All posts by adrian

Frozen Planet – Amazing

Friday 11th November

Having just taken you down the by-ways of nineteen seventies television, how about coming bang up to date with the wonderful ‘Frozen Planet’?  I have always loved Natural History programs, and nobody does it better than the BBC.  In fact I think that ITV have stopped altogether – maybe they think there is enough wild life on X factor already.  Well, if the audience figures are anything to go by then watching poor innocent lambs being torn apart before our very eyes by ravenous vultures is as popular as ever.  I have only dallied once, when, out of sheer boredom, and maybe a modicum of curiosity at what all the fuss was about, I watched a few minutes of X factor; and a few minutes was enough.  Maybe it says a lot about our society that this sort of thing is so successful, at least I suppose it might be considered one step up from Big Brother.

As a child I used to love those Disney wild-life films, you know, the ones about a bear family in Yellowstone Park, or prairie dogs or the mountain lion jumping from rock to rock. Then we had the wonderful Life on Earth and all the other Life ones which followed, all beautifully filmed and sound-tracked by what was at the time, a relatively youthful David Attenborough.  What is it about his voice, with those slightly arched and old-fashioned middle class tones that we find so reassuring and attractive?  He is, by all accounts, quite curmudgeonly and very right wing in real life; none of that stops him from being able to talk with what seems such intimate knowledge and enthrallment about the natural world, and the dangers which mankind is threatening it with.  So, a long quiet love affair, shared by millions I am sure, and possibly we were always a bit afraid that the current series might be his last.  Someone once reviewed the Rolling Stones (no, I do not like them at all and never have done) that one went to watch them not to see how good they were, but just to see if they were still alive.  But David Attenborough just seems to get better and better; nowadays he doesn’t walk through caves where millions of fruit bats are roosting and, incidentally, defecating on his head, and he doesn’t sit in a forest glade with silver-backed gorillas’ any more, in fact one fears that never more will we see him in those baggy khaki shorts and safari shirts.  He just narrates, and brings to life the spectacular photography, and what photography, slow motion and time-lapsed ice crystals forming or melting, and the beautiful underwater ice sculptures are just incredible.  My only small gripe is the bit tacked on the end where they show you how they filmed it, this takes away some of the romance I feel.

Maybe in a hundred years time, we will have begun to properly explore Antartica, if the technology has improved significantly; though in all likelihood we will destroy more than we manage to preserve.  It used to be a real rarity for anyone to reach either pole, and it was only a hundred years ago since Amundsen beat Scott by days to the South Pole, but now our modern-day adventurers’ Polar achievements are hardly even newsworthy, but I was dismayed when this past summer they managed to take a ship right around the Arctic circle, now ice-free because of global warming.  The most sobering thought is that this program may be obsolete at some time in the future, as our Frozen Planet becomes even more of a rarity.

A Bouquet of Barbed Wire

Thursday 10th November

I watched the TV serial first, then ran out and bought the book, which was unusual for me as I was usually drawn to watching something because I had already read the book, and then feeling slightly let down, as the characters never quite lived up to my imagination of them. This time around I got hooked, line and sinker I might add, to Prue and her mother Cass, and her American Husband, the precocious Gavin, and her obsessed and lovelorn father Peter, played superbly by Frank Finlay.  It was amazingly modern and frank, very risqué for 1976, and terribly exciting, with its combinations of flirting and eroticism.  The dark undercurrent of mental if not physical incest of Peter for his daughter was quite shocking too.  But so brilliantly acted, and skillfully written that it teased you right up to the end.  It was written by Andrea Newman, a writer I was unfamiliar with, and though I loved Bouquet and bought the book and read it almost in one go, I never really liked anything else she has written.  Maybe it was just that the TV serial had so whetted my appetite for the characters that I just wanted to devour anything about them; I can remember the anticipation building through the week until it came on again, and there was a real buzz at work, as everyone talked about it, and had opinions about the morality of the different characters.  One of the themes was that Cass, Prue’s mother seems to be quite aware that Prue’s husband is trying to seduce her, and seems to be quietly encouraging him; at the time this idea, of a much older woman leading on, enticing, stealing a lover from her own daughter was really quite shocking.  Older women didn’t do that sort of thing did they?  Well, yes, they obviously did, and probably always have done in certain circles; you had just never seen it on TV before.

