Month: May 2015

Ongoingness

Half-term. A long weekend staying with my mum. A two-and-a-half year old who has just given up his daytime nap. A five year old who has brought home the class bear, Bertie, and his diary — over the holiday. An eight year old whose social life is now so developed that we either don’t see her all day, or we have an extra child with us all day & don’t see either of them. (Except at mealtimes, obviously.) Today, dark skies; furious showers of rain. Four children promised a picnic, who sat on a rug in the living room and picnicked there. I sat with them, leaning against the sofa, wondering why this felt like one of the most chilled out times of the holiday. But, there are small moments, and I’m trying to use them. Sarah Manguso’s Ongoingness is on a shelf in the kitchen. Twice this week I’ve sat, coffee in hand, reading it. Thinking about each of its spare pages. Today I sat there while the boys listened to Roald Dahl reading …

Eight

Eight’ “Dear Flo & Alf here we are enjoying the blue sea the weather has been perfect up till now hope you are enjoying your rest & feeling better time passing all to [sic] quickly love to both Anne” postcard of East Wittering dated August 1949 found in a second-hand copy of Molly Keane’s ‘Good Behaviour’ One of the things I love about reading is the connection a book makes with the place where it was read. There’s hardly a book on my shelves for which I can’t call up some kind of physical memory of reading. For The Great Gatsby, I’m a sixth-former sitting on my friend K’s bed in her university halls in Southampton; another me (re-reading) is propped up in bed in our old flat nursing the Moose. The English Patient takes me to the turquoise bath of a basement flat in Putney, the first place B & I shared without flatmates. Lolita, an isolated barn near Carcassonne in the early weeks of my first pregnancy. Thinking of the book I was …

Garden blues

The eighth birthday party has come and gone. Eight girls and two little brothers sitting round a table stringing beads onto bracelets, sandwiching their pictures between glass cabochons & pendant backings, gluing pink plastic roses to hair clips. Eating pizza, followed by scoops of vanilla ice cream swimming in chocolate sauce and hundreds & thousands. Running in the garden. Playing pass the parcel (commonly known in our house by the Moose’s name for it: parcel parcel). Chatting about their dreams (this particuluarly funny to listen to); discussing their creations. It seemed to be a good one. We remembered her at two — how excited she was when her first guest arrived & she thundered along the landing to peer down the stairs & see who it was. And now Monday lunchtime (or at least it was when I first wrote this). The older children are at school. The Pip-Pop, who at almost two and a half is resisting napping more and more, is sleeping after a morning swim with his best friend. I’m looking over …

The Golden Child by Penelope Fitzgerald

Penelope Fitzgerald: The Golden Child

“[Lorna Sage’s] critical sensors were tuned by days and nights and years of continual, voracious, scrupulously fine reading: at her memorial service in April 2001, Victor Sage, her first husband, recalled with dry wit marathon sessions during which Lorna would, for example, ‘do Scott’, that is, read the entire oeuvre of Sir Walter Scott, one book after another, including titles long forgotten.” from Marina Warner’s introduction to ‘Moments of Truth’ by Lorna Sage When I decided to read/re-read all of Penelope Fitzgerald’s books this year, I truly thought that I could be like Lorna Sage. Well, Lorna Sage, in focus if not sensitivity. Fitzgerald’s oeuvre is relatively small: nine novels, three biographies and a book of short stories, plus her collected letters and a volume of selected writings. Her novels are slim. I thought it would be easy enough to read them one after another. But here we are at the start of May and I have only managed one. * I had a number of false starts with Fitzgerald’s first novel, The Golden Child. I …