And now it's July - time rockets past. Still in London, where time to sit down with this can rarely be found. Granny herself rockets between Suffolk and West Wales, and back here again. No time really to think of aged dad - now rotting, presumably, in his grave, in Westerham, above her mother's bones, and under the flowers from the West Sussex garden, thrown by her and her Aussie sister on top of his coffin; a big posy to commemorate their mum, sprigs of poppies and rosemary in memory of her dead twin. Afterwards the family retired to salve its grief in the Grasshopper Inn, 10 doors or so along from the house where the elder three of them first grew all those years ago. Leaving the corpse to the worms. (Of course there's always the miracle preservation of saintly bodies, but doubt if aged pa would lay claim to that. Any anyway what point? Dead is dead.) Eldest granddaughter asks many questions about this process. 'What's happened to great grandfather's body NOW?' When granny went to her house in Bristol over the weekend there were stacks of pictorial accounts for children of hospitals and illnesses and doctors, she wondered if that had anything to do with the death - beloved daughter assured her that no, it was that section of the library she went to at the moment,for books about 'problems' - eg family breakup, death -last time it had been a book about a child dying of leukaemia. Jolly stuff. (I only liked stories myself, but there you go; thinks granny. Grandaughter too likes such stories but read to her, rather than reading them to herself. Arthur Ransome, currently.)
Suffolk and Pembrokeshire meant birds mostly; granny likes those - especially seabird and wading bird and raptor birds because they're big, the only kind she could see properly when young, short-sighted and forbidden to wear glasses owing to her mother being influenced by Aldous Huxley and someone called Bates who claimed short sight was the result of lazy eyes which shouldn't be made lazier by spectacles etc. (That's one nutty theory no longer holding water, unlike others, eg echinacea, eg herbal cures for cancer etc, that granny p herself has been known to swear by. So she can't talk.) So: marsh harriers, avocets, redshanks (and a possible bittern sighting by beloved 'no, darling, if brown and short-necked it can't have been a heron') on one side of our island, peregrines, guillemots, razor bills, fulmars on the other - oh and a flock of gannets almost granny's favourite birds, indicating the presence of porpoises that indeed proceeded to leap about the small boat in a choppy Ramsay Sound in which granny and beloved daughter were being thrown around. A good few days. Reminiscent in small ways of the other Atlantic island where she lives. Sea and land off sea, an atlantic climate, has a similar smell and feel to it, a wideness, a marineness, cloud and wind and rock, recognisable in all parts: north and south. Granny feels at home.
Beloved and granny in good humour together - only one argument, something around Beloved's current obsession with the origins of gender in language which granny assumes is mainly something to do with the fact that human beings, the users of language, come in male and female genders - but scientist Beloved, unwilling to accept anything so obvious without more evidence, proclaimed it loudly - too loudly for a small flat surrounded by others in the middle of the night - too loudly for a weary granny -.... Otherwise things good; not to say loving in a funny disrupted time. In which waves of grief rise and fall like the waves of the sea. In which granny finds herself constantly intoning, mentally, sometimes even aloud- 'Fear no more the heat of the sun' - and feeling melancholy with it. In thirty years time where will I be? she thinks. Old. Too old to travel, walk, dance, I daresay. Alas. (But then 30 years ago she was young. Ish. Younger she realises than both her kids.)
Grief added to by (she hopes) temporary disappearance of the dear painter friend, who came jetlagged to her birthday party and took offence at granny's reference to ex-girlfriend (another story) whose side he thinks she is too much on... not so - but painter touchy, and not entirely without reason; he's had a bad year and was badly treated by girlfriend. And he's a complicated, obsessional fellow in the way of artists. All this leaves granny with the odd painting, plus some Calvin Klein underpants he left behind on his last visit - about which she feels nostalgic - so unwilling to release. Should she take them to bed to hug instead? - probably not - Beloved might get the wrong idea - quite the wrong idea - about this; but she's tempted. Dearest friends are hard to lose; life is too short for that. (Even aged pa's 96 years seems short now; that's what happen when you start getting old.)
On Sunday home again. To where the figs no doubt are already rotting on the trees. A thought she can't quite register. London is where she is now. In every sense.