An alternative ‘About’ – from ‘Diary, February 2016’

I dreamt of my house again last night.

It had a root-cellar, except that wasn’t underground.

I remember distinctly that it had a square flat window to the left – the left as you sat on a settee – not a sofa – and looked out upon –

maybe a blank wall.

There was metal, I remember that.

I was with people.

We were upstairs at one point –

and on the ground floor – outside was a large garden – ‘huge’ came to mind, but probably not that big – there was something like dovecots lining the bottom fence – wall – not dovecots – I never saw a dove – but apertures maybe, from where photographs were taken.

I remember thinking that there was so much space in this house – someone visited, and she thought it was hers – she’d just bought it – that and another next door, which she was going to make into one – I thought I must have asked her for a look around.

I wondered about buying the house she vacated – better than the one I already had (which was shady in my view – and none of these houses I have already mentioned).

Yes, there was a lot of space – I remember thinking that there was a lot of space, but the house was where it was.

This is where the dream starts to break down, because a man I barely knew was selling the house, and had moved to Emm.

Fishing – an Amalie and Ronald fragment

There was just enough light to see by.  He picked his way over loose rocks, sensing the possibility of their movement before he felt it, adjusting his weight accordingly.

His shoes swung round his neck, hanging from their fastened laces, a pendulum marking his timing.

In his left hand, he carried a coiled line, the hook on the end of it buried deep in the centre.

He found the hollow in the rocks on the promontory, sat on an overhang where he’d sat often enough before.

He got the bait-tin from his pocket, pulled open the lid.  He picked out a worm, hooked it, and let out the line into the water below him.

The float bobbed on the surface.

He could imagine the disguised hook far down, the worm wriggling against its fate.

He shivered – he desired the death of the worm, and very soon.

[I’m sorry – Ronald! – I know you won’t like the name I’ve given you.  But this isn’t really you!  Amalie may really be me – but that – Ronald! – isn’t you!]

From autobiography – dinky curlers

We’d get up at eight o’clock the next morning for school.

We would have two slices of toast each, spread with butter, and one cup of tea with milk and one sugar.

There wasn’t much time.

We’d wash our hands and faces, or Mam would do it for us.

We’d dress in red pleated skirts, and yellow jumpers with zips at the front neck that our Nanny had made for us.

Underneath, we wore vests and navy-blue knickers, liberty bodices and petticoats.

We had fawn socks up to our knees, and laced tan shoes, or zipped ankle-boots when the weather got colder.

Hats and coats.

It was winter.

We had mittens – that weren’t tied through the sleeves on a length of elastic as others in the class had – our Mam hadn’t thought of that idea yet.

Under our hats, a grip or hairslide held our hair from side partings.  We had slept in dinky curlers all night and our hair bunched out in froth for five minutes round our ears.

Mam always moaned and said what terrible hair I had when she couldn’t get the comb through it.

We had a bag each – the long strap over the shoulder and across our chests to keep them on.

Inside each was a handkerchief and two bob in an envelope for the school bank.

We set off.

We walked together out of our house and out of the Avenue down an alleyway and on to Acklam Road.

Further along was a grassy sitting place facing the shops, which had a winding path through it.

We always went along the winding path because our Mam told us to, and not along the pavement next to the busy part of the road.

We passed the police station, a small one just for our area.

We walked up the long hill to the school, crossing the road before we were supposed to, and then flanking the tall iron railings between the path and the school field.

We got to the gates, with plenty of others by then, and walked in.

Amalie – a fragment

“No, I’m not going to tell you.”

She looked away, not at anything in particular, but not at Ronald.

Her hair, curled at the ends, lifted in a breeze.

The wind rose, and rustled through the leaves of trees that surrounded the field.

It bent the blades of grass around them, first one way – showing silver in the late sun appearing from behind a cloud – and then another, showing green.

The wind dropped.

Amalie stared out into the air, past the white-painted goal post – beyond where Ronald stood.

But then Ronald leapt right into her line of vision, and she couldn’t pretend any more – her eyes fell upon him.

“All right,” she said.

She trusted Ronald – she did trust Ronald.

“It’s Geraldine,” she said.

