I’ve baked five Christmas cakes (one got eaten and had to be replaced) made eggless marzipan, steamed three puddings, stirred up some mincemeat, ordered two scooters to be delivered to the smaller grandsons, bought and wrapped presents for their parents, bought and wrapped presents for Oxford -living daughter and her partner, had wall and desk calendars made by Vista prints with the best photos from this year, found boxes for everything that didn’t get sent direct, plus cakes, bundled everything in swathes of bubble wrap, queued and paid the eye-watering price. I bought an electric drill, tools box and a few tools for Sanders, untangled the Christmas lights after all, and am now resting on my laurels. Very uncomfortable stuff to rest on is laurel. I may have to get a bed. (And that is the level of gibberish I have been reduced to by wrapping paper and cellotape. )
Now everything seems quiet and abnormal. I can live with that. The house in Hayle is about to be pulsating with family, five adults, four smallish children, three dogs with puppies imminent.
I like to think of them having fun. I like to THINK of them.
It’s so peaceful here.
There was the Writer’s Group party which was fun in a low-key adult sort of way. We ate nibbles and drank wine (for me) and punch for the lucky, non-type two’s. We read poems and prose we hadn’t written ourselves, except Glynis who read a piece she HAD written herself and it was great. I chose Dylan Thomas: ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales,’ wanting something entirely non-religious. I was worried about this extract because DT is hard to read for someone short of breath. He seems to string all the words together and although the sentences are not very long they insist on being delivered fast without breathing space. A Welsh accent would have been helpful too. I used to be so good at that when I read ‘Ivor the Engine’ to the children. I think I nailed it for Mrs Protheroe's shout of: ‘Fire!’ In the end I needn’t have worried about the breathlessness because two glasses of wine helped my lungs work nicely and my tongue whip easily around the words.
Now there is time to meet friends for coffee and make plans for the New Year, mostly about writing. I’ve done quite well with poetry since February but want to focus more on stories (novels) now. The magazine ‘Sarasvati’ came out last week with four of my poems in it which I can now put here. My favourite is the first one.
Village Panto 1953
The baker’s wife
in fishnet tights
Second fiddle, with less strut to her stuff
the Prince, who pulled pints in the village pub,
and no-one thought it odd
that two girls should vie
for the hand of Cinderella.
Our Violet in rags.
Violet’s magical change
(behind a screen, distracting pixies prancing)
put her into sequined silk and satin slippers,
turned her into someone we could never hope to meet;
rather scaring us.
The baker and the garage man
balloons strapped rudely to their chests,
hammed it for our delighted delectation,
relishing the ribald ridicule,
cruelly capitalising on the coy
and bashful blushes of the ladies.
They encouraged us to hiss and boo,
to jeer and shout at their comeuppance.
Our brother Al, a woeful, cheeky Buttons
wowed the crowd,
won himself Evelyn,
who went on to play his wife.
Their two-hander running sixty years.
Dad fell off his chair laughing.
Sometimes it takes a twenty minute break
with coffee and chat.
A bit of froth.
Whilst some mindless part of me
Understands and evaluates the plot.
People’s lives written on their faces,
carved between brow and chin.
I jump into their souls.
A new word has appeared in the Japanese language: Hikikomori, literally ‘pulling inwards, being confined,’ i.e. ‘acute social withdrawal.’
Like a horse who knows the jump is too high,
the water too wide, he
wakes one morning, tries to rise,
shies at the door to the day.
No rope, no poison,
no unseemly decomposition,
still, this is a kind of suicide.
Parents cry and pay the price
for their over-loving,
crush-hugging, breath-stealing, pride
in the fruit of their loins,
their sling-shot at immortality.
A face in a window watches
the busy walk of those who claim
with confidence their right to life,
stony mouth screaming silently
the turmoil of a race
buffeted by social thermals.