Yesterday, my daughter pointed out the grey in my hair. She thought she was being helpful.
It’s not the only thing I’ve been reminded about this week. For example, the ‘lockdown-logue’ that I’ve forgotten to write. It started last Monday with a tight scrawl. Tuesday saw a looser enthusiasm which tailed off around mid-week, and by Saturday there was nothing at all.
Except there must have been something to report – something of note to prevent the days from becoming one. Like the astronomic ascent of my weird cauliflower plant. Or my bored boys’ nocturnal shenanigans: the clinking glasses, the banging doors (and my discoveries of their deceptions in dilution by leaving certain liquids at just the right level).
I look back at what I wrote last week, and it’s a bit of a mix. Modest wins (the making of a mean mashed potato) are jotted alongside groans about housework and the tragic story of a migratory stork that solved a mystery (heard on the radio whilst mashing). Then there’s the child I glimpsed through the open door of a delivery van, watching his father sort parcels by the side of a road. It was a school day, but the boy wasn’t at school or at home. I wondered at his story.
Big and little things accent any day, but in the confinement of lockdown, various angles of life overlap and collide in a way they never normally would.
A few nights ago, I had a kitchen Zoom meeting at which I was ‘mute’, as I was too shy to make the required pretend pitch to my writers’ group. My eldest son entered, headphones on, and started to cook pasta behind me – oblivious to the fact that he featured in the background in a box on everyone’s screens. He sat beside me and ate with gusto. I stayed on ‘mute’, endured the articulation of his mastication, and missed my chance to pitch. My meeting took a break, my son left the table, and all I could think about was the circle of parmesan which I knew would be my privilege to wipe away.
In the end I pitched to my second son, late at night after a glass of wine. Hardly an impartial critic, I admit, but his delighted, “I’m so proud of you, Mum!” was music to my ears. Actually, the bonus was that he introduced me to a Spanish composer and guitarist whose work I know but would never have been able to name. Now I will never forget: Francisco Tárrega.
I’m relieved that this pretend pitch went well as I’ve already embarked on a (virtual) trip around Spain. Two weeks ago I assured myself I was ready to write a novel. Days later I down-scaled it to half of one (with the more appealing name of a novella). I thought I’d taken the easy option; now I’m not so sure. Especially if I can’t even keep up a lockdown-logue.
In which I write today (resumed) that nothing is nicer than the rare sight of my four kids walking in front of me – this time, through the woods. All talking and listening to each other. A picture which I’m too slow to capture when the youngest slips back to reveal a red, blistered toe. My promise that I will never publish a photo of the three eldest is now no longer true. I’m disappointed with myself, but it’s only a rear view.
I write further in my lockdown-logue that when my daughter reminded me of my grey yesterday, she was being helpful. She spoke of it as a silver streak, a crest of which I should be proud. She’s right, and I should.