Sunday, April 29, 2007

not raving but drowning

I needed some air so I went for a walk today. Six hours at my desk reading the thesaurus from cover to cover hadn’t produced any poetic descriptions of spring flowers at all in which I could sneakily bitch about the locals, not very edifying, that second part, you may say but of course remember that when I do it, it's not gossip but art, don’t you know. I set off, Then all at once I came upon a host of golden daffodils. No, that’s no good, still no inspiration, so I walked a little further. Ah, this was more like it. I stood surrounded by a swathe of purple, the purple of my prose and of my broken liver, the purple of novels about oppressed women, the purple of royalty and the purple of pride (although that doesn’t apply to me of course, looks like another dodgy metaphor, sigh), the purple of reconciliation (ah, now that sounds more me don't you think). I stood alone, my southern belle’s blues in a northern bluebell sea, an ocean of deep purple. Oh, how I blanche when I think of someone who was destined for so much better but who has been reduced to this, when I see such cruelty around me, oh, how misunderstood I have been. I wrote poetry and they thought I had just left out all the articles and punctuation, I wrote about how awful were the locals who had forced me to move so far from my own home to live amongst them (when they told me I was moving north I thought they meant Hampstead!) but they told me I was just raving, I wrote about struggling for air but they said that people with hay fever should spend less time in the woods talking to flowers. I know, I'm an adult you say, an educated well-off middle-aged woman who should take responsibilty for her own life, well, you bully! Just you wait untill I write my next post, you're really going to get it with both barrels buster! I would tell on you to my mother but she's stopped talking to me. So, where was I, oh yes, alas, this is my fate, to have nobody understand me, yes, I was much further north than I thought, and not raving but drowning.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

the kindness of strangers

We all stood on the kerb. I was going to have to put my thinking cap on for this one. Crossing the road had seemed so easy when we lived in London. Everyone drove so considerately there but The North was so full of downshifters racing to get to site meetings with their architects about their conversion projects that crossing the road, like so many other things in my new life up north, seemed so much more complicated than before. Suddenly a stranger approached. ‘Can I help you, pet?’ said the stranger. ‘You couldn’t take the baby could you?’ I said. ‘Aye, no problem, I’d be happy to help the bairn across the road’, said the stranger. ‘No, just take him!’ I said, thrusting the baby at the stranger. The stranger looked at me oddly, edged away and then quickly walked off. What was I to do now? I decided we should all try and cross a bit further down the road. A few minutes later we came across my friend the nurse. She would help us, I thought. ‘Hello’, I said. She looked up from some chap who was lying on the verge. ‘Oh’, she began, ‘it’s you’. I love living in a small community where people recognise me like that. ‘I need your help’, I said, ‘if you’re not busy’. She looked down at the man on the ground then up at me. 'Are you blind or something?' she asked, which of course I wasn't and she should have jolly well known that, being medically trained and everything. Suddenly I remembered my agent's instructions to learn and grow, to think of others. ‘What seems to be the problem here?’ I asked, quite pleased with my demonstration of character development. 'Is he unwell?' ‘He'll live but he needs a tourniquet’ said the nurse. 'Give me your scarf Rilly'. The man on the verge did look a state, his clothes all dishevelled and covered in yucky stuff, but I did think that french designers were maybe a bit of a leap sartorially at this juncture. 'It's Hermès' I said, 'sorry, but wouldn't he look a bit silly in my clothes whatever the label? What happened to him anyway?’ I asked. Think of others, I repeated to myself, think of others. 'Not sure’, she said ‘apparently he just muttered something about some mad woman then stepped out into the road’. She looked over to the huge 4x4 parked a few yards away. ‘But what about me?’ I said, 'I've got a manicure booked!' ‘Oh God, Rilly, don’t you ever think about anyone else?’ she said, inexplicably annoyed at something. ‘What are you, my f**king agent now?’ I snapped. Think of others, think of others said the voice in my head. I needed to think quickly. I looked at the jeep, it's bullbars splattered by the every imaginable bodily fluid of this poor chap at my feet. Show you care Rilly, said the voice, you can do it girl. I took a deep breath; ‘Oh my God! I exclaimed, ‘Now that’s going to take some valeting!’ Eureka!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

