Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Nearly Done. January Soon.

http://www.agracefuldeath.blogspot.com/ for the official website for the A Graceful Death Exhibition coming to London in February 2010

http://www.antoniarolls.co.uk/ for my website

antonia.rolls1@btinternet.com if you want to contact me

This is a lovely photo by Eileen Rafferty of the A Graceful Death Exhibition. It shows the space and light and gentleness in which the paintings were exhibited. The next venue is in London in February, keep checking http://www.agracefuldeath.blogspot.com/ for details. I will update it when I have more information.

So. We have all had Christmas and we are waiting for New Year's Eve. It is that in-between state of having done all the first half of the celebrations and waiting anxiously for the next. Anxiously for a couple of reasons.
  • One - You don't have anywhere to go on the 31 December. It seems everyone else does, and they are all much happier and more successful than you because of it. And even if they did ask you to join them, it would highlight the fact that until they did that, absolutely no one else did
  • Two - You have had enough of the jollities. It was a tremendous effort to get through the present-buying, over-eating, being nice to everyone and having nowhere to escape to. You fear it will all happen again, and it begins to feel like Duty. Inescapable Duty. You have empathy with the Queen and the Pope.
  • Three - You do have somewhere to go to, but your partner doesn't like the people hosting your New Year's Eve Party. It makes you feel a bit cross on the one hand that Partner is raining on your parade, and a bit guilty on the other that it's all about you, and you are going to have fun whatever and Partner will just have to cope
  • Four - You had such fun on Christmas Day that you are afraid the Human Body can't cope with more so soon after. However, you are willing to give it a try.

I had a lovely stress free Christmas. Everyone was calm and generous, and for some ungodly reason I did not overeat that much. What? You cry. How Come? Have you an un-nameable psychological disorder? Or were your hosts mean. Well, I will reply. My host (mother) was typically generous and wonderful. I just didn't want to overeat. It was OK to just have what I wanted and an bit more, and leave it at that. Ho! I hear you chuckle. I know what happened. You spent half the night before up and eating and are just not telling us! After all, who is Santa in your house? And Santa probably gets a Whole Roasted Ox from each member of your family so that is why you couldn't over eat on Christmas Day. What you mean is you couldn't Publically overeat. Sorted.

Now I am in the Studio. I have one little portrait to do, and one still life of flowers. This is good. I also have some pretty good prints of my Angels, so that will go down well.

Off now to the post office. Oh yes, I have been working hard this morning. I even have TWO letters to post. Oh the strain.

Monday, 21 December 2009

I Can Talk. I Am Alive. Day One Of The Rest Of My Life

www.antoniarolls.co.uk for my website
www.agracefuldeath.blogspot.com for the website for the A Graceful Death exhibition coming to London in February
antonia.rolls1@btinternet.com to email me

So, I Am Alive, And I Can Speak

And Breathe. My cold, bless it, is on its way out. I lost my voice last week and though I sounded really good, it was difficult to understand me. I thought that made me enigmatic, but others thought it made me irritating. They told me to Write It Down, For Goodnessakes.

So, in the studio as a Speaking Member Of The Human Race, but not yet a cycling one. I am feeling very wobbly (too much cake while ill, I hear you chortle. Not that kind of wobbly I reply huffily. I am weak, I am if anything, underfed. And I toss my brown locks and say Harumph.). There is much work to be done. I have agreed to paint a quick Angel for my lovely teeny guest who is only just 5' tall, and often comes to stay. She is in her mid twenties now, and my first meeting with her was when she was 8 years old and having a screaming temper tantrum on her mother's dining room table. Her older sister is even teenier. She is not even 4'10". I tried to give this sister driving lessons once, and absolutely nothing we did could make her feet reach the pedals. Amazing.

I am, as I say, doing an Angel for my eensy teeny weeny guest, and that will take up this afternoon, while she goes into town and has her next tattoo done. Creativity on all fronts. 16 Year Old Son, who is great friends with teeny guest, has gone with her. He is not allowed a tattoo, though he really wants one. What the tiny friend lacks in height she makes up for in volume and sense of rightness. She will bite his knees rather than allow him to talk his way into getting a page from Dostoyevsky tattooed onto his leg. 16 Year Old Son is 6'2" and so tiny tattooed friend can only get his knees.

13 Year Old Son is mourning the loss of his hamsters. Both died, one after the other, a few days ago. They were dwarf hamsters and looked like tiny fluffy punctuation marks. He, Son, was devastated and managed to save one of them for an few extra hours by holding it in his hand, and giving it sunflower seeds and weeping onto it. This Is Good, thought the hamster, I'll Hold On. But yesterday, the funeral took place. A hole about 8' deep was dug in the middle of my lawn and both hamsters were placed into the hole, both fitting into a small popcorn box, and buried. Here am I doing an exhibition on death and dying, on bereavement and coming through it, and my 13 Year Old Son tests me with the deaths of his two fluffy dwarf hamsters. Lucky I remembered that grief can take hold of any of us about any kind of loss. So I was very quiet about the garden looking like a combine harvester has rumbled across it, and listened to his memories of Happy Times With The Hamsters.

Today then, I am painting an Angel. In January, I am painting my still life for someone who has waited a while for it. In February the A Graceful Death goes to London. In February I visit the next venue for A Graceful Death in the Midlands. In between I begin to paint portraits, really good perceptive and strong portraits. Oh , and in January I hope to meet some NHS people who are interested in the A Graceful Death exhibition.

Ha. Tiny friend and 16 Year Old Son are back. One is tatooed, one is not. Which one is which, is the question now.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Curses And Blazes Pass Me A Hanky

www.antoniarolls.co.uk for my website
www.agracefuldeath.blogspot.com for the exhibition A Graceful Death next coming to London in February
antonia.rolls1@btinternet.com to email me

Curses And Blazes Pass Me A Hanky

I still have a cold. I still feel dreadful and cough all night. I splutter and wheeze and drip and this is Not Good. If I lived in a house where there was nothing to do I could go to bed. But I have things to do, exhibitions to mount and publicise, commissions to draw in, Christmas to prepare, large hungry offspring to welcome and feed for the next two weeks and the hamsters need cleaning. Bah. And I, in keeping with my warm and sunny nature, need to keep smiling and being nice to everyone that crosses my path because if I don't, I may begin to melt and disappear into a puddle of whining snivelling self pity. If I do that, I will have to explain myself and no one will believe my cheery waves and jolly little greetings were ever real.

But. But last night I lay in my bed and thought a bit harder about this being unwell business. I lay feeling achey and weary in a clean soft bed with fluffy cushions and a tray of tea. I had access to a bath and lots of hot water. It was only a cold, a bad one, but just a cold and I am not used to feeling unwell. I have medicines, the kind requests for updates from my friends and family, and a kitchen full of food. All this must mean something. I am fortunate beyond imagining if I am able to care for myself like this. I did go to Brighton yesterday to 19 Year Old Daughter's flat for the day, and I went feeling weepy with headaches, body aches and so on. But when I got there, she had a pot of tea ready, and a small nest of cushions and rugs on the sofa, and the water ready for a hot bath, and breakast on the go. So look, I said to myself last night. Look at what you have. I didn't feel any less ill, but I did wonder at how life had given me so much. In London, Alan was working hard and has the same cold but can't stop. So if I can lie in my bed, with everything possible for my benefit at my finger tips, have I not, in a wider sense, a very good life?

I could not read so I lay back and thought I would just let my mind drift and see what happened. This is not easy, one is prey to all sorts of unwanted thoughts and unwelcome ideas but I decided I would stick with it. It couldn't be that bad, I was, as I had recognised, surrounded by quite a lot of good stuff. (I must add that the knowledge of being surrounded by Good Stuff was only intellectual at that point, because I felt so physically unwell. I was not suffused in a golden glow of Something Like Nivarna). I lay back and thought of whatever came to mind, and do you know, it was like a meditation. I felt very in tune with life and a little teeny bit touched by God. No. I had not had doubled my lemsip and was not on a paracetamol high. I had not had anything except tea. And no, 13 Year Old Son did not slip a bit of morphine into the milk. I do think that however it happens, often aided by all sorts of things (like a cold), we can have moments of deep meditation which is like prayer. I was very comforted by my moments last night. I wondered too if I was terminally ill, and these symptoms were part of something that would eventually end my life, what would I feel? It certainly changed my interpretation of how bad I felt. It was not an easy thing to think. I wondered how Steve felt as his body simply did not move on and get better, and how his symptoms started like this - with something relatively small. How would I feel? Would any of the wonderful hot water, full kitchen, nice friends and family, fluffy cushions mean anything at all? I could not reach any conclusions, except that I would certainly lose the ability to see the best in things.

In the night I dreamt a dream again. I was in a car and was being followed by a car behind me. I stopped and got out, and the car behind me stopped too and out got Steve. Oh, I said, Where have you been? As I gave him a hug around his middle and he chuckled and said I've always been here, and returned my hug and kissed the top of my head. We stayed like that for a while, kind of catching up a bit before he got back into his car, I into mine, and drove off.

And now, back to the nitty gritty of day to day. My lovely Alan is not well, and he needs to rest for a good few days. I don't think he'll do the fluffy-cushion-let's-meditate-and-get-one-with-the-universe thing though. He is far too sensible for that, and he will do the lemsip and chesty cough medicine routine and so will not, as far as I know, have a visit from The Beyond.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

I Have A Cold. Goddamit.

www.agracefuldeath.blogspot.com for the A Graceful Death exhibition website
www.antoniarolls.co.uk for my website
antonia.rolls1@btinternet.com to email me about anything. Relevant.

