Granny crawls down to the kitchen, as usual half-asleep, to find - or rather smell - Beloved cooking up fish-stock. It stinks. 'But it's a kitchen,' he protests when challenged. 'Also a place for eating breakfast,' Granny points out. (She forebears to add that it is also her office. She has chosen this. Sort of. Not least it's the only place she can connect to the Internet and so blog.) Beloved remains unmoved. In this at least reminding her of her own dad, years ago, opening the Aga, at 8am, just when everybody appeared, to get out his pot of chicken-feed, which smelled even worse than the fish-stock. He was never moved by protests either.
Here he is, aged Dad, aged 3 with his Dad. (Who was sixty when he was born, so more like his grandfather.) This picture makes Granny ache a bit. Partly it's the cricket bat - her dad never lost his passion for this. Partly it's knowledge of what an often hideous childhood was in store for this beautiful child - English upper-middle classes, for the best of motives, went in for despatching their sons to be brutalised at boarding-school - the pretty ones suffered more than most. And partly it's the realisation that this is the first Christmas in Granny's life when she doesn't have to rack her brains for what to give him a) for his birthday (December 3rd) b) for Christmas. The problem became harder and harder as he got older and older. Fortunately he still kept reading, if with less and less enthusiasm.
Granny is pleased that last -his last - Christmas she found a book full of soldier's letters and journals from the Peninsular War, the one where Wellington first got up Napoleon's nose. 'Oh,' he said. 'What a wonderful book. When I was nine I knew everything about the peninsular war. This brought it all back.' And for a moment his old spark and life returned, the still lurking little boy shone out of his eyes; his beenness, his beingness coinciding. (See last post for 'beenness.' If Philip Roth can get away with it, so can Granny.) Now Granny is feeling along with grief, a gladness for him, a tenderness and pain together for the ongoingness of life, the persistance of a self within ancient flesh. She hopes that if there is a heaven, her old dad is, presently, playing cricket in it.
One last thought about ageing: yesterday's boast 'we are changing old age' should perhaps be a little challenged by Granny's sudden memory of a social-worker friend's client, over 40 years ago. All of 80, she breezed into friend's office wearing a new hat, crying I've got a new lover.' Even the very young Granny was impressed. So you can still live when you're old, she thought? Yes!! Good. Maybe it's not all so new after all.
Beloved's Beloved Daughter is here. 'Why is it always windy when I'm here?' she asks. It's true, the moment she arrives here the wind starts blowing. As now this minute.
She'a upstairs meanwhile doing yoga. Blogging, Granny thinks, is her kind of yoga. It may be infrequent for a while. She's off tomorrow, followed by Beloved a few days later. She will miss the arrival of flowers on her land, but she can't have everything. The Lady with the Big Dog and Handsome from Blackburn will be in charge here for a month. Let's hope they don't fall out. (More than possible. Though Mr B is happier just now, having fought through the system - with the help of the police, to get his swimming-pool fixed by the next-door builders who wrecked it. Another little island tale.) Granny returns at the beginning of February. She and Beloved are (very temporarily) joining the Blue Rinses. More of this when and if she can get connected. HAPPY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE.