Monday, January 5, 2009
SLICE OF LIFE
Summertime makes me happy. Rain, sun, wind - what does it matter as long as the geraniums are on the back step and the peas and beans are growing in the garden?
I have been looking after my two godchildren all week - both girls, one aged 12 and the other nine. One is a vampire and thinks that sunlight will kill her - actually, it's just that she can't see the computer screen; the other is a little outdoor tyke who made me plant 120 sunflower seeds, which have now grown into around 100 sunflowers.
Planning my week was really about planning their week and it had to begin with a visit to the Borzoi bookshop in Stow-on-the-Wold, near my home. I let them choose six books each while I took the cats to the vet for their flea jab (oh, the glamour of a country life). Then we all went swimming (not the cats).
I have a little house in London in Spitalfields, and a deli on the ground floor, which does the best coffee anywhere. Whizzing up there for the day (kids safely parked with my lovely ex-wife, and please bear in mind I am an ex-wife, too, not an ex-husband), I discovered that someone is pretending to be Jeanette Winterson. My neighbour Tracey Emin was down in the shop and she said that there was another 'Tracey Emin' living in Southend, who she imagined was a prostitute, and that my doppelgänger was probably a prostitute, too.
My whiz to London included lunch with Ali Smith at my favourite restaurant - Alastair Little in Soho. There is no finer food to be had, unless it's from my garden, and Juliet Peston is the sort of chef who makes cooking into a miracle. It is simple but perfect.
I rushed back to the Cotswolds because another bit of English eccentricity - the Guiting Power music festival - is featuring my friend, cellist Natalie Clein, and I want the kids to hear her play. The last time I saw her live was in the Albert Hall playing Elgar's cello concerto, and now she's in a tiny village nearby with other world-class musicians, doing it for love.
Life has to be about love and life has to be about finding happiness where we can and not letting the shadows in our lives block out the happiness. I am having quite a tough time in some ways right now, but this has been a week of simple, contented life.
The bad stuff so easily wipes out the good and maybe it needs to be the other way round. Shadows, rain, but if the sun shines, stand in it.
The Guardian, August 2008