Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com rockpool in the kitchen: Nostalgia

Monday, November 24, 2008


Wonderful what little things can cheer you up when you're down. Granny entertained herself this morning with dancing hamsters, laughing babies, cats with Hitler moustaches, a sneezing panda. She felt better then.... until on Radio 3, just in her ear - by now she'd moved on to sterner things and was reading the Guardian - they played a love song which used to be thought by Bach, called Bist du bei Mir. ("Are you with me?") And immediately she was back, forty-nine and a half years ago, sitting on the floor in first floor room in St John's Street Oxford with the sun pouring through the window - an undergraduate room, belonging to the man she married three years later, after a blip or two, father of her children. This was the song he played her that day, on a very beat-up record player, sitting on the floor in front of them. She was madly in love at the time - for the first time; (that madness, that up one minute, down the next, with only the rarest of bemused intervals, thinking - 'well here I am? what's changed really? - here's life, essays, teeth-cleaning, dirty socks, coffee-drinking, leaves on trees and off them.. etc etc etc just like before? -the way you do in due course, much more often, once you come down from soaring into the heights - the ceiling, the sky, the stratosphere.) 'Yes I'm with you, and this is how it will always be...' Oh dear, oh dear. All that contradictory life that has passed between then and now. Nearly fifty years. And yet how powerful the music remains. 'Bist du bei Mir?' "No actually, not for a long time'. For that you weep. And for your idiot, romantic past. Dennis Potter was once asked how he viewed his younger self. 'With tender contempt' he said. Oh yes. Oh yes. But where has all that time gone? Granny cannot imagine.

Come to think of it, there's music associated with all Granny's loves through her life. And most can make her cry with memory and loss of love and sweetness. As Du Bist bei Mir did this morning. What a sentimentalist she is. Not so now, though. Beloved has never played her music and urged her to melt to it along with him. Not a music man, this Beloved. What does she associate with him - what will she, if ever she has to be without him - she hopes not. The bleat of his goat? The maddening yip yip of some dog, just like Tiresome Terrier when she wants to come in? Or perhaps just the sound of his voice in her head saying "What are you talking about?' Or 'What's that noise, it's awful..' as he might well have said had he come in when she was crying to her music. But he didn't. As you can appreciate, he and Granny don't watch the X Factor together, either, though Granny might sneak a listen to the odd clip when she's alone..... not that this music makes her cry or is ever likely to.

Otherwise: local life. The three eggs in the new incubator don't look likely to hatch now. Has Beloved over-heated, hard-boiled them? Or is the old cockerel firing blanks these days? Or what? It's a shame though. Another melancholy non-production.

There are more productive things going on, though, down on the land. The onions are planted out - a second lot because rabbits got some of the first, before a fence went up. On an island of which the staple crop has been onions since way before then, it's amazing how hard it is to get the seed ones. There was practically a free fight in the shop which sells such things - people turning over the onions in their boxes to get nice-looking ones. Beloved trumped them by buying a whole box. But Juan their next-door neighbour went in too late and couldn't get any this year. They'd have given him some, but for the rabbits, but for now generosity will have to wait till the crop comes. The goat is visibly swelling. Let's hope hers is not a phantom pregnancy like the eggs.

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