When my grandson gets home I am going to post a picture of me when asked what’s for lunch. He is still trying to tell me how to do it . Last week I went to a performance of Haydn’s Creation given by Trinity Laban College of Music and Dance at the Royal Naval College Greenwich. My divine and kind son, who makes me laugh a lot, because he has a ridiculous sense of humour came with me, because he is an alumni of said college. It was a moving and inspiring evening and I am proud to say I had more than a little to do with its conception. To be in the presence of so many young people singing and playing their hearts out. It was a brilliant choice of work because Haydn saw the wondrous birth of the world with pure beauty and these young people illustrated all that is best in human nature . When Adam and Eve emerge into their garden of Eden and Eve says IT is WONDERFUL they carried the emotion exquisitely and none of them had a score!!!! I cried, I don’t often do that.
The whole event refreshed my faith in human nature, as music is meant to do. Young musicians should be nurtured like the jewels they are, without them what are we? We are a philistine country, music in schools should be sacrosanct, it would save a fortune in mental health care and the prescribing of anti-depressant drugs which make you want to chuck yourself out of a window … but don’t get me started on that.
So before 10 am I am already apportioned two large slices of the blame cake. The dishwasher was fixed at approx. 7 30this morning , the problem was fat in the waste, gobs of it such as we have in our arteries if we don’t take statins or so I am told? The Sainted One was thrilled by this “didn’t I tell you, all your fault” he announced. More about that later maybe, elaboration on this point and the rinsing lecture was brought to a halt when he received an urgent phone call.
Following this, an ashen face came round the door and I was accused of attempting to purchase eight hundred pound worth of items from Hugo Boss (a men’s clothier) on the internet, and charging them to his credit card account. “Mea culpa,” I cried, “it was the mink Jock strap I got for you for Christmas.” I mean after all you know what they say about Father Christmas . This was not considered amusing, I am glad though, that this attempted expenditure was flagged up as unusual. At least he could not be buying the “after lunch handbags,” which men feel obliged to buy for married ladies, they wish to take to a hotel room. I know someone who has many of those, she gets the bag first, and then fails to deliver; she tells me the going rate though is more like a thousand. Makes you think doesn’t it. I suppose it’s all about having the balls.
I am so glad I was brought up as a Quaker. My father was a convert and we lived in Jordans, which was then, a pure Quaker community. Kindness and tolerance were ubiquitous. Self-esteem was a community thing you were part of it, and if it worked, you worked. The real world outside, when I ventured into it, was a wicked place, another planet … but my Quaker childhood gave me, for sure, a resilience with which to survive the slings and arrows of life , some of which, I fear, good people …be warned, will be launched from a surprising source. As they say, “low self-esteem is catching, you get it from your children.”
The Obama’s two beautiful clever daughters are being educated by the , that merry go round of “blame the parents,” a marvellous excuse for your own bad decisions will not be on the agenda . Quakers don’t do that. Neither do we take Communion, but I worship in an Anglican church, and it is inclusive and welcoming . Of such stuff is the new Archbishop of Canterbury made. Things are looking good at the moment . I don’t know who writes the script of “Homeland” in which the future Vice President of America is a secret Muslem and whose children( in the story) attend the Quaker school the Obama’s chose for their daughters, watch this space because if I were writing it, the Quaker connection would be interesting … perhaps it has a happy ending? My father became a Muslem in the twenties when he lived in Iran, there were few opportunity’s to pursue this when he returned to England; he became Quaker because he found many similarities.
The Saint with whom I reside claims to be a very peaceful person, this may be so and it is true outside the home he is totally non-confrontational but his domestic affairs reveal a darker side I mean some of the things he says to the family dogs are quite unrepeatable. He would not be a good Quaker. However, I am a model of tranquillity and acceptance, tolerance should have been my second name. If you believe that you will believe anything. By the way I am told that Beatrice, the Spaniel has reached maturity although I can’t quite see how that conclusion has been arrived at , so, she is no longer allowed on the Sainted One’s lap, I think it is sad, I know how that feels, says she bitterly, that kind of rejection is hard…I blame the BBC for this. ENOUGH COMMAS FOR YOU ?
Michelle Obama has , as I have already said very beautiful arms which she has often shown us to great effect, recently she has kept them covered, thus keeping her best card close to her chest. But Mrs Biden is not in her first flush of youth and should not make a feature of hers. We have seen a lot of them recently and it is not a good look. But this is only a small criticism of the team effort which has given our hero Obama another crack of the whip.