I Have A Cold Dammit To Blazes

What I am really saying is Pity Me. I expect I am one of a million billion who have colds at the moment, but that does not interest me. Only my cold interests me. It makes my head hurt and my face hurt and my limbs tired and I cough and sneeze. I have had to go back to bed after seeing 13 Year Old Son off to school and boy, that was good. But, after taking cold remedies that promised to relieve my symptoms and knock them on the head (but not if I have epilepsy or a heart condition or am swigging paracetamol cocktails), I am well enought to sit in front of my computer and Write. You can still pity me, because the medicine packet says that I will take a nose dive again after 4 hours and that is coming up quite soon. It is not often that I get a cold, or any kind of illness, so I am really noticing this one. I am making sure that my three children know so that they can be consumed with a nameless guilt about not being nice to me in the past and so guaruntee that they will be nice to me until at least New Year's Day. "Oh Mum" said the youngest one, "you are getting old". Need to work on him, not much practical sympathy there. "Aaarg" says 19 Year Old Daughter," Don't Die!" and she meant it. Good, that will do nicely. "Mmmm" says 16 Year Old Son, "I don't feel well either." I need to keep the spotlight on me, so I need to ignore all his symptoms and drone on about mine. He'll get the message sooner or later.

Now. Arty Stuff. A Graceful Death is finishing now, and I am back in the market for Jesus on the Tubes, Angels, Portraits, Still Lives and so on. In a day or two, I will send around an email to everyone I know explaining that Now is the time to commission a painting. I am free to concentrate on all their decorative and creative needs. I do have a lovely still life to do, in a kind of 16 century Dutch way. Flowers in an urn, which will be fun. I want to do a very focussed portrait, so go and look at your sitting room and see if there is a space for one, then get back to me. It is time you were immortalised.

The Medicine is wearing off, my days are numbered, the candle is flickering, the sun is setting, I feel flu-ey, so it is time to go and pose dramatically in the house so I can get maximum attention. I will call Alan who is also not well, and start my sentences with Do You Remember When We Were Young and Oh Oh I See A Light At The End Of A Tunnel....

Problem is my appetite hasn't gone, so I am probably around for a good while yet. I won't publicise that though.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Oh For Goodness Sake

www.agracefuldeath.blogspot.com for the A Graceful Death Exhibition I am putting on. Email me for the address
www.antoniarolls.co.uk for my website
antonia.rolls1@btinternet.com to contact me

Oh For Goodness Sake

Here I am. My home is turned into a gallery, my work of two years is on display. My 13 Year Old Son is ill and home, and I am in my studio doing Stuff before my mother comes and we have tea and open up the exhibition.

So why Oh For Goodness Sake? For one thing, my hands are cold as I type. Bah, the heater in the studio isn't hot enough yet. For another, it is raining and I have come across the garden in my new slippers to the studio when it wasn't raining. And finally, why can't I have a gallery where these works could sit in a designated place, profoundly profound and sensitive and glorious and I could show them from there? To interested and professional parties I may add, members of the public may not like to stumble on the issue of End Of Life without a bit of preparation.

Actually, this week has been wonderful. I have met and talked with some very interesting people, and have heard other stories of loss and bereavement and hope. Possibly the most important thing to take away from a visit to A Graceful Death is Hope. And love. There is much love here. I am fascinated at who is coming, and what they say about themselves and about this exhibition. I am very interested that elderly people come, as they must have had more experience than most of friends and family slowly coming to the end of their lives. I wonder what they feel as they go around. Mostly, we can chat over a cup of tea at the end of a wander around, but some people don't want to. I wonder what they are feeling.

Actually the real Oh For Goodness Sake is because I am waiting for my lovely old mum to come and have breakfast with me, and I haven't had a cup of tea yet. Funny how simple the remedy is when I think about it. And what if my slippers get wet? And what if my fingers are cold? Soon, I will be back in the house, holding a hot cup of tea (make it a mug. A pint size one.) and wearing smart Exhibition Boots - so very soon, none of my grumbles will amount to anything at all. All sorted. Glad I worked that one out.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Exhibition Going Well At Home

http://www.antoniarolls.co.uk/ for my website
http://www.agracefuldeath.blogspot.com/ for the exhibition A Graceful Death now showing
antonia.rolls1@btinternet.com to email me for details of the exhibition venue and any other
comments you may wish to make

Exhibition Going Well At Home

Here is a taste of the paintings. This is a "Loneliness Triptych or Where Did You Go."

I shows how I felt the total absence of Steve, who has simply gone. All I had left were objects that were his and had no life, and yet were still here. His slippers feature in a few of the paintings; they were a symbol of his being here and comfortable with me.

Now. The exhibition is set up in my sitting room and hallway, which have been transformed into a Homes and Gardens Gallery with Lillies In Vases by Maddy and her husband Alan (we both have an Alan. One each ladies, there is enough to go around) and Maddy's two younger children. They came on Sunday and washed my house. They washed the walls, the ceilings, the doors, the floors. They removed every item of furniture and put them under the stairs, in the kitchen, in the sitting room and on the landing. Maddy's son locked himself in the downstairs loo and washed and prepared it as if it were a finalist in the Ideal Homes Exhibition. It is so shiny and perfect and tastefully decorated I thought I may guide visitors to it to just have a look when they needed the loo, and tell them they could have gone here but it is only for looking at, it is too perfect to wee in and then take them upstairs to the family bathroom. Upstairs in the family bathroom, if only my visitors knew, if Maddy hadn't mended it they would have had to remove the cistern lid and put their hands into the water to find the gadget to pull so that the loo would flush. We all took it in our stride and said Oh Well, Mustn't Grumble every time we went to the loo. Maddy came and said Bloody Hell and phoned for a plumber. See how we need her?

There was a huge turn out for the Opening Night Party on Monday. I was very happy. Alan's dear son was with me to help and we had wine and nibbles ready, the house turned into a gallery, fancy flowers and fairy lights everywhere and the paintings glowing in the scented candle light. Furniture piled into every other space with a door to close on it and hide it, including the kitchen. Within an hour, I noticed that most of the fancy and up-market guests had followed 16 Year Old Son into the kitchen and were sitting around the kitchen table with pots of tea and spotty tea mugs and the Goodies Baskets from on top of the fridge on the table where they were tucking into crisps and chocolates and biscuits. It was a sophisticated affair till you got to the kitchen door through which were sounds of clinking crockery and cheerful jolly banter. It was like the Staff Were Having A Party while the posh evening was going on outside. It was true to form that most of us ended up amongst the piled up furniture, around the kitchen table, drinking strong tea from endless teapots, and laughing and chatting over mountains of crisp and Cadbury's Fruit and Nut wrappers. We are, it seems, sophisticated and deeply intellectual, but only up to a point.

Yesterday I had some serious people come to see the paintings. Dear little 13 Year Old Son is off school with a bad cough and cold, and is upstairs in bed. At certain points during the day, as I showed my visitors around the exhibition and talked of Death, Dying and Reincarnation, we could hear a soft flop flop flop sound coming towards us. Through the door comes 13 Year Old Son in his bare feet, long, white bare feet like a Hobbit, and his tiny Harry Potter pyjamas I bought when he was about 8 years old, and his red dressing gown with a hood pulled up over his head. In silence he plods across the exhibition and out through the french windows into the wild Outside and disappears. My guests don't know he has just popped over to the heated studio in the garden to use the computer. They don't know that he has very little idea of how to dress and also that he is deaf in one hear and misses quite a few Audible Clues around him. They don't know that he doesn't feel the cold and never wears slippers or shoes if he can. They see the Mad Boy I Keep Upstairs come down and make his way, like a mystery, throught the house and back into the garden, where he probably will spend the night in his wild nest under a hedge. It is even more dramatic when the darkness has fallen and I am talking in the exhibition room with my erudite guests when the french doors open and a creature of the night, in a red dressing gown with the hood up (it is raining) and bare feet (he is just like this) and tiny Harry Potter pyjamas comes into the room and neither looking left nor right plods across the room and disappears into the House. We all stop and watch him and I say Oh That is Just My Son. He is Not Well, But He Is Normal. And we continue the guided tour of the paintings.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Every Woman Should Have These

http://www.agracefuldeath.blogspot.com/ for an account of the exhibition of the End Of A Life that I am putting on here. Email me for venue details
http://www.antoniarolls.co.uk/ for my website

Every Woman Should Have These.

As you all probably know, life has not always been easy. Exciting, yes. Challenging, yes. Downright pooey, yes. And I keep going and I keep doing my Thing, and I keep managing to follow my heart, my dreams and my wild schemes no matter what monsters try and derail me (many of them my own fault, not thinking things through and not really wanting to give up on anything that I set my heart on Paint Wise, as they say)

What should every woman have? What is it that I have? Friends. Friends, my dears, friends.

Let us start at the beginning.

