Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com rockpool in the kitchen: 01/01/2008 - 02/01/2008

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Sorry everyone: granny has been busy....today has met writing friend, had hair cut (and coloured, whisper whisper - she doesn't do grey, no she doesn't) then spent long afternoon with ex-publisher turned freelance editor who is doing work on Going Mental for her: meaning she - Granny will be doing a great deal more work, most of which means cut cut cut, chop, chop, chop. This she doesn't mind - slicing away large amounts of her own redundant prose always does give her pleasure - not even masochistic pleasure - like cutting butter with a knife. NO PROBLEM. Just lots more work.

On Friday she returns to her island, but will have to be back on Britain almost within the month, to see sick friend, going via her older, now sick brother who lives - inconveniently -for her - near Marbella. He has just been diagnosed as very sick. He and Granny have never been close - if brother wasn't sick he would be playing golf/bridge or hanging out round his expat complex pool bar with his expat - and Tory -buddies; you can see maybe why he and Granny are not best mates. But he is her brother, after all, bearer not only of her genes but of her family history, she would much rather that he was happily out there doing these things rather than lying in a hospital bed contemplating nasty treatments and a drastically reduced life-span. Will all this sickness never stop? Probably not at her age.

Anyway this evening she is off for an Indian with an old friend whom she hasn't seen for a long time now - and on Friday she will be back home with Beloved and his goats, trolling down to the coast most days with her dog to catch up on birds. Better than hospitals for sure.

See you there.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

United Nations

Granny's flat has not been a flat for the last couple of days; it has been a site. Till two hours ago the site was being worked on by Croatian with a Japanese wife. At this moment, an Albanian electrician is spread-eagled on the kitchen floor connecting a pump to the newly installed boiler. Somewhere outside is an Iraqi due to appear any minute with two or three more of the necessary connectors.

The heating and water have come on again at last. Or rather they HAD come on again. They've have now been turned OFF because of the installation of the pump without which it turns out said boiler would be illegal; pumps is also of course an extra. The price of the boiler keeps going up: and UP: AND UP.

Granny is delighted to keep so many people in employment. She just wishes it was cheaper.

She sat next to an Arab woman on the bus yesterday; the driver had stopped for both of them. 'Some of these drivers are nice to you,' Granny said. 'In Arabic,' said the Arab woman 'we say people have different fingers.'

What it is to live in a multi-cultural society...


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Cold Winds

Merry merry life. Granny is sitting in her flat well wrapped up. Her boiler has met its maker - but the corpse, alas, is still sitting there, will stay sitting there until Wednesday when the boilermen arrive to install its successor at the usual hideous kind of price. Boilermen will make "as little mess as possible" - they say. Merrier and merrier. Dustier and dustier. But at least once they've done it will be warm dust. Warmer.

Meantime , to add to her general cheer, dear agent is very thumbs down on any hope of selling Going Mental in present publishing climate....not that she's read the new version: she just knows the market. Granny is gloomily soldiering on with what might turn out to be yet another bloody corpse. But at least this one won't be dusty.

No more corpses she promises. Nevertheless, worse, far worse than any of these - relatively - minor matters, one of her oldest and dearest friends has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Much discussion about things like lymph nodes over the telephone. Friend lives in what you could, loosely, call Loamshire, and new guidelines about patients being involved in treatment decisions etc etc doesn't seem to have reached Loamshire General. After being told - no argument - what they proposed to do, dear friend has voted with her feet and demanded second opinions and a specialist centre, preferably in London where her children live. She should NOT have to fight like this. Good for her self-esteem maybe, but not her nerves. Granny's long experience in this area is being called on. For whatever good that does. What she can say - does say- demonstrates in her very flesh - is that diagnosis is not a death sentence..... True enough. But it sure does remind everyone, particularly the sufferer, of their mortality; good for the soul perhaps but not much else. Granny is sighing and worrying; old friends MATTER. Something she realises more and more as the years go on, as other old friends confront the failings of their not so mortal flesh, and do not always survive the confrontation.

After a weekend of rather more cheerful things like families and grandchildren, well-chilled vintage Granny has been having other more cheerful thoughts too; these she will spare you for the moment.


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

thin skin, sweet blood...

