Friday, 23 April 2010

The intruder in the night

This story has a few pre-existing premises necessary to understanding.

(1) Earlier in the week I set off into town for the Narrative Space Conference dinner, I was expecting to be home about midnight. My son was driving and I had a cab booked for the journey home, so I had not taken my car keys (with my door key on the ring). I had taken the door jey off and put it in my pocket separately. (2) Thinking I had forgotten to take my keys, Marea left the french windows unlocked (something we never do) so I could let myself in. (3) Just before Christmas, a friend of ours delivered a load of very large logs which I have not yet cut up (see pic).

(4) The field opposite our house has been sold and the undergrowth, including some small trees, is being cleared.

Anyway, after a pretty good evening and an enjoyable meal, I drew up in the cab and was surprised to see Marea still up, drinking a brandy. "You'll never believe what's happened to me" she said.

Her story was that she had gone to bed some time earlier and, at about 11pm, heard banging and shouting in the back garden. Getting up and putting on her dressing gown, she went downstairs to find a man in the dining room. Not a burglar, but an angry, swearing, shouting man, almost unintelligible in his anger. Marea couldn't understand what he was asying and became concerned that he would become as violent as his obscene language. Eventually, it came out that he was accusing us of stealing 'his wood' - presumably the wood he had cut while clearing the field opposite. Marea assured him that we wouldn't do such a thing and that, indeed, we had been given the logs.

Eventually, she got him out of the house and he went back down the garden to the car parking area where the logs were stored. After a few minutes, he came back and said "I owe you an apology. Those aren't my logs; the cut is different and they are bigger." Marea berated him and told him he couldn't just burst into someone's house, whatever his grievance might be, and that he must learn to control his violent temper. (Marea's a strong, confident woman - I dread to think what might have happened with a younger, less experienced women or girl).

Two things worry me about this occurrence: the first is that I suspect that had I been present, he might have been tempted to physical violence, though he would not attack a woman. The second is that he lives in our road somewhere. We don't know who he is.

Signs and portents

At last, we have our change of name. It's only taken since last October. The only thing is, we now have to renumber the houses as well, so everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY, has to be told. It's a case of "We're not moving...but this is our new address."

While I'm on the subject of signs, the Baptist chapel has a brand new sign (I think these are sometimes called 'wayside pulpits' but I'm not a great one for pulpits - unless it's me doing the preaching).

Anyway, they have decided to celebrate the new sign with the worst pun they could think of.

Yes, I know I've written on this subject before but I rather think this one is so strained, it insults the reader. (And it's meaningless).

Friday, 16 April 2010

Half a world away

Today is my elder son’s birthday. Thirty-seven years ago today, in the local hospital, Ben was born. The most remarkable thing about him at first was that he had a mop of dark, curly hair. I’m afraid we were very inexperienced but determined to make our own way.

About a year or so before, I had started my new job at the University Department of Museum Studies, where we had 20 students, 2 lecturing staff, a secretary, and a technician – me. It was like a family in itself and I think the students were almost as excited as we were. And we had moved into our first house (we’d had flats, but never been owner-occupiers; almost like being grown up), a Co-operative movement built terrace in the middle of a short row of 6 with a shared (defunct) water pump in the middle.

The young family - with a rather disgruntled Ben, ready for bed

Marea’s mum and dad bought us a pram – HCB (high carriage built). A beautiful thing, but rather difficult to get up and down the steep steps up to the front door. How we loved that house, and constantly opened it to groups of friends and acquaintances. We weren’t especially well off financially, but had lots of friends - we were rich!

Ben in the HCB pram in the back yard

The Steps up to the front door. This is possibly the worst photo ever taken of the house, but it was the only one I could find in a hurry.

Ben - angelic, or what?

The house came with a long garden. You can only see about two thirds of it here; the lower section was a typical cottage garden crammed with flowers, but the top was my pride and joy – where I grew fresh vegetables and fruit. We bought an extra large freezer for all the produce, salted beans, made bread and, of course, wine. It all seems half a world away. It’s certainly over half a lifetime away.

About a year and a half later Toby came along and we bought a Spaniel puppy (too much having to deal with infantile bodily functions – gluttons for punishment). The boys are seen here (sans dog) on holiday in the Lakes.

This is Ben organising everyone.

And Toby helping with the cooking.

Both sets of parents are now gone and Ben is grown into a (not quite so) young man, and like his younger brother, Toby, a son to be proud of. Both are seen here organising and cooking for Marea’s 60th birthday fusion BBQ. I know they don’t read this blog, so they won’t be embarrassed.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Not Smelliblog...

With the improvement in the weather, all the daffodils are finally out, in the gardens and in the hedgerows

What's slightly unusual this year is that, because the daffodils are so late, we've gor the tulips out at the same time - it's an ill wind that blows nobody good.

The Finches are clearing out the feeders and, because the weather was so cold, we've left it too late to cut back the laurel hedge. We'll have to wait until neting is over before we can have a go.

As I walked over to the main University campus this morning, I was almost overwhelmed by the scent of May blossom. I didn't expect it to be so powerful this early. What a pity this isn't a smelliblog!

In fact there's blossom bursting out all over the University...

Though I have to say, I think this is a bit lurid!

Down by the School of Museum Studies, the cherry blossom is out.

And, if you look carefully, you can just see that the Magnolia is about to strut its stuff.

But we're going to have to wait a bit for my favourite: the Rowan (Mountain Ash) two of which flank the entrance - it's always a bit late, but as magnificent as any cherry blossom, and then there are all those wonderful berries which make a great almondy white wine.

Monday, 5 April 2010

A full season

So, it's like this: The Lord Mayor's Charity Appeal (Leicester Children's Holiday Centre (Mablethorpe)) is peaking, the School of Museum Studies is running headlong towards its international conference (Narrative Space) with the opening of our new building, Peter Greenaway (A Zed & Two Noughts, Drowning By Numbers, Prospero's Books, The Belly of an Architect, The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Love, The Draughtsman's Contract, The Pillow Book and many, many more - but also The Last Supper installation in Santa Maria delle Grazie, Venice and Le Nozze di Cana - The Wedding at Cana by Paolo Veronese at the Palladian Refectory on the San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice) giving the keynote speech, then... sudenly, Spring starts to take over.

I know it's Spring because my Summer house/studio is filling up with pricked out plants and I can hardly get to the glass to finish my latest stained glass window.

Meanwhile, the cricket season is about to start, though it's freezing cold, and it's time to plan our repeat visit to Tournemire, near Roquefort.

Looks like it's going to be a full season.