  • Alan. Alan is my partner and has a hugeness of spirit that is hard to describe. When we met, I was in a total meltdown over losing Steve. We decided (quite rightly) to start a relationship, and what do I do? I compose an exhibition in memory of Steve. Add to that family difficulties, a personality that is so different to his that it is actually funny. What does Alan do? He remains Constant, Supportive, Truthful (ouch), Real, Generous and always able to listen. Alan is a Brick, a true friend, and has made "A Graceful Death" Exhibition work under some very difficult circumstances. I am so lucky to have him, and am beginning to do something I never even considered possible with Alan, to understand American Football. Steve would have thoroughly approved of him, and I thoroughly approve of him too. So, thank you to Alan.
  • Eileen. How can such a small and modest person with such extraordinary intelligence, be so wise and resiliant? Eileen is a photographer www.flickr.com/photos/eileen_r for some idea of her talent. Eileen keeps a top quality job going during the day, is taking a degree in photography at night, is so very busy despite needing much peace and quiet. She had a genuis for photography, which is just as well as it is her passion. Please look above at her flickr website. And yet, yet, Eileen is always there for advice, comfort, a working-things-out-kind of conversation. Eileen never says No, Go Away You Bore Me or Oh Not Again. Eileen always gives me all of her attention when I need her advice and opinion, which is often, and on top of that takes all the photos of my paintings. It is becoming a fact, sadly, that Eileens photos of my paintings, are much better than the originals. That is because she is so clever. So thank you Eileen.
  • Maddy. Hello Maddy! Maddy is my very sane very wise cousin who looks as if butter wouldn't melt in her mouth. It would melt. Let me tell you. Do not, just do NOT, underestimate Maddy. Maddy has a genius for putting the Under Dog on top, making it the Top Dog. Maddy has a sense of justice, a sense of fair play and an insight into all kinds of human behaviour that is borne of raw experience and her own difficulties. Did she lie down and die? No. Like the Dalai Lama she put it all into a box labelled Compassion and Forgiveness and Dangerous Deceptively Intelligent and got on with raising her three children, smiling, and putting other people first. So. Maddy is full of wit and when half a bottle of wine is involved, fury. And what fury! She is articulate, witty, razor sharp and oddly self effacing. Maddy has been here for me with such practical worldly and effective comments and advice on my life that I think that she must be the dalai lama. With attitude. And now Mr Pook and she are married, there is not a happier bunny anywhere. Good. So thank you Maddy
  • Jemima. Maddy's baby sister. Min, to all of us. Min lives in the USA, miles away, with her husband and three children. Min is a font of calm and measured response. The fact that she is a firecracker, a whirling dirvish, makes her wisdom even more amazing. Min has involved herself through the goodness of her heart, in my various dramas here, and has had two of my Troubled Teenagers to stay with her. Needless to say, they prefer her to me. I prefer her to them. Only joking. A bit. So thank you Min
  • My Three Children. 19 Year Old Daughter stands up for me with aplomb and verve, and is a wonderful terrifying wit when her old mum is being dissed. 16 Year Old Son, when asked, has extremely insightful and clever observations, when I am down. He is very good to his old mum really. He is very good at making quick judgements when needed. 13 Year Old Son gives me such hugs and kisses. He reminds me of all the lovely things he says I do for him, which makes me go gooey and garuntees more lovely things in the future. He is very loving and kind.
  • All the Others. I don't want to name you all without checking if you want everyone to know who you are. My Scottish Friend in Dublin, an angel and a wise, dependable, deeply creative and intelligent, funny and loving old thing, she knows who she is. She needs a Thank you. My brothers, my friends here, my sister in law, all these people need big thank yous and so I do. My London friends (Cecil and Lucy...can I mention your names??)

Thanks all of you . You can all come to my 50th Birthday Party.


Wednesday, 2 December 2009

I Have A New Phone And I Belong

www.agracefuldeath.blogspot.com an account of the A Graceful Death Exhibition I am holding in December. Email me for details, address below
www.antoniarolls.co.uk for my website
antonia.rolls1@btinternet.com to email me

Antonia Rolls can sit at the hairdressers and read her emails on her phone. She is very much At The Cutting Edge and must be contacted and informed 24 hours a day. So she has a new phone that has a touch screen and permanent internet access and she can even do Twitter on it. Yes. Move over Yoko Ono, Antonia Rolls is the Artist now.

I did go to the hairdresser today and I did sit with lots of brown goo on my head and a plastic covering on my shoulders, and use the new phone as a jolly old office computer. I have only just worked out how to stop the keypad making twinkly fairy noises each time I touch it which I have to do to type out messages and make choices. It did sound like a tiny electronic fairy dancing in electronic rain. I knew at the hairdressers that I needed to be fully in control of this wonder gadget, and it wouldn't do to make tinkling noises every time I touched it. So I sorted that. How? I can't remember. Then, after the nice hairdresser had made me some tea, and put some cold brown splodge on my head, I was left to Be Someone. " I can't talk today" I said "I have a controversial exhibition to put on and people may need to email me". So the phone rings and I drop it. Tinkle tinkle splatter and the battery slides under Stout Middle Age Lady With Tints's chair. Because I am In Control and Important I get up and crawl under the Stout Lady's chair assuming she has seen me coming and knows I am getting my battery. But she was reading Hello! and was oblivious to the rest of the salon, until she sees me under her chair keeping my head high because of the Brown Goo on it. "Just getting my battery" I say with exaggerated confidence. She is of the generation who don't have phones and was astonished that I needed a battery at all. For your Heart? I thought she may say. But I held up my New Phone and said from under her chair Ha Ha, for my phone. It was good that I scuttled back then, because I could see her wondering why my phone was under her chair and how could I answer it if it was there?

Back at my seat I read my emails. All from Facebook and from my 19 Year Old Daughter. No matter, I look busy. Then on to Twitter. That is over in a few seconds. Then I got a phone call! And it is from the BBC which I am expecting. I leap out of my chair and go into the washing area (for some reason. It is busier there, and quiet where I was sitting waiting for my brown goo to cover my white hairs) and say Yes! so enthusiastially that everyone looks up thinking Ooh good, she has won the lottery. Let's be nice to her. However, I have to admit that I am at the hairdressers and will have to call back later. The nice man at the other end says OK and I am driven by madness to say And I Will Be Beautiful Then, to which the BBC man says Oh. I am sure you will. And he must put down the phone and say to the other journalists in his office I think that Antonia Rolls is having plastic surgery, not a hair do.

I did call the BBC man back, nothing except work was mentioned, and my hair does look good. The Stout Lady With Tints didn't seem to be affected by the battery under the chair incident, and left the salon looking lovely. She is probably glad she doesn't have to have an all singing all dancing twinkly tinkling phone to do her work on. It probably reinforced her decision to stick with the land line and the postal service.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Oh What A Life

www.agracefuldeath.blogspot.com for the progress account of the exhibition I am holding on the End Of A Life
www.antoniarolls.com for my website
antoniarolls1@btinternet.com if you want to email me

Well Folks. What A Life.

Today you need to know the story of this wonderful exhibition I am holding about the last few weeks, days and day of my wonderful former partner's life as he died of cancer. It is called "A Graceful Death" and it is my story of how Steve and I managed to approach his death. It is my journey in paintings, describing how I felt about his failing health and how I felt about loosing him. It also concentrates on the power of life in the last few days. How the human body is not just a victim of disease, but a vehicle for this mysterious thing called Life that is so inexplicable.

I have worked very hard to put together the exhibition, and was offered a venue by the Quakers who understood the power of what I am doing. I wanted to raise money for the two local hopsices, and to raise awareness of the end of life and palliative care. Gosh, I received such a wonderful welcome and support. The hospices could not do enough to help and I was grateful for such experienced help.

The paintings are amazing. Some are hard to look at but all are strong and loving. On seeing them, so many people have found them familiar - their grandfather, or uncle, or mother, or friend, died of cancer like this. Instead of recoiling, they want to talk, tell me their story and connect with the images that are, actually, familiar to them.

I cannot tell you the amount of interest and support I have received for this tiny but raw exhibition. Donations are coming in all the time for the hospices, and that is wonderful.

Some of Steve's relatives have orchestrated a sudden campaign to have the exhibition closed down. The hospices have had to withdraw their public support for the exhibition, which I understand. They cannot be involved in a disagreement. The Quakers too have had to withdraw their support and the venue was cancelled yesterday. They cannot, as an organisation, be seen to be involved in a disagreement.

Oh how sad this is. How is it that the very people who are lost in their own pain and fury are able to make such a fuss? Well, my heart goes out to them. This is precisely why I am holding the Graceful Death exhibition in the first place, to enable a discussion about death and end of life. Steve died. He lived with me and I cared for him every moment I could, even in the hospital and hospice. I changed him when he was incontinent. I knew he wanted orange segments to eat. I knew how to hold his head when it was too heavy for him to lift. And I held him when he could not find his safe place. He talked to me during those final months of all he had hoped for, and asked me to stay with him always. He asked me to marry him and if he was well, I would have. He posed for the photos I took of him to paint him and giggled when we discussed how they would look. Steve was a very unusual and free thinking man. He loved challenges and loved my painting. Some of the paintings I did before he died he kept in his room in the hospital. Steve was a strong and deeply spiritual man, sometimes I thought him too wise for this world.

So I have this exhibition that is being closed down before it is even shown by just a few of Steve's relatives who are hurting so badly they are lashing out.

I have another venue and the show will go on. Since the withdrawal of the hospices and Quakers, I have been overwhelmed with support and offers of more venues. The opening night is still Monday 7 December, from 6pm to 8pm. If you would like to know more, please email me for details on antonia.rolls1@btinternet.com

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Oh So Late. A Dramatic Moment In A Storm.


Here I am at ten minutes to one in the morning. There is, for my benefit, a thunder storm raging outside. Hail rattles my windows as I sit at the computer; hail, wind and rain amongst deafening thunder and forked white lightening out in the black night (the garden), and I feel This Is It. I am an Artist. Only Artists sit late at night in thunder storms and do Stuff in the Studio. Only Artists sit deep into the early hours driven by the need in their Souls to Create and if we are lucky, we get Matching Weather to make us feel special. (And it would be nice if someone could take a picture of us to prove it, but everyone is asleep and you can't take one of yourself and pretend it was a friend that you didn't even see you were so busy being Dramatic and Arty.)

I am not so much creating as preparing. Tomorrow I have a long heavy day. I visit my local hospice in the morning to listen to an interview done of one of their patients. A quick visit back home to see 19 Year Old Daughter who is really poorly with the flu, and then I go to a meeting in London. This is followed by a Christmas Fair I am doing with Eileen, where we will share a stand and probably chat for the whole evening. Both of us think along the same lines and one of us will have snacks and the other will have a thermos of tea. This is the third certainty of life. 1. We are born. 2. We die 3. Eileen will have the snacks and I will have the tea.

