ANTONIA ROLLS ARTIST EXTRAORDINAIRE NEWS. An account of an Artist and Mother in Bognor Regis. Worthwhile, but exhausting, so pour the tea and make yourself comfortable...(this painting is a family portrait, about 2'x 3', oil on wood. It is the Ross Family, each family member with items that describe them best. And at the front, on the grass on the right hand side, is a photo of Grandma, sadly missed.)
It has been interesting, it has been difficult and not much of the past week has been lovely, and sometimes I do want to scream but here we are. I am as ever, at home. Furiously Independent Son is here too and is in the garden, lying on the trampoline smoking and sunbathing with all his black clothes on. Daughter is sunbathing on the hammock next to him in her undies, shining with well applied suncream and being grimly determined to stay there despite the cigarette smoke. These two are not talking to each other. It goes back a long way, and it is a shame. Both would be very good for each other but both think the other is a ghastly mistake and should be exterminated. They both came from me and I am very nice, but I expect I am only very nice now that I am 50. And exhausted. When I was that age I was a pain in the bum. So patience, Lady Artist, patience. Here is the story of your youth and all its mistakes being played out before you, twice, in your two oldest children. This, says a voice from the sky, is your next learning curve. This, continues the voice from the heavens, is how I feel. Up here, knowing it all and not being listened to.
I am sitting here in the studio watching them from my window, and thinking that they are really very similar. And that they could be so happy together once the power struggles, status stuff and sibling rivalry has been sorted out.
I have the Furious Son home again. His aura is not dissimilar to broken glass. He is avoiding any talk and avoiding any resolutions. He is full of pain and misunderstanding. My wider family watch us with concern, him and me. I watch him with concern, and think that he is living two lives and that he doesn't need to. I know what he does and where, and I am still here with my heart bigger than ever for him. He probably does need to live divided. Maybe this is all part of the process. I know about living with two identities, but I only know about it because now I don't do it any more. He is older now and things will change for him outside, but inside there is no change. No sudden shaft of light from above that illuminates the secrets of life for him. I know a lot but my job is to keep quiet and say as little as possible while watching like a hawk.
I thought of many things this past week. I thought of the madness of youth, I thought about way my mother is getting old. I thought about people who are coming to the end of their lives and still feeling young inside. I thought about what it is to have your life ahead of you and to be ignorant of your place in it. I thought about myself and how I always felt an outsider. How I had no idea of my worth when younger. I look at my Furiously Independent Son and think that he is full of the wisdom of the planets and stuck with the confusion and vulnerability of a small child.
Today then. Back to the day ahead. I go to the Hospice to do a volunteering stint over lunch time. I go shopping to buy food and I have a fancy to buy some clocks. I have an Arsenal Angel to do, and then with luck, tomorrow will come and I go to London to a fancy dinner with Alan. Over the weekend I go back to Dublin, with Furiously Independent Son, back into the arms of Darling Dublin Friend and her husband, the Nicest Man In Ireland. This is my birthday present to my newly grown up son. The Nicest Man In Ireland is taking him and me, and lots of other small kiddies and parents, camping on Saturday. I am going for the fun of it, FIS is going for some reason I can't fathom. A few days in Dublin will be great fun, and time spent with FIS alone is always great fun. Even though I am embarrassing and forget to bring my caravan.
Thanks you to all of you who contacted me with kindness and love over the past week. It means a lot to me and I am grateful for your care. And now, if any of you want to
Take me away on a holiday to the sunshine
Buy all my art
Give FIS a job in Alaska or South Pole or The Moon
When Steve was in his hospice bed once, he became very restless and agitated and I took his face in my hands. "I can't find my safe place," he said with his eyes closed. "I want to go home now." "This is your safe place," I said, "this is your safe place. And you can't go home."
I don't remember if it made him stop bunching up his sheets and trying to find a way to be comfortable, I think he was calmer and I think I sat for ages watching him and wondering about safe places. I don't really remember. It was as if the safe place he was looking for was in one of the corners of his bed, it was a physical space that was mislaid. At hand, nearby and temporarily out of reach. He thought perhaps, that someone would say, "Ah. Here it is, this little square of sheet here at the top left of the bed, remember? This and this alone is your safe place. This is where you must try and fit yourself because here, you cannot be unsafe. Let me help you get back to it." He wanted to go home too, and I don't blame him. But home was no longer a safe place, it was once where he was able to rest and relax but now those days were gone forever. He needed a new safe place while dying, and this safe place had to be found within his bed.
I never consider my safe place until I feel unsafe. Until then, I continue making plans and writing lists. I think that I will contact this venue and ask if I can exhibit, and I will send an email to that person to say that I am an artist and that they may love my work. While I am doing that, I think, I will do the washing and go to Tescos. I say Yes to a new commission and I say Of Course to a party invitation; I make a press release and I say to Eileen, "Let's ask Clarissa if we can have another fund raising event in her big Wimbledon house" and I know what I am doing. Antonia gets tired but she is well able to cope. How do you do it? is music to her ears. Shucks, she says looking bashful, you know. I just, do. And then something I don't expect shakes the ground under me, and I didn't see it coming, I didn't plan for it and I didn't practice to deal with it. All my coping strategies aren't about coping with this. I feel I am only eight years old and have been asked to cope with a mighty grown up problem. At times like these, I can no longer find time to sit and read. No time ever to have a relaxing bath, no time to go to bed, and no point in sleeping. No time for anything that used to make me feel comfortable and peaceful, no safe places.
Last week Furiously Independent Son went missing. He really went missing and I called the police. While he was unfound, I discovered things about his life and lifestyle that made me afraid that I would never see him again. I contacted people last with him at night clubs from his Facebook page, but no one had seen him at all. Gone. Other people started to ask where he was, and one or two even emailed me to ask. Furiously Independent Son keeps his home life and his outside life separate from each other. He is pathologically secretive about every step he takes once out of this front door, I don't know the names of any of his friends nor do I know where any of them live. While on the quest to find him, I discovered he had told everyone that I was a Traveller, a Catholic one, living in a caravan. Irish. An Irish Catholic Traveller in a caravan. And that his grandparents owned Rolls Royce. Ah. That is why we are kept so far apart, his friends and me. I wouldn't stand up to scrutiny. I am not Irish, I have quite a posh accent, I have a house in Bognor Regis, a bike and a VW car. No caravans. No horses and no big gypsy weddings. Though my name is Rolls, my parents don't own Rolls Royce, though because my lovely old Dad has had a few strokes and doesn't always remember clearly, he would probably agree that he did, after all, own Rolls Royce.
I could not sleep. I could not find him. I didn't like what his friends told me and I wanted the police to find him. Trawl the hospitals, I told them. I know something has happened to him. I saw him in my imagination, unconscious and vulnerable, forgotten and dying in the boot of someone's car and his phone lying just out reach ringing, ringing, ringing. I saw him in my nightmares cold, confused and crying silently and I feared that I would never find my way through this.
And then I got a call from a train guard in Orpington. Your son, he says, has been found avoiding paying his fare by locking himself and his friend in the toilet. Oh I said. Ask the name of the friend. My first instinct was to put a name to someone that my son knew and because the guard asked, he would have to say. Why, I asked the guard, is he in Orpington? As if the guard could say Well Madam, it's like this, see. Here is a run down of your son's actions since last week, bear with me, it is going to be a long one. In fact the guard said he didn't know and who was going to pay for the ticket. So I put the guard onto the police that were looking for son and said They will deal with this.
And, I said to the guard, will you tell him to come home?
And then I thought, with a ticket.
Furiously Independent Son did eventually come home, the next day. Incandescent with rage that I had spoilt his life. Full of scorn for my worry, full of the dreadful arrogance of someone who has never had to feel much for anyone else. He filled the house with a subversive fury and I thought, is this me? Do I take the credit for making this 17 Year Old Son so very unrecognizable? At what point, I began to think, did I begin to get it so wrong that this is the result? What is this thing called Love that mothers feel for their children, and is it this Love that is preventing me from smacking him on the bum with a breadboard and cutting holes in his best tee shirts? Much talking was done. Not much listening, but that is what youngsters do. Not listen. They don't like it, it threatens their sense of self. If they do listen, they may hear things that contradict their conviction that they are immune to harm, able to control drugs, dead cool and the law doesn't apply to them. So there was not much progress there, and I felt that this never ending ocean of parental love we hear so much about may have been a little exaggerated.
So now, there has been a resolution of sorts. He is still up to no good doing whatever it was that made him go missing last week, no lessons learnt and no interest in anyone else. However, he did become quite calm and had the grace to look a little nervous about going back to London. I have had gentle words with him and we are going to change the rules a bit from next week. He will be 18 and I will no longer support him. He can get a job and I will no longer fund his lifestyle. And it turns out that I was right to be worried last week. He did experience something that could have been very dangerous, and it was on the very day that I called the police and tried to find him. He got away with it this time, but if it happens again he may well be glad that I go all out to find him and bring him home. Safe.
I am full of sorrow today. I have no place to rest, I have no space in my body to find comfort. I can't find consolation in the things that console me when I am otherwise so busy, so full of plans and ideas. I have no safe place to go. I have no place where the worry and the shock of the last few days can't magnify in my brain and make me long for sleep to forget it all. And Furiously Independent Son? He is back seeking what he thinks of as his safe places. They are very unsafe places though, they will not give him happiness and strength. They are dangerous and shallow and he will have to find it out for himself. He will have to find out that he is not invincible, that he is no different from all the other young men who think they can do what they want without consequence nor harm. He will find out that just because he denies responsibility, doesn't mean that it will go away.
I am lying on my bed. The house is quiet and the FIS is safe in that he is alive. I wonder what was the point of all that determination to find him last week. I did as any good mother would do, and I guess he did as any foul clubbing raving 17 year old son would do. My safe place, like Steves, has dwindled to a space in my bed where I am going to curl up and sleep.
14 Year Old Son, he of the let's-settle-this-with-some-loving-fisticuffs philosophy of life, turned to me in the car recently. He looked as if he was wanting to tell me something important. "Mum." He said. Small powerful silence. I waited. "You may not be good at counting, or maths or anything." Yes? I said with my eyes, "you are not academic or anything and you don't understand things, but you are very nice." I smiled. "And?" my face tried to say - "and," he continued, "you cook well."
When I am gone, you can all say that I was very nice and that I cooked well. It made me think, what will I be remembered for? What will you be remembered for? 14 Year Old Son distilled all his love and passion for me into this declaration, and for him it meant a lot. "There," his dewy eyes seemed to say when he had finished, "beat that."
In my life story, the one that I write for myself often, the one that Desert Island Discs will use for when I go on and choose my eight discs, I am remembered for unbelievable brilliance, in all areas. "She was," say the historians of later years, "really something." Under the chapter headings of Academic-ness they will find my 14 Year Old Son, now in his seventies and living as a benign mobster in Amberly. "Who?" he will say, and then "Oh yes, she was very nice, and not terribly clever. Cooked well though. Wonderful woman." Under the chapter Cooking Well, they will contact my daughter, in her eighties and living in a pink apartment in Brighton designed to look like the inside of a cake. "Mother?" Daughter will bellow. "Fabulous scrambled eggs." And under the the chapter Understanding Things, they will call Furiously Independent Son's Agent to talk to Furiously Independent Son, both of whom are in their late seventies and living in a night club in Cairo. "My Mother," FIS will say slowly, "was slightly retarded but very well meaning." There will be a small pause before he continues sagely, "but she was very nice".
