If I could have dinner with anyone in history it would be with…Gerald Durrell.
Two of this wonderful man’s books (‘My Family and Other Animals’ and ‘Birds, Beasts and Relatives’) were stalwart parts of my later childhood, allowing me to escape into his world of pre-WWII Corfu, where he lived with his mad family in delightful exile from the drabness and drizzle of Pudding Island. He was ten at the time and his memories are like crystal.
We’d have to have dinner on Corfu – his Corfu, where the sea was limpid and warm as a bath and porpoises frolicked in the bay; where the moon rose ginormous, like a newly minted coin; where the gruff old shepherds could be wined and befriended and would regale you with stories and song; where the hysterical peasants at market day would haggle and dart and gabble like so many brightly-clad chickens.
In this Corfu, we’d wander along one of the dusty tracks, lifting clouds of golden dust into the air behind us, surrounded by his shaggy black dog, Roger, and the puppies Widdle and Puke (perhaps accompanied by his aloof Scops owl, Ulysses). As we descended through the olive groves (full of ancient, gnarled and twisted trees with silvered leaves which whispered to one another as the wind breezed past), we’d stop to explore under a fallen log or two, rotten and rich-smelling as fruit cake, to see whether woodlice, large, smooth snails or perhaps a scorpion or two had taken up residence.
Round a bend in the hill, the sea would become visible below us, almost invisible due to being so clear. Somewhere in the groves, the collared doves would begin to start calling and he could tell me again the story of the old woman who was present on the road to Calvary as Christ passed by with his cross. Simon of Cyrene asked for some milk for Jesue, knowing He was weary from carrying the heavy tree on which He would be hung. The old woman told him the price – eighteen coins – but Simon only had seventeen. He begged the old woman for a reduction, but she was stubborn and would not change her price. When Christ died, the old woman, for her uncharitable behaviour, was turned into a collared dove, forever to repeat the price she so obstinately clung to, forever calling “dekaeocto, dekaeocto” (eighteen, eighteen). The legend has it that if she ever relents and says “dekaepta” (seventeen) she will return to her human form but if her stubbornness turns to spite and she utters ‘nineteen’ “dekaennea” the world will end.
By then we’d be at the beach, traverse the multicoloured rocks and reach the sea, so quiet and limpid that the waves barely lapped at the shore. We’d explore all the rock pools and watch the dogs as they tramped through the shallows and tried to catch the flickering blennies; their jaws clopping together with a whoosh of spray and a salty, surprised sneeze. We would swim out to catch sea-slugs and use their squirting defense mechanism as water pistols against one another, or let the slug squirt to a distant point in the sea and then explore that area for fauna, the winner being the one with most.
Later we’d come back to shore for the picnic dinner, brought with us in bags – stone bottles of lemonade left to cool in the shallows and some bread, olives and grapes with maybe a cake of pressed figs or some sharp, crumbly goat cheese.
As the evening cooled and the stars came out, we’d swim again in the now-cool ocean, dragging our hands through the water to watch the ribbons of phosphorescence flare and fade, always watching for porpoises, who might appear and put on a show.
Eventually, full, tired and brimming with sleep, we would rouse the slumbering dogs and take our collecting jars, shimmering with life, back up the hill through the now-silent groves, lit from within by one, two, then hundreds of glinting fireflies.
Now this, this, would be a dinner party worth attending.
Wow, even though I haven’t got the book here in front of me, I can reproduce the world so well I just got a book hangover as I looked up to see Husby and his Mum playing Carcassonne at the small coffee table, saw his Dad outside on the balcony and heard the traffic rushing past on the main road.
I ain’t in Corfu now…
Husby and I had a wonderful time over lunch today.
We met a friend who we’ve known for several years online, but today she was in town and suggested we all meet up. I was excited and nervous, and was very much looking forward to seeing her and her baby son.
It. Was. Gorgeous.
I only hope she felt the same way.
I immediately felt relaxed with her, and her son (straight away) gave Husby the biggest grin. We chatted about all sorts, but it didn’t feel like the first meeting – it felt as if we’d been great friends for a long time and had met up after having not seen each other for ages.
She has a wonderful manner about her and there was no awkwardness at all. We enjoyed our lunches and chatted about nothing and everything and all manner of things in between. I hope that she had as nice a time as I did, and that at some point we will meet up again.
Today I forgot about using White Man’s Magic to my advantage and got damp.
I’d just gotten home from the school run with Sis when she rang me to require my assistance in a trip to the shops. So I thought, thought I, that the petrol for piddly little journeys was expensive, it was not that much extra hassle to get my bike from the shed, and I certainly had the calories to spare.
So of course, halfway around the shops, it rained.
It rained heavily so that the pavements shone and people ran for cover in doorways.
But of course.
Husby had his eyes screened today in the Diabetic Eye Screening van, by a lady who’s a member of the team I applied to join.
She was kind – she let me in.
She talked me through the initial eye test, then tested Husby, letting me see what she’d told me about. Then we went through to the dark, black back of the van where the screening machine was housed. After a few minutes in the dark (giving time for his pupils to dilate) she let me watch over her shoulder as she used a joystick to line up the camera and take photos of his retinas.
She was kind, caring, professional and the job looks fun.
I could TOTALLY do it.
And she told me the shortlisting happened yesterday, so I’ll soon know if I’ve been invited to interview, but she wrote my name down and (I hope) will talk about meeting me at the office later.
Random Fun (?) Fact – I’ve played so much Bejewelled on Facebook this week that I have a sore muscle in my finger from too many clicks.
The central idea is to practice gratitude, always, every day, and especially when the going gets tough, but we’re starting you easy with one day of your weekend (or two, if you’re really committed and would like 100 Awesome Points)
Ready, steady, GO!