Lines Of Communication

5th April 2014
TulipsOleanderAfter overnight rain the garden plants and spiders’ webs this morning were bejewelled. It wasn’t long before the leaden skies began a day-long disgorging of their contents.
We didn’t go anywhere. As she continued her mega kitchen clean, Jackie discovered that black cupboard handles were in fact brass. She made them glow again.
Martin Taylor, the artisan Pippa had recommended, responded to my voicemail message. We had a most frustrating almost one-way conversation on mobile phones because he couldn’t hear me as my signal kept breaking up. He tried his landline. That was no better. It was then that I realised our landline was dead. How could we have broadband, but no landline?
The answer to this may lie in the instruction booklet that came with the phones bought two or three years ago. Where was it? I remembered having scooped up various such technical documents and slipped them into one of the boxes. Which one? That was the question. A rather protracted search began. Eventually Jackie found them.
It took about three seconds study for me to realise that a lead was missing from the phone. But it was protruding from the socket. All the wires from phones, hub, computer, etc. are extended, and tangled around each other, so it was a bit difficult to find the line I was looking for. Eventually I tracked it to the home hub. With much trepidation I pulled it out and pushed it into the phone. Eureka! The phone worked, and the broadband still did. I called Martin from the landline and we communicated without interruption. He is coming on Monday 7th.
Thereafter, my major task was further clearance of the garage, fortuitously interrupted by a pleasant visit from Shelly who loved the house.
I removed numerous ancient paint tins, brackets, car bits, oily stuff, wood, metal, wires, and rubber from the rickety metal and cobbled wooden shelves; stripped out the shelves themselves; prised nails and screws from the wall; carted everything to the increasingly expanding skip heap; and swept up. In the process, I found some useful garden tools which I transported down the garden to the orange stained shed. Jackie then helped me to place three of the IKEA Billy bookshelves in the now vacant space.
This evening we dined on Tesco’s excellent beef lasagne followed by caramel-filled chocolate sponge. I finished the Isla Negra.
Tonight I managed to stay up until 9.30 p.m. before hauling myself upstairs to bed.

A Painting

Jackie read out a salutary item for me from BBC News this morning.Mud-sucked shoe 10.12 My regular followers will know of my penchant for becoming stuck in the mud. She therefore thought I should take note of the couple in their late sixties who ventured into The New Forest not far from us. Twenty firefighters using specialist equipment were employed in freeing them when they ‘found themselves stuck in a bog near Burley. They were lucky to have a mobile phone and a signal’. ‘Phone Signal Saves Couple In Bog’, was the headline.
It was quite a pleasant morning when we set off in the hopes that the ailing car would reach Wells Garage in Ringwood. Tony, at the garage had said they were fully booked and one man short today, but we could bring the Modus in and they would do what they could. We made it to the garage, where he kept the vehicle and gave us a courtesy car.
John had lit a bonfire down the slope to the south east corner of the garden. Masking the trees, the smoke from this blended well with the clouds and patches of blue sky above. It wasn’t long before the rain set in and the blue disappeared.
We spent the rest of the morning at Helen and Bill’s, where we had coffee and a good salad lunch. By the time we returned home the roads were just as water-covered as at any other time recently.
This afternoon I finished reading Margaret Forster’s absorbing novel ‘Keeping the World Away’. I have focussed before on transitional objects. In a sense, Forster uses one in her novel. Passing from one woman to another over the period of a century, in a variety of circumstances, is a presumably imagined painting by Gwen John. A number of women are involved and their lives sometimes overlap quite apart from the connection with a real work of art.
A Corner of the Artist's roomJohn was essentially a portrait painter. Our author has chosen to weave her tale around a rare exception,  ‘A Corner of the Artist’s Room in Paris’, of which the work carrying her story is said to be a previous version.
The writer invites us into the minds of her characters, in particular their emotional lives, including their sexuality and their responses to Gwen John’s masterpiece. She is particularly skilled in this, as she is in story-telling. I will not reveal the ending of the book, which I would recommend for your reading pleasure, but I can say that Gwen’s childhood is the starting point. I think this version of the gestation and creation of the painting itself is probably imagined, linked as it is with the artist’s waning affair with Auguste Rodin, because it is at odds with the creator’s own comments. Nevertheless, it is credible and keeps us intrigued.
This evening we dined on Jackie’s excellent chilli con carne (recipe) with wild rice and peas. Strawberry jelly and evaporated milk was to follow. I drank some La Patrie Cahors 2012 malbec.