Posted by Tania Kindersley.
No blog yesterday, for which I have scant excuse and can only offer apologies.
I always say this when I miss a day, and I always think how bizarre it is, really. Shall the Dear Readers log on and then throw up their hands in fury and disbelief, because there are no new words? I admit that the dearth of Pigeon pictures might cause serious grief in some tender hearts. Since I get to gaze on her glorious face each day, it does seem selfish and derelict not to share her with the group.
You may be able to tell from that opening paragraph that it is Sunday night after a long weekend. It was a lovely weekend. I drove to see one of my other godsons (not the one in this house) play in a match. His team did not win, but he played rather beautifully himself, with high determination, and took defeat with good grace. I was very, very impressed.
There was the lovely thing of a gathering of the very, very old friends. I am slightly obsessed with the really old friends. I’m not sure if it is a thing of middle life, which happens to everyone, or if it is slightly specific to the sharp sense of mortality which has come upon me since my father died.
Rather oddly, the godson’s match was played at the school where my two brothers went. I had not been there since I was five years old; I remembered, vividly, going there with my father, who dressed for the occasion in his best blue suit, in a vain attempt to look respectable. Actually, Dad brushed up very well, but no amount of suiting could disguise the reckless, roguish look in his eye, the absolute lack of respectability with which every atom of his body was infected.
On top of that, the road I took went past the church where Dad is buried. I did not have time to stop, this trip, and I wondered if I minded about that. In the end, I decided I did not. I went there when I was down here last, just before Christmas, and I was glad I did, but it was just patch of rough grass. There was no human there, nor even the sense or spirit of one. It was just a lovely, ancient, English churchyard, still and serene and silent.
Anyway, I’m not sure whether it is to do with any of that, but I grow more and more keenly appreciative of the old familiars. There were five of us, all bound by old histories and mutual fondness.
Three of us were at the same college together, when we were eighteen. University life was not like a glossy American movie or an episode of Friends; we did not really have gangs or cliques. But if I ever had anything like a trio, it was with the two men I saw yesterday. I admired and adored them, and, almost twenty-seven years on, I admire and adore them still.
When I see them, I get all those years of history in one, undilute shot. I get all the laughter and conversation and jokes and teases and memories, telescoped into a single, discrete point. It’s like an existential jigger of Jack Daniels.
I also like that we fall instantly into old patterns, however long we have not seen each other. I like that our default mode is to take the piss out of each other, in the gentlest and most affectionate way. I think it might be a bit of a British thing. It’s a faint parallel to the line about no man being a hero to his valet. It doesn’t matter how grown-up we get, or what professional successes we may have achieved, to each other we are still those idiotic teens, who used to slouch around with questionable hair.
One of the many, many fine things about the old friends is that as long as they are around, there is absolutely no chance of getting too big for one’s boots. That is another thing which I think more and more important, the older and older I get: any hint of hubris must be guarded against. I have no coherent theory for why I think this so vital, but I do. (I mean, there are the obvious reasons, but I think there is more to it than that.)
One final thing, before I stop typing, because typing is dangerous at this stage of an evening, and almost always descends into pointless ramble. The thing I forget when I come south, and immerse myself in family life, is that the blog goes very heavy on the domestic. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with that; some of the finest writing I read on the internets is concerned with domestic life. It’s just I always have a faint sense that the neglect of the news, the big events out in the world, is a mild dereliction.
But then, absurdity on absurdity, when I do do a big political post, I am always overcome with angst, fearful that I have banged on or pontificated or just plain bored you.
One day, I shall find the golden mean, and then I can retire.
Some quick pictures, because there must always be a visual, even on a tired Sunday night.
Late afternoon light:
A random tulip shot:
One of the lovely dogs of this house:
There was a very sweet canine moment, when I returned from my trip. I let the Pigeon out of the car, and the two younger dogs were lolling about on the lawn. The minute they saw the old lady, they dashed towards her, and leant their bodies against hers, and licked her face in high excitement, as if to say, where have you been? I am embarrassed to say that the Pidge is a little bit snooty about this. She does not return the affection in kind. She puts her nose in the air, and takes the fawning as if it were her due, as if she is some storied empress, and they her grateful subjects. She pulls rank, without shame.
You see the grandeur:
I feel, as I so often do, that there should be some neat, pithy, final line, something to pull the whole thing together. I want always to end with a bang, not a whimper.
I search my brain. There is nothing left. It is just time to stop.