Sunday, 8 March 2009
I took the kids swimming this morning, which utterly exhausted me. Then I went back to bed and swore I wasn't going to move for about three days. Damn this black cloud. Saskia came and asked me what was wrong, so I told her I was so tired I didn't know what to do with myself. She said "You can colour with me!" So I did. We spent a happy half an hour sitting in my bed colouring pictures. It was very therapeutic.
Then Mum came up on her way to see Mush. Mush has many names, some more formal than others. I never quite know what to call him, though I've known him all my life. He is a few years older than my Mum, which makes him getting on for 80. He was best friends with Mum's late brother Colin, and he lives in the village they all grew up in. Indeed Mush and Colin never left or got married; they just carried on doing what they'd always done as they got older.
Mush lives in a 600 year old manor house called Staick House, which belonged to his parents before him. To be fair, he only lives in about three rooms of the place. The rest is under dust sheets, left almost exactly as it was when his father died in the 1960s. In many ways the house has fallen into disrepair, particularly on the inside, where ivy is growing through the broken windows and suchlike. The house has always been a focal point for friends to meet up, chat, drink buckets of tea and eat endless biscuits. Years ago there were all night gatherings. The young lads (as they were then) played snooker on the full sized table in the Billiards Room, and stayed overnight in the Train Room (where Mush had a working train track as a child).
Things are a little quieter now, but Mush still gets lots of visitors everyday. We were the first to arrive at 3pm. Mush is a bit nocturnal, so there is no point turning up in the morning. The kids went off to explore the deserted house and look for the resident ghosts. Mum and I sat around the newspaper-laden table, snuggled up to the Aga, and tried to do the crossword with Mush. The kitchen is spectacular in it's dereliction. It hasn't been cleaned or tidied in about 40 years, Visitors have to pick their way through the clutter and inspect the insides of their mugs for delicacies, such as mouse droppings. It is an experience, not for the faint hearted. It is all very organic and no-one stands on ceremony.
We drank tea and ate the requisite out-of-date biscuits that is part of any visit there. Duck arrived, then Simon, then Fliss, and no doubt more have come and gone since we left. (Fliss, I noticed, brought her own mug!) It was a jovial afternoon, where we had a good laugh. Conversation often spirals off into the esoteric and philosophical. I really should make the effort to go more often. It is good for the soul.