Friday, 10 June 2011

Good Friday

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

I am feeling more human than I have for a long time.

I suddenly realise that this is an egregious misuse of language. Feeling sadness, missing people who have gone, pining for a dear dog: these are the absolute marks of being human. These are the sorrows that flesh is heir to. So when I say 'feeling more human', what I actually mean is something quite else. I mean that today, the sense of fragility has lessened, a little. I mean that, for the first time since my father died, I went to my desk not with a must get back to normal imperative in my head, but with a sense of excitement to write my book. It actually twisted in my stomach; it was the feeling you get when someone has given you a present. I mean that I was able to do all my practical errands, tick off my to do list, see the Mother and the Stepfather, go to the shop, do my work, tidy the kitchen, cook some food, without having to bash through a shattering sense of unreality first.

The Co-Writer called and told me a tragi-comic story about some absurd party she had been to. She had a most excellent rant, which I found both funny and bracing. The Beloved Cousin called and made me shout with laughter. My lovely new gardening lady came and talked to me sternly of evergreens. (Part of the reason that I am finding such solace in the garden is that I no longer have to do it alone, just me and my vast spaces of ignorance. I now have the weekly help of a determined expert. This is why I can find joy in lopping.)

Of course normal is a relative term. I saw the compost man, the one who came the other day while I was out and laid all the heavenly new black earth. 'Thank you, thank you,' I cried. Without thinking, I flung my arms around him. He looked slightly amazed, but took it manfully, and talked quickly of other things.

'It was no trouble,' he said. What he meant was: it was just a load of old compost.

'It was the best thing anyone could have done,' I said. I wanted him to know what a shining light that glorious life-giving stuff had been to me.

I hope I did not alarm him. The British, after all, do not go in for random flinging of arms, especially not over compost. I shall be hugging the butcher next.

I pulled myself together and went inside and made a delicious green pesto. Yet even that simple act felt like a kind of miracle of its own.

I think: I must not fall into the trap of thinking that this means the whole thing is somehow over. I know it is not so simple. I know that there will be sudden shocks, moments of desolation, the pulling strings of memory. You can't just slap on a Band-Aid and sing a happy song.

But a good day like today feels acutely precious. It feels, oddly, like a small achievement. Yes, I say to myself, yes. You can do this.



Last night I went outside at about eight and found the most glorious evening light. The light was one of the things I first noticed, when I came to live in Scotland. I banged on and on about it, boring for Britain. But it is an amazing thing. It is thicker and older and more evocative than English light. It is like the ancient light of Italy. This is what it looked like, falling over the lovely new acer:

10 June 1

10 June 2-1

And on the new viola too. This flower is called Lord Plunket. For some reason this makes me laugh. I never saw anything less like a lord in my life:

10 June 2

The astrantia is rather out of focus, but I do not mind that:

10 June 3

Shimmering over the little cotinus tree:

10 June 5

10 June 7-1

Lighting up the peony:

10 June 6

10 June 7

Turning the salvia into a leading lady:

10 June 8

Falling over the hydrangea:

10 June 9

Muddling over one of the many Plants Whose Names I Cannot Remember:


Illuminating the geraniums:

10 June 10

And gentling the hill:

10 June 20

The Pigeon took her ease on the cool evening grass:

10 June 11

By contrast, when I came out this morning, I saw quite a different light, much more fierce and direct, and rather unforgiving on my rambly little garden:

10 June 15

The Pidge and I went for a walk up the lime avenue:

10 June 12

And looked at the magnificent line of trees, planted by some long-dead person, to whom I send thanks each day:

10 June 13

The silver birches were not planted by design in the same way, but grow wild up here:

10 June 14

They are just as lovely, nonetheless.

Well, you most dear of Dear Readers, I hope you are having a Good Friday, wherever you are.


  1. I'm just writing a chapter where I 'borrow' Do not go gentle into that good night.....' now the fabulous poem is playing in my head and I can't concentrate ! Your beautiful photos certainly burn rage at close of day. I bet the butcher would be over the moon !! x

  2. Belgravia Wife - cannot get enough of that Dylan Thomas. And very, very kind of you to think the butcher might be pleased!

  3. Blessings from Lewis Tania. Must be the evening for poems. I'm trying to memorize the wonderful poem Hamnavoe while visiting the magical islands of the Outer Hebrides.

  4. The hunky butcher? Hug away! He sounds definitely worth hugging.

  5. I am so pleased to know that the blows on the bruises have begun to ease up. Reading your updates is always important to me ("oh, fantastic, Tania's put up a new post") but more so than ever at the moment: to know how things are for you.

    The photos are, as always, glorious. I agree with you about the viola - but what a glorious colour; and I do envy you the peony. We had them in our last garden, and I believe they take ages to establish from new (and this being a Rectory, we'll be here for a finite length of time), so I haven't tried here.

    And I completely agree with Alex. I'm sure the butcher would be only too delighted. So would rather a lot of people if we all gave out a few more unexpected hugs from time to time.

  6. Happier than a bird with a french fry to hear you had such a very good day (decorum be damned, re: the compost fellow). My Friday was aces. I met the newest member of the family, a 4-month-old named Helen Marguerite, who always smiles and "talks" quite loudly and feels like a warm loaf of bread when you hold her close. Life sometimes can knock your socks off in the loveliest ways.

  7. This is really good to hear. Wonderful really.


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