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Sunday, 21 July 2013

Let sleeping dogs lie

If it's still this hot next week I'll dig out some pictures of the garden in the snow to cool us all down.

Yes -  it's so hot I feel as if I'm running a sanatorium here. Everywhere my eyes rest are animals lying down. Looks like I'm practising The Liverpool Care Pathway in the house (the only place still doing it if you read the newspapers.}This is when our house really comes into its own. In the winter it's freezing cold here and we sit in front of the wood burner wrapped in duvets or go to bed ultra early to keep warm. Even when we've got some wood and the wood burner is lit we still huddle up only  further back, whilst the guests in The Pink Tower languish in the heat I hasten to add - often with the windows open - er hum.

 But now in this heat - the cold terracotta tiles in the kitchen which normally give you chilblains as soon as you step on them - are a fabulous, cool place to lie and the draughts permeating the windows are like air conditioning. Hurrah for small dark cottages. The only animals not lying flat out are the ducks. They are still out there lying down but its not in their physiognomy to lie on their side unless they happen to have died. I had to take one of the ducks to the  vets a while back because it looked as if she wasn't far off from lying on her side. I love the way vets give your pets your surname. "Priscilla Coggin!" they called out and everyone's heads in the waiting room swivelled round to see what was in the box on my lap. Up popped the duck - its neck so long it could have been a snake being charmed out of a basket.

It's been an amazing year for roses though they are drying up very quickly. I'm not watering the garden, partly because there is no tap at the back and as I have a leaky hose I'm loathe to run it through the house even though it would kill two birds with one stone by washing the floor. All the things in pots though are pretending that if I don't water them twice a day they're going to lie down flat as well.

 Oddly, as it's been so cool in the house I've been doing a bit of tidying up. Pixie is madly trying to get rid of her coat and I've collected enough fur to make myself another dog.I found one of her bones behind the chest  - well it could have been one of Jai's of course - she only died three years ago, Either that or a steer found its way into the house and had a slow death behind the drawers. I've also found my old address book and to my horror notice that most of the people in it have died. And yet, like this poem by Tony Harrison, I seem unable to throw it away. as if all contact with those in it will be finally cut off.
Rosa Souvenir du Dr Jamain- beautiful but prone to rust.

Long Distance ll

Though my mother was already two years dead
Dad kept her slippers warming by the gas,
put hot water bottles her side of the bed
and still went to renew her transport pass.

You couldn't just drop in. You had to phone.
He'd put you off an hour to give him time
to clear away her things and look alone
as though his still raw love were such a crime.

He couldn't risk my blight of disbelief
though sure that very soon he'd hear her key
scrape in the rusted lock and end his grief.
He knew she'd just popped out to get the tea.

I believe life ends with death, and that is all.
You haven't both gone shopping; just the same,
in my new black leather phone book there's your name
and the disconnected number I still call.

Tony Harrison

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