Thursday, 15 July 2010

Back to normal

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

That is, if anyone knows what 'normal' actually is. I wonder about that quite a lot. Half of me rather yearns for normal. I have a respectable self which thinks that working regular hours, and keeping the house tidy, and cooking proper food at serious mealtimes is the mark of an adult. I also have a thoroughly disreputable side which thinks: sod them all if they can't take a joke. This side says: I am a creative, dammit, of course I can't do my paperwork, that stuff is for the drones. One side believes Flaubert, who said: be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work. One side favours Scott Fitzgerald, and wants to go and jump in the fountain outside The Plaza.

Small aside:

When I first went to New York City, all by myself, at the age of nineteen, the very first place I went was The Oak Bar of The Plaza, because that was where F Scott used to drink. I ordered a bourbon, straight up, from a barman called Mose who looked like WC Fields, and had a lovely conversation with a gentlemanly psychologist who was in town from Florida for a shrinks' conference.

'Oh my GOD,' shrieked my old school, Upper East Side friend George, when I told him this the next day. 'Did he offer you money?'

'Certainly not,' I said. 'He was perfectly charming. Why would you say that?'

'Because that's where all the HOOKERS go,' said George, in horrified delight.

Anyway, I spend most days battling it out between the bourgeois and the bohemian. No wonder sometimes I have to go and have a little lie-down.

Today was more orderly than yesterday. I wrote a fairly calm 802 words. I made a little flower arrangement. I walked the dogs. I am, however, averting my eyes from the toppling pile of paper which sits to my right, waiting malevolently to be dealt with. We can't expect miracles. Or at least, I can't.

To divert my attention from my vanishingly thin organisational skills, I am contemplating The Beauty. Bugger the paper, let us consider the flowers:








It always amazes me how much pleasure one tiny arrangement in a Moroccan tea-glass can bring. That is apple mint, flowering marjoram, lavender, astilbes, a hellebore, and one old-fashioned tea rose, all from my very own garden.

Talking of pleasure and beauty - you know what is coming next:


Did you ever see such elegance?

The whole red chair thing started because I have my sister's poodle to stay, and I wanted to take a nice picture of her, so that the sister and the younger niece could see that their canine was having a nice time while they were away:


Then I decided that the whole black dog against the scarlet chair with the vintage Union Flag cushions thing was too good to waste. So I made the other dogs get up there for their own photo shoot. They were quite puzzled, since they never sit on that chair, on account of it being too small for them. But they bore it with resigned patience:





I know that dogs do not have human thoughts. I resist anthropomorphism daily, not always with vast success. But if they were capable of putting together a sentence in their doggy heads, I suspect it would be: 'Let's just humour the old girl.'

The sentence in my own head is: 'In the words of the late, great Nancy Mitford: do admit.'


Final photographic addendum:

One of the things I love about my new camera is that I can fool around with filters and colours. As you can see, it can do sepia, and black and white, and varying shades of warm and cold. I am still discovering its many functions, a process which would be made easier if I had not already lost the manual.

Some of you have left very kind comments about the pictures, and asked to be reminded what the heavenly new article is. It is an Olympus PEN, what is called a three quarter camera. It is not quite an SLR, with the advantage that it is not as heavy and clunky; its design is retro and particularly pleasing. However, as you can see, it is miles more sophisticated than a simple compact. As far as I can tell, its only disadvantage is that it is expensive (I got it with my American advance, which was quite naughty as I should obviously be saving that for a rainy day), and its zoom is sadly limited. I really do want a proper zoom lens, but they are a fortune. I am contemplating screwing up my eyes and just saying what the hell, but have not quite got there yet.


Have a very happy Thursday. I wish you all patient black dogs and roses in glasses. Or equivalent.


  1. Your doggies look so sweet... I'm certain your sister's dog is having pawsitively barking -time!! HHL

  2. Your dogs are beautiful, as always. But I just have to say the poodle is absolutely adorable. I grew up with a standard poodle and she was the most sweet natured dog. I am forever trying to convince people of the benefits of poodles. It annoys me when people laugh at them. Wonderful pictures as always!

  3. Tania

    Your ‘normality’ theme , so particularly resonant presently, brought a favourite movie scene to mind. Local Hero came out when I was living in NYC and had a very mixed reaction among the audiences there but it has long been one of my all time favourites, not least because of the wonderful locations. Last year we had the wonderful opportunity to sail the west coast in a friend’s yacht and anchored one night just off Arisaig with the views of Eigg, Rhum and Muck behind us; we watched the dvd of LH. Perfect. I digress. I often do.

    There is a wonderful line when the high powered American oil exec pops into the little village shop to purchase some essentials. He needs shampoo. “Dry, Greeezy or Normal?” asks the matriarchal shop owner. A moment to ponder and the visitor replies “Normal. EXTRA Normal!” Then the bottle is handed over with an “ach, look..... this will do your dandruff too.” Priceless. Only in Scotland I think! I am of course extremely Extra Normal. My friend was the fiddle player in the Ceilidh scene too, though he wasn’t my friend at the time.

    Love the dogs, despite being utterly un doggy in the ‘I don’t have any’ sense. They are gorgeous; I expect they know it! The chair is pretty hot too!


    If you tackled that pile of papers, might you just find the manual? ;( Otherwise, try on line – you can often download such things. Or get on to a user website and beg a copy. I have it on reliable authority that Googling is a perfectly legal activity between consenting adults.

    Love the Blog and your thought processes. Addictive though it is.

  4. High Heeled Life - pawsitively is perfectly EXCELLENT. (I do wish comments would allow italics, as I am always searching for emphasis, and capital letters are such a blunt tool.)

    Ruthie Jay - So pleased you like the pictures. I must admit I was a bit of a poodle snob. I thought we should have tough mongrelly working dogs in this neck of the woods, like my two mutts. But actually she is a dear, so it just shows one must not give in to uninformed bigotry.

    Melissa - am I right in thinking this is your first comment? If so, WELCOME. Just ran over to your blog and it is absolutely beautiful. I am looking forward to reading it. So very pleased you like the canines.

    BrightYangThing - what a great story. Local Hero is one of my favourite films of all time.

  5. I'm not a big blog reader, but I'm enjoying your blog so much - especially the writing workshops. And I am filled with garden-envy every time I see your photos of trees and fields. I wondered if you'd discovered RE, a fab online shop based in Northumberland - I thought their stuff would appeal to you seeing your beautiful red chair and Union Jack cushions (their green glass jugs and cakestands are great). With best wishes.


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