28/11: Christmas bizarre

NaBloPoMo: one post every day throughout November

SmallMonkey came home from the school Christmas fete with a canvas photo of Elvis.

‘Do you know who that is?’ I asked. ‘Elvis.’ ‘What made you pick it out, didn’t you fancy a cupcake or a book?’ ‘I wanted some new designs for my room.’ ‘What did your teacher say?’ ‘She said WOW!’

I told him that’s what I thought too, and said we’d browse some YouTube clips so he could hear the songs. I said: ‘You know who LOVED Elvis? Grandma Jo…’

Quite honestly, if he’s going to start channeling my mum then at least she’s giving him some wonderful choices.

26/11: Do not pass go

NaBloPoMo: one post every day throughout November

Today we taught Auntie Rosy about property auctions. She bid against me for an inexpensive street and won. Meanwhile Mr PC was unusually careless with his cash and had to mortgage everything he owned. I had the smallest amount of money and some houses, but ended up selling most of them off. SM got bored and went to play at his friend’s apartment. No one wanted Geylang at first but actually we all realised it’s a nice little earner if you build a few hotels.


25/11: About Time, I suppose

NaBloPoMo: one post every day throughout November

Holy Cow, Richard Curtis, you don’t do things by halves, do you? I was warned about this one but still I never expected that when the film ended I would have to clench my legs to stop them from leaping in a cab to the airport and boarding the next flight back to London – then popping on the Piccadilly line to Paddington to catch a train to Cornwall.

Instead we went for lunch and watched the hot rain falling down over the sea, sat in a Japanese restaurant in the mall we like to go to, peering out at the cable cars and palm trees waving in the breeze, trying to equate what we could see with what we had just seen – nothing like those familiar chilly London streets. At times like this I know I am very far from Kansas (Camden, Treburrick whatever).

Homesickness comes and goes. Mainly, this year, it has gone, but when it comes back it comes back with a force that only the knowledge of future repatriation can appease. These sorts of films don’t help.

First you’ve got your streets of London: wet and drizzly, with the sort of rain that you know is needle-thin and cold and gets down the back of your neck – not like the fat warm drops pelting down sideways in a milky film just outside my sushi window. Streetlights blurry, Golborne Road, brick walls and London traffic, a soundtrack just beginning to be slightly retro, and what can ONLY be Maida Vale tube: and at this point you can’t help having a little wriggle in your seat because you know those stairs down and that exit, and when it’s somewhere you used to live – just down the road from that very tube, for instance, with the nice young chap who just happens to be sitting on the other side of his aunt from you (during a daytime bunk-off thanks to a nice spot of garden leave) – anyway, when you know all that it takes you back, doesn’t it, because we were right there, just like them. I know we held hands on an up-escalator just like they did, too, probably the same one. So that doesn’t help. I KNOW THAT, you want to shout, I KNOW ALL THAT! Aww, home…

Then there’s the sea and the fields, fudge-box vistas combined in a way that only your own personal Cornish coastline can do, and in front of those creamy views is a dusty, happy family with jolly nice accents, a ramrod eccentric but kind mother and a gentle, academic father in a house full of cr@p, plus the sort of mentally dotty sister there always has to be in these films (I’ll take that role, no problem). IT’S CORNWALL, you want to poke Mr PC, but he knows it’s Cornwall, he’s already making a point of sticking his face back in the popcorn box to make sure you don’t notice that his eyes are a bit shiny. He knows.

I won’t spoil it for you. If you’ve ever seen a Richard Curtis film you’ll know the format. It’s a good one, though – it works. By the time they get to my very own [SPOILER ALERT] Cornish funeral scene I am finding it hard to breathe, and fighting off the sad thoughts by sucking tears back between my teeth and digging my nails into my palm. As we all know, though, resistance is useless during beautiful films like this and later, in the restaurant, Mr PC leans over and tells me I have a dirty spectacle lens: ‘Looks like salt water,’ he says, and gives me the kind of fluffy warm smile you only get in those awful Richard Curtis emotional (ARCE) films; the kind of smile you actually need if you’ve just seen an ARCE film.

I now have to get over it all over again, the displacement thing AND the funeral thing. So thanks Richard Curtis. Thanks a lot.

23/11: Paws for thought

NaBloPoMo: one post every day throughout November

Something I’ve been mewsing on this week: the cats have now been living with my friend for as long as we had them. Perhaps that’s why I have been suddenly missing them again like crazy. Sorry kitties, it was always going to be horrible leaving you and it’s because it doesn’t get easier that I don’t usually like to think about it. Hope you are being good for lovely K & co, and not bringing her too many birds. She doesn’t like that, even though I know it’s SUCH a very special gift. Cooch under the chin for you both. Sniff xxx

22/11: Gift wishes

NaBloPoMo: one post every day throughout November

It’s my friend’s son’s 17th birthday today. I remember when he was born, we were all so excited because she was really the first of us to pop one out. He was beautiful (still is) and we were all very pleased. We made him a time capsule and put silly things in it (and nice things as well). He has one year left until he’s allowed to crack it open and frankly I’m amazed that we’ve all actually waited this long. His mother has a vague idea of what’s in it and teases me – she knows me and the other time capsule contributors were probably a bit silly and naieve ‘back then’. To be honest I can’t really remember but the only thing I can say for sure that he’ll enjoy is the letter that I wrote him, because I have a feeling it will be a great little snap of the moment. Only twelve more months to go, Ollie! Happy birthday x

21/11: Pot luck

NaBloPoMo: one post every day throughout November

There’s a pair of big baskets at the Peranakan Museum. These are the ‘bakul siah’, ‘auspicious baskets’ used during the mammoth 12-day wedding ceremony to transport gifts between houses. They are huge things with many units, cylindrical, shiny with lacquer and grasped at the top by a big single handle. For some reason I really like them.

So this morning a few of us from the group went on a tour of the Baba House, a beautiful Peranakan home in town. There in the master bedroom were the baskets, and not just one pair but three or four (she was a lucky lady, this bride). After the tour a fellow student told us she’d seen an antique shop around the corner; even better, it was actually open (things open late in Sing). Three of us went along.

Like most antique shops it was stuffed to the rafters with things: shoes, a phone, Cola sign under an altar with neon candles. Just like my parents’ flat, actually, and as always in junk shops I felt immediately at home. Right at the back, half covered in a blanket, I spotted a dusty little box in three parts with a handle over the top. Red and gold (rather than the usual black and gold) and a great deal smaller, but unmistakeable. I fished out a tissue, started to wipe off the dust on the lid and the colours shone through. Magical.

I asked the owner how old? Seventy years. I asked him how much? In the back of the shop I asked my friend what she’d pay and, muttering out of the sides of our mouths, we came to the same agreement. I opened my wallet and started the bidding.

Now it’s sitting over by our bookshelves, has had a drop of water and a wipe-down, and looks completely at home. I have no idea how genuine, how old, how much of a good or bad deal the thing was or, in fact, whether I should have brought it home at all, but then I look over at it and know that really, I just don’t care.