Sunday, 30 September 2012

Low Water Lie In




Sleep is a tide and the moon is full. Eyelids slip, disappear under the swell, swept deep. Travels, toils, triumphs pass; the languid limbs move, quieted, under the liquid weight. On dry land, covers are kicked, bodies shift, sprawl, knock pillows to the floor.
As the light turns, so does the tide. Minds shiver up from the lunacy of dreams. They come up in silvery pieces, in a shoal of bubbles, up to the shallows, to bump the shore, to nestle into rock pools where the remnants of dream are caught.
When this mermaid finds her legs, she makes coffee, remembers only the emotive rapidity, the cogent force of it. 


Saturday, 29 September 2012

Interplanetary Seaside



Feels like distant memories, like we’ve been stuffed in cryogenic suspension and travelled half a galaxy since we last came to the beach. And since an outpost of family is camping near Woolacombe, that’s the side of the sea we drive towards.
It would be easy to never leave home. We live in a beautiful place, have lots to do, are not bored. Who could feel sorry for us, stuck in our beautiful rut? And yet, it surprises me, always, the change in a change of scene: no matter how good I am at looking, new things open my eyes wider.


Mr takes his mini-mal into the pitch and trough of white-topped ocean, me and Boy take a handful of dogs, walk, ogle, untangle leads.


A landscape of textured craters rolls out flat, rolls into a lunar haze. At the water’s edge bumps an alien pod of jellyfish. Boy catches digital images. My mind shutters click, over and over; look, the pools are sky mirrors, see the clarity of that cloud shadow, the turning angles of waves, the reptilian bump of the beached tree trunk.


Mr comes out of the silver sea, sparkling.
Reconvened on our homely pitch of sand, snuffling Boy sits, warmed by Fat Beagle. Bouncy Beagle bays, because Dog is off lead and flaunting. The rest of us; Misters Mac and Thorn, myself, Abbey Princess and Kirsty Pickle, watch Little Grandson roll down dune slopes with a towel dried Grandad. Curls of air wisp at our cheeks, takes down the heat of ultraviolet pulses. Under gravity fixed bodies, the grains of a vibrantly uncertain surface. 


Friday, 28 September 2012

A Surprise At Treniffle




Dog and me, jogging in the lane; no other human or canine in sight. In through the window of Luccombe Cottage a television screen is filled with talking face. Two horses play in a field, spin like dizzy kids. A bullock somewhere is making a cow-trumpet noise; me and Dog exchange a look; such a fuss. We peek in through the gate. They are running around, pelting helter-skelter: as they see us, they stand still. Then, eyebrows already twitched, still pondering this mystery, we are at a place where the lane is deeper than the field level, a few paces from Treniffle. Ten feet above, a steam of breath, a line of bullish hair flanked by soft black bovine ears; this is all we can see of the creature. Stand in the pit of the lane: yes, this could be a labyrinth. And even without a minotaur, clouds are of a shade mostly described as ominous. 


Thursday, 27 September 2012

Extract


Been etching at the novel today. 
Protagonist Anya, throughout the book, tells her story mostly in retrospect but also in the present tense, because of how the past clings. She takes us to relive directly, using italics to denote her own direct thoughts, and indirectly by allowing a third party narrator. Today's big scene happens around 1973, although the events could have happened any other year. The next novel I might have a go at has more period detail. (I love how this makes it seem; that I just slap and dash my keyboard, throw a couple of hundred pages together.) This is what I edited and wrote and edited today, with the odd pause to discuss sheds and eat. 


Anya stares harder at the horizon. In her chest, a cold heaviness presses, as though she is turning to stone, like one of the granite maidens in the old stories, cursed for dancing on the Sabbath, and the little flecks of silver mica will be her frozen tears.  Frank drives on. The road shrinks, twists, the sky darkens.  They turn off the road and onto the lane that leads to the cottage, the cottage with its curtains pulled firmly shut, lights shining within. As though it was still the night that she had run away from it, escaped out of the door with a cover story and a uselessly thin coat.
'I'm staying at Mary's house tonight.’
‘Have you done the coal?’
‘Yes, I’m all done.’

Well, I'm not sixteen anymore, she reminds herself, I’m Mrs Frank Bench; as the handbrake grates and the engine shudders to a halt.  Frank leaves her in the van while he knocks on the door. The door opens, light spills out; she can see the back of him, shaking hands, raising his hand in greeting. He turns and waves her in.  She picks Michael up from his carrycot, which is wedged in front of her seat, clutches his blanketed bundle in front of her, aware of trying to draw strength from the warmth of him.

'Well,' her mother says. ‘Here you are.’
‘Hello.’ Anya is shivering.
‘Come on in, all of you,’ Dad puts his hands on Mum’s shoulders, moves her gently aside. ‘Come on in and let’s get the kettle on, and have a look at this grandson, shall we?’
‘Thanks mate,’ Frank says, ‘I could murder a cuppa.’ He puts a foot over the threshold.
‘Boots!’ Mother points.
Anya gets a glimpse of Peter, leaning in from the living room. He catches her eye and disappears. Frank leans down to unlace his workboots.
‘Wasn’t thinking,’ he says, ‘Sorry about that.’
‘In you come love,’ Dad waves Anya in. Her shoes slip off. Dad squeezes Mum’s shoulders, then steps forward to fold Anya and her baby son in his arms. He’s so warm. Anya leans into him. He smells of coal smoke and sawdust. She doesn’t want to move.

'You can stay for two weeks,’ Mum blurts, ‘we have a lodger booked in, in a fortnight, and we just can’t cancel. It’s our living, you understand.'
‘It’s good of you to help out,’ Frank pats her on the arm; pulls his hand away and stands awkwardly in his socks.
‘Well.’
Anya can’t see her mother’s face. She doesn’t need to.
‘At least you’re married now.’
‘Come on through.’ Dad draws them to the living room, where a fire is chugging in a wood burner. ‘Like it? Cuts down on the soot dust. Burns just about anything, as long as you keep the flue in check.’
‘It’s good,’ Anya chews her lip, smiles at the boys who have grown taller and who are staring at her as though she's been resurrected.
‘More of an electric man myself,’ Frank admits. He sits on the sofa, holds his feet up to the heat of the flames.
Dad plucks Michael from her. 'Come and meet your nephew, then, uncles! He won't bite!'
Michael blinks at the new voices.  Peter and William edge closer. Peter has shadows on his chin, like he has started shaving. William’s hair has that darker line he always gets in winter, when the sun can’t lift hazel strands from the deep brown.
Peter looks at his nephew, looks at his sister. ‘Got your eyes,’ he says. He sounds like a man.
‘Can I hold him?’ William reaches out.
‘Yes,’ Anya nods.
‘You can sit down too, love,’ Dad says; ‘right, Will, that’s it, keep the little chap’s head up.’
William grins. Behind him, on the wall, Anya sees that her school photographs have been taken down.
I'm not going to cry, she promises herself.
Mum brings in a tray of tea, sends Peter for the biscuit tin.
William has seen her looking at the wall: with his back to Mum, he rolls his eyes at the pictures. Anya's smile flourishes.


Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Death By Midnight Espresso



I recall a quote from Girl: ‘having my child is like having a liquidiser, only I don’t have a lid for it:’ I am following a trail of cat litter, shampoo and odd shoes to where Baby is feeding Dog an envelope.
Baby gets all her work done, but mine gets neglected today.
When Baby is gone, I’m tired, I register fully how tired I am, but it’s not the liquidiser effect, it’s really the coffee I drink too late at night and my brain bounces in my skull and wakes me up well before the alarm.
I have three optimum writing times and late is one of them, the only one today I will be taking advantage of.
I love the cloistered dark; a throw back to the intrigue of impressionable youth, to the image of The Poet: the cold, hungry soul alone in a garret, nourished only by words, inking intensity by the flicker of a goose-fat candle.
Poor Poet, too romantic to sustain a life; the blood flecks of tuberculosis have ruined your cravat. I can poke fun at the appeal, you see, just not quite let it go.
But if I don’t stop drinking coffee at midnight, a classic spiral descent is waiting.
An interim glass of wine tonight; rose petal tea tomorrow. Not unromantic, not unsustainable. I can put a lid on myself. 


Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Lovely Time

Sumo Baby, looks like a shoplifter. 


