Argghhh!! Oh, sorry, that just slipped out. Apologies ... But, hey, I've done my Easter mother visit, so I can be Good Daughter for a while. It wasn't so bad actually, bearing in mind that she seemed unable to stop talking even when I was virtually asleep on the sofa and she was promising to be quiet for five minutes. Which gave Lord H the giggles, I must say. Still, I suppose my stepfather is not big on conversation, so I imagine Mother probably has to get all the words out at once. Worryingly, however, Lord H and Mother did seem to be wearing virtually the same colour cords, so I am now concerned that I have actually ended up marrying my mother after all (arrggghhh!!) and in a few years' time, Lord H is going to shrink down to about 4' nothing from his current 6'2". You heard it here first ...
Mother is also still worrying about why I am not yet famous or why none of my books can be found in the normal shops - one would have thought she'd be used to this by now. I fear the days of her being interviewed as the mother of a well-known author will never arrive, which is a shame as she would have been so excited by the thought of a Woman's Hour slot. Ah well.
On the more positive family side, at least she is being distracted by thoughts of my elder nephew's attempts to get to University and whether the Student Loan Company can be persuaded to give him money to do it or whether she needs to sell the family silver (if we had any ...) to finance his no doubt up-and-coming student drug habit. We also discussed whether my cousin's wife's sudden desire to go to Gateshead (oop North for the uninitiated) to study fiddle and folksong for two years is (a) a perfectly sensible means to self-expression, or (b) a cry for help and a sign that all is not well in the family of my aunt. If (b), this would be an aha! moment for my mother, who suffers from having children who can't stand each other, don't talk and are two-thirds divorced (ie I'm the only one of the three who isn't - so far!), whereas up to now my cousins have all been irritatingly perfect, horrendously loving and basically a red-headed version of the Stepford Wives. Never say there is no competition in this family ...
But the best news of my mother visit is that she's rediscovered all my old teenage LPs and I've now brought them home with me - so I have my 70s/80s delights of Chris de Burgh, the Tom Robinson Band, the Carpenters, Abba, Steve Forbert and Meatloaf etc etc clutched in my hot little fingers. My what catholic tastes I had indeed. All I need now is a bloody record player and I'm laughing (though Lord H might well not be ...).
Oh, and we do have some Easter excitement in the Godalming world - after many, many years of having absolutely no news whatsoever in a ten mile radius (best local paper headline in 13 years: "Body found in grave" ...), we now have (a) the murder of a 6 year old boy in the next village (Farncombe), apparently by his father who was then arrested two hours later in north Wales. Which, as Lord H said, begs the question: how the bloody hell did he get to north Wales from Godalming in two hours? What was he doing - riding Black Bess??, and (b) a local psychiatric nurse who has taken to sleeping with patients in tents. Dear me, I didn't realise you could even get that on the National Health these days. I always thought you had to go private for that kind of treatment. I'm obviously going to the wrong doctors.
Anyway, all this murderous/naughty activity definitely stands up to Mother's best local trauma, when a body was found in the local pond and ended up being a drugs murder. Honestly, all those years in rural Essex when I was young and I never even caught a sniff of any drugs. Now they're all at it in between ploughing matches and straw-sucking ... Lucky devils.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I've done another poem, inspired by the RA exhibition:
Charles-Alexandre de Calonne by Elisabeth-Louise Vigée-Lebrun
It’s not the rich crimson damask
of the curtain,
echoed as it is
in the fabric of the chair he chose.
Neither is it the black satin gleam
of his suit,
salted a little at the collar
by the softness of his powdered wig.
Nor is it, I think,
the accoutrements of royal favour
at the table:
the elegant quills; the golden pots;
the letter to the king.
No. It’s something about the glow
of the man’s face,
his relaxed and open posture,
which speaks to me
of gentleness and warmth.
And I sense,
that you might have liked him also,
enjoyed his company for a while
in the painting of him,
allowing your artist’s brushstrokes
to speak to me now,
so many centuries on,
and all its surprises.
Today's nice things:
1. Local criminal excitement
2. The not-so-perfect cousins
3. My old records.