Month: February 2015

Postcard from now: the moon split in two

I just went into the garden, looking for an excuse to write something here. I could tell you how the sky this morning was pure blue & as I walked home from town with a coffee in one hand and the pushchair in the other, everything seemed full of possibility. Always, I’m amazed how the weather can affect me so deeply. (Caffeine too, of course.) And how, when we got to our singing class, the Pip-Pop was so sweet, so beautiful, his voice piping and clear. ‘Who has got red castanets?’ ‘I have!’ I could tell you how last night when I went to yoga, the sky was clear. The stars bright & precise. The moon split in two: half lit, half shadowed. I could tell you that when it turned out that there was no yoga, I ran back home; through the car park, past the school. Breathless, lungs filled with river-cold air. I could tell you that the garden, though full of scaffolding and mud, is also full of promise. Rose leaves unfurling. …

Five

Half-term and the Moose turned five. He was, quite possibly, the most delightful birthday child ever. We woke him early — just before seven — so that he could open his presents before B left for work. (Usually B is gone before seven; back after bedtime.) We had a visit from old London friends; a day that reminded me so much of those long ago days back when T was small. There was a chocolate cake with chocolate buttons that were meant to say ‘5’ but looked more like they said ‘S’. He turned out the lights as I lit the candles & then blew out the candles before we could get to the end of ‘Happy Birthday’. Later, on the phone to my mum and then my brother he told them about his new cement mixer: ‘You put sand in it and it comes out looking like black mud!’ There was a day when three scaffolders spent the morning carrying scaffold through the house. Each time one of them passed him, Pospy would tell …

Drawn From Life by Stella Bowen

Drawn From Life

Why are people allowed — and women encouraged — to stake their lives, careers, economic position, and hopes of happiness on love? Why did not my godfathers and godmothers in my baptism, and my copybooks at school, and my mother when she tried to explain the facts of life, all tell me, “You must stand alone”? How dare parents encourage their girls to remain in a state of receptive idleness so that they may be ready, at a moment’s notice, to follow the dictates of a love affair? […] Women are eating¬† their hearts out, and rotting away right and left, because love and domesticity have been inadequate to fill their lives. Drawn From Life by Stella Bowen ‘My mother’s life spanned the years between the close of the nineteenth century and the late 1940s, a half century that began with muslin dresses, tennis parties and cricket matches in South Australia and ended with the Second World War and its aftermath in England,’ writes Stella Bowen’s daughter, Julia Loewe, in her introduction to the 1984 …

To penetrate the familiar

Penetrating the familiar is by no means a given. On the contrary, it is hard, hard work. The Situation and the Story, Vivian Gornick There was a morning last week when we woke to snow. We hadn’t been following the forecast, and so to us it was all a beautiful surprise. When I write early, climbing the stairs to the loft room, the sky is still dark, but that morning it was like entering a cave — the windows covered with a layer of snow. Writing there I felt like I was encased in cotton wool. There wasn’t much; it was gone by lunchtime. But there’s nothing like seeing the world dusted in white to make the familiar seem somehow magically transformed. The weeks go by & we try to keep the rhythm. Next week, a break again: half-term and the Moose’s fifth birthday. Today has been about errands: renewing our parking permit; phoning to arrange a new mouthpiece for T’s clarinet & then driving to pick it up. There was a trip with the …

Lucky Us

My father’s wife died. My mother said we should drive down to his place and see what might be in it for us. opening lines of Lucky Us by Amy Bloom Forgive me, library gods, for I have sinned. I checked Lucky Us out of the library back in — and now I hesitate to even tell you this — August. And I read it in greedy gulps this past week, racking up a fine each day because I’d had it for so long that I could no longer renew it. I wouldn’t feel so bad if it hadn’t been so good. I can remember being totally in love with Amy Bloom’s short stories as a teenager. Always deft, droll and incredibly slick without sliding into glibness, they seemed to me quintessentially American, & they lie in my reading mind somewhere in the same State as Lorrie Moore’s earlier collections. Then I went for at least fifteen years without reading anything by Bloom — for no reason that I can recall — before finding Where …

We love: Lunchtime

When the Tesco’s guy arrived yesterday evening, a full two minutes after the end of our one-hour delivery slot, all three of my children fell upon him like they hadn’t eaten for months. Though, in fact, a neighbour’s daughter and her friends had knocked on our door selling cupcakes for charity not ten minutes earlier & a trail of crumbs led from the hall to the living room rug. The Pip-Pop helped me to unpack the shopping (‘Oh, more noodle, Mumma. More noodle ‘gain, Mumma.’), T returned to the story she was writing (500 Words), & the Moose lay down on the sofa and watched TV in his after-school pose of total exhaustion. Of course, when I called them to the table to eat their rather late tea no-one would come. Lunchtime is the sweet tale of a little girl who is too busy drawing to stop for lunch. When her mum gets cross & sends her to the table she’s joined by the bear, wolf and crocodile from her pictures. Will they eat her …