Month: January 2010

One day a week

It’s 1 degree outside and not that much warmer in. This morning I carried my daughter (2 stone and a ¼ pound) through a silent winter wonderland. Snow falling lightly on our faces. All quiet apart from the odd one or two people going about their business – mainly women walking their dogs. Her first full day at nursery. I dropped her at 10 to 10 not too early, not too late – just in time for snacks. I walked back through the park my arms still singing with the weight of her little body. I was alone. I kicked through the snow down to the café and got a coffee. Listless, I sent a few texts, wrote a couple of ‘to do’s’ on a green ‘post it’ which lives in the bottom of my bag and stared out the window at the falling flakes. I had forgotten to drop off cat at the nursery.

Cat or Cattie is number one friend and has been ever since he came into our lives. My dad found Cattie abandoned on the pavement outside the Barbican one cold, wintry day last year. Poor Cattie was soaking wet, filthy dirty and very lost. After a ride in the washing machine back at home he was as white as the snow and happy again and so was Winifred with her new friend. They have hung out together ever since and even vacationed together in Morocco at the end of last year. Well, Cattie had to be delivered to the nursery toute de suite just in case he was needed at some point during the day. As I was leaving the café on route to take cat back a women I recognise from the neighbourhood said ‘hello’ and ‘where’s your little one?’. How nice that a stranger, known well enough by face to nod at in the street, noticed I was without my normal attachment. By asking, she gave me the opportunity to share a unique moment in time. I shook her hand and asked her name. We both wished each other a good day.

After the drop off, I slipped back along the snowy paths through the park and down to the beach. I pushed my hands into my pockets and I pulled out little icy snow lumps which must have fallen off the trees when I took a short cut earlier through the bushes to get to nursery. This made me smile. When I got to the sea front I turned right not left which meant inevitably that I would end up in town. Not really desirable but the truth is I wasn’t sure what to do or where to go. Much of the snow was gone and the roads were slushy by the time I walked up and away from the beach towards town. I wiggled my way round for about half an hour picking up a back light for Mike’s bike and then I had a thought… if I could find a way of earning £40 today – i.e. the cost of a day at the nursery (!) I could somehow justify my existence.

This was enough of an incentive to get me homeward bound and trying to work out as I walked what I could put on ebay or in the Friday-Ad, or how quickly I could paint a couple of pictures and who I could try and flog them to. If I set myself the challenge of earning £40 on a Wednesday – that really would be something. Since then, I have been at home cleaning and clearing. Sorting out baby clothes in piles for different friends who are having babies as I write. For the record, I also hung out by the van down the bottom of the road with some jump leads in my cold hands waiting in the hope that someone might pull up and I could ask them for a jump start. Whoever drove the van last left the internal light on and now the battery is dead – fortunately that was not me! A guy did try and help, but like the bloke I asked yesterday – he couldn’t find the battery in his transit van either. How can I have managed to find two men who don’t know where their battery is?

I did dig out some canvases and piled them up thinking, I can do something with these one day – but right now I don’t want to get the bloody paints out. I just want to put the coffee on the stove, I want to check my emails and I want to sit here and marvel at this new beginning – one day every week! Can this be true? I keep thinking I hear a little voice saying ‘mum’ from the other end of the flat – but then I remember she’s not here and I am alone.

I have used up my time now by writing this and it’s nearly time to go and pick her up. I’ll work out how to make £40 with my one day – this time next week!

An hour or two ALONE

Having a moment – an hour or two – ALONE. What to do with that time..? Walk briskly through a cold, blizzardy snow on the pebbles of the beach close to the water edge? Thrilling and a sanity restorer. Raid your own CD collection, with speed and not too much thought, dig out a few privately perfect tunes and play them as loud as is possible. Change them mid track, turn ’em up, turn ’em down, play one tune over and over – who cares. It’s up to you!

This is what I played. First off Jewel; Who Will Save your Soul followed by Pieces of You. Next, Disc 1 The Chill Out; Gorillaz Clint Eastwood, I listened to half of it. Coldplay, Trouble – for old times sake. A big breaking up album and I sort of love the morose feelings it allows me to indulge myself in for all of 3 minutes. Turn it up! Jump on to Moloko, Sing it Back (original album version). S’nice! Tried to play Soul Rabbi Session, Enlace Funk Collection (burnt by cousin JohnJoe) but it wouldn’t read. O well. The Best of Van volume 2 and my very favourite track which always brings a genuine tear to my eye; Coney Island. I love Van, but he is a grumpy git. I know that because I once saw him in concert on my birthday in Brighton. He came on stage, he said nothing, he didn’t smile. He just played his set and left. I was appalled. How lame. I went off him instantly after a life times commitment. So shallow.

K’Naan, The Dusty Foot Philosopher. Now this is an album that only means something to me and I have tried to get others into it without much luck. Maybe it’s a ‘you had to be there’ type a thing. And I was… there. Right down the front at the Radio 3 stage at Womad when this young Somalian jumped on stage and sang his heart out for a magical couple of hours. As with all moments in life that transport you – I will remember it for ever. My whole being was gob smacked. I got the album off Amazon and joined his fan club as soon as I could. My lovely darling Mike however was none to keen and the disk coincidentally disappeared never to be found again leaving an empty case knocking about for ever after – but luckily not before I had got it onto the i-pod. Phew! I listened to the whole album with maximum volume, and this took up most of the rest of my couple of hours.

If I had more time to listen to the rest, they would have played thus… Joan Armatrading; Dry Land and Travel so Far. Have always loved Joan and played her to death growing up. Even though, ever since I found out she’s a Tory it just doesn’t feel right – I still have to give her a listen now and again. Pete Seeger’s Abiyoyo. I hunted far and wide to get a copy of this album. Another one to grown up to. I reckon if I played this track to my brothers it would have us all welling up? Maybe not. The Smiths; What Difference Does it Make and of course Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now. Actually, the whole of Hatful of Hollow – it’s the soundtrack to my coming of age.

Elvis Presley cos he would have been 75 yesterday and cos I remember the day he died like it was yesterday. Me and Warrell Andrews sitting in St. Agatha’s Primary School. Miss Woodward’s class. Her favourite class. Warrell and I often had competitions to see who could draw Elvis the best – in particular his quiff and I have to say it was a close call. The day he died we both cried, Warrell at his desk behind mine. I don’t think anyone else in the class even knew who he was. August 16th 1977 and we weren’t yet nine years old! That’s all Right, I don’t Care if the Sun Don’t Shine and I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone for good measure.

Then, for pudding I got Fiona Apple; When the Pawn, track 5 Paper Bag – a very angry young women – and good for a vent. Dear Science, TV on the Radio probably a quick flick through because I don’t know this album very well. I caught them on Jools Holland one night and fell in love with the lead singer immediately, and so I bought the album! Why not? And just before the finale and for that comfortably full feeling one Dr Hook, When You’re in Love with a Beautiful Women. And for the last call, cos I’d definitely be well over my 2 hours of alone time – I’d throw on old Elgar’s Enigma Variations to calm… everything… right… back… down and prepare to re-engage with reality.