Monday, 30 May 2011


Posted by Tania Kindersley.

I eat bacon and soda bread toast for breakfast. I have a small moment of panic when I temporarily mislay the Marmite. A house without Marmite in it is unthinkable. I read in the paper a restrained and touching piece by a father who has just lost his son in Afghanistan. At the end, he writes:

'But, God knows, I loved you Sam and always will. And, if a faraway nondescript patch of rock and dust has claimed your flesh and blood, it can never claim your spirit, never destroy the bonds we had.'

This makes me cry. I had read the obituary for Marine Sam Alexander in the Helmand Blog, which I follow, a couple of days ago. When the deaths of the young soldiers are reported, it always makes me shed a silent tear. Now, they touch me in a very slightly different way. It is not that I can ever know what it is like to have a child shot to death or blown to bits. I cannot imagine the courage of Stuart Alexander, who, in the raw ravages of his grief, can still compose lovely sentences in honour of his son. But after the three funerals of May, I am closer to death. I am in the park.

I start to understand that tears are a daily, usual thing. They are not finite. They come and go, and I learn to let them, and not be frightened.

I manage some ordinary tasks. I get the MOT done, with the help of the dear Stepfather, who kindly takes me to the garage and talks to me of politics, which is my favourite diversion. A gentleman comes to see about the broken boiler, checks the pipes, sucks his teeth, shakes his head, and goes away again. I put on another cardigan.

I go to my desk and do my work. The Co-writer calls and is calm about deadlines. She is very, very good at that. I continue to panic for two. Miraculously, and without quite meaning to, I seem to write 1248 words. I stare at the screen in amazement, interested that my brain appears to be working again.

Outside, I run into the Man in the Hat. Our dogs play together for a while, making us laugh.

In the world, it is reported that Sir Vidia Naipaul and Paul Theroux have made up, after their long literary quarrel. It was at the Hay on Wye festival, where I used to go when it was three tents and a handsome Welsh poet. Apparently, Ian McEwan acted as go-between. I think: silly old men. I think: really, life is too stupidly short.

Pictures, as is now customary, are of the green growing things:

30 May 1

30 May 2

30 May 3

30 May 6

30 May 4

30 May 7

30 May 8

30 May 8-1

30 May 9

30 May 10-1

The Pigeon:

30 May 10

And the hill:

30 May 12


  1. A lovely post and beautiful photos as always Tania.....altho I must confess that even the mention of Marmite is making me scratch my tongue to remove the imaginary taste!! We are strictly a non-Marmite house ;)

    Take care xxxx

  2. Thank you for another lovely post, Tania. 'In the park' - I know what you mean. I think perhaps a lot of people find this, but I do feel I've never quite left the park.

    Life goes on with just as much enjoyment as before, but that shortcut to grief stays.

    Still: life does go on with as much enjoyment as before. Soon enough.

    P.S. Love marmite. LOVE.

  3. My heart has ached for all your sadnesses and my head has wrestled with these big questions about the meaning of it all, but yet it is the mention of Marmite that has catapulted the comment.
    My jar is very old and I use it sparingly, but it soothes the child in me. Bread and butter and a Hint of Marmite
    - I think that is where people go wrong....

    I am happy for your soda bread and your cardigans and the 1248 words and the People and dear Pigeon in your life. It is all worth celebrating.

    with love
    J in MA

  4. A house WITH Marmite in it is unthinkable. Bleurgh. 1248 words is most impressive though so if it's fuelled by the evil brown stuff then perhaps I should take back my scorn.

    What paper was Mr Alexander's piece in? I'd really like to read the whole thing.

  5. I foolishly ordered Marmite from one of those Web sites that offers goods from the UK. Just getting it here cost an arm and part of a leg. Imagine my surprise when, upon receiving it, I tore in and found it the flavor and consistency of spackling compound. (I do not eat, have not eaten spackling compound, but when I spackle, I flail a bit, and it does fly everywhere.) Why am I always surprised at the differences in people's tastes? Ah, well, as someone else said -- Alex, I believe -- if it fuels your prose, eat away.

  6. Marmite Food of the devil Yeucch


  7. Can't believe I have started a Marmite controversy. It is cheering me up no end. This is the law of unintended consequences in its finest form.

    ASide from the Marmite madness, thank you as always for all the lovely comments and very kind thoughts. x

  8. The Pigeon is looking very well and bright eyed. Does she like Marmite? Our cat did so we dipped the tablets in it whenever they were prescribed.

  9. Hijacked by Marmite! Meanwhile, people die for all sorts of causes. Elsewhere, life goes on.
    So long as we see your beautiful photographs, Tania, we can see that, basically, you and we will always love to live and live always to love - those near to us, our countryside, and - always - our dogs...
    But still, those who die, who die an untimely death... What can we do to prevent the carnage?
    There was a wonderful piece by Michael Morpurgo in the Observer today about Amnesty @50 and ourselves learning to take personal, individual responsibility.

  10. Gorgeous photos and the darling Pigeon looks so knowing...
    Surround yourself with all the lovely people and things that make you feel 'at home'. Nothing will undo the last month but each day will come a little easier.

    We're a Vegemite home :)

  11. The Pigeon photo is so stunning today, as though I could reach through the screen and give her a rub on the nose.

    Be well -

  12. "I continue to panic for two".

    I could make a cross stitch out of that and hang it in my hallway, and it would probably be relevant every day of my life.

    Such gorgeous photos. Take care. xx

  13. Hahaha re the Marmite! Just this weekend, I gave my oldest, dearest friend a small jar of it as part of her 50th birthday present, in memory of all that toast and Marmite we consumed after primary school - ah, the memories! Beautiful, beautiful green pictures. Balm to the soul.

  14. I came to your blog to tell you that I was so thrilled with my new copy of "Backwards in High Heels", how lovely the illustrations are and how I thoroughly I am enjoying reading it. But now, while I am still thoroughly enjoying your book, I find that you are going through a terribly sad period in your life with which I can identify. I suspect that you know everything there is to know about grieving and yet the knowing does nothing to alleviate the suffering. I'm sending you my sincerest sympathy and oodles of courage to help you through this sad time.


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