7.30am. A wood pigeon clatters in the oak. I look up at the tree, it’s all knees and elbows. The lane hedges are tall here, they channel vision. I see a cloud, anvil shaped; a western anvil with a curled out lip; and the parallel colours of a rainbow section. It curves from a cloud, like the leg of a cosmic lizard.
10.30am. Girl and Baby and me, we drive to Tavistock, park by the river, swim in a pool. Baby has a sumo swimsuit. She splashes my face and rubs it; there you go Granma, your face is washed, in the big sink. I put 20p in the machine to dry her hair, she leans her head into the warm airflow, looks quizzical; this is a peculiar telephone. ‘Hiya!’ She listens but no-one answers, they are just blowing air on her. She chuckles like a pan boils over.
1pm. The afternoon comes with darkening cloud and the washing on the line is a risk. I dare myself to do it. I keep a weather eye out. I forget all about it because I disappear in my writing, because I’m in Bristol and it’s 1972. Nextdoor chickens break the reverie, breaking out of their pen and raiding the garden. Never mind, the washing is blown through, nearly dry; there is a Rayburn to light, runner beans to pick, a pack of prawns to stir in a pot.
7.30pm. Steamy espresso, in the cup that sits by my desk, electric lit. Outside, crows start up, resemble flakes of night, chipping from the earth.

Sunshine in a jar



Monday, 24 September 2012

Skin

(A picture of Girl in a wig- doing her 50s starlet face but not wearing mink.)


Soft cloud this evening, the sort that I want to pull down and wear as a cloud fur coat. This image bumps into another, swings it from shadow to conscious surprise. 1981: the full length beaver skin coat arrives in our house; the way I remember it, almost like it had come to stay, like it had brought its own monogrammed suitcase, arrived straight from the funeral of a relative. We couldn’t turn it away, because we were related, because it was bereaved. Fur was a huge taboo. To kill something you don’t eat, to plunder nature for callous profit? It definitely arrived with baggage. Inevitably, it was an object of wonder. When the house was empty, I took it from the wardrobe; it had a fine hanger, carved wood, maybe cedar wood. The lining was satin, smooth as a liquid. I put my hands on the rich opulent decadent fur. I understood why my Gran always said ‘fur coat no knickers.’ You would want to feel this against your skin. You could lie furled in this softness, the cold could not touch you. It was heavy on my shoulders, when I dressed in it, it made me think of story characters; the Snow Queen, Cruella De’vil; and it smelt of moth balls and oozed history, and most of all I thought of the tale of the Sealie Wife: seal folk come ashore and step out of their skins and if you take their skin they must keep their human form, but they pine for their seal skin and when they find it they will run to the sea, even leave their children behind, so strong the call, the connection.

(A picture of Lily Tequila, circa 1984, wearing fake pony skin.)

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Socks



No sight of the sun in the mist on this morning. Day is a spillage of grey light. Mist separates into cloud and rain. I would be almost in Bristol, by now, I calculate, if I could have afforded to take my Second Dan grading. Offset disappointment with a cozy bedside coffee. I’ll just keep training, I think, the money will turn up. Sigh, because my cup is empty.
With reluctance, add a waterproof layer. From the moment I have put on socks, Dog has bustled between me and the door- socks means boots means a walk means happy Dog.
‘Well, if I was in Bristol, I wouldn’t be here with you in the rain, would I?’ 
Dog takes this entirely positively, and we tread out to the wet world.
The coffee was lovely, but not much of a breakfast. Realise I am hungry just as my boots leak. Okay, I say, the hedgerow will give me breakfast. And can I find a single blackberry? Hmm… Okay, I say, I think it goes like this: the universe is made of energy. Energy that flows is energy that works. A grouchy mind does not flow. If I relax, my blackberry breakfast will appear. A stream of rain winds down the hill. Flow. A stem heavy with fruit does appear: every one of them tight and unripe. It is funny. We cross the brow of the hill, and then the hedges get generous. My fingertips are crinkled from picking so much wet fruit. I eat handfuls, not just the blackberries, but honeysuckle and nasturtium flowers and wild strawberries. This morning, I am here, humbled, happy, eating wild strawberries in the rain. Dog wags her tail at me. She always knew it would turn out okay.  

Socks- one of the many cheerful things in life.


