Tuesday 26 March 2013


So, apparently...
I'm not sure I need any more gift of blarney, having been blessed with a naturally chatty tongue, BUT who could say no to kissing the famous stone?!
Am only slightly (very) terrified about visiting Ireland at a time described by my Irish friends as Baltic, but I have dreamed of setting foot in Ireland since I first read Yeats, curled up in the heat of an ordinary Indian summer... Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths... I shall arise and go now, and go to Innisfree... and most of all, listening to my grandfather and great-great grandmother singing 'It's a long way to Tipperary, it's a long way to go...', which of course it was, from Bombay...
I was chattering to a Polish taxi driver today, spilling over with excitement about my trip to Ireland; he asked me where, in Ireland... Tipperary, says I, smiling. Never heard of that one, sez he... So naturally I had to sing him The Song. Clearly he didn't have ancient relatives crooning Irish tunes through his childhood. It was something to do with the war, I think... my grandfather was seconded to the British army (a captain), my great uncle (Brigadier Jim) led the Gurkhas, and music somehow passed through the allied nations, like a gentle daisy chain, unsuspected by the enemies. Who notices the passing on of daisy chains?
Here's my mother's portrait of her father... handsome, wasn't he? And the sweetest, gentlest grandfather a girl could hope for... can't wait to make him smile wherever he is when I set foot in (jump up and down like a crazy leprechaun in) Tipperary!!

Sunday 3 March 2013


Say smile 
and I do 
Say light 
and I open 
my eyes. 

Say dark 
and I close, 
staying close 
to the guides, 
all the while 
remembering light.

- Shaista Tayabali, 2013

There are still swathes of snowdrops around, so Spring hasn't sprung yet. Meanwhile March has taken on a martial air. The Blue Eyed Surgeon has determined that the time has come for a Second Tube in my eye. 
I contemplated leaping out of the window but there were all sorts of ophthalmic instruments in the way.
And anyway, Blue Eyes is about to get his Black Belt in Karate... I could probably take him (I know my Kata Fukyu Ichi and jodan tsuki) but I opted for the demure approach, pretending to accept my fate.
Seven years ago was the darkest year of my life, so a piece of me feels crumbly inside. It won't be as bad - I know it won't because... well, it just can't. I won't let it. 
But to help me pretend to myself, I employed London - the brilliance and grace of the sublime art of Federico Barocci at the National Gallery helped...

The Virgin Mary, the Angel and the sleeping cat soothed, but not enough, so I went to a concert in St Martin-in-the-Fields (the Church with the Ever Open Door). The Mozart was fine but by the end of Beethoven's Serenade I was swiping away tears by candlelight. At the interval, my companions turned to me and said, "Wasn't that a wonderfully light and airy piece? Lovely! Delightful!" Er... Right. Stop thinking about The Tube, I admonished self sternly.
I gathered myself with Haydn and Schubert and by the second Mozart Flute quartet I was all smiles - the cellist, one Christopher Suckling, was the most expressive musician I have ever seen, second only to Lang Lang - and anyone with that level of enthusiasm deserves a smiling enchanted audience.
So there you have it - the darkness and the light. My friends Liv and Niamh have been worrying about me, so this post is to comfort and amuse them, as is this picture I took at the bottom of the garden - I see two hearts in the centre - do you see leaves or hearts?