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Wednesday, August 31, 2005


It's hot in London. The shops are full of sweaters - Granny is another kind of sweater too - at 10,30 at night it's getting on for 30 C in her flat; no air-conditioning here. Why do they fill the shops in August with winter clothes? It's so that by the time she thinks of looking for such things - in the appropriately, cold weather - all the nicest ones will have gone, of course. Silly question.

Granny, still in London, for reasons she will explain when she can get round to it, has just come back from a prom; Beethoven's Missa Solemnis - a religious orgy of sorts. But not just religious. A good - a dear - former friend of hers once described the Credo as being the nearest thing he could think of to a musical description of prolonged love-making. Since when - tonight as ever - she cannot hear the tender duets between flute and oboe, between soprano, alto, tenor and baritone, let alone rock to the ever more excited, ever more orgiastic shrieks and grunts of the chorus without imagining something a good deal fruitier than the statement of belief expressed by the words. Sadly imagining. The friend in question felled by a stroke last year, she assumes he has not much access any longer to the real thing. As opposed to the musical version. Oh the cruelty, the sadness, of life, of ageing; she's going to have to get used to its snatching off this person, or that, one way and another, she knows, but she doesn't feel ready to accept it yet. Maybe this dear ex-friend needs the real meanings of the words now. Or, remembering him, maybe not.

This is the fourth prom Granny has managed since she arrived in England. Only the one attended with Beloved Granddaughter went on as advertised. Two of the singers tonight were 'indisposed' - that oh so buttoned-up word which could mean just about anything - and had to be replaced. At the concert she went to last week, first the original conductor was 'indisposed' then the violin soloist broke a string; admittedly he managed to swap instruments with the leader of the orchestra with the minimum of bother. And at the first concert she went to not only had that conductor fallen ill too, the music was delayed by a mysterious and quite unmusical hum from a microphone for a whole hour.

Was it Granny jinxed it all? she wondered. No, no, that's much too solipsistic. Maybe she had better go tomorrow night to see if that one goes ahead as planned. (Except she can't.)

Apart from which, on Sunday, she went to the children's day of the Notting Hill Carnival - much less exalted - but (she whispers)in its way much more fun..... She prefers the children's day - less spectacular but also less crowded; the atmosphere no less good. Police helicopters puttered overhead the whole afternoon. But the only people around in suspiciously padded jackets were the police themselves, scores of them, everywhere - but causing no aggro - for obvious reasons noone this year was complaining at such heavy presence of uniforms, on and off horses. An enormous quantity of shit - police horse shit - was trodden underfoot (oh for a rose garden and a shovel). The smell of it; and of food, spices, people, and the odd whiff - inevitably - of an illegal substance. And then the traffic lights - oh the traffic lights; every year Granny observes the magnificent irrelevance with which they continue shifting, all day, all night, from green to amber to red and back again in streets empty of traffic and jammed with people and loud music. She always likes that.

It's going to be cooler tomorrow. And Beloved is back on the island. Granny wishes he wasn't. Or that she was too. But that's life.

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