Monday, 27 October 2014

On Swans, and a Curious Tale about a Hat.

Dearest Em,

I did you another picture, and that is what this post was going to be all about. Here it is:-

Every year, since we first came to visit in 2005 come Spring-time, there's a new brood of swans at the Causeway twixt Freshwater and Yarmouth.

I always marvel at the little new family- the proud graceful Mother and Father, and the fluffy dark bundles of babyness- that look like they've slept upside down under water, and then rough dried in a tumble drier.

They are anomalies these little Cygnets. All brand-new and fluffy and rough around the edges, the last thing you'd think is that they would glide effortlessly and gracefully like their parents. I'd expect a bit of wobbly 'trying', like learning to walk, maybe veering off hither and thither, plumage all a go-go, only to be brought back by graceful mama. But no, it seems they are born to glide majestically behind their parents.

As the season's progress we see their development into gleaming white grown-ups. In your picture Em, they are teenagers really. Almost ready to flee the nest, but still under mummy's wing.

It never fails to amaze me Emily, how nature replicates this scene with different generations, year after year. It is both comforting and delightful.

I read 'The Ugly Duckling' when I was little. I read it to Daddy, and Uncle Ed, and Joe too. We shall read it together next time you are here. When I was small, there was an actor called Danny Kaye, who made a record ( a big black disc thing with a hole in the middle and grooves that played sound when it was put onto a turn-table with a special needle to sew the sound together.) This record had 'The Ugly Duckling' on it, and I remember my favourite bit when the 'duckling' realises he's not in fact from the same pack.

"Me a Swan? Oh, go on!" I used to say this over and over, and drive my parents potty with it.

The record continued, with another Hans Christian Anderson tale- 'The Emporer's New Clothes,'
a story that fascinated me- and horrified my sensibilities at the same time. How embarrassing', to suddenly be seen in your undies. Oh my days, the shame!

I was reminded of the story as a grown-up in 1984, when I began working for John Galliano on his first ever fashion show out of college. As a young model of 23- I suddenly felt I had become ancient, and that the little crows feet appearing at the corner of my eyes, were veritable tram-lines and that I was coming to the end of my modelling shelf-life. I thought it time to look for a 'proper' job, so when Mr Galliano asked me if I'd knit 12 designs for a show- I thought I'd give it a go.

I had no idea of what was to come.

As soon as the music began and the lights came up- the theatre in front of me excited and amazed me.
'The Ludic Game' became fashion history. No-one had ever seen the like. The genius (I don't use the word lightly) of John's skill in design, pattern-cutting and his magician's air of theatricality in the show, transported our work into a lyrical, but crazy at the same time- other world.

I felt overwhelmed and ignited. I can't explain it exactly Emily, but I knew it was important.

And it was- an hour and a half later- John and I were rushed over to the selling tent- dressed in two outfits we'd grabbed off some poor models.

As we arrived, the flashbulbs went off. Two knackered workers (John looking cool- me looking like I was in fancy dress.) The stand was mobbed. There were no clothes- just line-drawings. The clothes were still on the models at the show.

Yet still, the buyers ordered- vast quantities of the clothes that weren't there.

I felt like the Emperor, without the clothes, but without the shame.

I shall end with a curious tale about a hat.

I may have mentioned in passing Emily, that we are moving next week. I've also just signed a lease on a new shop. In the incessant editing that has taken up much of the last six weeks, I've been selling lots of my old clothes at Twice as Nice in Newport. Old Weardowney, Establishment, Galliano- you name it- I'm editing it.

Goodness knows why though Emily, when I spied a hat that I'd designed in 2005, and had been mass-marketed by some chain or other- I decided to part with some of my winnings and buy it.

I plonked it on my head, and that evening went with Grumpa for our friday constitutional. Two hours at the Red Lion, dining Al-fresco whilst the weather still affords.

Happy in my hat- but Grumpa none the wiser, as said hat, just looked like one I've had kicking around for ever. Out from the pub, appears a dimply smiley, cheeky blonde girl dressed in jeans, converses and a t-shirt.

"Oooh, I love your hat. Where did you get it?" I started to explain with a slightly confused Grumpa, who probably thought I was making it up- as to his mind it was my own old Weardowney label.

"Pleease let me try it on?!" I deliberated, and warned her that if I did, she may not run off with it- because I would chase her. "Pleease?!"

I acquiesced. She looked lovely in it. Her boyfriend said "How much did you pay for it?"

I said £12.00. He said he'd give me twenty.

I thought out-loud and said I was £25 short on the deposit for my new shop- and nabbed the twenty.

"Where's your shop?"said cheeky-girl, becoming in her new hat. I told her. "Give us a job?!". I might just do that, and we can share hat happiness.

A lovely lady waiting for a cab to take her home was chuckling. "Thank-you, I shall enjoy dining out on that story. Where's your shop?"

I told her.

"Oh yes" she said as her friends joined her.

"We heard all about that, this morning. Nice to meet you".

And that is how it is hereabouts dear Em. 

I wouldn't have it any other way.

See you and Annabel soon, big hugs and kisses,

Your ever-loving Grand-mother, GiGi xxxx

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The Name of the Rose

Dearest Emily,

As part of 'edit the five bedroomed house to move into a two-bedroomed former cattle-shed', from a house that's become the storage for a collective of stuff (work-wise and three previous homes,) a yard sale seemed like a plan.

So, Sunday played host to laying out our tout in the garage, whilst various people carried it away, after crossing my palm with a bit of silver. I'm quite enjoying the redistribution process actually Em, as you know I'm a bit of a car-boot sale fan- and the advantage to a yard sale of your own stuff- is that you can't be tempted to buy anyone else's. Also- it was good to see some familiar faces I've not caught up with in a while. So, coffee on, much chatter and less to move. Job's a good 'un.