What will I be remembered for really? I don't know. I may be remembered for all sorts of things by those who met me, or knew me, and it may be For Wearing Red All The Goddam Time. It may be for not understanding mobile phones. It may be for not really knowing what I was doing while raising my children - and I really did not know what I was doing, any success they have is because they are fabulous themselves, not because of me. I may be remembered for doing an Anti Strip Tease in Aberdeen in the early 1980s where I started on the stage in my undies and people threw clothes strategically placed in the audience, at me, and I put them all on so that I fell over with the weight of them. And all to the manic sounds of a 45 record I found called Roger's Magic Bumblebee, a whacky interpretation of the Flight of the Bumblebee. I may be remembered for all the squatting I did in the eighties in London, and how I lost my way completely until my first child was born. My children were the making of me, they are the most wonderful gift I could ever have been allowed to have.
Back to the future then folks! I want, in my bio that I write in my head, that I mentioned earlier, to be remembered for Oh! Such exquisite Art! Lordy lordy, what a painter! And so witty too, it just isn't fair how clever and fabulous her work is! And that A Graceful Death. Oh. That exhibition changed my life. Oh. And did you see her Religious stuff? Oh what a Thinker! So profound, and yet so simple. How did she do it?
But let us not get carried away. Enough, I say. The reality is, that none of my art comes easily to me. None of the paintings just Happen. I work very hard to do all that I do, though I would love for you all to think that it was just tiddly pooh and done. Most of my time is spent on admin, marketing, PR, proposals, bill paying. When I do get into the studio, I often have to remember what to do.
So, in the end, perhaps it isn't really so bad for my tomb stone to say, "Mother. She was very Nice." And in teeny writing underneath it, "fabulous scrambled eggs and not very bright". Meanwhile, despite all, in London, my latest retrospective opens to a brass band playing Roger's Magic Bumblebee at Tate Modern and the latest reprint of Antonia Rolls's Mystic Mumblings is reviewed with passion in the Spectator.
I have a headache and my tummy is tired. I have lots to think about and no solutions. I have had a wonderful time recently and now I am having an angst ridden time trying to work out why I am not having such a wonderful time any more. If only, my anxious brain says to me, loveliness just comes, through the ether, with no input from me, to me, and gives me a jolly nice lift. If only, it continues, you didn't have to work so darn hard to make anything happen. Poor you, my brain adds sympathetically, you really do have to keep on top of things, don't you?
I spent today in bed watching Disney films with my lovely daughter, the Trainee Nurse and Renaissance Woman. She loved it, I sought oblivion. We lay in my big bed in pyjamas and had eggy toast and tea, and watched Muppet Treasure Island followed by the Lion King. In each plot, I looked for clues as to how to live well and find a way out of this feeling of - well, nothingness. Disney and Muppets are good for droopiness of the brain, they have happy endings and the characters don't feel pain for long. Existential pain, that is. They don't feel the Meaningless of Life for very long. Someone always says something profound at the end like, "Remember who you are" and "I know who my real friends are" and "if you can't beat them, join them", and suddenly the sun comes out, everyone has a Eureka Moment and en masse, the whole lot of them have fantastic lives again.
It is not that bad here. Bognor is joyfully lapping up the sun despite the wind. So far, the shops are doing enough trade, the trains are running on time, and people are paddling with determination in the choppy sea at the top of my road. My garden is lovely, and the Cosmic Gardner did come and clean my windows inside and out. I can see out of my windows in a way that I did not think possible. And, I guess, I could see in too if I was outside. 14 Year Old Son, he who is 6'3" and a tangle of arms and legs, well meaning bear hugs and playful karate chops, put up all my mugs on special hooks he fixed himself on the new shelf in the kitchen, and made the kitchen look even more homely. Lovely. Furiously Independent Son spent a whole week here eating resting and not doing night clubs nor dreadful things, before going back up to London the day before yesterday to take his A Levels. That was nice.