I won't be back to Bognor Regis until after midnight. It is possible that my very poorly 19 Year Old Daughter will need tea as soon as I get home, no matter what the time is. She sees me and she needs tea. It is a neural pathway thing now, after all these years, and it is best to just accept it. Eileen will be with me and will also need tea. I have a bit of a reputation with tea so I will probably join them and lo. It will be another very late night.

13 Year Old Son is no longer Bill Sykes. It was the last night tonight, and he did well to last for four consecutive late nights acting his heart out (and barely missing a GBH charge by a whisker as Bill Sykes, the ruffian and murderer, as 13 Year Old Son does a kind of method acting approach) after a long day at school. His day starts at 8.20 and finishes at 4.30. He also has Saturday school, finishing at midday. So it will be interesting to see how long it takes Bill to slip out of his psyche, and for my nice football mad slightly quirky boy to return. I fear that there was a bet placed last night for Bill to ad lib during the tense and dramatic last scene. This is where Nancy's body is found and someone says they saw a man running away. What did he look like? was the cue and 13 Year Old Son called from off stage "Dressed in black and Sexy". I was not there for tonight's performance, and only collected him after the last curtain call. I suspect that it went ahead because 13 Year Old Son got out of his costume and into his uniform (with full black stage make up giving him big black bushy beard, huge black eyebrows and stubble on his neck. He looked from a distance like a wierd hairy pirate trying to pass in a crowd as a school boy), and went off to collect money from certain giggling and admiring members of the cast. I simply don't want to know.

Monday, 23 November 2009

The Angels Are Up And Flying In The Oxmarket In Chichester And Bill Sykes Gets His Debut

http://www.agracefuldeath.blogspot.com/ for an account of the exhibition I am putting on in December in Chichester on the End Of A Life with Cancer
http://www.antoniarolls.co.uk/ for my website
antonia.rolls1@btinternet.com if you want to contact me
Here is a Teapot Angel to make you want another cup of tea.

We hung the Angels up on Sunday, they are in full glory in the Oxmarket Gallery in the foyer. Eileen came and helped me, and took photographs of them on the Saturday so that she can make prints, and then helped me hang them on the Sunday. We were only the Foyer Artists, there were other Main Exhibition Room Artists too, setting up and being busy and wonderfully arty and modest. We only had 12 Angels to put up, and I had done all the Exhibition Blurb well in advance, so Eileen and I had time to go and preview the other exhibitions. Not only was the work good - there were two groups exhibiting in the big rooms, and one landscape artist in the bigger part of the foyer - but the energy and enthusiasm of the painters and makers-of-things was terribly impressive. It was wonderful to see so many people take their desire to make art seriously and actually Do It. I love these group exhibitions. I think the works displayed are impressive because they are made by dedicated, inspired, brave and ordinary people. The standard is often really high. Many of these modest and clever people do their art professionally now. The landscape artist too, setting up her work, showed beautifully observed and lovingly painted local scenes, framed to set them off at their best.

And now. The school play. At last my 13 Year Old Son could give in to the drunken wife beating murderer in his soul and play Bill Sykes. It was a wonder of wonders. "Oliver" was the school play, and a very good choice too, as much of the school could take part. Indeed, I spotted in the Workhouse Scene a wonderfully well fed and bright little Chinese boy in glasses. Each of the work house children wore the grey school shirt and trousers ripped to shreds, which worked very well. Either they all held each other down for a pre play free-for-all or someone has been collecting lost property. It also explained why Bill Sykes came home recently from school with the breast pocket of his school shirt ripped off. "I ripped Fred's off and he ripped mine off" was all I got for an explanation. "It was fun" he added to make it clearer still.

The characters played their hearts out. My Bill seemed really violent and we could feel the angiush of Oliver, Nancy and Selected Ruffians mothers in the audience, and when Bill got shot in the final scene a tiny child in the audience was heard to say "Oh good". I suspect quite a few of the well brought up liberal thinking parents echoed that deep in their hearts. Bill was full of fury and wore a top hat which made him taller than most, and a big leather coat which made him look like a Hells Angel and big trousers that made him look like he may have Welsh International Rugby Thighs underneath. The whole effect was that my darling little 13 Year Old Son made everyone else look angelic, misunderstood and reasonable.

I have to say though, he met his match in Nancy who played her part with a seriousness and intelligence that made me think she'd never have chosen Bill if she had been asked when the book was being written. She was truly a star, and lovely to watch and listen to. And I know for a fact that her mother found her the perfect dress, red and black, and should be applauded for finding exactly the right outfit.

So. A busy weekend, and much achieved. Briefly, 16 Year Old Son came back for a visit and ate like a mother wants her son to eat, that is, without a pause. Alan paid a welcome visit after his work and tennis, and Oldest Brother and his partner came for Sunday. Monday is a doddle after all that.

Friday, 20 November 2009

A Quickie Today

http://www.agracefuldeath.blogspot.com/ for an account of the exhibition I am mounting on the End Of A Life, in Chichester in December
http://www.antoniarolls.co.uk/ for my website
antonia.rolls1@btinternet.com if you want to contact me

So. A Quickie Today.

Everything is going well, and I have done all that I could have done for my two exhibitions. The Angels get put up this Sunday at the Oxmarket Gallery in Chichester, and that is good. Eileen is coming for the weekend, and will photograph them and help with the hanging.

I have eaten oatcakes and marmalade as a comfort thing as Alan has just left to do Very Important Things somewhere else, and now I have marmalade on the mouse and key board. So I rubbed my hands on my jeans and now I have sticky jeans too. Maybe that will be my new trade mark. Not teapots anymore, just an invisible stickiness on all artworks. "Ah yes, Curruthers. This is a Genuine Post November 2009 Antonia Rolls. Note the marmalade deposits carefully distributed amongst the paint work"

Now. To Work. Posters for the exhibitions. My contact details for the exhibitions. More Tea to make the thinking process smoother. More marmalade to set the mood. So, that is the Quickie Account today.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

St Wilfrids Hospice Today

http://www.agracefuldeath.blogspot.com/ for the site about setting up the Graceful Death exhibition in Chichester 7-12 December
http://www.antoniarolls.co.uk/ for my website
antonia.rolls1@btinternet if you want to email me.

St Wilfrid's Hospice later today. I am going to introduce myself and ask if I can raise funds for them for this exhibition I am doing about the End Of A Life. I am well so far, I have no need of the hospice as I am, as far as I know, not dying. I hope I don't die before I have understood more about the end of life and how one dies. Perhaps I should say how others die, as I don't want to do it myself yet.

Yesterday I spoke to the very helpful Arts Development Officer at Chichester Council. He was a very dedicated and inspired man, and full of proper good advice for me. That was good, and as he is a big part of Chichester's bid to be the UK's first City Of Culture for 2013, and I was there having a Meeting, I felt Yeah. I'm in the Hub here. Just note, people, who I am talking to on first name terms and bow down low.

In the afternoon I had the pleasure of meeting another very dedicated (and unlike me, experienced in Hospice work) Artist. The Artist in Residence from St Barnabas House Hospice (for whom I am raising money through the Graceful Death exhibition and here for your entertainment is a direct link to the website where you can donate www.justgiving.com/agracefuldeath ) (Just read that over and it looks like I am raising money for the Artist in Residence. Like him though I do, it is the Hospice I am raising money for).

I was inspired and delighted to have the company of the Artist in Residence to visit here. We sat for hours in the studio and talked, and I found another artist who thinks about End of Life like I do. Only this fellow does something about it, and works in the Hospice. I thought he must be a very good man to explore creativity with when you have not much time and have an illness that will cut short your life. There is hope that we can do a project together in the Hospice, and use my Angels which I would love to do.

Then I had to collect 13 Year Old Son from homework club at school to which I have bound him for life, in order for him to at least try to do some homework and I don't have to deal with his passionate disapproval of homework and the politics of avoidance thereof at home. Let The School Do It, I said, It's In Their Job Description. It seems to be working, in that he says he has no homework. But I wouldn't put it past 13 Year Old Son to bypass homework club altogether and set up a business in the classroom and get his pals to pay him for lost House Badges he has found (Found? Found with menace I would think), and elastic bands he convinces them they need, and pencil stubs that always write the right answers etc. He is a canny fellow, but no match for his Headmaster who has seen it all before. So, as far as I know, 13 Year Old Son is doing his homework.

It is windy today and I feel nervous about having taken on so much. I have been offered more exhibition space through a wondeful Hospice Trust in East Sussex, and am full of enthusiasm about it. But every now and then I think What if I can't do it? All these people are helping me so much and there is plenty of space for what I am doing with my End of Life exhibition, I hope I can live up to all our expectations. Then I give myself a little shake and say with iron in my voice, Just Get On With It Antonia. And that is what I shall do. Just Get On With It.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Tea, Rain, Angels, Dying, Lists

http://www.agracefuldeath.blogspot.com/ for the exhibition I am holding in December in Chichester on the End of a Life from cancer
http://www.antoniarolls.co.uk/ for my website
antonia.rolls1@btinternet if you want to contact me

Hello All. Yes I have my pot of tea (is the Pope a Catholic) and yes it is raining. Oh and yes, I sent 13 Year Old Son out in the rain to go to school and am worried he will arrive like a little Victorian waif, with his dripping hair plastered to his young impressionable face, and his only set of clothes steaming in the heat of the classroom and dripping puddles by his chair as he sits with a teeny squelch onto his seat. Laughed at by all the others who had a)mothers that drove them b)rain coats c)umbrellas. Except, and this is where I lose my guilt, my dear 13 Year Old Son is too cool to wear a coat and scorns umbrellas and is tall and a bit of a lad, so coming into the classroom like a waif is ridiculous. He will enter his classroom like a Wet Teenager that gets Brownie Points for being out in all weathers, hoping they think he is from a wild and unloving house with a mother that intends her children to Learn the Hard Way. When she remembers who they are.

