Faris the Philosopher tells me that it is important to keep my strength up. “That way, Nanni,” he tells me, “You will last longer…” I feel a bit like a tub of Anchor Butter approaching its
best before date. Not that I pay much attention to best before dates, you understand. So long as a foodstuff doesn’t look, smell or taste suspicious I am more than happy to eat it - and as, so far, after nearly fifty-six years of marriage, I have managed
not to poison either Mr B or myself, I feel justified in my approach.
Faris has a good point though - which is why last week I spent a restful couple of
days in the village of Hook, rebuilding my strength while the Really Rather Wonderful Rosalie kept Mr B company. Hook is home to two of my Darling Daughters - the Middle and the Youngest - meaning that over the course of one short visit, I can enjoy all the
antics of the Rascally Trio before retiring for rest and relaxation at their Auntie Kazza’s home.
I arrived early on Tuesday afternoon after an easy
journey by car - to be greeted by the Middle of the Darling Daughters with Afternoon Tea. How very decadent! We were joined by her younger sister after she had finished work - she and I were to collect the Trio from school while their mamma got back to the
work which she had left to welcome me.
Meeting the littl’uns from school comes under the heading of Ordinary Things Bringing Extraordinary Pleasure.
When any of my Foursome asks what I most want to do in my time off, my answer is always the same - I just want to do the “ordinary things”, to taste for a short time at least the everyday of their lives so that, when I’m back home, I can
imagine where they are and what they are doing. Walking through the woodland on the way to and from Hook Primary School is one such experience. Over the last twenty years, I ponder, I have escorted every one of my Magnificent Ten grandchildren to and from
We arrive just in time as the Twins’ teacher watches out at the classroom door to make sure someone is there to collect each child. I reminisce that,
when my eldest two children were little, I was invariably late to collect them from school owing to having a baby to feed and a toddler to encourage, unsuccessfully, to walk a bit more quickly. I would arrive to find my two eldest daughters sitting on the
school wall, swinging their legs and waving at me, broad smiles on their faces: “We knew you would come,” they would say, cheerfully, invariably followed by, “Can we go to the park now?” These days, I fear, I would be labelled
a bad mother….
Tala (elder of the Twins by one important minute) is anxious to show me something rather special in the grounds of the Junior School where
Faris is a pupil. It’s a kind of Garden of Inspiring Thoughts - planks of wood, planted upright in the ground, each one engraved with charming children’s drawings and inscriptions about inclusion, connectivity, mindfulness and the like. I am particularly
drawn to one picture of a child standing on a high diving board, quivering with fear while his or her friends shout encouragement from the pool below. “That would be me, then,” I say. The Youngest of the Darling Daughters puts me right: “Hardly!”
she says, “You would never have been up there on the high board in the first place…” She knows me so well….
We take a photo of the Trio
and me, standing on the school sign painted on the playground, then set off for home. Tala takes my hand and keeps up a running commentary all the way back to ensure I don’t miss a thing. We stop to see the statue of the wooden eagle (I’ve seen
it before but it’s quite a sight to come across unexpectedly among the trees) and I read aloud the inscription from Rupert Brooke’s poem The Soldier about “some corner of a foreign field / that is forever England.” I’m glad that
the Trio, in their innocence, don’t understand it.
Back at their house it is Lilia’s turn to engage my attention, by reading her school book to me.
The story is obviously part of a series about a group of children who magic themselves into micro versions of themselves. In this book they are building a raft by stringing together coloured pencils to carry them across the water. “To be continued…”
it says on the last page - now I will never know whether they succeed in their endeavours.
Off to a judo class they go - Faris has a judo grading to look forward
to (I hear later that he passes with flying colours). He looks the part, dressed in royal blue kit with the flags of the United Kingdom and Algeria proudly on his sleeve. The Youngest of the Darling Daughters and I head off to her house five minutes away where
we will eat egg and chips, watch TV, and chat about anything and everything as we look forward to the next two days.
It’s the ordinary, made extraordinarily