Saturday 14 June
Tom and I have now recovered from the Great Wormery Evacuation. My brain has managed to wipe out the memory of the terrible smell, so I no longer have to plug my nose with Vick to erase it, and the noxious fumes from the compost have died down sufficiently for us to be able to venture out into the garden again.
After all the excitement I find myself a bit fidgety. Whilst I am extremely happy not to be doing my previous job, I did used to enjoy walking through the town in my lunch break, watching all the faces, seeing what was new and absorbing different influences. It’s quite easy to settle in a groove here and sometimes you have to push yourself a bit to get out it. Tom has some paintings to collect from Art Matters in Tenby, which offers us the chance of an excursion, a gallery to view and a chance to catch up with the lovely Margaret and John who run it. Margaret shows me an autobiographical short story she has written which leads us into a discussion about the wrongs and rights of plundering your own life for copy. For me, it’s trying to strike a balance between aiming for emotional integrity without seriously p*ssing off those I care about.
Some of the paintings we have collected have to be delivered to another gallery. We arrive just in time for the opening of a new exhibition and my heart sinks at the invitation to ‘come in and have a glass of wine’. Tom, like me at Hay, is in his element but there are gorillas out there with better painting skills than me so I always feel a bit of a misfit with this particular group. Confronted by too many mission statements and self-conscious grooviness, I am severely tempted to numb the pain with drink but hold back for fear of expressing my full and frank opinion and being placed in the naughty corner for evermore.
Sunday 15 June
With a virtuously clear head I am off for some LSD or long, slow distance. I’ve been gradually building up my weekly mileage through shorter runs but have fallen into the habit of running like a mad eejit going faster not further. Beating my time is satisfying but only long runs will build up my stamina for a half-marathon. I dig out my heart monitor and keep everything nice and steady only once surprising myself when a freak reading from a power cable suggests that I ought to run straight to A&E.
In the afternoon I am lolling around on the sofa feeling virtuous when Tom suggests a brisk walk in the hills. Is he joking? No, he is not, but, what the heck, it’s a lovely day and I can wear one of my new hats. I’m not a hat person at all; Lily can put a dustbin lid on her head and look glamorous but not me. However, when Ma was up and we were poking round the indoor market in Cardigan I spotted some Fair Isle berets on the knitting stall, made to a secret recipe by the lady on the next-door fabric stall.
Anticipating my usual danger-to-the-community look, I was taken aback to find a hat I could actually wear so I bought it. Unfortunately Ma was also taken aback to find a hat I could actually wear and since she is a demon knitter she immediately decided I needed a few spares. Just in case I grow a few more heads, I suppose. Miffed that the lady on the fabric stall wouldn’t divulge her secret beret recipe, Ma has been back home trying to crack the code. When Rose came up recently I took delivery of the first batch of Ma’s cloned berets. And do you know what? They’re really good; beautiful autumn colours with a very vintage feel, very ‘Edge of Love’.
So Tom and I trek the hills and arrive at one of the viewing points; it’s a wonderful day, crisp and clear. We can see Snowdon to the north, the Devon hills to the south and the Wicklow Mountains across the sea and one of Ma’s berets is keeping my hair out of my eyes. How perfect is that?
Painting is 'Lobster Pots off Caldey Island' by Tom Tomos