Today, February 27th 2011, would have been my brother Malcolm's 60th birthday, and somehow I couldn't let the day pass without remembering it here, and true to form there's me not wasting the opportunity to sit down and read a book.
Malcolm was diagnosed with leukaemia three weeks after his wedding in 1973 and he died eighteen months later, March 15th 1975, just two weeks after his twenty fourth birthday... forever young in my mind and his loss frequently ambushing me unexpectedly ever since. Why him out of the two of us not me is an inevitable question I have asked myself many times, and of course there's so much I'd love to ask him now about our shared childhood... I'm sure I didn't really cry every time he won at Monopoly ... but alright, I suppose I might have done.
We have a manic whirlwind cool, calm and collected week ahead here chez dovegrey.
Offspringette is back home with all her worldly goods and getting packed up ready to embark on a year in New Zealand. Lots of challenges and things to look forward to, plus a Masters degree to complete, but of course hearts and minds are very much with the people of Christchurch at the moment. Offspringette is heading for North Island but having landed in the USA for a year just weeks before 9/11 she is well versed on the impact a huge disaster can have on a country.
Whilst he was in New Zealand last year, the Kayaker stayed with some friends in Christchurch who he had met whilst working in Canada (these paddlers get around, make lifelong friendships and stay in touch ) and we have been very relieved to hear that they are all safe, though sadly their house is uninhabitable. B's account which the Kayaker shared with us, was incredibly moving, here's just a snippet...
Anyhow, here we are four days (Saturday 11am as I write) after the quake and life has been turned upside down, end over end and any other which way you want to put it. It's as if what happened before Tuesday is a distant memory and almost of little significance when we consider the events our city and the people of this tight knit community have gone through the past 72 hours.
I had just left a meeting and was sitting in my car in the CBD listening to phone messages and taking notes when all of a sudden there was rumbling and loud cracking noises swiftly followed by continuous violent shaking of the ground and subsequently everything around. I had a million and one thoughts rolling through my head, I could see buildings collapsing nearby, dust was billowing from the fallen rubble, the glass windows of the building next to me blew out, people came rushing out of surrounding buildings onto the street, a lady riding her scooter on the street was brought to a halt and fell from her bike but was thankfully uninjured, there were enormously loud bangs, crashes and deafening screams and all the while I was thinking of S and L and if they were OK....
There have been many acts of heroism from the moment the quake struck and that continues locally, nationally and internationally with help continually being offered and accepted.
I feel somewhat helpless at present and very much unsure of what lies ahead. What I do know is that we will find a way through this and whatever that path is we are eternally grateful that we are able to be on the journey because unfortunately some journeys have come to an end.
I can't even begin to imagine the devastation so our thoughts are very much with B and his family right now.
Bookhound is doing the airport run with Offspringette while I stay home and bottom the house. I know it sounds like a very strange thing to be doing but it is the total immersion method I have for 'letting go' and dealing with my nearest and dearest disappearing off for a year. Of course I will miss her hugely, Offspringette's visits home are a leavening presence in this house full of men, but she is going to be my literary eyes and ears around New Zealand in contrast to the Kayaker who kept us appraised of the rivers, the mountains, the killer whales, road trips and the bars, and she has promised to write us a blog post now and again... and who knows, perhaps this time I'll visit.
And talking of New Zealand and literature how can I not add Janet Frame in the same breath. Coming up very soon a series of dovegreyreader asks...Janet Frame. I put the questions to Janet's neice Pamela Gordon and she has answered them in light of the Janet that she knew and loved and they make for some incredible reading.
But isn't this funny?
Does it happen in your house?
You think they've left home, and they think they've left home, so they accumulate a load of stuff and then decide to upsticks to another country and back it all comes again. We have been looking a bit like a sale room here and with endless trips to charity shops alternating with regular ascents into the loft, which was getting a little bit emptier but has now filled up again, so we've given up. If it brings the ceiling down, well... Bookhound will fix.
Then Vocal Harem & the Sultans have a concert on Saturday so plenty of singing practice to come.
World Book Night on the same evening so I have to collect my books from the local bookshop ready to give out to the choir after the concert, and I am praying they haven't done what I have heard one disaffected bookseller has done and left the boxes of books out on the pavement in the rain...eek.
Then it's the annual World Book Day quiz at the library and of course the Endsleigh Salon team will be turning out again ( Rebecca, even if your arm is still in plaster and wired and pinned with enough metal to receive digital radio and excruciatingly painful, I'm sorry that's really no excuse... I will personally come and fetch you and your Shakespeare-Film- and-Everything-Else brain!)
And as if that wasn't enough in my diary for the week, it's me and that World Book Night edition of A Good Read on Radio 4 this Tuesday at 4.30pm. Who can know what I said, I certainly can't remember, and spot the dovergreyreader typo on the website which I have tried to get corrected but haven't had much luck yet... never mind. I'm sure the Cinque ports are as nice as the Tamar Valley.