Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Drake Circus Dramaturge

Warm wind strolls down the wide city street, carelessly spilling scent: damp water fountain, frying onions, spice, some eye stinging thing that might be called perfume, a simmer of old bin, traffic fumes, baking bread, coffee steam, syrup. Beyond the dust and smell of streets a series of double doors admit the public to the steel and glass sky high wonder with the smooth floors, where shops line up indoors, where the street odours must sneak at the edge of the coolly conditioned air. A grey clad force with bright armbands and earpieces keep a presence. Nobody runs up the down escalator: but this is a calm time of day. Maybe in the afternoon when caution and tempers are thinner there will be drama.
Past the bag selection in Primark two friends are walking, leaning confidentially close.
'I can't stop thinking about him.'
'His girlfriend-'
That's all that was overheard: one snippet of a story that seems plain enough. Yep, drama anon.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Contact Pants Conundrum

There is weather today, I do note it: take a few moments to reckon the size of a cloud (big) and the frequency of rain (sporadic.) Centre of my interest though is a stack of magazines. Not the fashion kind. This is martial arts research. I'm not even sure what it is I'm looking for, but intuition calls loud.
A range of old adverts skew some amusement. Contact pants, for example. Pants are not trousers where I come from. They are underwear. Professional contact pants: improved smirk value. But why would a person be likely to purchase a grappling hook and a lock pick set? For specialists and hobbyists only, the blurb assures. Guidance on the pheromone spray that attracts women against their better judgement? I doubt it works any more proficiently than the mysterious potion that defines your muscles while you sleep. But, then: I wonder is some sprayed on this paper? What was my intuition thinking, making this ghastly shout…
Tea break time.
There's a lot of words in this stack, I needn't be distracted by sneaky machismo.
An interview with the late Jim Kelly is happily chanced upon. He was a real dream follower: single-minded not close-minded, not afraid to work hard or suffer judgment. Someone you can think of while you are training/writing/earnestly in pursuit of a design.
When I put my combat pants on, that's what I seek: honest bruises.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Coffee On The Rocks

The rain comes from that fabulous sky, from those broad beamed cloud-stacks; raindrops like pouts, cover the sighing earth in wet prints.
Bordering on stormy, we note, and retrieve the garden chairs from a short wind powered journey.
The waves may be lively… why, it's been a whole day since last we were on a beach.
A plan is not quite made, it only unfolds.
Espresso pot babbles: we can't find the lid for the pink flask. The silver thermos will do.
Who needs a table when there's a flat rock waiting?

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Ghost Morning

Sleep itself seemed a hot blanket, to be shrugged aside: a sluggish gesture, not quite successful. Half awake and able to hear a glass of water calling, a cool clear note of antithesis.
Irresistible is forgotten, though: the stairwell window, undressed, shows the world as though swallowed, lost in the belly of a ghost.
-Oh yes, a glass of water.
For a few hours, the heat spell is broken. Settle under a better sleep.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Coconut Vigil

Grandad sleeps on the sofa. It's a nest in a mess of happy neglect.
Little Granddaughter has succumbed on the sun lounger, under a rag-rug blanket, in wet clothes, holding a favoured toy.
Dog drinks the paddling pool water, returns to loll in shade, leaves Granma to keep watch. Other than the heat, all foes are feasibly sleeping also, but Granma has a large coffee, just in case: it makes her invincible. Granma is coconut scented and may look paint spattered: a side effect of Little Granddaughter's thorough approach to sun screen.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Open House

The lane hedges are smartly cut: they have a sour-fresh smell.
On our walk, the reprieve of cool wind is brief.
Heat sticks. Cloud builds.
Stand a while by the cut-open house because such a place reeks of fascination. See the rose print curtains; drawn open for a morning that lingers in their poignant witness; and the bared stairs where feet changed direction when they did remember what they were going to do after all. Why is memory so easily lost and found in a stairwell?
Footings for more space are dug: those old memories will tumble down, be mixed in. Even when the specifics are gone, the vestiges of history hold; lightly haunt.