Angels now. This is absolutely wonderful. For a while today I shall paint my Angels because on Sunday next I put up the exhibition. Angels are really lovely things to paint. They can say anything the artist wants them to say. I hope these Angels make people smile and I hope they bring me some commissions. Prints of them are coming with me to a Christmas Fair in London, in Wimbledon on 26 November. I will finish my Fat Angel and my Night Time Angel and leave it at that. I have to make prints of the images, make a small biography and see how they will hang in the gallery.

Dying is the theme of the Steve exhibition. That needs endless attention (the exhibition) and it seems that it is like something that will never be even half completed. There is always so much more to do. I have to do as my lovely Dublin Scottish friend says, learn where to stop. I am reading a very good book on dying, as one does, and am feeling it is the most fascinating subject. Wait Until Your Time Comes, I hear you say with a frown, And Then See How Fascinated You Are. Well, precisely. It is a bit of an academic interest as I have, as yet, not died or been nearly dead. Steve did it all and I watched.

Lists. Lists! I must make another list! I have only got fifteen hundred lists and I need another! My list will describe what I need to do each day this week, based on the other lists I have done about other lists that were drawn up - and so on and so forth. Oh for a room full of dedicated helpers that wake each morning with bright and effective ideas on how to make everything I do work. And to come in to my studio and cheerily implement them. And when I doubt myself, to tut with a little chuckle and tell me it's all going to be fine.

The rain has stopped. I have finished my pot of tea. Time to do the Angels. A Dying Angel Writing a List in the Rain with a Pot of Tea. Only joking.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Antonia Rolls, Artist Extraordinaire, Needs A Day Off

http://www.agracefuldeath.blogspot.com/ for an account of the Graceful Death Exhibition coming up in December in Chichester
http://www.antoniarolls.co.uk/ for my website with examples of paintings
antonia.rolls1@btinternet.com if you want to contact me

I need a day off. It is raining fit to wash Bognor off the map. I am tired through much socialising and tired through much Exhibition-ing and tired through much painting. Add to this a little overeating and a spot of overcycling, and you get a droopy, well meaning but rather pathetic artist and mother who just needs Housework Fairies to appear and do all the chores. A Taxi Fairy to take over the car and an inspired and committed Events Organiser Fairy to do the rest of the Angels and Graceful Death exhibitions. And then a Bubble Bath Fairy a Pot of Tea Fairy and an Early Night Fairy to share the rest of the work between them. With of course the Chocolate Cake Fairy. She is a Given.

I have just been to Middleton to collect the old bit of tree my artist friend has kept for me. I am using it in the Graceful Death exhibition on which to tie ribbons of rememberance. I have a photographer from our local paper coming to the studio soon and I am worried I will not look on top of things. I am worried it will look as if the real artist had to go to an important meeting about being very successful somewhere else and has asked their rather dim friend to stand in and look the part. "No one will know" says the successful artist as she dances to the door with grace and energy. "Just wear old clothes and say things like 'Oh the Muse, the Muse' and 'Yes, I cannot describe nor explain' and look through the window into the middle distance. Byee. Gotta go, got lunch with the Queen and Simon Cowell" and off goes successful artist leaving droopy inarticulate but well meaning artist-stand-in to impress the photographer.

It will be fine. I am wearing nice lipstick, that always helps. I will doodle and potter after the photos are done, and wait for 13 Year Old Son to come home after football practice in the rain, for 16 Year Old Son to come home from college in London (I'm on a train to Inverness could you come and get me?) and 19 Year Old Daughter to come to a Station Near Here at 10pm tonight in order to watch a dvd with us tomorrow morning and then go back to her own world. Grandma comes for tea tomorrow afternoon and Alan comes after his tennis. All next week there are meetings and decisions to be made. How exciting it all is but Oh. Just one day off.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Waiting In The Studio Till It Is Time To Go Out To Dinner

http://www.antoniarolls.co.uk/ for my paintings website
http://www.agracefuldeath.blogspot.com/ for the account of the Graceful Death exhibition coming in December in Chichester
antonia.rolls1@btinternet if you want to contact me

So. I have had a busy day, of course, and have a window right now to write. I am going out again to dinner tonight, and am sitting dressed in my smart evening clothes with my cylcle helmet on, at my computer. When I wash my hair it goes all fluffy and bouffant. Recently I have found that after a cycle ride my helmet has made my hair look fab, so I have washed my hair this afternoon and am wearing my cycle helmet until it is time to get into my car.

The studio is full of paintings. I have been painting away for ages now, and feel as if I have been flailing in all directions until Pow. Suddenly I can see I have created a fair number of Angels and Dead People. I am painting a Fat Angel at the moment, and she is possibly the nicest angel I have painted so far. She is really round and really lovely. I am also painting a final Steve painting, but more about that on the Graceful Death blog. See at the top of this entry for a link. There are clusters of Angels by my radio and on the chair in the studio. They look very sweet next to the dramatic paintings of Steve's dying body. They go together very well. I am glad. All comes from the same hand.

However. I am in pain right now. I decided to cycle to all my meetings and appointments this morning. Oh. In hindsight, I should have plotted the routes on a map and been kind to myself and gone by car. No, I cried, what is wrong with cycling everywhere and, why! I am now in full control of my bike and my body. What I should have said is Lo! When I take this route by car it takes ages and ages, always more than I remember so what is the point of becoming crippled when I am going out to dinner tonight? Why cause my legs to seize up and fall off and my bottom to feel as if it is sitting on an unyeilding and pointy piece of metal?

I cycled without a backwards glance. I did 21 miles and was almost paralysed when I got home. I did manage to peel myself off the bike, and open my front door, and fall into a stupor on the floor. While lying on the floor I planned my lunch menu. It was along the lines of If You Can See It Eat It. I ate a veggie sausage, crackers and jam, bananas, 4 muffins and butter and jam, crisps and a pot of tea. I was strong enough then to go upstairs and have a hot bath for an hour, after which I had the bright idea of wearing my cycling helmet all afternoon to make my hair nice for this evening. This is where I started this account. I am having another quick cup of tea before taking the helmet off and hoping I have the kind of hair I dream of, putting on my lipstick and boots, and going out to eat another large and public meal. I will probably walk like Frankenstein's monster, no movement in any joints, just the left side of the body followed by the right side of the body until I get to the table. Oh well. They will have to love me for my conversation tonight, not my lithe athleticism.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

To Blog Or Not To Blog. To Blog.

http://www.agracefuldeath.blogspot.com/ for updates on my exhibition coming up on the End Of A Life
http://www.antoniarolls.com/ for my painting website. Fun stuff for all.

To Blog or not to blog, if that is the question then it is simple. Blog. Blog a lot and blog regardless. I set myself the task of doing two blogs every second day so that both my readers (subtle) could have a day to digest the Theme of the Day. One blog, this one, is full of important happenings and thoughts in the life of a very well meaning artist and mother. The other is about the exhibition A Graceful Death which I am putting on soon. See link at the top of this entry. It is a serious blog about a serious subject and possibly charts the start of a new direction for my work. I will write more about that in the Graceful Death blog.

This blog is also serious, and I have found it makes all the difference to my working life. This is because I have to concentrate, have to be consistant, and have to make sense. You may not like what I write (but I know you do because you are loyal and patient) but you have to admit it makes sense. In that it is not Non sense. Or at least it is not gobbeldy gook.

It is Sunday night and I am sitting in my kitchen under a very noisy boiler writing this in advance of tomorrow, on Alan's laptop. I am very busy tomorrow and for the whole of next week and have been unutterably busy for the last week too. I am having to slot my blog in at the weekend, because I am just too too busy to do it on Monday. And I was too too busy to do it on Friday. And Saturday was so dreadfully busy too and so I am like those terribly important Doing Types who can hardly reply to a question because their important and urgent lists cover the whole of one wall. I would like to say all my hugely important busy-ness is about work, because then I would be obviously Into the Bigtime. My busy-ness however, is to do with friends coming to stay from Norway, and dinner parties, and tea with old friends, and taking 16 Year Old Son to the British Museum for the day. It is about being invited to birthday dinners and taking 13 Year Old Son to his football match where bless him, he froze to death and stopped being able to move because his laces came undone and he was too cold to do them up and too cool to ask for help. "Mummy would have done it for you" I cried as I put him into the car to thaw after the match. His look was withering. Not on your Nelly was the polite interpetation.

Steve's wonderful friends came over for a visit from Norway. They saw the paintings for the exhibition, and did not object. They have known Steve since he was 19. I knew Steve for 18 months. We went to lunch and a visit to Petworth, to my mother's house, and dear Eileen came too. Then I drove everyone to London for tea with 16 Year Old Son at my sister in law's house. 16 Year Old Son is very fond of the Norweigian Friends, who taught him to ski in Norway a year and a half ago. And so, later on when everyone had gone onto their next appointment, I stayed with a dear dear friend who always asks the most insightful questions. There is no pretending one is OK with this friend, she is far too perceptive and wise for that. I always come away feeling better for being with her. Saturday arrives and off to the British Museum with 16 Year Old Son, and a deadline to meet an old school friend who has flown over from Hong Kong with her husband (Husband? She is still 17. She can't have a husband). We have not met for 31 years, and I knew her instantly. Off then, to a dinner party with other old school friends (see how busy I am? See how a Blog just couldn't happen?)

A long drive home to Alan after my London dinner and a pot of tea and a chat when I get there and lo! It is 3am. 13 Year Old Son has to be at the football ground somewhere Vaguely Far Away by 10am so let us sleep, dear one, let us sleep.

