How Can I Tell You?

Cat Stevens

Son left hospital in early August, having moved on from the dark place he had been in. Staying with us has provided comfort, reconnection with family, shared meals, and time to sort through magazines, DVDs, books and games in preparation for returning home. I have spent more time with him, talking, reminiscing and just hanging out than I have since he was a teenager. This Cat Stevens song is one we both like. It sums up a lot of what I feel about my children. Wanting time with each of them. I have so enjoyed Son’s company, his gentle humour and practical support. He has been my strong right arm, emptying bins and hanging out washing. It reminds me of time I spent with my parents, newly single and recovering from surgery, just being around them with no pressure to do anything but just ‘be’ for a while.

Today’s Tarot card by Sophie McKay Knight is the Chariot. For me this is personal. Time to resume my journey, move on from this time as a mother, pick up the reins of my life. In a wider sense, we are all having to face an uncertain road ahead. Financial worries, political uncertainties….but we are in the driving seat and can make informed decisions about the future.

In the spirit of setting out on a new road, I started looking at dresses online. I found a black Monsoon frock which reminded me of one I wore for my Moray House graduation in 1969. Here I am with Ian, who later became my husband. In nostalgic mood I ordered the dress with possible future occasions in mind.

Nostalgia is certainly a theme this month. Here are some memorable images from Son’s collection.

With my arm in a sling, unable to do much on the flat project, I did organise new flooring and bought a rug online. It’s been fun seeing the transformation from a cluttered dark space in need of updating into a light, bright home with lots of storage and some new furnishings, along with favourite curtains and shelves for books and photos. Both Daughters have worked hard, collecting and assembling flat pack furniture and kitting out the kitchen with kettle, toaster, pots, pans and utensils. Cannyrob has just completed a final clean, including windows, inside and out.

Un Mauvais Quart d’heure

Able to drive again, I head to the dump with assorted rubbish. I drop an old iron into the ‘small electricals’ skip, a mouldy board into ‘wood’ and carpet offcuts into ‘mattresses and carpets’. I get back into the car. Keys? I try all four jeans pockets, look on the floor and under the seats. I get out, open the boot and hunt through the remaining rubbish. I kneel down and look under the car. I retrace my steps. I remember the keys being in my hand with the iron! One of the recycling guys watches me leaning over the skip trying to look. Maybe the keys got tangled in the cable? I explain, then I see my keys, lying close to the iron! He manfully climbs into the shifting silt of rusting toasters, radios and heaters and hands them to me. Joy!

Books: I finished Dark Water by Elizabeth Lowry, beautifully written from meticulous research – life at sea, cannibalism and mental illness in 19thC Massachusetts. Shadows of Men by Abir Mukherjee is the latest and maybe best of his Calcutta novels. We saw Mohsin Hamid at a Toppings bookshop event, reading from The Last White Man. An intriguing theme – white people turn black. But the plot is slight and vaguely unsatisfying. How to Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie is well written, but unconvincing. I’ve had some excellent recommendations from friend C, another avid reader, including Fair Botanists by Sarah Sheridan, which I am enjoying. The House Guest by Charlotte Northedge is a quick read, a clever psychological thriller about identity and manipulation. I am currently reading Hannah-Azieb Pool’s book My Father’s Daughter about her real life experience of adoption and finding her birth family in Eritrea.

Latest audiobooks are a mix as usual. Last to Know by Elizabeth Adler is a clever murder mystery set in a peaceful lakeside community.  Miriam Margoyles reading her autobiography This Much is True is a slightly uncomfortable pleasure.  I felt I was with an old friend as I listened to her unabashed tale of her 80 eventful years. I really wanted to listen to The Satanic Verses following the brutal attack on Salman Rushdie. I always admired him and loved Midnight’s Children but had never read this most controversial work. Still House by Christan White and Summer de Roche is a three hour ghost story that got me through a sleepless night after my steroid injection. Currently I am loving Reputation by Sarah Vaughan , the story of a talented women MP who finds herself on a murder charge.

House of the Dragon on Sky Atlantic

I’ve watched three films. Persuasion on Netflix starring Dakota Johnson and Cosmo Jarvis is a modern take on Jane Austen, but nicely done with a mixed race cast and endearing leads. A Quiet Place 2 had lots of scary moments, like the first movie. I had a film afternoon with Son and Cannyrob watching Dune with popcorn and chocolate buttons. We’re still hooked on Peaky Blinders and enjoyed Marriage, with Shetland and House of the Dragon as new favourites.

My shoulder pain has been diagnosed by ultrasound. Chronic bursitis has resulted in a build-up of calcium deposits restricting movement and pinching nerves in the upper arm. I have had a steroid injection which has helped. Physiotherapy to follow.

By the way, the dress didn’t suit me at all, but I am planning to make my own version, with metallic embroidery and a more generous cut. I have some nice washed black linen I bought from The Cloth Shop in Soho a few years ago. When? You ask. Well, life is slowing down a bit now and I will have time to pursue my own interests again. And my shoulder is improving. It’s been good to be so involved with my family as a mum whose help and support is needed again. But I look forward to getting back to drawing and painting, Pilates, swimming and seeing friends. Keep in touch: let me know what you are reading and watching and what matters to you right now. Love, Elinor.

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