Crapshoot Craftwork Cuckoo
It was party time at Rue de la Scierie as I invited my best and most generous friends to celebrate my liberation from the crapshoot that is the corporate world. It was a friendly and relaxed occasion that started at 2pm with genteel discussion and ended at 4am in pogoing and karaoke, and although I am not clear about the denouement, it did feature adults acting like teenagers and vice versa, and a certain game called SingStar. There are times when I am glad I have little or no short term memory. It was very encouraging in my newly unemployed state to receive so many expressions of friendship, solidarity and generosity. Some even brought us food parcels, albeit on the sophisticated end: jars of pesto sauce, smoked ham, hoummous, Viennese apfelstrudel, coconut cake and so on.
Jessie had her friend Faron to stay in the early part of the month; then she got down to her temporary job with Syngenta in Basel. She also got serious about her new hobby of craftwork, making a very impressive lampshade for Alli’s birthday, as well as an imaginative covering for a bedside table and several coin purses and cushions. She is writing an interesting blog about how she makes these things: http://www.imake2.blogspot.com/. She also part-hosted a stall at Basel’s weekly flea market in St Petersplatz and sold a few items, and was delighted to buy an antique Longchamps handbag with her proceeds. Alli was particularly pleased with her birthday presents this year which heavily featured the cow parade. We all had a celebration dinner at the Cantina Toscana in Therwil.
Fifty years ago took place the first experience in my life that I can with total certainty remember. My brother Clive, who often when I was very young kindly showed or told me rather unusual or disconcerting things, informed me that the year – 1961 – looked the same upside down (the next year in which this will be true is the year 6009, which is only 3,998 years to go.) Around the same time he also convinced me that all French cheese had waving tentacles and, with amateur dramatics in our garden near Oxford, that the humble cuckoo was in fact a gruesome bird with a call that announced horror and curdled the blood. The cuckoo’s call still makes me profoundly uneasy to this day.
Talking of cuckoos, this is the month that Ella followed Jessie in going to university in England, leaving only Gwen, who promptly took occupation of the best bedroom in the house. I drove Ella and her material entourage to Loughborough via a short stay at my parents-in-law in Sussex. I also visited my friend Debbie for a couple of days, during which we managed a couple of meals out (one at Langan’s Brasserie) and saw an excellent play, Di and Viv and Rose by Amelia Bullmore, at the Hampstead Theatre. I also spent a delightfully lazy Sunday afternoon with Adam, Angela and Eleanor which included a walk around sunny central London by and across the Thames. I left them near Waterloo and got back to my car in West London via one of London’s Boris Bikes. I also saw the fabulous Tennysons in their country house near Godalming in Surrey and even managed to have breakfast with my politico friend Lionel at the Goring Hotel as well as dinner in Brighton with Ella, Jessie and Faron after helping Jessie move into her new lodgings. I drove back via an overnight stay in Luxembourg with in-laws Ant and Susanne, whose son Oliver turned eighteen the following day. To be sure, Tempus Fugit.
I have been in and out of hospital this month with various ailments, doubtless psychosomatic, and have been x-rayed, probed, tested, cat-, CT, ultrasound and bone-scanned. So I now have special insteps to make me walk properly, will soon take delivery of a mask to help me sleep properly, and have been told to surround myself with positive people to make me think properly. I can’t really argue with any of these prognoses but I also wonder how I could have had the time for all this treatment if I wasn’t between jobs. On this matter I still look forward to the calling of my name. I’ve read through all the magazines now.
Yours from the waiting room,
Ella at Loughborough, September 2011
Jessie at St Petersplatz, September 2011