Saturday, 22 September 2012

Discovery



Fine mist opaques, obscures. On the fat trunked ash there are several stark dead branches. Silhouettes like this are where ogres come from. On the lane, a soft carpet of plop. The risen sun, a concentration of brightness in the white sky, has heat, but the ground is a drop colder than yesterday. On the thick slate chunk of the pantry windowsill there is the skull of a light brown fox, maybe the oddest thing we have cropped from these hedges. At our old house, we famously found a whole Land Rover in the undergrowth; that has been the most surprising thing. A 1964 model.
The mist sneaks back to the river line while I’m making coffee, while I set the washing machine singing. Its song is rumbly and full of pauses, very modern stuff. I have a well documented adoration of the machine that washes my clothes. When its song spins to a finale, I slither out the wet cloth, lump it in a trug, lug it to the line. A transformation need only be simple. Wet cloth, pegged to line, under the sun and the slapping wind, becomes dry.


Friday, 21 September 2012

Cyclic Stink




Across the light blue dressing of new road surface lies a layer of slopped dung, bumped from a series of high-sided trailers, jigging along behind tractors, from the muck store to the cut fields. The thing I recall most about my day is how it smelt. Not pleasant, exactly, but reassuring: the cyclic nature of it. Which part of the cycle you focus on, that’s up to you.
By day; and that I am happily relating stench demonstrates the truth of this; the writing, the editing and the bout of illustration all goes well. Today I do not need rescuing by a Buster Keaton spider or culinary hypnosis. This evening I stand outside, under a sky that would be clear if it weren’t for all the stars. High beats and low bass sound out: a party in the direction of Treniffle. The air is fresh, and stinks. Spread my hands palms upward, fill my lungs.  


Thursday, 20 September 2012

Kitchen Triangle



If I tell you I have been writing and editing today, the words are tidy, the actions sound entirely civilised. But I feel like I have been dragging my intestines out. I feel like my brain is so swollen with story it’s not healthy, it’s gone too far. Impatience growls, rattles the sharp points of my teeth.

Big House Spider climbs the woodchip paper; loses his footing several times, dangles by a leg or two, clowns me from this perturbing desk fug.


Time to get out of my chair, clatter some pots in the kitchen. Soup is not on the menu today, and on our budget, the meal plan must be respected. Macaroni cheese is the plat du jour, so I can simmer up some sauce to soothe and settle this story-cholesterolled mind. Opening the fridge and surveying the size of the cheese block Mr brought home; it was on offer, of course; that should ease the growl and get me grinning.

I take a cheese cleaver to the cheddar brick, take the cross section to the grater, pare it down to crumbs. Fat slaps in the warm pan, loses shape to heat. Flour sifts, a cloud of it, a dry drizzle. Under the paddle of the catalyst spoon, molecules bond. Into the paste milk drips, incorporates, the pile of cheese tumbles; stirring gets hypnotic. Somewhere in the triangle of medicine, science and magic is cooking. 


Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Curvilinear



Furling mist in the valley line this morning, heralding afternoon heat.

We stand a while, trace the unseen river, until cold jabs us to a brisk walk. Arm hair bristles. Extremities are chilled and spiky. Stolid bullocks, legs askance, are rendered part ghost in the haze. The sweetcorn field has no edge; might be infinite.

Washing is pegged above fresh mowed grass; blows hot and cold in the afternoon tussle of sun and breeze. I’m sat at the picnic table, paper weighted, drawing a sketch of stylised waves. Mr is snicking out lengths of ash sapling, to neaten the garden boundaries. He fetches me a cup of tea, a circle of clear bronze in a flat-bottomed cone.

The dogs need a second walk.

Wild strawberries grow, just past the curve of the turning to Treniffle. We should study the geometry of this curve; I think; we should replicate it, to catch and keep such a measure of sun that persuades midsummer plants to flower and fruit in September. The berries are a clear toned red, bobbled with seed, barely the size of a fingernail. To find them, it is best to squat and peer up, under the bow of the leaves. Those that grow above dog leg height can be eaten straight from the hedgebank.

Syrupy tang, unequal to measurement, makes a fizzy sweep of tongue. 

No picture of a strawberry- this is Fat Beagle- he loves to eat

And this is Dog, saccharine sweet...




Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Pootling




Today’s weather is loose blocks of summer heat. Cold wind blows through the gaps. Some people have a favourite season; I love best the play of seasons in flux.
We have a day off work. We think: a change of scene is a healthy act.
Fat Beagle can’t jump into the boot space of my car. We have to hoist. Dog leaps next to him with a minimal gloat. She prefers the back seat but it’s full of Girl, Baby and pram. Mr has the sandwich backpack in the front footwell, on top of a collection of stuff I always forget to put anywhere else: three newspapers, a butter knife, two bungee cords, an empty water bottle.


