Thursday 7 December 2006


Met a friend of mine for lunch who's a don - I think: it's quite an odd term, isn't it? - at Newnham. She gave me a book that she said she'd read while breastfeeding. It's one of those 1960s Pelicans with the blue spine, and it's called Patterns of Infant Care in an Urban Community. Cool! It's actually very readable and interesting, too, quite apart from the cool factor.

A is in the bath with the infant, who seems to like water, which is good as it's taken me decades not to flinch when it goes anywhere near my face. The child needed a wash, as it was dressed by the health visitor, who didn't apparently understand the point of the nappy wrap, which is to contain. She hadn't done up the leg poppers, which meant *leakage* , which meant that the poor child was wet to its heels. It hadn't complained, of course - it's been peacefully asleep for most of the afternoon, presumably building up stamina for a night of insomnia. Last night was hell. It screamed and screamed - some the sort of shrieks that make you convinced you must have somehow stuck a pin in it. Surely it can't be wind when it hardly gets wind during the day? Anyway, I fed it and fed it until I was drained dry, a mere husk. We have lost our copy of Stop Your Baby Crying, which might have helped.

We schlepped all the way to the surgery this afternoon, tempest toss'd (or is it tost?* Probably either), because the health visitor thought the child looked yellow. It does, but so do I - it's having an anglo-Indian mother that does it. It also depends on the lightbulb. The doctor said at great length that they might do a blood test, or then again they mightn't: my decision. I eventually decided that we weren't going to have any paranoia this early on, so we'll leave it until our next appointment in two weeks. And home we came.

* Yes, it is. I looked up the Robertson Davies novel, as that was quicker. Robertson Davies is wonderful, this trilogy especially. Well, I've read his second trilogy, also brilliant and rather more serious, I suppose, but not the third, which I've consciously been saving up to have as a treat (partly because after that there isn't much more, really). There's something about his tone that appeals to me, I think - his sense of humour, his use of words, the sly allusions: it's all very attractive. I also believe what he tells me, which may be one of the ways I recognise a good writer. I recently read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and found myself reflecting again on how little I trust Rowling: I don't think her characters are properly realised - she just doesn't seem to *see* them - and I don't think she's going to be able to knit together all the holes in her plots. And none of that would matter so much if she wasn't such a *dull* writer. I return to Diana Wynne Jones with relief: superficially similar, but worlds apart in terms of humour, convincingness, and sheer style. If I ever have a dog, I'll call it Sirius.

No comments: