Written 16 May, 2020
I wake up to a silvery morning.
The house at the bay’s end has just been bought by T. One day I was rowing slowly across the bay, dipping my oars in deep, pulling hard but easily, and he came up behind in his motor boat and asked if I wanted a push! I loved that. No one else here has been so jolly. In New York and London, he’s a famous entertainer, but here, I hope he’ll just be a good neighbour. I peeped in his windows the other day with A. He’s painted the walls my favourite blue. A tells me his house, once as much in the Arctic Circle as ours, is now toasty warm so his old mother can visit. Yesterday I emailed him asking what magic he’s done. Today he’s emailed back, inviting us to tea or wine. I’ll wear my video top, and borrow K’s snow trousers, the only warm but elegant thing in our house. I want to arrive in my rowboat, but is GG bendy enough to get in it? And am I superwoman enough?
Later: He isn’t. I’m not. I pick T a bunch of the everlasting sorrel leaves, upright and bursting with green freshness but somewhat snail holed. They’re rather like green rabbit ears. We agree to walk around the track. On the way, A invites us to pick their rocket or otherwise it’ll go to seed, I know it’s third generation and will be too spicy for us but I add it to T’s bouquet, and N stops us to talk about the rain, no better than dust. Ad is chatting to him, with Tilly the dog. He thanks me for leaving the flowers for his wife.
Is she liking living here?
He assures me she is.
T’s house is full of light, azure and white light, and we sit in sunshine on his deck and drink tea, and get to know him. Everything is new, fresh, clean and enviably uncluttered, chairs aligned, cushions positioned. He shows us his boatshed, hanging companionably over the river, with huge raffia lounging divans that on a hot day, you’d lie in them with your feet almost in the river. He tells us that he’s had them for 20 years, but at last they’ve found their iright home. I’m relieved that the chair’s legs are unravelling.
How old is your mother?
She’s 75. I need to look after her.
I don’t like to point out we’re pretty old too.
He’s the perfect neighbour, bonding with us both, GG over shoulder reconstructions (he’s had two), me over lighting fires in 44 gallon drums, affable, amiable, offering help, asking for help. He says he explored the upper reaches of our creek but turned around, scared, for it’s true, you could easily get lost amongst the mangroves and never find your way out. But on the right tide, if you know your way, it’s heaven. We offer to take him on Monday to heaven.
I get home to find an email reminding me about a chapter on creativity I promised I’d finish by June. Instead i drag bits of the old water tanks half way down to the pontoon, put a garlic and fennel chicken dinner on the BBQ, set the fire in the pot belly, pour myself a gin and tonic, and only when it’s dark and cold, do i start work.
But overnight, an email reminder of what’s going on in the world from S in New York: