annanotbob2's Diaryland Diary


Day 31

I know, I know, too much posting. What can I say? Has to be done.

Today I did the last big writing workshop, that festival - the Stay At Home Lit Fest has only gone and finished! Wah! It was great and I thought it would be on for the duration but in fact it's an annual event for those who can't afford the cost of live lit fests. Anyway, this was a themed workshop on nature and writing or Nature Writing as it was referred to, apparently a field dominated by white men. Blimey, that surprised me - who'd have thought white men would dominate anything? There was a lot of chat about that kind of thing before we started. Yawn, frankly. It was an open workshop with dozens of participants and none of us read out, though some who were writing on laptops submitted work via the chat thing but I can't find that on zoom on my tablet and I was writing on paper but wouldn't have wanted to submit anyway.

We did a quick warm up starting with the phrase "the place I will always remember..." and then she dropped more words or phrases at intervals for us to incorporate somehow: cracks in the pavement; dandelions; a storm walked into the room; the first bee; the smell of rain. Quite annoying choices, I thought, but did it anyway.

For the main exercise we were asked to choose an object, a natural one if possible, one we had with us or could remember or if not, a wooden chair or something to hand - "everything comes from nature" - a philosophical debate we don't need to get hung up on here. She would then give us questions to respond to, first from our point of view, then from the chosen object's pov.

I chose Julia's rose, officially rosa glauca and I'm going to copy down what I wrote without the prompts and without saying anything more and see if it hangs together - I haven't read it through yet. As written at speed.

Julia's Rose

Part 1:  It smells sweet and fresh, its own rose fragrance, and of the soil around it, maybe manure and sometimes baking wafting from the kitchen, Julia and Sam making cakes. The smell of old houses, beeswax polish.

It feels prickly as fuck, so many thorns, and temperamental - not always easy to establish - I don't know if this one will survive.

The taste would be bitter, unless you made syrup from the hips. I have a bitter taste in my mouth thinking about Ju's absence, her sudden exit from our lives when me and her weren't even talking, though I don't think she'd actually noticed.

How does it sound, Julia's rose? The snap of a broken branch maybe, the 'ow' of being caught on its thorns or just chatter, endless long chatter.

The appearance changes from season to season - dead-looking, thorny, reddish stems in winter with now tiny red buds all the way up, unfolding into soft grey-green leaves - beautiful glaucus leaves, single clear pink flowers, then large orange hips, lasting into winter.

Part 2. Sometimes it feels great to have my roots replanted in good rich soil, with space to grow, but be careful, don't just drag me about, don't break my branches or crush my leaves. Don't tear my bark as you harvest my fruit.

I've seen so many places - I've spread all over from my first base in Julia's garden, outside her kitchen window. Now I live in basement courtyards, country acres and suburban gardens - I can see the world, the English world, of worms and cats, birds, lots of birds visiting, picking up seed and spreading it far and wide. I can see the fence too - there's always a fence or a wall.

I hear the story, the same story over and over again as she tells her friends about Julia and the rose that grew so tall and fine, sowing seedlings all around, seedlings that were dug up and taken to new places where they sowed seed and on and on until here I am now, in her garden. And I hear the birds, and the dogs, next door's dogs.

If I had one question to ask it would be why do you keep trying to grow me? Why do you veer so wildly between sentimental nurturing and downright neglect? You know my needs, just meet them and I'll grow, fucker.

So that was that. We were then invited to make a poem or a haiku out of it but I didn't want to so I didn't. Here they are, Julia and Sam, with a cake they made together. Both gone now.



I liked spending time thinking about Julia. She was the last person I used to be able to have big rows with - we'd shout and yell and stomp off and not give a shit because we loved each other and knew that we were both bloody-minded. I was angry with her when she died because I'd phoned her in Spain to tell her that our friend Joan had died but she didn't let me get a fucking word in, when I'd phoned her, on my bill - it was expensive then - so I was cross and didn't phone her that New Year, though she was already dead, lying by her jeep at the bottom of a mountain road, not found for days, my friend, my Julia. Bloody woman. Of all the friends I've lost. she's the one I lost hardest. I couldn't believe it was over, that our story ended there. I still can't. Sigh.

Anyway, after that I finally did lots of garden stuff and cleaned out the blue shed and got really pissed off with Bloke, who, as ever, agrees with me about everything then goes off and does something else, in this case digging a big hole in the grass by the back door, down to the concrete which I don't fucking care was underneath all the time, leaving a step which will trip me up in the dark when you said you were going to help with the shed.

Pictures - not great because of the sun which casts a big shadow.

This doesn't look much but you wait till it's all covered in climbing roses, honeysuckle, trachelospermum jasminoides. It's to create a shady place for me as I go right off in the hot sun. By the pond.


Tulips, grown in pots to move about - I love these lily-flowered ones:


and these blowsy ones:


and foliage - I love foliage most, apart from roses and tulips and sweet peas and and and


I cooked as well today - from a post on instagram by a Greek journalist I follow, Alex Andreou, who lives and works here but goes to and from Greece to share the care of his elderly mother who has dementia. He was there with her when lockdown was declared and is posting loads of great food stuff. This is my biftekia with Greek roast potatoes, aioli and beans:


Bloody delicious.

Today I am grateful for: a chat with Son who has had a wild time but lived to tell the tale - not virus related, thank fuck; for a lovely message from the woman who was married to Sammie's father after me, who said she'd woken up thinking of me and sent love from all of hers to all of mine; for being able to cook - though it was very well spaced out time-wise, no last minute panic; for the yin yoga, saving me on a daily basis; for the Easter egg I will not eat till tomorrow.

I hope you are all safe and sound. See you tomorrow xx

12:46 a.m. - 12.04.20


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