Thursday 16th April
I am always downstairs first in the morning. It’s just me and a quiet house, and my own privately indulgent “good morning” to the fluffy terrier Reuben. He is a nomad and sleeps anywhere, and is usually upside down on the sofa in the morning with four paws in the air. That looks very comfortable. Today’s position does not: he is perched on the hard arm of a sofa, his bum hanging over the void. I think he looks a tiny bit sad, and I give him Easter Sunday’s lamb bone which is still in the fridge. If my husband Marcel was up it would be all “get him and his disgusting bone off my rug”, but the early bird gives her dog whatever she likes, and soon Reuben is slurping and scronching away (but not on the rug). Scronch. This word is a tribute to Uderzo, the artist who drew the Asterix and Obelix books. Obelix never tucked into a wild boar with anything other than a scronch, to those of us who read it in English. We lost Uderzo a week or so ago, and I want to mark his passing in some way. One boar-eating noise on a small sketch of a dog isn’t enough, but it’s a start.
Marcel comes down after a while. I tell him how Reuben clearly wanted to make sure he wouldn’t be disturbed before he started enjoying his bone. looking around thoroughly. “Rather like settling down to a good book,” he says.
Reuben has had enough gnawed bone for now, and most of the family are outside having coffee in the warm sun. I add a sketch of Reuben’s fluffy body casting a shadow…
…and one of Liv looking very sunlit on a sofa cushion outside. It’s been so sunny this week. Glorious. I love strong sunlight on a figure – the contrast makes things so much easier.
I meet someone in a local shop and ask after his parents, who are well into their seventies and are the subjects of the cocooning order. “Hard,” he says. “My father couldn’t accept that he couldn’t go for a drive in his car. In the end I had to take the keys off him. He went cracked. For three days he was going mad. In the end I had to give them back to him.” Imagine being a paterfamilias all your life, providing for your many children through hard work and selflessness, then having the keys of your car confiscated. The ignominy.
Back home, I attempt another dandelion, which I find in my hideously overgrown front garden. Once more, its perfection eludes me. I’m sorry. I have let you down. I hope you can go and look at a real one on the way to the shop, or that you are slovenly and have let weeds grow in your window-box, because mine won’t cut the mustard.
Marcel and I cycle to the seashore. The sun is strong. The tide is low but the water is light blue-green and perfectly clear. The air smells clean, of fresh oysters, which even as we arrive are being harvested a few metres away. I ask Marcel why the water is so clear, as he is an oceanographer. He tells me it’s too early for a bloom yet. I want to be in my wetsuit swimming in that crystal clear water. On our expedition, there are a few people on the roads but very little traffic: we only pass two cars in our twenty-minute cycle. “We’re putting more fuel in the lawn mowers than in our cars at the minute,” says Tom, my next-door neighbour.