Saturday, July 14, 2007


She told me, when she was little, that she would lie in the hugeness of grandma's feathery soft bed. The glow of the street lamp shining through the dark orange curtains would luminate the whole room, so that sometime she felt as though she were in the secret part of a flame, all warm and safe and out of reach. Sometimes, she said, she would lie there, so so still, staring at the wall, and feel so so tiny and so so far away from it, and then all at once a giant, and really close to it. It was too frightening and exciting to do this for any longer than it took to realise it was happening, when she would twirl around all in one go to face the other way.

Lying on her right, she said, she faced the window, aglow in its quiet burning flush. If she looked down, she could see the old mahogany wardrobe. On each door, the woody knots were exact mirror images of one another, and in this light, they looked like two knights, standing next to each other, keeping guard side by side in their guard boxes. She felt safe knowing they were there, and her toes grappled at the bedsheets as she basked in the comfort of it all.

Next to the wardrobe, closer to the window, was grandma's dressing table. Its dark wood matched the knights. It had three mirrors on it. One big central one, and two smaller ones either side that angled in towards each other. Sometimes, when the curtains were pulled back in the morning, she would lie there, pretending to be asleep still, but she would peek through half an eye at grandma sitting there, combing out her hair. She loved the crackling sound it made. That's what she said, that it made a crackling sound. If she looked at grandma in the left hand mirror, it made her look like a different person. She giggled at this she said, because it made her look like grandma at church, when they were kneeling to pray, and grandma looked all cross and would tell her to shush and give her a fluffy peppermint from the bottom of her handbag to keep her quiet and stop her from scraping her shoes on the pew in front.

There were many things on the dressing table, many things to touch and sniff and put on. Things that made her look and smell like grandma. Next to the brush (one of a set of three: brush, comb and hand held mirror, all with what grandma said had handles made of bone. Bone? Was that what made grandma's hair crackle she often pondered?), was the powder puff lady. A very well dressed porcelain lady, with crimson hat and matching dress that fell in big swirls right down to her ankles. She was very pretty indeed. She stood on top of the powder puff that rested on the tub of glittery white powder that grandma pom-pommed onto her face, all squinty of eye and pursed of lip.

Some nights, she said, the street lamp would shine through a gap between the curtains, throwing a thin line of light right upon the crimson lady. On these nights, she would fall asleep and dream that it was herself standing atop the powder puff. Slowly she would turn around, around and around, feeling the soft soft powder tickling her porcelain white toes. Gradually gathering speed, little clouds of powder would billow about her ankles. Then she would jump up high, still spinning, all giddy with laughter and whirl. Spinning and jumping, with her arms stretched out, ever so fast, so that eventually all she became was three spinning discs of hair, arms and skirt, all in a sparkling plume of powder. A great tower of a cloud sweeping up around her like a gentle tornado of giggle and flicker.

One night she said she woke up on the floor by the bed, with powder stuck all between her toes, and dusted about her ankles.

That is what she told me.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


I have been dreaming lots lately. Well, let me clarify that. I dream lots anyway, but recently I have had very vivid dreams that feel very symbolic. Yet I haven't been paying enough attention to them. Two nights ago I woke with heart a-racing, to discover the light of the full moon peaking through the only gap in the blinds, directly onto my forehead.

Last night I dreamt that I was in a huge, lush field, sitting by a wire fence, beyond which was a strip of grass and then a forest. On the outer edge of the forest, the trees were hazelnut. I could see several windfall hazelnuts on the grass just beyond the fence. So through I clamber to grab some. I get a handful, some of them were in doubles, covered in their leafy cases. Suddenly I hear and feel the thunder of horses' hooves, and look to my left to see four galloping towards me. I scamper back under the fence as they race past.

I sit and crack open the hazelnuts between two stones, remembering how succulent they are when they are so fresh. I want some more, so I dare myself to venture in again, and whilst I am picking some from the tree, here they come again. But this time I stand quietly just inside the trees, and watch. They seem to go by in slow motion and I just stare in awe.

When I woke up, still in darkness, I felt sure I could see the faint glow of a street-lamp shining through the gap in the wardrobe.......