Letter from Littlemore – No. 23
13th August 2011
The Muchness of Things
Today we took the new(-ish) car to Sussex to see my parents. It performed well. I hope we did too. After a most pleasant lunch we had the delight (the Brasilian judge might be out on this one) of looking at old family cine films which my aunt has put onto DVD. It was an uncanny thing to see so many familiar faces, so much younger than I last remember them, and so many now only visible to memory, having exchanged time for eternity. With his usual droll wit, my father observed that his sister might perhaps have thought to record their wedding before my christening. My late grandfather was there, dancing the night away, and trying to smile (he was very self-conscious about his teeth, having lost quite a few of the originals when he was boxing). Grandmothers, great-uncles and great-aunts, cousins various, family friends, names known only as characters in stories, a cavalcade of history, and laughter. What especially caught my attention was how very much my late godfather and his wife smiled, Uncle Jim and Auntie Margaret, as we knew them. They weren’t blood relatives, but they had contributed a lot to my mother’s childhood, and loved her, and my father, and us, deeply. They were delighted that my parents married, against all other advice, at 18 and 21. Well, the world was wrong, my parents, and Auntie Margaret and Uncle Jim were right. Forty-seven years later, we know this for a fact. Well, we’ve known it for quite a long while.
My senior niece arrived after lunch, on horseback. I can’t help thinking this is rather grand, although the horse is borrowed. I told my mother a story she didn’t know about when my sister and niece (aged about two) and I were on holiday in East Anglia and visited Norwich cathedral. Children love fire, and most churches let them light candles these days. When she was done – heavily supervised, of course – she clapped her hands and burst out with “Happy Birthday to ME!”, then blew the candle out. And there was this once-tiny personage, now a stroppy teenager, leading an enormous horse about as if it were a kitten. She is a shy and reserved person, but she seemed to be entirely at one with herself, which at fifteen, is no small achievement. It is a delight for now, and a building block for the future.
And so we returned to the Little Parish. The other day I received in the post a parcel containing George Orwell’s “Keep the Aspidistra Flying”, which along with Gracie Fields’s “The Biggest Aspidistra in the World” (what odd bed-fellows those two are!) made me determine than one day I must own one. This year that wish came true. And I always wanted cats, and through no fault of my own, we now have Cleopatra and Ruby. I have written one book, nearly finished my memoirs, written three monologues and sketched three more. All I need is a publisher! And then, a house, a macaw, and a Manchester terrier …
The Orwell takes me back to ancient days, because I lost the first copy in the first of my many divorces. In fairness, it was his book. Past, present, and maybe future, are winding round themselves today. At the Parish Men’s Breakfast this morning we had such fun bantering puns, graffiti, limericks, and other jokes, new and old, and some requiring dredgers, that we even thought of posting them on a blog, and compiling a Christmas anthology. It just might sell. Names would have to be changed to protect the guilty, of course!
Tomorrow is another day – my extant grandfather is 91, I shall go to church, the cats and the fish will be their charming selves, and on Monday I will re-open my coursebook, and keep re-training as an electrician, and in the evening we will practice for His Lordship’s driving theory test. There is so much in everything. It’s a wonder we have time to breathe. Mr Orwell wrote another novel called “Coming Up For Air”, but there are no slinky houseplants in it. Honestly, did the man know nothing about marketing?