Friday, 7 August 2009

A Pressing Engagement

My great-grandmother Alison Riddell (or Riddle). Her photo is all I have of her, apart from any memories of her that my mother talks about. My granddaughters are lucky to have their great-grandmothers still here and part of their lives. My four great-grandmothers had been dead for years by the time I was born, even though the ones I know of lived until they were well into their eighties.
Alison's grandparents were Border Scots, hailing from near Kelso. Peebles was a town where some of them lived, and in 1978 when we were over in Scotland, we spent a lovely day and night in that pleasant border town (even though my main memories are only of a stone bridge and bitterly cold temperatures).

POSTSCRIPT: My sister in the Sydney airport tonight (Saturday August 8th) as she waits to board a flight back home (after a wonderful week in Australia visiting among other things, Daintree rainforest) looks up my blog in the Koro lounge, then texts me "great Grandmother looks a tad scary". Funny. I have always loved this photo of great-granny. My Aunty now has the portrait hanging on her sitting-room wall and says it is like her conscience as her grandmother's eyes follow her every move! Great-granny was apparently a very sweet woman. In those days of course they weren't meant to smile for the camera. Bad teeth? Maybe ... austere Presbyterianism more like it. I will see her smiling though ... one day.

Have been working most of this week and finding out 0nce again how precious it is to have more than one day off a week in which to write. Not that I used my one day off this week for that. I slept! Until lunchtime! Then walked into town for a Breast Scan - which as always was a most unpleasant experience. And No I don't feel sorry for the women whose job it is to woman-handle you into the best position in which to get a shot. Anyway, I am now sceptical of the scans after being told by a relative in the medical profession, who knows what he's talking about, that they are no guarantee that an early detection of breast cancer will be made. But of course you aren't going to refuse to have one. I feel pressured and / or emotionally blackmailed into compliance. They are free and at least give you a little reassurance. And you do it for your family. But today I did truly wonder if I really needed to put myself through the indignity.
At least I discovered a Her magazine while in the waiting room. On first glance I got the impression that it was an excellent magazine for the modern woman. And even better, it accepts a short story a month. That gets them my vote for an enlightened magazine. The short story I read today was written by a man. I am sorry to say I have forgotten his name. The story was a clever, futuristic, satirical piece about giant electric-power pylons. In his bio. he stated (proudly) that neither Bill Manhire or Witi Ihimaera were influences on him as a writer. I had a quiet smile. (A QUIET smile people! Just a small. little. wee. half-smile.) So the time I had to take away from writing, the walk (which was a pleasant stroll along Portsmouth Drive on a sunny, mild afternoon - I had to take off my jacket and scarf, it was so warm) was all worth it for discovering another place to send material to. And speaking of which ... I must get writing. Now that I have no pressing (for those of you who know what it's like to have a breast scan, excuse pun) appointments, I may be able to do just that.


Catherine said...

Given that the writer had even heard of Witi Ihimaera and Bill Manhire, it sounds as if the fiction in this magazine might be a notch or two above that in some women's magazines.
Good luck with the writing, and with submitting it

Claire Beynon said...

Hooray for Her - and to you, too, for spotting the mag in the waiting room (it's my turn for a 'pressing engagement' two weeks tomorrow. Groan, but yes... they're important, too).

I love the portrait of your grandmother. She has your poise and serenity - or (being chronological here) perhaps you have hers. Either way, I see serenity rather than severity!

Happy writing this week - L, C

Carmen said...

what a gorgeous woman!

Kay Cooke said...

Catherine - That's what I thought too with the mention of Witi and Bill ... and they apparently have a policy of accepting quality stories, so obv. have a good standard. (Don't know about payment tho'.)

Claire - I have always loved the peace in her face myself, but never thought I'd inherited it - I feel my inner turmoils a little too much for that. But thanks for your kind compliment!

Camille - Thanks. I wish I'd known her ... but perhaps in a way, I do.

Clare Dudman said...

Catching up a bit here. Strange how people see a face in different ways. I took one look at this one and thought how beautiful she looks. I also feel it had Celtic feel - not sure how, something about the planes of the cheeks, maybe.

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