Landscape and memory

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.


The London Scene

Pensioners’ lunch club on Wednesday particularly busy, and after usual struggle to serve teas and coffees in required combinations am quite relieved to find myself on train to London to attend first-ever Literary Party.  Arrive at destination far too early, and am reluctant to tramp round streets of Bloomsbury in unaccustomed Heels, so end up sitting at nearby bus stop and watching busy Londoners; wonder whether should perhaps be using time profitably to make Astute Observations in manner of Virginia Woolf but concentrate instead on being unnecessarily anxious about meeting New People.

New People turn out to be charming, friendly and welcoming; everyone seems to be distinguished journalist, author or academic (many are all three), but am soon put at ease and discuss trains, funerals and husbands as though with perfectly normal crowd. Publisher makes warm and gracious speech; prize-winning essayist, who looks about same age as own daughter, reads poetic extracts from essay on Katherine Mansfield;  there are photos, flowers and kind words aplenty , and I would happily have stayed longer if not for a) worry about return train and b) increasingly acute pain from shoes.

Weather here still disconcertingly lovely, and plan to spend afternoon in garden once have finished admin, ironing and proof-reading Horticultural Association Schedule.   May allow myself some slight literary day-dreaming.

E for Effort

Am taking part in a book blogger’s Meme. Still not entirely sure what a Meme is (find Wikipedia entry on subject quite baffling and normally reliable children not much better), but feel should Try Something New  – and this particular exercise looks reassuringly like Victorian parlour game; participants have to list favourite book, author, song, film and object beginning with randomly assigned letter.  Decide that this will be ideal way of Using My Brain while doing Monday housework.

Am assigned E. Start off very confidently:

Favourite Book Emma by Jane Austen. One of my very favourite books anyway, funny, warm and wise, with excellent cast of characters, including quite awful Mrs Elton and quite lovely Mr Knightley.

Favourite Author – E. Nesbit, E.M. Delafield and E.M. Forster all favourites, but suspect disallowed under Meme Rules so go for George Eliot. (Would undoubtedly have chosen Middlemarch as favourite novel if assigned M.)

Cannot then think of any song, film or object whatsoever beginning with E, but after some hoovering and laundry come up with:

Favourite SongEverybody’s Talkin’ , in version by Harry Nilsson; wistful, memorable and slightly unsettling.

Favourite Film –  am probably not allowed Emma again, though do like 1996 version with Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam; so choose E.T.

Favourite Object – find this the hardest one of all. Have certain fondness for eggcups and espresso cups, but finally settle on Envelopes; always, still, hope that post will bring Something Exciting (unspecified).





Gates to the glorious and the unknown

Another trip to London, this time to meet father for joint birthday lunch. Spend train journey reading Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont and trying to ignore large group of Stag Weekenders playing drinking games with relentless hilarity.

London warm and sunny. Have long lunch at restaurant in St Pancras Station, and discuss trains, politics and New Zealand; with all the travellers, and the sunshine, and the wine, feel almost as though we could be Abroad. Young tourist asks us for directions to Camden Market; can’t imagine that either father or I look remotely like Camden Lock habitués, but am strangely flattered nonetheless.

Quick visit to British Library to commune with manuscripts of Literary Greats; for some reason find myself particularly interested in all the crossings out.

Children do not appear to have missed me at all, and house and garden look no worse for my absence. Decide that should go to London more often.

The Diary of a Provincial Lady – 21st Century Homage

Inspired by news that Persephone Books are publishing a new edition of “The Diary of a Provincial Lady”, re-read own battered Virago version for umpteenth time and am struck by disconcerting similarity of own life to heroine’s. Decide that recording own life in similar style might be useful step on desired path to literary immortality as would a) Build My Online Presence (apparently essential requisite for aspiring authors) and b) add new dimension to my writings (mostly comprising emergency ghost-writing of Year 7 essays and own Horticultural Association updates for the Parish News).

Relieved to find that setting up blog much like online supermarket order and proudly manage to do so without input of teenage children. Find comfort in lack of superfluous words and anonymous semi-detached style, though according to teenage daughter Sylvia Plath felt something similar – which is not entirely reassuring.