Home-made coleslaw – leek, cabbage, carrot, spring onion, yoghurt, mayonnaise…. grilled sweet peppers with Greek olive oil…. broad bean salad – broad beans, zest of lemon, feta cheese, olive oil, pomegranate syrup… green salad, cos lettuce, red spring onions, cucumber, courgette, leek, olive oil and pomegranate syrup…
I once had a friend who had an irrational but dreadful fear of water… not running water or water coming out of a tap or a glass of water, but of water which was somehow enclosed or contained, as in a sunken tank, or between the lock gates of a canal, and in certain instances even the water in the canal itself. Rivers I don’t think were a problem to her, the water was moving… but it was deep, dark, enclosed water which terrified her.
She was also slightly fascinated by it, and would often write about it, and wrote poetry about it… But going for a walk beside a canal, going swimming in a pool, or even passing by certain fish ponds was impossible for her.
She had other phobias, including spiders. She once woke my flat-mate and I at three in the morning because there was a spider in the bath of the house she shared. I had to go round with her in the middle of the night to rescue the poor creature, which actually wasn’t that big. Spider phobia is quite common, but a fear of enclosed water? I have never heard of it before, and have no idea what trigged this problem for her.
Hidden in plain sight… how many times have I walked down this village street? Literally hundreds, if not thousands of times. I had noticed the other door in this wall a few feet further on, another door encrusted with ivy, a door I have never seen open… but somehow I didn’t realise there were two doors…my mind registered; door’ but failed to notice this other one. Maybe my mind just said ‘door in wall’, maybe the two doors are close enough together that I blinked as I passed and thought thee was only one…
This could be the setting for a children’s mystery story, the door that is sometimes there but sometimes isn’t, the door that is never open, and then one day it is… the door that if you squint through the gaps between the warped plans of it you can only see a stone wall… a door that leads nowhere, except sometimes it does…
I love surprises! Like most people I love receiving (and giving) gifts and I like not knowing what is in the funny-shaped box or the strange-looking parcel, or the odd package… I sent off for a CD by the very talented Max Abrams and received it and a hand-written note! I sent off for a CD by the magnificent Mr Jonas Carping and received pictures, a fridge magnet and other nice little gifties… One year my husband bought me a guitar for Christmas… So kind, so generous, and so exciting!
Next week there is a new series of ‘The Great British Bake-Off’; I have resolutely avoided reading any articles about it, or any previews because I want it to be a surprise. When the contestants first appear on TV I want it to be the first time I’ve seen them. It was the same with Celebrity Masterchef, I didn’t want to know who the celebrities were in advance, and I switched off the TV at the end of the programme when there was a little ‘…and next time…’ slot.
I don’t peep at the end of a book to see what happens, I like the author to surprise me, and I hope when I am writing that I surprise my readers too, but surprise them in a way which is realistic even if it is unexpected.
If I have read a book before, or seen a film, or a TV series, then even if I have forgotten some of the episodes, I will in general know the outcome. I have been re-watching Forbrydelsen,The Killing, the masterful Danish crime series. In series 1, I knew who killed the girl (in fact when I originally watched it, I guessed who did) but knowing that didn’t spoil watching it again because it is such a fantastic series, exceptional in every way, as I have mentioned before.
I am now watching series 2, and again I know what happens, who did it, although I’m a little hazy on the how and why… but I know what the dramatic ending will be, who the murderer is. There is a sub-plot running, about government corruption; a new Minister for Justice has been appointed, a fat, bumbling young man, who was probably appointed so he could fail and be compliant… but of course,within the shambling and eccentric new Minister there is an incisive mind, a fierce intelligence and an intuitive sense which leads him towards the truth. The trouble is… the trouble is… I know what happens to him at the end… and it is shocking! The first time I saw it I couldn’t believe what happened, I shouted at the TV, wanting it all to change and be what I had hoped… but of course that was the end… and an amazing, and totally unexpected ending too… sad, but the right conclusion…
Now re-watching it, that ending – the solution to the murder and what happens to the Minister of Justice, are there in my mind… which instead of spoiling my enjoyment, makes the whole thing more poignant… tears may fall when I watch the last scene with the minister, Thomas Buch, played by the incredible Danish actor, Nicolas Bro… Hankies at the ready!
I think the hours when night changes to day, and day changes to night are very strange when you are outside… the sky seems to take on an odd quality, even if its odd in a nice way, a sunny day disappearing into a pleasant evening.
Hamlet talks about ‘witching times’ meaning the deepest darkest part of the night,
Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out
Contagion to this world:
and the Scottish poet Robert Blair also does:
Dead men have come again, and walk’d about;
And the great bell has toll’d, unrung, untouch’d!
Such tales their cheer, at wake or gossiping,
When it draws near the witching-time of night.
However, to me, the in-between times of dawn and dusk are the witching times when odd things might happen. It doesn’t have to be dark for it to seem strange and as if there is a sort of expectancy in the air…
It was such a nice day we wanted to go out and do something without travelling too far; we decided to go to Cheddar which is about fourteen miles if you go the slightly longer but quicker way (avoiding a bottleneck!)
We were just tootling along when we noticed a little fellow attached the passenger window… a little green fellow with very long legs. He must have had very sticky feet because even though we were going at about 40 mph he remained attached. He walked backwards and forwards and then climbed onto the roof and then reappeared on the side window at the back… all this while we were driving along and going round corners. He then went back onto the roof and when we eventually stopped and parked in Cheddar we found him on the rear of the car.
We wondered whether to try and move him to some grass, but then thought he would be better finding his own way. A couple of hours later and after scones and ice-cream, we returned to the car and he was sitting on the windscreen. We had to go shopping in another part of the town and he stayed with us all the way. Returning to the car after shopping he was now on the bonnet; we decided that a trip home might be pushing it a bit, so we encouraged him to hop off, and hop off he did.
I thought he was a grasshopper, although I remember grasshoppers from my childhood, and they were always a browny colour… we had a few jokes about the TV ‘Kung Fu’ series that David Carradine was in where his character was called Little Grasshopper….
In fact our little hitch-hiker was a katydid… an insect are closely related to crickets and grasshoppers… good heavens, I never knew that before!