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Monday, August 06, 2007


Granny has a live-in virus. Most of the time it uses her to kip in, she doesn't know it's there. Hullo bug, she shouts. Snore, snore. Good. But every now and then it wakes up, stretches, yawns, goes for a little stroll. She wakes up sweating in the night, her throat hurts a bit, her head aches a bit, her gut feels heavy. Nothing very much you know, nothing to complain about really, but it does give her the excuse to retire to her sofa for the day - to read something unworthy of her? - well no, actually. It's ALL worthy of her. Yesterday it was a book called The Fire Engine that Disappeared. Or something like that - a police procedural novel, one of a series written in the 60's by a Swedish pair which she liked very much. (Sorry for no more details but book is upstairs, she is downstairs and she is NOT moving. SO THERE.)

She's better today, mostly. She is about to embark on her next chapter. Weather sucks, as they say, it sucks in these parts, anyway. Excessive heat has disappeared. (Good.) Wind remains. (Bad.) Heavy cloud is back. (Ditto.) Only really happy bunnies round here - metaphorically speaking as actually she does know we're talking avian here - is the black bantam hen to the left of the door to the patio and her chicks, now five altogether. Two of the chicks are black bantam's own - the other two fell into the hole she'd dug last week to keep herself cool, and suffocated under the sand that proceeded to fall on them; hence the removal of the rest up to the house, to the little hencoop outside the door. The other three, three times their size, are common or garden brownish chicken chicks, much the same age and acquired from the useful animal feed shop by Mr Handsome from Blackburn. They would have been incubated chicks, so never known a mother. But they know now. Somehow the little black hen manages to gather the whole lot of them under her breast or under her wings. She looks swollen; the contented babies peer out from her wings, cheeping a little. It's all very sweet. And so brief. Any minute now they'll all be scraggy adolescents like the pair of black pullets down on the land. So it goes.

Apart from which the two film giants whose work Granny used to sneak off to see at the Scala Cinema in Oxford when she should have had her nose to books, the two who introduced her to film, more or less, Ingmar Bergman and Michaelangelo Antonioni, both died last week. Granny persuaded Beloved, not a film man, to watch The Seventh Seal in consequence and even he was a little impressed, though complaining the chess game in it wasn't the real thing - Granny had enticed him in to watching it via the chess game. Granny herself was as impressed as ever, if not more so, though she could now see its fifties edge - and its echoes of other film-makers. And, too, that Bergman does not do 'light touch.' But so what.

She saw an interview with him lately, in which he reported that he walked every morning first thing, because 'the demons like you to stay in bed with cold feet.' True. She hoped it would inspire her to leap out of bed every morning and to deal with her own demons that way: it didn't. And now, this very moment, she is keeping them at bay by writing this instead of tending to her next chapter. Oh the horror, the terror, of that dangerously empty page/computer screen. Her bug back to sleep again, more or less, she no longer has any excuse not to confront this version of her demons, and with the cloud louring and the wind blowing is not tempted outside to any kind of healthy walk. And though she now knows - via the Guardian this morning - that Henning Mankell, another favourite if gloomy Swedish hero, another writer of definitely worthy police procedural novels, was, very appropriately, Ingmar's son-in-law, there isn't one book in the house by him she hasn't read, she can't retire with any of his instead of getting down to her own. So she hasn't any excuses, none whatever. PITY. PITY. PITY.

She will warm her feet under her desk and start writing. THIS MOMENT. Ta ra for now. xxx

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