This Easter weeked I went to my parents’ house and forgot to pack my laptop charger. This was perplexing, since it left me without anything to do.
First of all, I tried to carry on with some writing, by squinting at the Dropbox on my phone and using an actual pen and piece of paper. I am not used to this and found it challenging. More to the point, I felt crowded in by other people and was reminded by how supremely impressed I have always been by Jane Austen’s ability to work while surrounded by the lives and whims of others.
In the end, I gave up and played 2048 on my phone all evening, and then because I couldn’t sleep, on until 1am, which is when I finally managed to complete it.
The next day, exhausted through lack of sleep and space, I had a brainwave and decided that at least I could read a book. I’ve had Sweet Tooth waiting in my car for a while, but have been a bit wary because Solar, my last Ian McEwan, while very good was a slow starter. But Sweet Tooth is anything but slow! It’s a spy story and is really vivid. Review to follow.
In the evening, my grandparents arrived. My grandad went into the kitchen to read a Chinese newspaper and grunt. This has been his default setting as long as I remember.
My nan came to talk to me and my mum. Now many of you will know that my mum is quite uptight and a very kind, well meaning person, but not given to showing that she is at all happy to see you, or at all happy at anything you have done. Both my parents, but especially my mum, automatically start moaning on and finding problems and drawbacks if you give them any piece of news. Taking this on board as normal behaviour led to me having a lot of problems interacting socially while I was growing up.
However, my nan is very different. Looking at my mum and me, you’d wonder where the hell I got my personality from, but when I see my nan, I kinda think that I must have got something from her as I think I have ended up more like her. I just have no idea why my mum ended up so different from my nan!
My nan has a good sense of fun. With me there she was able to give vent to all the observations she’s made about my mum:
“One day her pupil says ‘Mrs Kong, your garden looks so nice. Who does your garden?’ And your mum says, ‘None of your business! Concentrate on your work! This pupil is so kind, so nice! And she just says ‘Concentrate on your work!’ Always so tense and worried about work.”
And, about the ten day stay she had at my parents’ house while she and my grandad were moving house:
“Always says ‘Don’t put that there! Put that here! Be careful with your chair!’ In the end, I just sit still! Do nothing! Don’t move! It’s easier.’
It’s actually amazing that my nan has kept her sense of fun, as she’s still having a lot of trouble with my grandad, who is becoming more and more paranoid and delusional (eg he builds a barricade in the bedroom each night before going to sleep so that no-one can open the door). Both she and my mum had a strong sense of duty and forgiveness, which I guess is cultural, to the extent that she said:
“Even if he hits, he doesn’t know what he is doing now. Have to forgive.”
Not so good, Nan 😦 but being inside a marriage and doing your duty to look after your husband, however bad it is, is everything to a certain generation and culture… My nan is amazing to have done all the things that she’s done in her life, with pretty much no support (my grandad has always been a bit odd.) Sometimes I think, “You could put him in a nursing home and I’d move to a bigger house in the town, and you could come and live with me! I wouldn’t tell you to be careful with your chair!” But I think she’d be a bit lost without that sense of having a duty to fulfil every day.
I will leave you with some pictures I took before we went away. LD#2 and I went for a walk in the woods with friends
and found a woodland house that someone had built:
And at the end we stopped off at the tea room and as we were queueing, LD started laughing.
‘Look!’ She pointed at the display shelves behind the counter.
“It looks like your dinosaur.”