I´m writing this so that Charlie Bradshaw stumbles across it – if he ever looks at anything on the internet, which I doubt – because I´m crazy about him, and I want to explain to him what it´s like to be me. I want to emulate his painful honesty in describing internal processes, his detachment, his capacity to note what´s going on without being judgemental or taking precipitate action, but above all, the inarticulate kindness that is the basis of his being. I want to thank him for teaching me a bit more about how a man can be, and think; and reciprocate – because he finds women he likes mysterious, although he can describe brilliantly what it is to be inarticulate in front of her.
I don´t know what he´s going to make of me, I´ve lost count of how many irons I´ve got in the fire, but they include this blog, getting out my audiobook for adult learners for the piano, “Play it by Ear” which I am writing, reading and recording myself, working up a set list with a brilliant piper (the traditional instrument in Asturias), walking by the sea, daily, and most of all, enjoying being with friends and family, whether here or virtually. And that´s just today! You can see the difficulty I face in trying to define myself by who I am, rather than what I do!
Sorry – just kidding. Noone’s quite got there yet with this feature.
I´ve been making marmalade! This is worth an exclamation mark because it´s so untypical of me, as well as being out of season. I love bitter, chunky marmalade, but finding a jar in the shops that´s eco and bio and everything organic is difficult, and I´ve flinched at coughing up 4€ for a tiny jar (I´m in Spain). So imagine my delight when Isa pointed to a bitter clementine tree in the corner of her late father´s field, and said I could pick them if I liked. I did like. I had a look on the internet to get an idea, and then just did it any old how, using agar-agar to help it set (it hasn´t, but it´s not too runny to be spreadable) and demerara sugar (didn´t have estevia in the house).
When I lived in the country in Norfolk, I limited myself to three delicious things: elderflower cordial (no sweat at all), sloe vodka (ditto), and membrillo (quite a sweat, but worth it).
Now I can enjoy more intensely stirring, smelling, and tasting. Due process away from the laptop.
Armistice Day, when I´ve sometimes played The Last Post in Salthouse Church´s windswept graveyard, is the right day to give a second chance to this story, written, read and recorded by me, which has the outbreak of World War One for background. Do let me know what you think.
Here´s me reading aloud the short story below – celebrating the fact that I´m all kitted up now for producing audiobooks. I´m sure a BBC engineer would have done it better, but for once I´m celebrating a victory over procrastination and perfectionism. A few stumbles, and thunder in the background – enjoy!
This was said to me by a member of staff in a hotel in Biejing in 1972. It was at the height of the Cultural Revolution, and I was on a group tour with other members of Society for Anglo-chinese Understanding. As a result of what I saw on this intensive guided introduction to a society in revolution on my return I went and worked in factories and spent years producing papers and going to meetings (maoists in england were one in a million, we used to joke). I lost my faith roughly about the time Chairman Mao got Alzheimer´s, but “life is too short for ironing” is one of the few principles I´ve got left. No Time to Waste
I´ve never understood why middle of the road is considered a safe place to be. But then, in England, most roads are two directional. I´m so middle of the road that my straight friends think I´m wild, and my wild friends think I´m a pillar of the establishment. “You´re a dark horse, Rose” said my then to-be mother-in-law, on finding out I´d been to Cambridge University, tho´ then working in a factory: so it´s a huge effort for me to write this, since not talking about oneself has been engrained for generations in my family.
To get up to date, I´ve been living in Asturias, Spain for ten years, this autumn, and I started this blog a while ago to share the enjoyment of it, (see About) having achieved my dream of writing in a foreign port. The challenge for me is to be out there in the virtual world while I´m enjoying the real one so much! Thank you wordpress, for this hand holding exercise coming along just when I needed it.
That´s a sentence that one can´t write that often. Thinking about the last time I was in China, and this time, and how extraordinary the way things have gone in the past forty odd years – for China, and for me. In 1972 I felt privileged because we got a complete guided tour of the society and we were treated like celebrities, really, everywhere we went: not celebrities, but I mean we were shown round, and got to ask questions of everyone who was running the hospitals, the factories, the revolutionary committees on the housing estates, getting a complete guided tour of the society.
Once again I feel very privileged, privileged for having this wonderful chance to travel and be here for a long time, for having much more holiday than people are entitled to here, whereas this time it´s all inside out. This time I´m here just as one of the many tourists, and without speaking Chinese, having no “in” on what´s going on around me at all. So it´s a complete mystery to me what people feel and how they think now about how things are. It certainly is to me, to see this whole society bundling on with huge apartment blocks and people living in the old bits, the same hardworking individual poverty from time immemorial, not a squeak of any kind of overarching thought about it visibleView from my son´s flat – the old and the new, Shanghai, 2014 from the outside to me.