Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com rockpool in the kitchen: 12/01/2007 - 01/01/2008

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Granny is as busy as she imagines everyone else is: little time to write much or look at other people's blogs. No need to explain why...... Apart from which...rains came - and how! - roof leaked....and how! - thereby hangs a tale she is not telling right now. But all has eased off now, her mop is less in use and families are coming and going... Nice, but tiring.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Waiting for the storm

Heavy weather predicted for tonight. Granny and Beloved bring everything that could be tossed about indoors, close all the shutters and sit in hope. Beloved is starting a cold and Granny has still got a sore back so both inclined to be snappy. Luckily noone is due to appear till Thursday. Let's hope they've recovered their tempers by then.

Meantime: debs. Ah Yes.

In Granny's family being presented at court was what you did: twice. Granny's mother and grandmother were not only presented as young women but again when they got married. Granny has photographs of both dressed in white - the grandmother rather more elaborately, with ostrich feathers on her head - and both wearing long white gloves. By the time Granny grew up this latter process had been discontinued and the earlier one was about to be. 1958, the year Granny and her twin were the appropriate age was to be the last year of any presentations to the queen whatever.

Now being a deb did not just involve being presented to the Queen. It also meant a summer of dances, cocktail parties, evening dresses, cocktail dresses, a London base, etc etc, all of it costing a lot of money and culminating in the most expensive bit of all: the dance - preferably at some big London hotel or a stately home if your parents were lucky enough to own one.

Granny's parents did not possess a stately home. A nineteen thirties suburban house twenty miles from London did not quite count. Nor did they have the money needed for such things. So most of the season's goings-on were not available to their daughters, apart from the odd dinner/dance/party, given by family friends, apart from a dance at the suburban house later in the summer - it did, luckily, have a largish garden. But given the family traditions, both her parents were determined to have their daughters presented at court.

The daughters were much less keen. Granny was already at Oxford and thinking of becoming a Marxist - if in the end she only got to be relatively left-wing, neither stance exactly fitted with bowing her knee to the queen. As for Granny's twin, she was generally bolshie - and very fed up having to go to a secretarial college near home rather than one in London; their parents couldn't afford that as well as Granny's Oxford fees. This, you can imagine, did not make for good communication between the two sisters. They were barely talking to each other in fact. That, for the parents, was an advantage. 'No way,' said both twins in their different ways and for different reasons when presentation was suggested. 'Oh,' said the parents cunningly, to each in turn. 'But you must. Your sister wants to. She'll be so disappointed, she can't be presented without you.' In the days of mobile phones and text messages, their bluff would have been called at once. Lacking them it wasn't. By the time the twins found out it was all too late.

Granny had spent her first two university terms feeling lonely, stuffing down cake provided by her mother. She was not thin and, very short-sighted, wore thick spectacles besides. The photograph still exists somewhere of her fat spectacled self clad in pale blue wild silk with a big skirt and what looked like a flowerpot on her head next to her thin un-spectacled sister wearing royal blue wild silk with a big skirt and a slightly more flattering hat, both standing outside Buckingham Palace railings alongside their parents, both of them scowling. Thereafter they queued up in an anteroom somewhere, with their contemporaries, all got up to look like their mothers, ie 40 odd rather than 18, waiting for their names to be called, and ,after the deed was done, sat on spindly golden chairs at the back, below an orchestra playing selections from Salad Days. As for the curtseys that intervened; Prince Philip was well-known for winking at the pretty girls. He winked at Granny's twin. He did not wink at her. In view of this not unexpected disappointment she ate more than she needed of the Fullers Chocolate cake provided at tea afterwards, touted as the reward for all the uncomfortable and politically incorrect deference to the Sovereign.

Granny was not the only rebel from that year. She knew - or would know - the two most notorious ones. She'd been at school with Teresa Hayter, 'Hayter of the Bourgouisie' who has spent the rest of her career slagging off the establishment, big business, the global economy, power and economic structures everywhere, very well indeed. Granny always did find her terrifying. And she was joined at university by Rose Dugdale who went even further, robbing the rich - her parents included - to give to the IRA. Granny remembers her at Oxford slouching round in a pair of black velvet trousers and with a reputation for sitting in men's colleges playing strip poker; all this, too, outside Granny's then rather more decorous life: and still more terrifying.

As for those bloody dances, the few she and her twin did get to. Granny spent most of them as the alas far from proverbial wallflower, hiding in the ladies. Even if she did come across a man she liked and who seemed to like talking to her, as soon as he asked what she was doing and she said 'I am at Oxford,' he fled. The men who went to deb dances, delightful or not, safe in taxis or not, did not like clever women. Women cleverer than Granny would pretend that they weren't: or else were pretty or witty enough to get away with it: unlike her.

