Sunday, 29 August 2010

Moody, Braindead and Cross for my website for my other website for the A Graceful Death exhibition, paintings from the end of life

Raffum Raffum Raffem.  With Knobs On.

I was cross.  Hot and bothered.  Flustered.

I was sitting with Attitude in my kitchen.   Wrapped, like a Militant Boiled Sweet in my faithful pink and white spotty blanket, ignoring the pots, pans, plates, dishes, cutlery, packaging, crumbs as they lay strewn in the sink and on the table, and Not Acknowledging  the bits of butter and ketchup strewn around the floor, cooker, doors, etc, I glowered and muttered rude things while above my head a Black Cloud (like in cartoons) began to rain on my head.

 My phone kept buzzing with angst-ridden messages from the Offspring who were having Difficult Days and The World Was Ending and What Was I Going To Do About It (since it was likely to have been my fault anyway) and I had forgotten to email important Stuff to Darling Dublin Friend, who did not know I was experiencing Meltdown in my kitchen.  "That Antonia!"  she may have thought, "Too many light, airy and frolicksome things have once again skewed her sense of duty,"  Here she sighs with a patient yet sympathetic expression,  "She means well", she would say as she switched off her computer, folded her notebook away and tucked her pencil behind her ear.

That was two days ago.  I am not like that now. Two days ago I solved the crisis by going to bed.  I had an early night.  I took tea up to bed with me.  I turned off my phone, and I lay in my bed with my arms folded,  pouting and frowning till sleep overtook me, and in the morning, the rain cloud had evaporated.  Now I am  happy again, back to normal with a Sun Beam over my head.  And sitting once more in my kitchen which I will describe.  Hem hem.  Here we go.

My kitchen is full of uplifting-ness.  It always has fresh flowers on the table in two or more vases, and it has all my teapots on display.  Each chair has lots of cushions to sit on and there is always the promise of food and tea.  And the tea can be made in any of the pots that you desire.  Choose a pot, I say to my guests, to suit your mood.  Some say "Eh?" while others say "Whahay", and choose the whackiest one they can.  There are about 18 teapots in my kitchen.  That, I imagine, covers 18 moods.  I have too, plenty of spotty, stripey, big, small, wonky, unwonky, mugs and cups and saucers to help moods a)  get better  b)  get worse.  I have a larder too.  That is a Plus Point, I think.  It is a whole room devoted to Food.  A Whole Room.  If I could fit a bed in there, I would.  Then I would go missing for days, and no one would think of looking in the larder.  And because the Offspring only eat if I provide food, the larder door would stay closed.  The kitchen is lovely.  The radio is set permanently to Radio 4 or, if there is to be music, to reggae when I do heartfelt dances while washing up or cooking or talking to the latest cold caller on the phone who starts with " And how are you today, Miss Rolls?"  I reply with a throaty "Raaaasta" and they go away.

I have been in the Studio too this week, painting a portrait of a wonderful old man.  He looks pale and beautiful, thin and elderly, with a walking stick and a cigarette in his hand.  Portraits have their own life.  This old man is looking out at us from a Rembrandt like brown background.  It makes him look mysterious.  I am following my intuition and letting him guide me as to what he should look like.  I have also started the big self portrait that will signal the end of the Steve paintings in the A Graceful Death exhibition. This painting is about Survival and Transcendence.  About coming through the grief and finding that life is still there when I start to look again, and that happiness is not only possible, but necessary.  And right.  That will take time to do though, and I am intrigued as to how it will come out.  There is much orange and yellow in it, which is full of joy.
Joy.  A good word to finish with.  And a memory just surfacing, of when the Muppet was born, he was taken to the special care baby unit where his three dedicated nurses were called - Joy, Hope and Charity.  Better than Moody, Braindead and Cross which is what I would have answered to a couple of days ago.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Everyone Has Gone Away. Except Me, I Am Still Here. for my website for my other website   for the A Graceful Death exhibition, paintings from the end of life

Nobody Here But Us Chickens.

Everyone, I tell you, has gone away.  Here is where they have gone to.
  • Alan has gone to Germany.  He is visiting an old friend who's wife is recovering from serious illness.  She, in her own fashion, has gone away.  She has gone to Hospital.
  • Alexia, Blonde and Fearsome Daughter, is not quite gone yet, but she is going to go to America.  This is serious, because America may need a few days to prepare.  Part of my concern that America may need to take it easy a bit before she goes is because she is taking with her
  • My Mother.  She too is going to America.  Alexia and Mother are are very unforgettable on their own, but together they are lethal, and I expect the USA Customs and USA Officials In General are having a few extra Psychological Toughening Up lessons to prepare themselves. 
  • My sweet and musical cousin from Detroit who is staying with us for a while, has gone to Brighton with a Boyfriend.  She will not be back until Further Notice.  Fair enough. 
  • Arty Man Who Is A Singing Guitar Man Too and his Ginger Best Friend (his girlfriend) have gone to work or to somewhere else, it certainly isn't here.
  • 13 Year Old Son has gone back to bed (he has had his lunch, high spot of the day over)
  • The Muppet has gone away from this room half an hour ago because the conversation was not very interesting.  He has technically Gone Away, as he is no longer In This Room.
And Me?  I am still here.  I like it here.  I am on my sofa in my own sitting room which is Mine All Mine.  I have arranged and coloured it to be my room and there is no radio or telly in here so that we can do things like Talking, Playing the Piano, Reading and Playing Scrabble.  And then Alan got me a laptop for my birthday so I come in here and Laptop Around.  The colours in this room are a wonderful inspiring yet calming combination of salmon pink, coral pink, deep red, deep pink and warm browns.  There are two sofas with plenty of twinkly, brightly coloured cushions and blankets ready to wrap up in, and since my birthday, a wonderful spirally hanging feature of shiny, sparkling butterflies.  I have too, a magnificent old Grandfather clock that ticks and chimes and carries on in its clocky kind of way, and has done so since about 1750.  Magic.

