Silver not Grey

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.