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Saturday, April 24, 2004

Saturday: free radio 3 on internet, sex and coffee in bed. (not simultaneously.) Skylight above bed; I look at clouds moving, clearing. What are you thinking asks beloved? Nothing much... Afterwards finish Penelope Lively book, The Photograph, skilful, perceptive - even compulsive - but too neat, too bland compared to Philip Roth's Sabbath's Theatre, finished yesterday. (After departure of family have taken a day or two off. Why not? At my age- which will seem vast if you're twenty, less so as times goes on, and you realise that twenty is a minuscule space of time -what's wrong with being idle? Do I ask that because I am still of generation taught that the devil finds work for idle hands to do? If so, hurrah for the devil.) Roth is furious, obscene, excessive, over the top and entirely exhilirating. A great writer. Both books though about the after effects pf death, loss (as indeed is current Russian liturgical music on radio, boomy Russian bass, de profundis). P Lively's characters politely shattered by a suicide, Roth's hero anything but politely, scatalogically, pornographically shattered by the death of his brother in World War Two. This is I realise the theme of most lives, sooner or later, whether or not recognised.

Look at the past war-filled century. Even you young are children of the twentieth century to some extent, could, may have had lost grandparents at least. My ninety -odd year old father, child of almost all of it, weeps still for brothers killed in the first war, friends in the second, tears rolling down his cheeks. Weeps too, as I do, for women lost to our family lurgy - breast cancer - my mother aged fifty three when I was twenty three, my twin sister aged fifty one when I was.. oh work it out. Almost every month now too someone known about, if only at far far distance, by repute, is suddenly there no more. And someone else fades, in a bed, tended 24 hours, at vast expense, because doctors are supposed to keep people alive if at all possible. (Is that because no matter how much we are all driven by loss - or not - contemplating our own deaths, in advance, cannot be allowed to creep into consciousness, no matter how much it pervades our imagery, our dreams? I heard of one doctor, to my horror, saying 'but there's no such thing as a good death? Oh no? How about the bad ones? If you - I - did fruitfully contemplate it, you'd make a living will. But who does? I propose to; haven't yet. No matter how much I remember, applaud, Montaigne. 'To philosophize is to learn how to die.) At twenty of course it's the death of a yesterday, a love affair, a project, a drunken evening that counts. Death is a horror movie; scare yourself and scream it out of sight. Well, I remember that, all those years ago, till suddenly my mother got sick and then it all became all too real, so real I almost succeeded in doing away with myself out of the dreary depths of it - lucky me, I didn't succeed. What does my Frida Kalho obsessed
granddaughter see of death in all that blood, those skulls, I wonder? I wonder.

The sun is shining. My cat caught a mouse last night so is doing his job. Down on the land generations of large lizards succeed each other. The prickly pears sprout waxy flowers, worthy of Philip Roth - some yellow, some orange. Oh and visiting painter has taken off sometimes high-maintenance though lovely beloved so I have the house and this machine and radio 3 to myself. And maybe, shortly, the hot-tub too. Shades of California here. Whoopee. Granny pxxx

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