So here I sit.  Wrapped up on the sofa in a pink and white spotty blanket, the rain banging on the windows outside and my tea tray beside me.  Here I can ponder on everyone Going Away and am tempted to say Don't Hurry Back On My Account.  A couple of days like this, and I will be grounded and sorted and full of passion again.  Everyone going away has helped me to start painting again.  I love to have a whole day, or more, to be empty of Housework, Kids, Appointments and Stuff, in the studio, to start early in the morning knowing that there is no limit at all on my time in there.  I have nearly finished a portrait of a wonderful old man who is going to join the A Graceful Death exhibition in Dublin in October, and I have started the large Final Steve Painting for A Graceful Death.  It is of me as a survivor.  Coming through the grief, and out the other side.  It is meant to be the graceful finish of the Steve story for the exhibition, which will then concentrate on other stories and people that wish to be included.  Hence the beautiful old man I am painting at the request of his granddaughter, he will be a welcome addition

The high spot of the day, you all say?  What was it, do tell....Well, I went into Bognor in the rain with my paint splattered flip flops and Studio Coat, and spent £80 on big new tubes of oil paint.  Big new squeezy tubes of bright orange, yellow, orangy-yellow, paynes grey and more.  I sit here all alone in my Special Sitting Room and know that once the mood takes me, I will shoot over to the studio and do a frenzied self portrait in Orange and Yellow.  And because everyone has Gone Away, no one will be there to put the brakes on, and I may end up rolling around in paint and doing strange Orange and Yellow Things and calling them Art.  I may just do that anyway.  Time to go a bit dippy, since no one is here to see.  Hooray.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Royal Academy Yesterday, Newcastle v Aston Villa Today for my website for my other website for the A Graceful Death exhibition of paintings from the end of life

Royal Academy Yesterday, Newcastle v Villa Today

The  Glorious Clarissa took me to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition yesterday.  It was a Treat and I could barely wait for Saturday morning to come, so that I could get up very early, have a bath, make a flask of tea and a sandwich, get all Fancy and go and catch an early morning train to London Town.  We met at 10.30am outside the RA, gave each other huge bear hugs (touch and go, Clarissa is tall but absolutely teeny and slender and deeply elegant and I am not, and fear I may kill her one day saying Hello, or Goodbye, or Thank you or some such thing)  and prepared to spend the next few hours looking at, reacting to, liking and disliking the Paintings and Stuff on show.    The excitement was intense as we walked through the opaque doors and into the first room of the Summer Exhibition.  At once, I was affected by the power of the large and colourful paintings filling the brightly lit, white and spacious gallery.  I thought Wow! as I went from canvas to canvas, finding myself drawn to some and not to others, but filled with enthusiasm for the fact that Artists had made Big Paintings and here they were for me to see.  All the walls were dedicated to showing me what they could do, how they felt and how they interpreted whatever it was they wanted to enterpret.  I was intrigued at the sizes of the large works, and wanted to do the same myself.  I took it that this was a Good Thing, and that I was Inspired.

Most of the artists had RA after their names.  This interested me.  Their canvases and works were very very similar to each other.  Many were abstract, some very simplified but recogniseably figurative, all with quirky titles and with a deeply significant Artiness about them.  I wondered if the Deeply Significant Artiness was rather cultivated, and a product of their being of the establishment and influenced and inspired by each other and they just couldn't help it.  This is What Art Did.   Or was it truly individual, an expression that they arrived at through working alone in their studios and satisfied that it was theirs alone?  I thought that the answer to that was probably a bit of both, and the generosity of the conclusion arrived at by any member of the public depended on how they may feel about art and artist in general.  For example, I like art and artists.  So I think Wow, this is amazing and interesting and I want to do it.   But if I was on a bad day, and someone had just thrown up while looking at my website/studio/blog, I may say Bah.  Humbug.  It is all a con and I hate all this rubbish.  Smack.  (And I smack the person next to me in a fit of pique).

There was a room full of smaller paintings, by artists that were not RA, and they were lovely.  There was a Tracy Emin drawing to add a bit of Fame to the room, which funnily enough, was sold.  And the collection of little red dots to signify the sale of the prints of the work, were almost bigger than the painting itself.  However, there were plenty of other well sold works and prints of works.  I like Tracy Emin, and I would love something by her, but what she does is nothing I couldn't do.  But I like the fact that she did it, and that is what I would buy.  The Fact That She Did It.  

My favourites though, were all the large RA Artists' canvases.  I did wish that there were more large paintings by Non RA folk though, maybe because I am not RA and feel that the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition may never be open to me because of it.  Even though I could do some Fabby Stuff.  I feel now very curious to paint some large large canvases, and see what comes of it.  Actually, Antonia Rolls is AR, so maybe I could sign them the wrong way round and quite legitimately become RA.  And if I was, by any twist of fate, made Associate Royal Academy, I would have the letters ARA after my name.  So I would sign all my Summer Exhibition Masterpieces ARARA.

And today, in contrast to the culture of yesterday, I am sitting on my red sofa at home with my Men.  Alan and Dimitri are eating Meat and watching Football.  (I, a Female, a Vegetarian and an Artist, am really fitting in.) Costya is a Veggie too and hates football, but is still a Man and is on a computer somewhere else.  So, having been sublimely cultural yesterday with the exquisite Clarissa, I am now deeply earthy and in touch with my Testosterone and am watching Aston Villa be hammered by Newcastle.  Being the Veggie Female Arty type, and still not very sure where my testosterone is, I am very concerened for the Aston Villa Goalie, who has now let in 6 goals.  I want to tell him that he is OK, and that he is a Good Goalie, and make him feel better.  I want to tell the Newcastle players Enough is Enough.  This Poor Man is Hurting, Leave Him Alone.

But I can't.  I will just have to hope that being a Meat Eating Footballer Who Earns A Lot, he will recover.  Rather like, I think, the RA Artists who were charging around the £60,000 mark for their works and getting it.  Since I will never be a footballer, I will try for being an RA. I will be rich, famous and always right.  Fab.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

On One Son Having His Teeth Out And The Other Breaking His Foot for my website  for my other website for the A Graceful Death exhibition, paintings from the end of life

On Teeth Out, Feet Breaking, And The Swallowing Of Orthodontic Fixtures On Teeth

All in one day, and more, so take the pasta off the hob, switch off your phones and I will tell you more.

Yesterday at about 6.30pm, in the middle of a football match, 13 Year Old Son had to stagger off the pitch.  Despite there being two teams playing, refs, linesmen, parents and coaches, no one saw what happened.  "Ouch" yelped Son.  "Ha ha get a grip" I replied. He lay down on the grass and pulled off his boot, and declared that he could not go back on and what is more, he couldn't walk.  13 Year Old Son is a good six foot tall now, and I admit I didn't think of his poor foot, I thought of my poor back as I imagined I would have to carry him to the car.  He is known to stick to his injury stories, all of which are true to him, and some of which I greet with the word "Poppycock!"

