What a beautiful day. The showers of the last week have made me appreciate sunny days again. Richard brought his mini-digger and has been widening the drive again; the gravelled area, for those of you who have been here. The big heap of aggregate is nearly gone and we will have as much parking area as we want in another day or two.
That isn’t to say that the drive is nearly finished. That’s going to take ages. The Sage loves a project, but he’s not so good at finishing one. Planning and putting into action is what he’s good at, but then he gets bored and wants to move on to the next thing. I’m more of a plodder. I am not spectacular, but I stick at it, once I’ve started.
Dilly is feeling quite well, but she hasn’t had the easiest time. In medicine, as in so many spheres, things go in fashions and in cycles. The latest anxiety is clots. Since her first two babies were born by Caesarean section, the third had to be, and this time she has had to have blood-thinning injections for a week afterwards, which Al has administered. However, she’s had quite a lot of bleeding from the wound. It transpires that this is not at all unusual, if you have blood-thinning medication, but no one warned her, so it was very worrying when it first happened and they called a paramedic in to check her. It builds up in a sort of blister and then pops – you can imagine how scary that is. It is still happening, though less, and her final injection is tomorrow, so hopefully it will clear up after that.
Luckily, everything is absolutely fine with Hadrian and he is a tranquil and cheery baby. I’ve only seen him awake but not feeding a couple of times, and hardly held him at all, which is a bit tough on a doting granny, but my time will come, no doubt, probably when I should be busy with other things. Squiffany and Pugsley have gone to spend the night with their other grandparents, which they were very excited about.
I listened to A Good Read on Radio 4 the other day, I turned on the radio on the way home from Dave’s and it was part-way through the programme. One of the selected books was A High Wind In Jamaica, by Richard Hughes. I read that, some 45 years ago, because it was a set book at school, and I hated it. But I’ve always remembered it fairly clearly, which means it must have been … well, memorable. I suppose I should read it again and see if I admire it after all, these many years later.
What I remember is, there was a group of children and a great storm. I remember a description of a short fat black woman losing her footing and being bowled over and over by the wind. I remember the children having a discussion about sorting clothes for the wash and someone saying they could be sorted by each person’s smell (and Emily thinking, dur, of course), and a mention that you should never ride a horse bareback for fear of catching ringworm (this was in Jamaica, then, not necessarily now or anywhere else). They were all sent back to England for safety and were captured by pirates – who had not expected to find themselves saddled with children. John, a boy I liked, leaned over too far (they had landed somewhere and gone to a theatrical show of some kind) and he fell and was killed. Emily was the main character and I didn’t like her at all. The pirates caught another ship and a man – the captain – Dutch, perhaps? – was in a cabin with her and he spoke to her in a foreign and gutteral tongue and she was so frightened that she hit or stabbed him and killed him. Shocked, the pirate captain dropped her overboard, but she was rescued. Later, they were captured and brought to justice, and she was asked about the death of the man, and she remembered the incident and cried, and it was assumed that she had witnessed his murder. The pirates were sentenced to death. At the end of the book, Emily, with the surviving children, went back to England and, if a group of little girls was watched playing, it would not be possible to pick out Emily, who was just like all the others.
That’s as I remember it, anyway. Odd, that I recall all that, and didn’t like the book or the story. Of course, my memory may be at fault – there were a couple of incidents mentioned in the radio programme that I haven’t said, although they did trigger my recollection when I was reminded. Can anyone tell me whether I should remain with a memory of a book I didn’t like, or else return to it and appreciate it after all these years?
Other books I had to read at school and didn’t like were Redgauntlet, by Sir Walter Scott, and Nada, the Lily, by H. Rider Haggard. I remember nothing, not a word, of the former. I thought the latter was horrid. There, the narrator was obliged to put his hand into fire as a test of his honesty. He was lying, but endured the torture and so was assumed to be telling the truth, but he had a withered hand for the rest of his life. At the end, Nada was walled up in a cave and Umslopogaas, her lover, was too injured to move the stone and they died there together, touching hands. I have never read any Rider Haggard since, I thought it was horrid and gruesome. This is slightly awkward, as I know his granddaughter (whose name is Nada) and some of her family, and can hardly say so. However, since I remember the book, it was evidently better written than Redgauntlet. I’ve never read any other Scott either, not even Ivanhoe, although I enjoyed the dramatisation as a Sunday evening serial when I was a child.