Last Post

So it would seem the posting tardiness is now terminal, more accurately other things got in the way. I have been genuinely busy with the research and distracted by the weather. Life, in the words of Wilf, bimbles along and until today, there’s not been that much worthy to report. Now I find myself reflecting on the past year, how time flies and how life changes as we respond to different circumstances and new ways of being.

This blog has reported three phases of life together: first as we prepared for our civil union, nay marriage in 2005, then as a travelogue of our brief sojourn with a francophone life and finally as we faced Jane’s foreshortening. When I took to the keyboard last May, it was with a certain ambivalence – the blog had become an important news desk of Jane’s progress and its continuation seemed futile. But then I thought at least it would be a record of the solo turn, an account of what I’d been up to and something to reflect upon in later years. It would save some poor soul having to compile a memory book for me should I find myself with mother’s forgetory.

In the past few weeks I have probably written more than I did in the past three years – writing was Jane’s department, it wasn’t that I couldn’t although I came to believe that to be true. But I had lost my voice and was paralysed by the blank screen with its blinking cursor. I could manage wee notes to self, little jottings to jolt the forgetory but even a few hundred words seemed a monumental challenge. So writing a thesis was starting to feel unlikely tinged with a deja vu panic.

Higher education these days is so helpful with all its course for this and workshops for that, it’s a wonder that any real work gets done but then the pressures to succeed and carve a career are much greater than they were thirty years ago. Then there were courses on such stimulating topics as statistical analysis and survey methods. Thankfully after a couple of workshops on writing (all joined up and nice like) and the heady atmosphere of the fashionable narrative turn, the words started to appear. At first it was the over-squeezed toothpaste tube – just wee gobbets emerged but then I found a new tube and squeezed it properly, from the bottom. Whole sentences, then paragraphs and sections were filling pages; before long the target 8,000 had runaway to 11,000. The supervisors cautioned against excess and judicious weeding removed the purple prose.

If the voice is found, why might there be a problem (seem to keep asking questions without even realising it these days …)? In fact, there are two; there’s lots of things I’d like to write about but not necessarily what I’ve been doing or where I’ve been. Secondly, this blog is about to become research data which is not an issue for now but if I have papers published and when the thesis is submitted, I have to ensure the anonymity of anyone mentioned in the blog. And Jane was very fond of ‘name checking’ as she called it so there’s a lot of anonymisation to do. What does that have to do with the thesis, isn’t it just what Jane’s written about? It’s the internet, init. If anything is quoted from the blog, even if it’s anonymised, someone might decide to google it and the blog will be found (it’s called search engine optimisation).

And now a year has passed since that fateful morning when our life together became forever fused. The Victorians favoured a year of wearing black and a sombre life; nowadays life moves on in a tweet – its all said in 140 characters. Such a waste of good prose.

I have spent the day in London, walking the hind legs of more than one donkey and revisiting some favourite haunts as well as some new ones.

I started bright and early with an excursion to Kew Gardens and the retrospective (how apt) exhibition of the work of Rory McEwen at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery. In my usual rush to beat the tourists of the train (so many times was I reprimanded for that particular misdemeanor) that I forgot to cross the railway line. After 10 minutes in the wrong direction, I was laughing at her laughing at me but I still had the gallery almost to myself. The exhibition was exquisite – the botanical equivalent of very dark, very rich truffles – almost to rich with all the vellum. Then back on the tube to South Kensington and a brief visit to the Brompton Oratory. We always lit candles for the fathers passed and I shall always light one for Jane and another was lit in Montreal. Then to Le Pain Quotidien for some Belgian soup because it was really rather cold for May.

Next stop was the Chelsea Physic Garden – a historical, horticultural gem which we had always meant to visit together – the highlight though, was a bird – a very beautiful jay beneath a ginkgo tree. Clearly worth lighting the candle. Finally to the Chelsea Flower Show, all one hundred years of floral festivities. I’ll keep it brief – it’s better and warmer on the telly. The crowds, despite the coolth, were even more seething masses than before. Jane would have not enjoyed it and would have preferred to stay longer in the Physic Garden. And I doubt I shall bother to go again but I’m glad I did today.

I haven’t quite decided what the next blog will be but something will appear before long. It is good to write, to keep a note of things but I need to move on from this one. To commemorate this first year I realised I could now cope with having larger pictures of Jane on the wall. Previously it was small pictures of us that were already about the place but now I have these three in a rather nice Ikea frame on the wall, above her seat on the couch, grinning back at me and keeping the smile warm in my heart.

Glen Affric 2003

Glen Affric 2003

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holland 2010

Holland 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gingko Girl 2011

Gingko Girl 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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