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  • Rediscovered Pleasure...

    This afternoon, after church and after lunch, I took myself off to Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery in time to listen to the organ recital.  I used to do this quite often when I first moved here, and have taken a fair few friends over the past few years, but it is (was) absolutely ages since I last went myself.

    A large slab of coconut cake, a paper cup of tea, and half an hour sat listening to music... bliss!  And a reminder of the simple pleasures that are so easily lost or forgotten when I stop taking control of my 'down time'.

    Not, if I am honest, the most wonderful programme I've ever heard, and stylistically not my favourite performance, but that wasn't the point... it was good just to be rather than do, to refresh and renew myself ready for the week that lies ahead.

    Mustn't leave it so long next time!!

  • Buried Treasure...

    Much of this morning has been devoted to what I have come to term "Mum Admin" - sorting papers, identifying bills that need to be paid, direct debits that need to be stopped and so on.  The physcially heaviest component of the stuff that returned home with me was the contents of her document box, which has taken a deal of carefull sifting through in order not to miss anything significant or discard anything precious.

    So here, amidst electricity bills and home insurance reminders, I discovered Mum's educational certificates.  Really excelling in bookkeeping it seems, and adequate in Higher English and French.  And she passed art, despite being colourblind (undiagnosed) and in her own words incapable of drawing for toffee... evidently it was the only subject she would fail so the teacher awarded her 51%!  Times sure have changed and the  centralised marking of 'public' exams prevents such compassion by teachers.

    In these yellowed and battered slips of paper are reminders of a young woman who dreamed dreams of her future.  I hope that her memories of her school days remain sufficiently intact to bring her moments of pleasure.

  • These Precious Things...

    So I am back in Glasgow after a few days washing, sorting, wrapping, packing, labelling and discarding the loose contents of my Mum's flat.  As my sister observed, it feels somehow wrong to dismantle someone's home when they are alive, and yet it has to be done.  And there were inevitably choices to be made about which items should be kept for her, and which by any of us, and which sent off via a clearance agent.

    Having to bring only what I could fit into my suitcase (along with vast quantities of paperwork I need to sort and shred) was good, otherwsie I'd probably have picked up lots of things.  In the end I chose the things above, each of which has only sentimental value.

    The purple Caithness vase was a gift I bought my Mum around twenty years ago, when I visited the glassworks whilst on holiday in Scotland.

    The hen-shaped egg crock thingy, is chipped and cracked and held together with glue.  It was only ever used to house bits and bobs like paperclips and drawing pins, has been broken and repaired, and is probably really only fit for the bin.  But I loved it as a child, and can easily recall where it sat and what it contained at various times past.

    The embroidery of daisies is one of several of my Mum's that were being packed up to be sent for sale. In a moment of clarity, I realised it would work quite well in my kitchen, so I rescued it from the pile I was cleaning and wrapping!

    The fluffy elephant and child were a Mothers' Day I bought sometime in the last five years and, now unwanted by anyone else, I didn't want it to go to a charity shop, so it came home!

    The book was my Dad's, a gift given to employees of Cosworth Engineering back in the day when they ruled the world of F1.  Signed by Keith Duckworth and Mike Costin, it may have some small monetary value, but it has huge sentimental value, and needs to be kept safe.

    The candle has no significance except that I like candles and it was small enough to fit in my bag!!

    The fish knives & forks and the napkin rings belonged to my grandparents.  These had been the special momento my Mum claimed when packing up her parents' home... now, I lay claim to them for similar reasons.

    The tablespoon is perhaps the simplest object, and the one most steeped in meaning.  Cooking was the thing that always gave my Mum most pleasure.  She was never happier than when she whipped up a batch of fairy cakes or made bread or cooked a huge meal for all six of us.  And this spoon, which I think was bought at a jumble sale, has given stirling service over half a century or so.  Now it sits in my cutlery drawer and will continue to bring me pleasure whenever I use it and remember.

    Packing up the last remants of my childhood, and, along with my siblings, deciding which, if any, objects we wished to keep as momentos, has been very odd.  But it is good to have these few objects which will continue to remind me of my parents and my grandparents, hopefully for the rest of my life.

  • The Best Laid Plans...

    The plan was pretty simple, so I thought... do the 'Mum stuff' by day and the 'church stuff' in the evening.  I had under-estimated quite how much 'mum stuff' there was to do and how tired I'd be by the time I'd done it each day.  So it will be sermon-writing on the train home tomorrow - I have about five hours on my cheaper-than-standard-class first class journey, so can work whilst that nice Mr Branson plies me with tea and snacks!

    One of today's little departures from plan was a bus ride out to where I used to live so that I could visit my Dad's grave.  The bus route has changed dramatically since I last went that way, but it was great - a circular route round the whole village passing many places from my childhood years before dropping me at 'my' old bus-stop to walk up the cemetry.  Very precious.

    The poppy picture was some rough ground near where the (in my parlance 'new' (1977)) bus station used to be.  I love how it defies humanly created boundaries and reaches through the gaps offering its fleeting beauty to those beyond.  Somehow it spoke to me of hope and newness and oldness and preciously bittersweet moments.

    The last few days have been very productive, even if I am now tired and tetchy.  Not quite according to my plans, but perhaps the better for it. An early start tomorrow, and a fond farewell to this place where so many of my formative years were spent.

  • Is This the Last Time?

    As I stepped onto the north-bound train to bring me back up from Milton Keynes to Northampton, at the end of a slightly convoluted train journey, it struck me, surprisingly forcefully that this might be the last time I ever do this... next time I head this way it will probably be to Wellingborough... I may have arrived at the shiny new Northampton railway station for the last time.

    I've always known that this day would come, that one time would be the last time because there would no longer be a reason to come back.  But it is very strange to realise that this might be it, and that I had made no plans for farewell visits to anything or anyone.

    It's not the case that I can never return, it's just unlikely, once the practicalities are sorted out that I will do so.

    And it's very weird... bittersweet... this place is no longer home, nor has it been for decades, and yet it is precious... so many memories... I wasn't expecting to feel the sadness I experienced as I stepped from the train...

    Lots of practical stuff to get done, but I hope, too I can find/make the time to say my farewells to places that once I knew well, and capture some last memories.

    I've always claimed to have little or no place attachment - and I think that's still true, it's just that, of the many places I love, this the first where my primary reasons to return are ending.