Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com rockpool in the kitchen: 11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Well - to WOMAD Granny went, had her ears rather beautifully blasted and came back to find herself blasted by wind, rain, winter - Lanzarote style; obviously not as heavy as London winter style but she does rather miss London central heating and is wrapped up in a lot of wool while writing this. Good rain though, at last. Neighbours all out planting.

Better sun today and WOMAD is dreamlike in her head. She was supposed to meet up with other people in Las Palmas, but for one reason or other - sick mothers, lack of hotel rooms - noone else turned up which meant she did not have to worry about other peoples' taste in music/sore feet/hunger/not hunger/desire for sleep/desire not to sleep, etc. And that poor woman due to share her room was not kept awake by Granny's snoring when she lies on her back. (Beloved turns her over, but newish friend probably would not like to do that.) So that was all alright and Granny could jig happily to extraordinary, heart-lifting, body-lifting music by Tanzanians, Malians, Afro-Peruvians, Irish, Balkan gypsies etc etc, without any concerns whatever, apart from mild desire to beg puffs from joints being passed round all over. (She didn't quite dare.) And apart from rather less mild wish they didn't have to turn the bass up so loud at these things. IT HURT. She'd had enough, finally, around 11.pm on Saturday night when she trudged over to stage where very camp Israeli counter-tenor was giving concert of music based on a synagogue cantor's chants. The beautiful high wail echoed all over, briefly, solo - then took on like everything else a backing of heavy metal sounds plus the dread bass. Granny does not entirely dislike (good) heavy metal, nor is she either homophobic or anti-semitic; far from it. But by this stage it was all TOO MUCH. She is old or something. So she trudged hotelwards. And next day flew home to Belovedless, dogless, catless, heatless house, to be battered all night by wild wind and rain - more erratic than HEAVY BASS, but at its worst almost as disturbing in the high room she sleeps in. She could hear drip drip drip behind her where the rain comes in through the skylight. About which, apparently, nothing can be done.

And back to her book. Going Mental. Which is driving her mental just now. Right now she is full of doubts. Not to say blasted. Is it going anywhere or just trudging on the way she trudged at times round Las Palmas: aimlessly? Is she really getting at what that place was like or failing to? Are her own interjections/discussions mere platitude? She doesn't know. This happens with books, but it's always disheartening.

Trudge on. Trudge on.

On Thursday she has to head back to London to prop up Beloved in his trudge round medical stuff. All of it coming out clear but tiresome as it involves him sitting around in the Big Smoke, which, unlike Granny, he hates. (These kinds of alarms happen more as you get old.) There maybe, she will print up everything she's written so far and read it through.... all 170 odd pages of it. That might cheer her up. Or it might do the reverse. Let's see.

Friday, November 23, 2007


Rain (some) has come, Beloved has gone, Granny is off to her world(ly) rave up along with a new American friend from here. So no time for anything more, except to add to the suspense about the roundabout. Which has now produced a pillar -and a bush. Mysterious black plastic covered shape still lurks at bottom of pillar. Pillars? Christmas? Palm tree suggests Beloved. Granny can only think of the penitential St Simon sitting atop his pillar... Of a possible cultural/festive mix-up like the (probably apocryphal) crucified Santa celebrating Christmas at the top of a big store in Tokyo once. She's like that.

Breath still bated. (Spelled it right this time.) How's yours?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Granny will fulfill, at last, a promise she made a little while back to show you pictures of her old school, the one she stole to use as Charlotte's school and, to compound this felony, removed from Kent and dumped down by the Thames at Isleworth instead. Writers can be ruthless like that.

So in due order - courtesy of Beloved Son's camera and email - here they are: The front door, flanked by pillars which appears very early on
The cedar tree which, ruthless again, she cut down for the fifties episodes.

And, finally, the glassed over verandah which Granny climbed on and broke once, for real - and which she made Charlotte do, fictionally, in the book.

So there you are: the creative processes laid bare. Are you any the wiser? She isn't.