She made up for all this later in her life when glasses and fat were shed. Would she want to be eighteen again? What do you think? Even now she suspects, even if eighteen year olds are no longer dressed up to look like their mothers - rather the reverse - she would not like it much. Oh the horror. The horror.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Home again

The lights - ha: the tree shimmers, is covered in parcels and has 3 reindeer, a snowman and a dog sitting round it. Don't know how culturally appropriate any of the latter are, but never mind. The car-park appropriating Belen - crib - is finished and is the only one Granny has ever seen on the island which not only has the usual miniature landscape, figures etc, but also life-size figures in local dress, backed by church, windmill, stables etc big enough for children to get inside. These boroughs get more and more competitive with their Belens every year. Parking, meantime, is a problem. Never mind.

Granny slowly gets her Lanzarote mind, eyes, body, back on. After London it takes time. Vicious wind this morning has died, that helps, land is greening up a little - not enough. Dogs have been recovered from kennels at vast expense and coated in anti-flea stuff, ditto. Beloved returns tomorrow. Goats do not give much milk, hens not laying eggs. All any of them do right now is EAT. Granny is about to eat herself, having got her local soul back down at the salt flats looking at terns and plovers, bathed in sun. Warm - not like London. Not yet dark either at almost six o'clock. Another bonus.

Did anyone see the progamme "Last party at the palace" on Thursday? Granny has a guilty secret. She thinks it's about time she admits it. Next time!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Zombies etc

This has not been the greatest of trips. Granny succeeded in putting her back out just like Beloved - too much coughing in awkward positions or something. He sat on one side of the room, she on the other, both groaning at attempts to get to their feet. Comic really. Darby and Joan recumbant. But tiresome. Fortunately miracle chiropracter came to the rescue. Till she did, Granny read everything in sight, Beloved solaced himself with heavy correspondance about zombies with his son, via email.

Zombies? you ask... Now, darlings, don't get all excited, these are philosophical zombies. Something quite different it seems from those quaint cosy undead-type zombies lurking around horror movies - the kind you love to shiver at, the dear cuddlesome, shuddersome things. Philosphical zombies come in quite different forms - no, don't ask Granny to explain. Beloved did attempt to explain to her and gave up. It's all very complicated and ever-so pernickity - the philosopher's equivalent of angels on the head of a pin - zombies in this case. Granny has very little patience with such things - was only glad it kept Beloved happy. Yesterday he said: 'I think we've solved the zombie problem!' Since it wasn't a problem exercised Granny much she found it hard to adopt the appropriately pleased expression. She tried, though.

Her much smaller mind was rather more pleased by yesterday's Evening Standard headline: TV star bites homeless man.' That's much more her sort of thing. Though she hastens to say she did of course feel sorry - very sorry - for the poor, bitten, homeless man.

Back to her island on Friday. See you there.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Granny Groaning

Beloved went to chiropractor and came back straight but groaning -was told this would continue for two more days: at least. Granny retired to bed with cold so called but more like flu - the kind makes you feel that if you were told the only alternative was death you'd cry bring it on: NOW. The wind meanwhile howled in sympathy - this she remembers from her academic literary days is called the pathetic fallacy - but it was worse than pathetic, let alone fallacious, it blew down a balcony door and had the nextdoor neighbour complaining it had frightened her child. (Granny has been trying to get said door fixed for months, to no avail: now it's altogether unfixable.) More groans. She is feeling well enough now to write this but that's about it. Beloved, bad back and all, is sitting across from her making heavy weather of sending funeral flowers for deceased friend in Edinburgh via the internet (What do they mean by billing address? he inquires.) Granny and Beloved should be in Edinburgh this minute for said funeral but between her lurgy and his back.... not possible. Another sudden death. The cull of winter among those of a certain age.

So no cheer here. Sorry folks. Roll on Christmas. Or maybe just roll over, Christmas. GO AWAY.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

home? or away?

Granny is in London with Beloved. She has got wet a few times, Beloved has put his back out and goes round at an angle like an about to sink Titanic... fortunately it doesn't seem to hurt much so he is not too grumpy; just has to be hauled out of chairs from time to time. Let's hope the chiropracter can put him back together. So meantime, though she does herself get about a bit, she has not a lot to say . She is too wiped out by the consumer fest that is before Christmas London. Nothing like absence on a smaller (much smaller) island for turning even a long-term Londoner like her back into a provincial mouse.

Back on the island: last time she went past the roundabout, the bush parked alongside the pillar has now gone up on top of it. IT IS A TREE. With leaves not fronds, so not a palm tree. Mysterious plastic covered bulges still hang around at the bottom. All will not wholly be revealed till she gets back home again. The Belen - the crib - is in the process of being created in the carpark. All very low key though compared to here. Oxford Street yesterday was empty of cars and full of people with funny heads on pretending to be Postman Pat and such like. Or else in cassocks singing Christmas Carols.

See you all later. Or not. She is doing editing work on her book so may be gone some time. Or maybe not.

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