Sunday, 30 November 2014

Big And Little, First Year

Christmas is sparkling over the horizon. Littlest grandson has been here a whole year: a big brother, we say to his big brother: you have been a big brother for a whole year - do you remember when your little brother was born- what do you remember?
This is a ridiculous question to pose a usurped four year old.
‘He bought me a present.’ (Rolls eyes, seems to be wondering how we could have forgotten this, the main part of the tale.)
We watch Home Alone and lose at balloon baseball and so are forgiven.
The little brother laughs. He has cheese and crackers, teeth, and the new art of walking. Presents are peripheral things.
At bed time, the littlest cuddles in his cot; the big brother wants a story. Granma tells him Ronko the Rude Clown, while Grandad smirks on the stairs.
Of all the reading gigs, the bedtime audience is the most intense. One pair of eyes shining in delighted disgust as Ronko gets his stinky karma! One imagination sparked: the sparks seem visible.
‘Tell me again,’ he says, but he needs his strength for rugby tomorrow and is persuaded to rest.
Granma tiptoes down the stairs, to the front room, where birthday tributes are tidied up.
Toys are fun, admittedly. Bought or made or improvised: all fun.
Big or little, we find them fun, admittedly; for example, everyone enjoyed the bubbles from the plastic whale bath toy.
There’s a but, a caveat, a further thought; which is obvious but it still seems to need this linking sentence to get the pacing right.
Time and words, what do they cost? 
Nothing, to what they are worth.
One day, big brother, you will remember your little side kick appearing and all the days that followed. You will say to him things like ‘do you remember’ and he will be the one who knows. 

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Staring Out Of The Window, When The Phone Rings

This place is packed with distractions.

Like this ice edged purple sprout.

It is November, the latter part.
On this planet.
What of other planets?
I mis-type November, but only once, as Novelber.
Today is not for writing but for dragging rows of numbers around, making accounts.
The first frosts have visited; two mornings in a row, now comes rain, falling thickly, hypnotic.
Thoughts wander in this weather they go anywhere. (Always blame the weather.)
Numbers add up to a headache.
Still some apples hold on branches: last all winter through, sometimes, some types. They are best to see frosted: fruit and ice growing: crunchy, sweet, fantastic!
I’m supposed to be - but the phone keeps interrupting - nearly gets turned off -
It rings. A finger hovers to stamp out the noise: why is that number ringing?
Because it’s Wednesday. Not Tuesday.
If you know film terms, this is the dolly track zoom moment.
If not, the word ‘lurch’ will help.
I am supposed to be picking up Little Granddaughter from her nursery…
I apologise on the phone and in person. The child of course is blithe: the staff just giggle.
Ponderation centres, staring later from the car window, on how easy it is to drop out of time, on how disconcerting to return, how once in 1970 I was left at the Post Office, parked in an old hooded perambulator, and how I had lost count of the times I had been almost home and circled back to collect my own poor brood. But the first incident was most likely in the late 1990s. It was raining then too, I am sure of it.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Honey, I Sunk The Bath

It could have been one of those projects that lingered into a domestic mythology.
We do have such a pantheon; minor deities of projects such as boot racks and office tidies that add something to the ambience of clutter, we find: a sense of a purposeful future, perhaps: stuff that could happen.
Yesterday or thereabouts I had wiggled the iron weight of the old bath till there was room to dig the hole that would reposition it as our new pond. Then it rained a bit, nothing more, here, was done.
But, then, Little Granddaughter was here and how we love an outdoor project! Enough to disregard inclement weather and at least turn over some turf. The ground here is clay-dense, rock littered: generally.
‘Granma, watch me!’ A trowel’s fill of mud gets flung high over the rockery.
Such is the power generated when three years’ life experience connects with earth.
Somewhere between the surprise of finding good top soil, the lightness of drizzle, and this power of youthful enthusing, we dug the whole hole.
And once the hole was dug, Grandad appeared. He was sent back indoors to clamber feet into work boots.
Little Granddaughter stood by, with the hose.
The iron weight was lifted, dropped, pulled, fretted, kicked, wedged hither and thither with slippery stones, made level (enough). Loose soil- good soil, we say, over and over- good soil- is scraped back around the nearly ready pond.
‘Careful with my flowers,’ Little Granddaughter says. They aren’t planted yet, she is caring for them in advance. Lack of a plug caused a moment of disappointment but she helped Grandad rinse off brewing buckets while her Granma stood grinning at the side of their nearly-pond.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Three Bloops

