Sunday, 28 February 2016


Last year Perran was thrilled to be selected as a dancer in Bristol’s FUZE show – catwalk fashion, dance numbers and songs by local musicians, with profits to charity.  This year he was back as a dance director. 
Nigel, Carenza, Perran’s great friend Amy and I all converged on the show.   As an older person, I still get a frisson when attending anything trendy enough to warrant a wristband.  Will I be forced to cut it off when I go to school on Monday?
I was also wearing a new top to look cool - a velvet tunic with an ethnic pattern.  So far, so good.  But it also had a deep, looped fringe.  Which caught on: Ercol chairs at home, the gear stick in the car, my own coat buttons, the handle in the ladies’ toilet. 
I t seems being cool is quite hard work.  
And I needn’t have bothered. Nobody was looking at me – the models were exquisite, the dance numbers, whether sassy or moody, were ambitious and consummately performed.
I cannot say how impressed I was at Perran’s choreography and performance.  And those of his friends.
I was even more impressed that he found time before his Saturday performance to have brunch with us and follow a trail around historic Bristol.

He’s clearly got it all under control.

Friday, 26 February 2016


Our previous wooden floor -visible again as we packed up
to move house last year.
Perran - happy with carpet in his new bedroom.

It was exciting doing up our first flat thirty years ago, the very tight budget made it a real challenge. 
However, now on our sixth house, the thrill has palled. 
From the moment we bought this house, we knew we didn’t like the floor – a worn laminate with a loud pattern mimicking badly distressed wood.  It badly distressed us.
Yet I was prepared to put up with it rather than suffer more upheaval.  But it wasn’t to be.  The floor was standing in the way of progress.
“We could build in a coats cupboard under the stairs.”
“Although we’ll have to do the floor first.”
“We need to build in some shelves in the sitting room.”
“Can’t do that until we’ve done the floor.”
So  it looks like now we’re doing the floor.  
Once, we would have asked detailed questions and examined each quote minutely.  Now, as soon as we get what seems like a fair price from somebody with an honest face, we give the go-ahead. 
All the fight has gone out of us.
So we have driven out for the day, leaving  Brakow and Alexandrov laying the floor.
“Should we have specified thicker planks?”
“Not sure.  Should we have asked them what they’ll do around the fireplace?”
We have “Bought floor in haste”.
We are now “repenting at leisure.”
However, it’ll all come out in the wash.  When we moved into our last house, we were the first of our friends to put in a wooden floor.  We went to great trouble and expense and installed beautiful, high-spec solid oak boards. 

When our friends came round, one of them tutted and said, “Still bare boards?  I’d have thought you’d have got your carpets down by now.”

Friday, 19 February 2016

Too old for selfies?

First attempt, with Fiona - not good.

It is important to learn new skills,
Apparently, it keeps the brain active and slows the onset of dementia.
So I am learning to take selfies. 
My grumpy friends say that people who take selfies look ridiculous.
But I think they look jolly.
“Look at me – I’m in front of one of the seven wonders of the world, but all that really matters is getting me and my mate in the frame.  Smiiiile!”
So far, I have taken two selfies with old friends of mine and one with Perran.  I enjoyed best the ones with people my age as we none of us know how to position ourselves for the camera and a lot of cuddling up and uneasy shifting about is involved.  Then we have to remember not to peer worriedly into the lens.  “Cheese.”

Second attempt, with Jen - getting better

Whereas youngsters are merely embarrassed at my parental incompetence.
With Perran - nearly got it -nope - finger over the lens

The only limitation I can see on my valuable new skill is that I shall never be very good at it.
I have short arms and a large face.
My selfies are doomed.

Perhaps forthcoming generations will evolve with longer arms.  And at the end of those long arms they can keep their ultra-mobile thumbs whose dexterity has developed from texting.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Ash Wednesday

The bit of dirt on my forehead is the ashen cross -
hope it doesn't give me excema like it did Alice last year.
Went to the Ash Wednesday service last night.
One of my favourite services of the year.  The other is Good Friday.
Possibly I’m better at doing the gloomy contemplative bits of my faith than the jolly rejoicing.
Lent is a time when I, along with so many others, focus on my spiritual life.  The turn of the seasons reflects my spiritual progression.  We start Lent when the branches are still bare, when fresh produce is not yet being harvested in Northern Europe and the pickles and salted meat of the Autumn before are running low. 
As the early spring swells into being, spiritual strength glows like a bank of crocuses then  gets flattened by a gail of doubt.
Like a well-plotted novel, we move inexorably toward the greatest crisis – the death of the Saviour.  Also like a great novel, there is a twist – on Palm Sunday, Jesus enters Jerusalem in triumph – the children in church lay down palm leaves in the aisle and one of their number, with the obligatory tea towel on his/her head,  processes over them on a toy donkey.  We all cheer. Surely it’s all going to be alright after all.
But by Good Friday, we know it isn’t – the worst has happened. 
Then Easter Sunday and, if we are lucky, blue skies and blossom.  Only with the possibility of the worst  can the best happen.  The Resurrection and the promise of a life to come, to hold onto through the trials of this world.
More than any straightforward religious text, TS Elliot’s Ash Wednesday speaks to me

Blessed sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit of the garden,
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
And even among these rocks
Sister, mother
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
Suffer me not to be separated

And let my cry come unto Thee.

This is an extract.  For the full poem Ash Wednesday by T.S. Eliot

Saturday, 6 February 2016


Just got back from the twins’ 21st
The party was last night and today we had lunch with them and a bunch of their dear old friends at the Jericho Cafe.
People mourn as their offspring cease to be children. 
But I feel that I now have two more grown-up friends.
Except that they are younger and trendier than my other grown-up friends.
Except of course Pascoe, who is also young and trendy.

Friday, 5 February 2016


The day my younger children turned eighteen was a major milestone.
For me.
For many years, I had identified myself primarily as a mother.  Everything else I did (whether paid, voluntary, or just for the hell of it) had to “fit round”.
But when they hit eighteen, I found my wings again, took off, gained a PGCE in Classics at Cambridge and got a job in a great school teaching Latin and Classical Civilisation to amazing pupils.
And we all lived happily ever after.
Except today they are turning twenty-one.  Another major milestone.

Who knows what will happen next.