Monday, 16 April 2007

Oh what fun to be in England

My mum has bought me a chainsaw for my birthday. I am quite excited about this, and keep thinking of things I might chop up. Rrrrrrrrr! I suppose it's not the kind of tool one should just rampage around the garden with, looking for stuff to dismember... I shall start with our three years' worth of dead Christmas trees. Last year's one doesn't seem to have lost a single needle. I hate to think what they did to it.

We've started solids. I'd been dithering over reference books, poring over weaning spoons, delving into Annabel Karmel's extensive oeuvre, and generally procrastinating, and then we went to a friend's house. Her baby is three months older than Sasha, which is really useful, as she's enough ahead of me to know the stuff but not so far that she's already forgotten it and moved on to the next thing. She had a vegetable soup that both of them were having for lunch, so we tried it out on Sash, who pretty much grabbed the spoon out of my hand to shovel the stuff in. We then had pear for tea, and a bit of baby rice, and have since tried potato, and some plums from the garden, frozen last year. And I'm sitting here covered on mashed banana. The two fun parts are: squirting your breast milk into the bowl to mix with the baby rice (much more fun than using a pump), and then shovelling it into the infant, who hasn't yet learned to swallow.

Sasha gets more appealing by the minute. I am besotted with my baby. But I think this is very much because, as babies go, ours seems especially charming: good-tempered, cute-looking, smily and gurgly and generally fun. And they definitely get more appealing as they get older and therefore more interesting. I really don't think anyone should agonise over not having an instant bond when they're born. I certainly didn't. I was glad to have produced something, but after nine months of building it and five hours of labour, I was just glad it had come out: I'd have been perfectly happy with a litter of kittens. But I didn't feel my life had changed, and I didn't feel a surge of affection. Mild interest, combined with slight shock at how *very* ugly the baby was.

It's been quite hard to write much in the last couple of months. Stuff has happened, but I just haven't felt the urge. I seem to have been mildly depressed -- or perhaps I'm still feeling the shock of the after-birth euphoria wearing off. I was high as a kite for about a month, so coming back to 'normal' feels very flat indeed. And a side-effect of euphoria is that it makes me creative: I'm full of ideas and plans and stories, and digress all the time because the thoughts just pile up and spill out. I think a counsellor has identified exactly this problem in the past: because you've had the highs, normality doesn't feel neutral: it actually feels a bit of a low (until you have a real low and remember just how low those are). I don't even have anything approaching 'real', clinical depression: mine's based on circumstance (and I usually feel down because I'm bored at work). In many ways it feels quite valuable to get an insight into a condition that for some people is completely incapacitating.

A gorgeous week with A's kids last week (should I stop using aliases? It seems a bit silly. It was based on the premise that this was in the public domain, but seems a bit unnecessary when only my mum reads it.). There's nothing like an English spring, which absolutely requires to be preceded by the sort of English winter that makes you feel it'll never be warm again. Glorious. That reminds me of how much I loved Margaret Forster's biography of Elizabeth Barratt Browning. Which presumably inspired Lady's Maid -- a wonderful, radical book about Barratt Browning's maid: do read it. I've finished lots of Claire Tomalin's biographies, now, too: Dora Jordan, Nelly Ternan, and Jane Austen, which I acquired after getting the Pepys one and living it to bits. It's such a a good way to learn history, getting thrown into the context of someone's daily life. In my 'O' level history lessons, all we did was copy down what the teacher wrote on the blackboard. Re-reading The Eyre Affair this week, for our local book group. It's great fun but doesn't thrill me with its novelty so much on a secodn read, which I suppose is inevitable.

Oh, I also read Francis Spufford's The child that books built, which I've been waiting to pick up secondhand for ages. I got very excited when he name-checked Diana Wynne Jones (and acknowledged her genius) early on, but he never actually referred to any of her books except indirectly. There was good stuff about the Narnia books, but not enough about any others. I suppose I really wanted it to be about the books that built the child.


Anonymous said...

I do hope your Mum also bought you a full set of safety gear and a training course. Dangerous things chainsaws, very dangerous.

Beck said...

Gosh, an anonymous comment! Welcome, stranger. Yes, indeed, but they do have the advantage that they look and sound very scary indeed, so one is not inclined to underestimate their potential to do damage. Isn't it when you think everything's easy peasy that you're most likely to have an accident? I've heard it said that most rock-climbing injuries happen when people are carrying their equipment back to the car...

Anonymous said...

Accidents are, by nature, accidental. Get trained, get the safety kit. You know it makes sense.