April Foolery

Today is April Fools Day.  My mother, not usually one for jokes, tended to plan something for her four children.  I remember her rushing into our rooms in a panic, announcing that we had slept in and would be late for school.  We got hurriedly into our uniforms and rushed downstairs for breakfast.  April Fool! Mum announced.  It was actually the first day of the holidays.

In my last post I mentioned the wee green frog welcoming me back to Duolingo online Spanish.  I know it is an owl.  It has a beak and wings.  In my defence it is undoubtedly green. I have now done 37 days of lessons. Hola mes amigos! Espanol es muy interesante.

Although my mood swings are well controlled with medication, I still have ups and downs. I tend to notice I’ve been a bit down when I start to feel better. Right now I am aware of the dip in my mood labelled as ‘apathy’ in my last post. When I am ‘up’ I sing, play the piano and guitar and listen to music.  In a ‘down’ phase I read obsessively and listen exclusively to audio books.  We have two Sonos speakers which I have put on of pop pop pop 0 hardly used, but now I am discovering how much music is available. I’ve been listening to Gilbert and Sullivan performances, singing along with songs as familiar to me as nursery rhymes.

My mother performed with the Paisley Musical and Operatic Society for many years as well as singing soprano solos in concerts before and during the war to audiences glad of distraction during the blackout. Her teacher was the well known tenor, Elliot Dobie, who was also her concert manager.  On nights when she was performing in Glasgow she stayed with her Aunt Jane. She remembered with a shudder that there were no sheets on the bed, just rough blankets. Her mother came from London, so she was used to sheets at home. My mother had a song for every occasion and some of my earliest memories are of her voice. At bedtime she sang whatever she was rehearsing (often quite sad songs) as well as traditional lullabies. When we can,  my Sister and I revisit songs like '<em>The Fairy's Lullaby'and 'Love is the Sweetest Thing.' My mother went out every Monday night to the 'Opera Club' where she rehearsed that season's Gilbert and Sullivan.

From age 5 I went to all the PMOS shows, sometimes more than once. Ruddigore(or the Witch's Curse) was thought to be too scary so I was only allowed to see the dress rehearsal which I found fascinating.I loved every moment of every performance. I was thrilled to go backstage, with the smell of greasepaint and seeing adults I knew transformed by costume and make-up. The old Paisley Theatre still had many of its Victorian features. I was entranced by the scenery and backstage mechanics. There was a tunnel under the stage to get from one side to the other. When I was 12 I took part in Merrie England (not G&S], holding a trumpet raised high in Queen Elizabeth's guard of honour. At the dress rehearsal I fainted spectacularly, falling flat on my face. The heavy costume, heat from the lights and holding my breath were probably to blame. I came round to find I had been picked up and carried offstage by the handsome actor playing Robin Hood.
I have a wonderful new Tarot deck (published by the Fulgur Press) with images by Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington. My randomly selected card is The Falling Tower. This turned up at a similar time last year, as we came out of the first lockdown. Now restrictions are easing again and we find ourselves preparing to leave the isolation and safety of our own 'towers'. Change is hard, lightning may strike. Our leaders sometimes seem to inhabit a modern Tower of Babel, all wanting to be heard but not listening. Note, the tower is not destroyed. It can be repaired.

I haven’t read much this month.  I’ve been brighter, busier.  Working on the dolls house, trying to create some non -creepy dolls, felting Easter eggs (see photo) and seeing some friends and family again has taken up my time. The Woman in the Photograph by Stephanie Butland took me back to the feminist 60s and 70s.  Belinda Bauer delivers a good crime story in Finders Keepers.  I love Janey Godley’s hilarious voice-overs and was quite surprised by her unfiltered autobiograpy, Handstands in the Dark, her story of a difficult childhood and stormy marriage.  I’m currently reading Canadian writer  Louise Penny’s Still Life, the first in her Inspector Gamache series.  Stacked up to read next are Stephen Gethin’s Nation to Nation, Marina Warner’s Inventory of a Life Mislaid and new book The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex.  My current audiobook is Neal Stephenson’s Quicksilver, a satisfying epic set in Baroque Europe.   I was thrilled to discover an audio recording of a favourite radio show from the 60’s, forerunner of Monty Python and other brilliant comedy series.  I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again was my Sunday afternoon fix of very silly jokes.  One of my favourites: The wind was howling in the chimney ‘Help, I’m stuck!’

Unlike Cannyrob I don’t often read poetry, but I have just read a collection of poems, Hours before Bedtime, by my very good friend Peter Maclaren. His subjects range from places as far apart as Oldshoremore and Seville. He captures characters and events with humour and empathy. This is one which made me smile. (I did have to check the meaning of two of the words!)

   Hardy Annual

How many?
Haw,gie me money
Heavy, Jimmy?

There has been some very good television. The Great (C4), The Terror (BBC2) and Unforgotten (STV). That last episode was seriously upsetting. Also some very bad television which I have been watching as a guilty pleasure:
Bridgerton (Netflix) and Married at First Sight – Australia(E4) And, of course, Made in Chelsea is back (E4). Huzzah!

As I write, the sun is shining and there are daffodils everywhere. Easter eggs are on the piano and although we will not have our family get together on Sunday we will be seeing Son and Daughter briefly in the garden. Wee Boy is planning an Easter egg hunt with his Mum and Dad. I hope he follows in my footsteps with cryptic clues! Thanks to all of you who read this. It was lovely to get so many responses last time, but I know not everyone gets round to writing a message or a comment. I’m very happy if you just like to read the blog and see what I’m up to. Remember, if you would like Time after Time sent by email every month, click the FOLLOW tab. You can also email me privately at: timewithelinor@gmail.com. Wishing you a very Happy Easter – and good times to come! Elinor xx

I’ve added some of my drawings, painting and made objects to Sketchbook. Some have already been published in blog posts. Scroll down to view.

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