Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A first time

Following on from my previous post, I'd like to share a more recent example of a 'first time' for me: the'wow' factor of seeing the art produced by a friend of mine, Helen Burgess who produces the most stunning wirework sculptures and drawings. It was a delight to see that some examples of her work are currently on display at the Bannatyne gym I drag myself along to on a regular basis, making those visits much more pleasurable (though it feels wrong to be sweating in the general vicinity of such loveliness). Do follow the link, and enjoy.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Do you remember the first time?

Daughter #1 is preparing for her grade 3 bassoon exam and an end-of-year concert. The bassoon is probably not an instrument that should take centre-stage: yet one of the concert pieces is a bassoon duet, a somewhat strange version of Delibes' 'Flower Duet' (from Lakme). On hearing her parp-parping upstairs I asked if she had heard the more conventional version, a duet for soprano & mezzo-soprano. As she hadn't, I sat her between our good speakers and put on the CD. By the end of the piece she had tears in her eyes (good girl: the only reasonable response), and I found myself envying her that 'first time' experience.

Do you remember your 'first time'? That moment when you heard a piece of music, looked upon a piece of art, understood an equation, were enthralled by a classic novel or felt as if you were known by a poet? I found myself remembering when I had heard the Flower Duet first - I'm not what anyone would call a classical music buff, so it was as part of a film score (if you are a classical ignoramus too you may know it from the British Airways ads of the late 1990's) and it was like a door had opened, as I had always sworn up till that moment that I hated opera and all its works. Even now it has the power to move me, although I have not the faintest idea what they're warbling about (and don't need to). I also remember reading 'Not Waving but Drowning' by Stevie Smith as a teenager and feeling that she 'got' me at that moment in a way that only Morrissey did otherwise; and a couple of years later, having the same experience with T S Eliot, and a sublime moment of wonder spent in the company of John Donne. I loved reading Jane Eyre without knowing who was in the attic. I had a similar sense of revelation the first time I understood - after two weeks of struggle - the biochemistry of photosynthesis, or less prosaically, how a leaf can turn sunlight into sugar (I'm afraid that knowledge is now lost in some dusty forgotten corner of my brain). And when I looked down a microscope and saw the chromosomes of a locust that I had killed (sorry), dissected (sorry) and generally squished physically and chemically until the code of its existence was laid out in front of my eyes.
The painting above is 'The Luncheon' by Monet. Now I just think of it as a pretty painting, quite nice but nothing I would connect with emotionally. The first time I saw a print of this was in a hospital corridor as a student nurse, waiting in X ray with a very sick patient. I had chance to look and look, like I never do now with art. I saw the dappled light on the child and the table, and the way the eye was drawn in to the sunlit path. I wanted to BE in that painting, like I never have with any other since.
I want more 'first times' like that.

Friday, June 08, 2007

No fleas on us!

I must be feeling better, because when I discovered a flea lurking under one of the cat's favourite chair today I went into de-flea overdrive. I reckon if I'd found it when I felt so ill earlier in the week, I'd have lain still and let it bite me. Still, it's been hard work - dusting, washing floors, vacuuming and washing chair covers etc etc. Then spraying insecticide throughout the house. Just what a woman recovering from an asthma flare-up needs!
The irony is, I was only doing a very light task suitable to a recovering woman still in a slightly delicate state. I decided to sort through our games & video cupboard, chucking out the things the girls have grown out of (early learning centre games; duplo; wind in the willows tapes) and the things I've grown of (cranium; geri does yoga). But in order to sit in front of the cupboard, I had to move a chair, and that's when...
At least it wasn't as bad as the last time I found a flea. That was on my head. Immediately after I'd had my hair cut. Oh, the mortification!
And the nice thing is, our house is now very, very clean. If a bit smelly, thanks to the chemical spray.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Ofsted / Off colour

Not a great week in The Wheelybin. I'm off work with The Cold From Hell (can't breathe / can't sleep / faceache etc etc); We're missing Jordan, who's on a school trip at a chateau in Normandy all week, jammy so&so; and Richard's school got the Ofsted announcement on Monday. For those of you not in the know, Ofsted inspectors now fancy themselves as a crack SAS-style team - they sweep in with minimum warning, do their stuff rapidly (all in one day in this case) and leave devastation in their wake. It's supposed to be less stressful for the teachers this way. All I know is that Richard has had very little sleep, has grabbed food occasionally, and has spent most waking hours at the school over the past 48 hours (it seems much longer, due to the intense work on the timetable for much of half-term). He really needed me to hold the fort and feed him, whilst I really wanted someone to look after me, so we're both feeling a bit sorry for ourselves. Hence the lyrics below. Those of you familiar with my 'work' should know to join in, effecting your best Neil Diamond / Barbra Streisand impressions. If you can find someone of the opposite gender to do the other part, so much the better.

You don't bring me Lemsips

She: You don't bring me Lemsips
You don't plump my pillows
He: You hardly talk to me anymore
When I crawl into bed at around 2am.
Both: I remember when...
She: We used to share the sofa
And even watch Big Brother
Now after filling forms late at night -
He: And you've gone to bed, babe, you're not feeling all right -
She: Well you just roll over and turn out the light...
And you don't bring me Lemsips anymore.
He: It used to be so natural
She: (Ooo used to be...)
He: To have a conversation
She: (A con - ver - say - shun)
He: But used-to-bes don't count anymore, now I haven't the time to say more than 'goodbye'.
She: And baby I remember all the colds you've wiped up
When you've tucked me in bed and rubbed Vick on my chest
He: But now when all I want is some food and a rest
She: I'm all comatosed while you're still at your desk...
And we don't watch the West Wing
He: You don't bake me fruit cake
She: You don't bring me Lemsips anymore.

I realise that these words may leave some of you anxious for our mental state, but don't worry: we don't really watch Big Brother. But life without The West Wing? I don't think so.