Sunday, April 20, 2008


My darling daughter was so moved this week by the news about Joan Hunter Dunn that I detected a certain influence from all the articles in the papers in the poem she wrote at school about myself and her father. She obviously sees her father's relationship with her mother is equally passionate and inspiring as anything Betjeman wrote about. I can't write anymore, as my tears might short out my keyboard, it's not easy being a muse, sob.

The Downshifter's Love Song

Miss J Hunter Dunn, Miss J Hunter Dunn
Has seen the last setting of the Home Counties sun
Daddy is such a great fan of John Betjeman
When we heard the news we just had to fetch him in

When Daddy met Mummy she was engaged to Harold
But Daddy got her, lock, stock and double barrelled
a Camberley honeymoon, but the stay wasn’t lengthy
Mushrooms and pines spoiled the smell of the M3

Daddy misses Surrey, tells us often, doesn’t stop
Both the county and the one with the fringe on top
So his weekends home our sense of bearings do disturb
And this corner of a northern field stays a London suburb

He loved her at thirty, at forty too, the joy
Always willing to swallow and she looked like a boy
When against her warm body he’s found quietly nestling
We know she’s beaten him again at arm wrestling

Before we were born they gave up their games of tennis
For nearby windows her backhand did menace
Now often although no court or net has it seen
We wonder where the warm handle of her racket has been

With the power to inspire him Mummy was imbued,
His enthusiasm for his work not just spurred by her nude
Although their Sunday nights spent staring at the ceiling
Must make a week working in London rather appealing

She always follows him to the car, tears in her voice
Oh Darling when will you ever make a choice?
Mostly it’s whether to pay the builder cheque of cash
But sometimes their rows slow his London bound dash

And whatever the words that are left unsaid
We know there is something ominous ahead
When they sit in the car till twenty to one
Daddy and his own Joan Hunter Dunn

By Milly Super aged seven and three quarters

Saturday, April 12, 2008

the teasmade of buttermere

It was my husband’s idea to spend the Easter holidays in the lake district. I’m afraid being away is why I haven’t been terribly frequent in updating the blog; It's the damp you see, although on the plus side I can now grow watercress on my laptop. it's not been an easy holiday and the indignities faced in this expedition were only heightened by watching a Melvyn Bragg documentary on the little television in the room about great northern literature which didn't mention Strife in the North even once, although I suppose the time the presenter spent plugging his own book meant that broadcast minutes were at a premium.

The children soon found lots to do so there I found myself alone, one afternoon, just me and the teasmade. I gazed at my bedside companion and it was like looking back into the past to a simpler time, that smooth white procelein skin, that round innocently smiling face, those small delicate hands, that temprement at once compliant and willing to please yet also with a way of letting off steam that was most pleasing to behold . It was no wonder that people came from all over the land to gaze on such elegant and simple beauty whilst the rain beat ceaselessly on the panes, rain that, as Coleridge wrote in his journal on 12th February 1752, could dilute your laudenham just by opening the curtains and looking out of the window.

Suddenly Milly and Tilly burst into the room and the rural idyll vanished before the rudely re-emerging modern day. ‘How’s the sailing going girls?’ I asked. ‘Did the pirates make you walk the plank? You’re all wet!’ Milly shook her head. ‘Tilly dropped the health and safety risk assessment’ she explained, ‘it was heavy it went right through the bottom of the boat’. I smiled. ‘better drowned that duffers, eh girls!’ I laughed. ‘Mummy’, begain Milly, ‘We’re not actually in Swallows and Amazons you know’. ‘Oh’, I queried, ‘why ever not?’ Milly looked serious. 'It's too sad, all those children are going to reach adulthood at the end of the thirties and then be killed in the war’. She explained. ‘We might as well cut out the middle man and play Atonement!’. I sighed. ‘Well’ I said, ‘that’s spoiled the ending of that book for anyone that reads my blog!’ I growled. ‘Well anyway’, said Milly, ‘if we pretended our names were Roger and Titty and Nancy imagine the kind of childish innuendo you’d make out of that in your stupid blog’.

The children left leaving a damp patch, well, at least somebody has messed up the hotel room this holiday I thought, and I looked out at the lake and wondered if my daughter was talking things far to seriously, Imagine Arthur Ransome conjuring up the dark clouds of the thirties I thought. I mean, where is the worldwide financial crisis, the Olympic Games being used as propaganda and the comfortable and fortunate desperately trying to pretend it won’t happen to them? I closed the curtains to shut out the periscope that I was sure had just surfaced near the ice cream van on the jetty, put the kettle on and went back to watching Look North through my Claude glass.