Granny Bonkers’ fortnight

28 Jun

This two weeks have been pretty standard. First: a trip to Sussex   for the aunt’s 70th. Now there’s a typical Bonkers family contravention of the laws of time and biology. Grannies aren’t supposed to have aunts… nor should the aunts be recently married but it was a great weekend meeting up with newly acquired  step cousins, step uncles in-in-law and step uncles-in-laws’ partners (step outlaws?). It’s  fun having this strange network of late acquired  relatives in modern families. High spot was a guest appearance of all five of the Bonkers grandbabies – all totally adorable (but I would think that wouldn’t I). Diabolical British Summer weather turned the garden party into a sort of endurance event but it was carried off with typical British stoicism- that is to say everybody moaned all the time about the cold but said ‘It could be worse…’

Back to Scotland by train, carrying a light sabre left by grandchild no 2 (aka Darth Bonkers). Have you ever tried to carry a light sabre on the London underground? They don’t fit in a ruchsack or a suitcase or even down your trouser leg (grandpa Bonkers vouches for this).

Next day a practice of the busking group (yes we play musical instruments in the street) in the Scotland Street flat (eat your heart out, Sandy McCall Smith fans)  of a fellow busker who collects obscure East European musical instruments to the acute detriment of floor space. The flat is furnished mainly with church pews to sit on (and store East European instruments). Had an awkward moment when I visited the bathroom and couldn’t locate the loo roll holder. Finally found it fixed under the pew (yes there was even one in the bathroom). Silly me.

Otherwise uneventful week- a piano-tuner sitting session in daughter’s flat while tuner attempted to wrestle their old and poorly piano into shape. Then rushed off to meet my  Spanish student- we meet in a cafe and drink exorbitantly expensive cups of coffee which leave me working for something less than the minimum wage while I try to illuminate the complexities of writing a literature review- medieval scholarship is alive and well and residing in the social science departments of the newer British universities. If they could cram those angels onto the point of a pin they just would.

Lunch at a delicious Thai restaurant in Castle Street with crazy woman  buddies and then off to Northumberland for the second leg of aunt’s 70th birthday. We visited the ruin of  our family’s ancestral home on a windy hilltop overlooking the Farne Islands- a cracking place . How did they get to live in such nice places? And did these impoverished coal miners guess that their descendants would be consumed with envy that they lived in the kind of places we can only dream about? Or do we dream about those places as a kind of ancestral throwback? A ghostly family memory of lost beautiful places like an enduring Eden myth that persists down time? It was fresh and green and smelled only of pines and bracken and vegetation.

Then the pace really hotted up: 24 hours turn around to get life organised to head for the Cotswolds to meet long lost relatives from California. The families lost touch at the turn of the 20th Century, when one group headed for the mines of Clorado, to Crested Bute. We were all reunited a couple of years ago by the wonders of the internet. Unfortunately Grandpa Bonkers was too poorly to travel (Legionnaire’s Disease? I quailed). Fortunately (well not really) daughter Bonkers was breaking up with boyfriend, so was available at home to take care of Grandpa and two (extremely) Bonkers cats, so was able to head south alone in the intrepid Qashkai.

Driving down the motorway always makes me reflect on the changes in perceptions of what it is like to be old. My granny was not a bit bonkers, but wore little felt hats and neat little court shoes and baked cakes for the WI.  She wouldn’t have ever dreamed of bombing down a motorway at 80 miles an hour. (In case any policemen are reading this,  I did not say I was doing 80 miles an hour).  Safely reunited with lovely American relatives in the Cotswolds. We had three days of feasting and fun. On the second day, it being the Summer Solstice, we went to Avebury Stone Circle, much of it garlanded by hippies dressed in flowery headgear and flowy skirts. There were also quite a few with attitude. I felt for the policeman politely trying to explain to a Johnny Depp wannabe with dreadlocks and a neckerchief  ‘(look at my dashing gypsy look!’  Yeah, I bet) why it wasn’t a good idea to leave your horse wandering about on the main road through the area. We left him sullenly banging a peg into the grass to tether the pony and trading insults with the policeman. Then we went to see the (much less) Bonkers daughter-in-law and sat in her garden in the sun and sipped tea while the two little Grand-Bonkers put on a display of infant charm. I think this is what it is supposed to be like all the time. I wish.

