Tuesday, October 22

Just a minute in October


The sun rose quite grandly one morning and my room, with its white walls and white curtains, was temporarily dyed pink and purple and blue, like a seventies nightclub. I am collecting cacti, and photos of outdoor-y things. I am loving autumn. Woodburners and dusky skies and checked scarves and coffee.

R e a d i n g
I've just finished Zadie Smith's NW, which was so good. She was on Desert Island Discs recently and I still haven't gotten around to listening. I must. Now I'm reading a biography of Bruce Springsteen (of course) and Miranda July's No One Belongs Here More Than You. 

L i s t e n i n g  t o
I usually have Radio 4 on when I'm shuffling around at home. It's a desperate attempt to imbibe some knowledge into my dormant brain. The other day I listened to a programme about marriages between Jews and Muslims and the consequential problems and prejudices that can arise. It kind of made me think about religion and how stupid it is that there are so many wars won and lives lost over religion and which is the 'right' religion to follow. When I guess the important thing is not which religion you're part of, but that you have faith and belief in God in the first place. Then I wondered what it must feel like to be religious. Maybe like a warm blanket on a rainy afternoon, or when your tea is stronger and sweeter than normal. Yeah, anyway. Deep thoughts over morning porridge.
Right now I'm listening to Kenneth Williams' Desert Island Discs, because Eva Wiseman told me to.

W a t c h i n g
Homeland, half-heartedly, and GBBO, of course. I like Kimberley best.

B u y i n g
I accidentally spent quite a lot of money on some winter boots, but they are sheepskin lined (not Uggs!!) and waterproof and stompy and warm.
I also keep buying beautiful magazines, because I can't resist magazines which don't contain '101 sex tips' and aren't obsessed with body weight and lip gloss.

L o v i n g
There is an unexplainable joy in running down empty streets in the pouring rain with Wrecking Ball (Springsteen, not Cyrus, god) in my ears. And I have been loving autumn in the park.

Sunday, October 20

Park life

The Royal Parks of London are a home from home.
They watch me grow from toddler to child to almost-adult. When I can scarcely walk I am collecting autumn leaves under the trees. My colourful selection is preserved behind glass and lives on the kitchen wall for decades. I am pushed around the parks in my pushchair, one chubby finger pointing out squirrels with delight. I stumble from tree to tree, in and out the dusty bluebells, I spy, hide and seek. I hunt for deer in the bracken, collect conkers. Picnics with other children, ice creams from the van by the playground, vanilla drips over our grubby hands. The chocolate at the bottom of the cone. Handstand competitions, running, racing. I discover I love to climb trees, wriggling up them like a monkey, faster than the boys. We play poohsticks over the bridge in the woodland gardens. My vessel often capsizes. One warm day in October we paddle downstream amongst the swans and ducks. Slides and swings. Another picnic. From sunburn to frozen fingers and back again.
School friends, lying in the grass, counting clouds, forgetting about homework. We talk about boys. Strawberry laces and Converse and headphones. Walks with friends. Walks with more-than-friends. Interlocked hands and kisses behind trees. Sunburn to frozen fingers, back again.
Look at the colours, how they change. Now I appreciate the view. Maybe I'm not really in surburbia, but out somewhere wide open, the west country, the prairie lands of America, big skies. Cutting through the park into town because I like to be outside. Catching up with old friends, cold winter mornings, woolly gloves and scarves. Boxing Day, a trail of cousins and aunts tramp through the bracken towards tea and Christmas cake. Playing on the swings when the park is empty and the children have gone home. Trainers and bicycles, a carpet of star-shaped leaves, a herd of middle-class runners splashing through the mud and the dust. The bleep of the stopwatch, the pain of the final kilometre. Ducks. Stags rut, roar. Leaves fall. Burgundy and amber and mustard and gold.
I love how each season dresses the park, changes how I feel about it. I love autumn's dress best.