Saturday, March 29, 2008
Friday, March 21, 2008
When he and Grandpa were mid-teenagers, Buddy emigrated with his family to Australia. The boys kept in touch by writing letters, though these must have taken a long time to go to and fro. Then in 1914 the war broke out and my Grandpa enlisted in the Royal Scots Regiment. That's Grandpa above. I never saw a photo of Buddy.
He landed in France with his Canadian regiment and was killed in their first battle. He’d be 22 or 23, much the same age as my son is now.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
But they set out on Saturday afternoon, touching down in London, Bangkok, Sydney and Auckland, and didn’t land in Nelson, South Island, till Monday morning our time (Monday evening, NZ time).
It took them nearly two days, whizzing dangerously through the air, to get there. I find it hard to believe that anywhere in our earth can be so far away from here.
When I read blogs the world seems very small. When I think of my boy’s long journey, it seems very large.
Not being a lad who’d had much trouble in his life, he came home rather downcast.
His big sister, Daughter 2, was in town when she heard the news. Arriving home, she announced, “I know why you failed. You didn’t have a driving badger!” – and she produced this finger puppet.
Sure enough, the driving badger has accompanied him on all vital occasions from then on. It helped him pass his second driving test. It’s successfully sat all his medical exams with him. And now it’s keeping him safe in New Zealand.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
I feel a bit silly presenting it. It’s rather solemn. Doesn’t seem very British. But anyway. Here we go. Mumbling slightly and shuffling our feet. Don’t read it, dear son-in-law. There aren’t going to be many pictures of cats.
I’m from three other houses: the first furnished with wedding presents and cast-offs, the second ringing with children’s voices and the third full of books and plans and purring.
I’m from a childhood full of funny words and stories, of worries and insecurities, of sleepless nights when the sun hardly set and or when the frost scribbled on the windows and the darkness was black indeed.
School had high windows, tiled corridors, girls in navy uniforms and 100-year-old teachers (or so it seemed).
I’m from a long beach where the sand blew up into the gardens, and from the Quarry Park, where we played rounders on long, balmy Scottish summer evenings.
Saturday, March 08, 2008
When are we truly ourselves? Is the twenty-year-old person, full of health and vigour, the real us? Or the slightly creakier but possibly wiser forty-year-old? How about the sixty-year-old, the eighty-year-old? Ah, questions, questions…
By breakfast time, our son had left a little note on the box.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
I'm not one for ascribing great significance to dreams but I had a very strange and vivid one this morning just before I woke up.
I was at some sort of function and went into a room to find my father - who died on April 1 last year after a sad decline - standing leaning against the wall on the right, looking at me. He was an old man, as he was before his last illness. But then, standing behind him in a line were different versions of him - slightly younger each time. I walked down, just looking at them all. The last one in the line was him as he was when I was little, with his hair slightly ruffled as it is in a photo we have of him standing in the garden. He would be in his early thirties.
When I got to the end of the line I put my arms round this youngest Dad, and we stood hugging, not speaking, though I had my head turned away into his shoulder and couldn't see him.
Then I woke up. I have tears in my eyes as I type this, but it was actually a nice dream. "Nice" is such a feeble word but I can't think of a better one. Comforting, maybe. But also sad.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
First two sentences of a student's essay:
"The theme of insanity has been present in many of Shakespeare's plays and literary works. Shakespeare was born and raised in Stratford-upon-Avon where at the age of eighteen he married Anne Hathaway."
Yes, well his parents probably thought he was mad to marry her.
Sunday, March 02, 2008
1. Daughter 2 recalls going out for a drink with Daughter 1, her husband and his brother last night: "J [her brother-in-law] said he likes to eat salt and vinegar peanuts by sucking off 'all the salt and vinegar goodness' and then crunching the peanuts. "
2. Daughter 2 writes something on a post-it note and sticks it to a packet of jelly beans at J's place at lunch. (He likes jelly beans.) I read the note. It says, "Happy Mother's Day, J."
3. Daughter 2 considers the words of a piece in Latin that her choir performed last night: "'Christus factus est' - what does that mean, now?"
Son-in-law: "'Christ is a postman' presumably."
(That only makes any sense if you know some French.)
Yes, well. I'm sure every family has its eccentricities. Maybe not everyone celebrates half-birthdays.
Now I must go and read Advanced Higher dissertations.