Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Cap Of Maintenance

Last Wednesday it was forecast to be 34 degrees in London, which is 93 point something. We had planned to go and see the diary exhibition at Somerset House (and did actually go the next day - very interesting) but then we suddenly thought: we are free agents; we don't need to go anywhere; we can just stay in the flat with all the windows open. (Poor Daughter 2 had to go to work, but fortunately she can walk there.)

So that's what we did. We lounged around and read our books and watched a bit of television. These are the husband's feet, not mine. It was actually very pleasant and peaceful.

What was on television was the State Opening Of Parliament, which I've never watched before, having been a working woman and then a retired woman with better things to do. But actually it was riveting in a way - the slightly hilarious way of thinking: what on earth must other nations think of us, with all that pageantry and silly cloaks and hats and things IN 34 DEGREES??? Velvet! Ermine! Wigs! Crown! (though the Queen didn't actually wear the Crown; she had a flowery hat).

Here's the throne on which in due course she sat, with Prince Charles by her side, to read out The Queen's Speech, which was all about what "my government" plans to do. I must say, she's in good nick for 91. She wouldn't exactly get a place in the Royal Shakespeare Company for the excitingness of her delivery, but she managed it all without faltering and never turned over two pages of her little booklet at once.

The best bit, however, was when things were processed in: the Crown (ok), the Sword (well, I suppose it's traditional) and then the Cap Of Maintenance.

The Cap Of Maintenance? Why had I never heard of the Cap Of Maintenance? It's a velvet and ermine sort of pudding basin, originally given to Henry VII by the Pope. I can't believe that this is the original one - it looks too pristine. Anyway, here it is, being borne in on a stick and solemnly handed from one chap to another.

And here it is, having done its duty of... sitting on a stick... being reverently taken out afterwards to its private car.

Why do I not have a Cap Of Maintenance? Wouldn't it improve life (on cooler days)? You'd heave the vacuum cleaner out of the cupboard to do a bit of cleaning, first popping on your Cap Of Maintenance, and the happy hours of Maintaining would fly past. Then, when appropriate, you'd pass it on to your husband to do a spot of DIY. So useful. (Actually, since his retirement, I've passed on the vacuuming to Mr L; he hasn't reciprocated with the DIY. Wisely.)

Daughter 2's husband has been in Toronto for some weeks with his theatre group, Showstopper. This bit of her mantelpiece shows a slice of their lives: a scan of the future Granddaughter-the-Youngest; a Showstopper leaflet; a little house (she's an architect);  my parents' silver (plated) teapot and a plant.

Sunday, June 25, 2017


While in London, we visited the Summer Exhibition, which was as usual full of works of art which bewildered us - as well as others which we enjoyed. This, for example, I liked - I admired the sentiment (you just have to go on, don't you?) though I've just discovered that it's a quote from a Beckett novel, so it's not original to the artist. The background is very intricately painted: it looks like tiny rolled-up pieces of coloured paper stuck together, but it's not. So I admire the neatness and the industry. Would I, however, pay £35,000 for it? Hmm.

This looks, as Son-in-Law 1 said when I sent its photo, like Grandson's blackboard when he's rubbed out what he's written. It's just as blurred as it looks here. It's called "Ancestor Worship" and could be yours for £128,000. I have no idea what it's about.

This one was beautifully painted, so I admire it, though wouldn't want it in my sitting room.

It seems to feature lots of Mickey Mouses. Mice. I can't remember what it cost, but this one...

called "Red Over Black In Charred Frames", was £24,000. It didn't seem universally popular among the visitors.

This was a tiny and (to my mind) beautiful woodcut.

I love the way this is painted though don't understand it.

And these faces - now, that's my sort of art.

This was interesting: lots of actual buildings put in an imaginary landscape. I think it's beautiful and strange. It was in a lightbox, which does give it an arresting luminosity, though again it would look odd in my hallway.

I do wonder what future generations will make of some of the art produced at the moment. But then I also wonder if I may be missing something. Can all these experts really be completely wrong in an emperor's-new-clothes fashion? What are they seeing that I don't see?

Friday, June 23, 2017


We used to have a gift for arriving in places just as they were hit by a heatwave. I thought we'd managed to shake off this unwanted talent. But no. This week we've been in London, visiting Daughter 2.

On Wednesday it got up to 34 degrees, which is 93.2 Fahrenheit. This, let me remind you, is in a country which generally doesn't have - usually doesn't need - air conditioning. Not in houses, not in most workplaces, not in buses and I've no idea about underground railways but they're all sorts of temperatures, usually HOT.

We do not like hot.

However, we got to see her and the new, slightly unfinished, studio, where she is now working.

To be continued.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Ways to spend time

It's amazing how busy retirement can be; not that I'm complaining. The garden is blooming - including the weeds. I like weeding. It's a meditative occupation. I wish plants would just grow to the right size and then stop, though. Instead, they pause for a year or two and then, just as you're congratulating yourself on your mastery of your little bit of heaven, they make a sudden bid to take over the whole garden. And I don't like digging things up. It's hard work and seems a bit mean.

I had a peaceful coffee at Portobello beach the other day. Sometimes the weather is like this.

I drew a circle and Granddaughter-the-Elder made it into a face, including the pupils. She's growing up.

We took the children to Silverknowes beach. As you can see, it was a typical Scottish summer's day... . Actually, it was mild and they soon took off more clothes.

Children have such fun with sand, rock pools, spades and imagination.

And today we went to visit Son and the beautiful UnBloggable Baby. She's growing up too!

But we won't see her again for a bit, alas.

Saturday, June 10, 2017


"Can you draw a bunny for me?"

"Can you draw its baby bunny?"

"Now a whole family of bunnies?"

He's so old and competent in her eyes: nearly 6, which is a great age for one's big bruvver. (Excuse his apparently filthy thumb nail. It's cherry juice - very staining.)

Monday, June 05, 2017

Big sigh

In the direness of the news, what is there to be done but look at all these streptocarpus plants at the garden show at the weekend...?

And admire these mecanopsis and peonies.

And my beautiful clematis - with flowers as big as a hand.

And watch the little ones as they diligently paint the paving slabs with water.

And try not to despair at the state of the world.