In a flurry of elation, I submitted the final draft of my final A363 assignment the other night. After a fitful night’s sleep, I added missing references, a couple of tweaks and resubmitted before work the following morning.
A363 has turned me into a drunken slob. It’s time to get my act together, reintroduce myself to the kids; the hoover; the garden; movements more strenuous than putting cool hand to angst-fevered brow.
The course has been a torturous journey for me, and although it has taught me many things, the main lesson I have learnt is that I am not a writer! A215 pats you on the head and tells you: you can do it; A363 asks if you really want to, then challenges you to prove it.
My answer to A363’s challenge is a creatively-drained and exhausted ‘no more’.
But I wouldn’t have missed the journey for the world.
Sunday lunch, 1970s. Two little girls dressed in crimplene best, their parents and grandparents, sit around a chicken that sighs with lemon, garlic and sage. The older of the sisters puts a spoonful of vegetables from each Pyrex dish onto her plate and mashes everything together with a good slug of giblet gravy. The younger girl watches carefully and does the same; this week Sunday lunch is at home, so they are exempt from the grandmother’s scolding over their fussings. Lunch formally begins with the grandmother’s cry of ‘save me the parson’s nose,’ and ends when the chicken carcass – already stripped of flesh and limbs (legs for the men, wings for the little girls) – has its wishbone removed. The grandfather shows the girls how to hook their little fingers around the greasy branch of bone, and they pull.
A council house, 1970s. Small and snug. Pass through the front room to the back kitchen where the grandmother has brawn steaming away on the stove; rice pudding in the oven; loaves of soft white bread cooling on the side. The grandfather is at the kitchen table peeling apples – he lets the granddaughters eat the long strings of peel – to sit underneath the pastry she rolls. Outside is a lawn just big enough for the swing, and a veg patch that only ever produces brussels sprouts and nasturtiums, both covered in fat green caterpillars called cabbage whites. Upstairs, two bedrooms. In contrast to their personalities, the grandfather’s room is mean, austere – hard dark-wood bed and drawers – while the grandmother’s room is indulgent; in the far distance stands a voluptuous bed, overflowing with feathers and eiderdowns, like The Princess and the Pea and just as inaccessible.