Today’s focal accomplishment was not the coconut rice, though it remains a favoured dish in the menu rounds. Too much concentration focused on the compilation of a folder, in which, page by page, fresh from the printer, a novel was stored.
My novel, not often discussed. Brainwashing or true belief, I’m not sure, only A Writer Writes: a writer does not talk of writing, this is wasting writing time. Except for those moments when I fume about synopsis and blurb, they are functional safety vents.
Only one chapter went in to the folder backwards, and this (bloop 1) was remedied swiftly. The other two bloops were in the rice. I double salted (bloop 2) and though I did not forget the chilli, I did neglect to chop it into less than one whole piece (bloop 3) which gave Houseguest Ben quite the surprise.
Sets of three being culturally usual here, I am hoping that this pepper incident is the last bloop for today. Small things all, set against the general malaise over the loss of our cat, and that solid block of printed text locked in a lever arch.
Of all the reasons: I wanted to, I needed to, the story sought me out, the convergence of lives, the celebration of it: the one that needles most, here, now, that is causing squeamish concern: I wanted things to change. For something to be caused by this work, something that progresses our lives, here, soon. It would be easier to hide it away, to dodge the potential for failure. To stay as we are as though we had no choice, to let circumstance do all the failing on my behalf.
There will moments of backwards, oversalt, hot shocking mouthfuls: the bloops will roam in threes or herds: those pages need a good edit: but they are here, now, and mentioned: mistake, failure, catalyst, we’ll see…

Sunday, 16 November 2014


Up in the polytunnel, the vine had snapped its tether and fallen over, flouncing out red leaves, exposing and breaking  a root bound pot.
Planting out could not be deferred, no matter how low the desire to dig another hole.
Heavy soil, we have, thick with clay, set with obstacles.
Vines will not like it, so we have devised a planting tube.
A crock of old pottery and some sifted out stones make a drainage band, the rest is compost, lighter layers of top soil, fine volcanic rock.
And there it is, finally planted. There may be grapes, or not, next year. But unless we had spilled this sweat, we would never know: therein the satisfaction lies.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

The Cat Shambles

Skulking around the rabbit hutch, we saw her first, a small framed fluffy cat. I chased her off. She skulked the old sheds instead, then, wary of contact. Until: it was somewhere around 2am at the party we hosted for Girl’s nineteenth birthday, when thronged drunks were outdoors attempting disorderly and giving up, on account of being too drunk. We had dragged out garden benches and sat laughing, and into the middle of the scrum-cackle this cat appeared, and friended us, and walked into the open house and lived there. We called the vets, the next day, holding gingerly our coffee mugs, but none of her description were on the missing cat list.
We still aren’t sure why we let her stay.
It was the right kind of house for her, perhaps; certainly she proved a tyrant to the cheeky mice. Sometimes in the mornings she would have slime trails on her, a sign of a deep hedge sleeper. Her fur dreaded up. She didn’t much care for grooming. We named her Shambles and never knew how old she was.
All summer, this year, an unsteady decline has been in place.
One minute we would be sure of her demise, for she seemed to do nothing but sleep under the washing line, and the next we would find her eating a whole pigeon, circled by feathers, a grotesquerie of decadence. And she never dropped the habit of drinking from objects precarious (see below).
Last night she sat on the sofa, indoors, almost on my lap. The weather blew wild. We made her a bed on the shoe shelves for the night: left in the front room she would necessitate a carpet clean.
This morning she had been sick on the bathroom rug, not uncommon. But, less usual, then she lay on the kitchen floor, as though too tired to go further- not unlike our partygoers of 2008.
Lifted, she made three mews: little cries for sanctuary, helpless, kittenish, slumped in the crook of my arm.
She was on the sofa, warm and quiet, until her body cooled.
We will bury her, when the storm drops, out by the washing line, where she has loved to sleep so much.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Rain And Intervals

Parking on the grass is denied by wheel spin. 

The lanes are not for walking but splashing and how clear the water is, with that subtle property of magnification, framing old bits of leaf, saturating colour, and the sun puts warm on your face in these blue sky intervals and the water runs downhill, gurgling. 

