Archives for motherhood

IGNORING GRAVITY #38

She drove straight to Kingston. Bizzie’s house was alight with electricity, curtains thrown back, from the front gate, Rose could see her grandmother sitting in an armchair doing a crossword in the newspaper. She leant against the gate, the lichen slightly dew-damp under her elbows, knowing she was delaying, fearing what she might see in her gran’s eyes. She took a deep breath and walked up the path she had walked up a thousand times before, except for the first time she was frightened. She sat in the chair opposite Bizzie, looked at her straight, and told her about Mrs Greenaway. It was a five minute monologue, the sixth minute was silent. “Kate?” “Yes.” Bizzie’s eyes were full of sadness, they didn’t lie, she hadn’t known of her daughters’ secret. “You’re sure?” “Positive.” Rose understood the need to disbelieve. “Here.” She handed over the form given to her by Mrs Greenaway, the form from hell. “You never knew?” Bizzie shook her head then took off her reading glasses, polished them with the yellow felt cloth from inside her glasses case, and settled them back into the pink grooves either side of her nose. She read the form slowly once, then
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #37

Darkness was falling by the time she got to the allotment. She stumbled on the uneven path, cursing herself for not keeping a torch in the car as her mother had told her. She found her father’s patch, empty. For the first time in a long while she felt kinship with her mother who had often pursed her lips at his ability to disappear at moments important to her – parents’ evenings, Christmas drinks with the neighbours, choosing curtains. A light was flickering in the far corner of the field, like a light bulb with dodgy wiring. He had to be where that light was. Everything else turned black and she stumbled over uneven earth, not caring if she scuffed up sacred lettuce or radish seedlings. Lily would be able to tell the difference, she couldn’t, not even in daylight. She could now see the outline of a shed, a neater one than her father’s, painted bright blue. The tang of fresh paint and something yeasty hung in the air. It was Ron Fosdyke’s shed. His name was on the door, burned roughly out of a lump of wood with a hot poker and nailed to the apex. The sign
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #36

Rose crossed and uncrossed her legs, then crossed them again, snaking her feet around her ankles, the toes of her tan gladiator sandals squeaking slightly as they rubbed together. Then her mother’s firm voice rung in her head, ‘You’ll get varicose veins if you sit with your legs crossed, sit like a lady.’ Rose uncrossed them and pressed her knees tightly together. Her inner thigh muscles began to ache. She’d been sitting up straight in this corridor for ten minutes, a tunnel of wood-panelled walls, darkened with years of polish and dirty fingerprints. She started to cross her legs again but remembered in time and forced her knees back together. This was more efficient at muscle toning than that horrible machine at the gym, the one where you sat with your knees wide apart and tried to push them together against the weights. Her mother would certainly have disapproved about the legs wide apart bit. Footsteps approached from the left. “You must be Rose, can I call you Rose?” Rose nodded. The social worker was a large lady wearing a tailored jacket and pussybow blouse, a brown wool skirt stretched across her ample bottom. Rose hadn’t seen clothes like that
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #35

After twenty minutes of pinning down the differences between gluten allergy and wheat intolerance, Rose wrote the first paragraph of today’s feature. “The number of people self-diagnosing themselves as being wheat intolerant is growing and can lead to more harm than good, according to new nutritional research. Wheat aversion, a psychological condition, is also on the increase. Are the two trends connected?” It was true, but she pressed the delete button and watched her words disappear. Sam would never approve it, all the space sold for this feature advertised wheat-free biscuits and free-from bread. She stared at the empty white page. “Anyone wanting to avoid wheat in their diet today is going to have a hard time finding wheat-free and free-from products that don’t taste like sawdust.” Noooo… he wouldn’t approve that either. She pressed the delete button again. She knew the signs, she needed a breather, she needed a fresh start to the feature, she needed coffee. “Crap coffee?” she asked Frank, who nodded without a pause in his typing. He was on a tight deadline too, Sam had already shouted at him twice since lunch. Rose wandered towards the coffee machine, enjoying stretching her legs. “Coffee break already,
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #34

