Thursday, 17 September 2020

Dame Diana Rigg

Last week the death of the actress Dame Diana Rigg was announced on the news. I have always followed Diana's career with interest. We went to the same school, a small Moravian establishment in the West Riding of Yorkshire. It's strap line was that it was a school for 'young ladies' which always made my father snort derisively because he was accustomed to seeing me at the weekends clambering about up trees or wading in the stream wearing my brother's hand-me-down boy scout shorts, a very comfortable item of clothing in soft, beige corduroy.

Diana and I both had speech and drama lessons with Mrs Greenwood, an inspirational teacher who gave me my life-long love of poetry. I attended her classes because of my inability to pronounce the letter r. Calling myself, ' Losemaly' at age three or four might be considered cute, but it was a source of embarrassment by the time I got to seven and Mrs Greenwood and her tongue rolling exercises soon sorted me out. For the rest of my schooling I continued with speech and drama which involved parts in the school productions, Wharfedale festival competitions and theatre visits. 

Diana was a natural, as this entry in an old school magazine of 1951 demonstrates.

At the end of each academic year the school assembled in the hall and the headmistress would comment on what had been achieved throughout that year. If your name was called out you had to stand up and have the eyes of the entire school upon you.  In due course Diana had to stand while the headmistress announced that it would be good if her academic standard would only match her acting ability. Then Diana sat back down. How insulting. I was furious!

When she had left school and started her season at the Royal Shakespeare Company Mrs Greenwood organised a coach and we went to Stratford to see Diana playing the role of Helena in  'A Midsummer Night's Dream', the same role that I played at school. 

When she was made a dame I was delighted, she had given pleasure to thousands. I hoped that our old headmistress was still alive to eat her words!

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Nearly normal

 Last week we were out and about in a way that we had not experienced for many months. I'm glad that we did, for once again lockdown restrictions have been put in place banning any meetings anywhere, with numbers not exceeding six people.

First we went to Bournemouth to stay with family and to enjoy our grandson's company before his return to nursery. The beach was quiet enough to  visit midweek and we ran about in the open space, played in the sand dunes and paddled in the sea. "He got rather wet," I told his mum. "I saw," she said.

On Saturday we left Bournemouth and traveled to West Bay to meet up with friends and attend a poetry event at Sladers Yard, a former sail loft that is now a gallery and café.

Dave talks and the poet listens!

We stayed for lunch - delicious, fish, fish, fish.
What to choose? I had fish stew. 
In the afternoon we went with our friends to visit a couple of artists who live in the valley above Lyme Regis with beautiful views over the surrounding countryside. It is always interesting to visit the place where artists live, there are lots of quirky things to see and I invariably feel completely at home.

Light floods in to every room,

especially into the main sitting room.

It was a really stimulating day.

On Sunday it was the birthday of our friend, Steve, and it was combined with a reduced-number meeting of our book group. Only seven members were present, but even that is now too large for the new social distancing regulations. We stayed outside to talk and eat, I doubt that there will be many days left for us to do so this year. 
Steve has put a skylight into the landing roof to bring more light into the centre of the house and as a result artwork has been re-hung. Before the others arrived we went inside the house to take a look.
Janet's enamel work and Steve's painting.

Janet's studio has been nicely tidied!
It is always fascinating to look at work in progress.
Then it was outside for lunch and a sociable time with our friends. 

Monday, 3 August 2020

Birthday weekend

On Friday we went to Bournemouth, ready to celebrate our grandson's birthday on the following day. Glorious weather was promised and we made an early start in order to avoid being stuck in traffic as everyone made a dash to the coast. I love being by the sea, but these are strange times and we knew that although others would be packed like sardines on Bournemouth beach we would not be venturing anywhere near it. We went instead  to the river to wade in the shallows with our fishing nets in the hope of catching one of the many small fish.

He was so tired at the end of the day that he feel asleep in the chair and was taken upstairs, given a sponge wash, put in his pjs  and popped into bed without waking up! The last photo of him age two.
It was a different story on the birthday morning!

A bike!
Although balloons take some beating!
Adjustments to the saddle
and then onto the open road.
Where has the balloon gone?
We had a great time.
But it was good to sit down for a rest!

