Thursday, August 21, 2014

REST IN PEACE MA PETITE BLANCHE

On the 19th of August thirteen years ago my mother, Blanche Augustine d'Arbeloff, departed this planet very early in the morning. I was asleep on the living room sofa while my sister and a nurse kept watch in her room. My sister woke me later, I don't know when, to tell me that Mamie was gone. I went in the bedroom and saw, touched, her cold forehead and icy hands. I remember being on fire with rage, a rage deeper than desolation, that they didn't wake me, didn't let me share her last breath, hold her hand. 'We didn't want to wake you, you were so tired'. The rage is still there when I think of that moment but it's outside of me now, like a photograph in an album.



On Tuesday this week I went to the cemetery where my mother and father are buried together. Sacha left in 1996, aged 101. Blanche stayed with us another five years, until she was ninety-seven. Here they are both in Los Angeles, way back in time, with no thoughts of mortality.



There is peace and quiet and pure, unadulterated bird song in the park of graves but the ground is heaving under the weight, the responsibilty of all those loved bones, their names, their dates, their histories, their roles. It's too much for some of the old stones, the angels, the monuments, they're leaning over, exhausted. Brand new graves are cheerful with bright plastic flowers, big sparkly cushioned lettering:"GRANNY", "JOE", "MUM". Every inch of the ground beneath my feet is packed with bones which were once persons, personalities, like Blanche, like Sacha, like me. And one day (not too soon, God willing) my bones, the material part of me, will be buried somewhere and somebody, perhaps, will post my photo on their blog and write something in remembrance of me, the "me" that they knew.

I wrote about my mother previously here and here and some of the paintings she did in the last few years of her life are shown here. The photo below was taken at her exhibition in the Mary Ward Centre in London the year before she died.



I picked the next photo out of the many that I have because it shows Blanche's beautiful legs that I was always envious of. It was taken at my parents' flat in London in 1983. Youthfulness was one of her many qualities, one that age never took away. Once, I asked her what she was thinking and she said, "Je chante" (I'm singing).



And below is the look she had a few months before her death, a searching, looking into Somewhere Else. The same look she had when she sat bolt upright in bed, seeing something no one else could see, and said: "Je dois prendre ma place" (I must take my place).



Thursday, August 14, 2014

HEARING THINGS

Who knew that peeling a carrot is noisy? That crumpling a paper bag is rain on a corrugated iron roof ? That flushing the toilet is an avalanche of icicles falling into a roaring furnace?


Two days ago I started a month's trial of hearing aids, both ears. My hearing has been deteriorating for a while now but I've got used to it. Missing most of the dialogue at the cinema or theatre doesn't really affect my life and when I watch tv I turn subtitles on. Listening to music and one-to-one conversations are no problem and if I'm in a crowded room I ask people to repeat things or else pretend I've heard them. But my bluff is called if I'm asked a direct question about something I pretended to hear and this is what prompted close friends to urge me to face the issue and take action.


A few years ago I did have audio tests and was told that I'd pretty much lost sounds in the higher register. The NHS gave me hearing aids to be used daily but they stayed in a drawer because I couldn't cope with the loud metallic noises they produced. Technology has considerably improved since then and the digital babies I'm trying out now are far superior to those clunky things I rejected. But.....will I ever accept noisy carrots?


Meanwhile my sister in France sent me a beautiful birthday scarf/shawl and I can't resist showing it off. Thank you my Annie.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

SOMETHING TO SMILE ABOUT

It's my birthday, I'm still here alive and well and creating, I love each of my family and friends and they love me, I have a pleasant roof over my head, no debts, enough to eat, freedom, and all the art materials I need. I am still asking questions and feeling amazed. So this day, and every day, is my time to be grateful and to wish for all the blessings I have to somehow be expanded and distributed to all those who have none.

Here's my selfie for today.



Something else to raise a smile: The Festival of Love is currently drawing crowds on the South Bank and I couldn't resist snapping a photo of this happy couple in front of a merry-go-round.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

WHAT IF.....

I was just watching on TV the opening in Glasgow of the Commonwealth Games. Good will, fellowship, enthusiasm, energy and diversity made the air tingle and a sudden inspiration came to me. Like many of my sudden inspirations, reality hardly intrudes at all. It stays off-stage, talking incomprehensibly to itself.

Anyway I'll write down what this inspiration was, just in case somebody somewhere picks it up and runs with it. Maybe even one of the ten or fifteen people who read my blog. What do you think? Does it stand a chance?

WHAT IF..... 

there was

a hugely funded 

sporting event

held in a suitable or purpose-built location

in which Israeli and Palestinian children and teenagers

would peaceably compete and cooperate

and thousands of spectators attend and applaud.

The enormous funds needed, including paying qualified coaches to train the young people on both sides could come from two sources:

a) crowd-funding: donations by the world-wide public via a website.

b) wealthy individuals, companies and institutions invited to subscribe.

A rigorously selected impartial, independent, non-political group would be formed to administer, organise the event and allocate the funds, all aspects to be completely transparent and every penny accounted for.