A curious tension: I hate to leave you all without a blog, but of course I want to give you something meaty and proper and well-written, with all my semi-colons in a row, and possibly a side order of controversy. Or at least a little frisson of not the most received wisdom. But at the moment I do not quite have the time for the proper thought-out blog, and I cannot bear the blank space. So there are going to have to be many days of imperfection; little impressionistic sketches; two or three sentences here and there; a tiny something for the weekend. And I risk - oh, I don't know: blahness, mediocrity, sentences that fall flat on the screen like clumping old boots. You may laugh and point.
Actually, of course, in my rational mind I know none of this matters. But I have to tell it all to you anyway.
Today was an enchanting family day. There were errands to run, but here, when you go out to buy paint, you pass by Malmesbury Abbey and just drop in for ten minutes, and find a nice gentleman in a tweed coat who tells you all about the Burgundian influence, and the Abbey of Cluny, and Odo the poet, and how the story of the old and new testament is incorporated into the great carved stone archway over the main door. I am not much for God, but, oh, a 12th century abbey on the way to the paint shop is a tonic to all the senses.
In the paint shop, my cousin had to try and explain the exact shade of pale grey she wanted while a mottled cat climbed determinedly up the back of her coat. The lady in charge seemed to find this inordinately funny.
Then we went to the pet shop to buy beds for my cousin's two black puppies. I brought one of my own dogs in as a tester (she was most helpful and discerning) and the pet shop man made a great fuss of her and gave her special treats, which of course won my heart. In the old days, I used to fancy myself a bit of a sophisticate. I once shopped in Mayfair and SoHo and the Via Condotti; now I am more thrilled by a visit to the pet shop in Malmesbury than anything else. There is no earthly hope for me.
And then I cooked a new recipe for the children's tea: a sausage casserole, which I have never tried before, because it always sounded so disgusting. Even the two words together sound ugly. But we were trying to think of something more interesting than sausage and mash, and I had bought some lovely green lentils, so I noodled about on the internet and found a few recipes, and then went away and made my own version, which involved - lentils, bacon, garlic, onion, carrots, thyme, sausages, a bay leaf, celery, and a dark green scattering of Savoy cabbage to finish the whole thing off. It was the first time I had made it and I was aware I was courting disaster, because I won't just follow a recipe like a normal person, but must, in my own bolshie way, improvise in my particular manner.
I was also prepared for the children to hate it. I did not like lentils until I was about thirty-six, after all. The deal was they had to try it, but I would not be offended if it was not their bag. 'I think it looks very nice,' said my ten year old godson, kindly, and even sincerely. I was touched by this, since the whole thing might most kindly have been termed rustico, which is a euphemism for brown and soupy, although the orange of the carrots and the green of the cabbage did help a bit. I sat at the end of the table, braced for failure. But, dear readers, they LOVED it. The baby, who is possibly my best eater, demanded some of her own, despite having already had her own tea. So it was deemed a success and I live to fight another day.
This all seems very little and domestic. I wonder if that is a good thing or not. My life at home is also little and domestic, as almost all lives are, but because I live alone I spend most of my day thinking about things that are large and not domestic at all, and sometimes I write about those for you. Now my mind is filled with the needs and quirks and delights of three small children, the running of a house, my dear cousin; we make menu plans, run errands, walk the dogs, talk constantly, consult our diaries about the many things we must do. And so I write about that. You will either love it or hate it. I feel rather naked as I do it, because I am too tired to discourse about geo-politics. (Although I will make a bet with you that the next place in the world to blow up as a centre of extremism and instability and a threat in what is no longer called the War on Terror will be Yemen.) So we shall see. But thank you so much for bearing with me. And forgive the lack of pictures.