As for the rest: the south west duly winds turned up, as promised - Beloved lit the fire anyway against Granny's advice and kippered them: her clothes now smell of woodsmoke. But the rain didn't - which is all wrong, south west winds always bring rain - or did. Global warming I daresay, darlings. The only wet stuff is Granny's marginal tears; her favourite speckled hen, Daisy, was found dead yesterday. She's left progeny behind her, a bit speckled, but not nearly so pretty. Granny is sad.

'All flesh is grass,' she quoted to Beloved in bed last night, as they were turning off the light.

'What about fish?' he objected.

'Oh go and argue it out with the Bible,' groaned Granny, wrapping herself round him. Bloody scientists: again.

(They are still wondering what Christmas delight will appear on the roundabout. That work of art hasn't advanced any. Things turn slowly, up this way.)


Monday, November 19, 2007

South West

The storm looks like it's building from the south-west - means rain at last. Also no fire tonight just when Granny feels they might want one - south west wind means the stove smokes impossibly - choke choke choke, no thanks. Also, once it starts raining the satellite is wiped out so no telly - she minds less about that. Storm coming, rain coming - AT LAST - all over the Canaries is GOOD. She just hopes though it's all over by Friday. Friday she is off on her rave-up, otherwise known at WOMAD over on Gran Canaria - she went to the English version once and adored it, so here she is again. Glad as she is of the wet stuff, she is not entirely keen on reproducing the Glasto experience, with Canarian mud substituting for Somerset. But at least she isn't having to camp.

The goat is off having a happy time with her billy, in case you were asking. Beloved does seem to have judged his timing right. And, on Friday, on the roundabout at the edge of the town, a small electronic box appeared. Today it is accompanied by a long black pole with something bulky at the bottom wrapped in black plastic. Perhaps there is going to be something large and interesting after all. But what? Granny's breath is baited - whatever that means exactly. She is not entirely sure. Never mind. You all know what she means. Let's wait and see.

Friday, November 16, 2007


We are due to have sex this weekend. No, don't get all excited Granny is talking goat not human sex. Ruby, the big beige nanny, the friendly one, has been sharing her pen with Damian Daphne the cockerel, because it's the bantam cockerel's turn to be out and about at the moment and the two can't meet; imagine the mayhem. No, don't. Granny took the Beautiful Wimp down on the land this morning, heard anguished squawkings and found Ruby with her horns down chasing Damian Daphne all over the place; which is fair enough given the way he bullies his hens, now it's his turn to see what it's like being bullied. But obviously it can't continue; what would it do to his only function, his potency? Beloved has moved him elsewhere.

'Change of personality,' said Beloved. 'Means Ruby's coming into season.' 'A bit pre-menstrual?' suggests Granny, which brings a load of mixed information and disdain down on her she could do without, something about oestrus in goats bearing no relation whatever to menstruation in humans, and that making any kind of analogy is deeply inaccurate, not to say unscientific. Bloody scientists, she thinks, not for the first time.

Scientific or not the result in this case is - must be - assuming it is oestrus, assuming kids are wanted - Beloved seems to want them - time for the visit of macho cabrio. Granny and Beloved are off to this evening to visit their friend Aurora and beg the services of her macho cabrio - no, not the one she claims lives in the house, otherwise known as husband; the other one, the billygoat, that lives out the back along with the rest of her large menagerie.

Goat seasons being short the deed will have to be done this weekend; Granny does not intend being present. When it comes to sex she altogether prefers human, and of the participant not the voyeuristic kind.

