Le grand meaulnes

This morning at about 7AM I went upstairs to my son and daughter in law, Tori’s apartment and the home of my grand daughter Bell, who for those who have not read my book is almost eight and her eight week old brother Zac.

Zac was quietly feeding in his mother’s arms and the day felt blessed when she handed him to me and he gave a quizzical and still uneven smile of delightful recognition. We played with each other for several minutes. I stuck my tongue out and soon he was finding his own and imitating me like a young lizard. ‘Where is Bell?’ ‘She’s upstairs in bed reading. Bell’s been saying she’s having a downstairs sleepover with you tonight. And then Tori added, ‘She’s become a veritable bookworm. She’s eating books.’ Yes Zac is consuming the breast while Bell is upstairs and her doting grandmother is gurgling in delighted amazement at her communion with the newborn.

Bell was lying in bed almost crowded out by her army of soft bedtime companions whose commander-in-chief is Goodnight Bear, who has been there since the beginning of time. We hug and I remind her that we have a date tonight. Bell says, ‘Couldn’t you come and sleep in my bed Granny?’ I move over to the window, her room is on the fourth floor of the house and sits like an eerie among the treetops. All the trees, even the later blooming sycamore are as green as any thought I can produce even in a green shade. I don’t at all like sycamores, in fact I find them detestable but there lies a tale for another blog. I have been too busy these last weeks to blog and now there is an almost subliminal queue of neonates waiting to be penned but Bell’s account of a lost domain has left an indelible mark of modest lamentation.

The view from Bell’s window is green and glorious. It fills me with awe that while we live only a matter of meters from the Abbey Road this room with its view conjures woodlands. The air is full of morning song. What majesty. I return my attention to Bell and remark that it might be fun to try and count the birds and see how many nests we can spy.

‘Oh,’ she said, ‘There was a time quite long ago when I did exactly that with my Daddy and sometimes Mummy too. When I woke up early we would count the birds together and whoever got the most points was the winner. There was one morning when I counted sixty birds.’ ‘Sixty?’ ‘Yes, sixty for sure but all that was long ago now. It was before Mummy was downstairs feeding a baby and the house was full of nappies and wipes and changing mats. My parents don’t have time for counting birds with me anymore.’

When I remarked to her parents about the glorious morning view and her poignant memory of lost times they assured me that the account was fantasy.

And all the more remarkable for being so…


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