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Home By Christmas

Friday, December 16th, a raw damp day, but plenty of light in the sky. It was snowing outside my window earlier, but it's not really cold enough for snow down here.

My mother died, early on Tuesday morning. Not unexpected, I've known since August she was on her way out: no dramatic change, when someone is dying of the plain system-failures of old age, but unmistakeable. But you know it's coming, you wait for the call then you forget to wait, and then it comes.

So, Tuesday morning I made the last of those train journeys, and joined my brother who'd driven up from London through the very wild weather of that night, and been at her bedside. By Wednesday afternoon it was all over bar the funeral, and we were clearing out her room, at the end-of-life place where she'd spent the last few weeks. David went to rustle up some more boxes, I looked out on the grounds from her window, at the beautiful towering bare beeches we'd hoped she might live to see in bud or leaf. It was snowing: a black cat scampered for cover, a big dog fox trotted slowly, from shrubbery to shrubbery across the icy drenched grass. Thinking, so this is it. She's free at last, and so am I. What on earth am I going to do with myself?

I'm sure I'll think of something.

Mary Rita Jones (Dugdale) 16.12.1920-13.12.2011 RIP

& this will be the last entry, for a while.

The Screen-saver

Tuesday 6th December, coldest day of the winter so far (but still not very cold, no frost here yet); still air, dull sky. Taking on the mantle of Linda and Ron, whose bird feeders were party central for so long, we've put up feeders of our own despite cats and squirrels. First customers today, two blue-tits, a robin and a garden warbler (the last after small insects on the buddleia). But will the goldfinches come back? Will we ever be party central? I hope so.

Spent longer than I planned with the Public Sector workers this time last week. Peter and I ambled down to the Level, expecting maybe forty or fifty die-hards, but no, there were thousands of die-hards, also a somewhat longer route for the march. And though (see earlier entries) I don't believe I'm entirely on the 99% team, I was glad to join the Iron-rice-bowl people. Firefighters, police, teachers, nurses, ambulance drivers; the gangs who take your rubbish away... Any modern state requires, and must support, vast armies of these public servants. The risk-averse, who save rather than spend, who choose, for security or out of conviction, to work for something other than profit; who either don't fancy their grifting chances of getting rich, quick or slow. Or simply don't fancy the idea... If they really went on strike, there would be trouble, but they won't do that, they'd have to be desperate, and that time is not here, not yet. They'll use these token days of action as a negotiating tool, and make whatever deal they can make. Good luck to them.

Maybe the open contempt Cameron expresses, on his own or through his sock-puppets, for the Public Sector workforce isn't really the way he'd like to spin it. Polarising opinion isn't the name of the game: the name of the game is poaching the opposition voters. This bluff rhetoric is for the faithful, meant to buy their support for the deeper austerity measures he knows are inevitable... But if he decides to talk like that, the way Osborne decided to speak with open contempt on protection of wildlife habitats, and all other "environmental issues", then first I have to wonder, what kind of picture do these censored, public gestures paint, of the private company our PM is keeping, off the record? And, oh dear, where does it all leave me, and the millions who share my opinions? What does the government of the UK plan to do with us, after giving up all hope of bringing us on board, and (politically) selling us off as toxic waste?

Anyway, the screen saver is on a hoarding, erected on the side of the Phoenix Art Gallery, big building beside The Level, housing the biggest arts organisation in the South East. It looks like rainbow coloured dunes, or like the coloured light on cloud, that lingers after the Antarctic sun has set for the winter (I saw that on Attenborough, of course). I wanted to know what it was and whether it was okay to take its photo, so I went indoors to ask. Huh, says my informant. The massive screen that's blocking the light from our studio spaces? That's for advertising. We had to put it up, we need the cash. What you see is just a filler, for when we haven't sold the space.

Ah, well. It's still pretty.

Watching: Lund II, and finding it a bit ordinary, and The Great British Property Scandal, for the most hopeful, positive and practical ideas I've seen on tv in a long time.

Reading: Jane Rogers, The Testament of Jessie Lamb. Okay now finished it, and still not totally convinced. This is a story about a teenage girl, getting tempted and falling in love with slow suicide, as young girls (& occasionally boys) are known to do, tho' usually the weapon of choice is simply not eating. She decides on this course because it seems to be her only free choice, the only power she can wield. Trouble is, I'm not the reader who can come to such a topic naively. I can't stop myself from asking, and pray tell, why would teenage girls feel that way? Why would they feel so powerless, and yet so vindictively powerful? But no, not here, because this is a superior non-genre kind of scifi, and everybody knows scifi doesn't do proper novels. Sigh. Oh well, it's probably just me, and I just don't like, as I said, the "Kill Everyone! In The Whole World!" Not unless it's funny.