Yesterday, when I woke up, the early morning sky was green and navy in London and speckled with the orange glow of street lamps. Opposite, the Lidl logo shone brightly and the Clapham Road was beginning to rumble with traffic. A solitary burly man waited at the bus stop and I felt a pang of loss. A new day was dawning in the city and I was sad to be leaving. I sat in bed, supping a mug of tea before setting out to take my place on the Stockwell downward escalator, sit on the blue and green weaved tube seats of the Victoria Line and stare from the Stanstead Express across Hertfordshire’s golden meadows and Lee Valley walks. Maybe I should come home, I wondered. I clambered up the aircraft steps and flew over a sparkling blue sea. Ireland’s eye winked at me as I landed and the Sugar Loaf and Bray head opened their arms in welcome.
After a hectic weekend in London, this morning it was good to wake to a silent, reflective yellow and white Cavan sky and birdsong in the stillness of mud (my garden was recently churned up by the tractor tyres when we emptied the septic tank). In London, I had divided my time between my newly arrived daughter who has started work in the city, and my mother, an anxious tiny, hunched 88 year old whose face has become an etched scrawl of charcoaled lines into which her yellow eyes disappear when she stresses. In contrast, my exuberant, energetic daughter’s beautiful big blue eyes flashed bright on her pink downy face and were full of enthusiasm and glee as we bounced around Brixton Market, yummy mummy cafes in Clapham, explored Fortnum and Masons, Piccadilly, Waterstones and ambled around St James Park where the spring flowers bloomed with fervour and gloried in colourful sunlight.
It was strange to experience the contrast between the dark and light sides of life in such proximity. In the mornings, in her basement bedroom I held and stroked my mother’s tiny mottled, bony hand in comfort and in the afternoons I took my daughter’s arm to share in her thrill and love of new life on the sunny streets of London. It made me think.
As my hip has nestled itself into my bones in the last months, life has been quiet, and occasionally I have wondered if I am in the right place. However, the spell in London worked its magic. It gave me a jolt. I love London. It is always happening. There are always people at bus stops, and on tubes, in parks. They might be stressed, they might be in love, they might be sad but they are always there. London is always happening. Living in rural Ireland, I think I had forgotten that life is always there. Yesterday, on my return, I walked (and I don’t take that lightly now) into Drumbriste (my home) and took a phone call asking me to help out in the celebrations of The Rising in Cavan this weekend. It was great to be asked. And more is happening. AT The Edge, Cavan is back early next month and actually, I am thrilled with all the readers for the whole year. Wonderful, highly respected Irish authors and poets are happy to come and support AT The Edge, Cavan and it has boosted my morale. I am going to Cuirt in Galway this week and performing in the Spoken Word event, and at the end of the month I go to Listowel writers week. Then in June I am off to Thessaloniki in Greece (by way of Athens) for a week’s fiction course with the British Council. It’s all pretty good. I have a collection of poetry and short stories ready to send out to publishers (should I feel motivated and strong enough to receive the inevitable rejections), and I am in the closing stages of my first novel. Spring has finally sprung, and my face and space is closer to my daughter’s than my mother’s. I must try and keep it this way.
By the way, just to follow up my last blog about the frogs, the swarm, spawn and ribbit ribbit ribbit across the bog. Apparently, they were all mating! They all do it at the same time over a 24 hour period. So it was all happening then on the bog, I just didn’t know. Now that is the story of life!