Husband and I having a cup of tea this morning.
Husband says ‘What’s that noise?’
‘People enjoying themselves ringing bells,’ say I.
‘Good God,’ says he.
‘I think it’s part of the Olympics,’ say I.
‘There’s Olympic bell-ringing?’ says he.
‘Apparently so,’ say I.
Rather unexpectedly, we clink our cups. We wouldn’t do it for just anything. They are Luneville and beautiful. We clink them very gently. Get cracking, Team GB. Clink clink.
Here is my piece for the Scottish Review. For some reason, I can’t make it link, so if you’d like to read it, please could you copy and paste into your browser?
Picking fruit is a dangerous business. The black currants were easy to spot, as were the red except the black were red and the red were white because the sun hasn’t shone. (Small aside: why is the phrase ‘due to’ always wrongly used? ‘Due to’ is not interchangeable with ‘because of’: it can be interchangeable with ’caused by’. Weather persons, please note.). The gooseberries didn’t want to be picked at all and even the raspberries, usually quite willing, were reluctant. So I went for the broad beans, caught them by surprise and gathered quite a number. Now I have to pod them. The Good Life is all very well, but there’s hardly time for any other type of life, which is why I save it for holidays.
A novel experience. At Castle Howard, which the husband and I had gone to inspect, they have a 1796 Broadwood grand piano, kept perfectly in tune. I exclaimed with some delight. So many pianos in grand houses are quite neglected. You can spot them. They are the pianos without stools. ‘We also have a Bosendorfer,’ said the guide. ‘You’re welcome to play it.’ So I did. I didn’t play remotely well and I didn’t play the Goldberg, but it made my day.
No, no, no. I’m not giving a concert. Not at all. You’d have to kill me first. It’s show time for the girls in my book who, you may have forgotten, are also learning the Goldberg. They’re on the home straight, partly because there are five of them and partly because they have a teacher who’s with them every day. Oh, and they’ve nothing else to do. Their concert gowns are carefully chosen. Each to their own. They need to make an impression. They’re going to.
There was a small moment of sun today, perhaps two. I got quite excited. I raised my eyes to the heavens. A mistake. ‘Not sun!’ exclaimed God. ‘Completely undeserved. Switch it off.’ And thus it disappeared and my tax bill arrived. But at least I’m not David Cameron, having to deal with Nick Clegg. Perhaps unfairly, I’ve taken against Mr. Clegg and I’m disposed to like Jesse Norman only because of his name. Respect to his parents! This is the fickleness of voters. Never where you want them. Just like the sun, in fact.
OK, so it wouldn’t be a whoop for everyone but today I managed the first part of Variation 5 in fairly Bachian form rather than Barkian, i.e. bonkers, or Bactrian form, i.e. like a camel. Not that J.S. would have enjoyed it, but he’s dead and if he wasn’t I’d have killed him with horrors when I first opened the score of the Goldberg so he would, in fact, still be dead. As you can see, I’m in unusually cheery mood perhaps because the rain has been bashing down for about 24 hours so I had my hair cut. Yes, the Goldberg has finally driven me mad, but in a good way. I’m looking forward to more madness. Haircut today, what tomorrow?
Do I care about the Olympics or do I not? I’ve no idea. Am I concerned about the weather for the competitors, or for the drenching those in the expensive seats are in for? I’ve no idea about that either. I did read that the cheap seats are covered, so I don’t have to worry about ordinary spectators. VIPs are mollycoddled enough so who cares if they get a good drenching? But perhaps, from the cheap seats, you need binoculars. If you need binoculars, why not watch it on the telly at home, where you can see everything and have a cup of tea? Ah, but you miss out on the atmosphere, they say. In my experience, this fabled ‘atmosphere’ is something conjured up by those who’ve spent lots of dosh on tickets, had a miserable time and are in full salvage mode. ‘Worth it for the atmosphere’ is as convincing as being glad you purchased something full price which is now on sale. I don’t buy it. Still, after hearing Christine LaGarde – Madame Economic Perfection herself – talking on the radio about her time as a synchronised swimmer, I’ll be tuning in to that. I may not be stirred by the ladies with the nose clips but at least I won’t be drenched.
I have had a very nice day. The cause is our children. None are currently at home, which gives us leave to chat away about them in terms which would make them blush a bit. That’s the nice thing about being married for an age. You can garble away about your children without restraint, repeat yourselves, reminisce, repeat yourselves some more, forget, remember and repeat again and neither of you mind or get bored because that’s the warp, weft and glue. It’s a good thing, though, that the conversation, if it’s really worthy of that name, isn’t recorded. People might worry. How many repetitions constitute insanity? At the time, they seem perfectly in order, even necessary. And I enjoyed them all. The wine may have helped. Afterwards, the first half of Goldberg Variation 5 sped along not quite like a Serena Williams serve but in a timely manner. I’ve given up minding about the rain. Just for today.
This no sun summer has been such a downer. Even for a Glaswegian (honorary) used to the grey, I’m finding it hard. I wondered this morning whether prescriptions for happy pills had increased. Everything seems so gloomy. I care more about the sun than the Libor rates. Oh dear. I’m very shallow. Anyhow, I’ve been making slow Goldberg progress. The May/June glooms do awful things to fingers and memory. I’m glad we’ve reached July. July in Scotland is nearly always awful. As someone else said, it’s the hope that drives you mad. No hope now. Things can only get better.