Life seems soupy just now or perhaps just broth-like but with added chunks thrown in for taste and texture.
All of us are at various stages of the current winter illness; hacking away merrily and filling our tissues and handkerchiefs with gay abandon. Tricky's latest command to us is "Blow Nose!"
We spent the weekend with my parents in Newcastle which delighted Tricky who had long given up his daily mantra of Aphwa, Poppy, Jimmy (respectively his grandmother, grandfather and their dog) and spent many long happy hours following Aphwa and cuddling Jimmy and a few scant minutes kicking a miniature soccer ball with Poppy.
My poor dad, all those years he wanted a son and now when finally he has a grandson in the same country as him, he has to stand third in line for affection after the staffordshire terrier.
This weekend I celebrated my soon-to-be-40th birthday and my how my fingers skip trippingly over the keyboard as I write that. 40 40 40... I shall have to write more on this but it will be a work in progress I fear. In the meantime there were cocktails, champagne and pizza and I lost my voice which is generally a sign that I am having a good time and in the other meantime I still have 4 days left of being 39.
This weekend also, I cut my grandad's hair. This sounds an easy enough task, after all he has special clippers for the job, but actually it's not that easy a task if you haven't done it before and his only advice is to "cut it in a line from the top of my ears" and if you express a little nervous doubt to say tersely: "a good soldier never looks behind." And lucky for me, I say.
Add to this a considerable amount of custard coloured scalp matter and a rather irritable request for whiskey and cheese and you can see the sort of pressure I was under.
I did try to strike up a sort of 'ye olde worlde barber' type conversation by saying loudly "So how bout this weather?" as the locks began to fall and to my surprise he took me up on this and suddenly we were right back to the war and the little motorised bicycles and the gas cylinder things on cars and the ration books and his wedding suit. But things went a little awry when he gave me the aforementioned shopping list as the clippers were still whirring loudly:
"I want whiskey and I want some CHEESE."
I was concentrating on flaking some unsightly business over his left ear and I missed what he was saying.
"Whiskey..and what was the other thing? Cheese"
"I said CHEESE."
"Was that cheese?"
"No, I said CHEESE. CHEESE. ARE YOU DEAF?"
Frankly it made trimming his fingernails an absolute pleasure.
My grumpy grandad who loves whiskey and cheese and who is not allowed to have either has a bookcase in prime position, set up in his tiny room at the I Can't Believe It's Not A Nursing Home. He made this bookcase himself during the woodwork group and it took him several weeks of slow careful sanding and staining and loud shouting and cursing. It holds his entire family. All of us, his son and wife and his grandchildren and stepgrandchildren and great grandchildren and distant nieces and nephews. All of us smiling and neat from our rectangular black frames which are the only kind he will allow on the new shelves.
Each week "a girl" comes and dusts his photographs and each week he tells her over and over who we are.
My granddad's life is becoming soupy too but this is a soup that gets progressively thicker and cloudier. And each time I see him and he dips in his spoon and brings up fragments of his life they seem smaller and further away.
And soon, I think sadly, it will be quite quite cold.
When the nightmares were the best bits
6 days ago