Friday, 7 June 2019
A rainy Friday and I put on my raincoat and cap and head out for a three o clock rendezvous . I arrive early and realise there are school gates nearby .
Various older men walk up and four times I am convinced that a man is the one I'm after . I smile and step forward . Each man smiles back and goes on toward the school gates to pick up their child .
I resolve to stop smiling at random men , feeling sure that a teacher will come out and have a word with me if I do not desist .
My phone goes off . It is Alan . He has been waiting at the another gate . He tells me to stop put and that he will come to me .
Alan arrives and unlocks tall ornate iron gates and in we go .
The place is so green and tranquil .He leads me along little green paths and there we are .
I am shocked . I expected the plot to be overgrown after eighteen months left to itself . I did not expect this . Buried and half buried things form mounds under grass and trailing weeds .
I trip over what turns out to be a raised bed . Alan trips over a handle and pulls out a scythe .
There is a strawberry bed in addition to however many raised beds . There is sturdy seating and a shed .Pull back the weeds and there are two wheel barrows , two watering cans , a potting bench and various tools .
The shed is for the moment locked so who knows what's in there .
The previous incumbent has officially quit the site and has until a certain date to remove any of his property he still wants . After that date anything on the allotment becomes legally mine .
The tools and so forth do not motivate me though . There are ripe strawberries , a raspberry cane and a blackberry hedge .The plot has promise and the summer is coming on . We will see .
Saturday, 18 May 2019
Went blond again last night . Went to see some Edward Bawden and some Eric Ravilious today .
I had the need to mark my territory again . It's been a while since I was in a gallery . It always washes me clean and reinforces my values about what matters in life .
I needed to get to the way I generally look too . Lately I have been staid with brown hair . Staid for me that is .With some people it looks luscious , for me it always feels like the party is in the next room .
What's my point ?
Well we are now nine weeks into being without a car . We have made great swathes of progress and moved on . Yes, I can see how far we have come .
However , I woke up several mornings this week with the sun shining in a huge arch over the day .
I felt like a traitor and an ungrateful traitor at that . I wanted to throw on my linen dress and strap on my sandals and run towards an ocean .
If I cannot do that then I need to say to myself that I am all that I ever was and that the beach will keep. I need to feel good about the way I look . I need the consolations , excitement and joy of great art .
This life is so different. There is so much of it that is good . I have great gratitude that we can share it and I am now on my way to not being hair trigger about the saxophonist .
This life is so different and is gradually getting worn in so that it feels like a favourite old coat and not a stiff new one .
The feeling I'm trying to pin down is this .
It's as if I am strolling down the street and suddenly see that old lover . Forbidden fruit if you like . And , and just for a few seconds I picture myself languorous and naked in his arms .
I am faithful to the saxophonist and always have been but if I was going to have an affair it would be with a deserted stormy beach .
Monday, 29 April 2019
Following on from yesterdays rant / opinions aired ...... (thanks for your encouraging comments - what follows is your own fault ) :
What do you think about waiting rooms and queues ?
Yes ! I thought so .
A long wait expected or otherwise is a regular occurrence .Also of course those waiting in the queue will have amongst them people who are an oppression to the spirit .
( How I love those people who bring a paperback and a patient attitude . Those who sit silent apart from the very occasional gentle sigh betokening fellow feeling on your mutual wait . )
Can we also agree on the new mother who apparently is the only person in the world ever to have given birth , breast fed , had the absolute God given right to a 100% attention of every member of the public health profession breathing .
Likewise accompanying grandmother who is hot wired to say loudly that the baby is named for a royal and is therefore regal or named for a long dead antecedent and therefore has gravitas .
Said great grandfather may have been a farm labourer ( and good for him and all others of his ilk ) but the passage of time has allowed grandmother , she thinks , to add a rich , rural , crust to said labourer . Said labourer is now the backbone of Britain , purveyor of sustenance and good rumbustious bucolic joy to the masses . He is the sanitised superior to anything on your family tree or mine . He is "ye olde merry England ".
Ok .... rant over .
The last few health checks for the saxophonist and the saxophonists wife who has been coerced into well women / responsible citizen checks when caught with her guard down waiting for the saxophonist .
Get through the bloody things and then use common sense and intelligence to swerve all pointless nonsense and thence exercise autonomy . Meaning practice nurses who say you should eat this or exercise that whilst being the size of a barrel . ( I am size 10 to 12 ) .Resist the urge to say " I am fully cognitive of your expertise and agenda and cordially invite you to fuck off " .
So gentle reader thank you for taking a number and sitting it out on a hard seat with the mother/baby/grandmother combo on one side and a man with nasty trousers and a twitch on the other .
Your reward is the writers solemn oath that the next post will be informed by the writer having a good meal in China town and time in the national gallery .
Saturday, 27 April 2019
Adventures by train and country bus have begun . I like very much the freedom of it . I love the improvisation and spontaneity of such journeys . The transience and the unexpected .
Home pleasures satisfy . Reading , drawing , making things , walking .
However , somewhat out of character , I have contemplated joining something . To save you the bother of doing the same I'll explain .
Option one : community choir .
"friendship and fun "
Well , they could have had them under the trades description act on that one .
Men with comb overs and women gone prematurely blond caterwauling whilst wearing novelty wigs and hats . Bad enough I know but their rendition of classic soul songs ...
Its quite hard , I imagine , to sing about loss , desire and raunchy sex as if it should be banned .
They managed it .
I gather they intend to have a " summer buffet " and a glass of wine will be " available to purchase ".
