After rather raucous Girls’ Curry And Bingo Night at cricket pavilion on Friday, set off to London yesterday for rendezvous with friends from long-lost world of work.
Make quick detour to Virginia Woolf exhibition at National Portrait Gallery. Find it interesting and moving (exchange sorrowful glances with complete stranger as read final letters), and resolve to extend own knowledge of Bloomsbury beyond current rather shallow fondness for artistic book-filled interiors.
Meet friends in Green Park and sit in warm September sunshine, talking as usual about more or less everything – though perhaps with more emphasis on care homes, will-writing and the importance of comfortable shoes than when first met nearly twenty years ago. Have booked Afternoon Tea at The Wolseley as special treat and spend very civilised couple of hours among the Finger Sandwiches and Pastries.
Darkness has fallen by time we eventually emerge, and London buzzing with Saturday night crowds as make way back to station. Train carriage home filled with boys and mothers loudly discussing football; feel that Normal Life has resumed.
Set off without enthusiasm to daughter’s school for first Sixth Form Progress Meeting; seem to have spent much of last year attending Progress Meetings about GCSEs – which, as other mother remarks, are Now Just Yesterday’s Fish And Chips – and cannot help wishing school not always so conscientious about Involving The Parents. Am however pleasantly surprised by enthusiastic teacher, who prescribes Travel and Reading rather than target anxiety, and become quite excited about daughter’s Future – even if her plans for it remain somewhat Vague.
Children predictably scornful of my first forays into Twitter and of my claim that can now Join The Conversation; challenge me to have Conversation with Nicki Minaj or Inbetweeners. Am keen to confound their expectations, but suspect that may have to expand tweeting repertoire beyond West Lothian Question and the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire.
On Friday meet father in London at thanksgiving service for family friend. Manage to cry less than at funeral, and am in fact quite uplifted by celebration of a good life, fully lived. Beautiful readings, beautiful music; and, as father remarks rather loudly, Nice And Short.
Back home for charity music evening in Village Hall; bring-your-own drink flows freely as large crowd decked out in red and white enjoys somewhat Eclectic selection of Local Talent.
Sister arrives late on Saturday afternoon; has taken eldest son to Freshers’ Week at nearby university and is feeling Old. Spend several hours discussing past, present and future of children, selves and world, and eventually conclude that should join Twitter. Cannot in cold light of day entirely remember why this felt to be answer to everything, but have done so in case it is.
Have suspended normal domestic service in experiment to see whether extensive daily efforts to create Nurturing and Supportive Home Environment will a) be missed and therefore at last Appreciated by children or b) prove A Complete Waste Of Time.
Use hours now liberated from baking and tidying to read every internet comment about Scotland Referendum and latest books from village library. Forced to admit that now have practically nothing in common with Bridget Jones , who remember fondly from 1990s before she became Global Cultural Phenomenon; decide that it all started to Go Wrong with the films, and take somewhat cold comfort in thought that same fate unlikely to befall Mrs Ford’s Diary. Find myself rather more in sympathy with servants in Longbourn.
In burst of new-term enthusiasm, decide to tackle Paperwork, and draw up Family Budget for year; hope that have overlooked hidden source of income and rifle through old files in hopes of finding some long-forgotten Post Office book. Spend happy afternoon tearing up payslips from last millennium and correspondence about taking maternity leave in 2000.
Manage brief discussions with children about schoolwork. Elder son already complaining about Mark Schemes, and suspect that own enthusiasm for To Kill a Mockingbird and Of Mice and Men may not survive another GCSE course.
All watch Educating The East End. Am currently planning to be exactly like Ms Hillman.
Sons return to school tomorrow; have clearly decided not to let this trouble them, and concentrate on playing football and watching cricket until RE holiday work on Liberation Theology, Aid Agencies and Holy Wars can no longer be ignored. Seem unimpressed by my suggestion that they might Get More Out Of Their Schoolwork If They Put More Effort Into It, though younger son offers to make more effort if significant financial reward promised in return (it is not).
Consider own autumn plans, which so far comprise bulb planting, dental appointments, Harvest Craft Morning, Village Jumble Sale and repainting interior woodwork. Wonder whether should aspire to something a little more exciting.
Distinct lack of personal triumph at Late Summer Horticultural Show on Saturday; mulberries unplaced in Any Other Fruit, Posy In A Wine Cup judged not to be a posy at all, and find myself taking home most of the apple cake I donated to refreshment stall. Visions of becoming late-flowering Domestic Goddess rapidly fading. But show more generally a great success, and village honour maintained with prizewinning onions, pronounced by judge to be The Best Onions He’d Seen Anywhere This Year.
Meet brother and family at county cricket match. Weather forecast rather gloomy, crowd rather sparse, and game steady rather than thrilling; but all have very happy day watching and chatting until announcement that play is suspended because of Bad Light; unimpressed crowd gesticulates at glaring floodlights on which club have apparently Spent A Fortune, but eventually give up as rain starts to fall steadily.
Must now all confront the reality of the fast-approaching New Term.
Rather struggling to maintain Holiday Spirit in face of relentless rain, mountains of undryable washing and nagging awareness that have yet to organise children’s bus passes for new school year or refreshments for Horticultural Show on Saturday. Domestic, village and family duties all seem peculiarly unappealing, and fantasise briefly about getting self glamorous and highly paid job (unspecified) in order to escape them all.
Reassured to find friends and other bloggers in similar gloomy mood, and realise that It Will Pass; decide to abandon any attempt to be constructive or efficient for time being and spend happy evening watching DVDs with children. Feel quite Christmassy.
Usual mixture of excitement and pointless anxiety as make final preparations for start of annual family holiday tomorrow. Fortunately, packing for fortnight abroad proves considerably less demanding than for two nights’ camping in England, and after filling own suitcase with too many books and not quite enough clothes, as usual, find I have plenty of time to check tickets, route-maps and passports – several times. Dog despatched to kindly carer in nearby village, and house – despite presence of three children – immediately feels rather empty.
Normal life and diary now suspended until last week in August, but will resume both in time for the Late Summer Horticultural Show.
Realise that have been very poor diarist recently; decide to blame unusually high levels of activity, sociability and sunshine over recent days.
Friends, family and sunshine all now departed, so spend day doing various errands in readiness for fast-approaching family holiday. Head off to village library in search of suitable reading material, and find younger son’s six-year-old twin admirers giggling away and dressed, as usual, as though going to Royal Ball. Am invited to try out their Mythical Maze Summer Reading Challenge Fortune Teller and am quite unreasonably pleased to be told that I should become an author.
Turn off lights and watch First World War Vigil from Westminster Abbey; cope quite well until The Lark Ascending.