As for the rest: Christmas is coming. Electric bells have been strung up at the end of her road, a star a little way along the next one. More stars, trees, flowers are appearing up and down the main street. As yet there is no sign of some dramatic installation on the roundabout at the entrance to the town; Granny had been wondering what was to follow on from the windmill, the palm trees, the gross Father Christmas, the man with camel which have flashed from it in previous years. Maybe, the election safely over, the the mayor doesn't see the need to impress anyone this year. What a pity. As for the belen - the crib - always set up in the carpark - the only sign of that so far is a heap of bricks and another of breeze-blocks. While the nativity landscape on the back and side walls has been painted out for some reason. Oy Vay. We shall see.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Ponderous German friend gone - better than ponderous as a matter of fact: a nice man - and considered bright by Beloved which is saying something. (Granny is not sure he'd say the same of her.) Even so, she is glad to have no more discussions at breakfast over such weighty matters as functionalism and identity theory. (No, she had nothing to contribute. How did you guess?) When she was a child, conversation at breakfast was forbidden in her family. Her parents hid themselves behind newspapers, only emerging -briefly and loudly - if a voice was heard. Butter, toast, marmalade etc, sat on a dumb waiter - a kind of swivelling tray - in the middle of the table so that they needn't be requested aloud. This past week, burying her face in her coffee - alas no newspapers here - Granny thinks her parents had a point.

Not that, necessarily, those behind papers were unaware what went on in front of them. Beloved has a nice story about breakfast among fellow dons at his Oxford college - then and probably now English to the point of parody. A very junior academic newly arrived from Germany and both baffled and intimidated by the silence, by the array of newspapers and faceless bodies, reached out timidly for the sugar. He was about to dump a spoonful in his coffee when a voice barked out, "That's salt not sugar." Whose voice, from behind which newsprint, he never discovered. But his coffee was saved at least.

One thing Granny notices. When women visitors come they get into the kitchen before and after meals, see what help is needed and do it. When men come they wander in, look around and ask 'what can I do to help?' Much simpler to do it yourself, really. Granny mostly did.

Beloved is due to go back to London next week for medical stuff. Granny who is kind like that went onto the internet to book his ticket for him. Unfortunately, having to repeat the exercise for some reason before she'd got right through, she didn't realise the site had gone back to default mode and booked him the wrong way round - from London to Arrecife and back, rather than vice versa. An expensive mistake: airlines are not indulgent about such things - all she could do was rebook him and cancel the rest for very little redress.

Though the sun continues to shine, Granny is NOT popular. Shame. She will let him book his own in future.

Meantime, for two days while he is away she is off on an adventure - let's call it a kind of rave -of her own - . She'll tell you about that next time.

Monday, November 12, 2007


Most mornings Granny does a spin through the Guardian online and takes the odd peek at a local paper and at El Pais, besides. Sundays, though were different. On Sunday after going to the local produce market she would nip down to the newsagent and pick up her copy of the Saturday Guardian, the one with the family supplement and, much more significantly for her, the (mostly book) Guardian Review. She and Beloved would sit happily down to a late lunch later: Beloved would take the news section while Granny settled for the rest - starting with the quick crossword at the back of the Review, her weekly not very complicated brain teaser. The Review itself would continue to feed her bit by bit for the rest of the week.

But not any more. For the past 3 weeks friendly newsagent hasn't had the Guardian - nor has she found it anywhere else. She has a nasty feeling that the suppliers have decided there aren't enough Guardian readers on the island and stopped distributing it altogether. The rubbish of course - Mail, Sun, News of the World - is still everywhere; Times and Telegraph appear in more upmarket places, the Independent occasionally too. The Guardian no.

Granny can still read the main paper and its supplements online and she has ordered a subscription to the print version of the Guardian Review, but it won't be the same, appearing weeks out of date. Oh woe.

The real griefs of course continue. When someone dies it befuddles time; deaths both evoke and cut off the past, diminish the present, deny the future. To counteract that, a little, or try to, Granny is busy sending letters, emails etc in all directions, to people whom she hasn't been in touch with lately. That way if they too drop down dead at least she won't feel 'I should have rung/written - and now it's too late.' A friend of hers once said 'When someone dies there's always unfinished business.' And that's true. Such business, almost certainly, means nothing to those who are dying, they have other things on their mind. But regret being, inescapably, a part of grieving it does burden the sorrow of those left near or far behind.