As you approach the garage here Em, there's a veritable jungle of shrubbery on the left. That, and a rather lovely window I've always been fond of. It must have been salvaged from elsewhere in the house when the garage was added in the 1930's. No-one (including ourselves) in the rental-recent past of the property, has had the inclination to do more than cut-back the overgrowth. I dislike Sycamore's intensely, and they are taking over here in particular. However, in amongst the Sycamore advance, a resolute rose has withstood. All summer, it has offered up just one magnificent bloom at a time. As soon as that one dies, up comes another to take its place.

It is a scented rose, and I like it a lot. I have determined to find out its species. It's likely to be a very old variety, considering the lack of planting, and how the beds are still laid in a Victorian fashion. Strange little Chinamen ornaments were found in the shrubbery too, along with enough stones to have once comprised a summer-house. So, you can see my logic Em, 'tis an owlde rose. I shall continue to study my books, and see if I can name it.

In the mean-time, I'm not the only one to have noticed its solitary beauty amongst the invaders. Two lovely friends remarked on it at the yard sale- and advised how to make a cutting from it. I shall, and will see if my fingers have become green. I'd like to plant it next to Uncle Joe's new cabin.

However, I may not be successful in this mission. I decided the rose most worthy of remembering- so I have painted it for you Emily. Here it is.

Artistic license has allowed the removal of the hated Sycamores, and the sand-stone to be less crumbled. La Vie en Rose Em!

Saw a lovely pic of Annabel on facebook- how she is growing!

See you at Norton Green soon, sleep well.

Your ever-loving Grand-mother, GiGi xxxx

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

A bit of Chick-Lit

Dearest Em,

As you know Grumpa and I tend not to agree on the idea of keeping chickens. As of yet, I have not managed to persuade him- and therefore delight in telling this story at any given opportunity.

I was standing in Sainsburys when the phone rang. It was Grumpa calling from Lifeboat practise to say he was on his way home.

"I bought a chicken f...." At this point I was interrupted by chastisement.

"Good grief- at least we should have discussed this."

"I just thought i...

Again the interruption "You always do this. It's always what you want, without any consideration for me."

I was rather bewildered at this point- as up to the previous Sunday a roast chicken, with all the trimmings had been going down a treat.

As I opened and closed my mouth and headed for the veg section, Grumpa lived up to his nick-name and I held the phone away from my ear. Eventually the white noise subsided enough for me to cut in.

"Do you fancy broccoli with it?"

There was a stunned silence. Not to my ears normal, as broccoli is nectar of the Gods to Grumpa.

"Carrots then, perhaps?"

The phone went dead. I was confused.

When he called again- a mixture of sheepishness and post-helpless giggles, he told me that the crew had been watching this outburst, and he was trying to live it down- without success.

I wonder if it would have been the opposite conversation had I been actually buying a real live chicken for a desired hen-house. Once I'd stopped laughing, and thinking "God did that" I paid for my purchases and considered visiting a neighbouring farm.

As yet, I haven't carried out this plan.

In the mean-time, back at Norton Green, the little Red Hen's run wild and free across the road and back again. Here's one of them.

Good-night for now Em,

See you in Norton Green soon- I shall introduce you to the chickens!

Your ever-loving Grand-mother, 

GiGi xxxx

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Keeping the Perspective

Dearest Emily,

Sitting in the Bookroom two weeks ago now, I was idling through a bit of Ruskin- as you do. I'd always found him so intense, but the fact he wrote 'The King of the Golden River' (arguably the very first English children's fairy story) has endeared him to me a bit more- and after all he did go mad- so it was before all that he probably did have some good things to say. So, I was persevering.
I read a paragraph on the Pre-Raphaelites- that's all it was- just a paragraph summing them up. He said that their truth was to paint what they saw, in situ and at the time. Ok, there must have been some very long sittings- and given the flattened perspective, well things must've subjectively looked all in focus at once, but all that aside.

I decided to adopt this with my colouring-in's (as Grumpa calls them) and paint one picture each month, from something I see that month.

Here's October;

It's my cycle ride to work down the Causeway Em, with Yarmouth in the distance on the left. I love this journey, which to my mind I call the rush hour, as it's so different to the journey's to and from work in London.

Though only nine days ago, I'm struck by how much Autumn has advanced. October the first was sunny and still (today blowing a hoolie and two recent electrical storms this week.) I love the onset of Autumn and how the colours change to tawny hues. How quickly those trees and bushes will now change from their lush greenery, and the browns and oranges will win as we head towards Winter.

It's always beautiful at this spot Emily (as long as its not flooded, and you can't get down it, and when the wind doesn't blow you off your bicycle.) So, I'm savouring each mild Autumn day and the opportunity to cycle down my rush hour way.

Soon, it'll be my trusty (most of the time) Moggie, and time to put the heating on in the shop.

As we pack up our house here at the Bay, to move to a lovely little Hamlet half way between Freshwater and Yarmouth (the other side of the river Yar here on the left) I'll have to look for another rush hour route next Spring when the bike comes out again.

I'm looking forwards to the changes ahead. I've loved the Bay, and discovering so much here. Norton Green has its own peculiar charm. We've nick-named it 'Hobbiton' tucked away off the not very beaten track. 

My next colouring in will probably be from thereabouts as we're set to be moved in by then.

Looking forwards to seeing you all for tea in our new (very old- used to be a cattle-shed) Thatched cottage.

Your ever-loving Grand-mother,

GiGi xxx