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Thursday, July 10, 2008


For someone living on a dry Canary island a good English rainy day should be a luxury. Well sort of. But Granny is not sure that trudging round Kew Gardens with a runcible umbrella is the best way of enjoying it. Which is what she did yesterday - friendship sums up the reason for this, which, just possibly, justifies such masochism: but not entirely. She made up for her soaking later by sorting out - virtuously - boxes full of papers but that didn't do a lot to raise her spirits either. It wouldn't, would it. Virtuous or not. But at least it's done.

Big brother has been buried for two weeks nearly. Granny is beginning to think that what one mourns in these circumstances is not just what was but, still more, what wasn't. She loved her brother by default really, probably the way he loved her; bemusedly - how did he happen on such three entirely - by his standards - pinko sisters? Or she on such a Daily Telegraph-reading old-school brother? What would it have been like she wonders to have had a brother with whom she had more in common, to whom she felt really close. Yet she did feel close to Big Brother while he was dying, even though at times, listening to his views she did grit her teeth. If not views, opinions, outlooks, they had a past in common at least. And his weakness roused in her such maternal, sorry feelings, she wanted to hug and love him like a sister and so she did. In ways that through her angry youth and exasperated middle age she wouldn't have believed she wanted to. But oh she did; and oh she loved him. never mind everything else and thought regretfully of all the times she hadn't rung him, written, arranged to visit. Too late now - it always is. That story is over and done.

And now, in the way of things new ones are beginning: babies popping out to right left and centre: virtually, via the internet: in her own real life. The birth Granny is waiting for in England is that of her Beloved's first grandchild: she's ready to help when/as/if wanted. That's another thing she realises changes with age - not only prejudice towards the views of other members of her family wanes - or at least prejudice towards the holders of such views - also the passionate need to know the ends of stories wanes, for obvious, temporal reasons. The only way of knowing the ends of the stories of these new arrivals would be for them to die prematurely - the last thing she or anyone would want. She will hope to watch all these young things get born, grow up, certainly, but she will never know what happens to their lives beyond that.

In her days of working with mentally ill old - and still, now, happening on down and outs in the streets - she used to try - tries - t0 imagine them as babies, toddlers, hopeful schoolchildren. Now, too, she looks and will look at the babies, children, her grandchildren and try- or rather perhaps - try not to imagine them old. Wishing passionately that they too would not have to encounter what they cannot begin to imagine now, the withering of their flesh; the age spots, falling hair, creaky limbs - wrinkles - bloody wrinkles - general sagging of absolutely everything that begins to take over. That is taking Granny over, hard as she tries to avert such things with creams, potions and healthy exercise etc etc. As far as the children are concerned how she is now is how she's always been. Old family photographs - Granny has been going through family photographs - of her and siblings as stomping about toddlers, clear-skinned children are for them pure myth, not real really. What a shame that in time they too will realise that such changes happen to them too. Not the welcome changes of GROWING UP. But the much less welcome ones of GROWING OLD. Well, well Granny won't live to see that at least. Much as she likes, in general, to know the ends of stories, she is perhaps grateful to be spared such things, to be spared too their confrontation with the long-term effects of global warming etc, another storyline that will keep on running without her, whether she likes it or not. Leaving aside those ever more uncomfortable, worrying thoughts for more local ones, there's a limit to the amount of flesh you want to see proving that it's grass. Shame really that the only way of not seeing yourself that way - or not seeing much of it - is dying early. And no, age spots, wrinkles and all, ageing is better than that.

This uncomfortable thought too. There will come a point when storylines in the Archers will have to work themselves out without her ever knowing what they come to either.... horror on horror. Just imagine that. She's assuming of course that the Archers will go on for ever, global warming and all. Now that's a comfort. Well, sort of.

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