Monday, December 31, 2007

"Happy New Year"

New Years Eve.
Tomorrow, we wake to a brand new year; it's glistening with glossy promise, our hopes and fears already visible though its slithery cellophane.
And probably, there's a thousand secrets waiting for us beneath its shiny wrappings...
Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

"This Thing Called Christmas"

OK, I was a cynic last posting but despite what I say now, I still maintain I had a point.
However, nevertheless:
Writer Julie Myerson brought a lump to my throat 1st thing this morning.
Like Monday, I was huddled in bed with the Times ( R out already, lost in frost in his balaclava on the golfcourse) but there was no lack of heating in my house today; I was simply enjoying being comfy with tea, toast and Lorna's Coniston honey.
So I read. And Myerson had written a piece ( with other writers) entitled " Going Home", ie what we all tend to do at Christmas, whether literally back to our roots along the motorways, or if we're elsewhere, having that annual look into the shadows of our minds, the shifting and sifting through the cobwebs of memory.
At the close of her piece , Myerson told of a Christmas walk; three people and a dog, "as day tipped into dusk". It had been an "ordinary" family Christmas but, she says, :" that frozen field, the strange blend of our voices as sky drained of light, has settled in my memory as a high point. ....I remember being entirely, dizzingly happy." ......

And you know JUST what she means. You see that icy landscape, hear those voices and you know just what she means about high points because you remember your own high points, your own personal definitions of Christmas magic..

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

"A Gentle Diatribe"

Mrs Scrooooge here. She's disguised as a woman with "mad hair" ( I quote the words of her sons and a writer fellow called Adrian who occassionally reads this blog when he's nothing better to do )...
I continue about Mrs Scrooge; she's also disguised as a woman with thickening waist, dwarf sized hands and a tendency to interrupt ( See, R, I know, I know..)

BUT: I am being practical. I am being honest. Well, for the moment. This is it:

I wish Christmas could be less frequent: THERE, I've said it.
I wish Christmas could be once every two years. It comes round faster each year. It comes round faster than Easter, faster than bridges, faster than fairies and certainly faster than witches.It comes round faster than the Magical First Day Of The Summer Holidays ever did ( when I lay in bed, watched sunlight trickle through curtains and realised I had 6 weeks to a)play in the orchard, b)dress up as a squaw, c)watch Roger Gabriel in his jeans on his bike....HIS 10 year old waist in HIS jeans was nothing short of marvellous... BUT I digress)

Hmm, yes. Christmas IS lovely, it's jolly, it's merry, but it demands a lot of thought that takes up time from my every day life which (funnily enough), is actually quite interesting and pretty rewarding and always nice to get back to....without the swaddling of a tree in tinsel ( a gentle green tree, dragged cruelly from a forest) or the fighting of Crazed Humanity in WH Smiths or the planning of Who Goes Where ( as opposed to Who Goes There) or writing Christmas cards to The Little Boy Down The Lane.....sorry, I've lost it; I meant The Man Down the Road ( he who constantly ambushes me as I stagger out of my car in my drive, my shopping hanging off my arms like weary tinsel on a said gentle tree....he who only ever talks about dental problems ( his) the value of houses (his) ...but woa, crumbs! He MUST be worried in today's climate, so I'd better write an extra cheery note on HIS card ( something like: " Count your blessings and not what you're worth!"......and, then of course, there's the Having to Clean behind our Radiators, something I think I SHOULD be doing each year as Christmas approaches (heaven knows why, because I don't)...... I pause lengthily for breath.

Oops, sorry. That's a lie. I haven't got to clean behind radiators and I never have cleaned behind radiators; my family will vouch for that. And they'll also vouch for tops of lampshades, top of fridge and topmost bookshelves. BUT: I was slouching at the kitchen table earlier and while retrieving an olive I'd carelessly dropped behind said radiator, I saw a thicket of woolly dust resembling Shaun the Sheep; it was cosily gathered there, keeping itself warm while shepherds lay, probably stoned under the cooker...
Think that's enough.
I'm off to bed now with a mincepie and "Cranford".
Shaun the Sheep can rest in peace.
I'll list Good Things about Christmas tomorrow.
Coz, yes, there are LOTS!