Said a regretful farewell to lovely Americans and headed North to face the music. Well, the music doesn’t need facing, actually: it’s all the other stuff. However, daughter was safely reunited with boyfriend and left for her flat, leaving a comfortable gap of three hours to get the house cleared for arrival of Bonkers son and (0ther, only slightly) Bonkers daughter-in-law together with serious master Bookworm  Bonkers, Darth Bonkers and Baby Bonkers off the ten o’clock (at night) plane. Got the bonkerlings safely off to bed and actually managed champagne and grown-up talk about their riveting experiences of their life in Mumbai.

Oh, forgot to mention incident previous night in Kurdish restaurant at reunion of long lost work buddies from my further ed. college teaching days. They had planned a musical evening with witty and apposite songs about the retirees whose party it was. And very apposite and witty they were, if surprising to the other diners. But this prompted further reflection on my granny and her felt hat and how she would have fitted in at a Kurdish restaurant.

Next morning we planned a peaceful family day with perhaps lunch in the garden . At half past nine, a crowd of workmen arrived announcing that they needed our car removed from the driveway as they were about to pressure hose the next door neighbour’s roof. For the next five hours a torrential spray of mud moss and dirty water engulfed the entire Bonkers house and garden making outdoor existence impossible. Such is life. The family lugged suitcases, baby equipment and all paraphernalia fifty yards up the hill out of range of the water hoses to pack their car to head off on the next leg of their journey to the island of Colonsay, with the idea of going somewhere as opposite to Mumbai as possible.

Back to everyday life. Up at the crack of dawn (well, crack-ish) for another music buskers group, this time at the out of town house of the  lovely Lady of Greenbank.  We played rousing Scottiosh anthems such as ‘Donald where’s yer troosers?’ and ‘A parcel of rogues’, as the lady of Greenbank hates dirgey folk songs about abandoned maidens and manly chaps yearning for their homeland. However the lady of Greenbank was much grieved herself over the state of a nice artistic curved stone wall which was in a sadly fallen state, like the abandoned maidens. So  the three bonkersest of us ladies stayed on and decided to reconstruct the stone wall. It was a messy and an incredibly satisfying task and we uncovered lots of interesting amphibians (newts and frogs) to my great delight, but it prompted more reflection on my granny and the felt hat.

Then home to inspect now recovering husband and  drove to Linlithgow to try to purchase elastic and tape, for sewing projects but neither were available, so bought samphire instead. It’s a kind of sea plant and very delicious and the kind of random thing the Bonkers family might purchase and eat with relish. This is a woman who gets her recipe for cooking venison out of ‘Children of the New Forest’. I like trying archaic recipes, as long as they don’t involve bits of animals I prefer not to know about.

Up at crack-of-dawn again to meet Spanish student in expensive cafe. Then summoned by daughter and boyfriend to join  (i.e. drive) them on geo-caching expedition to tidal island off Edinburgh.  This involves finding a hidden box in an obscure place, in this case in a ruined second-world war fortification on the very tip of the island. There were lots of herons and anxious oyster catchers on the tidal flats and it rained very hard and bounced off the tips of our noses and soaked up the legs of our jeans and saturated them as we tried to shelter in a little wood and I thought that a felt hat would be really no use at all in a situation like this but being Bonkers is OK if you are on an island and the sea is all round you and you can smell the bracken and the fir trees and the great salty smell of the sea.

 

 

Hello world!

27 Jun

This blog is a reflection of what it is like to be a granny in the twenty-first century and what it is like to be crazy and live a non-normal life or whether there is no normal and bonkers is the new normal. This is the diary of a leisure pauper, or maybe work is the new leisure. I just need to explore why my life is not how I thought it would be after retirement and drawing the old age pension and why I think I am still nine and am not really going to grow up any more and never become a little old lady because I am not little and will never be a lady and don’t feel old, although I know I am…