Well that's what Granny has evidently. Thin skin, sweet blood. Fleas like it she was told by someone recently. Obviously they like it, judging by her collection of flea bites. Beloved has none - thick skin, sour blood, him: LUCKY HIM. Yes, Granny still has a flea problem. She has washed, boraxed, strongholded all three domestic animals to an inch of her, their, everyone's lives. But still this morning there was a flea nestling on her pillow....

She has clear weeks often. LICKED IT, she thinks, smugly. Next thing, she feels some little thing wandering around inside her garments, and shouts even louder than Amy Winehouse objecting to Rehab - and a lot less musically.... NO NO NO.

The difference between now and last time they had a flea problem - and rid themselves of it - is probably the goats and the chickens. One piece of esoteric knowledge acquired by Granny is that goats can harbour cat fleas: well well well. The cat hangs out with the goats and with chickens and you can't stronghold all of them.

Just as well she's off to England. The most flea-problematic place in the house is her office - it's the only one with a pile rug. She tries to keep the cat out of there - but you know cats. Two or three weeks without her - or the cat - visiting will she hopes starve them out. She would be sad to starve out chickens or any other animals. But she has no compunction about fleas. The RSPCA can lump it. (There's no such thing here. And she doesn't believe that the RSPCA goes in for protecting parasites, anyway.) Let them not eat cake, she shouts, better still, let them starve. By which she means, really, let them not eat HER any longer. Thin skin, sweet blood and all.

PS. Latest suggestion from Mr Handsome is that fleas hop onto Beloved while he's milking the goat. Thick skin, sour blood not suiting them, they hang about till he comes inside then hop on his Beloved crying yummy mummy in flea speak. Or yummy grandmummy rather. That's love that is. Not the kind anyone wants - certainly not a flea-bitten, itching, granny.

Moral of the story. Do not live with a man who keeps goats. Or chickens. You could say: don't keep cats yourself. But if you don't have cats here you are overrun with mice. Itching all over, or shifting sewers' worth of mouse dirt - which infestation to go for? Take your pick.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Post Christmas everything

Well, Christmas is over at last - it goes on longer here because of the three kings and had a day extra added this year because the big holiday, 6th of January, fell on a Sunday. So that's it, the lights cease to be lit and and will be removed, in due course, all the cribs, the 'Belens' round the island will be removed, in due course. In due course here means not soon or fast. Granny and Beloved might get their local carpark back eventually. But only eventually. Not that they use the car park much, or care much if it's there or not. It's just the principle you understand. Possibly.

One trend was a bit different this year; the use of life-size - or semi-life size figures. A large proportion of those in the local car park Belen, backed by nice paintings of volcanoes, etc, were child-sized and dressed in local dress although the main Christmas scene in the front had only miniature ones. The Belen in what used to be the old capital, Teguise, was in the courtyard of the little colonial type palace there and had all its figures life-size. And a real goat and two kids penned in one corner. Only Joseph Mary and the baby were biblical figures. All the rest were of men and women in local dress doing local things - a carpenter, a drawer of water, someone shucking corn, a woman pounding it, another woman doing the laundry. Every last one of these figures has been carved with worn, old, depressed faces, with wrinkles and with bags under their eyes. Joy of Christmas was not in evidence, exactly. An indication of how hard life used to be here? Possibly. If so the impression was enhanced for Granny and Beloved by the calendar put out by the local Ayuntamiento (town council.) It consisted of old photographs, a lot of them of people standing about in local dress or that of the time the photos was taken, mostly grim looking; only a few attempting smiles. There was one picture showing the local church and the town hall, at right angles to what is still the main square. But the square wasn't pretty then, didn't have trees, paving shrubs, flowers; it was just a dusty open space - it was the village threshing-floor possibly, among other things. Behind were scrubby farms spread over the hills, the odd dirt road. No gardens with flowers round any of them either, no palm trees, nothing. Just bare land and hills.

There are gardens all over the island now, and squares in the centre of village, surrounded by trees, like in any southern village - admittedly cactus, birds of paradise plants and palm trees aren't so common in Europe. Water desalination and tourism do have something to say for themselves perhaps. The island can be bleak enough now at certain times of the year. But back then....help. You wouldn't wish it on anyone; even despite the round of festivals which happened then as now - they didn't look so jolly, though.