And there were only the four characters ever on screen, except another young girl, can’t remember her name, but she came in about half way through, otherwise it was just the four of them.  A clever device as it kept the whole thing ‘in the family’, so to speak.  And the strange thing is I cannot even remember the ending, and even though one was desperate to find out what would happen next, desperate almost to see who would be sleeping with whom next, the ending eludes me.  Maybe it never mattered really, it was just the being in the thing that mattered, being a part of it, almost as when one is caught up in an Agatha Christie film, the twists and turns in the plot matter not a whit, it is the world one is transported into that one loves; it really doesn’t signify which rich and scheming relative actually put the knife in, it is the telling of the story that one loves.

They tried in vain to write a sequel, Another Bouquet about a year later, but I only watched a couple of shows; the same characters, the same actors, but somehow I had moved on, or found it all a bit ridiculous a second time around.  It was a thing of the moment, it had truly captured the zeitgeist, and the imagination of millions of viewers, such was the power of the real golden age of television.

I think it was the last time I was really hooked on a television serial, with the possible exception of This Life, but that was twenty years later, and we had all moved on, maybe I will write about that another time.

The Seven Deadly Sins – Wrath

Wednesday 9th November

Los Angeles was the city chosen by Brecht in his lyrics for Anna and her twin sister Anna to discover Wrath.  Wrath, a strange and rarely used word nowadays, except in “The Wrath of the Almighty” type of proclamations by the likes of Ian Paisley in Northern Ireland.  It means Anger, of course, but violent uncontrolled Anger at that, and of course it is perfectly obvious why it is a deadly sin.  It not only harms all around one, but most of all oneself.  What makes us Angry though, is it a gradual build up of events, like the cumulative water on a stone, and then we get to a tipping point of frustration, where the least little thing makes us erupt in volcanic anger?   Or is it the righteous indignation when we are wrongly accused?  Or is it, as so often is the case, when Love turns to Fury as our loved one lets us down, or rejects us, or simply does not reciprocate in the way we do?  So many things seem to make us Angry that one wonders if it is perhaps an essential part of our make-up, a defence-mechanism maybe for survival when times are tough.  Or is it just the result of stress from living such un-natural lives? After all, it is only in the last few thousand years that we have begun to live in settled communities with different skills and tasks and the added pressures of city living, with mass transport and the commercial imperative of making a living and being successful even more recent departures, is it little wonder that though we cope on the surface we are all prone to letting things push us into Anger.

I know that I was angry with Grandma for weeks after I discovered her little poisoned darts after her death, but maybe I was not so angry at her, but at myself for letting her get to me.  And maybe this is the key to Anger; we lash out at friends and family, or the unsuspecting girl in Starbucks who gets our order wrong, or the driver of the bus when it is suddenly decided to terminate here, when all along we are maybe angry with ourselves, and often angry because we realize we have just gotten angry over nothing and rather than back down we have to justify our anger by getting really furious and threatening to write to someone’s boss, or never coming here again.  Stupid really, but sometimes when one gets angry it is really quite hard to calm down and just forget it.

But what do you say about the really angry people, who leap out of their cars and assault another driver, or who beat someone up over an insult, or smash up their partner over a suspected infidelity, or who actually murder someone in a fit of jealous rage.  How angry do you have to be, to kill someone?  Better not try and find out, I think.  I do find that I have mellowed more with age; things that would have made me livid when a younger woman I let slip by me with a resigned shrug of the shoulders, more and more I realize I cannot change the world, so why get Angry at it. ‘Nothing really matters’, I find myself saying; it’s really quite easy, it’s called Apathy.  Why don’t you try it for a change?

My, How things have changed – Part 2 Photography

Tuesday 8th November

My mother had a Brownie box camera, it was years old when I can first remember it and a bit battered at the corners.  It was basically a cardboard box covered with black paper and with a lens and exposure trigger in the front.  I believe the film had to be entered one sheet at a time in a slot at the back.  My mother took so few photo’s with it, it is quite hard to remember the sequence of events.  Consequently I have only a small handful of photos of me as a child, one or two completely unrecognizable baby pictures, one in Grandma’s arms, and one in my Silver Cross pram and  a few of me on beach holidays, presumably at Whitby as I look about ten in them.  I have no photos, except those in my head, of Cyprus.  I find this really strange; there they all were, my Mother, my Father, and Grandma in a foreign and spectacularly beautiful country and nobody thought to take any photographs. But then my mother let slip once that all the photo’s she had in Cyprus had mysteriously gotten lost in the move to London, whether by accident or by the hand of Grandma I am not sure.  These early snaps are really small too, about 3 inches by 3, and are so poorly focused as to be next to useless in trying to see what I might have looked like.