I have bought a new hoover, I have thought about painting my house green. I have dreamed of having wooden floors everywhere, and I have done job bags for my new commissions. I even did a commission. I hauled myself about the house this week as if I was recovering from a long, debilitating operation, sighing and stopping for breath at short intervals. My mind, the same mind that I wrote about a few blogs ago as a deep lake catching the spindly long legged thoughts etc etc, has passed from being the deep waters and so on, skipped the bog stage and become a dried up canyon, deep, empty and scorched into nothingness by the blazing heat of the sun. Or that is how it feels.
I have had no good news all this week. No bad news either. I have heard nothing about all the feelers, proposals and ideas I put out into the world outside Bognor. No emails, no phone calls, no texts and no letters. I am in an Artistic Drought as a result. There are things I could do, there are always things I could do, but I don't want to. As I said at the start of this blog, my head aches and my tummy is tired. And my mind is a Grand Canyon of Whatever.
So what to do. Well, funnily enough, the best thing to do is Nothing. That is what I am aching to do, so that is what I will do. After a spot of Nothing, I will be ready to to take stock, and do Something. On Muppet Treasure Island, the delicious Tim Rice as Long John Silver gets his comeuppance. But that is despite being let go by the Jim Hawkins character. "Well done," says Kermit the Frog as Captain Smollet, "your father would be proud of you." And then we get a small clip of Tim Rice being bored to death on the Treasure Island by a Mountain with a Face telling one dreadful joke after another and I thought - there is justice. I am the Jim Hawkins character and I will do nothing but let the baddie go. The baddie, Tim Rice, is my Lack of Energy. Well, my lack of energy baddie will be punished by having itself bored to death by bad jokes. Serve it right. And Kermit the Captain Smollet character, well - he is my Higher Self and therefore the winner. Oh I knew Disney would sort me out.
And yes yes yes to the kind comment below, it is Tim Curry not Tim Rice that is in Muppet Treasure Island. Thank you and please come and live with me. You have a deep meaningful lake for a mind, not a scorched Grand Canyon and I may need the input. Thank you.
Lavender, Painting and Decorating, and a Blind Man
The Cosmic Gardener came today. "Let us," he cried, "plant Lavender." We did so, we went to the Garden Centre and bought five little pots of lavender and he planted them. Planting the lavender has changed the whole of the front of the house; the five little clumps of lavender have made it into a Homes and Gardens home and I think the Cosmic Gardner knows what he is talking about.
At 2pm a Painting and Decorating Man came to look at Furiously Independent Son's room. Five years ago Furiously Independent Son chose to paint his bedroom yellow and green and his little en suite sitting room, purple and blue. In order that serenity and uncluttered thoughts flow through his part of the house I am going to have it painted white and off-white. So a nice man came to see it and gave me a jolly sound price to make it wholesome and normal. Job to be started in a few weeks, and I won't have to deal with it at all. That is how I like things, someone else to do it and be nice into the bargain.
The Blind Man is late. He should be here by now to give me a quote on making blinds for the TV room. We need something to help cope with the full on glare of the sun during the summer, as the room not only becomes very hot, but more importantly no one can see the telly.
The Blind Man has been and gone, a very nice and interesting fellow. He has given me a quote that I have accepted to have my TV, or Dining Room if you are posh, which I am, made into the kind of room that would suit having five pretty lavender bushes at the front of the house.
So there it all is. A fancy front of the house, a fancy back of the house, and a fancy couple of rooms upstairs.
I am very tired today. It is a sunny day, though windy. The best place to be is in my sitting room (and under the window, outside, are planted five of the snazziest lavender bushes in West Sussex). The best place then, is in this sitting room, on the sofa here, because the sun streams into the room through the red and orange gauzey Indian curtains, straight onto my gently reclining form, making me squint my eyes and think that I am starring in a French Film with very little dialogue and much sighing and gazing about. My boys are upstairs doing deals with each other (you go and make me something to eat, and I will let you have my laptop. You go and do all my homework and I will hide your beer. You go and buy me cigarettes and I will not tell mum that you do pole dancing after school etc.) I have had a busy day being here for fellows who are going to make my home look better, and now I am going to do nothing at all till it is bedtime. And since I am boss here, bed time could be any moment now. It is 17.24. Could be done.
