Tuesday 23 March 1999

Spring. Daffodils in full bloom, so is the forsythia in my front garden. The ribes flowers are emerging as are those of the keria. From my window in the office, I cannot see any leaves on the amelenchiers, but up close the sprouting young shrimps are visible. Along the road to Farncombe, I notice magnolias in bloom everywhere.

Last weekend, I planted a first batch of lettuce, spinach and radish, and the Home Guard earlies. I’ve cleared many of the leaves from the flowerbeds, and done some weeding. The lawn is in a dreadful state - after only three years, or is it two, it is riddled with buttercup, moss; and it is all uneven from the worm activity and the lack of rolling. I still do not know what to do with the front garden, although the wooden stepping logs look good, and I plan to keep it grass free this year.

Adam is busy with exams this week (although not so busy that he needs to miss ‘Grange Hill’ on tv). I helped him work out a revision timetable on Saturday morning, and he has stuck to it fairly well. He was happy to miss Scouts last night for the sake of revision. He has demonstrated exactly the right attitude to these exams: he is taking them seriously but is not overly stressed by them.

He was, though, sorely tested about 10 days ago, when I was on the verge of fixing up a skiing holiday. Having failed miserably to find us a holiday in half term, I decided, after much soul searching, I would take him out of school for a week. I was just about to book the holiday - a week in Austria - when I phoned B to doublecheck it was OK with her. When Ads answered and I told him my intention he mentioned exams the week after. This was the first either B or I had heard of these exams. Then followed an intense debate over whether it was wise to take him out of school the week prior to the exams. I pressured B to call the year teacher and ask whether it would be possible. She did not want to, but said she would. I was undecided in my own mind - mostly because I wasn’t sure how much revision information they might get in the week before the exams. I asked Ads what he would do if he had a completely free choice and, somewhat painfully, he said would prefer to forego the skiing because he was worried about the exams. So I let the holiday go, again. (Postscript: Ads told me later that one kid had gone skiing that week, and that another child was actually going the week of the exams, and that the school had to arrange for him to take the exams some other time!)

Friday 26 March 1999

We are being taken somewhere for a weekend workshop. We have to take a short ferry to some islands - there is a storm (although this may be before we take the ferry). Then we drive and drive, seemingly towards a more remote region, but then, just before we arrive, we appear to return to a rather built-up area. Later I look on the maps and realise we have come a very long way round to get to this place. There are a dozen or more people and some kind of leader or teacher. But he is an arrogant man. He shows off a cheque for £250,000 that has arrived in the post, and discusses openly with one of the regulars about selling him shares. I am very bored. When the first session is over, I have to go to pee. I am naked and there are people nearby, but I still manage to pee. A little later I join a group of people and I notice they have unbroken egg yolks hanging around their bodies. I offer to squash them on one person, but she does not accept.

Next we are at a party. There is one girl interested in me, but either I am not interested in her, or I am playing cool. I am certainly interested in others. I am dancing energetically, and at one point the musician starts to screech his instrument. Everyone else stops dancing, but I am facing a wall and continue dancing, gyrating to the squeal of the instrument. It is still a controlled squeal, the musician is playing, but it is long and drawn out. I continue my energetic dance facing the wall, but start to blend with the music/squeal, I decelerate slowly in tune with the musician, until I am dancing slow motion, and eventually we stop together.

April 1999

Paul K Lyons


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