(Which isn't to say that, sod's law being sod's law, those Granny contacts won't be fine for time to come; - that only those she has forgotten for the moment won't be. Waley waley - isn't there some song called that? Waley bloody waley. Tra la la. WAILY.)

The sun is still shining. Granny's favourite hen is ailing and has been moved up to the pen at the back of the house so it can be given special attention. 'It's on its way out,' says Beloved. 'And even if it survives, it probably won't lay any more.' 'Never mind,' says Granny handing out lettuce. She can't do anything for her dead friends but she can tend her speckled hen for the moment. No regrets that way. Saludes, Daisy.

Friday, November 09, 2007


Limbo time. In England floods are waited for but don't seem to be happening. Back here things are hazy, sunny but relatively windless; as if the whole place is just holding its breath. Probably you need to have lived here a while to be aware how strange it is.

Granny's head meantime is in a different yet similar kind of limbo. Mortality is the name of this one. It' s one of the odd things about growing older that you start living more in the day; as you should do. It's not worth saying any more 'when I grow up' - too late now to think you ever will grow up, really. At the same time, whole life spans arrange themselves around your head; not just your own, other peoples. Memory on memory, whole processions from birth to....

The last ten days started with Dina's death: there were two more then, two Thursdays in succession. The first was of a unique maddening irreplaceable South African journalist, economist, campaigner, exiled in England for many years, and bringing up her children in the London suburb where Granny brought up hers. Granny, along with child in a buggy, was delivering Labour Party leaflets one day, a means she had of diverting herself from domesticity and the domestically buried people all round her. She had just turned away from one house when she heard the clattering of wheels, swung round to see this woman haring along behind her pushing her infant in a buggy too. . 'Come and be my friend,' she panted, more or less, and so they did become friends, propping up each other's kitchen counters and talking about everything except domesticity. It didn't seem to matter that their mental worlds - politics on the one hand, literature on the other - were so very different; their children grew up to be best friends, still haven't lost touch. Granny and her friend drifted apart as lives changed. The friend went back to South Africa at the end of apartheid. Granny too went on her way around that time, the way you do - heard only of her friend via their daughters: though she did manage to meet up with her once the summer before last, thank goodness. And now she's dead - cancer might have killed her in the long run, had it got too much of a hold: who knows. No one ever will know because the doctors got in there first and botched the operation to try and cure it. Something you hear of happening to other people, but not to your friends. No, never.

The second death, yesterday, was that of Granny's erstwhile sister-in-law, her children's aunt. What with this and that - divorce is like that - she hadn't seen much of her in recent years either. But she has a vivid memory of her sister-in-law arriving aged eighteen in the dining-room where her family and Granny - then her brother's girlfriend -were eating dinner. She was wearing shoes with small heels and a limp and very ordinary cotton frock of the kind worn then, but looking unbelievably beautiful -think young Barbara Streisand but better - glowing at the prospect of her date. Until her mother got to work on her, that is, demolishing her via a stream of vicious comments. Granny can't remember the words, can't begin to reproduce them, but she can remember -too well - their effects. Naive as she was, in love, dazzled by this lively, articulate, slightly raffish family, wholly different from her own, Granny did manage, even then, to recognise jealousy when she saw it. Not just stepmothers, she learned that night can be jealous of too beautiful daughters. Poor daughters.

Though she did produce a pair of wonderful children, her sister-in-law's life was never of the happiest. Granny picked up the pieces a time or two. Last time she saw her, at the memorial service for Granny's ex-husband, the beauty had disappeared as wholly as her mother might have wished it. And now she's dead of kidney failure, or something, aged 64. What a bummer.

Today, small pleasing details on the one hand: a warbler singing from a cactus, a chicken delighted by a melon slice: whole life times processing by on the other. They stretch back back back, then go on on on, into the dark dark dark ahead.