I will either have to drink two litres of rough cider and wear my knickers as an improvised fascinator or stay away .
Stay away I think and of course I advise you to do the same .
Option two : charity shop volunteer .
"community spirit and commitment "
The hearty and the sanctimonious convene ( in this case at least ) to encourage you to form an enclave where men are not needed .
Quiz's , book groups and fun for the ladies .
Now , I have never drunk a bottle of scotch straight down or road tested a selection of sex toys but I wouldn't half like to suggest it to the ladies .
Best I stay away and probably you too ?
Yes I think so .
I said to the saxophonist was I being overly critical or displaying rather telling character traits with my reaction to options one and two ?
He said , firstly , that he would not pay fifteen quid to sit through two hours of the choir giving it what for .
He said , secondly , that my comments on the "options" were a bit naughty .
I said that I thought the "naughty " was what he married me for , along with the great cooking and an enthusiastic aptitude for explicit detail deleted .
He thought about this for a while and did a slow grin .
Advice then : if you are a person who likes joining things , fill your boots , and if you are not then I'm sure you , like me , you will find your own amusements .
Tuesday, 9 April 2019
It had been a nostalgic conversation and an exasperated one too .
Why do people eat ready meals ? I had half a one to try and threw the rest in the bin , hungry as I was . It bore no resemblance to proper food . It was frankly nasty .
People will tell you they have no time to cook but they do seem to have time to watch endless television every night . Life style and choice of course .
Which brings me back to nostalgia . It was my cousin I was having the conversation with . We thought fondly of all meals cooked at home and were glad we still did the same .
Then we talked about the first new potatoes , small as marbles coming off the allotment and given a crown of a knob of butter or two and a pinch of salt .
This then led into how peas and runners you harvest yourself taste completely different to any other .
He then sang a hymn of praise to tiny early broad beans and I waxed lyrical about muffling up on Christmas eve to pick small nutty tasting sprouts to roast with bacon or chestnuts .
Our grandfather and father's all had extensive allotments and my cousin still has one . I gave mine up when time got short . I told him how I missed it and that now would be a good time to begin again .
Last Sunday the cousin , the saxophonist and I sat in convivial conversation over a pint . The conversation drifted here and there and in a quiet gap the cousin said he'd spoken to the site manager and it looked like I could have a plot soon . I told him " yes " but I wanted time to mull it over ( I thought this to myself ).
Yesterday I walked out along the river and thought of my exasperation with people who wanted good food but would not cook it .
I sat in my sequestered nook - a hidden branch of a willow way out along the river . Just me and a few nearby water birds .
Then I grinned to myself and the ducks and coots . I had known it all along , I guess , deep down . You make time for whats important to you .
I knew then I had never really left the allotments of my childhood and later my own . I remembered that I sort of knew anyway it wasn't goodbye - just time out .
There is time now for me to dig and weed and plant . There will be that good tiredness of heavy limbs from productive labour .
And then , and then there will be baskets of radishes and beetroot , buckets of potatoes and onions , trugs of lettuces and spring onions . I will be weary , muddy and in yet another sense home again .
Saturday, 6 April 2019
So a new life is beginning to unfold . A stroll to the town to buy ingredients . New books to read . Enticing creative projects . The prospect of adventures by train , coach and country bus .
The ills that beset us have been dealt with pills . More or less pills may or may not follow but that does not matter . What matters is the baking of rock buns ,violets and bluebells in the garden . The thought that the gosgog bush may yield us a crop and the black currant too . Putting on an outfit with a bit of sass .
Springtime you see ( or whatever season is there to be relished ) . A daily round of meals cooked , walks taken , books read . Looking at world class art , Radio Three and Radio Four . A good nib and some nice paper .
A life that is civilised and largely autonomous . Little treats and happy habits every day .
Constance Gray writes in her famous cookery book " Honey from a weed " : " there was a time when the satisfaction of performing practical tasks was valued as one of the ways to give meaning to our lives ."
She says further " without work the vessel of human life lacks ballast ."
She is not talking about dull drudgery , she means putting real heart into your life . The means at the forefront of her comments is cooking . Of course though there is walking and appreciating each season as it comes . Being creative and enjoying intellectual stimulus of one sort and another are essential too I think .
Mark Boyle talking in his book the " Moneyless Manifesto " says " each of us knows there is a story more sublime , more dignified , more glorious than numbers "
He means values that do not include money .
I am beginning slowly to join the dots in our new life . It's already there in small ways . When somebody does me a good turn I bake them a cake .If I make chutney , marmalade or jam I do it in big quantities . A jar goes to each person who supplied me with jars . I enjoy it and the rest is for swaps or a thank you of a different sort .
The car was sold yesterday and oddly there is a serenity in that . Now we know where we are ( for six months or a year at least ) . There are different ways of doing things now .
Saturday, 23 March 2019
So , the doctor said the saxophonist had done so well he did not need so many pills including the ones to prevent seizures . So , that was two seizures and two days in hospital . He's home and has been told he cannot drive for a time at least .
I'm calming down and learning to trust that all is well again .
Obviously that means pleasures that don't include a car .
I thought back to when I was single and using coaches , buses , trains and walking a lot . I went all over the place and didn't trouble about a car .
Fewer trips and more adventures .
I thought about time at the library to browse , time in the charity shops for hunting out the odd gem , striding out along the river and of course there is time to cook in leisured contentment .
So , re previous post .
How odd is that . I am not only meeting the person walking down the road towards me , we are fusing into one .
I shall be making pineapple marmalade this week and this time she knows it .