May 13th, 2004

Water. Deep, Dark Water

Looking at pix of mokie 's pond starts me remembering. Like how there was this pond in the next door neighbour's garden when I was a kid with lilypads and weed and these big old carp who would come gliding up from the depths and blow kisses at the surface and how that was somehow exciting and scary- like being visited by ghosts. Also- in season- there was frogspawn and frogs to go with it. And me and my sis would heave huge helpings of that stringy jelly  into buckets and keep it in the back yard and watch for the tadpoles to hatch.

That would be illegal now. I remember seeing a pair of mating frogs and the lady next door said that the little one was strangling the bigger one, so I got a stick and prised them apart and- boy was I pleased with myself- good deed for the day-  helas!

That pond got into my dreams. The carp were bigger in the dreams. Then they morphed into plesiosaurs.

The lady next door was called Mrs Soundy. Her sister had been Thomas Hardy's second wife. She'd sometimes discuss Hardy with my parents, but of course I wasn't paying much attention. What I remember are stories she told about water. About how she'd skated on frozen ponds when she was a girl in Canada and how her husband had floated a raft on a flooded shell hole during the first world war so  he and his mates could go "fishing for dead boches". I think there was a photo to go with that particular memory. And moments after it was taken, she said, the raft tipped up and they all fell in.

Down into an icy darkness full of dead boches. Such horror. I was a kid who scared easy.

And Mrs Soundy's son was a wireless operator on the Queen Mary. He'd bring back magic stuff from New York- stockings and packets of instant chocolate pudding and copies of Life magazine. This was post-war Britain and we were hungry for anything with a bit of colour. And one time he brought back an American wife. She wore heavy make-up and talked Brooklynese and was altogether a bit too colourful for his mother and my parents.

But I thought she was grand...



Nelly's House

I spoke to N about her mother's house. She was out front scraping the moss out of the big flower-bed with a three-pronged claw thing. I didn't preach. I just introduced the subject and let her speak. She volunteered that our good neighbours ain't getting it; she was willing to lower the asking price by £2,000, but they weren't willing to meet her there, so now it's going to an agent and the way prices are rising she'll probably get her £85,000 sooner rather than later. I don't judge- I'm mean in lots of ways myself- but I still think it's a sad shame.