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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

rockpool in the kitchen

Well, you asked for it, wombats....and here it is, the very best Granny can do; and she has tried, how she has tried. Iphoto is full up with out-of-focus pictures of da da da.....trumpets, drums..
the rock pool in the kitchen

With all its inadequacies, she has managed to give you A FISH.

Otherwise. Global warming, something like that. The past month has been: find sweaters, wood, sheepskin slippers, light fire. Followed by: forget fire, find sandals, hammock, strip off sweater; followed by find umbrella plus sweaters, etc, followed by find sandals etc. Most of it accompanied by a lot of dust. The Sahara has hi-jacked the island so many times now, how come it's got any sand left in it?

Cooler now. Good. May it last this time. The autumn after Granny first arrived to live here, the day the clouds came, the rain came, the temperature dropped, a friend came round and said; 'isn't it lovely, I sat in my office with my coffee, the heater on, it was so cosy!' Granny, fresh from England, delighted to be missing the onset of its winter, couldn't see it. But she can now. She can feel in her body - and her skin - that endless summer has its drawbacks. Not least it precludes those delicious, yes cosy evenings, when she and Beloved sit by their fire, him with his electronic chess - beep beep beep, a portable chipmunk - Granny with her book. Lovely indeed. You can have enough of sun, and certainly you can have enough of dust. And it's quite time things started growing. Things did start almost a month back, when the rains first came, the shoots lurk still, but don't get any further, shrivelled by the dryness of the wind. Any minute now they'll retreat for good, and then where will spring be? At this time of year, normally, everyone is out planting, but not now. When Granny walks the Beautiful Wimp on local tracks, there's nothing and noone to be seen. Scarcely a bird even. Rain please, God. Lots and lots and lots of it. And more cosy evenings by the fire. Lots and lots and lots of them.

Some things don't change though, hot or cold, wet or dry: the once or twice weekly funerals at the local church, for instance. The local police close the square for these; the moment the cones go out you know what that's for; or usually what that's for. Next thing is, before the hearse arrives, the square fills up with men. They're not in funeral gear, no black, no suits, no ties, no hats. They are tidy enough, spruced up; but the shirts are short-sleeved or even t-shirts. The trousers though never shorts can be, often are, jeans. There they stand in lines two or three deep, waiting, talking a bit but quietly. Granny does not know if they go into the church for the service itself, quite possibly not. Sometimes as she passes by, the hearse is waiting with the coffin inside it; sometimes it is waiting coffinless, and still the men stand there, lines two or three deep, talking still, quietly. No women ever. Granny wondered if that was because they were in the church. When she asked Mr Jonah, her island informant, he said he thought not; he thought that women do not go to funerals here. Not even the family women? Mr Jonah thought, possibly, not even the family women sometimes. Afterwards the hearse departs for the cemetary, without the entourage now, to be buried in front of the family. A grave space -often just a hole in a wall - has to be rented in the cemetary; the coffin remains in it only for as long as the family is prepared to pay for annual fee - presumably for as long as anyone is around who remembers the corpse, who wants to bring flowers on the day of the dead, who wants to see the bones honoured, one way or another. When that's no longer the case it's a mass grave somewhere, along with everyone else. The bones, the graves, the flowers, the inscriptions, don't go on for ever, as they do in English country churchyards, unregarded, weeds growing, headstone covered in lichen. The dead are more honoured here, on the one hand. On the other hand, in the end, they are just bones to be disposed of. Practical really. And sensible on an island - if they went on the way they do in England, it would be nothing but headstones now, when Granny walked her land, she'd be tripping over memorials to people centuries old, Juanita this, or Pepe that, Jose aged 6 months, Abuelo aged 90. And so forth.

The sun is out; the islands visible again. Behind Granny, Beloved is cutting up a chicken, Mrs Handsome from Blackburn, in a skin tight pair of jeans is talking and talking. Maybe Granny will tidy this post later. But, like the picture of the fishtank, it will have to do for now.

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