Chapter Nineteen

 time flies you cannot they fly so fastimages-5.jpg

Punctuate the above. I don’t know of anyone who managed to do it correctly first time but once you do know how to do it you can enjoy feeling more than a little smug as you watch others wrestle with it. So I will let you wrestle with it while I go and find some socks.

Six days have passed. As I sit down to write I am wearing a pair of thick socks. No, no, no…..I am fully clothed but with reference to my recent pathetic literary effort I am determined that there will be at least one less distraction…… and by the way……… the past six days haven’t been all about looking for socks………….

images-4.jpgSo, where were we? I gaze out of the window to gather my thoughts. The sky is no colour at all. The trees are stirred by a gentle breeze and I can make out buds on the branches of an oak tree. Two evergreens are leaning into each other as if swapping garden secrets. There are no birds to be seen. There is no robin. I cant remember when I last saw it…..

Time flies? You cannot. They fly so fast! images-6.jpg

There you are. Now go and enjoy feeling more than a little smug with someone else.

I have a plan. I will make a list. I am good at making lists. Hopefully it will put my thoughts in order and I can get on with my writing. Okay, this is not a ‘Shopping List’ and it is not a ‘To Do’ list. This is a ‘Can You Honestly Remember All the Things You Want to Write about Considering it is Five Years Since You Wrote Anything at All!’ list.

Five years, five minutes, the blink of an eye ……. time flies ……

In January 2003 I ‘dropped’ the scones for a less fattening pursuit. I took up painting. images.jpgGranted, it wasn’t Art School but it was an evening class and I was at last doing something on my own. Des, my tutor, was ‘good for me’. He had a very dry, somewhat scathing sense of humour which suited me very well. He encouraged me to use my paintbrush more and my pencil less. Portraits were my passion and I gradually found the confidence to commit to paper.thumb_rebs2_1024.jpgSpurred on by my faithful but biased fan club I became more and more prolific. My canvases got larger and my brushes bigger. My desk easel had to be replaced by a larger, free standing model. Modest little boxes of watercolours were shelved in favour of fat pots of acrylic and tubes of oils.I needed more elbow room, more space …         

I had a staunch ally in this endeavour: Alison, a kindred spirit…. talented, modest, sympathetic, daring, humorous, generous and beautiful ( both inside and out)…….and a giggler……..and boy, have we giggled!images-2.jpg

We’ve come from showing our masterpieces at home (displayed tastefully on our beds !!) and by way of a modest little Craft Fair in downtown Gartocharn to a hugely successful ‘exhibition’ in Glasgow courtesy of Alison’s brother, Rob who managed to secure us premises free of charge. We were overwhelmed at the huge number  who came to support us and who were in turn flabbergasted at the volume of work on display. We couldn’t believe it ourselves.

….’when did you start painting?’ they asked incredulously ….’you mean you’ve done all this in a few months!?’Huge Jars_1024.jpg

Landscapes, seascapes, portraits and still life canvases transformed a soulless, still, white space into a huge vibrant palette of colour. Framed and unframed, big and small they splashed the walls and drew the spectators in like bees to honeypots. The buzz of noise and excitement was contagious.(Mind you, that could have been due to the fact that we had wine and nibbles freely available ..!) But to us everyone was caught up in the ‘success’ of our achieving such an ambitious goal… (and none more so than Nancy our former ‘boss’). Family  who had helped the night before in the setting up  of the exhibition (how many times did they climb those stairs!?) were again turned out with their order books and welcoming smiles. It was wonderful to see old friends and colleagues and for new friends to at last put faces to frequently spoken names. We didn’t have to concern ourselves with critics. We are the first to acknowledge our own imperfect work. Anyway, this wasn’t about public acclaim. Ali and I wanted to prove to ourselves that we could do this and do you know something, I think we did. My confidence was boosted. I was back in the world.

In  September 2004  Pauline moved back to Glasgow to be with Sam and her room became my
‘Gallery’. Commissions were coming in thick and fast and I could now ‘lose myself’
in my painting as well as in my garden. My days were full.On the Rocks_1024.jpg

Ali and I have gone on to hosting ‘Open Days’ at our respective houses and keep in close touch with old and new friends. I can see a huge progression in Ali’s paintings but I feel that I am still searching for a signature ‘style’   and continue to paint such a wide variety of work. It’s as if forty years of pent up ideas are spilling out of my imagination. I do need direction ….. ‘Mammy, can I go to Art School?’……

And so she lives happily ever after…..well, does she? Mr Adcroft, my art teacher from school would always encourage his students to step back from a work in progress and see the ‘bigger picture.’ Yes I have, in the eyes of the world, ’moved on’: I paint, I garden, I visit, I go out with friends, I do less housework, I enjoy reading, crosswords, quizzes, having friends round,  making cards, feeding the family, hugging our grandchildren,  having a glass or two of wine, writing, watching movies, sharing a good story, going ‘up the Clydeside’……. a full and colourful record of my life as it appears to the casual observer.

The bigger picture, however, is so incomplete. For every comma in my list above, read ….’but he is not here’……. maybe then you will begin to understand the spaces in my life which can’t be filled or ‘coloured in’ to be  anything other than the grey areas and the dead spaces that they are. I have glass-half-full, glass-half-empty days but I have learned just to give myself a ‘severe talking to’ when the latter is the case….. sometimes I listen, sometimes I don’t …..it’s my choice ……. but  listening is better, believe me…….

                                                                                       …. To be continued…