At the edge of the Bude canal we undertake the slow paced walk known as pootling. Except Dog, of course, who prefers swimming along side, in the waterway, in the thin deep mud of the neighbouring ditch. Consequently she changes colour many times. Fat Beagle takes an unintentional dip, miscalculating his centre of gravity. Dog slips into the water with comparative grace, sometimes needs a heft up a steep bank. She hurls herself in a spectacular belly flop at the sight of a passing duck. Baby says ‘duck,’ applies it to all floating birds. The geese don’t seem to mind.



In the play park, Baby kicks off her Wellington boots and finds out why one should not stand at the end of a slide. She cries and then she rides a wooden frog.
At home, I ponder the day, mull the change of scene: centre on the pootle pace.



Monday, 17 September 2012

Inexplicable Acts Of Spider




I see Big House Spider on Sunday morning, running away from the laundry basket. Furtive is the word that jumps in my mind.
I forget about it, because there is Baby, breakfast, Dog, Fat Beagle, more breakfast, an incident with Cat and a load of washing. And washing up, and don’t touch information- Rayburn hot, Fat Beagle’s bottom unclean: important stuff. Eventually, Baby, both Dogs, two Grandparents, a pocketful of poo bags and a pram hood balancing plastic pots for blackberry collecting, are out in the lanes. Fat Beagle trundles on a thick lead, Dog whips in and out of badger tracks, Baby sings to the sway of the leaves. Mr regrets short trousers. Nettles bustle in the base of the hedges.
It might rain, it might not. We might fill the pots, we might not. Maybe the child will cry, the hounds will misbehave. One step at a time, we stroll, spying out fruiting stems, under the heavy grey sky. The pot lids are pressed on. Through translucent Tupperware, baubles of blackberries bulge; I play with words, stow the tubs under the pram, take off my raincoat. Get home and I feel like yawning, like stretching. Rest refreshed Baby feels like climbing stairs.
Big House Spider, in the corner of the top step, faces inwards. His legs are hunched.
I forget about it, and I don’t really know the gender of the arachnid.
The way to work is convoluted; there has been a crash on the Bude road. We must pick our way down farm lanes, solemn, hoping folk are not so badly injured, not so badly traumatised. On return, we drive past the wreckage: one car, one motorbike; at the road edge, a swept sad rise of glass, metal and mud. The detritus of how lives can change.
At home, food is prepared. The table is cleared, I light candles; after eating, we are going to watch a film. I need to change out of my work clothes now. Big House Spider is still in situ. I wonder if he is ill. I wonder if he has just stopped functioning.
Pudding is the last of the blackberry and apple crumble; there is cream left over, and custard.
Mr, Boy, me and both dogs settle for viewing. Dog takes an erratic dash, under the table, round a chair, sticks her face under the bookcase. Big House Spider appears on the wall, hiding in a shadow. Furtive, with a hint of exhilaration.




Sunday, 16 September 2012

Lily Stock



Promise of the morning mist held through to evening. Much food chewed by many people, sat at the picnic table, under scrutiny of three puppy-eyed dogs. Between Baby, six other Family Guests, plus the three of Boy, Mr, and me, also the three dogs, Rabbit, Cat, two tents, the Rayburn, the washing, blackberry picking, cooking, washing up, tea brewing, wood chopping and the ongoing construction of a lean to shelter, barely any quiet seconds tick by. It’s the loveliest kind of busy. By the evening our total numbers have waved down to four people, two dogs; responsibilities diminished to checking the Rayburn, putting Baby into her travel cot.
While I wait for the overtired protest mumble to drop revs, I plan to have a bath. Now the Rayburn is kept lit, there is hot tap water. I envisage the stove as a domesticated volcano, providing scalding springs. I plan to lie, like a spa tourist, in a room of steam, with a glass of chilled apple wine, eyes closed, senses open, limbs succumbed to heat. I plan to tie, with a chiffon ribbon, a muslin bag of mineral salts and home dried rosebuds, place it into the pouring water, the molecularly excited water. I will be pinked, cleansed, unperturbed, fragrant as the stock for a floral consomm√©. 


Friday, 14 September 2012

Rich Rumination


Millionaires, in some currencies.

The value of things is not the same as the cost of things: that is not such a strange idea. Dog and I have returned this morning from a priceless walk- she flushed a deer from a thicket; intense, graceful, precise springs took it across the field before my ‘wow’ had finished forming. And, I have been interrupted from this writing by the crude brrring of our cheap pink plastic house phone, but it turns out pertinent. My mother and stepfather will be arriving tomorrow at lunchtime. Recently Mr came home with a bargain pack of steaks: cost, 89 pence sterling. I foresee steak sandwiches being popular: my mother says, knowing how low the budget is here, not to worry, to keep the rare treat for ourselves. But the value of the pack is greatly increased by sharing, so she is convinced. She understands, and is bringing bread.
To know the value of things, of people, of moments, makes for a happy life. Not such a strange idea. But, does one actually have to be struggling for costs to maintain any spiritual or artistic integrity? This is my glass ceiling. I think I should like to strike it a piercing blow. I think, with a better income, one has the opportunity to do more good in the world. I have a monstrous thought that the role of the true artist is to suffer soulfully for a full lifetime so that the people with the fat salaries and sorrowfully wasted souls can suck up that soulfulness and gain some equilibrium. Which is unfair- I’ve met plenty of rich people, they are as mixed a bunch as any. The buck, regardless of cost or value, stops with me.
I’ve learnt so much from being on the low end of the economic scale, I hesitate to shift, yet one of the best lessons has been to always extend the comfort zone, not to stagnate. So today, metaphorically, one is wobbling on a chair working out how, exactly, to punch out a ceiling and land neatly in a pile of gold. 




Thursday, 13 September 2012

Autumn Holiday



First edge of day pokes at the dark, first tendrils of winter creep in and pinch. Two forms of crane flies are appearing all over the house: six pointed star shapes stuck on surfaces, wiry dead maquettes rolling in drafts. They aren’t any trouble, unlike the houseflies, who care not, they never did have a sense of unwelcome.
The Rayburn is lit. The hob kettle makes a whistle like a deflating balloon. 
Big house spider scouts the kitchen. Tea steam gets its soothe on.
Day spreads out wide and sunny. Blackberries picked, hot from a suntrap, burst on a surprised tongue. Heat haze haloes the stalky horizon; draws us out from shade and provision, to walk right through it. Two jets holler so low; I check my hair is not on fire. Dog’s tail skips one beat. We kind of laugh at each other.
Last night, the rain’s static hiss on the windscreen, it seemed that winter would just turn up in a sudden lump. But here we are, skipped back, wide and sunny. 


Wednesday, 12 September 2012

1970: Prologue


{Some fiction for today- the prologue to the novel I'm scratching out... Anya is not her real name. She is a real person, interesting, to me, as someone who epitomises the mining of strength from difficult circumstances. You don't have to suffer to find strength, that's not the message I want to promote. I loathe drama, actually, but for a story conflict is useful and since it all happened in real life it's a kind of recycling. The constant renewal of a determined life, that will be the crux of it. 1970 is the year, not the title. Finding a title has taken as long as writing the book, so I am being mysterious about it.}




The curtains are closed. A breath of night air flares one edge, unnoticed. The windows always rattle. Ink scrawls, slowly, over paper.

In the myth of Sisyphus, it says he is condemned to pushing a boulder up a mountain, watching it roll down again, and pushing it back to the top, he has to do this task forever. His story symbolises hopelessness, frustration, hard work, work that is never finished, it just goes around like the eternal boulder.
I think. In my opinion. It could be seen as?
Moss- something about moss not smothering the stone????

Anya pauses the pen. Her eyelids are sliding. This essay is not going to get finished.

‘Getting my stuff done is a MYTH- unfinished stuff is a SYMBOL.’

She zips the pen into a cloth pencil case, shuts the rough-work notebook, shoves both into the gaping mouth of a school bag. She checks, again, the timetable she has taped to the edge of the dressing table mirror. Science. Magnificent. An unfinished write up on catalysts to hand in to another disappointed face. She looks in the mirror. Behind her she sees a closed, white gloss door: an impressionist reflection of a girl locked in solid paint. 



Tuesday, 11 September 2012

September Rose



Boy is talking and he knows I’m not fully engaged in listening. It’s a pre-agreed deal, that he may speak of anything but his mother’s mind is feasibly busy reconstructing aspects of modern life in hope of restoring loveliness and wonder to the whole of the world, working out whether a dark or a light wash should be next entrusted to the beautiful fantastic washing machine, remembering left from right at the roundabout, that sort of thing. He tells me if I need to listen. I am rapt attention then. But for now, I drive, Boy thinks aloud.