And while on the subject of arms, the missile sort, which is what a lot of the American election seems to be about, why is the Times Newspaper so very negative about the result of the US election? What has got into them? Were they seriously hoping for “Bomber Romney” in the White House . I know Lambeth, where we live, had a sign up once which assured us that we were entering Lambeth “A Nuclear Free Zone”…. But all the same world war three would not be a good idea. I have enough of these in my own enormous tribal family, and am inevitably blamed for all manner of problems, even when I am blamelessly sitting at my desk for hours on end writing about men in codpieces and not partaking in the silly email war. My characters fight wars of course, because I am sad to say men are very aggressive … But these people are within my control, I am presently thinking about drowning one of them, a seriously bad person of course. You see the joy is, I can do with them whatever I please. But this lot, no way, this emotional octopus grows more and more legs, like a giant Velcro snowball. The tribe splits into opposing sides, all convinced of their own rectitude even when confronted with hard facts which prove otherwise, this is very important to keep up the momentum as simple solutions would be so very last year . People are lobbied by self appointed team leaders, who have a marvellous way of initiating conversations with “this is Confidential and nobody else knows” when you know dam well you are number twenty in the bush telegraph. All this puts the presidential election campaigning in the shade. My father once said to my little brother “when faced with an angry woman Charles, grovel that’s the only thing to do.” I don’t know if he was right or not , there is not a lot of grovelling round here . I think in my previous incarnation I was a very lowly slave. I am cancelling the Times if they go on like this. The Sainted One has just informed me that, when a picture fell from the wall and smashed, l while I was on one of my recreational trips to Sainsbury’s to get more Gin, that it was all my fault … OK OK its all my fault, anything you say, the whole belly lot of you, yes, I did it or I could have stopped it, whatever …… got to go now…. one of my people is giving birth. She should have thought about the consequences before she got herself banged up ……it won’t get any easier, the midwife has just come with a birthing hook.
Thank the Good Lord and a wonder woman we can sleep easy in our beds again. President Obama is in for another term. He sure as hell would not have done it without the fabulous Michelle who has the most beautiful arms I have ever seen. Has this woman attended over ninety rallies, starred in at least sixty as well as all the other stuff, and running a family, The White House, walking the dog and at the same time become a fashion icon? Yes she has and that is why the whole world owes her a debt.
In my own small way I have experienced life in the political arena. Fifteen years ago wives were very much pack and follow creatures, especially in Washington. We were once there on a delegation and I was combining it with an interview with Sam Nunn who was tipped as a presidential candidate, great umbrage was taken when I declined a daily programme of “house tours” with the Washington wives. I remember being given a serious lecture on the role of the wife at dinners etc which was to move your chair back just a little to enable the men to talk across you, while incidentally projecting bits of half chewed food onto your plate. I had a theory that was the reason these women were so thin … that is the all time appetite suppressor. But times have changed wives, don’t have to pretend to be dumb clucks anymore.
The Sainted One is being rather nice at the moment, when he is nice he is very nice ( you know the rest of the saying) it makes me a bit jumpy actually. Anyway we went out to dinner last night and it was lovely, we discussed the election in America and the role of the wife …. It pleased me to receive acknowledgement from said dinner companion of the role I had taken as a Parliamentary wife for so many years of my productive life and phrases like, fully engaged and active were used. Actually I don’t know how I managed it either. The Sainted One pointed out how the role of the wife is especially vital in American politics and I can’t imagine Michelle moving her chair at dinner. Personally I still think women have to fight their corner, for instance did you know that women get very few prestigious literary awards, so congratulations to Hilary Mantell? But I do wonder whether if she had a demanding family her application to her fantastic work would be fragmented and thus less brilliant.
OK I am not Iris Murdoch or Jane Austin neither of whom catered in large quantities, and a large family is a gift. I am ever grateful for this blessing, but as I type, I have been asked why the milk ran out yesterday and when is the dishwasher being fixed, how is Beatrice’s housetraining going because (she left a puddle in the Sainted Ones study again) the car is out of petrol, where is the can… did I mean to leave the houseplants outside in the frost and there is no more loo paper ?????? Please tell me anyone where can I buy a light bulb which enables me to see? No wonder everyone watches TV all the time you can’t read anymore except in the morning and my mother always told me that reading novels before lunch was common.