In haste. Granny has a deadline: she has to finish Going Mental by the end of January, ready to be edited: one reason she has stopped putting it up here. And on Thursday she is off to the UK for this and that. Sorry, folks.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Yet another year

Yet another year, thinks Granny. Hasn't she seen too many already and don't they all come in and out so fast? Time was when 1984 seemed mythical....it still does seem mythical but as part of the past - a long ago past as far as the younger members of her family are concerned; George Orwell isn't in there anymore, and Big Brother is a trivialised figure these days. And, anyway, here she is in 2008, like it nor not.

Not like, much, at the moment: she has a cold caught from Beloved Daughter who caught it from Beloved Son-in-Law who didn't catch it from Beloved's Beloved Daughter who was suffering from an independent one, but suffering just the same. It's been that sort of Christmas - two Christmases as far as Granny is concerned: Beloved's Beloved daughter + partner came for three days before Christmas and wanted to celebrate a mini-Christmas with Granny and Beloved - Granny's type of Christmas what's more, involving birds, chestnut stuffing and mincepies rather than Beloved's more advanced and tradition-despising ideas involving roast kid etc. So that was one Christmas and two nights later came another of Granny's traditional kinds - roast kid doesn't seem popular round here except with Beloved... So she's been busy. The mince pies and the chestnut stuffing were delicious as always. The chickens on the other hand.... Granny had, very virtuously, purchased two free range birds from the farmer on the hill to the north who supplies her free range lamb every now and then. Unfortunately their ranging had been so free - 'the Paula Radcliffes of the chicken world' was beloved daughter's version - that, roasted, it was hard to get anyone's teeth into their flesh. They made delicious stock though and that and the meat once much longer cooked made an excellent traditional fricassee of the kind Granny's mother used to make; everyone came, saw, ate and pronounced it delicious - even Beloved: 'of its kind,' he said, a little grudgingly, still hankering after roast kid.

Beloved is not in very good odour at the moment. Turned out leaking roof was partly due to his declining to buy the expensive paint with which it should be fixed - or to allow working time for it: new paving for one patio and new chicken houses came first. Not that Granny knew anything about this until Mr Handsome explained the issue whereupon she made a very loud noise and sent him out with necessary large sum of money to buy the paint. Problem is: it needs a long dry spell before paint can be applied..... Well, we'll see. Beloved in further doghouse because he crossed one white line too many while driving - the powers that be have been painting white lines on roads all over the island to try and reduce the appalling accident figures in Spanish territories. Since dawdling behind dawdling tourists is not Beloved's thing, he tended to ignore the white lines dismissing Granny's protests when she was with him that this was illegal, saying he could see, that it was quite to safe to pass...etc. Which it was on the whole: he's a good driver. Not that the authorities conceded that when he was reported: and was not only given a 300 euro fine but also had his licence removed for a month. Granny and Beloved do not live in a place where it is possible to do what needs to be done without a car. Too far from public transport for one thing. WHAT public transport?

Go figure. Granny has been doing a lot of driving. Beloved is not exactly contrite: Beloved does not do contrite: is even still suggesting someone else might have been driving his truck on the day in question - like who? Granny herself was in England at the time.

But there you go. And a merry enough Christmas was had by all, despite: Granny had some goodly presents, the best one of all from the BBC. Radio 3 is now available again from their digi-box. She can listen to its music again. WHOOPEE!! She does listen too. Last Thursday everyone else being out, she heard the last act of the Valkyrie, her favourite part of all the Ring Cycle, of all opera maybe, for her one of the greatest works of Western art ranking along side Valazquez' Las Meninas and Middlemarch - sorry, folks, she makes no bones about liking - loving - these things: she's a highbrow she is despite all her mother's warnings that being highbrow would put men off, would never get her a husband. (Actually it got her three, in a manner of speaking, so her mother wasn't right about that one.)

And she's not all bad. She's addicted to the Archers isn't she? And she did sneak a hearing of Beloved Eldest Granddaughter's Led Zeppelin CD and Beloved son-in-law is going to pass on to her a copy of Robert Plant and Alison's Krauss' C D. Eclectic she; not just highbrow.

Oh and the sun's out. And the grass here is not only green but ever greener and the wild marigolds are beginning to show their beautiful yellow faces all over.

Hope you all have an eclectic New Year. Highbrow and eclectic for ever. As for wild marigolds.... Granny wishes everyone lots and lots of those. And Wagner too. But only if you want him. She's kind like that.

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