Sunday, 31 May 2015

Here's a tree in summer

It’s been a really rather lovely day, the majority of which was spent in the company of Lisa and her delightful children, Poppy and Rosie. I’ve started calling them by their wrong names for some reason. I think my subconscious tells me to use the “flower” name, and before I know it, the wrong flower is tumbling out of my mouth!!

I actually did a morning’s work on Brass, and made the very controversial decision to change two of the characters’ names. It had come to my attention that quite a number of the characters had confusingly similar-sounding names. Tots, Titty and Tats are obvious examples, but there was a William and a Wilfred (shortened to Will and Wilf), a Henry and a Harry, and a Lizzie and an Eliza (which you could argue is actually the same name…) So, whereas the roles of Lizzie and William still exist, they shall henceforth be known as Peggy and Gideon. William’s name gets sung really quite often in the song Letters, so I was limited to three-syllabled, similarly-stressed Edwardian names. My only other options were Oliver, Jonathan and Benjamin, but it would have been incredibly odd to have a character called Benjamin, particularly as Brass was effectively sponsored by the name. When your lead actor, your composer, your stage manager, your MD and your chaperone are all called Benjamin it’s confusing enough!

Lisa and the kids arrived at 2pm, leaving poor Mark somewhere on Harley Street having shockingly brutal-sounding dentistry. We took a picnic onto Hampstead Heath, to the field where the parakeets hang out, which looked a picture in the late spring sunshine. They’ve mown a wide path through the middle of the field, and left the grasses everywhere else to grow tall and wild. Many of them have a slightly rusty-red hue, which adds to the astonishing palette of colour; the blue sky, the yellow buttercups and the susurrating trees proudly growing every shade of green and yellow, and in some cases dark purple… I taught Poppy a little game we used to play at school which involves a strand of fancy-looking grass, and the rhyme; “here’s a tree in summer, here’s a tree in winter, there’s a bouquet of flowers, and there’s the April showers…” It basically involves stripping the grass of its seeds, gathering them into a mini-bouquet and then throwing them into the air. I’d be interested to know if anyone else reading this used to play that game, or if it can be tracked down to my specific corner of the Midlands. At one point Poppy asked me what the April Showers were, and it suddenly struck me with horror that they’re a thing of the past. In my childhood, you could always rely on April as being a month of sunshine and light showers, but in recent years it’s been one of the driest months on the calendar. Now it tends to rain in August… 

The picnic was wonderful and we had all sorts of fancy salads and dips. Lisa was particularly impressed that I’d cooked two quiches and wrapped them up in string and grease-proof paper. It all looked a little First World War, which appealed to me for obvious reasons. 

It’s lovely to see Poppy interacting with Rosie. There’s a good seven years between them (Little George came in the middle) which it turns out is a really nice age gap. Poppy is really careful and loving with her sister. In fact the currency of that entire family is love and kisses, which I think is something we could all probably learn from. 

We went from the picnic site to the tree with the hole in it. It’s my favourite hang out on Hampstead Heath, and the kids had a wonderful time climbing into the hollow trunk, and out again through the various holes of differing sizes. One particular hole, low in the trunk, is very small, and when children pop out of it, it’s almost like they’ve being birthed by the tree. Nathan got stuck in that hole. The silly boy doesn’t like to be told that something is impossible and there was a panicky moment when I had visions of having to call the fire brigade, use a tub of butter to grease him out, or acknowledge defeat and bring food to him on a daily basis until he managed to extract himself!

From the tree, we went to another favourite Heath-like haunt, namely the mile-long Edwardian pergola on the West Heath, which was draped in the most beautiful wisteria, which dripped from the wooden structure like droplets of lilac-coloured rain. The smell was almost over-powering. Lisa and I came down one staircase and were almost knocked-out by the headiness of the aroma. Truly astonishing. The kids found pine cones and we went home past Harry Styles’ house, or at least the house I was once told was Harry Styles’ house, which was sadly more exciting to Poppy than a magic tree, or a pergola straight out of Romeo and Juliet. Mind you, if we’d have passed Benny from ABBA’s house when I was her age, I wouldn’t have stopped smiling, well, possibly ever… 

Right… Bed time for Benjamin. I can feel my eyes closing, and I have a very important day tomorrow… 

1 comment:

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