Thursday, 18 July 2019

With you


We are the invisible, inaudible throng in the room
with you,
murmuring, beckoning, shouting, demanding
instant attention.
We are all more important than that person in front of you,
your child, your partner, your parent, your colleague, your friend
with the empty hands.
We are the silent directors of every situation.
With you
as you eat one-handed. 
(Honoured guests at the table).
With you 
in the loo.
(Nobody can bother us there).
With you
tugging your sleeve at school
and when you get home.
(There's no getting away from us, wink emoji).
With you
at work, feeding you vital information.
(We have so much to tell you).
Barking orders
(Action it now!).
With you
in bed, wheedling for just one more minute,
one more hour in our blue lit world.
With you 
at your waking yelling, 
'Catch up! catch up!'.
With you
as you walk your muted child
(earphones guarantee that)
with the empty hands
outfacing in a buggy.
With you
in your Pilates class calling,
'Urgent! Urgent!' from your bag.
With you in the cinema, theatre, concert hall
glowing in your lap.
With you 
as you collide on the pavements.
(haha).
With you 
as you walk, eyes cast down, across the road.
With you
as you drive, 
flashing and pinging from the passenger seat
(we'd rather be in your hand -
or balance us on the steering wheel why not?).
With you 
tucked tight into your neck
if your hands are unavailable.
With you 
in that one brief, unoccupied moment
(it's scary isn't it?),
'Check! Check!'

'Look down at us.'
Not up at that boring person
with the two empty hands in front of you,
your child, your partner, your parent, your colleague, your friend.
What have they to offer?
Can they play endless games, 
sing any song,
find you a mate,
'Swipe! Swipe!' 
(we have thousands to show you -
some of them real!)
feed you News! News! News!
tell you the capital of Burkina Faso,
(go check - you need to know NOW, it's funny)
give you the latest celeb gossip,
show you comical pets,
their cute children,
(even when they are asleep and all unknowing
that the world is peering in),
their better clothes,
better make up,
better figures,
better food,
better homes,
better gardens,
better holidays,
better friends?

'Shop! Shop!'
(you can have it now!).
'Talk to us!'
'Tweet! Pin! Snap! Blog if you still do!'
Made a cake?
'Gram it!'
'Scroll! Scroll!'
We made cakes too!
That road will never end.

We are with you.
Not sure you are there?
We'll show you yourselfie.
'Smiley face!'

And if we die.
(You might drop us in the bath.)
And we cannot be with you.
What then?
How will you survive?
What will you do
with your silent empty head,
your two empty hands?

Hello caller.
This the operator.
Trying to connect you.
Someone will be
with you.




Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Summery summary



Remember how cold and wet it was in June?
And how much one longed for a bit of warmth to bask in?
Well ha ha ha.
We got it.


That's 114ยบ F.
In the shade.
Not so much basking weather,
as



lurking behind closed shutters



hanging wet towels at windows


freezing towels as compresses


and rediscovering the joys of Uno weather.
Because if you did venture out


it was so blindingly bright


and pulsatingly hot


that even being sensible in the shade
wasn't an option.


There was a lovely pool,
but only one sun umbrella.
Don't be deceived by that cloud.
It never even attempted to shield us from the sun.




The box moth was thriving though.
There were hideous clouds of them
being enjoyed misguidedly by the tourists
in lavender fields.





But these murals were unexpectedly lovely.
And being awake early one morning
I heard a roaring sound and to my astonishment
saw this -




Since returning to a land of wholly acceptable variants 
on normal summer temperatures
I have been grateful for the ability to think, move around freely and sleep.











The grandchildren had meanwhile surely grown 
more than a week's absence could have made possible.



One of them having clocked up his first year
in the blink of an eye.

Monday, 10 June 2019

Since we last met



I have mostly been


picking these - the box moth caterpillar
off the box hedges in our garden.
They have devastated them.
Stripped them to bare branches 
and then started gnawing on the branches
before abseiling off on silken threads to the next bush.
But we have made an impression
and after removing in excess of 5000
with tweezers,
new green leaves are sprouting.
No doubt these will feed the next generation of
caterpillars presently being laid by the caterpillars
that we didn't catch before they pupated.


But it wasn't all garden warfare.


We spent a week in the Malvern Hills,
staying at Perrycroft, a beautifully restored Voysey house 
with cottages for the workers holidaymakers.










We had free access to the main gardens
which were so perfect,
but we could not help shuddering at the thought of the havoc
that the box moth would  wreak on all the immaculate topiary
and we looked for telltale signs of browned leaves.











The hills were steep and numerous.
I think we yomped up all but one.
Going down was hard on the knees
but the views were worth it.



And then to my great surprise we learnt that the Hay Festival was on,
only an hour's drive away


and that there were still tickets to be had,
so we went to hear Kate Humble
and Monty Don and Derry Moore
talking about their latest books
Thinking on my Feet and Japanese Gardens respectively.


Summer is racing away,
but today has been like winter.
Dark by 3.30 and the heating is back on.
Welcome for gardeners and farmers
but very lowering to the spirit.

I made hot chocolate
and talked to my son in New York
about a trip to sunnier climes.