The field is a wider space, where we can open our arms to catch spouts of wind. The crumbled barn has no doors but its spaces are like eyes: you can look through them, view the world as the barn views it.

This evening rain comes. Tepid drops on warm tarmac; they make a low mist, they sparkle in headlights.

Imagine those curtains in the opened house, the rain blowing over fabric roses.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Wallpaper Of The Gods

Sleep was so deep that dreams could not be fished. A sense of dreaming lingers though. A bowl of breakfast poured. A door opened. No sign of a storm in the night. The ground is dry, things are where we left them. The sky is puff and pearl on blue: that background cornflower colour so popular on postcards.
Flock wallpaper of the gods.
Lazy smile. I'm outside. It's my wallpaper too.
Clouds last all day, into the decorous drama of night.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Pre Storm

Beyond this horizon a distant strum: we are confident of a storm. Feel the heat caught in cotton print, as the washing is gathered in.
Birds are perched, noisy in a ruffled hedge.
Brief relief: cool zephyr smoothing over stifled skin.
One t-shirt left on the line, just to watch it dance.
Car windows wound up, garden furniture herded to sheltered spots, blankets bundled indoors.
Watch, and wait.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Things To Tell An Empty Chair

Little Granddaughter scoops, slops, pats, makes a cake of wet sand.
She sings Happy Birthday, leans in to blow out an imagined candle, knees bent and hands splayed.
Boy is in the ocean, recording the low roll of surf over a smooth rock.
Dog fetches the ball, this is important work.
Slaves to our art, each of us.
It is good to break for lunch.
We sit on a blanket with pasties of a dangerous heat. Eventually we get to eat them.
Granma Grace is up and dressed in the hospital ward. Cool air blows and the nurse brings ice for her water glass.

'I thought that was it for me,' she says. 'But I've got more Great Grandchildren to meet, it wasn't my time yet.'
We speak of getting a new chair, for when she is back at home, and getting rid of the little sofa, which is comfortable but too low to get out of with ease. She will keep the chair that Grandad Gordan once favoured. She talks to it, she tells us, imagines him there, rubbing his hand over the softness of the velvet arm: do you remember he did that, she asks Mr, and Mr nods, and they smile together.
A churn of smoke from the bonfire spins out over the field. The flame is fierce, intermittently. Dry hedge cuttings are fed to it.

'Looks like a dragon,' I note, to Little Granddaughter, but she thinks: 'Dinosaur. Roar!'
'Okay,' I allow. 'Dinosaur.'
She lies on the old patched blanket and shouts at birds. 'Shoo, birds, don't eat a fruit a me!'
She studies the sky. 'Where's a moon?'
I tell her: 'Hiding in a cloud. Behind a tree.'
Satisfied, she points at a cloud. 'That one.'
Hours after bedtime Little Granddaughter is laid down in the travel cot.

'I'm just going to sort the washing:' no need to cajole, she's asleep.
Mr is watching the fire, tidying up blankets, chuckling.

'There's the moon,' he says: points to the Fat-Trunked Ash. From behind those branches, a round-bodied pinkish moon rises from a cloud.

Granma Grace- she doesn't like her hair in this picture  but we think it's beautiful.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Shirt Tales

Linen on the line is pegged. These trousers have stood under speedy equatorial sunsets. Here, spider-spun cotton: a shirt that has floated in the Bay of Bengal: bought on the streets of Malapuram. It flails now in the heated howl that blasts also through the house and slams a door and all of it evokes a beach under the brew of a tropic storm.
Every piece of washing hung gets an extra peg, and is left to dervish-dance. The wind is a puppeteer: garments, like puppets, have a history, a seeming life.

