“Mrs Bantry was dreaming. Her sweet peas had just taken a First at the flower show. The vicar, dressed in cassock and surplice, was giving out the prizes in church. His wife wandered past, dressed in a bathing-suit, but as is the blessed habit of dreams this fact did not arouse the disapproval of the parish in the way it would assuredly have done in real life…
“Mrs Bantry was enjoying her dream a good deal. She usually did enjoy those early-morning dreams that were terminated by the arrival of early-morning tea. Somewhere in her inner consciousness was an awareness of the usual early-morning noises of the household. The rattle of the curtain-rings on the stairs as the housemaid drew them, the noises of the second housemaid’s dustpan and brush in the passage outside. In the distance the heavy noise of the front-door bolt being drawn back.
“Another day was beginning. In the meantime she must extract as much pleasure as possible from the flower show – for already its dream-like quality was becoming apparent…” (The Body in the Library)
So much like the early mornings in Jelly Towers, give or take the odd housemaid.Continue reading →
Eek, the pressure!!
When I first started writing this blog back in October 2012, it was oh so easy to find things to say. My friends and colleagues, on the whole, knew as little about Parkinson’s as I did and seemed interested in walking the journey with me. The hardest thing about starting the blog proved to be taking the actual Jellywoman photo: my lovely colleague Amy and I struggled for ages with tubs of Hartley’s finest strawberry flavour and various playdough accessories. It turns out that jellies are not as stable as one might think and the resulting grizzly mess of plastic limbs and collapsed gelatine suggested a particularly obscure episode of Endeavour.Continue reading →
As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I realised that I’d been tactless. The last thing Tom needed, being, as he was, in the grip of dyskinesia (linked to Parkinson’s drugs; makes you move uncontrollably; just awful) and also having a conference-ful of important people to talk with; I’m sure the very last thing he needed was for some fool of a woman asking for his autograph on her copy of his book.
But Tom Isaacs had been a hero of mine, ever since I’d read “Shake Well Before Use” a couple of months earlier, and it was the first time I’d met him, and he couldn’t have been more warm and welcoming. Basically, I was starstruck. Still am, really. He even apologised for the writing being shaky! Him. Apologising to me. Good grief.
As a novelist, says Anna Burns, her job is “to show up and be present and attend. It’s a waiting process.” She “just had to wait for my characters to tell me their stories.”
(Interview by Alison Flood in The Guardian, 16 Oct ’18)
This obviously worked for Anna Burns as she has just bagged the Booker Prize with her novel Milkman.
I, however, have spent a lifetime waiting for characters to turn up and write themselves into a book but they haven’t done so yet and I’m rather starting to fear they never will. I go to bed having put out my finest stationery but masterpieces come there none. Not so much as a shopping list; not so much as a tweet. Perhaps the characters have used up all their best ideas writing other people’s books. They have no more twists.
It’s March the first, hey nonny no, and my muse, like my garden, is frozen.
I made a bash this morning at a blog on the theme of snowy days in school which inched towards the spell-binding conclusion that children like snow and cleaners don’t. So if today is cold and miserable, well – at least I spared you that.
So I’m going to palm you off with some pictures of our most recent visitor. Stay warm, stay safe; speak soon.
“The thing is, before I retired, I used to rush around on a Sunday trying to get everything done. But I’m finding now that I say ‘I’ll do this, that and the other tomorrow’ and do something else instead. Then whatever it was never gets done. Do you find that?”
“So there we were, scrabbling around on the cell floor in front of the Naked Rambler, trying to pick up the papers and desperately trying not to look up and not to laugh…”
It broadens the mind does travel, and going away last weekend to celebrate a school-friend’s sixtieth brought us into contact with interesting people who had interesting stories to tell and different – shall we say – viewpoints.
“But you’ve been selling me a National Express ticket to Birmingham every weekend for months! Why not now?”
Mrs Travel-Centre is of a certain age and traditional build. Well, that’s not exactly how YoungLochinvar later describes her, but then he was speaking with the brutality of youth: a youth, moreover, already cutting it fine to get his coach to Birmingham.
“It’s Mrs Jellywoman, isn’t it?”
I am at the gym (thanks for all the helpful hints – so far, so good), face to face with a jolly woman, probably in her mid-sixties. Though she might be ninety-eight but really, really benefiting from regular work-outs. She does look familiar but I can’t quite place her. I’m vaguely thinking Jacob’s nan; Jacob, whose suggestion for a word containing the ‘ee’ sound was “weed – like what you smoke.” Maybe, maybe not…