Leave children on sofa watching The Smurfs 2 and head to village hall for Rotary Club Shuffleboard Evening. Familiar gloom at prospect of any form of competitive games lifted slightly by team-mates’ repeated and possibly genuine assurances that they definitely have no ambitions to win anything, but can’t help slightly regretting self-imposed Lenten abstinence from drink.
While 11th Birthday Party Disco thumps away in next door room, organisers explain rules and emphasise that The Most Important Thing Is To Have Fun. Suspect that my appearances at shuffleboard table offer more fun to bystanders and competitors than to my bravely-smiling team-mates, but we persevere enthusiastically and do not come last in every round.
Plans for 2016 already somewhat behind schedule, but am excited by thought of bonus Leap Day tomorrow. Hope that it will allow me to set up new website, finish War and Peace, and write story that will win me £7,500.
Tuesday sees first Horticultural Association committee meeting of 2016; plan activities for forthcoming year, compare rumours about village pub developments, and have animated discussion about Curry. Revelation that I will turn fifty the day before our summer coffee morning met with comforting mixture of teasing, reminiscences and wise advice, though find myself not altogether uplifted by comment that You Will Still Always Be You.
Helpers’ team at pensioners’ lunch club on Wednesday joined by lady who played my mother in village production of An Inspector Calls twenty years ago; have happy time discussing gardening gloves, worst-ever holiday jobs, and The Shepherd’s Life, which apparently Divided Opinion at recent meeting of WI Book Club. Lunchers seem in fine form, despite blustery dark day and my usual inability to provide requested combinations of tea, coffee, milk and sugar at end of meal. One couple explain apologetically that they will not be able to attend next month’s talk on rose-growing as they will be attending a wedding in Bangkok, and everyone wishes our team leader well for her trip down Amazon next week.
Opening Night of village pantomime this evening. Fortunately for all concerned, own involvement in amateur dramatics now confined to watching, though may allow myself slight bit of Audience Participation as long as children don’t come.
After very happy and very lazy few days of Christmas celebrations, feel restored in body, mind and spirit, and distinctly Mellow; wonder vaguely whether I might be altogether nicer and calmer person if my life always consisted of reading, playing with Christmas presents and watching Agatha Christie and Shaun the Sheep.
Begin vaguely to contemplate inevitable return of Normal Life and start drawing up usual list of pleasantly unrealistic ambitions for forthcoming New Year; have considerable sympathy with Katherine Mansfield’s two wishes for 1915 (“to write, to make money”), and fantasise about being cool and Modern cook; but, for now, turn, as I always do at this stage of Christmas, to late mother’s 1961 Constance Spry Cookery Book to find recipe for Devilled Turkey Bones.
To village hall on Friday evening for postponed Horticultural Association talk on Growing And Showing Daffodils, carrying as contribution to advertised Refreshments my batch of mini-quiches, which husband says Definitely Look Home-Made. Speaker knowledgeable but friendly, and regales us with inside tales from The Daffodil Society (highly competitive but much less cut-throat than The Chrysanthemum Society, apparently) and numerous photographs of completely perfect specimens grown from £10 bulbs. Chair reminds everyone about our Annual Quiz Evening in a fortnight’s time, and I do my best to give impression that question-setting is at suitably advanced stage (have almost completed one round).
Football season now in full swing and am allowed to attend son’s match this afternoon on strict condition that I Don’t Say Anything. Do not, naturally, obey, but make some effort to be less Vocal than usual, and enjoy listening to seasoned co-supporters’ very definite views on every aspect of the game. Own knowledge of football remains rather rudimentary, but am at least able to explain with some confidence to one player’s grandmother which way our team are shooting.
Read daughter’s copy of “The Great Gatsby” and wonder whether I have finally found my perfect novel.
Perfect weather for the Annual Horticultural Association Coach Outing on Thursday, and everyone’s polite muttering about lack of air-conditioning in our Luxury Executive coach is soon forgotten at first sight of Great Dixter; house, gardens and surrounding countryside all looking stunning in July sunshine, and find it impossible not to smile at complete strangers when confronted with such glorious Technicolor exuberance. Am, childishly, excited to bump into well-known Head Gardener down one narrow path, and tell him (no doubt to his great relief) that The Gardens Are Looking Good.
Return trip takes us through one ridiculously picturesque village after another, and we make afternoon stop in particularly charming town where I buy plasters, book about Homer, and a solar-powered hula girl model. Man from Head Office has meanwhile been despatched to fix coach’s air-conditioning, and we travel home in cool Executive comfort and general agreement that it has been A Lovely Day.
Spend yesterday doing best to resist Siren Call of garden and make some headway on overdue deskwork (efforts to resist further village duties having proved almost wholly futile). Decide that my confident observations to son about “Romeo and Juliet” in preparation for his Controlled Assessment on Monday might carry more weight if I had actually read the play, so do so, and find own intermittent concerns about teenage relationships usefully Put Into Perspective.