Monday, December 10, 2007

"From Greenwich To Cranford, With Love From Philippa...".

This morning, there's a piece in The Times re tonight's Led Zep gig. Hawk-eyed 1st thing ( and huddled in bed as our heating packed up) I saw that this article featured a quote from my 2nd cousin Philippa ( she who comments on m'blog )

Philippa was at O2 Greenwich yesterday, collecting tickets/wristbands for said gig; presumably, she was interviewed while queueing. And poor Philippa. As she shivered in the cold, she told paparazzzi how years ago, she did "some very bad planning"( THIS from a highly efficient geography teacher) ...but she planned SO badly that she missed the very last Led Zep gig of all .. because it fell on another Very Important Day...
I remember that day well. My family gathered in a pretty Worcestershire market town; Philippa ( ringletted ) was romantic in white. Her platinum sister Susan was vivid in red, and me....I was clad in something long, flowery, Laura Ashley; I probably ressembled a Seventeenth Century Worcestershire Milkmaid. My own handsome blue-eyed father (white hair curling over collar of dark suit) " gave" Philippa away. And until today, I thought all had been Very Well.

BUT NOW I've read today's Times with Philippa's quote. And years on, she explains the tragedy of her Missed Led Zep Gig; instead of watching the world's best ever rock band, she got married in a gentle grey church in a serene part of Middle England, and (Philippa's rueful words):" I have regretted it ever since".

I'm SURE Philippa didn't mean that how it sounds, but it tickled me. And it'll tickle others ( husband Paul included) and it puts me in mind of lovely "womanly" quotes from the night heard while watching Heidi Thomas's adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell's " Cranford".
Cranford, as Gaskell opens in her book, is a town full of women; it's a place "in possession of Amazons"'s also a place of " peppery words and angry jerks of the head" but its women are close and eloquent and they're chroniclers, through speech/action, of a long gone Knutsford. Knutsford, Cheshire, is said now to be a warren of wealthy WAGS; in fact, it's rumoured that Victoria Beckham's glam cast-offs once filled an entire Knutsford charity shop....the Cranford ladies would've loved THAT juicy gossip...
BUT as the Times says today ( in its TV review) Thomas, like Philippa (who waits in London now for a fabulous evening) delights with her words, phrases like "She deserves some enjoyment before she settles into marriage"....echoing Gaskell's own :"It is very pleasant dining with a bachelor. I only hope it's not improper; so many pleasant things are!"...
And although it's ENTIRELY the wrong word to describe such a gig, I reckon tonight's Led Zepellin reunion will be very PLEASANT indeed..
AND I hope Philippa, absolutely, "regrets nothing!" ...
PS. How's this for coincidence?? Minutes ago, I switched on BBCTV Lunchtime was exactly the right moment, because who should be sitting on pavement queueing for O2 but Philippa's husband, Paul....and looking pretty happy, I hasten to add.

Friday, December 07, 2007

" Welcoming Harriet"

Monday was special for two Liverpool solicitors; their baby daughter was born.
I'll meet her at Christmas when she'll be 3 weeks old.
She has lots of dark hair and the littlest of feet; so says my younger son, of his brand new niece.

Little feet. I remember my own firstborn's little feet. I have very small hands but I sat up in bed in the dark hospital night and I cradled those feet in my hands and I loved their softness, their texture, their smell of newness; such perfection. Hmm. Sounds mushy, but it was lovely and I don't aplogise!

Years on, I wrote this; I don't often write poetry but something drove me to this. It's called " His Boots".

"I dropped them at the station...
him in his boots, hefty size ten.
My son, and the girl with the lights in her hair.
Back-packs, a Turkish skull cap
( And him, in his boots)

And then in my mind's eye, I pictured:
his feet.
In my hands, I once stroked their newness..
toes, nails, like pale cream shells,
rosy heels, small;
Years ago.

For the London train
I dropped them at the station,
the girl with the lovely eyes
and him, in his boots, hefty size ten.
End of their holiday,
end of Easter: beginnings.

Leaving with laughter,
( and him, in his boots)

And the thing is , L+N ( if you're peeping) it'll seem like no time at all before H is wearing the highest of heels, the clumpiest of tickle her feet and enjoy every minute..