Thursday 21 June: By Any Other Name
The business of choosing names was made simple in Mum’s family; the girls were named after flowers, the boys were named after kings and the dogs – one at a time, thankfully – were all called ‘Prince’. Unfortunately there were a couple of hiccups when my grandfather went to register Mum’s birth. Probably because he’d been celebrating in the ‘Blenheim’ beforehand. ‘Lily’ and ‘May’ turned into Lilian May and, just to add an extra flourish, he landed Mum with the moniker, Doris, as a first name.
Well, I don’t know how Mum coped but I cringed for years every time I had to say what she was called. I mean, let’s face it; Doris has been in the deeply unfashionable drawer for so long it hasn’t even been revived by the young and trendy. Mum was the cook at a smart private school for years so we always got a flavour of what was in the ether. We were quite taken aback when a few Arthurs, my Dad’s name, trickled through but there was never a sniff of a Doris!
Until now. As Mum lay in hospital recovering from treatment on her back she was being cared for by a young Philippina nurse who expecting her first child, a girl. The nurse explained that, like my gran, she was thinking about giving her daughter a floral name. She liked Lily but it was Mum’s first name that really made her catch her breath. ‘Dorees!’ She sighed. ‘Now that is a very pretty name!’
Friday 22 June: Rose’s Day
The postman arrives early with a packet for me. Rose has sent me a CD with a note that brings tears to my eyes. Rose is left-handed and her distinctive writing, careful and rounded, reminds me of all the struggles at school when teachers tried to make her use a fountain pen. ‘I remember you saying you liked this so here it is,’ she writes. ‘I thought it would help reduce the waiting time to hear about your book.’
I’m not thinking about my book today though, because it’s close to ten o’clock, the hour when Rose’s final results are due out. I put on the CD and listen to Regina Spektor sing ‘Fidelity’. ‘And it breaks my heart’, the chorus line floats out across the room and I wonder how many more times my heart will break for my girls.
The phone rings just after ten. ‘Mum?’ Rose’s voice is thick with emotion. ‘I got a 2:1!’
Pondside, you were right. I didn’t stop smiling all day.
Sunday 24 June: Lily Moves On
As a huge ugly block of houses that look nothing like the plans appear in the field opposite me, I wonder where our children will live in the future. In Cardiff, Lily’s landlord has plans for the house she’s lived in for four years. She’s been lucky in many ways, to have had the benefit of a modest rent and, for the last year since her housemate moved out to find work in the south, she’s had the place to herself. Lily’s going to move in with three mates, all blokes from university in order to try to save some money but today, when she rings, I can hear that she’s down and a bit apprehensive.
As a small child Lily was afraid of everything. The world was full of unspoken terrors, which challenged her and reduced her to tears every day. I wondered how on earth my wary little girl was going to cope. Well, she just did. One day Lily just dug deep inside and found reserves of strength and courage we never knew were there. She’s brave and kind, the sort of person who walks into the room and makes everyone feel better.
You’ll be fine, Lily, you always are.
Still waiting for:
* Book news
* Glastonbury news (we didn’t go – no tickets). The only word from Stepson Two is a Facebook message to Rose to tell her he had returned ‘covered in muddiness’. He’s now back in the studio
*Asda to send Haze the vouchers they promised in return for sending her mouldy flowers on her birthday. You’re losing customers fast here Asda!
The painting is 'Margam Steelworks' by Tom Tomos