Posted by Tania Kindersley.
I woke up in an absolutely filthy temper. My sleeping patterns are a little out of whack, and I have not been getting my strict eight hours, and so I wake with a sensation of having a large, heavy plate pressed down on my head. I always feel a failure if I do not rise in gaiety and delight to greet the new day. (There are days when I actually wake up singing.) I like to think I am good in the mornings. So the excess grumpiness is compounded by a dark feeling of inadequacy.
I think I may have been watching too many political programmes. I was so overjoyed when the summer recess was over that I plunged into an orgy of MSNBC and BBC. I got Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow and Andrew Neil. I had Newsnight a go-go. Paxo was paxo-ing about like the magnificent silver beast that he is. What could possibly go wrong? I was in geek heaven. The trouble is, we are in one of the most fractious and uncertain political seasons I can remember. No one can agree on anything. The idea of people joining hands across the aisle in the national interest is a hollow joke. The Keynsians are yelling at the austerity hawks. The trades unions are threatening winters of discontent. In America, there is a bizarre new strain of Islam panic, led by the entirely inexplicable Newt Gingrich. People always say that he is the great intellectual of the right, but I have only ever heard him say really quite astonishingly stupid things.
No wonder I felt grumpy.
I contemplated going back to bed and letting everyone go hang. But I have guests for dinner, and so errands had to be run. The village always cheers me up. The lovely thing about living in a small community is that shopping does not mean trailing about a soulless hypermarket, baffled by twenty-seven different kinds of breakfast cereal. It means chat and jokes and running into people. I was buying Vignotte when I bumped into someone I know in life who actually reads this blog. 'Oh, I love it,' she said. No grumpiness for her; she was a walking ray of sunshine. 'I am telling everyone to read it.' It is very hard to go on with a mood when showered with compliments.
I bought cheese and three different kinds of biscuits and new potatoes and parsley in pots and lamb and mackerel and baby carrots and a delightful dry fino in case anyone should want an aperitif. I am a great fan of dry sherry, even thought it seems so old-fashioned now. I came back and made an Irish stew and a smoked mackerel paté. The house is tidy and the table is laid. The sun even came out. I thought: I really can't be grumpy when there is all this.
There are busy bees on the violas:
And gentle sunlight on the rosemary:
And roses blooming just as if it were still high summer:
And elegant ladyships lounging about on the lawn:
And the bluest of blue flowers:
And my little salix getting all autumnal:
And, I suspect, there is honey still for tea.