I see the roses. Against a white wall, last sun is shining, it touches the flowers, the warm peach flowers, they glow; the warmth of it stays with me. The most beautiful thing: how I can hold the thought of the September rose, how this epitomises the idea of memory, the idea of resilience, the calm sweet balanced glow of remembrance.

At the school meeting, the proposed trip to India is expensive, for us, not for what it has to offer. This evening Boy has eaten chilli noodles, building up his spice tolerance. One of the parents wants to know of safety precautions. I look at Boy, who is growing out of his name. I look at the slides that give flat presentations of great surges of humanity and architecture and history. Look at the teacher who promises, of the main palace in Mumbai, ‘ a jaw dropping moment.’ That reaches my ears as something worth investing in. How exactly, I am uncertain; but what future is certain? Last of the sun slips away, we walk across cold dark tarmac, unlock the car. Neither Boy nor I need to speak a single word.




Monday, 10 September 2012

Queen Of Infinite Space


‘O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a
 king of infinite space—were it not that I have bad dreams.’ [Act 2, Scene 2]


Dog and one dreamy owner strike out over the thin pipes of the cut wheat field. So easy here, the space so open, thoughts roll out over the landscape like distant thunder. They don’t even form, just roll in fuzzy atmospheric waves, undulate like deepwater weed, dip through elemental metaphors without care or constriction. So much space, with a bit of a run up, flying seems perfectly feasible. Hmm, brain interrupts the reverie with a tap of common sense; the wind is likely to deposit you in the quarry. No flying today. Never mind, I console my flumped imagination, remember how last night a steam liner sailed you to the top of a mountain and there was a coffee pot that never ran out? Dog and one whimsical owner scamper round the haystack, laughing. They find a slab of wood, it looks like a pulled tooth. Rain comes, hits up that smell of damp earth while we point paws and boots towards the front door.
On the way to work, tyres make a pleasant sandy crunch over the new road chippings. We open windows in the hall, warm from exertions, see the window frames fringed with raindrops. They catch the light of street lamps, catch our likeness in miniature. I think of Hamlet, crazy in a nutshell, in his snare of stale dreams; I think of that and count myself a queen of infinite space. 


Sunday, 9 September 2012

Let All The Children Boogie And Make Jam



Hoist the blinds, view from the window, on bared soil, crows as fat as seals rake up bugs. I note how we have woken to a world made of misted shades, to a subtle, evocative depth of field. Also, giggle: from where the pots are placed to catch the growing rays of sun, it seems that I use my car to grow basil.
Outside, I sit at the table Mr made, working on an illustration. Look up to a sky, and if love were a clear uncomplicated shade of blue, here it is. And then the kettle must be filled and heated: here are our guests, our first official new house guests, welcomed in with steaming tea and bowls of bolognaise. 
When bowls are empty and bellies are full, we traipse the lanes, dropping berries into tubs, pointing out items of note to inquisitive sisters. This is a hazel nut; honeysuckle flowers can be eaten; this is the skull of a fox; a quarry is where stone is cut from. 


They are like kittens, two different kittens. One that pounces upon an answer, plays with it, drops it, moves to the next pounce. One that sits quiet, absorbing information for later employ. Several hours, a couple of miles, two sessions of Dog recalling, 4 pounds 8 ounces of sun-flushed fruit later, we need another pot of tea. There’s barbeque smoke to prompt, to dry heat handcrafted burgers, to cram into bread buns; there’s sauces to array, spoons to summon, and paper plates. There is wine pre-chilled. Under the stars, there is acoustic guitar, the centre of our weekend. Mr H, for one night only, plays Bowie, unplugged. Mr, me, Mrs H, the inquisitive Little H sisters, we lean back to listen. The more we stare, the more stars are appearing; innumerable to the point of ridiculousness, joyful to the point of hilariousness.
Bleary morning comes; the kettle is refilled. I hear the wolfish wind sprint across cloud face. Indoors, the tall pan is fetched down from the cupboard top, and the Little H sisters learn of making jam, boiling up the blackberries so diligently mined from the lanes. When they leave, they leave with three pots of jam and four eggs from the Nextdoor Chickens.
Mr and I head for work. Daubs of black wrapped bales in the cut fields recalls the night sky.
Let all the children boogie, I think, and make jam.