Monday, October 03, 2016

Ambivalent autumn

In Amsterdam
I've had an ambivalent relationship with writing over the last few months, producing individual poems that contribute to a couple of strands of thought and ideas and revisiting the memoir Venda Sun.

The big achievement, if that's the right word, at the end of this summer was seeing The Workshop Handbook into the world, with the help of Arc Publications.

Now I want to get back to my own writing and it is a question of re-forming the habit. This summer I have put it off. The allotment and launching myself into Airbnb have been a priority - Airbnb because I need the income, the allotment because it gives me the concentration and quiet I have needed.

I've missed a long summer break, the chance to be somewhere new. Three days in Amsterdam was tantalising for what I might have seen.

Autumn is ambivalent. Brilliant, golden sunshine and fabulous light balanced by fresh, nippy evenings. I am rootling around for scarves, need to pull winter clothes out from under the bed and hang up my coats again. A small pile of summer dresses sits on a trunk near my bed because I can't quite bring myself to put them away for another year. Distractions of the present.

Bar Old Wembley made me chuckle. My grandfather's house was in Wembley. It smelled of coal fires and upstairs, in the attic, of chalk. That was where he made the casts of people's mouths, for dentures.
He ate an orange a day and when I took Giya back to Cardiff the other weekend, in her house was a glass fronted, built in cabinet exactly like the one in my grandfather's house. Just below it was where the phone sat. I am sure I remember him having a three figure number when I was very young. And no party line!

In that glass cabinet were the special glasses, including four tawny gold tumblers. I have no idea how they came to me, perhaps my aunt kept hold of them. There are three now. When I look at them I am also looking out of that small back room into the garden of the house (long demolished) in East Lane, Wembley towards the tall fence and behind it the tennis courts. In the long garden were raspberry canes and to the right of the back door, an outside loo. My grandfather once built a working light plane in his garage and sometimes flew a fine, paper covered model glider over the lawn.

And despite his appalling views on race and immigration, I remember him telling me the story of a man who couldn't afford to pay for his teeth to be fixed, so my grandfather did the work and was paid with a small marble statue which sits on my bookshelf, to my left.

It's a young man picking something out of his foot. He makes me think of a flyer, Mindfulness on Lewes Road, tied to a tree at the bottom of my street, the weight of the past.