all aboard the arc

The phone rang. ‘Hello’, I said. ‘Rilly’ said the voice, ‘it’s your agent’. ‘I’m sorry’, I replied, ‘I don’t know anyone of that name’, and hung up. The phone rang again. I picked it up. ‘Be serious Rilly, you don’t get paid for cheap gags.’ ‘You really do have the wrong number don’t you’, I said. ‘Rilly’ said the voice, before you hang up, I’ve just got two words for you’. ‘That’s a coincidence’ I said, ‘so have I’. ‘You first’ he said. ‘No, you first’, I replied. ‘No, you’ he argued. No you’, I remonstrated, then I thought perhaps I had gone too long without the company of anyone over , err, however old my daughter was. ‘OK Rilly, here goes’, he sighed, ‘narrative arc’. ‘What another coincidence!’ I said, slightly fibbing. ‘You need to change, Rilly’ said my agent. I looked down at my top. ‘It’s just a bit of sick’, I said. ‘Babies recognise their mother by smell you know, I saw it on a nature documentary, it's a bonding thing’. ‘I mean you must change, Rilly, character development, that’s what we need.’ ‘Change? How?’ I asked. ‘You have to stop being grumpy about The North’. ‘STOP BRING GRUMPY?!’ I shouted. The baby started crying. ‘Stop being grumpy?’ I whispered. ‘Can you hear that? I asked him, ‘I’m covered in mushy pea sick from a baby who gurgles in a northern accent and you tell me not to be grumpy!’ ‘But you have to learn and grow and change as a person from your experiences Rilly’. ‘I am not a novel, I am a free woman!’, I argued. ‘I am not a fictional character!’ ‘But wife in the north has a narrative arc, Rilly’, said my agent. ‘Yes, but she’d rather have a pantry!' I pointed out. ‘What’s in it for me anyway?' ‘Well, according to marketing,’ he began, 'royalties on another fifty thousand sales’.

I laughed as young Tilly skipped laughing through the buttercup filled meadow under the typically bright and warm northern spring sunshine. ‘I’m so happy mummy’, she laughed. I laughed too. ‘why are you happy Tilly, my love? Because it's always sunny?' I asked, smiling. ‘Because I love you mummy’, she said, with a beautiful childlike grin, and she put a daisy chain around my neck. ‘You look pretty mummy’, she chuckled and we both laughed. ‘Mummy?’ asked my lovely daughter. ‘Yes Tilly darling?’ ‘I want to live in a castle’ she said. ‘We already own half the village dear’, I explained, ‘What more do you want?’ ‘I want to live in a proper castle and be a princess’. ‘Oh gosh’, I said, ‘we’ll have to see what we can do about that dear’, I told her, wondering if my old chum the paper’s court correspondent could swing an invite from any newly single eligible bachelors of her aquaintance this summer. ‘Oh mummy, it’s starting to rain!’ said Tilly, tugging my sleeve, 'let’s go and sit in that old boat over there and pretend we’re in a storm!’ and so we ran, mother and daughter hand in hand, fleeing two by two to board The Narrative Ark and get out of the rain. I hoped we wouldn’t be aboard for forty days and forty nights though; I didn't know how long I could keep this up, the baby sick was starting to whiff a bit and a nagging recollection from my catholic upbringing told me The Ark had no bar onboard.

Monday, April 23, 2007

the hoarse whisperer

The doorbell rang. 'Deliverance!' shouted a voice. Inside, I examined the riding crop that emerged from my rummaging in the package newly arrived from my agent. It made a satisfying whoosh as it swished through the air. This was obviously my agent’s attempt to help overcome the writers block I had told him about that had just brought my first Black Lace novel to a grinding, shuddering, thrusting halt. The phone rang. ‘Er hellair!’ said the voice, ‘riding stables here! You haven’t forgotten have you?!’ It had been a long night on the karaoke. I had forgotten. ‘I’m feeling a little hoarse’, I said. ‘Practicing already eh?’ said the voice, ‘that’s what we like to hear! All kitted out then?’ I peered into the package from my agent and nodded. ‘Hellair?’ said the voice. ‘I’m nodding’, I said. ‘See you at ten’ and I put the phone down. ‘Ish’ I added. I lifted a hat from the box. It was large and hard, sigh. At least it was black to go with my flowing raven locks. A further rummage revealed some trousers of the same tanned complexion of a slightly disappointing off season week in Tuscany. I looked at the label. Size medium, colour:Lady Godiva. Horses and I do not see eye to eye, unless I stand on a box, I have to take an antihistimine to read a Jilly Cooper novel and if anyone’s going to have a long face in the room it should be me. I remembered the conversation with my agent. ‘Rilly’ he said, ‘you could be sitting on the next Da Vinci Code here saleswise’. This was quite apt as I was sitting on the original Di Vinci Code to reach the desk. ‘But you’ve got to look like you don’t mind mucking in with the locals’. I said I would muck in, but if mucking out was involved he could bloody well forget it.

