Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com rockpool in the kitchen: 01/01/2009 - 02/01/2009

Friday, January 30, 2009

Home again

Well home again, assuming Lanzarote is Granny's home - which it is of course, not least because that's where Beloved is - but at the same time London is also Granny's home, has been for most of her adult life: you can see the schizoid tuggings of the accidental expat she is, no matter what. Home, after all, is not only where the Beloved is but also where the babies are - big and little babies that is. (On the other hand there are about to be babies here too; Ruby the goat's pregnancy advances fast. She is shyer when pregnant, does not advance to the fence, bleating, when Granny appears, though she does put her head and legs over the stall in eagerness to reach out to the fennel tops Granny carries with her. Fennel is the latest crop here and a good one too; another local pleasure.)

After two days of sun it has been raining all day till now. Water is the leitmotif of Granny's life this winter, it seems, after the problems with the water company and the aljibe on her island and the floods in her flat in London. And after the rain at - she was about to say home and abroad - but which is which when either is both? - to say rain both here and there will do. She does say it; here being Lanzarote just now. Of course.

Back in London Beloved Middle Granddaughter has advanced to a mobile phone; texting a good way of communication between grandchild and grandparent; particularly when Grandchild is a bit sad over exam failures. Granny does wish the exams were not being inflicted on her, due to inadequacy of state schools on offer, she is told. (This is more her no-longer daughter in law's view in fact. Beloved son would be much more sanguine to see his eldest disappear to a state paid-for establishment.) It's not an issue Granny faced in her day; a stern supporter of the state system, her, though Beloved Son did circumnavigate those principles somewhat, when, aged 14, a series of programmes about a certain public school so enthused him he demanded to be taken away from his comprehensive and sent to one. His father, more indulgent in such matters than Granny as well as richer, not to mention good friends with the headmaster of another public school agreed to his request, and so, over Granny's dead body - and dire warnings from her of what he would find there - off he went. Dead bodies have a habit of coming to life on these occasions, though. This one did come to life, when, after his first term away, Beloved Son complained bitterly about just the things Granny had warned him of and demanded to be allowed back to his comprehensive school. 'After all this you can bloody stay there,' she said -or words to such effect - and indeed he did stay right through to A levels, getting the reputation among his mini Tory schoolfellows for being the school Ken Livingstone - he'd gone old enough to have absorbed parental politics and to be far from shy about asserting them - and gaining various advantages he'd never have got at his previous school: the wonderful art teacher, for instance, who turned him into a good ceramicist, also several outward bound type trips yomping over bits of Scotland in not the least militaristic way with the school cadet corps - oh and a subsequent adventure with the National Schools Geographic Society which dispatched him to the Norwegian Arctic Circle to help in a scientific study of glaciers: all that was to the good. Though she does think it's a shame state schools can't offer just such advantages. Ah well. It was all a long time ago and in another country besides. And it's time, anyway, to take her dog for a walk in the after-the-rain cold. Ta ra for now.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Granny is sitting in London, bleary-eyed after an insomniac night, waiting for someone to come and fix a door. One of those between 8am and 1pm jobs: -as if noone has anything better to do than hang around endlessly for non-arriving workmen/deliveries etc etc. Yesterday was even better: two floods - one, in the morning, caused by her finally disintegrating washing-machine deluging downstairs flat (cue another morning wait later this week, while inevitable but expensive new washing-machine is delivered) one around nine pm, caused by upstairs flat deluging Granny's bathroom for no clear reason.

In between these unwanted dowsings, she took middle granddaughter to see lively production of Pinocchio: pretty good - children's theatre these days does not inflict the kind of parental suffering it used to. Though having sat through Disney's version of same story with yet another (non grand)child less than two weeks ago, Granny did feel slightly over-Pinocchioed. She prefers sometimes not knowing exactly what happens next. Beloved middle granddaughter had no such problem, fortunately. Good. BMG's sadness at rejection by secondary school of choice meant the pleasure was needed; as was application of Granny's grandmotherly comfort - wisdom - or what passes for it: only justification for calling it wisdom probably is that one pushing 70 has had a few more reverses in her time than one pushing 11, so knows that the pain passes; eventually. (it's the downside of having children and grandchildren, watching them learn that life can hurt: good for character, maybe, but not much else.) But what else are grandparents for, for goodness sake, other than sitting through productions of this and that kiddy theatre, good and bad, and offering the odd verbal crumb of comfort to downcast children. As in 'these things happen, you get over them and you know you're lovely really'.... same old stuff. (This particular granddaughter is in fact not just lovely in every sense the way all Granny's beloved granddaughters are, but actually beautiful -think young Emanuelle Beart eg - a face that certainly doesn't come from Granny's side of the family, she assures you, but you don't push that, do you? It will bring its own problems for sure - and dangers - not least vanity vanity and all that. Fortunately vanity is not this interesting oddball of a child's problem. Just as well.)

