After a horribly disturbed night – about which more in a moment – I have woken to flurries of snow from a heavy and corpse-like sky. They are increasing in strength and scope, their brave little advance guard now replaced by much more serious and muscular artillery. There are some signs of the earlier flakes sticking patchily onto the grass and haphazardly upon car roofs. Pippa, who is snowy white in colouring herself, sits in her run, being snowed upon, apparently completely unfazed by this abrupt turn in the weather.
My night was riven by the harsh chariots of insecurity, their mad black horses plunging and foaming, screeching in wounded rage at being so confined within a woman’s mind and semi-dreaming thoughts. The howling echoes, and sad silences, of those who opted not to come with me, metaphorically, in my new beginning gain disproportionate weight and gravitas at two in a cold and Moon-full morning, a morning in which the metallic overtone, the tinny smell, translates into little patty-paws of soft snow.
And yet – yesterday was lovely. Simone, a fellow prisoner at Milham Ford Grammar School for Girls, came to visit me, bringing delightful smiles and warmth and colour and a gorgeous bouquet of golden-yellow roses. We barely knew one another back then, being in different classes throughout and opting for very different A’ level subjects – but some of our friends mingled in North Oxford’s rarefied and donnish air, and we both felt a similar loathing for the school and most of its teachers!
Having connected via email (after I saw her on Facebook and remembered her), we have been in touch for the past few months – and it became apparent very quickly that we had a bond which went beyond teenage angst, peculiar teachers and unpleasant girls known forty-three years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed her company, and hope we can meet again soon.
After she had gone – and driven by God only know what demons of ridiculous neatness! – I unpacked the two heavy IKEA packages which still remained from the move and assembled four drawers for my bed. It was surprisingly easy actually – and the second pair were constructed in tandem as it were, with many a muttered oath as caster rolled under bed or small screw refused to mate with essential screwdriver. Once done, and the carpet being festooned with detritus and what looked like several pounds of dog hair, I went into a frenzy of hoovering and tidying…
…and, within half an hour, was sneezing like a plague victim and feeling decidedly manky. At present, I am undecided as to whether this sudden affliction is an allergy to domestic servitude and plentiful dust or, perhaps more likely, a cold brought on by my contact with the little darlings at two local schools, many of whom were snorting like bison, coughing like a TB ward and expectorating merrily all over the classroom, with not a mouchoir in sight. Damned unhealthy, teaching! Understandably, the last thing most level-headed parents want on an average school day is their heap of adolescent feistiness infesting the house, so the little buggers get sent to be educated in all states up to, but not including, actual parting of body from soul. This time of year tends to be particularly scrofulous and microbe-ridden in schools – and, by term’s end, what you basically have is a kind of germ stew, or ratatouille, in which all varieties meld and blend seamlessly.
So, for the first time since moving here, I shall be confined to quarters, Lemsip at the ready and gargantuan box of tissues to hand, with the heating on all day and the dog’s needs catered for via the back garden rather than our usual foray around the local area.
Still, for all that I feel as rough as a porcupine’s pelt, at least it is now half term and, thus, my chances of catching yet more variants of the current malady are slight…