I arrived at the stables. ‘Er hellair', said a man in even tighter trousers than me, ‘you must be Rilly’. ‘Are you supposed to be able to bend your knees in these?' I asked. The instructor looked impressed. ‘I say, those are the same brand The Queen wears you know’, he said, as if to explain why Her majesty rides side saddle. 'Are you ready for me?' I asked. 'Yep, I've upped the old insurance since I spoke to you on the phone Rilly', he replied. 'Oh dear, did I sound that accident prone?' I asked. 'No, just worried you'd slag us orff orn that blog of yours! Now, let’s get you started then shall we dear’. he said. ‘Foot in the stirrups’, he indicated, ‘easy as visiting the gynaecologist, eh old girl?' Good thing I’m not seeing him today’, I said. ‘Oh, I don’t know', replied my instructor, ‘At least wearing those jods he’d be able to see everything was OK without you taking your trousers orf!’ He steadied the horse with a calm masculine, although slightly horsey smelling, confidence. ‘Alright up there Rilly?' He asked. ‘I can see one of my houses from here!’ I told him. I tried to hide my nervousness whilst making a note to mention it on the blog for dramatic effect. ‘Maybe I should trade in the car for one of these’, I said, patting my mount. ‘How many horsepower can you get out of these things?’ At least I couldn’t lose the keys, I thought, although my husband would probably still forget to fill it with hay, or whatever they run on. Maybe instead of driving each morning to watch other people work I could ride. ‘Does that Philips girl ever visit your stables?’ I asked. ‘Fraid not dear’ said the manly Rupert, ‘but Daniel Radcliffe comes up from time to time, that’s why old Shergar here seems a little nervous. He's been through enough already, poor lad. Don’t worry though Rilly’, he continued, ‘a horse is just like a man, you just need to get on him and ride him until you break his spirit’. Oh dear, I thought as that image entered my prescient imagination, I really should have worn the dark blue jodhpurs today, and I began to slide slowly sideways off of the damp saddle.

Later, as I stepped out of the shower at home and made a mental note to order another gallon of deep heat before the next riding lesson I thought that perhaps I was cut out for this country life after all. I put on my riding hat and resolved to wear it whilst I recounted my adventures to the world. I looked in the Mirror and Ellen Whitaker looked back, although a little less blonde, young and able to tell one end of a horse from the other than young Ellen normally is. Suddenly the doorbell rang. It was Rupert, all six foot of mud spattered Jods, high leather boots and masterful authority of him. I sighed. ‘Just popped by to check you survived’, he said. ‘Come in’, I whispered in a timorous voice I put down to the smokey karaoke of the previous night. My intuition told me he was very impressed that I was wearing my riding hat when I answered the door. 'Very impressed to see you wearing your riding hat when you answered the door!' he said. I don’t know how long he was there but sadly eventually he had to go. ‘I can see you’re really keen to adopt the country life Rilly’, he said, 'just one small word of advice, and hope I'm not too late, don’t forget all your old London ways next time you go back home will you. Remember some things are completely the other way around in the city than they are here’. ‘What do you mean exactly?' I asked, puzzled. He looked me up and down and smiled. 'I think you’ll find that in town the fashion is still hat orff, trousers orn dear.’

As Rupert left, the phone rang. It was my agent again. 'Rilly darling!' he began, 'just read about the riding lesson, just what we need, that's the horsey fraternity hooked up to buy the book for absolute certain dear'. He hung up and I sighed as the prospect of my dust jacket author's photograph replacing the ponies and horses on a thousand 4x4 spare wheel covers suddenly cast a cloud over my day in the sun. I reached for the dictafone that I used for my novel and tried to speak but only a hoarse whisper came out. Would I really ever fit in? Would I ever find the inspiration to finish my romantic novel or was I trapped in the gritty kitchen sink social realism of Strife in the North for ever? Sigh...