Every cloud has a silver lining. There are a few around of both the latter and the former. A difficult two days … someone said nasty things about Beatrice and Mollie… my dogs .. now that in this household as everyone knows is totally unacceptable. I mean they are my best friends, they are the only people here who do not mutter and lift their eyes to heaven all the time, often when they think I don’t see but I always do, I have eyes and ears on elastic . I won’t elaborate overly on the cloud thing because I am trying to get rid of negativity. But I will tell you that I went to a lecture on healthy eating and was advised to go to the local farmers market to shop for good organic food. So QED I suggested, or rather instructed the Sainted One that we would have a nice trip to our local one on Saturday morning, like normal people do. He came reluctantly, it was not a success, he walked with hunched shoulders and a white face, as if being led to a public execution. I deliberately forgot my purse after a lot of negotiating, anyway it was empty because two lavatories have been painted here with forensic perfection by our lovely painter, and I had been to the cash point with an armed guard…… now the rest of the house looks even worse by contrast.
After some very unpleasant and embarrassing wrangling in front of bemused stall holders, we purchased two loaves of bread, some magnificent cheese and four tarts!!! They cost thirty seven pounds. Many people came here as usual and some non family members for lunch on Sunday, after much discussion over lunch about the cost of said items, one of them offered to leave a cheque on the hall table. I thought that was very funny actually; but I am not sure my mirth was universally shared. They all admired the lavatories.
Well on the positive side we do have some most interesting visitors, one such was a delightful young Indian doctor. He read my new book on his way home to Delhi and emailed me a most intelligent understanding of the metaphor within its pages . I was not surprised to learn today that India is so successful that we are cutting our aid that great country . I now have a great desire to go there and overcome my phobia about travel.
The dishwasher has broken and as it is filled up at least twice a day and cannot be repaired for a week and I already have dish pan hands I did get a bit depressed…. but then …. talking of rain and clouds and that stupidly named Sandy, I think a lot about some Americans now, in sub zero temperatures and no prospect of even a warm drink. The USA has sent aid beyond imagination to the whole world .. who cares about them now? A broken dishwasher I ask you … get a life. Well life will be awful if Obama does not win another term to fulfil the American dream.
The incurable itch to write , I have always had it and I suppose it is odd that a person with dyslexia should want to do this. However there it is, but for me it is only possible when I have gone through the ritual of putting things in order , its said to be displacement activity . I have to have the room in which I work in harmonious symmetry , cushions at the correct angle etc, scented candles thoughtful background music appropriate to the period in which my Characters reside . The family respect the circle of fire I put about myself when I begin the delightful “self indulgence” of putting words on paper.( except when it is time for food )
This has only been possible for me because of someone called Joanna … she is a beautiful Polish angel with a handsome husband who came the other day for five minutes when a manic lodger buggered up the sanitary arrangements here he and sorted it out in a flash . But Joanna …I tell you she is the emollient which makes my life possible and keeps me out of a secure mental institution. Monday is a day she does not come here and the household is usually in a state of horribleness which stops my concentration but Tuesday morning, order begins to be restored . The beds and cupboard accommodation are dealt with forensic attention to detail and often she gives me a plan and I work as her assistant …. It is good therapy actually .
All this is excellent, but recently I have observed a kind of virus intruding into my love of the written word and that is long emotional e mails which people send and then press the send button and cc them to other persons who then write more emails and then a simple family matter becomes world war two!!! Now that worries me , this sort of letter if letter it must be in hard copy and sit on the hall table without a stamp for twenty-four hours before posting .. I have written dozens in my life which have then torn up and sorted with a phone call. The Sainted One was used to giving orders by note in his previous incarnations , he tried it on me thirty years ago it didn’t work so now there is a lot of deafening silence and the odd obscure remarks, a family member suggested to me last week that he was a sleeper for MI6 . I am thinking about this . Yesterday I did write a note which said “ gentlemen please put the seat down” this was not a reference to upper class larceny, but the note disappeared and I have noticed the seat is down at the moment. My God you have to fight your corner in a house full of men!
My new family in “Summers Grace” are returning to Clapham in 1740 today after saying goodbye to their father at Portsmouth when he leaves for an epic naval voyage of three years duration. On this voyage the great Admiral Anson discovered that Limes prevented Scurvy amongst his men apparently he was taciturn man of few words, hell yes, but it’s what he said that counted wasn’t it? He didn’t write much, but some of his men did and the original account of “ the loss of the Wager” makes gripping reading and shows a striking brilliance with words among ordinary seamen . Watch this space.