Thursday, 30 June 2011

Wordless Thursday

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

I really wish it were Wednesday, because then there would have been alliteration.

Did 1798 words of book today, mostly driven by OUTRAGE. (You know how I say one should really never use capital letters? I may be wrong about that. Sometimes an italic just won’t do the job. As always, I am watching closely for the Thin End of the Wedge.)

Did 2100 words of my writing workshop, which starts next week. I have all the notes from last year and the one before, but for some reason I am lashing myself to start from scratch. Got to keep busy, I suppose.

Anyway, the point is: there are no words left in my brain.

So here are some pictures. They all appear to be of the colour green. Soothing for the eyes and spirit, I think.

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30 June 3

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30 JUne 7-1

30 June 9

30 June 10

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30 June 12

30 June 13

30 June 14

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30 June 20

30 June 21

Thank you for lovely comments yesterday. I’m trying to get back into the habit of replying to them, but do not always succeed. Bear with me.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

In which I indulge

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

I was this close, this close, to going all poncy on your ass. I had it in my head that I was going to write about assumptions and presumptions and intellectual pretentions. Who knows? Once I got cooking, I might even have thrown in a bit of the Human Condition.

Then I thought: you know what? I’m tired, the sky has gone a bit gloomy again, my brain is not working that well. So sod the ruminations; today is the day for DOG PICTURES.

Oh yes, you might say. Tell us something else that is new. I know I give you a dog picture every day. The funny thing is that it started out as a bit of a joke. This was supposed to be a serious enterprise. I was going to address the grave concerns that face modern women in this crazy world. It was practically going to be a public service. Then I put up the first whimsical photograph of the dogs, and it turned out that the Dear Readers rather liked them. I started to get requests. The thin end of the wedge was firmly inserted, and now look.

Occasionally, I spin it in my head. There are some of you out there who cannot have dogs, for logistical reasons, and you tell me you like looking at mine. See? It’s a sheer act of philanthropy. But the actual bald truth is that I just love them. It’s pure self-indulgence. Sometimes I want to think about the world, and sometimes I just want to look at this adorable face:

29 June 1

And there are days, like today, when just one look at it is not enough. So here is another:

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And another:

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And another:

29 June 4

Here is the Please Please Throw My Ball face:

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And the Thank You Very Much face:

29 June 6-1

I know that some people think the Dog People are prone to go over the top. It’s just an animal, after all. But over these last weeks this little canine has been a rock and stay, she is so funny and soft and dear and sweet. Also, I really do think that it is a good thing for the human spirit to have a living, breathing creature to look after. And of course there is the conduit for the Love, both giving and receiving. All she asks is a biscuit, a ball, and the odd rub of the stomach. There is something irredeemably lovely about that.

We went outside just now, into the cool, still day. I lay flat on the grass. I like to do that sometimes, to feel the solidity and comfort of the earth turning under me. As I rested my chin on the mossy lawn, and stared at the green, I thought that sometimes it is interesting to see the world from a slightly different perspective. This is what it looks like, when you are lying down:

29 June 12

29 June 13

I felt like the Borrowers, for a moment.

Some quick garden pictures:

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29 June 15

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29 June 17

And here is our dear old Scottish summer sky:

29 June 10

29 June 11

And the hill:

29 June 20

Just as I was taking this, my neighbour came out, and we stopped and talked over the garden fence, like two auld wifies, as they say up here. I greatly admire my neighbour. She can play the bagpipes, do competition level dressage, and knit. It’s a rather impressive list of accomplishments.

As I turned around to go in, I saw this face – quite clearly saying, Can you please stop with the coffee-housing and come in and give me my BISCUIT:

29 June 6

I know it’s a slippery slope. There is a fine line between a bit of whimsy and full-blown, out-of-control dog madness. But just for today, I think that sometimes you can’t get enough of a good thing. And oh, oh, oh, she is the goodest of Good Things.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

In which the sun does, literally, shine

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

So, today, after all that, there was sun. I looked at it and laughed. The trees and the grass and the moss and the lichen looked green as green. The light danced over them as if in celebration. Stop it, I thought, you didn’t have to take me literally.

The missing is still there. It’s just it’s much easier in the sunshine. I can smile and miss at the same time. Today, on the morning walk, through all the gloriousness, I thought of the Duchess and wished she were there with us. I think that is the stage that comes now. There is shock, great sadness, even a bit of despair, an odd sort of exhilaration in the face of mortality, which takes the form of: this is Life, it must be Lived, I must talk about the Big Subjects, and LOOK AT THE TREES LOOK AT THE TREES. There is a scrambling about to remember what is important; there is a return to first principles. Then that passes; the unreality passes; and something else comes, which is the missing. I miss my dog; I miss my dad. That is how it is with me now.

I’m learning to carry it with me. The sun felt like a blessing on that resolution.

So I went in, ate my breakfast, made a ridiculously strong pot of coffee, put on some Brahms, and did 1476 words of book.

