Saturday, November 20, 2010

All the uses of this world

Feeling a bit ... nothing... these days. Last weekend, a chap who worked in our main college office collapsed and died - at the age of 38. I was so shocked and still can't quite believe it, though I know this is illogical because of course people die young; I know this. He'd been at the college for almost exactly the same time as me: twenty years. It's a long time in my life (though it doesn't really feel it) but much longer in his. And I'm sure he must have had plans, thoughts about what he'd do for the rest of his years. Too late. How very sad.

I very much feel that this is the beginning of the Rest of My Life - now or at least around now. The children are gone and I shall retire soon - possibly in June or possibly the next year. And who knows how much Life is available to me? I suppose I should take advantage of it and stop faffing around and feeling sorry for myself.

Sirius in the picture above is lying on one of the Yellow Blankets. These are eiderdowns bought by my Granny Campbell about ten (maybe?) years before she died, which was thirty years ago. They were on her and my grandfather's beds. When she died, my grandfather went to live with my parents and the Blankets came to us. For a long time they were laid over ill or napping children (or their father) on sofas. Gradually they got more and more scruffy and for the last few years we've put them on the sofas when we went out, to protect the fabric from depredation by cats. One Blanket reached the point of intolerably embarrassing scruffiness a while ago and was discarded, and the second one reached that stage today - well, I'm sure it reached it long ago but today was the day that I acknowledged it. Being blissfully pummelled and clawed by our furry friends hadn't really improved its beauty. I couldn't quite bear to throw it away because of its sentimental connections, though, so Mr Life did the dirty deed.

I'm sure Granny would be absolutely thrilled to know that her eiderdowns (not really blankets at all, though one side was a nice cosy fabric) had lasted this long and had kept her descendants nice and warm in moments of need for all these years. She wouldn't even have grudged them their afterlife as cat blankets; she liked cats. In fact, she liked more or less everything. She was a lovely person. I've written about her before: her rather sad early life. Her mother died of TB when my Granny was five and her little sister was infected with TB as a baby and died at fourteen. Then her father remarried and Granny and her brother were sent away by the wicked stepmother: the brother joined the army and was gassed in the First World War while Granny got a live-in job as a sewing maid with a family who were very good to her and when she married, gave her a party in their house and garden.

To be more cheerful: a quote from my nephew's Twitter account (he's a student in Cambridge): I could make a bar chart of my favourite pies and a pie chart of my favourite bars.

Ah, to be young again...


  1. When you retire, maybe you could make some more quilts/blankets. Then one day your children will use them in times of need. Or you could start making pies and visiting bars?

  2. It is just as well you have Sirius and Cassie to keep you company at such sad times. ( and Mr. Life of course )38 is a shockingly young age to drop dead...what a waste.
    I think I would have liked your Granny Campbell....maybe life's hard knocks made her into a lovely person.
    Your nephew should do well, with wit like that....there isn't enough of it around unless one happens to be marking exam papers of course.
    Best Wishes; please give your 2 black velvety friends an extra stroke from me. ( I miss my departed little black furry companion )

  3. So sad about your colleague. Love the tale of the yellow blankets.

  4. A great sadness about your colleague.
    Don't forget that your blog, including Granny's blankets, provides a permanent record of your life and times, thoughts and feelings for future generations.

  5. I liked your story about the Yellow blankets. How sad that your colleague died at such a young age. Ken gets cross when he hears things like that because he thinks of all the drug barons and other mongrels that live to old age in great comfort, from making money by robbing people of their lives.

  6. Anyone colleague dying young (or even at one's age) is a shock, especially if it happens suddenly. Certainly since my cousin's husband died suddenly a few weeks ago, I've felt it suddenly important to start making more of my life - and like you wondering how much I might have left. At present I'm feeling resentful that my life seems to be on hold - perhaps I'll make a bar chart of my blessings - and eat the pie!

  7. Gosh. 38? That's very sad. I spend too much time thinking about stuff like that too. Since we never really know how much time we have left, we should get on with it. I love that cute twitter saying -- I'm thinking I'll be forwarding that to a few boys for some smiles!

  8. hope things start to feel less weary stale flat and unprofitable soon. When people die young it is a kick in the guts for the living. A much loved local lad died at 18 recently in a car accident, and though I didn't know him I felt the ripples.

  9. Thirty eight is young to go, yep. And a shock for everyone else.

  10. How many people will make a quizzical face when I say "Ah, I do love Hamlet!"

  11. Oh, how very sad. To think he was a mere eight years older than I am...

    How wonderful that you kept your Granny's blankets for so long!

  12. Oh, this Rest of life feeling is not always altogether comforting, is it? I wonder what mine will bring, and often feel as though it will go in directions which test and try me, rather than enabling me to do whatever I like, at last.
    I have been re-reading the second volume of the autobiography (Fishing in the Styx) of one of our noted writers, Ruth Park, who was actually a New Zealander, and she describes how she came to a stage of life where she wondered if that was all there was, or was going to be.It is indeed a troubling thing to read and to consider.
    And I suppose Certain People would describe me as a Wicked Stepmother, and I would hotly and vehemently deny this....Of course, I am not inflicting anything on innocent small children,

  13. Really makes you stop and think does'nt it? Life is short indeed.
    Hope you feel better soon.

  14. Oh I'm sorry to hear about your colleague. My neighbour died recently, far too young and very suddenly, and it really gives you a jolt.

    And then that flat feeling you describe.

    Best stroke a black velvety cat or two methinks.