bachelor who sits around like a baby bird waiting to be fed; by someone else. And without any obvious enthusiasm for anything, except the legal niceties by which he earns his living; (though he did appear to get fond of Granny's cat.) Granny might have been more patient with this if she hadn’t spent the week of his stay feeling mildly ill what with her lurking bugs and all. If she hadn’t she might have made use of the words of one of those bossy Christmas advice columns offering advice among other things on what to do with shy guests: ‘invite him to join in the preparations! Give him jobs' !! Etc etc. But things being as they were in her head, nose, belly, she didn’t feel strong enough to invite shy bachelor cousin to inspect her back kitchen; to put him to sorting out its by then fairly evil sink. Etc etc. He did - twice - sit in front of the fire selling peas bought in the local market, otherwise he remained, in the sitting-room, in the dining room, with his beak open. Taking anything that was offered, more or less.

And this too, she was thinking afterwards. Maddening as Beloved is he is a wonderful madman; an enthusiast; funny. She cannot see shy bachelor cousin – his - maddening her with goats or anything else. Beloved’s likes and dislikes may drive her nuts but she is glad he has them. Really. Some of the time.

She has a piece of fruit now– some pear- all ready. Maybe it’s time for her morning visit to the goats. Which have names now, by the way. They have been called – at their request, not Granny’s - by and after Beloved’s daughter’s Beloved’s daughters, if you can work that out: Cabra Ruby and Cabra Isabel, in other words. And no, she cannot be heard summoning them by name in her not so bell-like tones. Even though, for better or worse - a bit like marriage - there they are, till death - theirs, his or hers? - do them part, by the look of it. MEN.


Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Yes everyone. This blog has fallen to pieces. Granny fell for the blandishments of New Blogger and went for the new form of her template. Result: all her links, comment system, hit counter etc etc, have disappeared. Oh yes, Blogger promises, you can access your old template and get codes etc.... like hell you can. Or if so the how is not clear; Blogger help denies all knowledge. So far Granny has managed to replace one picture...in the wrong place. If anyone has wrestled with the same problems... please help. (On the other hand - not via comments - via her email.)The air is blue with curses - all the more because telefonica has not been.....and the phone keeps throwing her off. Loud screams. AND LOUDER. Time for a strong drink.

Update...!! She got it all back. No further innovations for her. Relief all round

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