Monday, 23 December 2013

Arrow To Bullseye

I'm chopping onions for  Christmas lunch Nut Roast. The wind is hurling rain against the patio doors. My husband is sitting at the kitchen table wrapping up presents for nephews and nieces and all the little people in our families. I explain who each one is. He asks for their names and how to spell them. He asks again seconds later. He throws the pen down and crumples.

I can't remember their bloody names....

and the anguish in him flies out across the table to me, slices me right in half...I go to him....hold his head against me. But we both know the truth of this now. For him and for me. If you don't know who your family are what tethers you here? How do you know who you are?

 While it was  a creeping thing - this disease -  I could contain it somehow.....but it arrived this morning, naked, un-disguised - arrow to  bullseye - tearing out the guts of us in the midst of the teddy bear Christmas wrapping paper......

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Too Much Christmas

I can't remember what it feels like to not have just one more thing I have to do before I can go to bed.

And that one thing is actually ten things. Choosing just one takes up as much time as doing it - make a present, cook a present, buy a present, wrap a present? What present?  I love the giving ....and it's all got muddled up in the too muchness of Christmas......

which isn't meant to be this knackering.....but it is if you do it the way I do.....forgetting to be kind.

Signing off now till 2014..... a huge thank you to all of you who read me - you make more difference to me than you may ever imagine.....

A loving Christmas to you all.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Half Full Half Empty

I feel very alone tonight
Wind menacing the windows.

Remembering my husband's face
dour with wretchedness
after I say
Why don't you believe me?
You can't turn right here
it's for Authorised Vehicles Only.
You aren't a taxi
you aren't a delivery lorry.

He wants to park in the Loading Only bay
so I can jump out of the car and run across the road
and collect the tiny Christmas tree
and the holly wreath we bought this morning
in the street market
where you can't park
unless you are an Authorised Vehicle.

But he turns right anyway.
Parks in the Loading Only bay.
While I'm pacing the pavement on the other side of the road
waiting for the stall holder to come back from the loo,
a traffic warden comes up and says
You can't wait here.

It's not that my husband doesn't know the meaning of
Authorised Vehicle.
Because I check that very carefully,
before I crack into brittleness.
He knows what he's doing
and whose authority he's shaking his fist at.

How else can he let out that
festering boil of rage inside him?

Tonight the bottle of wine in the door of the fridge is more than half empty.
He might say it was still half full.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013


Today  -  the plumber is late.....I could have meditated/sent healing to Fukushima for four minutes while I wait for him but I shine the kitchen sink instead and re-arrange the things on my to-do list.

Today - I rush through the rain to sit with two lovely women in a quiet steamed-up cafe and receive my own healing in  their generous company - like I did yesterday in another cafe, perfumed with the aroma of baking chocolate cake.

Today - I open email after email from dear people in reply to our Christmas letters - I'm totally overwhelmed by the love and compassion and care in their response.

Today - I open another email from the  director of the company my husband used to work for....they overpaid him  and now we owe them money.....I notice I don't go into my usual panic mode.... just print off the letter and the figures - read it to my husband who says it means we may not need to pay so much tax.....

Today - I turn off the sound on TV and stand in front of my husband to shield him from seeing a man attacking a woman on the screen ( the actors playing Lord Lucan and his wife) because he is sliding off the sofa, his arms wrapped round his body, cringing in horror.

I wish I could protect him from the much worse horrors in his head......but maybe turning and facing my own worst fears would help him more.....

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Christmas Faffing

This Christmas feel like a mountain and I'm still faffing about in the foot hills....scrabbling around in the  undergrowth wondering if I'll ever make it half way...can't decide about the tree.....the one in the garden in a pot has grown too big and straggly.....I don't want to buy a cut one...the artificial ones I looked at are too big.......maybe I'll spray a branch with gold paint, hang baubles on it and call it a tree by any other name....and when will I do this - in the few days left which are already full to the brim?

So my resolution for next year is to start earlier so this last week before Christmas is just for lovely lunches with friends and going to concerts and making mince pies and faffing about with wrapping the presents instead of still wondering what to buy....and thinking it all means something..... 

I must remember to put this resolution into my diary for 2014 ( Note to self  - Buy a 2014 diary.)

Monday, 16 December 2013

Too Much Not Enough

Mopping the floor tonight instead of blogging. One of us left the water filter tap running - all the time the news was on TV, while we watched the Syrian women in refugee camps in Lebanon asking the empty-handed mayor for food - the water poured over the counter, soaking Delia Smith's Christmas recipe book, open at Whiskey Dundee Cake, down the side of the sink, splashing into the glass bowls in  the cupboard below, making a lake on the tiles, seeping under the plinths.

I  dried it all up but I shouldn't have told my husband. He's upset now, full of remorse, blames himself, thinks he's incompetent....when it was just a mistake.

And I think about how much food I ate today at the Riverford Farm Restaurant - a huge mountain of wonderful organic vegetables and salads and a dried fruit compote and a portion of sticky toffee pudding too - so much it hurt.
 And how I wish instead it was all in belly of one of those children in the refugee camp who is throwing snowballs at her brother, who is wearing no shoes. 

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Peanut Butter On Pizza

In the middle of the long wooden tables at the Old Mill Bakery Cafe in Lyme Regis are big glazed bowls of  homemade jam and peanut butter, honey and lemon curd meant to slather on your toast or croissant or scone.

It's Sunday, closer to lunch time when we arrive, a few families still lingering over brunch. At the counter we choose a whole tomato and pepper pizza to share -  the cheese still bubbling hot on the top.

 You dip your finger into the bowl of crunchy peanut butter and say,

It's lovely, what is it?

I tell you. And say,

  It's to put on toast and you mustn't put your finger in it - it's un-hygenic.

When the pizza comes you reach for the bowl again -  about to scoop up a dollop of peanut butter.

I stop you.

It's not meant for pizza.

Why not? You are indignant.

My culinary taste buds huff and puff and bristle.

Then I remember my father he mashed golden syrup into butter and called it Thunder and he used to sprinkle sugar on lettuce.

So after the Pizza when I say, Would you like an Eccles Cake? and you say, What is it? and then Yes....and when you cut the flaky pastry parcel stuffed with spiced currants into thick slices and smear it with butter and spoonfuls of runny raspberry jam from the bowls, I
 don't say anything....but I look around and wonder if anyone is staring.

And I think how it's hurting you, how all these layers of excess make you puff when you go up the stairs, make you huff when you bend down to do up your shoe laces.

Then I hear my father in my head laughing his big crumpled laugh and saying,

Leave him alone...there are worse things than putting peanut butter on pizza..... worse things than getting fat.

So I spear my knife into the long warm croissant on my plate...... reach for a bowl of shining strawberry jam....and wonder how much longer we'll be able to eat together in a cafe....... without it hurting so much.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Portugal Days and Nights

Portugal last week with my dear sisters.....

 Every morning breakfast on the terrace - sharon fruit, custard apples, pineapple, walnuts....

The sky was this colour every single day....

Still looking to capture forever the ultimate wave photo ...

 cresting, breaking, star-showering....

A complimentary glass of port after our first lunch of gorgeous grilled fish  - a Golden Bream -  in the cafe on the beach...

Every night from the hotel balcony we saw the sun go down over this little church which has been there forever - unless we had already started watching a DVD.....

Every year this week with my beloved sisters, in the melting soft light of this beautiful part of the Algarve, feels more and more precious.....something to cherish, to sustain me in the dark days.....