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

June reading list

In lockdown life this month I reread a few old favourites, including some Fitzgerald short stories, and two new books that share the theme of mother and daughter.
The first novel, 'Feebleminded' was the book choice for our reading group, which now takes place as a zoom meeting.
I disliked this book intensely and had it not been up for discussion would not have bothered to read beyond the first page. Mercifully it is a very short book! The author is a young Argentinian woman and her writing has received high praise. The story is constructed as the stream-of-consciousness howl of two damaged women, the mother and adult child, both nameless throughout.
"Ariana Harwich again takes us into the darkest recesses of the imagination with this deliriously disturbing account of a mother-daughter relationship. Driven to the edge by the men in their lives, both absent and present,they oscillate between erratic bursts of housework, lazing in the garden and drunken escapades."

I much preferred Laura Cumming's non-fiction account of the kidnapping of her mother when she was a child. The book tells the story of the detective work done by the author to discover the secret behind this strange happening.
Laura's mother had been adopted when she was three years old, prior to the kidnapping,  and many opportunities were missed to find out about her birth parentage, apparently due to a wish not to upset the woman who had brought her up.
The author is an art critic on the Observer newspaper and she references various art works and images through the book, making at times what, for me, were somewhat tenuous connections. I felt that it could have been edited a little more crisply so was quite a frustrating read at times. It was also very sad.
The two books could not be more different. Great love and respect of her mother was evident throughout Laura Cumming's book, whereas the relationship that Ariana Harwicz portrays in 'Feebleminded' is poisonous. (The book meeting was divided, one or two loved the book, other responses were more like mine.)

Saturday, 6 June 2020


A present arrived in the post from the First Born, a very pretty-looking mask for when I go out to meet the world again!
I had a bit of a kerfuffle at first in trying it on, trying to fasten the ribbons at the back of my head, catching them in my hair and having the mask slip down from my face. Then it dawned on me that the ribbons needed be tied together. Success - I'm sometimes a bit slow to work things out!
But although the mask itself is pretty, the act of wearing it is not. You can convey so little. A smile is useless and much human interaction is lost. A masked face is disturbing and potentially threatening. Even so I shall be quite happy for EVERYONE to be masked when I do eventually leave this period of self-isolation.
When we opened the kitchen door we found that a courier had left a parcel.
A super little hamper of goodies from Fortnum and Mason
to thank us for looking after Sparky.
Sparky did his very best to pal up with Himself, but it was to no avail. I could have told him that it was a lost cause, and not helped one bit by tearing away at the planking on the wooden shed.
 The First Born is a journalist and I sometimes get maligned in print. This week she mentioned my gardening garb. Yes, I'll admit that when I garden I do dress rather like Worzel Gummidge, in my, or her, or her sister's old clothes. I'm comfortable like that and don't care if I get tangled in a rose bush or if something gets torn or covered in dirt. The concept of new clothes bought just to garden in is a strange one for me. Neighbours have got used to me looking like a bin lady. Perhaps they think me a bit eccentric. I wouldn't know.
After days of glorious weather it is now extremely windy and cold and we have retreated into the greenhouse. The bigger citrus trees have been put outside for the summer and we are sheltering inside. Having lived in shorts and skinny tops in recent weeks, (scruffy, old ones, as above!) I'm now back in trousers and warm jumpers. Me&Ems lovely light, yet cosy, cashmere jumper and cargo pants are not hand-me-downs so I won't be gardening in them any time soon. I'll probably need to wear out the elbows first.
Crazy weather. Crazy times. I hope, dear bloggers, you are keeping safe and well.

Sunday, 24 May 2020

Windy Corner

Gracious, what a mess everything is! Look at my scarlet pompoms and the wind blowing your skirt about, and the ground so hard that not a prop will stick in, and then the carriage having to go out, when I had counted on having Powell, who - give everyone their due - does tie up dahlias properly.

It is Mrs Honeychurch in E. M. Foster's book, 'A Room With A View' who is speaking. Her house is called, 'Windy Corner' and she is in despair about the damage that has been done to the flowers in her garden. I know just how she feels! We have had some extremely strong winds, not a good thing at this time of year when  leaves and stems are young and easily damaged.
At least I'm not battling the wind in Edwardian clothing like Mrs Honeychurch. I think it's a beautiful period for women's fashion, but neither comfortable nor practical. I  pretty much live in either denim shorts or jeans when I'm working outside. I hadn't intended to work in the garden today, I find the wind stressing, but I'm still slobbed out in denim, a pinafore dress from the year dot and a much-loved little cashmere cardi from Brora.
I didn't stay out for long!