One of my first purchases when I was working was a semi-decent camera.  I spent quite a lot of money and bought a Compact Russian, half frame camera with a good lens and light meter and a full range of exposure times and F stops.  I also spent some time reading the instructions, and tried in my amateur way to take good pictures.  Because the process was quite complicated, checking the light, adjusting the distance to focus correctly on your subject, and the using your judgment as to shutter speed, and because developing a roll of film was quite expensive, you tended to think about the shot before taking it, avoiding lamp-posts sticking out of people’s heads, or shooting into bright sunshine, consequently the pictures, mine at least were pretty good.  I also adopted a policy of rejecting any I didn’t like as soon as I collected the pictures from the developers.  I have about three Albums full, of nicely mounted and annotated pictures, including some of Adrian and Justin I must admit.

My next camera was an Instamatic, with a drop in film cassette with automatic rewind.  This was self-focusing, or so it professed, though all too often you got a blurred background.  Because there was no light meter or F stop, only a little sunshine, a moon, and a half sun symbol, the pictures were inevitably poorer in quality.  This was so easy to use though that you got far more spontaneous pictures.  I used this for several years in Italy, and now looking back, I wish I had kept the old camera and thought about composition a bit more.

Then there were those cameras with a circular disc of film; I never got one of those but moved straight onto a digital one, a very expensive Christmas present from Edward.  I loved the fact that you could review and reject pictures before getting them developed.

And now it is all downloaded onto your computer, manipulated, cropped, anti-red-eyed, straightened, re-focused, more light, more contrast, so that the picture isn’t at all the same as the one you took.  Or now more and more people just fill up their mobile phone with tiny pirctures they have to squint at to even see.   Funny thing is, after downloading my pictures I hardly ever look at them again, yet I often get out my three old albums and pore over them.

Oh, I do love to be beside the Seaside

Monday 7th November

I have just returned from a weekend with friends who live by the coast, near Bournemouth.  Not quite the exotic luxury of Sandbanks, but a nice house and only a few streets from the sea.  And I am reminded how much I love being beside the sea, especially out of season, when the wind whips up the sand into little swirling eddies around your feet, the rain is gently plashing your face and the surf is crashing in rather than that gentle lapping of summer.  The Mediterranean seashore I remember as always sunny and the sea as blue as blue can be, though this may simply be the cumulative memory of many summer holidays later, set against the rainy grey of London.  Growing up in Putney, we would often holiday in Whitby, with its’ wide and flat windy bay open to the elements, the ruins of the Abbey and the narrow winding streets leading up from the beach to our Hotel.  Here the sea seemed vast and moody and not inviting at all, but as a child I used to go paddling here and can recall building sand-castles and canal systems down by the sea in the soft and wet sand.   We stopped going when I must have been about fourteen, and I spent several years without a holiday or sight of the sea at all, until after Grandma’s illness when she and my mother spent a month there, and I joined them after my Paris adventure for two weeks.

Until I met Edward I hardly went anywhere either, it always seemed too much bother, and besides I had my mother to contend with; we hardly communicated at all really, and the thought of spending two weeks by the sea-side with only my mother for company, morning noon and night, was too daunting to contemplate.  But with Edward, though we spent most of our summer breaks in Tuscany, we were never that far from the coast and would often end up in some small fishing village, taking late lunches in the beautiful Italian sunshine and enjoying their totally unhurried lifestyle, gazing out across the sand and sea, a carafe of vino-rosso, a bowl of olives and the sun slowly going down on the horizon, the perfect end to the day.

Now, although I have been invited to join friends in Italy, I politely decline; I mean what couple wants a middle-aged woman for company, but I do miss the sea I must admit.  I could easily afford to buy somewhere by the coast, and the outskirts of Bournemouth or Brighton near my father would be perfect. But then I still have the responsibility of my mother, and though she is in good health at the moment, she is at that dangerous mid-eighties age when illness can suddenly creep up on one.  So, I think I will wait a while longer before moving from London, and I must admit that I have lived almost my whole life here, for good or bad, and though I am attracted by the sea-side, and London is changing before my very eyes, I am quite nervous of the thought of moving.  So, while I do love to be beside the sea-side, I don’t need to be there all the time.

