I like travelling.
The train up to Scotland was pleasantly underpopulated and I wrote out some lyrics (I thought it would help me to learn them but it didn't) and gazed out of the window.
Lots of green fields had rotund lumps of pock-marked and gristly snow in them, ex-snowmen, and one field had about five. What is the collective noun for a bunch of melted snowmen, I wondered? I settled on the word 'bowlings', because they are round and the word 'snow' is hidden in there somewhere.
There were scars in the mud where sledges had been, and the hedges silhouetted against the white sky looked like many-legged bony animals grazing in the cold.
I remembered when we were little, getting sent round the allotments to cool off after a row. The heat generated by the broccoli stalks had melted little discs of bare earth in the snow around them, as though their bunched green fists had just punched through from underground.
I think about people who live in hot sandy countries. Some British people hate the snow and the cold. It's not there all the time, and in exchange we get beautiful green grass, majestic trees, fields with a plethora of wild flowers, and a love of change, as the seasons pass through wet, dry, warm, cold, windy, still, sometimes all within the space of a week.
We are so lucky to have all this colour and all these weather moods being stirred up by our peculiar climate, for our entertainment!
On the way back I read the book Pilgrim State by my foster-cousin, Jackie Walker.
Her book actually came out two years ago, but I am not a voracious reader and I needed some peace in my life before I read her book, as I knew it would be very affecting for a lot of reasons.
As a child I idolised Jackie and her big brother Ted ( I wrote about him many postings ago), especially since they used to arrive as Londoners in our Northumbrian village with no Southern airs and graces, and would swap stories and be as intrigued by our lives as we were by theirs.
In the book, Jackie understands her mother through writing about her and shows how strongly love can survive distance, parting, abandonment, but also how much misunderstanding there can be around feelings and loss.
One of the things I connected most with was Jackie's feeling of the mother/daughter chain (something I have written about in the song Les Deux Fillettes et Moi), which was something I never expected when I gave birth- my mum gave birth to with me, her mum gave birth to her, her mum gave birth to her, and so on and so on, back through time to a mysterious beginning somewhere impossible to understand.
It is a very strange sensation, strangest of all the strangenesses associated with conception, pregnancy and birth, and the suddenness and surprise of the thought almost made me laugh out loud at the arrogance not only of the Creationists but also of the Atheists, the Darwinists, all of the 'ists' (almost all of them male, by some extraordinary coincidence), and the feeling that the secret of all this was hidden in the links of our woman-chain, if only anybody could be bothered to look.
Her book is a lovely, maturely-written story, and I could feel the catharsis between the pages, along with a plea to her birth-father, the big question that loops throughout the book.
I liked reading about the childhood of my foster-cousins, who arrived with my Uncle and Aunt as naturally as breathing one day; that was the funny thing about childhood.
It didn't seem at all out of the ordinary to suddenly have three more cousins on the horizon, and I feel very proud to be foster-cousin to such a warm and accomplished author.