Tomorrow morning my dear Polish Worker, who lives with us at the moment, is going to have a full cooked English Breakfast. I offered to cook one for him as he has never had one before, and he has requested it for tomorrow morning. It is not often that the thought of a full cooked breakfast makes someone so excited. Dear Polish Worker is going to take a picture to show his mother and family, so I had better make sure the breakfast is pretty professional. Then, only then, will I be able to get into the studio and paint what I have been trying to paint for the last week or so. It will be worth the wait though. The Polish Worker will be full up and joyful all day, the blinds are ordered, the garden is wonderful, and the purple, blue, yellow and green of the Furiously Independent Son's rooms has only three weeks left to live.
Before I lay my head back onto the twinkling feather cushions on my sofa, the sun shining into my very soul through the sitting room windows, there is one more job that has been taken care of today. My windows are dreadfully mucky, no one has thought about doing them for years. The Cosmic Gardner is going to do them on Friday. The tense and heated negotiations went like this.
(Scene - in the garden. Sun shines, bees buzz around the five lavender bushes that have become quite heroic. Cosmic Gardner stands next to me, both of us gazing into the middle distance as the odd car passes by in the road outside. Birds sing and both of us lost in our thoughts. He, about the best way to make gardens better, me, about what to have for lunch.)
Me: I want my windows cleaned. Wish I knew a window cleaner.
C.G: I'll do them for you.
Me: Can you clean windows?
Me: Have you got a ladder?
Me: Think I have one in the garage.
C.G: Oh yes, so do I. My ladder is in your garage too. Ha ha ha. Silly me.
Me: Ha ha ha. What do you charge?
C.G: What's the going rate for window cleaning?
C.G: I'll ask someone
Me: How do you clean a window?
C.G: Well, you just put some water on it and a bit of bubbles and wipe it off and that.
Me: That's amazing.
C.G: Friday do?
Small pause. Sun shines, lavender bushes nod, all is right with the world.
Me: Can you do insides as well?
C.G: Could try
Oh I live in a cut throat world. I'm the only person Alan Sugar is scared of.
If my mind is as a bog, which it often is, then the thoughts - gentle spindly creatures longing for life and flight - go boing boing plod plod squelch across it.If my mind is heavy and thick, then it is an effort to catch and hold these thoughts. The surface over which they skim is too dense and muddy to hold them, and I am aware that whatever new inspiration, new idea, new insight I have, it can't sink below the surface. This is not an easy state of mind, and one which I think we all have for a great deal of the time. There is always inspiration from the world around us. There is always that colour that flashes past our eyes that makes us long to do something creative, that phrase someone uses in a sentence about sub prime mortgages on the radio that is the catalyst for something we want to do that has nothing whatsoever to do with sub prime mortgages, but makes sense to us on an inexplicable level. There is the chance meeting with someone who leads to someone else, there are countless such things that fill our days if only we can see them. If my mind is like a solid brown squashy peat bog then the best I can hope for is to just catch the tail ends of the thoughts and inspirations as they pass above me.
And then if the bog evaporates, these thoughts and ideas dance across my mind like those long spindly but exquisitely delicate creatures that skim the most tranquil and beautiful of lakes. If my mind is clear and deep, if there is nothing to prevent an idea from falling into it and dropping deep into the water, and then I can do anything. I notice the way someone is standing in town and use it in a painting that needs that pose. I watch colours pass in front of my eyes, noticing everything about them and place them in something that needs those colours. I can understand words, I can take thoughts and passing ideas and put them into a place where I can access them for future use. I can see how to link people into subjects for paintings, I can understand more than just what is said - I can understand what is underneath the words (not with everyone, only sometimes. Not quite Dalai Lama yet); if my mind is clear and I am not heavy and feeling dull , those wonderful thoughts, ideas and inspirations can dance and fly and skim the surface with a freedom that is wonderful to watch. Dancing like dragonflies, dancing together and allowing me to be filled with possibilities, with inspiration, with excitement.