Tomorrow I cycle to see a Community Centre that may have a room to rent out so that I can wow the public with Art Classes. Just the basics this time. Leave the inspirational stuff for later, just the basics to begin with. Jackson Pollack and Michaleangelo next month, Noddy and painting by numbers this month. At teatime, tea with a gracious old friend, who used to be the English teacher at my Jesuit boarding school, and lives in the next village. Tea with him is Real. Teapots, teacups, buttered toasted teacakes. I may overstay my welcome tomorrow, I feel it coming on.

So it goes. The rest of the week is more of the same. And in between all this, in between all this frantic to-ing and fro-ing, I will paint more angels and dying men, I will try to convince the press that this exhibition is worth taking seriously, I will see if St Barnabas House Hospice has space for the volunteering I want to do, and I will network and make new contacts and thus I will arrive at Nirvana.

Just worth a mention too, 19 Year Old Daughter texts me with updates on her movements and thoughts about 20 times a day, and 16 Year Old Son sends me lists of things I should do. 13 Year Old Son is in the middle of a Homework Sabotaging Exercise and needs some careful handling, and as his school play is coming up and he is Bill Sykes the baddie, he is more often in character than usual and needs some gentle guidance now and again. (We don't drink gin at the table dear, and please put away the cudgel, I am sure Bill would have put it in the cupboard when he came home. Along with the gin. Good boy.)

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

A Few Thoughts On Meditation

http://www.agracefuldeath.blogspot.com/ for account of setting up my exhibition in December on the End Of A Life
http://www.antoniarolls.co.uk/ for my website. Paintings galore. Have a look.

A Few Thoughts On Meditation.

Oh no, you cry. Surely not. That is because you feel as I do at the very mention of the word. It conjures images of smug people in contact with the universe. People with a Secret which you don't have (nor do you want). It feels spooky and worrying, you might have to take on Jesus and ask his forgiveness as a chant. You may have to repeat a mantra that sounds authentic and significant but secretly you are afraid you are chanting My Mother In Law Has a Big Nose and the guru is laughing at you.

This is what I think. Meditation has oh so many forms, all aiming at the same thing. Peace and silence and connectedness with Something Other (God, Universe, Divine, Yourself). I have a friend who I admire deeply who teaches meditation. She is grounded, clever, was a city lawyer for years, very wise and she meditates. Good example of a Meditator You Want To Talk To. My mother meditates and bases her meditations on Christianity. She holds weekly meditation sessions at her house and deeply established and admirable older ladies come and take part and absolutely love it. Steve meditated and said it changed his life during university. He meditated in hospital too when he was dying and it gave him much strength. All these people are great examples in my life, so how on earth do they do it? What is their secret?

I learned Transendential Meditation a couple of years ago. The idea was I would learn it and meditate with Steve. He died before I found a place to learn it. However I went ahead. It cost me a small fortune and I was taught how to do it by the nicest sweetest most lovely lady, and it had of course, changed her life. It would change my life too. There were many testimonies about the effects of TM Meditation and I thought Wow. This is It then. Life changing here we come.

Like all things of importance, you have to take it seriously. You have to practice to make it work. All those who have this Secret are those who have put in the effort to do the meditating. Nothing comes to us Just Like That. I learned the technique, I have a mantra that sounds odd to me but part of my TM training is never to tell anyone what it is. That is fine, I don't think anyone would be that interested. And I am a bit embarrassed, it does sound like a household object when you say it fast. But I know it is not, and so I try to pronounce differently it in my head. Which is not very TM. And I don't meditate any more, I find I resist it with all my strength. I avoid the silence and resent the time. I like silence, I love silence, but this meditation silence makes me so afraid. I was advised to meditate 20 minutes morning and evening, and I find I cannot even begin to commit to this, even though I could easily sit in the kitchen and stare at the wall for 40 minutes morning and evening. And when I do meditate, it is as if every thought I ever had comes rushing into my head and I am filled with a cacophany of noise and jumble. This, I know, is normal for most meditators. But I can't get past it.

I am reading a wonderful book by Abbot Christopher Jamieson from Worth Abbey about Monastic Steps for Every Day Life. Truly, this man is wonderful. Meditation and Silence and Authenticity comes together in this book. It has made me reassess and be kind about the rather passionate avoidance I have to meditating. Just do five minutes, he says. It is hard work. Oh I said to the book, I Know. Thank You. Christopher Jamieson is writing about the Rule of Benedict and so his thoughts and observations are framed within this Rule but Oh. It is telling me that I can't just Do Meditating. I need to use meditating as a part of my journey to God and the Self. It takes time, and is not an isolated activity. It gives me permission to start again at the bottom and it gives me structure and common sense to apply to my most basic meditations.

So back to the avoidance of meditating and the fear of being a looney. I think now that it is too hard to meditate in silence alone without structure. Of course I avoid it, I am afraid of two things. First, I am afraid of Nothing. It is either a con and I fell for it, or I am simply Not There and as empy as a paper bag blowing down the street. Secondly, I am afraid that I Am There and that what I see is too much. And if I am There, and Too Much, then I have Done Life Wrong and the knowledge will make my brain shut down and I will become a vegetable.

To put aside time morning and evening is the first discipline needed in meditation. To be reassured that the silence one expects will probably not happen is the next piece of advice. To learn to be kind to yourself is very important, and to learn to see this meditation as a journey that will slowly mean something to you, just to you, as time goes by. And very important, to have someone to talk to about it. It is not a fearful activity. It is not a magic activity. It will not give you secrets of the universe, it will not even give you secrets about yourself. It will however, I think, be a long slow road to Silence, to bit by bit give yourself the space to Understand more, either about yourself or life around you. And if you are lucky, a little pathway to God.

So thanks to Abbot Jamieson, I will meditate again, and I will repeat my household object mantra and not beat myself up about it. Tally Ho. Om.

Monday, 2 November 2009

My Birdies Have Flown

http://www.agracefuldeath.blogspot.com/ for updates on the exhibition on End Of A Life
http://www.antoniarolls.co.uk/ for my website

Oh My Birdies Have Flown. Today my youngest Birdie turns 13 and is no longer 12 Year Old Son. He is at school. I put my Furious 16 Year Old Birdie on the train to college in London even though he just wanted a quiet life and to stay here and my 19 Year Old Birdie flew off with her Grandmother on Saturday.

So what I am trying to say, I think, is that My Babies Are Growing Up.

This weekend, we celebrated Alan's birthday, and 12 now 13 Year Old Son's birthday. I had my wonderful cousin and two of her children to stay from Thursday, and on Friday we had 13 for dinner, to celebrate Alan's birthday. (The chief Exec is a Year Older). Being a no fuss kind of fellow we had fish and chips and big loaves of white bread and butter. Fab. And there was a big chocolate birthday cake to finish off with. After we had all eaten our fish, chip and buttie supper, like Desparate Dan after eating his Cow Pie, we all sighed and said "F'lup"

We cleared up just in time for the Saturday when a further 15 or so joined us for lunch to celebrate Son's birthday. That meant Sausage and Curley Chips and possibly 400 million packets of crisps. Adults had a few salads to help them with their consciences as the main menu was stodge and fat followed by fried fatty sugary stodge with knobs on. Pudding was two birthday cakes 16 Year Old Son made which were very yummy.

Then, lo, it being 31 October, we had to get the Halloween stuff out for the youngsters who needed another party, it being a few hours since lunch. It was done, and cobwebs and insects and pumpkins and candles appeared downstairs. At this point I no longer knew who was staying and who wasn't. Hey Ho, I said to myself, Such Are Birthdays. The last time I looked there were about five teenagers sleeping in the loft, up the rickety ladder from just outside my room to the roof space where only teenagers and fugitives would feel happy.

I do have a lot of family. I have a lot of aunts and uncles, and so an amazing amount of cousins. They all have children now, and for only a few cousins to come with their children means Party Time. Add to that my own three brothers, my sister in law, my nephews and nieces, my parents and Alan and his son and son's girlfriend, and me and my three kiddies (birdies) and it is Outdoor Festival Time.

Now it is Monday morning. The house is still here. I am still here. I have cleaned and tidied after the last of the cousins left yesterday, and my Birdies have Flown to their various Places and I am alone. Two in the weekend festivities are a year older, and all of us are 8 stone heavier.

It is truly wonderful to be alone again in my studio. I loved my week and weekend. I love that my Birdies are all teenagers now, I love that throughout the Saturday afternoon and evening Alan sat benignly and happily watching American Football while the Party Raged Around Him. And later, we adults sat with him under the cobwebs and spiders and watched the X Factor.

Well. I am not a sentimental mother. But I do have little moments of sadness sometimes, when I think of how fat and happy and funny my big fantastically independant teenagers once were, and how it was easy to distract them at sticky moments with OOh Look! A Lorry! Whereas now they have an answer for everything and much more knowledge of their Rights and think I was born fully formed as I am now, sometime Before Christ, and have no idea of Real Life at all. My Birdies are Growing Up and I am watching them change and grow before me, and just for a little while today when they are at schools and colleges and work, it feels as if they have flown.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

I Am Covered With Blue Paint

http://www.agracefuldeath.blogspot.com/ an account of setting up the exhibition on the end of a life with cancer, to be held 7 - 13 December in Chichester, West Sussex
www.youtube.com/craftsmank where I talk of the paintings I have begun in January 2007 just 8 weeks after the death of Steve Shaw

I am covered with blue paint. I used not to like blue, I thought it was a boring colour and only useful when nothing else was available. To me, blue was the lowest common denominator. It was what those who had no passion used to choose when asked What Is Your Favourite Colour? It was what passed as normal in a conversation amongst unimaginative folk when discussing new shirts, new jumpers, new curtains and so on. I had visions of people with not much to talk about invited to a fancy party, and making the effort to go an buy a new outfit. I imagined them going to the Navy Blue Section of the local boutique and selecting, with short gasps of anticipation, a lighter shade of navy blue than they had on at the time, and making the decision to Go Mad and Have It. And then, at the fancy party, wearing the very personally brave Lighter Than Before shade of Navy Blue, wondering if there was a space in the cupboard under the stairs they could hide in until they felt they could deal with the attention they were bound to get as this new and daring Party Animal.

