Friday, March 29, 2019

Haughty cat

2 things I noticed on a day I didn't leave the house.

A synthetic jumper I bought in Primark in Edinburgh and that kept me warm in the National Library reading room looks rust-coloured in artificial light but a rather alarming Irn-bru orange in natural light.

A white cat slinks through the garden looking for birds to kill.  When I send it on its way with a loud hiss, it manages to look haughty even as it panic-scrambles up the wall.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Poppies flowering by the railway track

Fragile green leaves on pollarded trees, still small and pale.

The Chartreuse cemetery is full of mini buildings that families have erected over the tombs of their loved ones. Some of them look as if the stone has been cleaned recently. 

A young woman with an open smile serves me a glass of Montagne Saint-Émilion. She tells me it’s a good supple one to start with.

A handsome boy high on drugs wearing two different sneakers pesters a woman on the tram. He moves on to another woman and ruffles her son’s hair repeatedly. I wish she hadn’t let him do that.

Poppies flowering by the railway track, red dots in an urban mess of cables and graffiti.

Wobbly slabs underfoot as I walk across empty spaces between towering glass and concrete.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

An up-high window-box

6 things I saw today

An up-high window-box on a honey-stone façade filled with cacti; the sort that look a bit like green Mickey-Mouse ears.

An old-fashioned marble counter in Cadiot-Badie, a venerable chocolate shop on the Allées de Tourny.  The young woman who served me was wearing yellow-gold eye-shadow.

A glimpse of long black hair as the woman sitting behind me on the tram told her friend back home in Marseille that she was really quite happy, it was just that nothing had happened in her life yet. Her not-from-here accent rang out like a fog-horn.

“Boats on the Shore”, a painting by Joan Eardley. Someone tweeted it earlier today and even on my phone screen I loved it: vivid boat colours streaked across the bottom left-hand corner, the rest a dullish green sea.

A woman at the tram stop with a tote bag that declared “J’ai donné/ du sang / et vous?” I can’t remember if those were the exact words, but the middle line was red and diagonal, with the whole thing giving off a bit of that seventies aesthetic that’s popular. They don’t want my blood because I lived in the UK during those very seventies. Prions, you see.

My daughter’s smudged mascara. A bad mark when you’ve worked hard is difficult to accept.

Monday, March 25, 2019

And so you're back from outer space

I read somewhere (where?) this week about a writing exercise someone (who?) used to give her students that involved writing down six things they had seen that day (or was it the previous day?). I thought I might give it a go.

6 things I saw today

P. who is Portuguese smiling enthusiastically as she tells me how much she would like (or maybe has liked) working in catering. Later in the conversation I fail to explain what a prune is.

The chain on my bike comes off for the umpteenth time this week. I wheel it back to the garage, open the garage with the remote control, put it back in its place (ie. abandon it in the middle of the apocalyptic mess that is our garage interior). I decide to take E’s bike. But I am stumped by how to kick the stand back into place. Defeated, I walk to work.

I come across a friend and neighbour in the street with his mother. His mother doesn’t live in this country, but she doesn’t live in the country she is originally from either.  And yet, she looks exactly like my mental image of all of the other mothers from that country — olive skin, dark eyes, gold earrings — and I could easily have guessed where she was from.

A long queue of cowed people in the Post Office. A dumpy woman with squint eyes behind glasses and baby sick stains (or maybe not) on the front of a grey fleece jacket. She leans into a man with hair cut right into the white of his scalp. They all stand in line silently. No trouble. All desperate, no doubt, for whatever money it is they are expecting.

A large organic lemon with a pale, thick skin ripe for grating and adding to a pan full what was to become poulet au citron.


Being confined indoors most of the day, just the four of us, is reminding me of the days when my children were wee and most of our weekends ...