 

[This seems so simple, but I found it very difficult to write.  It was written as a response to a course – again – the online one.  The tutor didn’t like the way the grass was blown one way and then another – she said it seemed ‘funny’ – which wasn’t a very constructive criticism in any case.  I’ve seen grass blowing one way, catching the colour of silver in the light, and then blowing the other, and appearing green.  In a further edit – once I’d got through the course entirely – I took that out altogether.  But it’s important.  I know what I mean by it – I know what I want to convey – and I may still not have got that right.  But it has to be there for some reason that I’m not sure about at the moment.

Amalie is me – a version of me.  I didn’t realise that until way afterwards – once I’d struggled with this.  But the hair being curled at the ends – that is the give-away.  I have a sister, and our mother used to put these curlers in the bottom of our hair – when we were very young.  But that is another story.

I can’t remember standing in a field with Ronald – I realise that he potentially stands in for two people in my life – maybe my father, but definitely a boy I used to play with when I was young.  What a mischief-maker he was!

But – I could have been standing in a field at some time with Ronald.  And the story – based on characters that I now recognise – not true in any particular autobiographical way.

I’ve had trouble with this story again – I call it a fragment because I know very well that it isn’t a story in itself – it is meant to – bloom – there – I might have given myself another clue.]

 

 

 

 

They tell you where I am – in this, for instance, which you could call postmodernism for the sake of convenience and with which I ended up in trying to edit two male characters into one – and in which I have (for the moment) kept the name in strikethrough of the character I was trying to edit out (though – almost – either one of them would have done) – in order to help the current reader see how this came about

Up, up, up into the air, almost to the hanging bough, almost touching it with one red-shoed toe.

Down, down and back, brushing at the foliage behind her…and then the giddy rush of cool air in the descent.

That was what she was swinging for, that cool rush of air.  The summer had been so hot.

“Katherine!”

It was Henry Donald.

His voice whispered from the bramble bushes beside the swing-tree.  “Katherine!  Sneak away with me!”

The swing swished in a slower arc.

It swished slower and slower, and Katherine let her feet touch the ground, touch, touch, slow the swing.

And then she kicked up high again, high up and giggling, because she knew Henry Donald Banner was watching her – and probably had been watching her for the last ten minutes.

She swung so high she kicked the hanging bough, and the leaves on it rustled, and the old bough itself cracked, though she could see no new splinter.

Then she dragged her feet as she reached the ground, dragged at her new red shoes, knowing the heels would show the wear quicker because of it.

Now, she walked leisurely with Henry Donald, disdaining to look back over her shoulder to see if Aunt Milly was at the hedge.

The back of her neck tingled, and she imagined Aunt Milly leaning over, the way the garden hedge itself leaned into the back lane.

“Hi –” Donald said, sloping over.  “I’ve-brought-a-bowl –” he said, slowly.

Author’s note.  First problem.  First she walks with him, leisurely, and then he slopes over.

You weren’t paying attention, were you?

Second problem.  Something’s been missed out – this meeting was pre-arranged; it is taken for granted that Katherine knows why he’s brought the bowl.

Third.

This Donald, who slopes over, isn’t the Donald who asked her to sneak away with him.

Verdict.  Unconvincing.

“He sent for his bowl, and he sent for his pipe and –”  Katherine set her eyes on Donald, but his slid away…

[Okay, okay – this is probably as clear as mud – but I’d edit out the references to Henry that I’d tried to edit out – I’d leave the authoritative author bit in – Barthes’ essay, ‘The Death of the Author’ – and worry about re-instating Henry later – he does need reinstating since this ‘edit’ isn’t working.  That’s about as much as I can explain about this for the time being.  I’m tied in knots already with all this stuff.  Do I really want to inflict that confusion on my reader?  Id speaking – why not?]

On Being Different After the Festivities

Gosh – that sounds a bit old-fashioned, doesn’t it, that title?

Never mind – I’m there in my past as well as here in my now – and, of course, I project into my future.

But – I wasn’t going to say that – it was upon fixing a title that I thought of that – titles are usually afterthoughts for me – once I’ve seen what I’ve written.

What I was going to say:

Picking up pieces after Christmas and New Year – beginning again, but finding myself in a different place – and remembering that this always happens to me, no matter what I do (or don’t).

I don’t know how it happens – I don’t expect to be like an almost new person just after the space of a few weeks – but that time is spent doing things that are not part of the ordinary – there are dinners that people make and invite you to, and the odd party here and there – and there are new things – and a thinking anew, a wondering anew.

And this happens every year – I do think that I shall pick up where I left off – but then, these pieces – what were they now?  Are these mine, or someone else’s?