Those who seemed to plod along in this life without much ambition liked blue. Those who liked to play safe chose blue. People like me however, exciting passionate loud and unconventional types, liked Red. And Scarlet and Hot Pink. Colours to do with Fire and Noise. I wouldn't have blue, I said, if you paid me. Not on your nelly. Banish Blue, I told those who would listen, Make A Difference.

Here's what happened. As I made the effort to avoid blue in my life, as I made the effort to shine brighter than the Blue Brigade, I made and sold many paintings. What was the underlying theme of all these paintings? Why, they were represented in the sky. What colour is the sky? Blue. It dawned on me that despite my awareness of the Boringness of Blue, a) it made my paintings colourful and successful and b) everybody liked it. Even the deeply creative types that bought them. Good Heavens. And I liked all the people that bought my paintings, I thought them interesting and full of untapped brilliance because they appreciated my work.

Well. So a beautiful shade of hot light sky blue was the unifying theme of all my paintings. I will accept that, I thought, and maybe that particular shade of blue is good. In my unguarded moments I thought it was wonderful. Then I noticed that when I looked deep into the eyes of each of my children, they were blue. My children had blue eyes. They were not boring, and each child had a different shade of blue. I moved to be by the sea, and the sea took on all shades of blue, grey and green imaginable. I went to a ball and Alan hired me a ball dress. The lady in the shop knew her stuff and handed me what looked like ghastly shades of that Lighter Shade of Navy blue colour that I had previously scorned. When I put it on my skin glowed, my eyes deepened and my hair looked lustrous. Alan said I looked beautiful and the woman in the shop clasped her hands to her bosom and wept with pleasure. Just my colour they said, just my colour.

Today I am in my studio painting the background of the Angels in a mixture I have made from two or three blues in my paint box. Yesterday I covered a large canvas in a shade of blue I could not describe, it is so deep and significant. Around the studio are paintings waiting to dry, of blue angels, blue backgrounds, figures wearing blue and a poignant painting of some blue slippers. I look at my hands and they are blue. I look at my eyebrows and nose when I go past the mirror in the studio and they are blue. My painting coat that I absolutely adore because it belonged to my grandfather, is blue. My kitchen is full of my favourite crockery and lo. What is this theme that is emerging? They are blue and white striped or blue and white polka dot.

So in this world we inhabit, so many things are going on. The M1 motorway celebrates 50 years of existance this year. America is Changing with a new president. Michael Caine is out of retirement and is in a new film. And in Bognor Regis, an artist has had a humbling experience in which she is coming to terms with the fact that Blue is Fab. That she is in fact, a victim of her own narrow mindedness and that Blue is Only A Colour, It Is Not A Threat. That it doesn't take blue to make another boring, blue is not a signal to avoid all contact. And if I like blue now, I am still passionate, I still love Red, Hot Pink, Orange, Yellow and Fire Colours. The new acknowledgement of Blue in my life gives me depth. I am now Deeply Passionate.

Here I sit at my computer then, covered with blue paint. I am wearing my grandfather's blue coat with utmost pleasure (it reminds me of him) and drinking tea from my blue and white spotted mug. My children gazed at me this morning with their blue eyes and I am thinking the once unthinkable for the paintings I am doing at the moment. Only Blue Will Do.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Troubles Melting Like Lemon Drops (away above the chimney tops etc etc)

www.youtube.com/caftsmank (talking about the Graceful Death paintings 8 weeks after the event)www.justgiving.com/agracefuldeath (for you to donate to St Barnabas House Hopsice)

Now. On to the Day To Day Life Of An Artist.

I have not kept you informed of my art recently. I have told you in depth of the highs and lows of being me in my little world. I have told you exactly how I feel at any given time and linked it to my working day, so that there are no boundaries between me and what I do and that is fine. I have even made bullet points to emphasise my points (always concerning me. And, Why Not? you cry. Indeed I reply, I suspect that most of us feel the same way much of the time. I am really only itemising the Human Condition in a general and average day to day way, not as I had hoped, touching on unique and fantasically original personal experience. I am, I am reminded, just the same as everyone else. Bother.)

So here is a picture of my studio with much of my current work in it.

It is a very lovely space in which to paint. It is a wooden cabin in my garden and is fully weather proof and has electricity. There is no running water so I have to go over to the main house for Tea, Washing Brushes, More Tea, Baths etc. In here are some of the images I am working on for the Graceful Death exhibition and the Angels exhibition. I like setting aside whole days to paint, I like bypassing the computer which is in the office bit by the door into this Studio, this Place of Jolly Nice And Often Intense Endeavour. Here is the office

Note the cup of tea on the table. I am sitting in this place now writing this account of Where It All Happens. It is here that I try and send sensible emails and receive information to further my painting and creative life. It is here that I sit and droop on the mornings that I don't find The Path easy. It is here that I sit and Whoop With Joy when everything is going well and I know what I am doing. My Art in Progress is as follows.

  • The Every Day Angel Exhibition is coming up on the 22 November. I am not exactly ready for it, but I have time. It would be best to set aside whole days to paint these lovely creatures, but I keep having to do other stuff like talk to the kids and feed them.
  • A Graceful Death has a life of its own. It is something that I love and need strength to do. I am amazed that so many people are interested and helping with it. I will never have enough paintings for this, I am never going to understand the process of dying.
  • I am applying to the Arts Council for funding to take the Graceful Death to different places. I have 2 venues ready, in Bremmen in Germany and in Birmingham. There are more in the pipeline.
  • I decided yesterday I need to draw more. Spontaneous black pen drawings of whatever takes my fancy. I often see faces that are inspiring and long to stare at them. How did they get that way? What is the structure, for example, behind a big nose and little eyes?
  • I think that is it. The rest of my artistic life is here in front of the computer doing PR and research into who to talk to, what about, where to go next. Blah blah blah Hello Antonia Rolls here, Artist Extraordinaire. Yes. Extraordinaire. Yep. Artist. Artist, a Painter. No, I don't do wallpapering, no - what? Can I do pebbledashing? I think I have the wrong number.

I do have a commission that is on the back burner at the moment, a lovely still life of flowers in an urn. I will do this painting, I had better do this painting. I am on a roll with Death and Angels and that must not take over my life (Oh Yeah?). Tomorrow. I will do it tomorrow.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Oh Goodness. Who Made It Friday Already


It is Friday. It is raining. Oh. It's stopped. It's not raining. I have been to the Lake District with my three brothers for a wonderful walking holiday to celebrate my oldest brother's 50th birthday. We were away from Sunday to Thursday. Now here I am with lists and lists of lists and paper and notes to self and piles of mail and only me to see to it all.

I am a one man band. There is only me to do the whole damn lot and today I am flummoxed by the amount of Stuff I am facing. Yes I have made a list. No I have not got enough time. Yes I want to go into the garden and eat worms.

It is Friday. Every Friday is the end of the week and goddamit it is the last chance to get the week into some sort of successful shape. I have to pick up the invitations that are at the post office but Lo. There is a blinking postal strike so I can't. What about the press releases? What about them indeed. I can print them out and send them off but I wanted to send the invites off too because there is a great picture on the invites.

And phone calls. I have some phone calls to make and I have some applying to do for funding. But, in order to apply to find funding I have to know what I am doing. Oh what am I doing? It all seems too much . Only a few days away and I have forgotten what I am supposed to be doing here. OK. Enough of all this and here are the solutions.

  • Follow the list.
  • Get an Overview
  • Do One Thing At A Time.
  • Go cycling

Actually I am going cycling this afternoon. I am going to see Olivia in Chichester who will go through my article and teach me how to write it better. Then I will cycle back and I will feel better.

I will do the invites on Monday and bite my thumb at the postal workers who are not there today to give me my invitations and actually, won't be there to deliver either them when I try to send them . However. Monday is a long way off and Friday is still here and in order to face Monday like a trooper, I will have to make today work. Just one bit of success and I will be happy.

Actually, I feel sick today. My morning tea was not very satisfying and my appetite has gone. Maybe the whole dissatisfaction and dislike of today is because I am not finding any comfort in tea and thinking about my next meal. Maybe being an artist and doing this exhibition is not what is wrong. Maybe I am just not hungry and that is so catastrophic that my world is crumbling around me. How can I not be hungry?

So Today is a bit of a minefield for me. You have been very patient in reading this far. Please don't go and slit your wrists, I don't intend for you to catch this gloom I am feeling. Rather you should feel relieved that you have such a bracing approach to your Friday, and your Lists are Do-able and Concise, and that your success this week is simply highlighted by your Friday today. Your Friday is the icing on the cake for this week, you are satisfied and breathing a sigh of contentment as you see your red ticks by the list of Terribly Important and Big Things To Do. Only one item left unticked? Is it the Email Antonia And Tell Her She's Doing Fine entry? Better do it now then and your whole week will be complete.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Another Fleeting Blog


Here is a list of things I am doing.
  • Shielding my eyes from the sun. It is blinding me. Is it a metaphor etc etc
  • Designing invitations to the Graceful Death exhibition. I believe they are being paid for by a long suffering friend who does many things for me and has no ego. We get on fine, obviously
  • Registering 12 Year Old Son to various schools none of which he likes because there is not much chance of smoking behind the bike shed and putting bloomers on the school statue's head in any of them. I think he thinks he wants to go to something like a Young Offenders Unit, his hormones are kicking in and he has an inflated idea of his powers of rebellion. He is 13 in two weeks.
  • Contacting Spirit FM to see if they can be interested in a serious artist from Bognor Regis who paints the dead.
  • And Angels
  • At the same time
  • Painting a million paintings at once in the way only a fragmented artist can. I am bound to say that each of the paintings will be brilliant when finished so you will never know I was once in the studio like a Japanese Robot with 6 arms each with a paintbrush painting furiously in 6 different styles.

I am off now to try and make my blinking Invitation Design work. Seems I can't have the design I want and the help desk takes two working milennia to come back to me.

This exhibition I am preparing, A Graceful Death, is something I am compelled to do. I have suspended my commissions until it is over and am doing it out of love. From December onwards I will be able to do all your portraits, Jesus on the Tubes, fancy angels, pets, children and so on with great love and care. Thank you for your patience. And come to both exhibitions please.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Angels Today. Put Death Aside For A Few Hours

www.youtube.com/craftsmank for a video of me talking about these paintings 8 weeks after Steve died
www.justgiving.com/agracefuldeath St Barnabas House Hospice is supporting the exhibition. I have set up this page for you to donate whatever you can to this amazing hospice, that concentrates daily on helping people like Steve and me.


So. Angels today then. It slipped my mind that I have another exhibition to prepare for, and that is dreadful. I couldn't run the country if I got bogged down with only one topic at a time. Today, after doing my blogs and eating my breakfast and tidying up and wandering around dreaming and wondering who to phone and chat to, I am concentrating on Angels.

Every Day Angels, to be held in the Oxmarket Gallery in Chichester from the 22 November to the 5 December, is GOOD. I like doing Angels and the Oxmarket is an established gallery. I am only exhibiting in the foyer, which I think is very apt. My little Angels will dot themselves around the foyer and inspire people to Smile and Have A Nice Day. Then they will cross over to the other side of Chichester and go to A Graceful Death exhibition and have to revived with smelling salts. Such is the life of an artist.

I have done a group of Elderly Angels Waiting At A Celestial Bus Stop. I have done a Make Over Angel Diptych, a frumpy Before Angel and the Sassy After Angel. I am going to do more today and really enjoy it. I can play with colours and ideas and be amused as I do them. I will listen to Radio 4, put on the heater in the studio, and feel utterly invincible. Here is a piece about Angels I wrote for the exhibition. Put on your glasses, pour your tea and put on your best fluffy slippers and concentrate -

Every Day Angels

Every Day Angels is just what it says. Angels who live alongside us in our daily lives, with daily lives of their own. The things that we do, they do. This exhibition celebrates the Divine as Normal, and the Normal as Divine. For example I have painted a Make Over Angel. Before her make over, she is dumpy, miserable and unglamorous. Her body language says it all. After her make over, she is dressed in a slinky evening dress, glossy hair up on top of her head and masses of mascara. She is very sexy indeed. And she knows it. Her body language says it all.

There is the tiny wooden block of wood painted with an angel happy in her pink and white spotty apron amongst all her teapots. There is the rather larger framed painting of the Domestic Angel, who is standing rigid in her yellow marigold washing up gloves against a red background, with an expression of utter fury. She has Had Enough. Ask her to wash up one more item and she will hit you.

I love the painting of a group of Elderly Angels waiting at a celestial bus stop, sitting in a row together. I like the idea that there are buses in Heaven and that there is a parallel system up there where old people still queue up in bus shelters in an orderly manner, waiting to go Heaven knows where.

The inspiration for this exhibition comes from my belief that there is no real distance between the Divine and the Mundane. Angels, messengers from Above, are a wonderful and acceptable link from our world (the Mundane) to the Divine (Up There). Even those of us with a reluctance to engage with spiritual and religious matters are seldom affronted by Angels. Angels are too close to fairies and are therefore harmless. But there are those of us who really need and believe in Angels. Angels are the able to hear us, help us and carry our anxious requests to Up There, they are on our side and want to help. Countless stories are told of critical situations saved by a stranger who vanished once the danger had passed. Could these could be Angels? In human form, doing human things and appearing in an hour of need in a manner that is not alarming in order to set things right? My Every Day Angel exhibition is about this wonderful other world of celestial beings that in order to understand us well, experience our joys and sorrows with us. I have painted many Angels with human characteristics only to find that the person that buys it does so because they know someone just like it. Now doesn’t that say a lot.

A final thought which was put to me once – do Angels have belly buttons? Interesting. I will have to paint a picture of a gorgeous Belly Dancing Angel and think it over

Every Day Angels by Antonia Rolls showing at the Oxmarket Gallery, Chichester, West Sussex.
22 November to 5 December.
Going to go and have fun now. See you at the exhibition.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

A Blog In Passing. Blink And I Am Gone


Well I am so so busy that I can hardly move. Today I have to get 12 Year Old Son's macaroni cheese ready for him when he comes in from school, and a tea and a map.

I am ahead of myself. Today, Alan and I are going out and coming back at about 9pm. I will pass 12 Year Old Son coming in from school as I go out, at the front door. He has to find the kitchen, eat the sandwiches, change out of his school clothes into loose trendy Acting Clothes and walk in the cold dark night air to his acting class. Then, as his mother is still out gallavanting he has to wearily plod home along the busy dual carriageway to our big empty family home, let himself in, heat up his dish of macaroni cheese, and watch Simpsons on TV. He can't wait. Meanwhile my neighbours are coming to sit in the house while he is out and will creep out when he gets back. He will never know that he is not Macauly Culkin in Home Alone, and his mother has arranged everything utterly perfectly.

Last night he became quite agitated about how abbatoirs killed cows. He was concerned that it was the same method as killing chickens (how he got to this idea I don't know.) I imagined trying to wring the neck of a cow, or shooting a chicken in the temple. We had a talk and it turned out that he had got the idea from The Simpsons. Oh I thought. I wonder what other vague and dreadful misconceptions he is hiding in his young brain.

So now I am off. To get ready, to cook, to have a final cup of tea before I am whisked off by Alan into the blue yonder. Poor little hard worked 12 Year Old Son will have to get all his rebelling for the day in before 9pm when we come home. Poor little mite. Byeeee.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

How Many People Do Read This Blog?

I had a lovely surprise call from a friend in Norway who said We Read Your Blog. I was very grateful, as you can imagine - fancy my blog being read abroad! I wondered, after a while, who else reads this account of Life In The Studio. It made me very happy. And the friend and his wife are coming to stay in November so all in all my cup runneth over.

I am still writing this on my 12 Year Old Son's laptop. My computer is back but needs a Man to come and reconnect it to the internet and my printer and all other things it should be connected to. I had no idea that a) I knew so very little about my computer and the language that goes with it and b) if I don't have my computer, I no longer exist. So, tonight, a Man will come with a head full of Cyber Knowledge and single mindedly Plug It In. Actually, I won't be here when he comes. I will be in London with 16 Year Old Son who has a college evening for me to attend. I think he wants me to come (he wants me to come. What??) so I can bring him his suitcase he has left here, and some green tea which he wants from the kitchen cupboard. And we will have a coffee in Starbucks and that will make him happy, because I will pay for it. So when the Man comes tonight, 19 Year Old Daughter who is still Very Ill, will let him in and I hope, understand his questions. And answer them.

19 Year Old Daughter has perked up since I did a big shop at Tescos. Her Illnesses sometimes depend on the amount and quality of food available, so now the kitchen is full she should be well on the road to recovery. Any day now she will take my dressing gown off, put my pyjamas into the laundry basket, put on her Brigitte Bardot stuff and go back to Brighton full to the back teeth of food and like a ship in full sail, start her spate of night duties. Until she gets Ill again and comes home here and like a hamster, carries half her body weight in food around with her in her cheeks.

12 Year Old Son had his first rehearsals at school as Bill Sykes. I watched the cast practice through a glass door for a while, and saw him yank the head girl, who plays Nancy, around with real gusto. I wondered if I was the only one who suspected that my Bill shows all the signs of method acting, and that the sweet and graceful and clever head girl may need to take a few karate lessons just to be sure she makes it to Christmas.

Work? In the Studio? Well it hardly seems possible to write of work on the laptop. Yes, the meeting at the Hospice was absolutely wonderful. I am going to watch this space. They understood the paintings, listened to what I said, gave me such encouragement and want to work with me. Yes. One of the most wonderful things I think we can do, is to make dying good for those who are dying. Oh goodness, I know nothing, but I want to know how to make a difference. The paintings are progressing, and the Angels for the Every Day Angels exhibition seem to be happy to be painted.

Gosh, look at the time. I have to write a very concise and intelligent list of things I want the Man to do so he thinks I only sound dippy as a cover for a brilliant and razor sharp mind. We are two of a kind, the Man and me, I want him to think. We both have an over developed left brain. So heavy with knowledge of Systems and Cyber Stuff that our heads loll a bit to the left.

I have to print out all the Documents for 16 Year Old Son who needs them for college ( and put the green tea in the suitcase). I have to make sure there is food for 12 Year Old when he comes back from school, and his sister may or may not be able to walk (depends on whether the documentary on Christina Aguilara is over and whether she needs another hot bubble bath or not) so I have to leave a pizza ready for him to put into the oven. Then I will go and report to 16 Year Old Son for the parents evening at his College. He doesn't like having to have a parent, I expect he will have told them I am his aunt and don't get out much, so he is doing me a favour and showing me what life is really like. Better be off now, before the Man gets here and quizes me on what my password to my Internet Power Adapter Microfilter Ethernet Cable USB Wireless ADSL thing is.