My, How things have changed – Part 1, TV

Sunday 6th November

I find it hard to remember what we did in the evenings before Television, although we did love the Wireless, especially on a Sunday evening when Grandma insisted on listening to ‘Sing something Simple’.  We were quite late getting our set, a Murphy – it must have been 1962 or there-about.  Of course, Aunt Maud had one for the Coronation, and though we missed that it was her central show-off item whenever we visited in the Fifties; she would shepherd us all in to her uncomfortable drawing room, draw the curtains and dim the lights, and get Uncle Herbert to plug it in and switch on.  Well, we waited and waited, and secretly I was sure it would never actually start, then slowly a white dot would appear in the middle of the screen, and then after about five minutes, it would pop open and a crazy zig-zag of black and white jagged images would appear, and a crackly fizzing sound.  Uncle Herbert would then go up to the set and start adjusting several small knobs on the back of the set, constantly asking if the picture had settled down.  Eventually it would be watchable, often with a heavy black and white shadow like an aura around the people talking.  Our own set was a bit more modern and would usually start after only a couple of minutes, in fact we learnt not to keep adjusting the vertical and horizontal hold buttons as it only made the picture worse, it usually cleared of its’ own accord sooner or later.  At first, Grandma would be the only person allowed to operate the set, but she soon inveigled me into being the one who had to jump up and increase the volume a bit, or just see what’s on the Commercial channel, (no remotes back then) there were of course only two channels to watch, though this hardly stopped us (well, Grandma mostly) becoming avid viewers.  I soon bored of the thing, and apart from a few American comedies like ‘I love Lucy’, ‘Green Acres’ and ‘The Beverley Hill-billies’, and our very own ‘Doctor Who’ with its’ wobbly sets and ‘Steptoe and Son’ I would watch the Six O’Clock news and a bit of Tonight and then go up to my room to read and listen to music.  My mother liked ‘Gardeners Club’; though Percy Thrower’s words of wisdom rarely translated themselves into action on my mother’s part.  She rarely sat with us and watched TV though, she always had something to sort out in her room or the kitchen.

I have been a sporadic Television watcher ever since, picking and choosing more as time goes on, ending up more often than not on BBC2 or BBC News, since I got my Freeview box.  Sometimes out of sheer boredom I flip through the available channels, and none are at all appealing, especially the shopping channels; I mean, who even watches this drivel, let alone buys anything, but I suppose people must or the channels wouldn’t exist.  Sometimes at friends who have Sky, we are taken through all the cookery and home makeover and travel channels, and even the God ones, and Asian channels, including three or four just on Weddings.  What a strange world we have available on our large flat screens, and who would have thought it when that huge wooden box full of valves was delivered in the early sixties.

Most strange of all though is TV on the computer.  Not only BBC i-player, but apparently you can ‘stream’ almost anything from anywhere in the world these days, and there are literally hundreds of digital radio stations available on the internet.  So, like that old nursery rhyme, “Rings on her fingers, and rings on her toes, she shall have music wherever she goes.”  Though I doubt much is worth watching or listening to.

The way we look after our teeth

Saturday 5th November

Grandma had false teeth, I can remember as a little girl laughing as she pulled faces at me and made her top teeth slip forward and almost out of her mouth, then back in again, quick as a flash.  I had almost forgotten this, except for the fact that Grandma could never eat apples or toffee “because of my teeth, my dear”, until, when she became poorly, and I was brought up short by the sight of her dentures in a glass on her bedside cabinet.  They looked so sad, half floating in their little glass, and Grandma’s face had collapsed in on itself a bit as she lay half asleep on the pillow.  It was quite common for her generation to have all their teeth out and false teeth fitted, and my mother had a small top plate with about four teeth, two on either side which she would sometimes leave in the kitchen in her own glass, with a tablet of Steradent fizzing away.  So my mother’s teeth were in a better state than her own mothers, which was not really the case with me.

