Sunday, 1 July 2012

A reunion, a funeral and a sports day

Life in the cottages goes on. One lovely family have just left us, heading back to Grenada, and another arrive, this time from Africa, where they teach. A definite plus of this whole Cottage affair is the brief glimpse we get into other peoples lives, as they touch down in Aunby, stay a moment or two, and head off. #4 is delighted that this family also come with a small child, so she and her friend are preparing to adopt all over again.

Outside the Aunby Plot, life has been busy in the last few days. First a reunion, 25 years since we left Durham. Quite a while. We circulated with drinks, gradually perfecting our 'life precis'. Ashley delivered hers in bullet points, but she had been going a while by then  - numbers of children and/or marriages (not that many divorces actually, me aside) - geographical location - any major life events out of the ordinary (a near death experience via parachute in Nepal was one) - plans for the rest of the evening... One person I know stayed away because he felt he would not be able to stomach the success. He would have been quite safe. It was difficult not to semi ignore whatever anyone has done in the intervening years, and just step back in time.  One father, whose son was performing the lead role in a school play ('Robin Hood'), seemed to take as much delight in the fact that his child had pipped the child of another durhamite, (sadly not at the reunion to be able to deny giving a monkey's), to the title role as he did in the fact that his son was a star. It was all comfortingly familiar..  There was only one person I failed to recognise. Plenty of people to identify him though.

Bit of a crisis on Saturday. Torn between the funeral of a dear little girl whose parents I met when they were our first ever guests here,  and sports day. I had thought I would let the weather make the decision, drive to Bath for the funeral? Or stay in Lincs and cheer # 3 and # 4 on? Woke at 8 to a clear day, thought that this was decision made, but by 8.30 it was thunderous and black. Rushed into clothes, had a couple of short worded conversations with husband about location of picnic ware and planned content of picnic (which he had bought the previous day so not sure what he really needed to know) and a miserable conversation with #3 who was desperately sad about the whole thing, remembered Alice vividly, knew I wanted to be there for her parents, but also wanted me at sports day. 

He told me to go, so I did. Drove off at 8.40, to collect Flick, fellow friend. On way, made various calls, trying to finally decide if this was right decision. Called School to ask whether they thought sports day would even happen, and to check whether #3 or #4 would be getting a prize, as this would obviously alter plans. Unknown on the weather front, and no on the prize front. Also set up welcome committee for new young family arriving at 3 from Africa into the cottage. All sorted, but son's little face in my mind, and of course had not had time to discuss with #4 as she was at school on Friday night.... anxiety anxiety anxiety. 

Collected Flick and set off with her for Uppingham to collect third member of Bath party. On way, went over everything again with Flick and clarified my thinking. Dropped her at house of the third friend and returned to speech/sports day. Which went well, except for the ritual humiliation of the obstacle race. #3 won the 100m hurdles and #4 came second in the 100m - so honour was upheld.

After all that, today's activities have been limited to arguing with Son #2 about who is going to clean his bathroom, which is disgusting. He clearly thinks this is not his problem. My problem is that it is easier (though revolting) for me to do it, than to wait for him to. My ultimate sanction, refusal to take him to train station, will not have any bite until 11 July, when he plans to head to London. That feels like a long way off.

Have just bought Kindles, not arrived yet, for #3 and #4. For #4 because she reads so ferociously that I am faced with hauling a stack of books around this summer. #3 because I think you might be able to read Kindles in bed at night, after lights out, and this might be a new plan to help him conquer the horror of  having to wait for hours in the darkness for sleep to take him, (since the house parents at Witham, whose children are about 2 and 1, want everyone tucked up and out of the way by 8.30, which poor #3 cannot manage.). More on the Kindles to follow....

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