Friday, April 20, 2007

dear diary

06.00 Husband gets up to go to go back to London. I don’t notice because I made him sleep in the spare room last night so he didn’t get me up early.
06.15 Woken by nanny’s crying. She is homesick. She shouldn’t really have her clock radio set to Radio Gdansk Breakfast Show. It can’t help. It is good reception up here though. If not for Denmark in the way you could even see Poland from here.
06.19 Baby starts to cry.
06.20 Switch on Radio to drown out baby. The sound of Carolyn Quinn makes me feel homesick. I start to cry.
06.22 I bang on wall and shout to Nanny that children will be late for school. Pull pillow over head.
08.20 Hear door slam as children go to school.
09.30 Phone rings. It is my agent. Why have I hardly written anything this week? Why not do a diary type post to show how awfully busy I am because everyone thinks the nanny does everything. Put phone down, pull duvet over head.
09.45 Call in Natalia and tell her to make a list of everything I do today.
09.48 Gaze at Radio Times picture of Colin Firth as MrDarcy stuck on ceiling above bed.
10.00 Log onto Wife in the North. Consoled that someone else has as grim a life as me. Read comments onWifey's blog. Someone using a photo of Audrey Hepburn in their profile criticises another commenter for hiding behind anonymity. V. strange.
10.30 Think probably should get out of bed now. Just time for a quick bath before I go out to site meeting at cottage.
12.45 Get out of bath. Can’t find car keys.
12.46 Write blog post about losing car keys and make appointment with post traumatic stress disorder consultant. He can’t see me for three weeks due to sudden influx of downshifters putting strain on resources by losing keys, dealing with homesick nannies and arguing with builders about pantries.
12.57 Find car keys.
13.00 Get in car. Husband has filled it with petrol. Hurrah! Start engine.
13.01 Find favourite CD in glove box to cheer me up.
13.05 Car engine cuts out. Remember now that car runs on diesel. V. bad
13.06 Can’t get James Blunt out of my stereo, as well as out of my head, now ignition dead. Start to cry.
13.07 look in rear view mirror. ‘you’re beautiful, you’re beautiful, you’re beautiful it’s true’. Cry some more.
13.20 Get out of car. Realize I will have to walk all the rest of the way, sigh, start walking.
13.24 Arrive at cottage for meeting with architect.
13.30 Disappointed when architect says building noise hasn’t forced owners of remaining house in street to sell to us.
13.31 Grumpy local (is there another kind?) complains about housing shortage. I tell him my family occupies three houses in the village so how can he say there is a shortage.
14.00 Arrive back home just in time for health visitor to drop by. She is local so brings an interpretor.
14.01 Health visitor checks baby’s name for records. 'Willy Super', I tell her. 'No, I know your name Rilly', she says, 'what’s the baby’s name.?' I tell her she can jolly well run along and return when she can be more respectful. Health visitor goes red and falls off chair.
14.05 My agent rings. I need to do something to add some local atmosphere. He has booked riding lesson. He hangs up. Riding what? I ask myself.
14.30 Time for first drink according to new years resolution, as amended from no alcohol until 7pm on January 3rd and absolutely not a drop until 5.30pm on February 12th.
15.00 Send Natalia to off licence for fresh supplies
15.45 Children arrive back from school. I tell Natalia to tell them I have died.
15.48 Milly and Tilly start to cry.
15.50 Natalia comes upstairs. She starts to cry
15.51 I start to cry.
15.52 I have another drink.
15.55 Phone rings. I am expected at riding stables 10 am tomorrow. Voice from riding stables says he can't quite match my name with a face. I remind him who I am. Riding instructor starts to cry.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

rilly come home

Terribly sorry I haven't been around much for the last few days. Afraid I’ve had some rather bad news. My agent says that Ken Loach probably won’t direct the film of my life after all. I would have thought my rootless existence would have made the perfect sequel to Cathy Come Home but my agent says Ken thought Strife in The North was simply so grim and upsetting that nobody would think it was true. In the meantime in order to take up the guest appearance on Woman's Hour that my agent has again promised he can swing for me I need to swot for the test on Mary Wollstonecraft that you have to pass to get on the show. It’s very tough you know, even Mary Wollstonecraft failed it although there is a rumour that she was banned after she ate the last chocolate éclair in a pre-production meeting with Jenni Murray. You can imagine how very excited I was when he first told me he was trying to get both me and Wife in the North a Martha Kearney interview but that was then and this is now and the prospect of us sharing a joint Woman's Hour downshifting special receded when he told me that Wifey's chat was on World at One in a Darfur special and my Woman's Hour spot was scheduled for the next Andy Hamilton presented red nose day edition. Sometimes it seems as if I'm just not taken seriously, sigh. At least there'll be some male company in it for me. Anyway, back soon chaps, tootle pip.

