Friday, 9 September 2011

In which there is a storm warning

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

I wake up. I think: fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke. Ah, I think, seems I am in defiant mood. I never really know where the waking mood comes from. Is it the REM cycle, or dreams, or mysterious brain activity which even the neuroscientists cannot yet fathom? Sometimes, before May, I actually used to wake up singing. I would sing: good morning, starshine. I’m not doing that now, but I will again.

One of the things that sadness has taught me is that I am essentially a happy person. It’s not very rock and roll; I was always entranced by the idea of the tormented writer, tossed and wracked by the sorrow and the pity. Turns out, I’m not quite the bohemian I liked to style myself when I was younger. Now I am in middle-age, I think: that’s not such a bad thing. That’s a bit of a genetic lottery to have won. It’s the merest shimmer of chance that I see the glass half full.

The Beloved Cousin rings. This is always a banner moment. It is not just because she is a spectacular human being, but also because she has been through all the death thing, and so I don’t have to explain a single thing to her. She knows it all. We talk of the serious stuff; we compare fragilities. Then she makes me laugh so much that I shout out loud, startling The Pigeon.

That’s one of the things I would put in the Grief Manual. You need one person who utterly, absolutely gets it. That’s your harbour in a storm, your safe haven. That’s the person who makes you feel your knotted shoulders coming down, and your belly relaxing, and your racing mind slowing to a gentle trot.

As a rider to that, I would say: there are some people who won’t get it, and that’s all right too. You don’t need to explain. Can’t remember who said never explain, never apologise, but she had a point. I’m almost sure it was a she, someone like Margot Asquith or Mrs Astor.

The rain comes, dour and determined. I feel pleased for the garden, but sorry for the farmers. Everyone round here is talking of the poor farmers, who cannot get their harvest in. Because it has been such a dreich summer, the grain is not only damp, but has not ripened well. Because of astronomic fuel costs, drying grain is like burning money. (My friend Bob told me this the other day, and I had a sudden acid flashback to the grain dryer of my childhood. It was one of the very few places on the farm that was absolutely out of bounds to us, when we were small, because we might fall in and drown in wheat. I remember going to stand about three yards away from it, peering in awe over the lip, where the pile of amber grain sat like a warning, little motes of dust from it spiralling up into the sunlight.)

I suddenly realise that I have not taken in any news this week. I take a break from work and go and look for The News. There it is, all bright and official, on the BBC. The number one most visited story is: ‘Drunk Swedish Elk found in tree’. I wonder if this is code. Is the BBC doing espionage? It is Moscow rules? ‘The geese are flying south for winter’ means meet me in St James’s Park, with or without your poison-tip umbrella. Someone told me once that St James’s Park is where all the spooks go to have their most secret conferences. Ever since, whenever I walked there, I looked out for serious men in shined shoes, with that gleam in their eye that means they know how to kill a man using only their thumb.

Mr Obama has given a storming jobs speech to the House; Mr Rick Perry, the rising star in the Republican primaries, has reiterated his disbelief in evolution (what? what? And: why?); Mayor Bloomberg is warning of terrorist threats. The Swiss Franc has roared quite out of control. There is still fighting in Libya. The G7 finance ministers are going to Marseilles to see if they can save Europe from going smash. Do let’s hope they come up with a cunning plan.

In New Zealand, the All Blacks have scored a mighty victory in the Rugby World Cup. There is general shock at the revelation that the shiny Gwyneth Paltrow has ‘one cigarette every two months.’ (Spellcheck does not like Paltrow. Among its helpful suggestions are Piltdown, Plato, Poltroon, and Platered. Poltroon is definitely a word I do not use enough. As for platered: no idea.)

I’ll just look at the Scottish page, I think. Surely Mr Alex Salmond will have said something incendiary? Huge headline: US HURRICANE CENTRE IN STORM WARNING FOR SCOTLAND. What? I think. Hurricanes in Glasgow? Surely not.

Apparently, Hurricane Katia (why do they give them these innocuous girls’ names?), which has been harrying the eastern seaboard of America is going to head out into the open sea, ‘turn into a classic wintertime storm’, and then bash into Northern Scotland. Classic wintertime storm? It’s the beginning of September. My hyacinths are still flowering. What the hell is going on?

Now I had better go. The Pigeon and I are going to be battening down the hatches.


Too dreary for the camera today, so here is a random selection from the week for your Friday pleasure:

The three wise old beeches:

9 Sept 1.ORF

White marjoram:

9 Sept 2.ORF

Blueberry bush:

9 Sept 3.ORF

Can’t get enough of these geraniums:

9 Sept 4

Sun on the wild garden:

9 Sept 5

Stone and moss and lichen, three of my absolute favourite things:

9 Sept 7.ORF

Can’t resist another shot of the magnificent iron fence:

9 Sept 10.ORF

Sometimes, I just like to lie on my stomach and take a worm’s eye view of the grass. Sometimes I think it looks just like a Rothko. At other times, I do not:

9 Sept 11.ORF


9 Sept 12.ORF

There’s something about the gnarliness of tree trunks:

9 Sept 14.ORF

Pigeon in three different humours. Grinning:

9 Sept 19


9 Sept 20

And oh, oh, oh, little wistful face. Actually, this is the face she puts on when I have been fannying about for far too long with the camera and she wants either love or ball or biscuits:

9 Sept 20-1


9 Sept 22.ORF


  1. I do hope the storm is not too bad for you and the poor farmers. The trees are changing here already, it does seem very early!

  2. My favorite thing about the Pigeon is the sweet little points at the tips of her ears. I'd pinch them, ever-so-gently, about 20 times a day if I were you.

    Don't forget to fill your tub up with water, before the hurricane! That way you can still flush your toilet, if the water supply is cut off.

    Take care!



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