Mayhem: violent or extreme disorder; chaos.  For example: “complete mayhem broke out”. That is a bit of an exaggeration of our current situation, but with restrictions lifted since April 26th here in Scotland, our lives are opening up again, with choices suddenly possible.  We can visit family and friends in gardens, stay away from home in hotels or self-catering cottages, eat in restaurants, go shopping……It’s a huge adjustment after all these months of staying at home, almost too much to cope with. My friend A is ‘dizzy with excitement’ after visiting the hairdresser, garage and charity shop all in one day.  The weather is by turns cold and wintry, sunny and springlike.  Vaccinations here progress, while deaths in India multiply.

Today’s Tarot card, from the Leonora Carrington deck, is The Emperor, as at the start of the year.  This card marks the end of a cycle, emphasising the importance of authority and law.  It is certainly relevant to our situation now.  

Last month I wrote about my mother’s involvement in Gilbert & Sullivan. I want to add some more family history.  There was always great excitement when her costume arrived from Doyley Carte in London; I especially liked her Mikado outfit, with kimono, black wig and fan. For The Gondoliers, in which she was  dancing as well as singing, she had a swirly, striped, swishy skirt with a black lace up belt and a tambourine with ribbons.  I was sorry to see the tambourine go back.  I now have several of my own in my percussion collection.

Dance a Cachucha from The Gondoliers

Some years ago I found photographs of my London grandmother and her sister in costume as well as scores with their names on. I hadn’t known they were also leading lights in G and S. My great aunt, who lived on in the family home in Ealing, was a member of Questors, a prestigious amateur dramatic society with its own theatre.  She took my Sister and me to a stunning production of Antigone. I was 14 and stagestruck. It was excellent and she was very much a key member of the group.  Questors  still exists, with Tyrone Guthrie, Michael Redgrave and Judi Dench as past presidents. My aunt may have been a founder member in 1929. I like to think she would have been interested in my career in Drama. I will come back to her story which I am continuing to research.

My great-aunt in Iolanthe 1920s

She was an exotic figure in our family, with her wild curly hair, not unlike my own, piercing brown eyes and London accent.  She stayed with us for two weeks every summer and taught me to knit, crochet, play solitaire and canasta and do cryptic crosswords.  At Christmas she sent a parcel of jumble sale purchases.  I still have the Susan Coolidge and Angela Brazil books she sent me.

The Duke of Edinburgh died on 9th April.  It was apparently his choice not to have a state funeral, although there seemed to be plenty of marching and gun salutes.  This photo of the Queen sitting alone was widely published, striking a chord with many of us, especially my generation, who remember her as the young queen. Now she is a very old lady who has lost her husband.

Cannyrob has discovered that in Holland they are growing coffins from mycelium, the growth network of mushrooms.  It takes a week.  It should dry out and keep for a while.  Once  planted in the ground it decomposes with the body. We are looking into this for the future.  Hopefully fairly distant. 

I’ve been reading a variety of books:  Stephen Gethins’ Nation to Nation (homework for the Scottish Parliamentary election this month) is a demanding read.  I got into it though and found it provided a good picture of Scotland’s place in the world and how it could move forward as an independent nation in future. 

I finished Louise Penny’s Still Life.  I enjoyed it but am not sufficiently hooked to read more of the series just yet.  Discovered my unread copy of A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier, set in England after the First World War. Violet is one of the many ‘surplus’ women, making a life for herself, taking up tapestry in the Cathedral.  Daughter recommended a Viking style Saga, The Eye of the Wolf by A.E. Rayne which I am enjoying.  The Lightkeepers by Sarah Comex (a contemporary re-telling of the ‘Flannan Isle’ ballad) was a good read, cleverly constructed and atmospheric.  I enjoyed watching Marina Warner being interviewed for Toppings (bookshop in St Andrews) about her new book Inventory of a Life Mislaid. She talked of the consolatory effect of writing about her parents.  I am looking forward to reading it.   My most recent audiobook is Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye, one of my favourites, read so long ago that I scarcely remember it, just that I was riveted by its portrayal of how cruel girls can be to one another.

Excited that The Great British Sewing Bee has returned.  And of course Line of Duty is a weekly treat (both BBC1}.  We're still watching The Walking Dead (Now TV) as well as Deutschland 86 and The Good Fight (All 4)

I have completed a set of dolls for the dolls house. In spite of making them to the nominal 1/16 scale of the house, they are too big; I did add rather bulky clay feet, but they are undoubtedly oversized.  Further research has proved that the house is in fact 1/18.    I am going to start again with very exact measurements. I have learned a lot about stuffing, wire armatures and attaching hair, so nothing is lost. I think I’m going to use the baby……… any thoughts?

I’ve been working on a painting/collage for WeeBoy’s room. He has had an input on figures.  It had to include Stickmen (as in the Henry Stickmin games) and Thugs (as in the Marvel movies) in addition to pictures of him and his cousin in various Spiderman Miles Morales costumes.  The Emerald City bit came from a present I got from WeeBoy’s mum.

Spiderman and others – mixed media on board

I was delighted to update my screen saver with this lovely design from Katie Ebben Smith.  It adds a new dimension to using my phone.  Check out her website for her unique textile designs.


Where has the past year gone? The usual major events – birthdays, holidays, Christmas, Easter – were scarcely marked. The calendar has been mainly blank. How do we go on from here? Exercise classes can go live soon but some people are comfortable to stay with Zoom. Will you book a train or plane ticket any time soon? I know I’m taking one step forward and another back. How about you?

Categorized as Stories

By Elinor Kirk

Granma of WeeBoy, mum of Daughter, Son and Daughter, partner of Cannyrob, blogger since 1999, retired dramatherapist, would-be artist with Gothic leanings.


  1. Hey Ellie.
    Another great wee read ☺️ Loved seeing the photo of your aunt…. you must have strong genes in your family!!!
    A coffin made from mushrooms!!!! Interesting…
    I never saw Prince philips funeral…. that photo of the queen is really sad. Why was she absolutely on her own?
    Well done with the dolls!!!! I bet they were quite a challenge… they look really small? … ironically, I know they’re too big 😆
    The wee lads stuff looks fantastic!!!!
    Love it!!
    Also absolutely love your caricature at the end ☺️


  2. Great post – so many interesting things! I was excited to go to the hairdresser last weekend. Felt like a new woman after. We’re also able to eat at restaurants outside but tricky to get a booking in many places and it’s too cold in the evenings. I hope the dolls find their place in the world!

    Liked by 1 person

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