Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Sister in the Making

Kanani the Easy-Writer has tagged me for a meme which strikes me as a good way to avoid cleaning the house for a little longer, it would be rude not to accept and get to it staight away. This meme is to write about my earliest memory.

I was three, we were staying with my maternal grandparents because my mother had left my father again: she was such a drama queen! There would be raised voices and then my mother would say 'that's it' and suddenly we wouldn't be at home any more. So my brother, who was two, and me were a little disturbed, confused, uncomfortable but also a little excited because we loved our grandparents and their big comfy house. But I don't really remember much about that, just a general mixture of feeling, what I do remember is a sudden burst of frantic activity one day and my brother and me being consigned to the front sitting room and being told to keep out of the way: more discomfort of feeling, no one explained anything, we were simply put in the room. Then my father's voice...

Of course, wanted to rush out and see him but the door had been locked from the outside: we were trapped. So we waited for him to come in and see us, but he didn't. Then there was an ambulance, lights and sirens going, the room turning blue then white then blue again. And my grandparents and father were out on the front steps, my mother was being helped into the ambulance by a strange man wearing uniform, my father looked worried. I pressed my nose to the window. My brother was frantic, he tugged at the door handle and wailed.

Now, the window I was pressing my face to was the huge sash type characteristic of Victorian town houses like this and as I needed to make my self heard I used all my strength to open it. Success! I stuck my head out and called to my mother but she didn't seem to hear me. Grandpa, Grandma and Dad were now surrounding her in that fidgety way adults do sometimes and no one paid any attention to me. My brother was still frantically trying the door when the window came crashing down on my neck, locking me in position. Now my brother was at my side, desperately pawing at the window, tears streaming down his face as I screamed and shouted and still no one paid me any attention. The ambulance drove away with our mother inside...

The remaining adults turned towards the house, my brother still pawing at the window, desperately trying to lift it and free me, me still screaming for mum, for dad, for my poor, troubled brother. Finally they noticed, my head trapped outside of the window, my little three year old body inside. Alarmed faces, the key turned in the lock and at last I was freed. My brother and me rushed at dad.

Things quietened down, we stayed at our grandparents, dad went home. The next thing I remember is dad coming back and taking us away. Then we were standing in a dingy, green tinged lobby, silent and cold, holding his hand...

Out of nowhere mum appeared apparently holding a bundle of white fancy knit, and dad was rushing up to them, and we followed him, and then we were home.

Now I am supposed to tag five others to write their earliest memories but in the interests of egalitarianism I am simply going to invite whoever has such a memory to share to write it up on their site if they so wish.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Multiple Personality Disorder

As part of my Mlitt I have had to set up a blog. Now, as I already have one and contribute to another it might seem that that is something I've already got covered but somehow I haven't been able to resist making another. So here is a link to my new, what I hope to be, writerly blog: http://anmlittofonesown.blogspot.com/

The idea behind the assignment is that blogging is a new genre all of its own and so I am to visit other blogs
and then do one of my own. So I have taken the opportunity to try a different template and will attempt to make it a kind of writer's diary. Eventually I'll get some writerly links on the side-bar and post some inspiring writers quotes. It will be dedicated to all things literary. That's the plan anyway. Maybe I'll ask writers out there to guest post, maybe I'll try interviewing some of you about your writing lives. Lord it's beginning to run away with me already...

PS: I'm having a deal of trouble posting at the moment, the text is all over the place and when I try and include photographs it all comes out wrong. I tried putting up a picture of my writing room, inspired by the Guardian Review, and at one stage it started multiplying before disappearing all together. What the hell's going on? 

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Rewriting the Myth

Outside the sun is shining making the berries on the Rowan tree my window looks onto shine like tiny Christmas baubles. And it is Sunday. A day for kicking back and taking stock, reading the papers, clearing the mind, preparing for the week ahead.

As a child I was taught that Sundays were special: the mornings were taken up with church, we wore our best clothes, the tone was hushed and whatever the weather was like outside I always sat shivering for that preaching hour as the ancient walls sucked the heat from my blood. Once back at home my father listened to the archers 'shush...' and my mother cooked lunch: the fabled Sunday roast. Every Sunday was like a mini Christmas but without the presents. After lunch we were allowed to change and go out to play, it was such a relief to be ourselves again.

Later, Sundays were spent at my in-laws. These were the mid years. Church was no longer a feature but there was still an air of 'best' about the day and we would all dress with care. My mother-in-law would get up early to prepare the meal: roast beef or lamb or chicken, vegetables aplenty,crisp and soft roast potatoes, and pudding. This usually involved Bird's custard, richly yellow with a faint taste of raw cornflour, it was oddly moreish. At this table debate raged about all number of subjects and it was years before I could join in, it seemed so alien for children (we were children, still, in my eyes) to argue with their parents. I ate in bewildered awe. After lunch, we females would clear away the dishes while the males finished the wine and settled down with the papers. In the kitchen the preparation for 'tea' would begin. A cake or two would be baked and various packets of pancakes and potato scones would release their contents onto best china, new jars opened to reveal exotic preserves and crumpets toasted. Sometimes, if there was time between the two meals, we would go out for a walk along the river and feed the ducks. However, if there was an 'antiques' fair on in town time would be created, tea would be put back, and we would all squeeze into my father-in-law's Volvo to go and coo over faded crockery and old oak chests of drawers.