He stuck to his guns.  I lugged this large football player all the way round the pitch to the car, and smiled through the sweat running from my brow, at the kind parents, coaches, linesmen and players who all patted him on the back and said Never Mind Mate.  In my heart, I said He's Fibbing Mate.  But I got the child home.  He had a bath, some paracetamol and a gargantuan meal.  He Is Sorted, I thought in my smug Mummy way.  I had much to prepare for, as the Muppet was having two teeth out at 9 the following morning in order to have a year and a half's worth of thick steel plated braces fixed to his teeth as they have become Independent and are Growing As They Please in any direction that takes their fancy.  And some are still baby teeth, and are very happy thank you, and will not fall out for love nor money.  So the dentist has had to step in and apply force.  The Muppet, sensitive fellow, does not like this kind of thing at all.  He was of the opinion, by late last night, that his wonky mad escaping and independent teeth gave him character.  They added to his charm and kudos, and made him, possibly, irresistable.  I ignored all of it and went to bed.

Oh the poor creature.  He was in a sorry state of nerves this morning going in to the dentist.  And once he had asked her every question that was in his fevered head, the Dentist began.  I sat at the Muppets feet to hold his legs, to show him that his Mummy was there.  But the extraction was a fierce affair.  Instead of stroking his legs in a calm soothing way, I gripped them hard  and left finger marks on his skin.  Poor creature.  We were warned that the molar was going to be resistant and it was - the dentist used her biggest tools and I could see the sinews on her arms.  The chair rocked, the Muppet rocked, the Assistant Dentist rocked - we all rocked back and forth as the tooth was prised loose and pulled with huge force from his mouth.  Oh it looked like the pulling up and out, of a tree from the earth.  But after half an hour we were done and my bruised, swollen, blooded and furious son and I went home.  

Once home, it was time to wake 13 Year Old Son up and take him to the local hospital to have his orthodontic thing done now!  My boys have a stonking underbite and all their teeth stuff is done in our local hospital.  Hurah!  I cried to the Son no 2, Arise my boy and come and get those funny attachments they put on your teeth last week, off!  13 Year Old Son told me he had swallowed them.  Ha!  I continued, Then let us go and get some more put on!

This is where it gets tricky.  He really couldn't walk.  Really, he couldn't.  And there was a lump where there should not be a lump, on his foot. And it was swollen.  Perhaps, my conscience said, that is a bone making that lump.  And he had not slept because it hurt so much.  Ooops.  So after the jolly orthodontist attached some more Things to his teeth and did some more imprints of his jaw, we staggered to A & E round the corner.  And on the X Ray of his foot, was big bone snapped in two.  Oh the guilt.  I had not believed him and it was true he was in pain and he did need to be dragged to the car yesterday and everyone will think I am a Bad Mother for laughing at him.
Well then. The situation was thus:  Poor Muppet was lying down at home in pain and anguish, Poor 13 Year Old Son was vindicated and in a wheel chair, and Gorgeous Blonde Daughter was on her way home from Brighton for a Day of Fun in Bognor with her brothers.  Oh my Darling, I said to her on the phone, Fat chance, they are broken and disabled.  But come she did, and after a large meal for all of them, things started to get better.  Actually, the Muppet had spaghetti because he could suck in into his mouth and down into his tummy without having to chew it, as he has large holes, he says, at the back  where his teeth used to be.  He followed it with a tub of Haagen Daz. It was fascinating to watch.

Now, I am sitting in my lovely bed, with my laptop wondering at Life and All It Brings.  When the children were little, I did all this kind of thing.  Now, they are teenaged and still, I am taking them to and fro and making them feel better.  Today I felt I had toddlers again, gruff voiced six foot hairy bearded toddlers.  (Not including Daughter here).  

I still managed to work a bit though.  Very pleased with myself.  But now, as you can imagine, I am weary and glad to be up on my room.  The window is open, the wind is blowing, the Offspring are fed and Managing, and I am going to pretend I am asleep so that they don't ask me to do any more.  Gosh, I remember when this kind of day was normal.  Kiddies needing constant care and attention and me just Doing it.  Thank Goodness children grow up.  I loved them being little but I am glad they are more independent now.  Even though two of them are full of holes and temporarily broken.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

I Am Where I Should Be This Morning, In Bed And Triumphant. for my website for my other website for the A Graceful Death exhibition, paintings from the end of life

So I Am Here, In State, In Bed And Triumphant.  9.45am.

This feels like an achievement.  I am still here, I am in my pyjamas, I am propped up with pillows and it is still not time to get up.  I woke at 6am with a text that made no sense from Alexia, the Blonde and Fierce Daughter, which turned out to be a kind of rubbish drivel text she sent while half asleep.  She apologised and I am sure that she will text all her secrets to undisclosed recipients if she does not put her mobile phone far away from her pillow while she sleeps.  It is like sleep walking, only it is sleep texting.  No Matter!  I said to myself, there is, should I wish it, a plan to stay in bed till I no longer wish to stay in bed.  And that, I said wisely to myself, could be weeks away.  So I snuzzled back into my pillows and went to the strange dream/wake state that one gets in the early morning and thought that lots of people practicing clog dancing in my bedroom was perfectly normal.  

I sleep in the Summer with a large window, a quarter of the size of the wall against which my bed is placed, open wide and the curtains flapping in the breeze.  Or dripping onto the bed if it is raining.  A gentle gust of August wind woke me again about an hour ago, and I stirred amongst my red and deep pink pillows and cushions and thought Is it time for Tea?  Could I manage the walk downstairs to the kitchen?  And once there, in the kitchen, could I be tempted by Breakfast?  And once tempted, could I put it all on a tray and take it back to bed with me to eat and drink in my red and pink orange boudoir with the strong cool August wind blowing my curtains and hair around as I dream the morning away?  I am still thinking about that.  Once downstairs, I get flustered about Jobs and may forget that there is a morning of Nothing and ruin the whole experience.  So I am going to wait a while, and put on a bath, which will only give me limited time downstairs in the kitchen to get my tea and toast before the bubbles in the bath overflow.  The bath will be a kind of Glorious Egg Timer.  It will give me a strict and certain amount of time before it is Done.

