Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Unwrapping my husband

On Sunday evening I unwrapped my husband.

He’d been in a green cardboard box and I’ve kept him beside my bed (on his side) since 7th January. But now it was time to decant him and scatter some of his ashes on the Carrick Roads. For those of you unused to Cornish ways, this is actually a river where he used to fish for oysters.

I have to say I hadn’t been looking forward to this outing, but after a delicious lunch provided by two friends, Molls and I went with them on their boat, up the river. The sky was a deep dark blue, there was just enough wind for a sail, and so many other boats out there also enjoying the Bank Holiday weather.

We halted just near the boundary between Truro Harbour and Falmouth Harbour (marked by a granite post) and Michael read Masefield’s “Sea Fever” as well as Brian Patten’s “How long does a man live?” (I knew I couldn’t speak I’d be gulping too much.) Then, checking the direction of the wind, I said, “Goodbye darling,” and emptied a tin full of Pip into the river. Andrea had bought two bunches of flowers which we threw onto the water, and with each one I shouted one of Pip’s favourite sayings – including “shoot the bastards” and his made-up German swear words.

Just then a wind caught the sails and the boat sped forwards. It was as if Pip was saying, “Come on, enough of that. Let’s go for a sail for God’s sake!”

I laughed then – it was so typical him. And as the boat gathered speed, I felt the wind in my hair, the salt on my lips and a thrill ran through me. “I see what you mean, darling,” I thought. “This is what sailing’s all about!”

So two unexpectedly good things came from that day. One – my Pip is where he should be – out on the water. And two – I can now really understand his passion for sailing. And maybe, one day, do more of it myself?

Wherever I go, it seems, Pip will be there, somewhere. Just keeping an eye on me.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Film Stars, Music and Eggs

Last Friday Molls and I set off to be film stars.

I’d had a phone call the previous week out of the blue, from a freelance film director who was doing some work for Visit Cornwall. He had read my blog and said “you have described Polly Joke so beautifully” that he wondered if I would take part in his film. Well, as any writer will tell you, those words are magic to the soul. Of course I said yes and we fixed last Friday as the date, dependent on the weather.

As luck would have it, Friday afternoon revealed skies of a perfect Wedgewood blue, streaked with mare’s tail clouds. I met Gareth in the Bowgie car park and we headed down towards the beach, him stopping to film en route. The tide was far out, so we had a clear expanse of golden sand which Molls adores, and he interviewed me by the waterline, then filmed me and Molls walking and running along the beach. We then had a paddle, walked back up to the pub and had a drink in the sunshine. Overall it was a fun afternoon and getting paid petrol money to spend the afternoon on your favourite beach, particularly if it might lead to some publicity, can’t be bad.

There have been a few disappointments recently - as there always are in life. But life is full of ups and downs and one particular disappointment could be, I am guessing, a blessing in disguise. Who knows? At the moment life has a habit of throwing the unexpected at me so I can only go with it. And enjoy what there is to enjoy. Learn from what there is to learn.

Tomorrow we start singing again having had a summer’s break, and I can’t wait. I’m off to a gig of All the Fires on Friday night (which is where I will give The Dress its first outing) then my choir are singing at a gig on Saturday afternoon in Penryn. Music is back in my life!

And dear Joe from upstairs rang this morning to say he’d been down to the pub last night and got me a dozen eggs which he had left outside my back door. “How much do I owe you?” I asked, very touched that he’d done this.

“They were a pound but I don’t want the money,” he insisted gruffly.

Recently I’ve been more aware than ever that I am incredibly lucky to have such a wonderful bunch of friends.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Good news and - A Dress....

Last Friday I went to a book launch of a walks book by a publishing company who are interested in publishing a(nother) book of my walks. I was nervous beforehand, but when I met them, got on very well and they said how much they loved my writing. You can imagine how I felt about THAT.

They’d said they were at the end of their marketing tour and would be shattered, so I offered them Rescue Remedy or brandy. “Both please!” they replied. Of course I couldn’t find any miniature brandy bottles so ended up getting a can of G&T which they left on the display table, thereby attracting more interest as the punters thought they might get a free gin.

Anyway, I left there having provisionally agreed to do a walks book with them in 2013 (subject to contract of course) and so delighted that I went into Monsoon and tried on a dress. Now, the last time I wore a dress was 12 years ago for my wedding. Before that – I can’t remember. So a dress is a big thing. And I fell in love with this one which, of course, they didn’t have in my size. But having got the bit between my teeth, I went home and ordered it online. Yes, paid good money for a dress. Me. I still can’t believe it (but then it hasn’t arrived yet).

