Posted by Tania Kindersley.
One of the odd things about losing someone is that it is interesting. That sounds like such a strange word to use, but it is true. There is all the visceral stuff: the unreality, the sudden yearning, the bashing tears, the sharp regret, the moments of fury. Then, as it settles into a new fact, one that cannot be argued with, and small increments of normality seep back in, there is time to observe. Since the condition of being human is my favourite subject, closely followed by American politics, I find myself fascinated by the things I did and did not expect.
One of them is the absolute loss of vanity. I like to think I was not madly vain before, but I did wake up in the morning and put on my lipstick, a slick of mascara, a little bit of powder. I am not hysterical about looks, and know next to nothing about make-up, but I like to put a reasonable face out to the world. Also, one of the things about working from home is that I always feared getting to that wearing pyjamas at your desk stage, of which some people write. Because I must think of my work as work, and not just noodling about, because I must set my own hours and deadlines, and be rigorous, getting properly dressed and brushing my hair and putting on some lipstick felt like a crucial psychological marker. I think I believed that if I looked like a slob, I would write like a slob.
In the early days after my dad and my dog, I could not put on any make-up, because I never knew when I would be crying. I would put on a little bit of tinted moisturiser, to cover the worst of the blotch, and that was it. My tiny squinty little eyes were small and red for all to see; my face was plain and shiny. I did not care, because of the big thing that had happened.
I always rather admired those women who went out, quite bare-faced. I was never one of them. I had a phase of problem skin in my twenties, and got into the habit of always putting on a bit of base, which has never left me. Now it has, and it is oddly liberating.
I was sometimes aware that I must look frankly peculiar. My hair would be sticking up and my cheeks shining and my glasses smeared. I put on the nearest item of clothing, without thought.
I was thinking of this because The Mother and the dear Stepfather returned to the compound today, after a holiday in the south. I took the Pigeon up to see them and it was a joyful reunion.
As I left, I thought: what must they think I look like? I am extra wan today because the sleep patterns are still erratic and I did not get my eight hours last night. My shirt is a bit crumpled and my hair is insane.
I thought: perhaps vanity is creeping back.
I thought: I can’t work out if that is a good thing or a bad thing.
I thought: maybe it is just a thing.
Here are some Friday photographs for your viewing pleasure. I may have lost personal vanity for the duration, but I still take pride in the beauty of my garden:
There has not been nearly enough tree bark lately. This is the base of my beloved Scots pine:
Can’t get enough of these crazy violas:
Nor the lavender:
The light in the woods:
The festival of astrantias:
The little Hidcote:
The glorious astrantia in close-up:
The nepeta is just coming into flower:
I remain fascinated by these delicate grasses, out in the wild meadow beyond my garden wall:
And here they are with the trees and hills in the background:
A bold phlox:
Can’t resist two more oystercatcher with baby pictures, from last week, for a special Friday treat:
A most regal Pigeon:
And the hill, from a different angle than usual, looking rather regal herself:
For some reason, when I look at that photograph, I genuinely expect Julie Andrews to come skipping down the slope, singing The Hills Are Alive With The Sound of Music. And would it not be lovely if she brought gorgeous Christopher Plummer with her? I really would have to put my lipstick on for that.
Have a happy Friday.