At midday, 13 Year Old Son and I are off to London.  We are going to go to a museum first and then on to see Billy Elliot at 7.30.  So this afternoon is as different to this morning as you could imagine.  13 Year Old Son and I also intend to walk around China Town near Oxford Street.  Costya, the Muppet, stumbled on it a while ago and has taken us all there with enthusiasm. It has become a kind of Family Hotspot, we go there with glee and look at the amazing foods and teas and eat wonderful odd things in tiny green Chinese cafes.  We, 13 Year Old Son and I, won't be back home here till very late tonight.  Tomorrow is a busy day and I have Arty Meetings etc and Work To Do, so this morning is, really, the most wonderful idea ever.  To Not Get Up, to Lie Around and Dream of Odd But Harmless Things, to eventually surface to a bath and tea and toast, is just what I need.  And then, to prevent early Alzheimers setting in, a busy, action packed visit to London for the afternoon.  Wonderful.
I have been too tired and weary to really take part in Life since I turned 50. Last week. I have envied the less active of my friends who can just switch off, and I consider that they are wise and sensible and will live to a ripe old age.  I on the other hand, flap about here not really concentrating and feeling too fuddled to do anything really well.  After this morning, I will be on the road to recovery.  I may need a few mornings like this.  It stikes me that it is only sensible.  It feels like a holiday.

So.  The bath now, and tea and toast.  All the paintings, the admin, the preparation for exhibitions, the letters to clients and prospective interested parties, all seemed too much yesterday.  All the Stuff that goes to make up our life in Bognor Regis, had to my mind, the same feel as running the United Nations.  A morning in bed, a morning truly In Bed, has been the best idea since, well, since the last good idea.  But it is a good idea.  I feel the mist clearing, and feel that all is possible again.  And is that a faint stirring of appetite?  I think, my dear friends, that the next item on the agenda is ready.  Tea and Toast In The Bath.  Oh my.  I may die of pleasure before I get there.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Had A Cream Tea Today And Lived. So Did Friend Who Took Me for my website for my other website for the exhibition A Graceful Death, paintings from the end of life

Bravely Taken Out For A Cream Tea And Survived.  We Both Did.

The kindest, sweetest of friends took me out for a cream tea today.  Anyone who knows me knows that I find this kind of invitation irresistable.  "Meet me," he said,"at 2pm outside my house, and we will go in my car to a Place Known Only To Some, and I will treat you to a cream tea."  "You're on mate" I replied with gusto.  2.06pm I pull up outside Friend's house, and see him standing,waiting and looking into the distance waiting for me to arrive on my bike.  Since last weekend and the rolling tea and cake birthday thing, I am fat and disabled from a sugar and cream and butter overdose and even if I wanted to, I could not possibly ride my bike until I recover.  Besides, it was pouring with rain.  A bit.  My recovery, I have to say, is underway, in that I have gone to bed early every night this week, and I have run screaming from the room when seeing even a photo of a cake.  

So Dear Sweet friend, a very private and quiet sort of fellow, arranged with me ages ago, to treat me to this most wonderful of events, a Sussex Cream Tea in a Cottage Garden.  Despite being spotty and unbalanced from the previous weekend, I was really looking forward to today.  All my plans before my birthday weekend were to cycle to his house, dressed in a gay flouncy floral frock, with plenty of sun block on because it was mid August and dreadfully hot and sunny, and leap from my bike with a ,"Hello Old Thing", slapping him firmly and appropriately on the back in a familiar and friendly way.  "Righty-ho!" Sweet Dear Friend would say with a jolly chuckle, "hop into the jallopy and off we go!" 

We would go off into the August heat through the dusty, hazy overgrown Sussex lanes singing We're All Going On A Summer Holiday together and laughing a lot, till we came upon the Mystery Cream Tea Cottage where we would sit in the garden amongst the hollyhocks and buzzing bees in the blazing sunshine.  When giving the order I would say with a happy smile "Bring it on Mary (or Gwen or Whoever She Was), give me the works".  Dear Sweet Friend would say the same and an afternoon of clotted cream, jam and scones would keep us occupied till the sun went down and it was time to go home and feed my boys.

But I had had a whole three days of Cake, Pavlova, Cream, Chocolate, Sugar and nothing else.  I could only fit into my Big Trousers.  It was pouring with rain outside and the wind was force a billion.  It was cold, and I was freezing.  I wore blankets in the house.  My bike looked like the Enemy, I thought 7 miles to Chichester was outrageous, and I was still in withdrawal from the birthday festivities.  Add to that a whole week, despite going to bed early, of fevered sleeplessness.  That is what I had done to myself.  That is what Dear Sweet Friend was going to take out to a Cream Tea Treat.  I had to smarten up.

So a tough morning of Lying in Bed seemed the answer.  Then up, new lipstick, wear a Skirt that had elasticated waist band and lots of colourful jewellery that said Look At Me!  Not At Her Wobbly Tummy!
and a nice pot of tea.  Good.  Put the bike out of sight and take the car.  Simple.  Tell Dear Friend that as it was raining I had to drive.  Fix him with a look that says Don't Argue.  I washed my hair, I selected a nice pink winter jacket, said No to breakfast and by 2pm was ready and willing.

The tearooms were all I could wish for and more.  They were Fabulous.  Dear Sweet Friend knows all these places, he takes his mother out every Sunday and explores and finds nooks and crannies and secret tea rooms and gardens and houses to visit.  This place was a private house, there was no sign of a tearoom till you looked carefully at the wall and it said in teeny writing  Tea Rooms. This Way. And pointed to someone's front door.  In we go, and a teeny cottagy room with about 5 tables with 4 chairs each, was given over to afternoon teas.  Here is where it gets fabby.  The walls were Orange!  And Yellow!  A strong but warm  shade of each.  The tables had light blue and white spotty wipe clean cloths on them and the floor was still its old uneven red brick, worn with the passing of feet over the years.  On the deep window sills were large patterned cushions in bright shades of red, yellow and orange, and some blue, and the windows dominated the top and left hand side of the room giving it light and air.  And finally all around this tiny but glorious room were sets of crockery that looked to my untrained eye, to be from the 1930s, and splashes of colour from huge orange silk poppy flower arrangements. The tea, when it arrived, was served in wonderful mismatching but utterly perfect blue and white crockery and a big plus for me, the teapots were real teapots, not those ghastly metal things that make me want to get nasty.