Friday, April 13, 2007

rainy days and mondays

I pulled open the curtains and looked out of the window. Outside it was sunny and Friday, but in my heart it was raining and Monday because my husband was staying in London at the weekend working. He has it so easy in London, he doesn't understand how grim it is up north. A small bird came and perched on a bush in the garden and I thought, hmm, that’ll make a nice little anecdote for the blog because it shows how sensitive I am and it’s also a metaphor for my life, because I am a lonely little bird shivering in the cool night air, my cockney sparrow feathers ruffled by the north wind. I wondered if the little bird had come to our house to await my husband's arrival from London and was going to be as disappointed as I was, knowing that when I opened these curtains tomorrow I'd still just see The North outside and the sheer awfulness of it all wouldn't be blissfully blocked out by my beloved's range rover parked outside. I went to the stereo and put on my favourite CD. I love The Carpenters, not only because they come from the seventies just like my descriptions of The North and my writing style, but because any pop group with a building related name does it for me. I sighed. I couldn't be on my own all weekend. If I couldn't have my husband I would have to make do with a local for company. In desperation I picked up the phone and turned to one of the names in my list of other mothers from the school, just the other side of the road and yet in another world. Trembling, I began to dial the number. I didn't have to dial the code and I would hear the neighbour's phone ringing across the street but I knew I would still need to punch in that magic London 020 to feel I was about to phone home. Perhaps one day this would be my home, sigh, oh wouldn't it be loverley...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

the outsider function

Milly and Tilly were keen and ready to go on their expedition far and away across the other side of the road but I stopped them at the front door. ‘Ok girls, you haven’t forgotten anything now have you?’ ‘No Mummy’, they sighed. ‘Let’s just make sure’ I said. 'You must be prepared, it's grim up north you know.' I ran through the checklist:

Telescopic poles to tap on the road so I know where you are
GPS electronic satellite thingy to save £2 cost of streetmap
Ray Mears wilderness bushcraft survival handbook and DVD
large heavy copy of Bravo Two Zero to beat off local children
Brightly coloured woolly hats with dangly tassles to blend in
Supply of kendal mintcake to trade for real food in emergency
Portable Camping aga, well, just never leave home without it
Flag sent from Ken Livingstone to stake claim to village green
Sunglasses as disguise from journos not from Sunday Times
Anecdotes about falling down a crevasse on Hamstead Heath
Spray-on repellent and hat to keep locals at bay if item 4 fails

I realised I needed to quickly go and work on a less tenuous sounding action mountaineering adventure movie inspired title so I left out the last twenty five items on the list. 'Ok girls, I want you back from Freya’s birthday party by six. Don't dawdle, don't talk to any local children on the way and don't come back without a goody bag worth at least the same as Freya's birthday present, oh hang on, damn, her present, I knew there was something I'd forgotten...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I believe in angels

I answered the door to find a tall blond man on the doorstep. ‘Hello’, he said, ‘You are wife in the north, ja?’ ‘I’m afraid not’, I told him, ‘and you are..?’ He held out his hand. ‘I am Sven Svensson from Sverige, pleased to meet you’. ‘Ah’, I understood now, ‘you must be from the car company about the missing keys’. ‘No’, he said, ‘I am from the Nobel Prize committee. The panel thinks that anyone who can write three blog posts about losing their car keys can give JK Rowling a run for her money this year.’ I looked puzzled. ‘Only joking!’ he laughed, 'yes I am here about the keys'. ‘Wife in the north has found hers’, I said, ‘but I could do with your help here’. I led him to the car. He looked inside and saw Tilly trying to guess what ‘S.W.’ was for the fiftieth time in her one-girl game of eye-spy. ‘I thought the custom in England was for the parents to lock themselves in the car with the children all bank holiday weekend’, he said. ‘This has changed now?’ ‘We’re downshifted’, I told him. ‘We like to be a bit different’. He studied the lock. ‘Actually’, he began, ‘My brother works for the car company but I asked if I could stand in for him as I am such a big fan of wife in the north’. ‘That’s nice’ I said. ‘Also, he was a bit confused by the directions to her house.’ ‘Oh?’ I said. ‘Yes, he thought wife in the north must be in Lappland but then he found out she was in England and he said ‘but England is in the south! These English are crazy! I am not going there if they are all so strange. I will stay in Sweden and beat myself with birch twigs like any normal person!’'. He fumbled in his pockets and produced an allan key. I was sure that wouldn’t open my super high-tech Swedish electronic locking system. He stuck the allan key in the lock and the entire car door fell off it’s hinges. ‘Are you sure you’re from the car company?' I asked as Tilly looked up and said ‘Mummy, are we nearly there yet?’ Well, actually...’ he began, 'I work for Ikea but it’s the same principle’. I nodded in understanding. ‘That’s done then’, he said. ‘You don’t mind if I use your sauna do you?’ 'I'll get you a towel', I sighed. Soon Sven would go back to Sweden and I would be left alone again, oh Sven, when you're gone, how can I even try to go on...

