Much of Saturday spent in village hall. At coffee morning am put in charge of selling Specially-Printed Church Tea-Towels (Ideal Christmas Gift! Easy to Post!). Am informed in friendliest terms by absolutely everyone that unfortunately they already have a Specially-Printed Church Tea-Towel, and so do all their daughters, second cousins, and old friends in New Zealand – though some are kind enough to buy yet more. Am left with ample leisure to chat to new young organist, helping out with Quality Bric-a-Brac on next table; discuss DIY, Kazakhstan, and wedding music choices (next week’s bride has apparently asked for The Bit From Braveheart When She Dies).
Evening devoted to much-anticipated Horticultural Association Quiz Night, which to great relief All Goes Well; slight panic in Island-Hopping Round when are loudly informed that we have Got Them The Wrong Way Round, but luckily this refers to order of questions 9 and 10 rather than respective roles of Corsica, Elba and St Helena in life of Napoleon Bonaparte. Children help out with marking and scoring, need for tie-break question narrowly avoided, and, best of all, everybody helps with putting away tables at end (often feel that Village Life consists largely of washing up and moving furniture).
Had planned to spend today earning £1000 by writing prize-winning essay for Persephone Books competition but think will just read yesterday’s newspaper instead.
Breakthrough Breast Cancer Coffee Morning in village hall; arrive in scruffy raincoat, clutching slightly burnt lemon drizzle cake, and find everyone else in glamorous pink apart from one lady who had been expecting the market and nipped out in her gardening clothes to buy sausages. Feel immediate bond, and spend next hour with her discussing trees, melanoma, and food-shopping in France. Joined by another new lady who asks me how old my children are, then says that she Feels For Me.
Conduct umpteenth double-checking of questions and answers for Horticultural Association Quiz Evening tomorrow. Am unreasonably plagued by fear of challenges – though question master assures me that he will take A Firm Line – and feel compelled to find at least three authoritative sources for each answer. (Wonder, not for first time, whether lack of job means that am perhaps Losing Perspective.)
Looking forward to half-term; as I told the lady this morning, the children are Actually Not That Bad.
Conversation amongst helpers at pensioners’ lunch club yesterday turns to Education; general consensus is that All The Fun Has Gone Out Of It. Do not remember own school days as particularly fun-filled, and can only suggest rather feebly that Some Things Are Worse Now But Some Things Are Better. (Wonder idly whether this might in fact be useful summary of own views on everything.)
Go with daughter to school’s Presentation Evening;. Headteacher quotes EastEnders, Noel Coward and Immanuel Kant, and thanks parents, staff and Most Importantly The Students for their Commitment. Deputy Head says that Year 11 was An Exceptional Year and they should all be very proud of their Achievement. Guest Speaker says a) she is a GP b) she likes being a GP and c) there are lots of changes during the teenage years. Sit with other parents from village who first met at Baby Clinic and agree that It All Goes By So Quickly.
Father is visiting for weekend (Before The Clocks Change); have booked tickets for village play (“Noises Off” – though am slightly concerned by references in poster to Adult Humour), invited nephew for Sunday Lunch, and tidied vegetable patch ready for inspection.
Pleased to hear on Today programme that am apparently part of Extremely Interesting Demographic Trend; less pleased to discover that this apparently means a) am in Stone Age when dealing with social media b) am Turned Off Politics (Like Most Women) and c) face bleak future unable to return to work or enjoy grandchildren in good health – though this is All Very Funny As Well.
Suspect own life not entirely representative of Today’s Woman. Spent last night at Village Hall listening to Horticultural Association talk on Preparing Your Vegetables For The Shows. Much animated discussion (against loud background of Zumba class from next door ) on tying onions, avoiding carrot fly and whether unreasonable for village show to require five potatoes in class (conclusion: yes, five is Really County Level). During Refreshments afterwards agree a) to bake cake for Breakthrough Cancer Coffee Morning b) to bake cake for church Coffee Morning and c) to organise raffle for next talk as Mr and Mrs S will be away at Jazz Weekend in Torquay. Go home and discuss Amnesty International with daughter; Latin verbs with son; and Ebola, by-elections and dog’s flea treatment with husband.
Perhaps could start mini Demographic Trend of my own.
Date of Horticultural Association Quiz Evening fast approaching, and have yet to make any perceptible progress on question-setting. In self-imposed avoidance of anything Depressing or Controversial, have managed to think of one possible round, on Dogs. Fear there is much work to be done.
Finish reading Joanna Trollope’s version of “Sense & Sensibility” and realise that own familiarity with original story derives almost entirely from Emma Thompson film. Wonder whether ever-increasing awareness of huge gaps in own knowledge could perhaps be viewed as sign of great wisdom.
Find myself missing Gardeners’ World for third week in a row as head off with husband and sons to Cricket Club End-of-Season Presentation Evening. Loudest cheers as usual reserved for winner of Most Ducks award, and everyone thanks everyone else for All They Have Done For The Club (am surprisingly touched by own mention in connection with Cricket Teas). Sit with other mothers and discuss Hitchcock, local government and hormones (own and children’s) until Live Music makes conversation impossible, at which point all head to dance floor. Am subsequently told by younger son that Must Never Dance Again.
Take up usual post at collage table for church’s Harvest Craft Morning yesterday. After two hours of cutting and sticking with assorted children and parents (discuss universities, Shropshire and left-handedness), produce Harvest Scene which looks pretty much the same as every Harvest Scene we have produced in the last few years; but it makes us all happy.
Quite glad to see rain in afternoon, as provides necessary justification for spending rest of day reading newspaper and watching telly, with only occasional interruptions from children asking about properties of pewter or Homer’s use of epithets. Start rather looking forward to winter and am almost disappointed to see glorious sunshine return today.
Receive message from Department for Work and Pensions wishing me Happy International Older People’s Day; remember that need to buy present for brother’s 50th birthday, and set off to local town in search of Classic Gentleman’s Watch. A traditional Jewellers somehow still survives amongst barbers and charity shops of High Street, and spend happy half-hour discussing options with charming young manager about thirty years younger than self. Find whole process much easier, quicker and more fun than trawling through product reviews on internet, though do feel even more like matronly 1950s housewife than usual.
Decide not to think too much about The Passage Of Time (brother himself admirably relaxed about forthcoming milestone), and concentrate instead on enjoying Conference Mash-Up with children.
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.