The man who came to take our order wore a bright lime green shirt and I screamed.  I am not going home I said to him, I am moving in here.  He must have heard this many times before though, he just smiled graciously and said "Full cream tea plus sandwiches and cakes for you then, I take it?"  The tea when it arrived was everything Enid Blyton tells us it should be.  Yummy, in a word.  Oh I even finished Dear Sweet Friend's bowl of cream with my finger as well as my own.  He has manners and an off button.  I don't.  But he has the grace to be amused and to let me eat his cake.  As we were having tea, the sun came out and shone right onto our table, and at that moment, 3.30 on the dot, the door opened and the tables were  filled with elderly people smiling and chatting and looking so jolly and well dressed that I knew that this is where I was meant to live. 

Before we went home, Dear Sweet Friend parked the car at the beginning of a part of the South Downs Walk and we had a little wander along the track.  Gosh, he knows all about plants and nature, and it took us ages to go a few yards because he was so excited about what was growing in the hedgerows.  I liked this, it was very good to have it all shown to me and explained.  I am going to take Eileen out with us next time, she would love the tea and the plants and South Down trail after.

But the heavens opened and we had to find the car and go home.  I had a wonderful time, and think that it was probably the best cream tea experience that I have ever had.

Thank You Dear Sweet Friend, it was Fab. 

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

On Strike. Won't Get Off The Sofa Till I Get A Cleaner. for my website for my other website for the exhibition A Graceful Death, paintings from the end of life to email me.

On Strike.  Give Me A Cleaner Or You Die.

I am not really going to kill you.  But I do need a cleaner.  Here I sit in my nice big house being lovely to everyone and tidying up as I go along.  Suddenly, in a world changing kind of moment, I had a Flash of Insight.  I don't, I said to myself, need to do this myself.  Why?  you ask youselves with a shrug.  Why don't you need to do this?  And what is this?  Some of you who have been here before, who have had this Cleaner Eureka moment, stop what you are doing and smile shrewdly.

Here's the answer.

  • Why I don't need to do this, is because there are more adults than kids in this house now and all of them can understand the concept of being clean and tidy.
  • I am too busy and important to get bogged down in housework.  Very good artists don't notice mess and that the flowers need changing.  They usually have a fierce look in their eye and a powerful need to do as they please.  I have the powerful need to do as I please but I do notice the mess and think that I will just put on the laundry and oh yes, just wash up, and look!  Hoover a bit, then I will do as I please.  And what was it that I was wanting to do to please myself?  I can't, by then, remember, but one or other of the Teenage Sons is dying in some corner of famine and so I just put a meal on while I try to remember what it is that I want to do for myself.
  • The beds need changing.  The house needs painting.  The food needs to be bought, put away and when called for, cooked.  The phone needs answering.  The dentist the orthodontist the kitchen people all need their calls returned.  The car needs petrol and the hamster needs to be WD40d.  And so many other things need doing, one after the other.  Day in, day out.
  • On top of all this the Offspring need to Talk.  They want to tell me their plans and decisions because my help is needed for them to work (buy me a flat in London and I will be very happy.  And when is dinner ready?  No, second dinner.  And I need a new phone.  And a toothbrush.  And a lift to London tomorrow.  And I need to go on your computer.  Etc.)
  • So here I am on the sofa and mulling all this over.  (Did you go food shopping?  But I Hate all the food you got, I tell you every time to get blah di blah di blah and so on)

    I am an artist.  Even if I didn't paint, I would be an artist.  It is in my blood and I just Am one.  My House is my Home and is an extension of my creative mind and soul.  So are my kiddies to some extent but they are scarily individual and off on their own paths.   I like order and cleanliness.  It makes me happy and safe.  I like light, colour and space.  I like to look around my home and see wonderful things on the walls, in little corners, on shelves.  I like fresh flowers everywhere and I like paintings from my friends.   I like a conducive environment in which to think and live and express.  Such is my home but it takes much work, from me, to keep it ticking over in this way.  I share this home with a Daughter of 20, a Son of 17 and a Son of 13.  I share it with a Lodger of 50 and soon, if his Girlfriend moves in too, another Adult.  Alan comes and goes, and there is room for everyone.  But. I do all the home making and am in charge of everything.  I know how to make the house shine and I know how I like it.  It takes it out of me, and it makes me tired and sometimes it makes me Fed Up.  Like today, I am Fed Up.  To my jaded and cake-fugged mind, everyone else has it Easy. I am trying not to Hate Everyone, but it seems, I do.  I do hate everybody.  It is possible, though, that there is a way out.  Apart from getting a cleaner and having a Life, I can tell you about my Art Plans.

    Here they are

    • Unlimited funding for A Graceful Death to tour the UK and anywhere else in the world it is asked for.  For me to give talks and seminars and take creative workshops on the subject.
    • To paint people at the end of their lives, to be involved in End of Life care and to witness the miracle of life and death through paint.  This will be hard but I want to do it.
    • To write a book on A Graceful Death and to write about being an Artist and Mother and Not A Cleaner in Bognor Regis for a magazine or newspaper.
    • To paint huge portraits of amazing people like the Jolly Boys, Brian Sewell, Anne Widdicombe, Lionell Blue, Jenny Murray and so on.  All these people have wonderful faces for me to paint.  Oh the list goes on and on.  Wonderful faces like perhaps, your grandmother or grandfather.  Old people are absolutely glorious to paint.  Your mother and father?  Give me some spectacular faces to paint, yessir.  And I will make them Immortal.
    • To meet all those on my List of Inspirational People on my studio wall.
    • To go to a reggae concert once a week and dance with abandon
    • To go to India with the Glorious Clarissa
    • To eat cream teas and not put on weight
    • To have a cleaner twice a week, one day upstairs and one day downstairs.
    • To rule the world.

      Not much to ask eh?  Well, Picasso did it, didn't he?  But he was a bloke and probably, from what I have read, not very nice.  Tracy Emmin does it, doesn't she?  Does she have kids?  Both had cleaners I expect.  Well, in my case, until I get a cleaner, I will just have to plod on.  And I am Nice.  Maybe I need to toughen up a bit, snarl a bit more and learn to live in squalor.  Maybe I need to move to a smaller house where nobody can live with me, and the housework is kept to a mimimum, and still get a cleaner.

