Follow by Email

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Pain and Pudding, Music and Not Grumbling.

This week has been very hard.  A week of difficult decisions, a week of stepping out of a dance that does nobody any good.  A week of being tough, and I am not tough.  Well, I am now, but I have to work up to it.  I wasn't born with the three strikes and you're out gene, I don't have the Clint Eastwood glint in my eye.  I am co operative, I am stumped by aggression and bad behaviour.  The week has been full, and there have been dreadful moments, and wonderful moments.  And moments of sheer British stiff upper lip-ness.  Those moments involved my father, his sister, and her husband, all in their mid to late 80s in a posh restaurant in Winchester.  More on that later.  This account will be split into three parts.

  1. Pain
  2. Beauty
  3. Mustn't Grumble

1.  Pain.  

My oldest boy has been choosing danger and a lifestyle that is beyond my help.  This week, I found myself closing the doors, and telling him that he was on his own.  I don't remember making the decision, I only remember having done it.  I didn't like it, and my heart breaks at the thought of my beautiful boy suffering, of his vulnerability, his youth and his state of mind.  But I need some help myself, and I am afraid, and I am not helping either him, myself, or my household.  And so, he is on his own.  There have been some very good people who have held my hand, and reminded me that I have not locked the door, I have just pulled it closed, and on the one side my son will follow his choices, and on the other, I will recover my soul.  The door can be opened at any time, but my son will take a long time to understand that the power to open it is in his hands, that I will be holding a safe space for him on my side, it will take time and experience for him to understand that true love will do this.


On the one hand, I am exhausted with the relief that he won't be in the house any more.  On the other hand, I think, where is this child that was so keen on cars, that if we were in a traffic jam on the M25, he would be delighted and impressed?  I saw someone who looked like him at a railway station a few years ago, haggard and scruffy and ill, and had a dreadful premonition.  I wonder, if I paint him in my studio as a saint, will he come back?


2.  Beauty.

My dear friend, Musician Extraordinaire Lizzie Hornby, has recorded a dedicated new piece called A Graceful Death, for the exhibition.  Listen to the notes like a heartbeat running through the piece, halting, and pausing, and stopping before starting again. Like life dwindling, and rekindling, and the heart patiently trying to continue with life.


I asked Lizzie if I can use her music for the exhibition because it is beautiful and it does not lead me to laugh or cry.  It is music that is so much itself, that it commands my attention and carries me along with it.  I want music for the exhibition that does not create sentiment, nor make going to the exhibition like going to a weepy movie.  The exhibition needs to stand on its own, so that when you are there, your response it entirely your own. The music has to be special, and Lizzie's music is, to my mind, perfect.  Lizzie writes from her heart. She understands what I am doing, she is not swayed by it and she has used her talent and gifts to do her own thing alongside what I do, and so has created music that compliments A Graceful Death, and adds to the whole experience.  This title piece, that Lizzie has been working on over the past few months as the theme tune for AGD, has made me sure that God is good and lives in creativity and expression.  Lizzie is touring in the US at the moment.  She is also giving a concert for the A Graceful Death opening night in Bridport on the 1st of November this year.  And, while she is in the US, I am going to hide away in her cottage in Dorset for a while.  I think I win big time here.


Lizzie playing the piano at an art exhibition in Ditchling in West Sussex this Spring.  The piece she is playing is the one that started the whole thing off, and this became the music for AGD.  Now I have a dedicated piece of music called A Graceful Death to play alongside all her other work.  I am thrilled.



3.  Mustn't Grumble.



Esteemed Father and Excellent Son. Pudding was still uncomplicated here.

My brother Ralph and I took our esteemed father (82) to Winchester to visit his grand and memorable older sister and her husband (combined ages of Aunt and her husband about 172).  All was well, on this hot and dusty day, over lunch at an upmarket eatery, until I glanced at my Aunt who looked as if she was struggling not to rest her forehead in her plate of risotto.  "Do you want to go home, Aunt?" I said, to which she replied that she thought she ought to.  Before anyone could decide how this was best done, Aunt slid gloriously into her risotto and started snoring.  Quickly standing behind her and holding her head, I asked the waitress to get an ambulance, while Ralph took care of Esteemed Dad and Venerable Uncle.  "Is she still breathing?" the waitress asked me ( she many months pregnant, and calm as a cucumber), prompted by the emergency services on the phone.  Aunt looked paralytically drunk by this time, worryingly so, with her eyes half open and her head lolling into my hands.  "She is breathing!" we cried as Aunt delicately snored on.  "Lay her flat on the floor" the emergency services on the phone told the waitress to tell us, and so Ralph, some waiters and I, carried Aunt over the chair, and onto a hastily cleared space on the floor of the busy upmarket eatery in Winchester.

One lady left her table to come over and help, bless her.  Everyone else carried on eating. The lady who came over to help made sure Aunt was decent (Aunt is very decent), that Aunt's skirt and blouse were as smooth and elegant and as well presented as she could be as she lay under the table surrounded by jolly lunchers above.  As she came round, Aunt's first concern was that we all go back to the lunch table and finish our puddings.  At what point, I asked her, in all her training as a nurse, was she taught to leave elderly relatives semi conscious on the floor of restaurants in order to finish puddings? Aunt agreed that it wasn't done, and passed out again. And anyway, pudding had been ordered but had not, understandably, arrived.

And so we stayed on the floor, until the Ambulance came, I holding my gracious and formal Aunts head in my hands and stroking her hair, Ralph looking after Uncle and Dad and lunch carrying on around and above us as normal.  Uncle sat on a chair near Aunt, calmly watching and looking wise and serious.  Dad, who has memory problems, sat at the table looking extremely confused.  One minute we were all above the table having lunch, the next thing, half the party were under the table, and pudding was on hold.  Ralph was wonderful looking after him.

All ended well.  Aunt and Uncle are home after a spell in hospital, with a bit of rest, all will be back to normal. Dad suggested to Ralph as we left that we stop off en route from Winchester to London, for a pudding stop.  And so we did.  The moral of the story?  Mustn't grumble.  And always have pudding.

Today is a quiet day here for me in Bognor.  I shall mow the lawn, and tend my teeny meadow.  I shall think of my son and how this all came about.  My other son, and my daughter, are very supportive, as are local agencies around here.  But I cannot help feeling that Son is still only a child, and that I have said Go, Son, and die somewhere alone and unloved.  That is not the case, Son is loved.  He does not love himself, and is somewhere beyond me.  Until he comes back, I suppose I mustn't grumble.  And have some more pudding.

Pudding.  Made by Son for my birthday a few years ago.  It says Antonia in bananas.