Posted by Tania Kindersley.
Today the oldest brother was visiting, and it was his birthday, so there was a lunch. Despite the new austerity, there were extraordinarily elegant things to eat, and it turns out that the Heavenly Stepfather has a secret stash of 1990 Cheval Blanc, which is not something you drink every day, so I became rather over-excited.
I have been known to be cynical about family, when it is presented in the motherhood and apple pie and oh look everyone is just like the Waltons kind of way. But I must admit that it was very lovely today, with all of us gathered together, gossiping and teasing and chasing off down Memory Lane. Ours is not exactly the perfect nuclear unit. There have been mistaken marriages and noisy heartbreaks and the usual misunderstandings and crossness and non-speaks. Now we are all old enough to have been bashed about a bit by life, we have grown keenly grateful for the good parts. Blood is not always thicker than water, but I start to think that family is like the girl with the little curl: when it is good, it is very, very good.
The curious thing about leaving my desk and going out into the real world is that people always ask about the blog. 'What is it you do, on this blog?' they say, as if I am committing dark acts with farm animals.
'Oh you know,' I say. 'I write about politics, and food, and, well, stuff.'
It sounds hideously lame. At this stage I usually attempt to change the subject.
'You write recipes?' they say.
'Well, yes,' I say. 'I did a nice pea soup the other day.'
'Yes,' I mutter. 'The American elections and things.'
The reason it is hard to explain is that I am not quite sure what it is that I am doing, or what the point of the whole damn thing is. I have a horrible lurking feeling that it is all a form of showing off - look at me, with my jazz hands. Who really cares what I think about The Coalition, or the mid-terms, or the keeping of dogs? Until very recently, I did not even put up links to the blog on Twitter, because I felt so shy about the whole shooting match.
'It can be quite funny,' my sister said, today, being supportive. A gentleman who had not visited before wrote yesterday that it was 'not insubstantial'. I love that. I'm thinking of asking for it to be written on my gravestone.
For all that I duck my head and blush when the subject comes up, I suppose one could turn the whole thing round and look at it from a diametrically different angle. The question could be not Why, but Why Not? I think the problem with blogs is that they are so new. There is no hinterland, no tradition, no honourable precedent. Nobody asks an author: why do you write books?, as if it were the most peculiar thing to do. No one challenges a columnist on a newspaper to justify putting her opinions into print. These things have been done for hundreds of years, and are expected and understood.
I'm not entirely certain there is a point. For whatever reason, despite my doubts and moments of reticence, I do love it. I love the freedom of it, because blogging is so young that there are not yet rules. I love the kind comments. I love that people come here from far-flung places, from Tucson to Sydney. I love that the dear readers put up patiently with the endless pictures of leaves and dogs. That is enough for me.
Pictures of the day are of the family.
The Brother-in-Law is uncertain about all this online stuff, but I could not omit him, so I have bleached him out into an International Man of Mystery, which means that only someone who knows him very well will recognise him:
Oldest Brother's Other Half, who did the miraculous cooking:
Which looked like this:
(Can't really believe that pudding is real life, and not something faked up for a magazine. It was every bit as delicious as it looks.)
The Sister and me, trying not to giggle like six year olds:
The Birthday Boy:
And what he looked like when he was a serious little fellow:
The view from my mother's house, looking west:
And of course the ladyships, who had such a thrilling time that they had to go and have a little lie-down on the grass afterwards:
Well, not exactly substantial. Tomorrow: a great deal of serious thought about fiscal tightening.