I have just spoken to the Glorious Clarissa and mentioned thoughts skimming the surface, and Clarissa said her thoughts are inside her head, not outside. How Glorious, I said. And, she said, they are sometimes, occasionally, very clear and ordered. The rest of the time they are jumbled. But, she says, such is life. She is very happy to have clarity when it comes and accepts the muddle when it takes over. I see Clarissa as not muddled though, which makes our perception of our own thoughts very interesting.
My thoughts, I told Clarissa, are not really Dragonflies. I used Dragonflies because it sounds poetic. Actually, I told Clarissa, what I really want to say is that my thoughts (bless them) are like Daddy Long Legs all skittering about, light and buzzing, with their legs all in knots and bouncing off trees. Put that in, said Clarissa, Tell the truth. So here goes.
My thoughts are hovering, gentle and spindly, light and carried on the wind but alive and following a purpose that only they know of, like Daddy Long Legs flitting and skimming a summer pond. With their legs all tied up in knots and bouncing off trees and each other without damage. Even when their legs get tangled and they move around as a single unit, buzzing contentedly until either the legs fall off or they pull apart.
Here are a few thoughts from yesterday. These are based on the Daddy Long Legs flitting over a deep meaningful pool of stillness etc etc. It is fast turning into a scene from a Disney film.
Yesterday sitting in my studio, I heard a scratching and rustling from behind my chair. Yikes I thought it is one of those spiders from abroad, that eats birds. But when I turned to take a look, it was a small brown bird, hopping about in confusion by the door, looking desperately fragile and panicky. I opened the doors for it to find its way out. I was aware that it's life was at once very robust to live out in the open in trees, sky etc, but also so terribly fine as it could have died of fright, had I approached it. Hmmm. A flitting Daddy Long Legs of Awareness skimmed my pool. (Honest.)
I came back from Dublin having been with two of my oldest friends. Yesterday, another friend from those times called, quite by chance, for an hour and a half. I have not seen this friend for over 20 years, yet we were inseperable at Aberdeen when at university there. She is a fey, winsome, reclusive person, full to the brim of thoughts and creativity and yet never wanting nor able to live in the same day to day world as we all do. I drew and painted her endlessly, she was my muse. The only person to ever have been a muse in my life; and here she was, on the phone. I am longing to draw her again, if I can entice her to leave her flat and come here for a day. Later, my old pal Michael called. If he is happy to chat, he can be fascinating and curiously old fashioned. Last night he talked of nature and geology and C S Lewis. After these two calls, I thought - how wonderful is the influence of People. I felt a largeness in my life, as if knowing such friends made me bigger somehow. No, not fatter. My friends do not make me Porky.
In my garden, I have some magenta peonies. Blimey, I thought recently, they are so wonderful that I will think very carefully to recreate the influence that they have on me, in the studio. Stagger stagger flit flit go the spindly thought insects across the pond etc.
And finally, for today, the final Dragonfly cum Daddy Long Legs that dances like a sunbeam on my clean and clear pond of a mind under the willow trees and Disney wood sprites: I am not busting a bloodvessel to get my painting done, whereas before the Fund Raising Weekend (Fairies, Angels, Earrings and Cakes) I was. There is time in my day. I am getting things done, with time to spare. So what is this? Is all work a state of mind? Is all progress a state of mind? The same things are being achieved this week as before the Fund Raising Weekend, except I am freer and more calm. Oh this is a big thought. It will have to be characterised by a large jumpy frog. Skittish insects don't have the gravitas.
There is another thought with which to end. Do frogs have gravitas?