Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Carry On Planning.

Here I go again, with some measure of luck.

My offspring are so good to and for me.
When I had children in my middle age (or even a bit more, as I was 39 and 42 at the time) people said they would keep me young. I never believed that, and still don't.
What they do is to give me a good shaking out of old age.

There are a few roubles here, and a passport with a Russian visa, but I don't know if they will be heading anywhere with me in a few days time.
Over the years I've done a fair bit of travelling, and I like to be sort-of organised. Now, in fact, I like to be really quite organised.
But my sons, one of them in particular, catch planes with the same sort of nonchalance that I nip down to Morrison's. They are citizens of the world, as are so many young people these days.

Their father made just the one journey by air in his lifetime, and that was to travel to Moscow to see our elder son when he was working there.
I have travelled a lot more, but always in a pre-planned way, usually to work somewhere involving visas and complicated travel  that had taken some time to arrange.

Holidays in my childhood involved such complex issues as sending luggage in advance by rail (and it actually used to arrive, can you imagine?) and booking first sitting in the restaurant car (Brown Windsor soup, a roast with lashings of gravy, apple pie with custard or trifle, also with custard). Packing meant layers of tissue paper and things washed and specially folded weeks in advance. ("No, you can't wear that, it's ready for packing - wear your school uniform instead.")

Holidays for my children meant the caravan in Wales, crab-fishing, messing about in a dinghy, interminable board games and building dens with all the cushions while the rain drummed steadily on the roof.

Whereas this holiday, now..........
In a very few days I may be travelling with my elder son to visit his lovely Russian girlfriend and her family in Southern Russia..
May be, because the decision-making goes down to the last possible minute, in a manner only  made possible by modern technology.
There are problems, of course. Passport and visa problems, of course. Weather problems, also of course. The area we are visiting made a fleeting appearance in the British news a week or so ago. There have been terrible floods and a great loss of life there. Then the news disappears from our sometimes parochial-seeming  British service, and it is difficult to find any sort of up-dated account.
But could there be problems for young international travellers having to cope with ageing  parent anxious about being abandoned in the departure lounge ? 
No, not allowed.

Without my sons I would probably vegetate quietly in the garden, visiting friends and being visited, baking for visitors, feeding the birds, the badgers and the foxes, pottering round a bit, doing my voluntary work and my daily writing and drawing.
As it is now I have bags packed for a quick exit, a twelve hour journey and a few hours time-shift. I also have the freezer packed, the beds made, everything organised for the influx of visitors that will result if this trip is postponed at the very last minute.
The very, very last minute.

I thank my sons for towing me into their fast-moving lives, for including me, for making me believe I can easily keep up with them.
But have they kept me young?
I think they are preventing me from being old, which is not quite the same thing.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Carry On Looking Hard

As if in subconscious defiance against the perpetual greyness of this English summer I seem to have moved into colour with my daily drawings. I didn't realise until I looked back through my visual diary, which I first wrote about 'here', back in February, when I was relatively new to the discipline of daily drawing.
In a determination not to let my daughter-in-law down (she gave me this Sketch-a-Day book for Christmas) I have not missed a day this year (and she says that's got Christmas sorted for me for the next umpteen years).
I should have noticed because my miniature pencils are dwindling, especially the greens, and I can't find any replacements.

Then I wonder if it's such a good thing to look back through what has become not just a series of little drawings, but a visual journal of my little life.
It is all about plants and the garden, small snatches of life elsewhere, the corner of an office, a view from the attic window, a sleeping dog, the seating pattern in a train, the fish tank in the dentist's waiting room.
It seems too small, but then I console myself by realising that I can't draw the most significant things of all, which are people.
I can sit and stare at a leaf for ten minutes, but it's not possible to do it to a person (unless you pay them to be a model, that is, or unless you go to art classes and draw with other people).

I've had a go, in my discreet way.
I was captivated by a couple in a cafe recently. He was eating a big wedge of carrot cake, using both hands to support it, and she, in her tiny shorts and gold sandals was sending text messages on her tiny phone. While she was thus occupied he leaned over and lifted her slice of carrot cake with both hands and transferred it to his own plate. She reached out, eyes still on the screen, found her plate empty, sighed, sipped her coffee and continued to text. I managed to capture some of the action, and the colour of his face and her shorts, which matched, as did the magnificent convex curve of his frontage and the corresponding concave of hers, but I was aware I  really should not be doing it.

I managed to capture the mutual admiration of a man and a swan as they gazed at each other on the riverside, although I think the swan was possibly more fixated on the sandwich being slowly eaten. But they made a good pattern against the hypnotic swirling of the beige river, and they were sufficiently engrossed in one another as not to notice me.

Then I went to a day-time screening of 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel',and I'm pleased to say that I managed to capture something of the great froth of white haired audience against the rich red flounces of the safety curtain.

So I've used some reds and dark pinks and beige, but mainly my artistic endeavours seems to be blues and mauves and endless, endless shades of green from the dank and dripping vines, the collapsing herbaceous beds, the sodden lawn, the fruit-free tomato plants.