Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A summer of visitors and not thinking

Junk funk musicians, Sotho Sounds
with Mrisi Makondo-Wills, Risenga Makondo,
Maude Casey, Giya Makondo-Wills and me at Womad
Visitors from south Africa, Lesotho and Ludlow have brought the world to me this summer, sending the cat into a spin of protest and culminating in three days of painting.

First off was Kathy, who kindly put me and the kids up on two separate occasions years ago in south Africa, showing them (among other things) how to make hedgehogs from a mango, taking us to visit some of Venda's traditional artists.

Kathy brought the buzz of Cape Town with her and a beautiful hardwood sculpture of a transgender angel by a young artist she's been supporting.

Then Sotho Sounds turned up from the mountains of Lesotho with their producer Risenga Makondo (my childrens' father, my ex), in Brighton to rehearse before three weeks in Edinburgh. They brought the sounds of the Maluti mountains, memories of the beauty of the Gates of Paradise pass and their vibrant acoustic music composed and played on instruments made from recycled wire and cans.

Finally, my dear friend Jane from Ludlow whom I share so many experiences with, brought Shropshire cheese, honey and space to reminisce, catch up and wander with her son to skate parks.

Visitors have spurred me to paint the kitchen floor - a task I've been planning for at least two years - and have started the process of refilling the now empty well that's so necessary for writing. They also take the pressure of that insidious feeling that I should be doing something else. The demands of the winter will be to find work. The challenges of the summer have been not to look too far ahead. Most importantly, not to think at all for a while.


In the Celtic calender, summer was over on 1 August and the season shifted into autumn. I've been picking since July but this month, the courgettes and squash plants have produced a glut worthy of the word harvest. But September is close and this year signals the start of yet more change - my son's final year at uni, my daughter's first year of a photography foundation course and two launches: my book and Mrisi's album, Englafrique.

September's always felt like the true new year and the equinox, balancing night and day, explains that feeling, along with years of buying school uniform, new clean shirts, socks, plimsoles and for the last two years, saying goodbye on a doorstep in Cricklewood or at Brighton station. It's not a month of thought, but of memory.