As I sat, reeling with the tremendousness of the morning, the phone rang. Long story short, it was from the creative director of a film company making films for Visit Cornwall. He’d come across my blog while researching a beach called Polly Joke and thought my writing so beautiful, would I consider taking part in one of his films?

Well, anyone who says nice things about my writing has me for a sucker. Of course I said yes. So stunned was I, I didn’t think to ask about money though he did say he’d pay travel expenses, and we may film on Friday depending on the weather.

I was so excited I thought I’d burst, and frantically sent emails and texts. No one at home on a Friday lunchtime. So I went round the corner to see a friend, jumped up and down and had a hug and felt a lot better.

The next day I felt very strange. As if this was happening to someone else. Having been used to things not going so well, a bit of good news is very difficult to take. I’m waiting for something else to go wrong – which it did in the shape of the Times changing their mind over a piece.

But the good bits remain. And I’ve had an email to say that my dress is on its way. Quite where I shall wear this dress is a mystery. But where it I shall, if only to the pub.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Lucky Knickers

The above picture is of my dear mate Viv cuddling Molls on one of our walks for Cornwall Today, taken at Roundwood Quay.

I’m not a superstitious person but where I do look for help is from my knickers and jewellery. That could be entirely misconstrued so stop snorting. I’m referring to the colour – or patterns – of those items of undergarments, to bring me luck or strength.

I have a favourite pair which is (or should that be ‘are’?) red with black spots and are used for occasions when I know I will be tested and need some courage. For instance, on the day I knew would be Pip’s last. The day of his service and last party. When going to interview Bill Bryson. No, actually I was wearing lemon coloured trousers so I had to wear white ones for those. But I wore my red spotty ones for a busy day with meetings and then giving a talk at Penzance Literary Festival. Or when I just have those wobbly days when I need a bit of secret support.

I also have some lucky jewellery – a lovely swan pendant that Pip made; some of his lovely Cornish tin pendants, and a lovely ring of my grandmother’s that I didn’t wear for ages as I was worried about losing it. Then a friend said, “Seems a shame not to wear it. Why not put it on when you go out?” So that’s what I do, and it means that wherever I go, she can come too.

Talking of superstitions, I don’t actually walk under ladders right now. Don’t want to tempt any more bad luck.

Any else have any superstitions?

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Past, Present and Future

Dear Av took this picture of me on the beach near Noss Mayo. It was a bit dark that day, so thankfully you can't see me that well but as ever Molls looks good.

This is written from a thick cloud of fluey fog. One that had me confined to bed for several days – an almost unheard of occurrence, and has left me with a delightfully rasping cough, which feels as if someone is grating my throat with a cheese grater, and sounds as if I’m smoking 60 Players a day. However, I am on the Up…

Dear Sheila walked Molls for me and other friends have been great at seeing how I am. I am up but my brain, fingers and legs are not cooperating. Thank God I have no deadlines this week. However I am determined to be better for Falmouth carnival on Saturday or certainly the Cornish singing night in the pub on Sunday.

Last week, after the excitement of Port Eliot, to my astonishment I received an email from the director of Ways with Words (one of the oldest literary festivals) booking me for a talk next year and also asking if I’d take a walk. Would I? I nearly burst with excitement…..

That was followed by a meeting in Truro which resulted in some really interesting commissions and then I had to leg it down to Penzance (or rather, sat in a visitor-inspired traffic jam for nearly 2 hours) to meet Fi prior to our talk on Writing for Magazines at the Penzance Literary Festival. Despite not having a huge audience, those that attended were very keen and asked loads of questions which is much better than having lots of people who nod off, so we were pleased.

I looked at my diary last year, and realised that life was much quieter then. It seems a million years ago, for I have had to adjust to this new life so quickly, that I sometimes wonder whether I ever was married. Did I dream those 14 years? And that got me thinking about The Future – you know, if there is someone that determines Partnership Fate, what is in store for me? I am very grateful for the years Pip and I had together, but sometimes I look at other people and think how lucky they are to be celebrating 30 or 40 years together. Something I will never now have. Well actually I suppose if I get a move on I could. Just :)

But life is full of enjoyable things. As a friend said the other day, “It seems that life doesn’t want you to be quiet right now”. At least being ill forced me to lie in bed, sleep and read. Bliss. Perhaps I should try and aim for a rather better balance - the thing is, there are many lovely people to meet up with and so many interesting things to do….. And let’s face it, life has been somewhat short of Fun over the last few years.

And who knows what, or who, is round the corner?