Although I was rarely indulged with sweets, and visited our dentist regularly every six months, the policy seemed to be one of intervention, intervention and even more intervention.  Every possible crack or hint of a crack, every tiny hole, every small blemish in the enamel, was attacked with the fervour of a zealot, and my poor teeth were drilled hollow and stuffed full of enough mercury and amalgam to sink a small battleship.  Consequently, in my late fifties and sixties I have suffered from a succession of broken teeth, with huge chunks calving off like glaciers approaching the sea.  One piece even came out as I was eating a soft croissant, I was horrified to find a hard lump in the croissant, and at first thought it was a small stone left in the flour.  My tongue isolated it and as I spat it into my palm I was even more horrified to find that yet another tooth had cracked, leaving a jagged sharp shell which I knew would soon be giving me trouble.   And so I have had a series of crowns and bridges fitted, and now my dentist is talking about implants, where a whole new artificial tooth, root and all, is imbedded into my jaw.  At over a thousand pounds a tooth I might add.  So we have nearly come full circle, and I really feel that I prefer to have the crowns and at least a few bits of my own teeth, even if they are only stumps, than a whole new set of inevitably plastic implants.

At least today’s children with a lifetime of fluoridated water and a much better dental regime should stand a better chance of retaining their teeth.  But with life-expectancy reaching ever more lofty heights will these new centurions still have a full set of shiny white teeth, or will we all end up with implants, as more and more bits of our bodies are replaced as we live ever longer.

My only surprise is that people are surprised

Friday 4th November

Well really, what did we expect, we have been blindly walking into a cave with no light at the end, and the way back out obscured too, for years and years.  Did we really think it could go on forever; ever and ever higher house prices, more and more consumer goods filling up the empty spaces in our homes and lives, and an ever increasing standard of living, when for most of us we already had far more than any generation before us could ever have dreamed of.  And it was driven by a sort of collective greed that overrode any social conscience or common sense we might once have possessed; everything is allowed as long as we just keep getting richer and richer.  Well, the roundabout has juddered to a halt, and those that haven’t been thrown to the ground must simply cling on and hope that somehow the wretched thing can be got moving again, though the signs are not so good.  Oh, the rich will prevail, no danger there, they are already investing heavily in the economies of the East, China, India and the rest, and the poor – well, who really cares about the poor, it is the middle classes we must try to protect.  But just how, nobody is sure.

The world has only limited resources, even with advanced technology there is only so much food that can be grown, only so many tons of iron and coal and oil extracted from our tiny planet, and the third world nations we used to ignore in our madcap grab for wealth are now demanding not only a fair price for the goods we used to practically steal from them, but also their share of our affluent and comfortable lives; consumer goods, computers, mobile phones, meat on their plates, fashionable clothes and nice houses.  And who can blame them.  It was as inevitable as that other staple of Economic Historians, the dissipation of Wealth, where despite the rich getting ever richer, first the middle and then the working classes demanded and got a slice of the cake.  The trouble is that the cake is only capable of being sliced up into so many pieces, and we in the West are going to have to get used to thinner and thinner slices, or just go hungry.

I think that it is only just dawning on our leaders too.  I always thought that one was supposed to learn from History, but not this time it would appear.  The last World Depression in the thirties went on for quite some time before FDR decided to create the New Deal, which was basically printing money but channelling it towards consumers to give them confidence again.  All the remedies which our leaders are advocating are not only crumbling confidence but are positively scaring the patient to death.

We have to somehow inspire the middle classes to believe in the future again, without encouraging them to get into massive debt again.  Maybe we have to re-invent money, or as every country has done before to devalue our currency so that everything becomes affordable again.  J. K. Galbraith told us on television in the nineteen seventies that economic policy was like pulling a brick on a piece of elastic along a table top, and bending down level with the table trying to watch it move.  What is so surprising is that nobody realised that it was bound to wallop us right between the eyes sooner or later.

Older Women with Long Hair

Thursday 3rd November

Is it just me, or are more middle-aged women wearing their hair longer these days. Not just those straggly haired eccentric old ladies who one suspects have very hairy legs and underarm hair, and refuse to wash and give off an aroma of a crustiness one normally associates with the homeless, but normal middle class women too.  I certainly seem to have noticed it more and more often; there was a time, of course when almost like clockwork, as women approached their mid-thirties they would start to wear it shorter.  Grandma always had fairly short hair, as far as I can remember; she used to have a woman in about once every six weeks. This travelling hairdresser, for want of a better term, would arrive by car, and would set herself up in the front sitting-room, or ‘drawing room’, as Grandma would poshly announce to visitors and tradesmen alike.  She would have a hairdryer on a stand, you know, one of those big conical ones you used to see in Salons everywhere, and a small suitcase full of large plastic bottles and literally hundreds of curlers. My mother and I knew to make ourselves scarce, my mother remaining in our large kitchen and I in my bedroom, for the duration.  Grandma and her hairdresser, whose name escapes me, if I ever knew it, would disappear up to the bathroom, where Grandma would have her hair washed, and then swaddled in a large fluffy towel they would descend to the ‘parlour’.  Grandma would emerge a couple of hours later with her hair neatly and ‘permanently’ curled, and sprayed with so much hairspray that it positively glistened.  As she grew older though, she stopped having ‘perms’ and would just have her hair cut and ‘set’, I think this actually suited her better, a looser more relaxed style, than the almost rigid and tight perm she wore in the fifties and sixties.  My mother has worn her hair in a boyish side-combed style since I can remember, I am not even sure where she used to go to get it cut; the travelling hairdresser was only ever for Grandma.

