ANTONIA ROLLS ARTIST EXTRAORDINAIRE NEWS. An account of an Artist and Mother in Bognor Regis. Worthwhile, but exhausting, so pour the tea and make yourself comfortable...(this painting is a family portrait, about 2'x 3', oil on wood. It is the Ross Family, each family member with items that describe them best. And at the front, on the grass on the right hand side, is a photo of Grandma, sadly missed.)
Thursday, 9 December 2010
Home Alone At Last Hip Hip Hooray (Quick, Change The Locks)
The builders, bless their hearts, have gone. I have a new kitchen in which all my Stuff is put away, I have cleaned everything (except the Boxing Boy who is Teflon Coated and slips out of reach) and reclaimed my dining room table, my sitting room and the whole of downstairs. In the great tapestry of life, this is but a stitch. But a big, golden, fundamental one. Here is how it feels. I expect many of you will slap your thighs in a recognizing kind of way, and say By George, it is just the same for me. Well I never.
I live in a nice house and have interesting but wild and wayward children, capable of huge passions and deep loves. I have a studio in the garden and I plot my ascent to the stars in there, helped by pots of strong tea and pieces of cake. It is interesting to me that though I am quite tall (5'10") I am much smaller than all of my Deeply Opinionated Gloriously Uninhibited Children. This means that when I lay down the law I have to look up or get them to sit down. I have to tune into how little dictators feel, in order to keep my power going.
A date is set for my kitchen to be replaced. I remove all of the things from it and cover the downstairs with pots, pans, food, microwaves, kettles, cleaning stuff, matches, pins, paper, glasses, old ham sandwiches, plastic bags, single unsharpened pencils and so on. The kitchen is bare, empty and shivering in the cold. Within a day the heart is ripped out of the house, and the kitchen in in pieces in the garden. I am left with a bare concrete room with no electricity, water, light or hope. And then the kids go bonkers. 17 Year Old Wonder Boy makes himself homeless and changes his life for ever. 14 Year Old Rambo Boy gets excluded from school for amongst other things, Boxing People. I become single again and everything grinds to a halt.
We eat bad food from the microwave or takeaways. I spend money I don't have getting ready prepared food that tastes a little bit like it is going to shorten my life by a few weeks, or at the very least, make us all consitpated. There is dust everywhere, and I wash up in the bathroom upstairs. Going to bed at night, I don't feel anywhere is mine, that nowhere is peaceful, and that there will never be anything but chaos and disorder. There was still work to do too, there was the Art Fair to prepare, there are portraits to do and people to meet and talk to about the A Graceful Death. Every time I needed to go to the studio, it seemed, a weeny explosion in one or other of the Boys made it neccessary for me to go to London, or Chichester, or Wherever, to sort it out. And still there was no kitchen, still the house was overrun by dust, disorder, clutter, madness and mayhem. Then came the snow. The schools closed and Rambo Boy had to stay home. So did I, the car wouldn't go over the ice and I was beginning to see a Govnernment Plot to keep me in my house despite the growing need I had to simply run away. No trains ran, no buses, the airports were either snowed in or on strike somewhere, and the roads were too dangerous. I did walk into Bognor though, to try and get something or other for the Rambo Boy, but fell flat on my bottom and bruised it and felt that the Government Plot to keep me at home and suffering was spreading to Arun District Council who were responsible for me falling over in town. And hurting my bottom. And feeling tearful.
But Lo! The kitchen is finished now. It is Green, like I asked. The units are there, where I wanted them, and there is running water and heat. I have cleaned the downstairs and everything is in order. There was a blip, in that Boxing Boy was taken into the local hospital with suspected appendicitis two days ago. By yesterday, it had all been cleared up, and he has been declared Of Sound Appendix and given yucky medicine for something else. So he went to school today. Arty Man went to work today. 17 Year Old Boy Who Dances To A Different Drum But Who I Love Stupidly A Lot, is or at least was, still alive yesterday. Wonderful 20 Year Old Daughter is fine and dandy in her life in Brighton. There is no need for anyone to come calling, there is utter silence in the house. This is where I have to be stronger than the urge to change the locks, change my name, grow a beard and pretend to be someone else. But that isn't really the answer. I like all the people in my house, and they would not be fooled with a name change and beard. They would just whisper to each other, "Play along, pretend she is called Boris and leave her alone till she feels better. Alright there Boris??"