Catherine’s Blog – day four

Tuesday 2nd August 2011

And I am late, I who am never late.  I got home late last night from dinner with my mother and was just too tired to gather my thoughts together to write my little blog.  I am rather enjoying it, after a fashion.

My mother, do I hear you enquiring?  The real dark horse of my Story, when all along I had assumed it was my father. And unlike my father, she was there all along. Looking back I am amazed that I was so unaware of her all those years in Putney.  Maybe unaware is the wrong word, it was more a case of taking her for granted, and of course, taking for granted that she was quite unimportant in my life, whereas maybe she was silently looking out for me.  If so it is of little consequence now, as whatever caring role she may have thought she was carrying out, I was totally oblivious of.  And, as you know it did not stop me from rushing headlong into mistake after mistake.   And she could have said something occasionally, some kind word of reassurance, some friendly advice, some motherly, or even sisterly confidences.  It seems I have had to manage without any of that friendly female camaraderie, for Grandma was in no way a comrade, a brother in arms,  No, Grandma was always far too aware of the difference in status between us to have let me feel an equal to her.  She was friendly but always in a slightly condescending way, making sure I was in no doubt that I was a junior partner in our little enterprise.  And then as she began to loosen her grip, as she became old and poorly, I had already slipped away from her.  And when those dark days after Paris descended on us, I was almost happy not to have to talk to her at all.  And where was my mother with her quiet solicitude then? Nowhere that I could discern! Nowhere at all, and that is the problem I have always had with her, she is so evasive I find it quite hard to locate her most of the time.  She never seems to phone me; that, apparently, is my job.  And when we meet, she never really enquires about my life, what I am up to, who my friends are and such like.  I find that just as last night, I am left to do all the talking, and just as when Grandma used to dominate the conversation, even now my Mother is happy to sit quietly, lost in her own little world no doubt, while I prattle on and on about my life,

Re-reading this, I do sound rather bitter.  But no, I was never bitter, just so disappointed with her.  What irony to have a real missing father and an even more real missing mother.  No wonder Grandma filled the vacuum with her overwhelming personality.

Catherine’s Blog – day three

Monday 1st August 2011

“First of the month, pinch punch” – as we used to sing at school.  But that was a very long time ago now.  Funny how those little rhymes stay lodged in the memory, when events such as birthdays, or holiday trips remain stubbornly vague.   Conversations are the hardest to recall, and inevitably one ad-libs when writing them down, the actual words used are impossible to remember but the flavour, the vinegar or the oil, the tone, is all too clear in the memory.

And how many conversations I would have with my Grandma, during the long winter nights, or sitting in the garden at Putney on summer evenings how we would chat for hours.  That was all before Paris and my first big deception of course.  Before the television started to dominate and Grandma’s attention would be taken up by the blurry images skittering away in the corner of the room.  Or when I was a little girl; I cannot remember the studio room in Chelsea which Grandma talks about in her spiteful little journal to me, but I do remember Cyprus.  The hot-hot afternoons which seemed endless, like the clouds that slowly drifted across the wide horizon outside our residence. And how we would automatically lower our voices when a servant came into the room, or even my mother, as if we were conspirators in some play. (whispered asides to an imaginary audience)  And our little game of speaking French so that nobody, and that would include, or so I thought, my mother and father, could understand us. And my shadow of an evasive father – even though I know and love his features now in his old age, I really cannot imagine how he looked as a young man.

Maybe we never can; maybe that explains the surprise when we see an old photo, and we struggle to recognise both ourselves and relatives or school-friends in the tiny black and white smudgy and fading images.  Of course this experience will not be shared by the younger generation, whose digital images will remain forever pristine and enlargeable, and even now being “tagged” so they can never forget the names.  How sad that they will miss out on this ageing experience, that their world will always remain clear and un-blurred.  Even their paper will not wither and curl up, as another printout can always be obtained at the click of a mouse.

Ah well, maybe it is all for the best really.


Catherine’s Blog – day two

Sunday 31st July 2011

And these really are the dog days of summer aren’t they?  All that promise of those few sunny days in April and May, when you were so delightfully surprised at the warmth of the sun on your pale-pale skin has evaporated into a boring ‘cloudy with occasional showers’ summer again.  And yet it is still quite clammy and hot in a really quite unpleasant way, and yet not really sunny either.  I do miss Tuscany now that Edward has gone.  Oh, I still get invites every year, but we sort of got out of the habit of going with a crowd and settled into our own little routine of just the two of us, and now I cannot shake myself awake enough to go with other people.  Best to close that book altogether I think.

Maybe I should have closed the whole book too I am beginning to think.  I am as usual beginning to lose my nerve about the whole thing.  It was one thing writing it, and though it is posited as fiction, and as you know I put another’s name to it altogether, there are enough people who know me, and will know that it is far too factual for comfort.   I suppose my biggest fear is of those closest to me being amazed at my brazen-ness, my open-ness about myself, and my possible embarrassment when they say, as they will “Oh Catherine, how could you write that sort of thing about yourself?”   Well the truth is simply that it was all too easy.  The book practically wrote itself.  I remember as a child listening to the Radio and Uncle Mac playing Sparky and his magic piano.  Sparky only had to place his fingers on the keys for the piano to take over and play so beautifully, and nobody knew it wasn’t the boy but the magic piano, that was playing.

And it was just like that for me, especially as I wrote Adrian and Grandma’s parts’, I became them and they simply wrote it for me.   I just had to let my fingers drift over the keys and the words spilled out.

Catherine’s Blog – day one

Friday 29th July 2011

Well, how to begin?  And how to begin to explain all of this.  Why this Blog?  Oh, that’s easy, this was the publisher’s idea, not mine at all.  What an ugly word it is too; almost obscene – surely they could have come up with something nicer, something a bit more explanatory, a bit more expressive.  But I am afraid that this is the wretched world we live in now, where the first acronym or quick and easy shortening of a few words becomes the accepted one.   Like App, or Mobile, or as the Americans say Cell.  It is all so quick and easy and yet really tells you nothing – it is almost a secret language, where if you aren’t “in the know”, “on the inside track”, “in the loop”, and other such nonsense then you have no idea what they mean.  Which is, of course, maybe the object in the first place.

So here you find me, a complete novice, a blogging virgin one could say, attempting to put a bit of explanation behind the book.   The idea, or so I am told, is that by writing this daily blog, somehow by internet wizardry of some sort people will get interested and start to read it, and maybe even comment.  So go ahead.  Feel free – as they say nowadays – comment away.

As you probably already know my name is Catherine, Catherine L.  No, I shall not divulge my surname.  I know that in my book (Catherine’s Story) I let slip that my surname was Latimer, but that’s not my name really.  I mean, I had to call myself something, but for Edward’s sake (and of course that is not his real name either) I did retain a secret or two.  Actually a lot more than that – even when one has a plan to be totally honest, at the last minute one tends to clam up and obfuscate, blur a few details, so as to retain, not only a bit of modesty, but also there is an inevitable loss of nerve too, so truth, as usual, becomes the first victim.  Besides if one retains some details, then one can almost believe it is about someone else. It was anyway, of course.  The Catherine you read about in 1972 no longer exists.   She has become a different woman altogether.  Maybe she was only a fleeting facet of my personality that I once, only once, let out of the box.  Or out of the cupboard, as the Catherine of then would have said.

Anyway, enough for now.  My publisher says I should keep these “blogs”, these little epercu’s short, so as not to bore one’s potential audience.