Sunday, April 08, 2007

defibrillation angels

The easter weekend was not going well for me but I wondered to whom I could turn. It’s so hard to find someone locally who’s on my wavelength when it comes to sensitivity and empathy and I feel quite desolate sometimes, although that's not surprising when there's so much desolation around. I was starting to think that downshifting was not all it was cracked up to be. I like to think however that the local nurse and I share an almost sisterly bond. I saw her today chatting to old Mr Sutcliffe from number sixteen. I could see she looked very concerned about something so I went over to offer some helpful advice. I could see that Mr Sutcliffe was really not interested in the conversation at all and obviously wanted to spend his sunday laying around on the village green. He certainly needed the sun as he was very pale. 'You look very concerned dear', I said, ‘but I hope you're not thinking about downshifting because it's not all it's cracked up to be.' She looked at me in a way that confirmed that this was indeed exactly what she was just at that moment considering. Mr Sutcliffe didn't express any view on the subject and just carried on getting paler. This is normal. The locals I find are often this reluctant to engage in conversation. This is understandable as most of them didn’t even go to Oxford so they probably don’t want to talk to someone like myself for fear of exposing their lack of proper southern education. ‘Hold these’, she said, indicating some round thingys attached to wires that she had put on his chest. She flicked a switch and his eyes opened with a start. He looked up at me. 'Heck!' he cried 'Either I'm not dead yet or I did something bloody awful when I was alive!' It was a miracle! A local had spoken to me! Sunbeams shone down through the clouds onto our little group ‘Now,’ said my nurse friend, ‘what can I do for you Rilly?’ I pointed to her amazing bit of resuscitational wizzardry that she had just demonstrated to me. 'Well' I began, ‘I couldn’t borrow that to jumpstart the car could I darling, and then I thought perhaps I could use it on our bloody rowers as well'.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

not a good friday

Oh Gosh Rilly, what’s happened?’ asked my neighbour yesterday, sensing my alarm. I could hardly bring myself to recount the trauma that had befallen me. ‘I’ve..I've..I've lost the carkeys.’ The words stumbled from my trembling lips. ‘Oh, don't worry Rilly, it could happen to anyone, just ask young Tilly to look for them, they’ll turn up in no time’, she suggested. ‘Just one small snag’, I said, ‘Tilly’s in the car, and I fear she’ll be in there all weekend.’ 'But haven’t you a spare?’ asked my neighbour. ‘Well of course, I have Milly so it’s not a complete loss’. ‘I meant a spare key dear, not a spare daughter’. ‘Oh, I see’, I said, ‘afraid not, and the thing is, it’s such an expensive top of the range car you see, much nicer than anything you could afford, that you can’t just get a new key cut, you have to get someone over from Sweden to sort it out’. ‘Oh gosh’, she said, and as I reflected that perhaps that last bit of information had undermined the effect of the sympathy seeking vulnerability I was trying to convey she continued ‘and how is your husband taking it?’ 'Terribly, as you can imagine’, I said, ‘All his Judy Garland CDs are in the car, I don’t think he can make it through the weekend without them, and if Tilly plays them all while she’s locked in there then the battery will be as flat as pancake by Tuesday. I'm going to get absolutely crucified if he misses his appointment with the interior designer next week because of this.’ ‘Oh golly, poor you’, said my neighbour. 'At least you picked the right weekend for it, ha ha, however are you going to sleep tonight?’ ‘Don’t worry’, I reassured her, ‘The car’s got really good soundproofing so Tilly’s shouting and banging on the windows all night shouldn’t keep us awake.’ 'Thank heavens for small mercies’, she said. ‘See you in church Sunday then Rilly, hmm, I suppose you'll be needing a lift...’

