Did not go to the family party either, as David had to be moved out of his apartment. Instead Cathy helped him in the afternoon.
I watched "Adam's Rib", which I have seen a few times before and which aught to be on my favourites list.
It has occurred to me that Cate Blanchett' s Hepburn in "The Aviator", one of my favourite recent films, was modelled, (very well), more on the older Hepburn of the fifties and sixties. As a young woman, Hepburn had a kind of boyish/tom boyish/game for anything/intelligent loveliness, which Blanchett did not quite capture.
Katherine Hepburn was a dame with a lot of class, like her friend Lauren Bacall, and I watch them and wish I could have known them. And movies, at that time, let you know the stars, for 35 cents, an hour and a half at a time.
I would like to write a bit about this end of week. My boss of bosses used me as a kind of agent between the two teams. I had said that it is difficult for the clients to have two sets of rules. Actually on some issues they may have up to four, as there are two night teams and two day teams. Because of my special arrangement, I work with both day teams. Anyway there was one issue about the service we provide and the B of B's asked me to explain his views to the other, (today's), team.
I thought this might make me unpopular. God forbid! Then I was given a task which would not allow me to attend the whole of the morning meeting. I went to D, who was also on the other team this week, but, in order to ask her to express the B of B's views to the meeting, I had to talk in front of KM, today's shift leader.
It all turned out well as he had had a warning and said I could talk at the beginning of the meeting, (unheard of), and still leave to take care of the other task.
It all went down with some humour and no rancour. I also had to explain a disciplinary thing and this was accepted. The shift leader even gave me an afternoon task, which let me quit work sooner and get the earlier train home.
We are off again on Sunday to a big family party. Hope earnestly to go to a movie, (it has been ages), tomorrow. Maybe Mama Mia. Anyone seen it ?
No movie. Cathy and William in town shopping. Matthew out driving. David sleeping, (he got a new job this evening). I, happy to be alone for a while, blogging, surfing, watching "Bringing up Baby", listening to Liszt's transcription of Schubert, eating and starting my private food intake blog.
When we were in England, my brother sat us down to watch "The Weeping Camel". At first, I thought it ought to be called "the camel that bored us to tears", but, very slowly it sucked me in and, in the end, was very moving and strangely comforting. If you have seen it, you will understand that I decided that I would stop and listen to the two or three Chinese musicians here in Toronto, who play in public an instrument that looks like an elongated violin. They sit there on a street corner or a subway entrance and bow their instruments. At first the sound seems annoyingly plaintive and squeaky. Also, I thought there was one guy who moved around, but now I know that there are at least three. Tonight therefore,(movie spoiler alert), inspired by my brother, I stood for ten minutes, really listening, as the man went through about three pieces and, like the camel, I was moved and continued on my journey with a different attitude. I was determined, in return, to send my brother "Atanarjuat" (2001). This proved to be very difficult as Amazon refuses to specify whether they will dispatch a DVD with the right region code. Even Amazon UK ships from the US of A. Does anyone have a suggestion?
Friday night I slept poorly and yesterday we were to go to my wife's family get together. She is tenth of twelve children. They are all alive and ten of them were there. There were many children and quite a few grandchildren. These parties, three our four times a year, are a bit bewildering coming, as I do, from a family of three brothers and their mother. We had to drive out in two cars, as Cathy wanted to get our dog there, so that she could play in the country and get to know all the other dogs. I rode in my son's car, but, when he tried to start it, the key jammed in the ignition. It was a situation where cell phones might actually have been useful. But, in the end, I got a much needed nap, while he got the car fixed and we arrived just in time for the meal, missing the usual long preamble in blazing sun, when the anti-social side of my nature is fully exposed.
And back to our wonderful house, where, this time, I slept long and well.
We have a METRO paper in Toronto, but I can not see if this photoshopped picture was taken here. I like the pic..
These remind me of my tamarisk which has new blooms on it. I watched a bee covered in pollen seek out its tiny flowers. Also on my way to work I heard a sudden cry followed by much yelling. It seems one woman had attacked another and knocked her down. Each of them was with a protective male and these two laid into each other, but, interestingly, they stuck to words and intimidating, (and foul), language. It was all over almost as fast as a car crash.
And this charming art was in a window in Brighton. The map is of that area.
So we are really back, although my forgetfulness shows me that I am still jet lagged. I took a man to emerge this afternoon, only knowing that there was something wrong with his leg. The triage nurse asked him why he had come in. He did not know. "Something to do with his leg", I said. "Can you show me what is wrong with your leg?", she asked. He pulled back his loose shorts and revealed two holes in his skin each about an inch in diameter . I could see down into his flesh. "Jesus!", I exclaimed and then felt embarrassed that I had sworn in what used to be a Catholic hospital. A small crucifix looked down on us and I set to thinking how thin The Christ looked, especially compared to The Buddha. My client claimed that he could not even feel his sores. He must have a good immune system, for there was no visible infection. Just that rarely seen essential part of us - bloody flesh.
The day before leaving England my older brother, Gareth, found this amazing bridge for us. We've been over it a few times, as it is on the main line between London and Brighton, and I found it on Google earth before leaving Toronto. Those Victorians! They are going to be my special curiosity/hobby when I retire. I was saying this to Carol's brother the night before we left and he thought about it a bit and then recommended that I visit Sheffield. Will do.
We are having a wonderful time in England, but I am also so much longing to getting home to Toronto. And its not only home, but a brand new home. Well, brand new for us. The house is actually eight years old.