Bang bang bang somewhere is not door-fixers banging at Granny's door unfortunately. Shame. Yawn. But at least there's some light outside today. A week in grey London does make Granny realise the merits of her island. On the other hand it's nice to be warmer indoors. 18 centigrade feels, if not tropical exactly, like a greenhouse compared to her Lanzarote kitchen.

And tomorrow Obama is inaugurated. GOOD. Granny has dreamed herself present at these events three nights in a row. Obsessive or what? But, it is true, in a world where horrible things seem to be happening everywhere, this does seem to represent a glimmer of hope. A great man is definitely needed. And maybe, at last, we have one. But she does wish he didn't keep invoking Lincoln. And that today isn't, coincidentally, Martin Luther King day. Think what happened to both of them? And to Kennedy too - a day in Denver which Granny herself remembers all too well - arriving at a friend's house for dinner to find the butcher's aproned friend on the doorstep brandishing a frying pan and saying: "He's been shot." She doesn't want to suffer - want anyone to suffer - that agony again - it followed Kennedy-aroused hope not unlike that evoked by our now very own Barack. She was pregnant with Beloved Daughter at the time. Did these events have any effect on her? Who knows. (Cook friend by the way, made the mistake of removing asbestos coated stuff from his roof a few years later, and did not survive that experience more than ten years or so. A doubly painful memory. Ah well.)

Saturday, January 10, 2009


The family that arrived in the rain went out with it. Inbetweenwhiles it was pretty good on the whole, apart from Beloved Baby having a cold which disrupted its parents' nights, and which, this previously miracle sleeping baby having learned thereby the charms of receiving parental attention at two, three and four a.m, continued to disrupt their sleep; chronically. (Granny has dug into her grandparently memory and dispatched something called Tomi Starlight Dreamshow (sorry about that) that distributes dancing stars to the ceiling and gentle lullabies to the ears of the wakeful child to the home of Beloved's daughter, hoping that it will have the same miraculous affect on this step - as it were - Beloved Grandchild as it did on Beloved granddaughter number one some years back.)

Meantime Beloved has discovered one unwanted affect of Grandparenthood - and Granny has rediscovered it - the infliction of grandchildly ailments on the elderly relatives. Both of them are aching and sneezing and running at the eyes. She seems to have read somewhere, some time back, that the unawakened immune systems of the very young tend to pass these things on in particularly virulent forms and so it has happened. A new experience for Beloved if not for Granny - leaving aside all those colds, she once found herself with headlice - though even that cannot compare with the experience of poor Georges Sand in the 1860's who at the age of 69 went down with whooping cough; something, thank god that's not likely to happen now.

It was a good ten days all the same, if exhausting. Beloved's birthday went off perfectly despite the lurking family ailments: Granny cooked - occasionally falling over Beloved as she did so - Beloved does not take kindly to competition in the kitchen and nor does she - cleared, emptied and refilled the dishwasher, cleaned up all over and endlessly entertained, dandled, cuddled Beloved Baby, cold and all. When she had recovered from the cold, more or less, Beloved Baby reciprocated, obligingly, by rolling over for the first time in front of her Grandpa and Grannyp rather than her parents. Oh the clever girl. She also showed up very well, by comparison, with a visiting infant, Mr and Mrs Jonah's granddaughter - theirs was an altogether superior child, B and GP decided. But then they would, wouldn't they?

And outside the world went on regardless. Oh God, the Gaza situation - any small sympathy Granny might have had given those Hamas rockets- she has Israeli friends of longstanding - has gone out of the window to be replaced by horror and despair. (Hurry up Obama. Hurry up. Ban military and other support to Israel). Meantime on the home front those sterling familiar - stuffy -names of her childhood are all going under...

Good heavens - Viyella - those Viyella school blouses she wore: Good heavens, Wedgwood - her mother's precious oval blue plaques adorned with the raised white cameos of English admirals - Beloved Brother kept them, goodness knows where they are now. Good heavens Woolworths, of the echoing wooden floors and trays full of pick n'mix sweets or useless, highly coloured and highly desirable objects cheap enough to be acquired by pocket-money (1 shilling a week when Granny was eight - 5p - fancy that). Down they all go one by one, accompanied by more recent places she'd never heard (Zavvi? what's that? Maybe Granny does remember vaguely seeing their name up along shopping streets but never took it in exactly, a Tower Records person her, not that Tower Records exists any longer either.) Sic transit all of it, along with brothers, sisters, parents, friends, as the years pass by.

Sneezing Granny does feel old sometimes. The more so probably because Beloved Baby's insomnia has spread to her now, along with the cold; she's distinctly short of sleep. As for Beloved: he's retired to bed again. Aren't they pathetic?

But at least the hens have started laying again, in time to make a tortilla to feed to the departing family. And it least it looks like the big freeze is abating back home in London, just in time for her arrival there. She wasn't looking forward to that.

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