As Stevie and I settled into our own life as a couple, and then parents too, we created our own Sundays out of our heritage. For years we did the whole dressing up thing with me in the kitchen chopping and basting, mixing and baking, stomping and stressing as he sat and read the papers and Bob pulled at my skirt. But slowly and surely as life became less formal, more relaxed, Sundays took on the comfortable hue they have today.

Now I wear the same old clothes I wear every other day, I cook the way I always cook and we eat in the evening as normal. Anyone who wants lunch can have Saturday's left-overs or make themselves a sandwich, I do only one meal a day. And I can spend hours with the papers if I so choose. It is still a special day, however. We are usually all at home and I do sometimes bake a cake or make pudding with custard - made from vanilla infused cream and eggs - but only if I want to. We sit and read in unison and there is still a sense of hush about the day. Sometimes we go out for a walk in the hills or along the river, and over the evening meal we discuss the issues of the day picked from our various current interests. Afterwards we might watch a film together or we might go back to our separate, but somehow together, activities.

In a way I miss the days of frantic kitchen activity wearing an apron to protect my Sunday best, but not enough to actually effect a return. I save that kind of thing for Christmas now. Sunday is, after all, supposed to be a day of rest.

How do you 'do' Sunday, I'd love to know?

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Telling Stories

On the storyteller's blog recently, I read this poem and Pat the darling suggested that it might be nice to be able to read it as well as hear it. Thus, making this weeks post easy for me. Here it is just for her. Please feel free, all you writers out there, to suggest punctuation, or other, corrections. Neither punctuation or poetry are my strong points so don't worry about offending me. I definitely think of this as a performance piece rather than a visual one. Some poems have a look on the page that, along with other aspects of form, contributes to the overall effect. Not this one. This one needs to be read aloud, preferably by a slightly stressed out housewife, with Charlie Parker playing in the background. So if you can get your most psychotic female friend to read it to you , slightly squiffy if possible, that will only contribute to its meaning. Failing that pop over to storytellers and listen to me reading it.

A Sense of Routine
- After Tomaz Salamun

I smell a blue tinsel Christmas tree
I smell excitement, expectation, a spicy fug.
I smell the lure of the snow but the threat of a cold not yet caught.
I smell Brighton, seagulls, cool blue light
The promise of the sea beyond that hill.
Sandcastles, ice-cream, flask-tea, modesty. Running, running to get wet.
I smell an ambulance long gone
I smell the absence of my father
As my mother ‘gets on’ I smell the fear in her eyes.
Time moves forward, I smell the silver jubilee
Bunting, street tables, a pride of neighbours, I smell camaraderie.
I smell puberty.
I smell the odour of indifference that permeates my school
Working class kids already dismissed
I smell the obliteration of hope. Teachers that preach resignation,
Boiled cabbage, meat pie, spotted dick, ho ho.
I smell a new boy in town, his middle class ease,
I smell London and restaurants and theatre seats.
I am infused with the perfume of ‘will you marry me?’
I smell parenthood. I am a mother, responsible, joyous, fat.
I smell Robert, Bob, Bebop, Bippity, Bobsey, BOO, there you are!
Baby powder, knitted booties, clown borders, Winnie the pooh,
Old broken pianos. I smell chit chat and giggles and tractors and trains and
When the fuck did I last talk to an adult?
I smell loneliness. To Kent, to Bedford, anywhere but here, I hate this town.
I smell grey, shrivelled, bastard natives.
I smell promotion, a new house a new town, hope.
The Heck, Islesteps, Glasgow, Bedford I, Bedford II, real friends.
I smell a garden, a kitchen table, supper parties and wine dipped nights.
I smell fizz at Christine’s, cat food at Julia’s, poetry at Frances’.
The aromas of friendship and comfort permeate my life.
Learn Italian, learn French, read law, learn to cook, to dress, to be, to relax.
Too soon, I smell change, smells like doom. Career, promotion, Moffat.
Leave friends, leave life, leave law, leave garden. Bob cries.
Follow husband, and smell stupid, sulking self.
I smell money, greed,
New interests,
Virginia Woolf’s trifles and foreign holidays.
Thirty different types of lettuce in a French supermarket
Ruins in Turkey
Barney’s in New York, Frank Lloyd Wright. I smell consumed.
I smell a burgeoning friendship while smoking in the rain.
I smell the choohie monster wild but with a good heart,
The dirty fairy, just wild.
I smell Julie Arkell, haberdashers, ironmongers, V. V. Rouleaux, wallpaper, green.
I smell normal.