We calculate it will be July 20th 2015 by the time we've viewed ALL of Boy's India adventure photos :-) 

Mermaid Delirious

Heat: a plethora of drowsy and a dearth of sleep. Where dreams can't form, there flourishes reverie. This I like about heat.
Despite our amateurish ventures into grooming, Dog is heavy coated, and that is why we leave the steamy lanes for the cool and wakeful woods. No grass scorch here, only the bone dry mysteries of some dead branches amongst fountains of green leaf, the fresh arch of ground cover ferns.
Oh, look, an open gate: and that is why we edge the waving crop field. Tall grasses keep our feet cool, the rest is hot idyll. In the cattle field the beasts sprawl. We take the first descent to the river.
Things seem to spring to being, most dreamlike: the trees, the gaping gate, the tree root steps down to the water. Unplanned and obvious.
I think of last night, after work: we stopped on a cliff top, watched the sun set into low cloud, the sea was gentle, it sounded like breathing.
Tell me something I asked: and the sea whispered: Mermaids exist. You are one. I had been too long in the sun, I thought.
Here the sun refracts from dark surface. Unsighted feet slide, where they touch the rock and riverweed. Where they don't touch, arms slide out; limbs swim. Heart trembles. I love this: so what is it that I fear? Unknown things: murky as this river.
Against such doubt is set shoals of tiny fish, a dragonfly snapping gnats, acrobatic birds, the broad winged heron in flight, the secret sculpture garden of uncovered tree roots, these stony shores only visible at low water. I swim past the Oak Dragon: Dog swims right under its tail: startles a duck family: her surprise swiftly channels to pursuit. I laugh at the slaps of water on the rocks as she fails to swim faster than a startled duck.
Underneath me bubbles pop, from a source unidentified.
On a submerged rock I sit, fully clothed.
I hadn't meant to be in the river, I am thinking, casually poking at rock slime, watching the blips of fish.
If they are fish… and not river mermaids. They exist. I am one.


Thursday, 18 July 2013

Spontaneous Evaporation

Roused reluctant by the alarm I set; am dressed before any real wakefulness arrives.
Here I am on the doorstep and seem prepared, so Dog and I walk the lanes before it gets too hot.
Over the river a tube of mist thickly sits: I wonder if the river itself is all mist. I wonder what the fish do about that.
Habit kicks into a run halfway round. Dog has that roll to her eye that says she will oblige even though you are clearly wrong.
Perspiration reaches saturation point. Stop running, before I turn to mist.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

The Meaning Of Herons

Maybe the heat simmered up, steamed away a peaceful night. I'm not the only one to wake ill at ease. My uncertainty, I think, originates in economics, though true lines of feeling are easily blurred. There is a need for some uncertainty in life, lest one grow a skin too smug and die of it. When the balance has over-tipped; either way; to right this: a two pronged attack.
Firstly, make a list. Done: tick.
Secondly, stand in a river.
My old trainers are now my river shoes. Adidas, they are. No name on the swimsuit. Clothes in a backpack wait on a rock ledge. Dog leaps into the water, agitates mud, I can't see where to tread at all. A walk of faith: waist deep, hands trailing under the reflective surface, twitching at the sudden touch of weed, the unnerving quality of cold gloop.
'Okay, river,' the confession begins. 'I come to seek balance and peace and acknowledge that this is something only I can find for myself, within myself, so I don't know why being here helps but it does. I may be grasping at proverbial straws, I may be heat affected. I don't know. Only whatever lesson there is, I am willing to learn it.'
Dog brings me a stick, which is duly thrown, as per the implied game of fetch. I wade on, shoulder deep now, in sight of the Oak Dragon. A draft speeds over the water like the wooden idol has suddenly exhaled. Two herons take to flight, I see their grey wings spread wide.
Herons: symbols of prosperity and self made renewal.
I throw Dog's stick. 'Today,' I suggest, 'shall we be superstitious?'
One wet tail wags. I look up at the water birds.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Dog Gets Better