Thursday, April 05, 2007

gregorian calender girls

This morning the ecclesiastical calendar calculator website confirmed my suspicions that this weekend is actually Easter. Damn, I’m sure this means I should have collected Milly and Tilly from school by now this week. I shall have to send Natalia round to see what has happened to them. Easter is quite a major occasion in our village. The vicar, recognizing more than anyone the importance of this festival in a small community organizes an easter egg hunt in the village and enlists the help of the verger and local W.I. to ensure it’s smooth running. Things can get quite competitive amongst these ladies, especially on the baking side of things. I was asked to help when a representative from the organising committee came round and noticed the aga. ‘Oh, you’ve got an aga dear, that’s marvelous’, she said ‘You must help us with the baking!’ ‘You mean you can cook stuff in these as well?’ I replied. ‘Crikey!’ I did my best of course, but village life being what it is the only observation I received on my efforts was ‘we’re going to need considerably bigger hot cross buns’. Anyway, my husband will soon arrive from London and with him to myself at least some of the weekend and several days' production from Green and Blacks entire orgasmic chocolate factory in the pantry, I very much hope, given the abundance of bunnies abroad in the village, that there will be at least one rabbit which doesn’t need to see the light of day this weekend, sigh. Should anyone out there run out of men or chocolate before Tuesday, I jolly well wish them good vibrations this weekend. See you soon, hug...

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

strife on mars

My name is Rill Super. In 2007 I had a terrible accident, I took a wrong turn off the Edgeware Road and when I ran out of petrol I found myself back in 1973. Am I in the North, in a coma, or did I go back in time? The bakelite telephone in the dusty corridor rang. I picked it up. ‘Rill’, said my agent, ‘we’re trying to get you back’, he continued, ‘but there’s been a code twelve at the old factory.’ ‘Trouble at mill?’ I replied. ‘What’s a code twelve anyway?’ ‘Theft of the introduction to a spoof 1970s TV show that was on telly last night’, he said. ‘You mean All Creatures Great and Small?’ I asked. ‘No, All Creatures Great And Small was a real 1970s series, not a send-up’ he corrected me, ‘and it wasn’t on TV yesterday’. ‘It was up here’, I pointed out ‘It’s shown on a continuous loop, only interrupted by broadcasts from President Botham.’ ‘My God, it’s grim up north’ said my agent. ‘So what do you want me to do?' I asked. ‘You have to solve the case Rill, get all the facts’. ‘Facts?’ I said, ‘but I’m a journalist’. ‘Looks like you're buggered then love’ said my agent and hung up. Would I ever get back to 2007? Would people stop pointing at my haircut from 30 years in the future and laughing? Would everything be hunky dory? Could I send a distress signal to the outside world, it was still the seventies here in the north, surely I could find some flares? One thing I did know for certain though: cue apt contemporary music clip and roll credits…

Monday, April 02, 2007

running on reminiscence

I only had to look at the expression on my husband's face to know that the little pointers on all the dials had dropped below the red and were heading rapidly for zero. I’d like to say this was the first time this had happened. He did actually say he was sure that this was the first time it had happened, but we both knew it wasn’t. running on empty once more, the story of our lives. Out of juice again, how could I forgive him, all he'd had to do was point the damned thing in the right direction and fire away, how hard could it be? I sighed as we coasted to a halt. There weren’t many tasks I expected of my husband but he couldn’t even manage his few male responsibilities nowadays. There was an awkward silence as we both sat looking out of the window. He leaned over and turned on the radio and the cricket commentary filled the gulf between us. 'Freddie's out' he said, as someone whose name ended in 'off' traipesed sullenly from the field of play. 'You don't say?' I muttered. ‘Hmmm, oh well’, he reflected further, ‘I think perhaps a little stroll on my part might be called for too’. I didn’t even turn to him to give my reply. ‘Yes, I think that might be a good idea’ I said, ‘and while you’re up you can go and check the bloody car’s got petrol in it as well before I go out to collect the children.’ I pulled the bed clothes over my head and listened to his footsteps grow quieter as they went down the stairs and out into the garage, just as the memories of our first kiss became feinter as they sailed away towards the distant sunset on the misty horizon of my rememberance, sigh