      In the meantime, I am going to go and lie down now and wait for this mood to pass.  I am too tired and weary to have any more nonsense.  And all the cleaners reading this will feel sorry for me and apply to come and make my life easy again.  And all I can say to them, is Yes.  You are On.  All of you.

      Monday, 9 August 2010

      I Think I Will Have A Rolling Fresh Veg Birthday Weekend For My Sixtieth for my website  for my other website and the popular Jesus on the Tube image and story for the A Graceful Death exhibition, paintings from the end of life to email me

      I Am In The Studio Wrapped In A Blanket 12 Stone Heavier And Longing For Salad

       A nice pic in that it shows the Butterflies that Helen (Makeover Angel) and the Lovely Lucy gave me for my birthday.  They sparkle and catch the light and the Fairy in me goes and stands amongst them and pretends she can fly.  I am holding Cousin Min's spotty mug and saucer with red gerbera (thank you Min you treasure) and wearing the red cardi that the Ginger Best Friend and her mother, Dear Bognor Friend, got me.  All in all I am doing well.   I was quite slim in this pic.  I would blot out the window today.

      The Birthday Weekend of Rolling Tea And Cakes really has happened.  Most of us are on diets now, and quite a few of us wonder if we can take the week off.  Cousin Maddy, who came with her two glorious children to make me happy, says that we will all sink into a terrible depression this week as the sugar rush and high we have been eating is abruptly stopped. (There was no other food in the house except cake and cake making ingredients).  Oh but the cakes!  Oh but the CAKES!  Let me just fill you in.  If you were here at the weekend, have a lettuce to hand and grab it when you feel you are becoming unstable, as I take you back over all the cakes and cream. If you weren't there, you may have a packet of biscuits ready because you are going to need them.  The amount of cakes this weekend was Serious. 
      I made 10 trays of cakes on Thursday.  I did.  It took a whole day, and there were variations on sponge - some with chocolate chips, some without.  Some with fudge pieces, some without.  There was Vanilla Sponge, there was Chocolate Sponge.  There were Fairy Cakes in spotty cases, there were Fairy cakes with Icing in gingham cases.  There were variations of cake, chocolate, toppings, food colourings, size, additions (a creamy cream cheese and icing sugar layer on some, thick chocolate butter icing on others, strawberries, fresh raspberries).  There were flapjacks there were glittery professional fairy cakes with icing sugar roses, and teeny glittery fairy cakes with sugar butterflies on from Mrs Smith (  Very funny blog.) And there were teapots on the go at all times, some with weak tea and a few with very strong tea for those of us who like to chew our tea.  

      Over the weekend, there must have been about 60 people all in all.  It was absolutely wonderful.  Even though the weather was cold and raining and nasty, we were all in a Winter Wonderland of Cake and Tea in Bognor, and all through the weekend, I turned more and more into a fifty year old, ending up last night with me tidying up and putting things away as soon as the last guest left, and sitting down eventually - in a nice clean tidy house with all the washing and washing up done - and feeling like Princess Fiona in Shrek.

      After the second day of Non Stop Pass The Wheelbarrow Of Fairy Cakes, No, The Ones With Chocolate Buttons And Butter and Sugar Icing, Thank You, the Core Birthday Household of me, my kiddies, Maddy and two of her kiddies, Eileen and Alan sat down in the kitchen and began to talk about Lettuces and Cucumbers.  "An early night" we said to each other, as we loosend our belts and tried to sit up straight.  "More cakes tomorrow," we chuckled to keep the panic at bay.  And then, into the sugar mist that was my house, came whoops of joy and obvious confusion.  We were treated - really treated because they looked so so wonderful - to Cecil from Wimbledon and her sister and her friend who thought that the Birthday Ceilidh, that is due in September, was tonight.  Yes.  Cecil got her sister and friend ready, promised them the evening of a life time only to find that Walberton Village Hall, where we are having it (next month, in September,) was closed, Walberton was closed and and there was a deathly silence over the whole of the area.  Not a sound.  Not a fiddle, not a squeak of a flute, no stamping of Scottish Country Dancing Feet - not a whoop could be heard.  West Sussex had gone to bed.  Except for Bognor Regis, which was too fat to go to bed.  So in they came, with party frocks, champagne and glitter to join us sugar junkies in our kitchen amidst the debris of day two of a full on  Cake Fest.  We stared.  They fell about laughing.  We stared again.  Someone put the kettle on and we gave them some cakes.   Cecil is a treasured close friend and she had to come all the way from London, to a party that was for next month, and we were only able to dribble and squeak when the Party Girls entered the house.  The champagne was opened, of course, and we had a wonderful time wishing we looked as good as they did. We have time.  September is next month and we can hope.

      Sunday, yesterday, was ruled by Pavlova.  Maddy makes Pavlovas for folk and has only enough equipment to do it in industrial quantities.  Most people came on Saturday, so by 4pm yesterday, we laid the big oak table and had the Pavlova (meringue, cream, chocolate and strawberries and more cream and did I say meringue?) and flapjacks and glittery roses fairy cakes and tea.  Just for a change.  More guests came and we made them eat Pavlova because it was becoming, as you can imagine, an obsession.  We had been three days in this state, of an increasing Sugar Overload, so we were like Junkies making other people Do As We Do which was Go Mad And Eat Cake.

      Dancing  during the Cake Making.  The Official Weekend Photo.  For PR purposes.  Harmless. 

      How it really was.  We wore teacosys and listened to reggae and thought we were hilarious putting washing up gloves up the sides of the teacosy and pretending they were dreadlocks.  

      And Finally.  I want to show you the loveliest teapot you will ever see.  The beauty of this teapot is that the colour, the shape and the style are all rather modest.  But the more you look at it, the more perfect it is.  It was Alan's present, a find in a shop somewhere, waiting to come and live with me.

      But I will have my tea with low fat celery and low fat water and low fat lettuce from now on.  I don't think at my age any more cake would be a good thing.  I don't think any excess at my age now would be a good thing.  At least, not too often.  Just a little excess now and again and a nice day off after with a game of bingo to recover.  Mind you, they say that bingo keeps your mind active and staves off Alzheimers.  I wonder if actively choosing to go AWOL on cake staves of Alzhiemers?  Dunno.  What did I do this weekend again?