Dog's nose is dry as the dust laden lanes, so we drive to the river path. Common sense also chooses wading over walking, so at the river we are straight in, sliding on rocks till we're swim-deep, swimming till knees knock on rocks. Dog tacks from bank to bank, tail wagging like a loose rudder. We ogle the writhe and wring of tree roots, the sense of serpentine motion. We cheer when jumping fish full breech. All the way to the bay of the Oak Dragon these adventurers press, and each jumps twice from his whiskery nose. Each jump has a wooden nod. Even Dog clambers on the arched oak back and makes her own splash.
Back at home, Cat's food bowl mysteriously empties. Dog feigns a modicum of surprise, then sleeps in the shade of the little fir tree.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Beach Shop Dreaming

Blue sky stretches over the whole weekend and shows no signs of shrinkage. Some people say it's too hot, they are instantly harangued: have they forgotten so soon all the weary intolerance of grey skies? Other people recall The Last Great Summer, 1976: lotus eating and lounging and even beige was a bright colour back then. We never wore shoes from March to November, only sand on our feet. We never ate any food except ice pops.
We remember this, lying in the shade at Bluebell Barns, watching banana tree leaves waft. We all have sunglasses on. Two empty bottles of dandelion muscatel cast shadows in the kitchen, which we can't see from this angle but our fuzzy heads hold the image. And the Prosecco bottles, and the red wine. I'm drinking black coffee, eating lazy breakfast bagels, feet up on a wicker table, watching those glossy tropical leaves, deciding on a sea cure.
The beach is cobbled in various sizes of warm stone. Out we wade, into remarkable clarity, making dream plans to buy the old beach shop house and grow sea buckthorn for jam and wine.
We will catch fish and I won't wear shoes.
On the table, a gingham cloth and one white candle.
We can make ice pops with elderflower champagne.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

To And Fro

Just before work I am melted to the car seat and watching magpies covet shine.
Handsome, indolent heat makes everything such languid effort.
Minds are wrestled from drift, only briefly, only for the necessary part of a task.
The rest is all dissipation.
After work, pull car and steamy skin into a random moorland car park, sit; door open, coffee cold; face to face with a lowing sun.
I am fixed in the seat, it seems, much as a chrysalis fixes to a stem: until bare feet wake up, press over the short-stemmed grass.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Hot Flip Flops

Yesterday's walking took a spell in the river, wading out neck deep, to stand; eye level with a swimming Dog; watching the blip of fish snatching gnats; the linger of centric ripples; under the snaky outcrops of root. The water was invisible: was only the reflection of tree and sky: was only the beads on bared legs.
Yesterday's wet clothes sway on the washing line.
A dry walk, today, for no particular reason. Heat speeds up molecules: slows a walk. We average an ambling pace, stopping our legs once for strawberry picking, once for rose petals. We dare not be too still though, lest we be baked like terracotta, left decorative but brittle.
At home it is pleasant to sit, flip flops kicked off, in the umbrella shadow: a mistake to slip those dark soled sandals back on. Cartoon hopping in hot flip flops wakes the cat, who; of course; has been sleeping all day, content in the shade of a garden table and the cooling roots of grass.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Summer Melt

The window stays open late: suddenly the room beats with moth wings. 
Pale moon creatures, from the backdrop of summer night, fashioned from the same velvet.
A cool and soothing brush with darkness; a sleeping draught, a diving bell; respite from the fraught of heat; they bring good dreams, the mesmer of these beating wings.
Indoors, outdoors, this world, or that; everything blurs in the summer melt.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Nota Bene

A thin breeze can't cover this heat. Cat sleeps all day, content in the shade of a garden table and the cooling roots of grass. Dog wanders between shadows, thumps a tail at the darting passage of summer birds. I tip the lounger back to find shelter beneath the sheet drying on the rotary line. How annoyed I am to need to move, or eat, or clean, or earn a living. Annoyed that coffee won't materialise by whim. Yet when I move to simmer noodles and sweep carpets and type words, when I tighten up the espresso pot and hear it bubble on the electric stove? Discernable ritual satisfaction! Back to the laid back lounger I go, chilling my little cup in the thin breeze, under the wash-line shade. Cold strong coffee I have, and the sun on my feet. Everything else will follow.

Monday, 8 July 2013


At my brother's wedding: with my deeply lovely sister in law :-) 

Slow start to the weekend heat wave.
The talk of it is more heated than the weather.
The view from my car includes a horizon of convincingly solid cloud.
My attention is drawn by the increase in traffic. When I look again at the mountainous cloud, it is invisible. But the Bristol air is hazy, thick full of heat.
I have clear sight of it from the tall windows of my brother's first floor flat: single glazed, it won't be so warm in the winter, he notes.
We walk over the open common grassland called The Downs. There's an irregular pattern of picnic groups. Pink-faced people rest on benches under young trees.
Talking of stereotypes, we walk into The Burger Joint, greeted by a chirpy waitress. Do we want to sit outside, she asks. There is a beautiful cool slate floor indoors. She laughs when we ask for shade, because everyone else is crammed around outside tables. She brings iced drinks, piled plates.
Stroll our filled bellies back to the rented flat with the old-fashioned sash windows, leisurely debunking myths.
Across the road is a statue of an animated dog, an estate agents display: pleasant houses with big prices. Quiet, for a city, my ears note: no tractors, no birdsong. Human voices sift up.
Later I dream that I am sleeping on a balcony.
In the morning I am first to be obviously awake. It's very small, this flat, uncluttered, seems somehow not quite lived in. It is waiting for my sister-in-law to arrive. Then some sense of real home arrives too.

The drive back is done daringly, without navigational aid. Windows open. Cold coffee. Only one wrong turn, and I can easily blame the heat for that.

Tired from driving, worn out from parking, step into the soothing presence of Granma Grace. Fresh back from hospital, she is tired too. We are allowed to make tea for her, she hardly even apologises for it. The littlest granddaughter lies on her lap, makes unladylike noises, stares at the reflections where the lines of glasses stand behind glass cabinet doors. Dog flops under the desk, hoping for sandwich spillage. I love the way my stepson holds his Granma's hand.

More hot driving. Converging now at my youngest stepdaughter's house, a family convoy. We bear gifts from Granma, all the things from the fridge that must be used up. The BBQ is lit. We are too hot for outside. Lie on sofa, share out shaded cuddles with Baby Girl, share the drama of the Wimbledon Men's Final. Summon the strength to eat too much. Little Grandson arrives, from the beach, only wears a towel, and his mum, in a flowy dress, sports the bump of the next grandchild. House shadow makes the garden bearable, we lie on grass and play with dogs and spiders. Little Grandson puts some shorts on, eventually. Three generations sprawl on a blanket. Talk about Andy Murray and how to pee at festivals. Talk about baby scans and lemon drizzle cake.

Time to go lingers even though we are ignoring it.

I would love a swim though.

Dog and me detour to the beach at Exmouth. We walk over the sand, into the water, I'm not dressed for swimming, it is not a problem. Dog swims free, I have the car key clipped to her lead. There are spare shorts in the car, in which I may drive back, but not until the sun has set.

Park clumsily. One job left. Wait for a text.

And wait.
At 1.30am: 'Where are you?x'
Arrive at the school car park, say to Boy, 'Sorry, car is full of garden furniture and wet clothes.'
Boy shrugs. He pushes his suitcase into a gap.
He is smiling. I ask how the trip was anyway.
'India,' he says, and the pause tells me everything.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Gossip From The Cottages

The rain is dried up, so the field grass needs grabbing, makes the lane busy with rushed tractors. Wobbly trailers shake grass stacks, flurries of stalk fall out over the tarmac: smells rich, fresh, sweet all at once. It'll be like that, till the weather turns or the job's done.
Horseflies are biting.
Strawberries are cropping, you can pick a handful everyday. Some of them even make it home, but some fall in your mouth. It's how they are.
A broody Nextdoor Chicken has hatched one chick. It's set the others off broody now.
Everyone has washing out, windows open.
Elderflowers are on the turn: season's always over quick. Pick while you can, and never mind the staring. Sometimes a crowd will gather: just curious. It's all just how it is.