Friday 24 October 2014

#One Week - Autumn '14 - Autumn Bites

I haven't touched a conker or turned my face towards the wind.
I haven't baked a crumble or remarked on how the nights are drawing in.

I have forgotten the richest and most dishevelled of seasons.
Paid little attention to fallen leaf and heavy cloud.

But have written under light of bureau lamp.
Have sat at table, helped her read first words.
Have planted pansies in pots, verdant heather in borders.
Have had silver birch cut back, harvested tomatoes.
Have visited showrooms, poured through kitchen catalogues.
Have wheezed with asthma, upgraded inhaler.
Have made new friends at school date, kept in touch with old.
Have forgotten hair dye, bought her new clothes.
Have felt lost, bereft, adjusting to new routines.
Have worried and worried about this here blog.
Have lacked the inspiration, ideas for posts... a gust of air released a kite from handheld grasp,
and earth under foot turned to mud.

Maybe I am unknowingly taking stock?
Maybe I have run out of stories?
Maybe I need a different approach?
Or maybe I simply need to devote my time to where my energy now flows?

Tuesday 21 October 2014


The man called me stupid.
He shouted, 'how could you have been so stupid!'
I had bumped it. I had bumped our brand new electric car.
The tears flowed, hot and shameful.

A ridiculous mistake on my part. The first accident I'd had in over twenty years. A school girl error. Very, very humiliating. We were going to the garden centre, my head full of wintry shrubs and wood chip, and I forgot to look behind. I reversed out of the driveway and backed into his stationary car parked on the other side of the road. That awful, painful moment when I realised what I'd done.

'Don't worry Mummy, it was only an accident, it can be fixed,' she reassured from the back seat.

What was Younger Dad going to say? Don't scratch the car he'd reminded over and over. Now there were lacerations on the back bumper the depth of a tiger's claw. My lovely, super-duper new car. My space ship. My sonic blue Nissan Leaf. The other car came off worse, a dent the size of an elephant's foot; he was beside himself, 'what were you thinking? Just what were you thinking?'  

Oh how I had lusted after a Fiat 500, such a feminine bubble of a car, with its delicious and diverse palette; pearl white, coffee, mint, powder blue... a writer's car; but Younger Dad had insisted I test drive an electric vehicle, and of course he was right; how could I resist the on/off button, the way the car glided on air, the silence as I drove up a hill. This was the speedy milk float of the future. A zero emission rocket.

I was barely in the honeymoon phase, only a week in, when the accident happened; still purging the floor mats of fluff and leaf, wiping away any unsightly mark on the dash board with a tongue-soaked index, driving it to the postbox, around the block for a pint of milk, intoxicated by the smell of brand new upholstery. The man bitterly complained he was going on holiday the next day. I feared a morning among perennials was over...  

When was the last time you bumped your car?

Wednesday 1 October 2014

New Shoes

The day before was about distraction. A trip to the bowling alley and a pizza with her cousins. Always ham and mushroom. Always with a glass of apple juice. And later, dressing up as a garden fairy and Queen Elsa, and a light tea of scrambled eggs. Afterwards, she watched Peter Pan while I stretched on the yoga mat.

It was a while before she fell asleep. I was summoned. She was excited and worried and sad. Mummy, why can't I go back to pre-school tomorrow? But I couldn't turn the clock back; her new sky blue uniform pressed and folded on her dressing table stool. I felt it too: the sadness; and an inexplicable feeling I couldn't put my finger on. I couldn't write that evening, there was too much to process; instead, I curled under the duvet with a book, and remembered my first day; the green tunic; the sash; the grey cardigan; the green gabardine and hat; and waiting in the playground for my name to be called and join my new class. My heart stammered: tomorrow would feel like my first day repeated again.

We set off early, walking through the fallen leaves on the warm September morning. Parents and children were gathering in the playground. She found a friend and holding hands they ran around the woodland area with their book bags and water bottles. When the bell rang, there was a sense of unreality in the air as she lined up with the other children in reception; and then I waved bye-bye as she marched quite happily in single file through the main door. That was that: she was gone; she had disappeared into a world of paper, paint and glue I would never belong. Around me were swelling eyes and looks of bewilderment, like a foot had been amputated. There was a gap between the blind and the window sill. I took a peak; she had her back turned to me, was paying attention to her teacher. Good girl. I walked home, a pinch of anxiety in the veins; and after closing the door behind me, I made a cup of tea and filled the sink with suds. 

Nearly a month later, I am not so sure I have fully adjusted. There have been accidents: I bumped the new car; I pronged my chin on a garden cane; I dropped an amplifier bound for the post office denting a corner; and my asthma tightened like a flower press. There is clearly more processing to be done. She, however, is coping just fine. Mummy, I had chicken pie with pasta today. Mummy, the shortbread and jelly was yummy. Mummy, can 'so-and-so' come to play? But when pushed on the actual nitty-gritty of her lessons, she hasn't been as forthcoming; I can't remember what I did today. I'm too tired to talk right now, Mummy. Obviously, I will have to change my tack. She does enjoy 'reading' her picture books though. This week we received her first full story with words: simple sentences like I am a mat; I am a cat; I am a bat.

Every day she comes home with a new knock or scrape to the knee, or her dress and arms covered in the coagulated mess of the muddy kitchen. The washing machine has never seen this much action. She is happy. I am relieved: I am proud. She is surviving the full days even with the added ballet and swimming after school; I think I am more tired than she is; and as for her new shoes, well they are well and truly scuffed.

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