      Saturday, 7 August 2010

      Thank You. I Am 50. I Can Misbehave Now. for my website for my other website for the exhibition A Graceful Death, paintings from the end of a life to email me

      50 All Day Long Yesterday.  Morning Noon and Night.

      We didn't sit in these deck chairs because it was dark cold and rainy all day.  These are nice little pics for nice people to buy in Arundel, to remind them that in some countries there is Sun and Sea and Sand.  But in Bognor Regis, it is a pale memory.  Mid Summer, we get pictures like these out and show our children and say "In Our Day etc etc"  In our day, there was Sun in the Summer.  Sometimes.  The children look with wide eyed wonder at these pictures and say Oooh Mummy Turn Up The Heating And Tell Us More.
      I will give a very quick account of yesterday for you all.  The reason for being so brief is that it is still Ongoing, and there are People all over the house staying, and we have still two days of partying to go.  Many cakes were eaten yesterday.  Much sponge and chocolate was consumed.  The house filled itself with people, flowers, cakes and tea.  I loved every minute.  Here are some of the highlights
      • At 6.30 13 Year Old Son gave me breakfast in a fancy bath.  Daughter called to say Happy Birthday.  Yawn yawn said I, let the festivities begin
      • The Muppet blew up some balloons at around 11am and boiled two eggs.  7 hours later I made the eggs into egg mayonnaise.  Thank you Muppet.
      • I collected my laptop from PC World.  This is Alan's present and I am very happy.  I had a tutorial from a very knowledgeable and kind PC World man who spoke much sense and knew his stuff. I still didn't understand a word.
      • I made more cakes.  There were 10 trays of all kinds of cakes, and I made more.  Just as well, by 4pm the house was filled with hungry cake seeking party goers.
      • Cousin Maddy and her Children are here!  We love them.  All of them are asleep at the moment and lots of them did the washing up last night.  So they get the job.  They can stay for ever.
      • Eileen is here!  Eileen will be photoing paintings today because we don't let her rest.  She doesn't want to rest though, she likes being forced to work all the time.  I tell her this because I think it helps.
      • Now, Saturday, we expect lots more folk and there are only half the cakes left.  Go!  I am told by my subconcious, Make More Cakes!  Ok, I will.  Watch me.  I am the Cake Guru.
      Annabel Church Smith bought the most fabulous cakes you have ever seen.  How can someone just make them and still walk on planet earth like it was nothing at all?  We have lots of those left because I hid them.

      Cosmic Gardener came to do the garden but we made him have tea and cakes.  He will come back on Tuesday and we will be sensible. 

      Aunt Anne came and spent the day.  My 80 Year Old Mother came and left Anne here and we loved having her. Anne got the ladder out and fixed, with Alan and Maddy, some fabby Butterfly Things to the ceiling.  I was making cakes at the time.

      Must go and get cakes.  Flapjacks, scones, and cup cakes and Maddy is making a Pavlova.  And that is only today.  Tomorrow, at 6pm, it is all officially over.  I am well and truly obese and old with it. 

      Wednesday, 4 August 2010

      Jolly Boys Following Me On Twitter. I Am A Jolly Girl for my website for my other website for the exhibition A Graceful Death, paintings from the end of life to email me

       Jolly Boys Reggae Concert Tonight.  I Am A Jolly Girl So I Will Be There.

      Let us look at the band.  Here they are.

      The Jolly Boys are playing tonight at the 100 Club in London.  I hope they are rested because the plan is to kidnap them in Cousin Charley's lorry and give them a home in Bognor in my house so that they can play to me hourly.  It is Well Known, I say in the style of Mma Ramotswe the Owner of the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency, that elderly Reggae bands like to do this.  Everyone, as Mma Ramotswe would say, Knows this.

      A new day in the Studio.  What to do.  There are important things to do and I don't know where to start.  At The Beginning!  You all cry with a knowing little smile.  Where, I reply with passion, Is The Beginning?  

      The Beginning is, in today's case, where I start the day.  So I have begun already.  Chalk that one up.  Next on the list is a careful look at what I want to achieve.  Funding for A Graceful Death.  OK, so what next?  I know!  Fill in the Excel Expenses Sheet the Glorious Clarissa so kindly prepared and sent to me.  And then?  Well, there is a lady who may be able to help but I may need funding to pay for her help to get funding.  Phone her and find out!  OK, I can do that.  Next on the list - a small universal and easily adaptable proposal for the A Graceful Death so that it can be sent to people and easily read.  That could be fun, I love writing about AGD.  And more?  Yes, More!  Send to my Dublin Friend who is putting on AGD in Dublin in October, the info I want on the invite and blow me down.  She will do the invite for me.  What a wonder.

      The paintings, you whisper to me, clasping my elbows in your hands and looking intently into my eyes, What about the Paintings?  There are more to do, there always are.  I have a very burning need to paint a portrait of myself having come through all the Steve stuff and made it to the other side.  A kind of Resolved Antonia painting  so that there is an end to my part in AGD.  It becomes more and more about those who wish to join it and contribute.  I have a lovely old man to paint and some poems to write up.  The painting side is easy.  It is all the other admin and marketing and pr and arrangements and promotion stuff that is so time consuming and hard.

      But I am going to the Jolly Boys tonight!  Let us have a look at Albert Minott, the lead singer and guitar.  His voice sounds as if he should be 6'8" and built like a raging bull but he is not at all, he is much more elegant and probably a great deal smaller than that.  

      What an elegant singer and dancer.  This man belongs in Bognor and he knows it.  With his band of course.  And because I am a Family Type Artist, I will send for his mum and dad and his wife and children and grand children and great grandchildren and aunties and uncles.  He is terribly elegant.  I know, go instantly and look at him singing Amy Winehouses Rehab - www.jollyboysmusic.comWatch him move too, to his music.  Wouldn't you love to move like that? Thought so.

      On the way to the Jolly Boys, to which I am taking my lovely daughter, I am stopping off at the Lovely Lucy's house to photograph a recent painting of African Ladies she commissioned for her husband's birthday.  I have a request to do another and I want to show the next commissioner what I did with the first.  So a photo of it would be a good idea.  While there, I am handing over to the Fabby Helen, another friend,  the paintings she has just commissioned for her husband's birthday.  Please note this, I am excellent at doing Husband's Birthday Paintings. So.  From the Lovely Lucy's, Daughter and I will go to the 100 club where we will dance our little socks off, and then come home.  My house is still full of folk, and yes.  Of course.  It will be even fuller when the band are wheeled out of Cousin Charley's lorry. (See last blog entry about being in a reggae fug.  In that blog is the outline of the plot to kidnap the Jolly Boys).

