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Thursday, December 14, 2006


A very bleary Granny - 5am start - peers out of the window at her island view. No goats in sight. Yet. Phew. Just a lot of salt on the window; obviously the north winds have been blowing, as Beloved said. When she left there was Saharan sand obscuring the view, it's always one or other here, sand or salt, which means a lot of window cleaning; though not when the wind is blowing, cleaning windows then is a waste of time. Fortunately it's often blowing: Granny does not like cleaning windows and she is no good at it either. Her glass always end up smeary for some reason. She is deeply admiring of those clever people who know how to make it shine

So no goats? Why the cheese then? (Oh yes, she remembered the cheese - along with sage, turmeric and superior pasta. And dark chocolate for herself.) What is Beloved up to? Is he getting goat's milk from somewhere? Does that mean a kid in the offing? There's no new run for the bantams either - as for her office.....it remains a dumping ground as ever. The hopeful cans of paint she bought some while back remain merely hopeful. ('Why can't I go and splash it on myself?' asks Granny. 'There's all the other things have to be done/decided first.' says Beloved. 'What things?' asks Granny. Whereupon he turns vague. And she still has no office.) Still, it means she can write looking out of the window in the kitchen; that's good. What is not good about such a public place is being exposed to the conversational or practical gambits of Mr Handsome or Beloved when she's in the middle of things and feeling neither conversational nor practical 'A Room of Her Own.' Hasn't she heard that before somewhere? She wants one.

But the hens are laying again. A bowl of their eggs sits on the dresser, and Granny has just fed herself a boiled egg, one of the great treats, in her view. The kitchen is tidy. Onions have been planted. She thinks it's nice to be back. It is nice to be back. Despite lack of sleep and a sense of being battered somewhat by everything back in her other home. Despite an early morning hour spent standing in a security queue in Gatwick, followed by four hours of sitting in a plane with about as much space as she'd get if she was a battery hen. (Granny doesn't do small spaces very well; she always has too many books, papers, bits and pieces about her person; they get in the way.) And having to the left of her a family with seven boys of assorted ages. And having to the front of her a merry contingent booked onto a Saga holiday; about which she has HEARD THINGS. Starting with Buck's fizz from breakfast and going on from there. Some people have all the fun; luckily it's not the kind of fun she's after.

So this; Granny plugged on her Ipod and being the culture fiend she is, played Johnny Cash (Folsom Prison) to herself followed by opera to raise the tone, and read the Guardian and then last week's Guardian Book Review - ditto - the latter being good enough to remind her of a writer she used to love called Willa Cather. (Here's the article in case you're interested.) When she has finished writing this she will prowl round the house and look for her tattered green Virago editions of Willa Cather from twenty years ago. She recommends her to everyone. Shame writers like that go out of fashion. Shame so many writers go out of fashion - including her. All that work and wiped brows and agonising; and there's the result not so many years on, a tatty paperback in some second-hand bookshop somewhere that nobody buys. Granny cannot be the only writer deeply depressed by secondhand bookshops. She went to Hay-on-Wye once - Hay-on-Wye consists of almost nothing except second-hand bookshops. It's like the circle of hell reserved for writers; it really is. Unless they're luckily enough to be brought back to notice by appreciative articles in the Guardian Book Review. And only when they're dead most likely, if at all. (Most likely not at all.)

There are no secondhand English bookshops on this island, luckily. Except here, possibly. Granny and Beloved's house looks pretty much like a second-hand bookshop itself. But these are all loved books; his books; her books. So that's different.

Beloved will be home soon, from teaching. He has ideas, he told her. Plans. Granny will be delighted to see him walk in at the door. But she is a little apprehensive. She always does feel apprehensive when Beloved announces he has plans. Let alone ideas. Maybe she can divert him with the salt on the window in front of her. Beloved is much better at cleaning windows than she is. Not that he does it very often. But then nor does she. It's too windy...isn't it?

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