Clouds travel in thickly flanked formations.

In a field a coated horse tail-flicks and observes how starlings burst upwards from grass, up to the bare ash branches to make their mass noise.

Optimism pegs washing out: it gets a thorough second rinse before the sun interval repeats. It does not matter. It was not so unexpected but it cannot be predicted.

Every day we can wonder what will happen next.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014


What is it that we should remember?
Not a blanket patriotic blurb.
A common humanity. A day of souls.
A day of unselfish acts.
A day to mark our consciences, whether we fight or not.
A day of measuring regret.
It should connect us, this experience of human life.
The severance is what breaks us.
However war comes, it breaks us.

Monday, 10 November 2014

From Autumn, A View Of Winter

From daylight, the hours slip.
Into night the hours arrive.
I see them as new hatched fishlings: blinking, gaping, full of instinct.
Leaves; autumn is famous for leaves; for the ruby’d mulch.
It is daylight, I am walking with Dog, we go under trees, alongside the swelled river.
Walking is thinking but thinking outside is release not compression; the scenery is not lost.
Head full of projects and lists, aims, objectives: internal mulch.
What next?
The paths are covered.
A winter story is coming: barefoot, towards the hearth. Smells of candle wax and cocoa.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Cold Snap And A Cheese Board

This cold is made of sharp-shiny teeth, dainty-pointy, gripped to one’s extremities.
Thicker socks required.
Toes and soles are tenderised.
A hungry cold.
Night gapes like a gullet.
Some night perhaps when the wild of me wakes enveloped in the beauty of that consuming ache, then bare feet will run through snow, over sheer ice, then, a throat, a naked throat, a body dressed only in skin and wonder, can be offered willing to those teeth: but it is not that night yet.
A thick knit of comfort pulls around: woollen socks, a glass of rum, the Rayburn churning hot water in a flimsy tank, a cheese board, two kinds of chutney (homemade) and one sweet pickle (shop bought, a shameful favourite.)
Without hunger, satiation means little.
Without comfort, adventure lacks contrast.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Pirate Trees Ahoy

Such a wind blows as can turn tall masted trees to galleons and take them into the dark searching for gold and secret islands.
In the morning we look and find two self-seeded broad bean plants: as good as bullion here is things that grow into food.
The fat-trunked ash twitches, moored back to our hedge; the wind blows softer; they reminisce; we make-believe their whispers.
Last night’s wind has blown the weather out of shape: odd bits of rain fall hither, thither. Fragments of sun, not enough to dry wet clothes, and half-rainbows, which hold their beauty and maybe the fragmentary nature adds a sense of luck to have any rainbow at all.
Back to the dark sails the day. On the rotary line outside one sodden towel testifies to a swashbuckle system of belief: optimism, acceptance, derring-do. 

Saturday, 1 November 2014

A Box With All The Bones

Oct 30:
Some call the weather mild, some ‘unseasonably warm.’ 
A midday sun can catch the treetops all tropical; such parrot-yellows, such paradise-reds! 
Wild strawberries vivid in the cut hedge, plucked, nestle in a warm palm. 
Even where the mud has fallen from farm traffic the lane is bouncing light.
Later but not so late the dark gathers in.
Soft focus and sepia in mist, the trees are rusting, flake by flake.
The dark gathers in, closer in, to breathe damp-earth air, to breathe the woodsmoke.

Oct 31:
Most of what we meant to do was done, though it was jumbled up: a box with all the bones in it, not a wired up skeleton model. All the time one is thinking that those bones need sorting: can’t quite relax: one itches, like a broken bone that’s mending. 
In the afternoon it is warm and calm and Little Granddaughter favours vampire attire. She dresses up our faces with thick paint. She cheats at apple bobbing, all the children do. They grin because they know we saw. Everyone giggles. We blame the sugar.
Later: nearly midnight: Mr and me and this year’s pumpkin: rose petal wine in a glass.
Homemade ice cream in the freezer that wasn’t ready yet, the glasses have finger prints, the carpet unswept: not irrelevant at all: a swell of appreciation picks it all up, lays it out to be seen at full advantage.

Nov 1st:
Midnight passes. We step out to look at the half-moon, how it has tipped over. 
Sleep is something to sink into, grateful, adoring.