Twenty-four hours and two frozen pizzas later, Rose put down the last library book. She rubbed her temples. Well, at least Mum and Dad hadn’t made her sleep in a cupboard. Reading Harry Potter made two things clear. First, don’t believe everything people tell you about your parents. Second, never trust your initial assumptions. Why must she always think the worst? It might be a happy story, or at least not an unhappy one. Because they might have died of a crack overdose, said that sharp cynical voice in her head. It’s better to know the truth, whatever it is, than not to know, said Strong Rose’s calmer voice. Even if they’re dead. Of course they’re dead. It’s the only thing that makes sense. Rose thought it made sense too. Harry made a third thing clear, she thought suddenly. Everyone who met Harry told him he had his mother’s eyes. Whose eyes did she have? * When Rose arrived at Café Blanc, Monday lunchtime, there was no sign of Maggie. She bought a bottle of mineral water and bagged a table outside. She loved this place, it smelled so good. Coffee but something sweet, vanilla perhaps, vanilla syrup, and onions
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #33

Lily had Saturday all planned out. They’d have a leisurely breakfast and read the papers outside at the teak table on the decking, soaking up the sun’s vitamin D. New research proved that babies conceived in the spring and born in the late summer were taller and stronger because their mummies soaked up the sun’s goodness, Lily thought it must be good to get in early, like folic acid, and build up a credit balance. Then she’d booked an outside table for lunch at a place in Ham which William had read about in the Sunday paper and mentioned at least three times a week that he’d like to go there. The cult food and lovely garden surroundings would lull him into that lazy sensual mood she loved about him so that when they came home she could talk to him about babies, they’d make plans and make love and hopefully make a baby, with lots of cuddling afterwards. Then for their supper she’d ordered a delivery of sashimi, sushi and sake, because he loved everything Japanese. She was going to wear the new lemon kimono-style dress she’d bought at Kiko’s in BarnesVillage which she thought would nicely underline the
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #32

Over the next few days Rose’s routine didn’t vary. Each morning and lunchtime she rang her father, each time there was no answer. She understood his avoidance technique, she didn’t particularly want to talk either but it had to be done or she would never find out the truth. So each night after work she drove to Richmond. Each night her father’s car was in the drive but The Weavings was empty. Slight changes suggested the house was occupied at some point during the day – on Wednesday night there were empty milk bottles on the doorstep which weren’t there on Thursday night, on Friday evening the rubbish bin was at the kerbside awaiting collection on Saturday – so she could only conclude that he was still alive and getting on with his life. Rose decided to follow his example. On Friday night she didn’t get home until after 10pm. She gobbled beans on toast, sprinkling extra cheddar on top because she couldn’t resist the smell of melted cheese, and almost instantly fell asleep on the sofa in front of the TV. Her dream was vivid. There was a babushka doll, whose face was hand-painted in tiny brushstrokes, without eyes
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #31

Lily was peeling potatoes for dinner. Colcannon with pan-fried salmon fillets. She didn’t particularly like colcannon, but it was William’s favourite. She left the potatoes soaking in a pan of cold water then trimmed a Savoy cabbage, aiming the thick outer leaves at the compost bucket but missing more often than not. Should she force William to talk to her somehow? How? Why didn’t he want to listen to her? He used to. She rinsed the cabbage in so much cold water that she rinsed the sink and worktop too. As she mopped the floor, she wondered again how she’d got it so wrong last night. William had returned home yesterday from Geneva a day early and in an ugly mood. She felt like she’d won a chance to talk to him so she conjured up his favourite fish stew with a tin of tomatoes, tuna [oily fish, good for everything and sustainably caught] and organic broccoli [folic acid, essential for a healthy foetus] on the side, followed by banana cake [yet more folic acid, what he didn’t know he couldn’t object to]. She hadn’t once mentioned the words ‘sex’, ‘pregnancy’ or ‘baby’ while they ate dinner and was proud
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #30

