Time for a break from work, the grindstone. Six thousand words written, perhaps one good sentence.
The former art teacher has been telling long magnificent anecdotes about how her grandmother attended Queen Mary at Balmoral as a lady-in-waiting and predicted wars, family deaths and the downfall of the aristocracy to startled royalty who had never met a psychic before. In gratitude for the predictive gossip, Queen Mary gave the psychic grandmother her long string of creamy royal pearls and the latter pawned them at once and set sail for the tropical colonies and a life of wickedness and gaiety. Just as you think this is all made-up, the art teacher produces a dog-eared photograph of Queen Mary looking bosomy but sourly prim and powdered next to a fat giggly woman with marcelled hair and a seal-skin jacket who has the art teacher’s eyes. Who knows?
The Great Dane puppy is cantering around with a stolen onion in his mouth, hoping to be chased and wrestled to the ground. I am reading a post on the Five Most Common Mistakes When Cooking Quinoa because my quinoa is not always what it should be.
The former art teacher says that some days she feels only 37 or so. She reminds me that the Russian ballet dancer and Bloomsbury character Lydia Lopokova lived to be almost 90 and sunbathed naked in her English country garden well into her 80s. She outlived most of the Bloomsbury coterie.
Vanessa Bell’s ten-year-old granddaughter Henrietta discovered by chance the funny, crinkly old lady who lived up the lane. They had sausage for elevenses or a glass of Sauternes for tea and Lydia Lopokova chatted gaily about ballet and death. ‘To have wrinkles is to be noble,’ she told her visitor. ‘We all of us grow old, what matters is how you age.’
Caponata for supper, a lively bowl of sliced aubergine, red peppers, ripe-to-bursting tomatoes, onions, garlic and some chilli flakes, a grind of black pepper, a little Maldon salt, all simmered together in good olive oil. Mediterranean bliss. Accompanied by perfected quinoa and a little green salad.
Apartment Therapy has posted a bunch of photographs showing famous writers’ bedrooms. (The image above shows Flannery O’Connor’s bedroom in Milledgeville, Georgia, with her propped-up aluminium crutches.) I may be a fledgling writer but my bedroom right now looks like a mix between a dog kennel and a library that has run out of bookshelves. The dog has crawled under the bed with his crunchy onion and I must go and coax him out. Perhaps the old sheeps’ wool slippers I last saw in 2009 might turn up, along with onion skins, forgotten Moleskine diaries and some grey ancestral ghost choking on dust.
Flannery O’Connor: To expect too much is to have a sentimental view of life and this is a softness that ends in bitterness.