Then my friend M rang up and said could she bring the great-nephew and nieces for tea. So I made a tea party. I put a blanket on the lawn, and all my special French cushions, and made some lemonade with mint, and found some jammy biscuits in the cupboard, and arranged it all, and felt quite overcome at my own domestic godessy-ness.

Those of you who read your Nancy Mitford will remember the younger Radletts, who always cheered Fanny up by arriving in her little house in Oxford and emitting shrieks. Oh Fan, they would exclaim, not Fuller’s cake. My Smalls are very small indeed, and they are not quite yet at the stage of exclaiming, but they bring the spirit of the Radletts with them. They loved the lemonade, they wanted more biscuits, they ate everything in sight, with beatific smiles on their faces. They did running races and threw the ball for the Pigeon, who loves nothing more than tiny visitors.

There was a particularly touching moment when she noticed that the smallest of the three had not yet had a go. He is very tiny indeed, not quite two, and so she carried the ball over to his feet with great gentleness and deposited it for him, nudging it towards him with a Go on, you can do it expression on her face. He has not quite got the hang of throwing, but is more of a dropping man, and she very politely pretended not to mind, but picked the ball up and gave it to him again for another go. He was quite enchanted by this new game. It’s impossible to feel sad when you see something like that.

In my grief manual, I shall say: Have small people to tea. Go slowly, and grow things in the earth, and get your youngest relations round, because that’s how life goes on.


Now for photographs:

Getting ready for our party:

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28 June 3-3

The guests:

28 June 12-3


28 June 2-3

Pigeon’s face after the ball-throwing:

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And the lovely flowers in the sun:

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28 June 8-3

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The hill:

28 June 14-3

Monday, 27 June 2011

Blah blah blah

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

You know how I am always banging on about the small things, and how I strive to notice them, and how they give me joy? Turns out it is also the small things that drive me mad. I think it is part of the New Fragility. I am still waiting for the layer of skin that was removed through bereavement to grow back. My rational mind knows it takes time. My irrational, critical, perfectionist mind says: oh come on, butch up. That part of me wants to be robust again. I’m bored of being fragile. I keep saying to myself: come on, you are a tough old bird. Come on.

I am tough in that I know I can bend and crack without breaking. Age has taught me that you can get bits chipped off you, and fix yourself up with binder twine and a bit of gaffer tape, and trundle on. I do not lean heavily on other people, which I like to think of as brave self-sufficiency, although I know other people see it as a weakness. (I can’t quite decide which one is right.) I can get on with things. I can search for the Beauty. I can do my work. There were nine hundred new words of book today. That is not nothing.

The fragility shows itself in sudden inability to sleep. I have bitten off all my fingernails. (Is this sharing too much with the group, now?) I succumb to sudden moments of searing regret: why did I not spend more time with my old dad? Why did I not ring him more often?

And then come the small things. I broke a favourite plate yesterday. It was a lovely Wedgewood thing, with a white centre and an elegant turquoise ring round the outside. My mother gave me a set of six. Now there are only five. This provoked a stupid storm of emotion.

My new computer has a few little glitches in it, as all technology will. The delete button is amazingly sensitive, so I am constantly getting rid of things I want to keep, photographs mostly, and have to trudge over to the recycle bin and click Restore, Restore. (This suddenly strikes me as deeply symbolic.) Normally, I would just factor this in. I am a great believer in Factoring In. Rather than getting crazy over something, or someone, you just factor in whatever the failing or irritant is, reset your expectations, and le voila, all manner of things will be well. I seem to have temporarily mislaid this ability. So the delete button glitch is sending me demented.

Minor things take on a huge, overwhelming aspect. The thought of getting the library books back on time seems almost impossible. I keep eating all the food in my fridge, and then thinking: oh God, do I really have to go to the bloody shop and buy stuff again?

Yesterday, I flew into a rage because I started listening to a reading on the iPlayer, and it turned out to be a book of such startling banality and platitude and piss-poor prose that I could not understand why the writer was allowed out of the house. It’s a very successful and generally admired writer too. Instead of just turning the thing off and listening to something else and thinking of each to each, I took the book as a personal affront. What is the point in trying to write decent sentences when this kind of buggery bollocks is lionised on Radio Four?

Everyone says all this goes in phases. I suppose this is the phase I am in at the moment: a bit worn out and overwhelmed and tired. It’s not the end of the world. It’s a bit like the weather. It’s another black old day, today; the trees looked drowned and pitiful, the sky is the colour of pewter, the rain falls and falls, and falls. But there is the chance that tomorrow there will be sun.


No pictures today on account of the weather; here are some old ones from last week:

27 June 1

27 June 2

27 June 3

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27 June 5

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27 June 6

27 June 8

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And since I clearly need a bit of cheering up, there are three pictures of the Pigeon today, since it is almost impossible to feel melancholy when gazing on this amount of loveliness:

27 June 15

27 June 16

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Forgive me for wailing. The sun will come out. It will it will it will.


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