Shortly after I broke up with Adrian I got my hair cut, before this I used to wear it in a neat little bun, it was actually quite long, past shoulder length, but I always trimmed the ends before it got too long.  I have worn it short-ish ever since, once or twice toying with the idea of letting it ‘grow out’, but I could never get past that straggly in-between stage, so always gave in and had it styled again.  I am sure that I am far too old now to have long hair, though I think that the long and bouncy style favoured by some older women such as Jerry Hall has encouraged far more older women to try it.  I find it really quite disconcerting when you see a woman from the back who has a full and flowing head of hair, then they turn around and you almost gasp as you realise that what you naturally assumed was a thirty-something turns out to be approaching seventy, or even older; almost as weird as those men with wigs that make their hair look like a twenty year old with all the craggy wrinkles and myopic eyes of a pensioner; and you know that underneath this ridiculous appendage which is as precise and well combed as a mannequin’s the man is actually as bald as a coot.

Memories of my time in Cyprus

Wednesday 2nd November

In my book I never really described any memories of my life in Cyprus, I was seven when we left but can still remember a few things.  They are more like tiny ‘viral’ (I think the terminology is) video’s, short little scenes that I replay again and again in my head.  The most common one is of course the day we left, this was traumatic enough for a seven year old, leaving what had been my home and the only place I could remember, without the added anxiety that I knew in the back of my mind that I was also leaving my father.  I had escaped the awful dead atmosphere in the house and run down to the beach, the place was almost deserted, just a small white haired boy who was more interested in charging into the gentle surf than in me, well I didn’t care either.  I can remember sitting in the dunes and holding my two hands in an open square through which I looked, I suppose I was imitating the taking of photographs, and I kept adjusting my view, capturing segment after segment of the horizon. I crept back into the house and Grandma, visibly irritated by my absence scolded me, “Oh there you are, Catherine, where have you been, and today of all days.”  Chastened, I glared back at her my silent accusations.  There were suitcases and packing cases all around us and despite the heat Grandma had on a tweed suit and a white fox fur, with its’ glass eyes staring out at me, and as if she knew what I was thinking she confirmed my worst fears, in French, I might add, presumably so that the servants, who actually knew everything, would not understand.  AndI knew and understood nothing.

Another memory was having my photograph taken by an official photographer.  I can remember wearing a very pretty tartan dress and being perched on a really high stool, at least three feet off the ground.  The photographer wore a white suit with a red flower in his lapel, he told me to look at it and say cheese, and then there was an almighty flash and a loud phut sound, and startled as a rabbit caught in a hurtling car’s headlight beam I attempted a toothless smile.  I can remember this so clearly as Grandma used to quite often bring the photo out for visiting relatives to laugh at, “Oh just look at the poor child, she looks terrified.” And I was.

And then there was the day with my father on a nature trail of our own, a ‘lizard hunt’, and we actually saw a few that day too.  We were like two conspiring thieves, stealing time away from Grandma’s beady eye.  I loved that day, crawling flat on the ground among the sand dunes, or running along the beach like a pair of children, what am I saying, I was a child, but running like this with an adult was unheard of.  That day I felt my father was all my own, no mother hovering around behind his chair, no Grandma engaging him in small talk at dinner, just me and him, the way we were supposed to be.  And never were to be again

And then, lying awake at night listening to the arguments, first my mother’s raised almost hysterical voice, then Grandma’s short snappy one shutting her up, then my father’s exasperated shouting and the slamming of doors and retreating footsteps. And I never knew why.

And that is about it, those four memories, for me at least, because try as I might I cannot remember anything about Grandma and me that makes it specifically Cyprus; my memories of Grandma are really all the same whether in Putney or Cyprus I cannot distinguish at all.