When Rose got home the light on the answerphone flashed ‘2’. Was it a put-down? Was it her father? Was it… Nick Maddox? “Rose, it’s May. Where are you? If you’re sick you should be at home, if you’re not sick you should be here working. Two days is quite sufficient for a journalist to recover from infection. You’ve had four…” I haven’t, thought Rose angrily. “… including the weekend. I want you at your desk before nine tomorrow morning.” She pressed ‘next’. “Hello, Miss. This is Sergeant Wilcox at Petersham Police Station. With regards to your reporting a Mr…” there was a pause, “… Mr John Haldane missing on Sunday June first, I can confirm that we have received no reports of an incident regarding this gentleman. If you wish to submit a Missing Person Report, please call me on 0208……” I will go back to work, she told Brad firmly as he washed his face with his paws, his purring like the distant rumble of traffic. Because words are my thing. They never let me down, words don’t lie to me. I’ll start now, I’ll write down how I feel about what happened. She took her mug to
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #29

Bizzie was baking jammy oaty slices. They were Rose’s favourites; she’d eaten them a thousand times and knew Bizzie’s method by heart. First she lined a swiss roll tin with shortcrust pastry and brushed it with jam, any sort would do as long as it was red, but home-made strawberry was best. Then she mixed rolled oats with golden syrup and piled the mixture onto the pastry. They came out of the oven twenty minutes later, glorious and sticky. Rose had eaten them since before she could remember. Now she hesitated at the window, watching her grandmother bend to put the tray in the oven, wondering how to break the news to her. “I know, Grandma.” “Know what, love?” “That I’m adopted.” Moving in slow motion, Bizzie wiped her hands on her pink floral apron, reached behind her for the kitchen chair and sat down. Rose waited. There was a long silence, broken by Bizzie who rubbed her eyes then clucked her tongue against the roof of her mouth. “I told Diana it would hurt you more if they didn’t tell you when you were young but she wouldn’t listen to me. And Howard…” she twisted her gold wedding band,
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #28

On Tuesday, Monday’s lie was feasibly extendable. It took Rose a fraction of a second to decide. She extended it. In Richmond her father’s car, a ten-year old VW with a dent on its right wing and a crack in the front number plate, was parked in the drive. She walked up the path, tapping the gatepost twice as she passed. She peeked through the garage window and there was her mother’s car, a silver Fiesta, polished as new. Dad should sell it, she decided, or sell the VW and use this instead. But perhaps now was not the time to suggest it. Rose put two drops of Rescue Remedy on her tongue, took a deep breath and tried the back door. It was unlocked. This was a safe place, she’d grown up in this house. She stepped into the kitchen, wishing she could hear her Mum’s ‘uh-uuh’ call of greeting, missing the blue pottery jug which for years had sat in the middle of the kitchen table filled with a hotch-potch of flowers and glistening green leaves from the garden. The jug was sitting atop the fridge stuffed with seed packets. Nothing physical in the room had changed since
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #27

Rose woke with a start at 2am, took a deep breath, and eased the stiffness in her right shoulder. The flat was still. Her dehydrated tongue had swollen to the proportions of a bath sponge and was pressing uncomfortably against her teeth. She lay for a while, watching the luminous numbers of the clock radio, feeling increasingly hot thanks to the fact that she was still wearing her white velour Jennifer Lopez tracksuit bottoms and purple Abba t-shirt. Oh God, almost as bad as orange Lycra. Each second took a minute to pass, each minute took an hour. After what felt like 20 hours, she could stand it no more. In the kitchen she fumbled for a bottle of water in the fridge and wondered if she’d dreamed him. But the kitchen was tidy, pots were draining by the sink and in the middle of the table, propped up against a tin of tuna Whiskas, was a note. “Hope you feel better. Take two paracetamol every four hours and drink as much water as you can. Nick.” He really does think I have flu, she thought. For just a moment she forgot she wasn’t Rose Haldane any more, she was just
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #26

She grabbed her purse and headed out. Thank God the rain had stopped. Head down, sunglasses on, she dodged steaming puddles as she crossed to road to the corner shop opposite the tube station. She would be home again in two minutes. She gathered teabags, milk, bread, eggs and baked beans, paid and turned, banging straight into a cyclist who appeared from nowhere in the shop door, huffing and puffing, radiating heat in fluorescent orange Lycra and smelling of sweat. The food bag fell at her feet. “Watch where you’re going.” She knelt and tried to scoop the food back into the thin plastic bag. “Sorry, sorry,” said the man. “My fault, I was thinking about something else. Here, let me help.” He crouched to pick up a tin and Rose noticed he had rather bony ankles. Her head whirled again so she grabbed everything in one sideways sweep and turned towards home again. “Rose?” Him? How could it be? Not here, not now, especially not now. Run! She ran across the road. If she didn’t look at him he wouldn’t see her, she would be invisible. Somehow she dodged a taxi, something silver, something red. A motorbike swerved to avoid
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #25

When the phone rang, Rose was watching a sit-com about a group of twenty-somethings living in a cul-de-sac in a Welsh ex-mining village. It was ‘Pick of the Day’ in the newspaper but she couldn’t get a fix on the plot. The answerphone’s electronic greeting invited the caller to leave a message. It was Lily, sounding like she’d been sipping helium from a balloon. “Rose, are you there? Rose? If you’re not there you must be at work, so I hope you’re okay. I came round earlier but you weren’t in… so anyway, I wanted to tell you that I’ve done what you said. I’ve made an appointment with the doctor on Friday. I’m going to ask how to get pregnant, I mean obviously I know how, but he might have some tips on how to improve my fertility, perhaps a supplement or a special diet, and …” Lily chattered on, something about an apron and roses and their mother… Rose’s mind blanked out, she had hardly enough energy for herself. She longed for silence. But Lily’s voice was small now, very young. Rose sighed, then picked up the phone. “I’m here, Lil. Sorry, I was in the shower and
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #24

Lily’s first thought when she awoke on Monday morning was Rose. Monday was a Good Times day, the gift shop where Lily worked part-time in Chiswick. Usually it was her favourite work day of the week, the day for re-designing the window display, but today it was the last thing she wanted to do. She rung Rose at 6.30am as she waited for the kettle to boil, then 7.30, but the phone rang out. No answer from her mobile either. Bad, she thought, I want to talk to her. But good too, because Rose is okay and at work. At 9am she rung the Herald. Rose Haldane is out, she was told. Typical Rose, she thought, nothing gets her down. Well if she’s strong enough to go to work today, so am I. But she didn’t feel strong. Throughout the morning Lily rang Rose every hour. She’d wanted to leave a message but hadn’t known quite what to say or how to say it. Really she just wanted to hug Rose and reassure her that nothing had changed. They were still sisters. Standing in the large shop window, something she still felt self-conscious doing, she looked critically at the half-finished
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #23

The next morning, six-and-a-half hours after she’d left it, Rose stood again outside her father’s house. All was quiet, the open curtains revealed an inner emptiness. Lily had closed the kitchen curtains before they’d left last night. He’d been home then. It felt like spying. Her father’s favourite mug, yellow with a bumblebee and ‘To Bee or Not to Bee’ on it, was draining by the kitchen sink. He’s not dead. Her stomach gave a little twirl of relief which felt almost like hunger. Rose ran to the allotment, tapping the lamppost on the corner twice as she went. When she was little she’d discovered that if she tapped a lamppost on her way home from school, or a tree or the gatepost by the garage, it meant her father would be in a good mood that night and might play footie with her after tea. She climbed onto the bottom rung of the padlocked allotment gate, squinted into the bright sun, and cursed her lack of sunglasses. Her father liked to do a bit of early morning weeding before work. Not today. The receptionist at Woodbright Engineering’s Welcome Desk was polite but firm. Yes, Mr Haldane was here today
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #22

She was not provisioned for a stake-out. When they left their father’s house earlier they’d been in a rush and Lily pulled the door closed behind them, not expecting to return, not thinking of a key to get back in. So when Rose saw her father’s house still in darkness, she resigned herself to sitting in the Mini. She knocked at the front door and the back door, and rung the bell, cursing that day last year after the burglary when new locks were fitted and she hadn’t insisted on having a key. She went back to her car, moved the seat back and wriggled to get comfortable. She had thought she was like everyone else: mother, father, sister, nice home, okay family life, family history absorbed haphazardly over the years from family stories and gossip and photo albums. Inheritance by osmosis. She had always accepted her dark brown eyes were inherited from her father’s side of the family, but now her mother’s words in the yellow book made all of this a lie. Her mother, who had owned up to taking a shop-bought cake to the primary school fete’s ‘home-made cake stall’, and who saved her Monopoly money rather
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #21

Her senses were turning on one by one, so she must exist, mustn’t she? The weight of her eyelids stopped her eyes from opening. The goosebumps. This was what it must feel like to be buried by an avalanche. Then arms were around her, hugging her, the warmth of another body, arms which settled her gently against something as soft as snow. “You’re okay, Rose, you’re okay. Stay here. I’ll make some tea. Breathe deeply.” Rose felt her head nod. It was disconnected from her body. Nothing was connected. She breathed in and out, not knowing how long a second lasted. Then warm lips were brushing her cheek, a hand stroked her hair, and something hot touched her hand. She struggled to open her eyes. Lily, white with worry, was gently pushing a hot mug against her hand. Breathe in, breathe out. One thing at a time. The yellow exercise book lay open at Lily’s side, the pain etched across her cheeks told Rose that she too had read that diary entry and come to the same conclusion. She knew the pain in Lily’s eyes was a reflection of that in her own. She focussed on moving her hand to
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #20

Rose held the book for a moment before opening it at the first page. The handwriting was easy to read: tiny, italicised script, every letter carefully formed, every serif perfectly angled in relation to the full shape of the letter. A very neat version of the script familiar from every birthday card her mother had ever given her. Each diary entry was headed by a date, underlined precisely with a ruler, written in blue ink. 31st December 1966 It will be so romantic if John proposes tomorrow. A New Year’s proposal. I’ll drop a hint to encourage him, he sometimes needs a little nudge. I saw him smiling at Abigail Allen in the newsagent yesterday, and I saw the way she fluttered her eyelashes at him. She’s a cheap little flirt and she’s not going to get him. I‘ll even do IT, if I have to. If this diary hadn’t been written so clearly in her mother’s handwriting, Rose would never have imagined her oh-so-correct mother being so, so, girly. 1st January 1967 ENGAGED!!!!!! John proposed. On one knee too, except he didn’t do it right the first time and I had to ask him to kneel down and start
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #19

Upstairs they sat on the floor surrounded by the detritus of their mother’s married life. Lily sat cross-legged, her skirt arranged neatly around her knees, not speaking, twisting her hair again. To give her a little space, Rose concentrated on the striped handbag. She emptied it out onto the carpet: bus tickets, tissues, purse, lipstick. Rose doubted her father had opened the bag since it was returned by the hospice. Men of his age had a thing about handbags as if they were full of mysterious Women’s Things. She sniffed the blue leather purse hoping for a whiff of Youth Dew but smelt only dust and worn leather and the metallic tang of coins. Lily looked up. “Do you really not know Sylvie Watson?” Rose shook her head. “Don’t you read the gossip pages of your own newspaper?” “Hardly.” Rose sneaked a glance at Lily whose head was again bent over a box. “Lil, do you really think William will leave you if you don’t have a baby?” Lily sighed. “Yes. No. Not really… but he does get irritated with me. And when we do it, I can’t seem to think about anything else but babies. Afterwards, I lie in
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.