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Showing posts from December, 2013

All this newness: happy 2014

My great-nephew Harri celebrated his first Christmas this year. He's five months of concentrated cuteness now and I'm sure he enjoyed the glitter and rustle, the cwtches and kisses. But he won't remember the event.
I've always imagined that it would be neural overload for babies and toddlers to remember all, or even some, of their new experiences, their first times. How could we possibly process so much novelty at such a rapid pace: the sounds and sights, the sensory explosions of tastes and textures that build to create a world we begin to catalogue and recognise? But I've recently discovered that we do retain all those individual fragments of information: it's just that our brains don't develop the ability to bundle all those fragments together and create memories before the age of between two and four.
Harri still has a lot of 'first times' to come and even though he won't remember them his parents will, their hearts beating out such joy and de…

'I just wanted to be sure of you.' And happy holidays.

We need that, don't we? Feeling sure of someone? A surety that allows us to trust them, feel safe. Or just feeling sure that even breached by many years the next time you meet your conversation will be a continuation: renewed, an easiness settling around you.
I have friends like that. Ones I might go months without seeing. Others who live in different countries that I might not see for years and years. You probably do too.
Hungry Writing Prompt Write about someone you are sure of.
These little almond and chocolate beauties arrived in the post today from our friends in St Pere de Riudebitlles, a village north west of Barcelona.
We haven't seen Engracia and Enric, and their sons Darwin and Gerard, for over 12 years. But between 1994 and 1995, when we were living in Barcelona, we spent most of our days with them. Tony made huge sheets of paper on the terrace of their house, as part of his Masters in European Fine Art, using paper pulp from the factory they ran and still run today. 
Enr…

Famous Names: the trickle and dribble of memory

Remember these? Christmas chocolates for grown-ups. At least they only ever made an appearance in our house at the end of the year and they belonged strictly in adult territory. Only the Harvey's Bristol Cream one blurred the boundary line. Perhaps because, at the end of the 1960s, I was allowed half a glass of sherry at Christmas then that little barrel of chocolate filled with the sweet, dark syrup was also viewed as an acceptable trespass. 
I do not know, yet, whether there is a little barrel of chocolate inside this box a friend gave me a couple of days ago. I am reluctant to open it and discover plain and uninspiring chocolate blocks, design beaten into submission by the passing years. I am also keeping possible disappointment at arm's length because the memory is a sweet one too: biting off the top, drinking the contents then allowing the remainder of the sherry infused barrel to melt on my tongue. There was risk involved in that approach though: a less than clean bite re…

The Vegetable of Doom

Mine was 'the frozen pea'. I could stare at them, corralled on one side of my dinner plate, for an hour without eating a single one. I didn't like their colour or their texture. And they had a strange smell: like green rainwater in an old garden bucket. Fifty years later I can deal with them. But let's be honest, they're a little too independent. There can't be a person alive who hasn't shot an 'escape-pea' off the side of their plate. 

I imagine a lot of us have seen our 'vegetables of doom' metamorphose into our friends. Unless you're a hardened enemy of the Brussel sprout that is.


But more on the maligned sprout later.
My brother-in-law's sworn enemy was the parsnip. He swears his mother disguised them amongst his roast potatoes, where they lurked, cloaked in gravy and deception.
You can't really get a more common and garden variety vegetable than the parsnip. At least not here in the UK, and possibly in the US. But when I was liv…

Welcome to The Hotel Decrepitude

You know those ads with 50-somethings bouncing around tennis courts with perfectly groomed hair and suntans that advertise, 'Fifty is the new Thirty'? Well, not around here it ain't. 
I don't want to be 30. I'd settle for, 'Fifty-five is the same-old Fifty-five' but my list of growing complaints is trying to convince me otherwise. I won't bore you here with the accumulation of details because I am trying to avoid membership of the 'Tasmalou Club' as the French call it.
T'as (tu as) mal ou? Or, Where does it hurt? A phrase I learned from Mme Riff, our beautiful and elegant French landlady in Juan les Pins as her husband launched into a description of his bad ankle.  Frozen joints, random lumps, the failing eyesight of a mole I can deal with. But telling me I can't eat butter? Or saucisson sec? Or my pungent and creamy French cheeses? Yes, it's the dreaded unreasonably high cholesterol reading. Which is either punishment for extended hedo…