       Fabby Helen as a Makeover Angel.  Before, cross and in old clothes.  After, all gorgeous and in her best dress and shoes and smiling that Helen smile she is famous for.
      Finally, it is my 50 Birthday on Friday.  I am having a Rolling Birthday Weekend Of Tea And Cakes from midday on Friday to 6pm on Sunday.  I will stay put here, put on the music (reggae.  When the mood threatens to become too laid back a quick blast of Carmina Burana then back to easy Jamaican reggae.  And perhaps a bit of Fats Waller.  I love Fats Waller.  And some Etta James, then a quick blast of Verdi's Requeim or Carmina Burana, and back to Edith Piaff) and provide a rolling conveyor belt of cakes for all my friends and family.  All of you.  Yes, all 100 thousand of you.  Most of that is family, mind. There are a lot of us.

      Before I go, here is a picture of me when I get back from the Jolly Boys Concert tonight.  It is the soul in the picture I want you to connect with.

      They, the Jolly Boys, will not be able to resist.  

      Sunday, 1 August 2010

      In A Reggae Fug, Happy To Say Jah Is In My Studio. for my website for my other website for the A Graceful Death exhibition, paintings from the end of life to email me

      In A Reggae Fug With Jah Himself In The Studio And Doing Very Nicely Thank You.

      Yes, well, they say that Jah Is Within I in the songs I am listening to at the moment.  I have adapted that a little to suit Bognor and Jah is Within My Studio which suits me  for today.  Accompanied by Peter Tosh, Burning Spear, The Gladiators and many more, Jah and I have done a good deal and we have finished the two Makeover Angels that are to be delivered this Wednesday.  Under the influence of back to back reggae, I was going to make the Angel wear red gold and green but I didn't.  My client wouldn't understand, and it would not be any easier for her to understand if I said at the door of her house when handing over the much anticipated Make Over Angel Diptych,  But I Am In A Reggae Fug And All Things Lead To Zion.  She would fix me with a stern look and say with feeling I Gave You A Photo Of My Best Broderie Anglaise Summer Dress And That Is What I Want To Wear.  I would then have to slope off back down to Bognor and put an Edith Piaf CD on and paint the proper outfit. "Je Ne Regret Rien" I would mutter as I painted the Broderie Anglaise properly. In white.

      Jah and I have also done a few nice images for the Arundel shop.  I was told to do Cup Cakes and Beach Huts and Deck Chairs (Not by Jah, he just nods sagely when the Reggae is on but doesn't actually speak)  and so I have done some.  I have also done some Cheques, some in and some out, but I didn't have the Reggae on for that because I needed to concentrate.  Jah was not with me for the Admin stuff today.  And not for this Blog Writing either, as I would just write all the words of all the songs being sung in a stream of consciousness and not be very Succinct at all about Life As An Artist And Mother In Bognor Regis.  I know, to my credit, that I can't multi task very well.  It is either one thing or another with me.  Oh yes.  I can't cook and text and talk for example.  I can't read, listen to music and drink tea at the same time. However,  I can do two things at once, as I can drink tea and talk.  Drink tea and paint.  Drink tea and cook.  Drink tea and text.  Etc.  

      My house is very full up at the moment.  Arty Man With Motor Bike And Camera Equipment is still here.  His Ginger Best Friend has another of her friends staying in my other room, and very nice he is too. He is training to be a Librarian and so I am very impressed.  And then my cousin Charley turned up quite unexpectedly yesterday morning in his lorry.  "Can I stay?" he said, "Yes," I said.  " And further more," he said, " I will take your two sons if they wish to go with me, in the lorry, as I am working this weekend."  "Take,"  I said, "both of them by force and don't worry about bringing them back quickly.  I am due a cooking break and it will be good for them."  Charley is a tough guy and can box and high kick and break your limbs BUT, he doesn't.  He preaches to anyone who asks how to fight and get into scraps, the first cardinal rule of fighting.  To Run.  He said, as 13 Year Old Son tried to get him in a headlock (13 Year Old Son has much energy and is fascinated by boxing, thumping, whacking, Jacky Chan type stuff, and wants to play rugby asap), he says, before you do anything else in your life, you young thug you, learn to Run. And if trouble comes your way, avoid it like the plague.  And then Charlie disabled 13 year old son in a friendly type manner and suggested they go and tinker with the lorry instead.  

      So.  I am bumping into all sorts of new and exciting people in my house.  Some I know, some I don't.  All are welcome, and as long as they tidy up I am a Full Of Joy To See Them All.  And as I speak Charley has not returned with my two sons both of whom are somewhere in the UK in a lorry with Cousin Charlie, who makes everything interesting and fun. And is tough nut and is harder than the hardest of the hard, and is also damn clever and wise.  An All Round Good Egg.  Thanks Cousin Charley.

      Because Jah is with me in my studio, I am going to a reggae concert on Wednesday at the 100 Club in London. I am bowled over by a group of elderly Reggae musicians called the Jolly Boys.  They have been sixty years in the business, and are on their first UK tour.  They have suddenly become Famous and quite right too.  They are Astonishing.  Quite Astonishing so, I booked myself tickets to go on Wednesday and be Astonished and Inspired in person and this is where Charley and his lorry may come in useful.  I am thinking that if Charley takes me up to see the concert, I can persuade them to get into the back of the lorry, band instruments and all, and kidnap them all and make them live with me as Rastas in Residence in my Home in Bognor.  No one knows where Bognor is, or what it is, it will be years before anyone tracks them down, and by then we will be all best friends (due in part to Jah living in my studio anyway) and they will either beg me to go back to Jamaica with them, or they will insist on staying here in Bognor.  They will, as well, be nearly 100 years old by then too, so we will have to limit their Music Duties so that they can rest sometimes.

       It is time now to go and see who is in my kitchen. I will leave Jah here in the studio to get on with some others of my paintings and go and cook for the Lorry Crew for when they get back.  I had better start practicing Salt Fish and Ackee and Rice for the Jolly Boys when they start their new lives here on Thursday morning.  Ooops, I see a lorry arriving, better go and tell Charley the plan for Wednesday at the 100 Club.