Wednesday, August 13, 2008

My brothers amidst the clutter

At dinner under the wind and the rain

My brother called me out into the garden as his tent had escaped from its moorings. He wanted me to hold the tent from the outside while he cleared furniture from the inside. The wind was fierce and it started to rain. In most rain storms we hide inside or under an umbrella or a souwestester at least, but there I was, stuck at my post, cold water lashing at my bald head and soaking my flip flop leather shoes.

Soon it was over and the sun a very welcome warming relief. We extricated all the tent supports from the roof and lowered same to the ground, whence it has not blown away up to now. Some of the supports were badly bent.

Yesterday we went to Pareham

My mother

We wheeled my mother around the ground floor in her chair. She was a little dippy, claiming to know some of the people in sixteenth century portraits personally when she was younger, but also being quite charming with some of the staff we met. In one room decorated in early nineteenth style we talked with a volunteer who was well into her eighties. She was a clergyman's wife, now both retired and they still took extensive walks along the Downs, which walks had long attracted them even when they worked in his parish in Surrey. My mother treated her as if she was a young woman who had the leisure to do exactly as she pleased. The portraits in that room looked as if they were extras from a Jane Austen film.

I have been thinking a lot on this trip of how I usually regard antiques simply as old things, hopelessly out of date. But, of course, all these old things were, to their contemporaries, as modern, innovative and fresh as this keyboard is to me. I have to sort of displace my mind to know this as I look on a table made from timber washed up on shore from the Spanish Armada, for example. But for the early nineteenth century, I find it easy. I feel I belong.

Her Daughters-in-law

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