Beloved's solution is to work at re-arranging next year. Granny will just settle - today anyway - for looking at today. Or trying to. She stopped lamenting yesterday mostly, gave up hope of it, too, a long long time ago. Not that it has given up on her. Strange how the past can spring to its feet when you least expect, and bite you.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Rain Dances?

Anyone know any rain dances? Come and dance them here, please do; Granny will happily help you make a costume, even if she doesn't take part. She doesn't think she does rain dances. The weather is lovely; that's good. What isn't so good is that the dust in the air is giving her dreadful hayfever- she has to keep stopping here to sneeze; and that the fleas seem to like the sun too, they persist, despite Granny following useful advice offered by kind internet friends. This morning one flea was hopping about in her BED. The bedding is now being washed. AGAIN.

This week sees the arrival of nice but rather ponderous German friend of Beloved's: Granny foresees several days of Beloved and ponderous German talking science at each other while she does the washing-up. Heigh-ho. The one free night will be the night she and Beloved abandon the guest to go to a charity dinner-dance; not exactly Beloved's entertainment of choice, though Granny herself doesn't mind a bit of dancing, so long as it is not with Beloved; if he can be got on the floor, he is inclined to get over-enthusiastic: he JIVES, in other words. Granny who falls over her feet in such circumstances doesn't jive: especially, she doesn't jive with Beloved: he is not tolerant of her multiple left feet. She does like jigging about, on the other hand, she really likes jigging about, even, as likely here, alongside a lot of distressingly naked, mostly perma-tanned, mostly rather withered flesh. If male expats tend to perma-tanned paunches, the female version tends to perma-tanned withered cleavages, along with blond rinses, along with a lot of glitter. Granny is not among them; she no longer has a cleavage to display, even if she wanted to; any colour on her hair is a discreet version of her natural brownish.

Her friend Mrs Jonah, too, covers up her ageing flesh. But she, unlike Granny - because of her openly suffering Beloved, Granny is permitted to sneak out early - is forced to stay to the bitter end: to the raffle draws, to the auctions of twenty-foot high pink teddy-bears: Mr Jonah is a politician these days and likes to be seen dispensing his largesse; all in a good cause here, admittedly, bringing water to waterless Peruvians. Granny has no quarrel with bringing water to waterless Peruvians. This a very good work indeed, set in motion by two lovely people who happen to live on this island. Her only good work is dragging Beloved along to these events, not always the easiest of options.

On the other hand could the dancing providers of water for Peru be persuaded to throw in a rain-dance or two for Lanzarote? The addition of the odd feather to the existing glitter might do it: the feet of the paunchy ones could serve for a thudding percussion;

Granny likes the thought of that.

Back to real work now.

Friday, November 02, 2007


Sorry. You've heard this before. Granny is fleabitten - again - no, not just metaphorically, although that's also true -literally, despite all expensive libations continually administered to animals. How come Beloved never gets bitten too? He doesn't. Granny not comforted by notion, here, that she is delicious, and he isn't. Beloved doesn't even believe it IS fleas. Bedbugs? he suggests. (Thanks.) Fungus? he suggests, eyeing the cluster of bites in a place so intimate only he could be invited to view them. Granny has to google 'fleabite', find distressing - but familiar -pictures, find Beloved, find Beloved's reading glasses, lead them and him to her laptop, show him the picture before he admits that perhaps she could be right. (She is.) What are scientists for then? she asks. They demand empirical evidence, here is empirical evidence. He agrees it is empirical evidence of the presence of a flea or fleas. So now what? she asks him. No answer. WHAT ARE SCIENTISTS FOR THEN? He doesn't answer that either. All that knowledge he has about seagulls, pigeons and sheep, on the one hand, robots, philosophy, on the other IS NO DAMN USE. (In this case.)

Forget high-tech husbands (or unhusbands). Back to sprays, vacuum cleaners, low tech stuff: against the fleas; to aloe vera, cut from the garden: against the bites. And to shutting doors to keep animals, especially the cat, out of her office. (Easier said than done. Cats, like fleas - and (un)husbands sometimes - tend to sneak in unannounced.)

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