London friend e-mails with nine pages of colleague’s annual Eurovision predictions and says that she is All Agog for next diary instalment. Delighted by image of busy urban professionals eagerly awaiting news of Pensioners’ Lunch Club, Horticultural Association Coffee Morning and Almshouses Opening Ceremony, and am happy to report that they All Went Very Well. Friend’s performance in The Winter’s Tale was also A Triumph, though cannot help thinking that Players may have rather overestimated village’s enthusiasm for Shakespeare’s late Problem Plays; lady next to me says she preferred their production of ‘Allo ‘Allo.
Am very grateful for everyone’s reading suggestions after last diary entry. Cannot sadly find any of the recommended books in village library, and current reading consists of Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature (pure pleasure) and Facebook (general bewilderment); younger son particularly horrified that I have joined latter and spends some time trying to find and then Block me, in spite of my repeated assurances that I have joined only in order to ease administration of Tuesday walking group and have not the slightest desire to be his Friend on Facebook or indeed anywhere else.
Feel like spending all my time now looking at images of Chelsea Flower Show or pottering around own garden. Will freely admit that it is not really a spring garden or a late summer garden, and that it does not look particularly impressive in the autumn or winter either; but for a few weeks in May and June find that there is no place I would rather be.
Election Day dawns bright and sunny; despatch children, walk dog and head with undeniable excitement to Village Hall where am pleased to find a) Queues and b) Very Clear Instructions on what to do with ballot papers; confirm over-anxiously with Helpful Young Man that am indeed putting correct papers in correct ballot boxes, then set off to town with pleasing sense of having Played My Part.
Have added Address Book and Reading Diary to blog; realise that latter gives all too accurate picture of self as Grumpy Old Woman, and resolve to find new book that might actually like. Any suggestions very welcome.
Deeply-ingrained habit of starting weekdays with Today programme rarely has positive impact on mood or outlook, but am intrigued amongst all the sadness this morning to hear about survey linking personalities to geographical regions, and decide to try out Personality Quiz myself. Am awarded lowest score on Agreeableness and highest on Neuroticism, and advised that I might be suited to living in Oxford; forced to conclude that a) online quizzes are harder to manipulate than magazine versions of youth, in which I always emerged as Ideal Friend or Perfect Partner and b) I should probably not apply for any jobs which involve Psychometric Testing.
Am however ideally qualified for unpaid village roles by combination of availability and guilt, and find myself yesterday as new trustee at Board Meeting of local Almshouses charity. The Vicar chairs with the crisp efficiency of someone who a) attends lots of meetings and b) wants to get home and see her baby granddaughter; other trustees talk knowledgeably about charity rules, social need and accessible stopcocks; while own contribution is limited to excusing myself from Grand Opening of new almshouses as it clashes with Horticultural Association coffee morning.
Have mounting piles of Deskwork so spend morning cleaning kitchen and thinking about Twitter, cooking, E Nesbit, and why it doesn’t at all feel as though it will be Easter next week.
Yesterday’s attempt to combine orthodontist trip with Family Day Out in local cathedral city much brightened by unexpected encounter with student nephew and his visiting brother in Waterstones; do not resist Pavlovian urge to ply them both with food, and head to one of several Mexican restaurants nearby for A Proper Meal (nephew takes photo of vegetables to show his mother). Discuss travel, McDonald’s, Twelfth Night, and the difference between burritos and enchiladas (none of us knows); wonder, not for first time, whether aunts have the very best role in family life.
Rejection from final publisher concludes short-lived ambition to write Brilliant Bestselling Book. Surprised to realise that am not too disappointed, and spend happy time day-dreaming about all the other exciting things that I might quite possibly do in future. Am very glad in meantime that own experience of provincial life bears as much resemblance to the relentless unpleasantness of The Casual Vacancy as my literary career does to J.K.Rowling’s.
Week begins unpromisingly with heavy downpours and crashing thunderstorms (sister tells me it is lovely and sunny where she is). Do Monday housework, pursued by unsettled dog and thinking about The Home-Maker – surprisingly uplifting book about marriage, children, work, thinking, personal fulfilment, understanding, small town life and shopping; find myself in great sympathy both with husband (who hates his job, despises consumer culture, and loves being at home watching children develop); and wife (who feels imprisoned at home and achieves happiness only when she goes out to work, selling clothes); not at all sure what this reveals about own character, and decide not to pursue question for time being.
Appear to have no village duties this week, and refuse to think in any detail yet about Christmas (unlike younger son, who has already compiled long and rather specific Wish List and gives regular updates on days, hours and minutes remaining until The Big Day); am very much looking forward to doing Nothing In Particular.