Today is Catherine's birthday. She is closing in on sixty, but it does not seem strange when my mother calls her a "girl". My nephew's in-laws have joined us for the weekend and they are staying in a quite pleasant large bed and breakfast at the top of the hill, near Neptown, where years ago I fantasised about buying an abandoned house. It is very windy up there, with a perfect long view of the Downs. The windows of the house were all missing, so it would have been quite a reno. The present value of the house, even with the recent down-turn, is just scary.
Anyway the in-laws have gone to Pareham and Cathy and I are alone with my mother and Gareth. He, my industrious brother, is cooking up a storm for what he calls "a late lunch" at six! I, like a rat, have to work round him to steal what my growling stomach can be assuaged with. The weather is unseasonably cold and cloudy and , yet again, we will have to eat in the tent.
For the first time this holiday I made our bed as a present. I don't know how she has done it so often, as I had to lie across the bed to straighten her side which is up against the wall. Even my side only has half a foot between the bed and the other wall. My old duvet would have been much easier.
Carol has arrived for the weekend. Last night Cathy and I were alone here with my mother and Raphael. Cathy made a dinner more like what we regularly eat at home. It was very cold outside and our little hut like a damp refrigerator. We slept intertwined, each attempting vainly to leech a little heat from the other.
The Internet was crazy yesterday. We had Skype but no access to Google. I wrote the notes below and copied them without corrections. Although my brother payed for rudimentary Windows programs, I am apparently loosing them.
Yesterday morning I helped to raise the tent again and then wandered off into the middle field and stared at the wonderful views there of the downs with Kim's three cars planted neatly in the foreground. It would make a good photograph.
Years ago when I was in South America I evolved a peculiar notion that when I took a photograph of something I was in some way robbing myself of the full memory of it. Despite being a keen photographer, (who isn't these days), I've kind of stayed faithful to that idea.
So maybe I will leave the cars alone. They are all grey Renaults and are planted with their engines pointing up into the sky. The idea is derivative, but he realised what he wanted to do very quickly when he acquired the second car and then searched for a third one. The local council are not pleased,but fighting them off just brings out the politicien manque in him.
Nevertheless here is Carol's picture of them when they were first interred.
She is so lovely, but younger people can't stand her. I guess some stars represent what we would have liked our daughters to be like, especially when we did not have any. I think she is also a very good actress especially in that one with Jane Fonda as her grandmother or the one with Meryl Streep as her mother.
I am sitting a few days later with my mother who is almost blind. Like me, she loves to write, but cannot scan what she is writing and hence comes up with strange omissions andnrepetitions. She spells a lot better than I do having had the priviledge of very good early education. She has me read what she has written. Finding it quite hard I have determined to write as she must, without ever looking at what I have written. We listenned together to a piece by Johan Strauss. She is talking and I keep losing my traain of thought. Ahyes!. The music was composed especially for the first ball in the newly decorated Buckingham Palace for Queen Victoria in 1838. Mummy, as she still likes to be called. Wrote that we were together enjoying this pen itself. The pen and the and the music.
For about twenty minutes I have been listenning to Bach cello music, most of which I know quite well. Cathy gave me the Yo Yo Ma double set when David was born. Very generous of her, because she knew how much I would love it, although I think she can’t stand it.. Continuing....Raf will join us for dinner.
Earlier my mother seemed to asking me if her moment of lucidity would go on. I told her that I had seen a moving film called “The Notebook” and then I described the film to her, never quite sure about how much she was understanding. She also asked me about death and said that she felt she would go on living for a long time. I said that I worked with people some of whome did not Care about dying quite soon. Some of their lives, I said, were not happy and they might even see death as arelief. Oh, my mother said, I’m not like that atall. I want to live. She asked me again about consciousness and I said that it was important to me and that I hoped to be very conscious as I died. That awareness was basically my religion, but many people die in pain and sadly modern drugs relieve us of many pains, but also take away our consciousness.When I visitted one of my acting teachers who was dying of aids, I talked to him, although I did not know if he could hear me or even process what I was saying if he could. Talking straight and seriously to my mother is a bit like that. Yet the other day she thanked me for talking about the things she liked to talk about.I have not asked her if she is frightennenned of going back to the hospice where she lives. I say hospice although English people rather ridiculously call it a home. She has said that she would like to stay here in the country,but has also reluctantly agreed that she could not live here by herself.Without any interuption, I have again forgotten what I waS ABOUT TO SAY, ALTHOUGH i KNOW THAT i HAD A FURTHER STATEMENT TO MAKE. Sticking to my first rule, I can see how my mother’sw riting meanders nowhere in particular, frequently turning back on it self. Viz I am writing that I am writing that I am writing that I am writing.
Monday 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.
We have not done much except eat really well, sleep a lot and cower inside the house from very strong winds and intermittent rain. When we sit more than eight down for a meal it has to be outside in a large tent which G bought four years ago for Kim's 50th birthday bash. We have had dinner twice there this year, both times in the rain. It feels odd to be eating fantastic food in a tent, in wind and rain.
On Sunday Gareth set off with Carol, Cathy and me to go to a boot sale. A boot sale is like a giant garage sale held in a field weather permitting. Although it was a fine day, it had rained heavily in the night, and they had cancelled the sale as the field was too wet. Could we go up onto the Downs instead? we wondered. Gareth knew a special route to radio masts right on top.
There were spectacular views South to the sea and also North towards our village. We could pick out a particular row of white houses on the edge of our village and figure out where the house was from there.
Gareth asked us to walk and he drove his rather swanky French car down a rutted path of flint and chalk, while we followed on foot astonished that his car had not got stuck at certain points. My feet still hurt a bit at that time and I walked the whole way in flip flops.