Friday 25 November 2011

Night Terrors

I haven't been sleeping well recently...... another symptom of the menopause I've been reliably informed........ but I was reminded by a friend of the excellent power of lavender. As I happen to have a handy bunch of dried lavender, lovingly picked in my friend's French garden, dusting nicely in a tin jug on the windowsill, I was able to create my on lavender sleep pillow by shaking the heads into one of those gossamer bags that jewellery often comes gifted in ....... knew it would come in handy one day. I slid the bag into my pillowcase and subsequently enjoyed several nights very good sleep.

Until the other night......... I sat up in bed, it was dark, the buzzer buzzed again. I was out of bed before I was awake. I had no idea what time it was but it was very dark and very cold. I knew my son was at home but I looked at his door just to check. Locked from the inside, it couldn't be him buzzing the buzzer. Maybe one of his friends? It had happened before.
"It's the police," came the response to my hello into the intercom, "open the door."

Still more asleep than awake, I felt completely confused, my heart suddenly racing. I looked at my son's door again: he was definitely asleep, he was in, he was safe. I buzzed open the door to the building and then my front door. A very tall, very young police boy appeared in shirt sleeves and a stab vest. Behind him stood a very short, very young, police girl also wearing a stab vest. It was very, very cold. I remember wondering why they were in shirt sleeves as I stood in the hall, shivering in my pyjamas. I still wasn't quite sure if they were just trying to gain access to my building or me. The police boy then whipped out his note book, he asked if a name I'd never heard before lived in my flat. I said no, I'd never heard of her. I really couldn't get my head around what was going on. I felt utterly dazed, shaking with cold and shock. The police girl asked how long I'd lived there and I had absolutely no idea, I couldn't even remember what year it was. They both kept apologising for it being 'after midnight' and understood I was confused. I hadn't even had a drink. Honestly your honour. I asked what it was about and they said she was a 17 year old missing person and somehow her care home had our address. At this point I began to come too, her first name rang the faintest of bells and I said I believed she maybe the girlfriend of my son's friend, I knew there'd been an argument with a parent, I knew his friend had nowhere to stay. But she definitely didn't live with me. They weren't terribly bothered, thanked me, apologised for waking me, wrote down a reference number and asked if my son might call the next day if he knew anything of her whereabouts. And said good night. I went back to bed. It was only quarter to one. Now I was wide awake.

They were perfectly polite but I was surprised by what a shock their visit had caused, my heart still pounding in my chest. I wondered how it might be if English weren't my first language, if they'd been banging on the door wanting entry, how much more confused I would have been, what I might have done or said or not been able to remember even if their visit had been a mistake.

The girl was 'found' the next day, never knowingly missing, and very sorry.

Top tip: new favourite chocolate, Co-Op's Fairtrade Dark Chocolate with Cranberries..... a taste of Christmas on your tongue

Friday 18 November 2011

Country Life........

I have been to the country. The proper a-long-way-from-London country. Hardy country. My cousin has moved to Dorset and so I channeled my inner Tess, packed a basket, put on my bonnet and went visiting.

Leaving London by railway train I noted that the top of Battersea Power Station was not even visible so dense was the foggy day. I right pea-souper and no mistake. By Basingstoke the weather had made little improvement. It is one thing to visit the countryside in sunshine, quite another on a dank, drizzle heavy day. My demeanour was little improved upon arrival at the railway station where my cousin informed me the oil for the aga had run out that very morning and there would be no new delivery till after I had departed. I feared, like Withnail, I may have gone on holiday by mistake.

But by the time the drizzle had turned to rain we were safely seated in a warm bar-cum-tearoom in folk appear to know how to cover all bases...... eating delicious Welsh Rarebit, drinking beer and eyeing up the fatest coffee cake I've ever seen.

The 7-bedroom house is huge; a shabby-Georgian gem from which one might expect to see Mrs Bennet emerge in search of Lizzie or Lydia, right opposite a large farm with a lot of cows ....... and a lot of country air. The cost of renting this beast is less than a 2-bedroom flat in north London. The next day the sun was out and we headed to the sea. We walked with the children and their dog along the beach and I filled my pockets with stones...... for my bathroom. The sea sparkled and crashed and lapped the shore like liquid silver. We searched through the bric and brack and tat of the market: Noddy Annuals, stuffed seagulls, blue glass bottles and Marks & Spencer mohair cardis, looking for hidden treasures. I bought an old bottle crate originally from a bar in New York that had somehow washed-up in Bridport which has inspired me to repaint my kitchen. And then we went to Lyme Regis and sat in the window of Hix Oyster & Fish House, perched high on the hill looking down on the Cobb and across the harbour, and ate homemade.... yes homemade ..... crumpets with homemade jam and thick cream and drank Prosecco while watching the dark creep in over the sea and the lights come on along the shore. And to mis-quote Lizzie Bennet, perhaps I didn't always love Dorset as well as I do now, but in such cases as these a good memory is unpardonable......

Top tip: I am currently drinking a glass of water with a spoonful of organic apple cider vinegar....tastes horrid but apparently cures everything and restores a child-like bloom of youth.... we'll see.