Another Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK and the lino-cutting stuff is arriving; just the basics to see how I get on, given that I haven't done this since I was about seven, and I find it hard to believe that we were entrusted with such lethal tools at such a tender age, but we were and no fingers disappeared. I have a wooden handle with five interchangeable weapons of lino destruction at my disposal, along with a pack of ten card-sized pieces of lino to practise on and three larger, more expensive ones for 'best.' I am up for Nancy's idea of floor tiles but am currently trying to figure out how I can sneak the tool into B&Q and do a test gouge.
Anyway, I sat down yesterday afternoon and had a go.
Sad but not unexpected news came of the death of a very dear friend and health visitor colleague at lunchtime. I had spent some time with Jeannie earlier in the week and the comfort of knowing it was a peaceful end helped a little. I listened to Vivaldi's Gloria, soaring music which always sends my thoughts up and away, while I tried my hand at some lino cutting for a couple of hours.
Here's the end result via a bit of computer editing and flipping over so that the letters read the right way round, because I am still waiting for the paint and the roller to arrive.... but I couldn't wait to see how it might look.
Bookhound drew the outline of the cat and the letters for me, because the book on how not to draw like a six year old that Curzon recommended hasn't arrived yet, and I was feeling a bit wimpish. If it had been down to me that would have said SUNGAM when I finally get to press my first effort, and may not have looked much like a cat. But what therapy, I can see I am going to love his.
I just chiselled away contentedly remembering happy days when Jeannie and I had laughed together like drains. Jeannie wrote a brilliant blog about her brush with breast cancer called Getting it Off My Chest which I have mentioned here in the past. I have been reading it again and am reminded, as if I would ever forget, how great Jeannie was at finding the funny in the difficult (health visitors seem to be very good at this for some reason.) Who can forget the wig she christened Heidi, and what a laugh we had at that coffee morning.
Having faced down the breast cancer and received the all-clear it was time for Jeannie and her family to properly enjoy her retirement, so it seemed desperately unfair that she should be diagnosed with a completely unconnected primary brain tumour this time last year. While we all wailed 'That is SO unfair,' Jeannie would say 'Well, why not me' and took on the surgery, the radiotherapy, the next round of chemo with her customary courage. She made us all promise that we would let her know if she lost her marbles, but of course that needed all of us to have ours there in the first place which we all agreed might be tricky these days.
Always a keen reader, Jeannie had read voraciously in the last year so it was a pleasure to keep her furnished with bags full of books and she came along to the Endsleigh Salon just two months ago in June, knocking the rest of us for six with her intuitive and spontaneous debate about a wide range of books on our theme The Seven Deadly Sins. I had gone to collect her and we had agreed that the minute she felt tired I would take her home again, by 10pm I was yawning and Jeannie was still having a whale of a time. Having read Good Evening Mrs Craven by Mollie Panter Downs in preparation, Jeannie talked lucidly about one story, Miss Burton, with its undertones of greed, envy and jealousy and we had a wonderful debate, enough to make me hope and believe that Jeannie would just go on for ever. Sadly we all knew that wasn't to be.
It was a privilege to sit at Jeannie's bedside this time last week and in the company of another lovely friend. We massaged her hands and feet and chatted to her in the sure and certain knowledge that she could hear us as she prepared to set off on her next journey... at one point we saw a flicker of a gentle smile. RIP Jeannie, we are all going to miss you dreadfully, but we will never forget you and wherever you are I know there will be laughter.