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For those of you who knew it was going to happen, it happened. For those who didn’t: I threw a surprise party for R last week. 

Oh yes I did.

The children were in on it. It took weeks to plan. On top of everything else. I don’t know what got into me, except this: we have a tendency to be away for his birthday. In fact, we haven’t been home in years  on the actual day. So I wanted to make an effort. I  said I’d cook him dinner. He was panicking (stop laughing). We sent him outside to his shed until we were ready. He was panicking. He thought that the best he could hope for was take-away Chinese.

The children led him in the front door, eyes closed. When he walked in —

18 people were sitting on the floor of our living room.

I’d done it! We’d done it!

He was gob-smacked. The first thing he said was Who thought this would be a good idea? In fact he said this several times in the first two minutes. Which panicked me somewhat.

Then we poured him a glass of bubbly.

Friends had sent cards. Sarah and Mike had sent flowers. Nancy and Hamish had sent a strawberry tart from the Goods Shed. Everyone had brought food. So R’s fears were unfounded. And it was good food. Even better, it was great.

The children popped all the poppers and then watched loads of episodes of the Simpsons with their friends.

We ate and ate. R opened his presents (cookbooks and wine!). 

His brother called. His father called.

He had a birthday. He is Eeyore no more.

(But I hated the white lies. Shiver.)

*

We are lunging for the finish line that is called our annual holiday — hurray! So will be out of commission on these pages for a coupla weeks….Will return with photos and quite a bit fatter no doubt (though I’ve earned it: gym three times a week, yay!).

Til then: peace. Read a good book.

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Getting ready to leave the gym (yes the GYM) yesterday morning, I receive a phone call. I look at my mobile; E’s school shows as the caller. 

It’s still early, not even 10 am. I think: Has he fallen over? Missed the bus?

Hello, a voice says, this is Mrs F  on Reception calling from school.

Yes? I say. Hello?

Good morning! She’s sounding incredibly cheerful. I visualise her face: rather wise looking, endlessly good-natured, nobody’s fool — and hugely efficient. I have a phone here, she starts, and I’m tracking down who it belongs to.

Yes? I still don’t get it.

You’re listed on it as ‘Mum’.

Mum. I feel like I’ve won a prize. I’m his mother. I really am.

Yes, that’s right, I say, that’s me. Bless him.

She laughs. 

*

For the curious among you, he’d left it in the library. Where he goes to read the paper every morning before registration. The Independent being his current favourite…. 

Kitchen-dancing. E-chosen accompaniment while loading the dishwasher Saturday (wacky vid my choice!):

In the last few days:

1) A single magpie

2) An older man standing in front of his house, black tie, searching the road for his ride

3) A young man in the same, glancing at his watch,  on a street corner

4) One church, weeping. Afterward, children running through the garden.

5) Yesterday another church, full of celebration. Then suddenly, weeping.

*

Never known such a time for sorrow and beauty side by side. One way this, another way that. An almost daily parade.  

Last week, M attended the funeral of her friend’s mother with me. We cried together. Later, on the way to the village hall and cake and tea, she held my hand and said that it felt right for her to be there. It did, and was.

 

I guess I don’t get to list all the people I’m so glad to know and see — again. But I do want to express one thing: welcome back Deborah! She’s moved her site. And I for one am breathing a sigh of relief. Life without Deborah’s sparkle hardly bears thinking about.

I’m hanging onto your sparkle, Deborah….

*

 

I’ve progressed from pedometer to gym. Oh yes I have. So far (okay, two days in) I absolutely love it. I know I’m behind with this. I know it. Don’t write and tell me. But being inside my own music, cycling, or doing the dreaded chin-ups…It’s not that far off my all time favourite activity, now limited by my knees. I can deal with hard work to good music, anyway.

*

I am not doing any writing. Just thought I’d make that clear. I could list everything else I’ve done — a chicken without the proverbial, in truth — but the heart of the matter is pretty simple. If I don’t make space soon, there’s not going to be much reason to carry on doing much of anything.

Any five minute a day bright ideas? I need a writing personal trainer. Embarrassingly, I’ve let myself go. To rack and ruin.

I HAVE MOVED

From January 2010, my new blog is Waving and Drowning

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Who am I?


A writer born in Texas, who grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia (yes, like the song), and who's been living in the UK since 1988. I've published two books (see below), and teach creative writing at the University of Kent. I'm married to a composer, and we have two young children. See About for my full profile.