One last look in the cupboard. Quite empty.
To think I once locked Cyllene in there!
But, on the other hand, it was for Art.
At least she achieved genuine despair.
People always obeyed my injunctions.
I only wanted to arrest Beauty:
Oh, that sweet, sunny-haired little Annie!
How kind of Emily to bring a rose.
She was ever the eye in any storm.
That wretched cow kicked over our coffins
crammed with the household china. I’ll miss those
Freshwater fishermen with staring eyes,
aquiline noses; cobblers’ daughters-and
dear old Alfred posing in my henhouse
as a dirty monk! – That Mermaid headland
and the High Down where we always took our walks.
Dear Charles. Always ready to recite;
ready to receive all those Pomonas,
Aletheas, “his beard dipt in moonlight”,
uncomplaining of domestic clutter;
given to outbreaks of hilarity;
yet willing to suspend his disbelief
and play Lear for conjugal harmony.
Even when I ran through the dining room,
trailing wet pictures, staining our linen
with nitrate of silver, indelibly,
he merely smiled indulgently, dear man!
At one time six men were in love with me:
I’d more poetry than I could deal with.
Charles grimaced when I used those goose wings,
but through my lens they were the props of myth,
of sepia putti and draped idylls:
older husbands are so longsuffering.
I cannot wait to reach Kalutura.
Those silver ghosts will still be hovering,
even in Ceylon. My house will be filled
with rabbits, squirrels, stags. Through the windows
I will hear Charles’ ivory cane tap
on the porch. We are both ready to go.
My last word to you all is, “Beautiful!”
Julia Margaret Cameron, the Victorian photographer, lived and worked at Dimbola Lodge, Freshwater, Isle of Wight, prior to returning to her husband Charles’ coffee plantation in Ceylon.
(“It may amuse you, Mother, to try to photograph during your solitude at Freshwater.”)- a suggestion by her daughter on giving her a camera.
“The hens were liberated… the society of hens and chickens was soon changed for that of poets, prophets, painters and lovely maidens, who all in turn have immortalised the humble little farm erection.”) J.M.C.
ANNALS OF MY GLASS HOUSE, 1874.
Did the Vikings eat pizza or pasta? Not that I know of, but ask Ask, the Italian restaurant which is well and truly ensconced in Godbegot House, High Street, Winchester. This erstwhile manor belonged to Emma, our Saxon queen, who was married to Cnut, last of our Viking rulers, according to Neil Oliver.
This was the first English stone house to be built outside a religious community and it had glass windows and real chimneys, which, admittedly did not draw too well. The solar, chapel, bedchamber and treasury room were upstairs. Don’t tell Lucy Worsley, Chief Curator of the Historic Royal Palaces, or she will be up there like a shot, dressed as Gunnhild, Emma and Cnut’s daughter. Any excuse!
He also went to a Viking restaurant and manfully admitted that testicles had never before passed his lips. But our brave Jarl is no craven troll-like Andrew Marr, so down they went, along with liberal portions of air-dried, rotting offal and putrid, buried shark.
I was grateful that I only had to consume a modest portion of acceptable sea-bass at Ask.
Neil obviously takes his paternal role seriously and disciplines his children so that they will control any baresarker tendencies. He commented that he always insists that his offspring try any new food, before being allowed to reject it. This was his opportunity to demonstrate do as I do; not just as I say. Poor guizer, he wasn’t even offered a Danish pastry for afters, for clearing his board.
Let’s face it, for anyone who has digested haggis, rancid blubber is a complete dawdle and any Viking brat would have been lashed to their high stuhl with elk sinews and have been force-fed northern lights* before they had a chance to utter the universal, complaining phrase: I don’t want it. It would have made the Diet of Worms-okay, I know this is nothing to do with anything culinary- appear like an enticing platter of amuse bouches.
More surprising was Neil’s admission, albeit accompanied by the slightest sardonic simper, that England-yes, ENGLAND, was far more progressive than the rest of Europe, owing to its advanced coinage and commercial organisation. The man is turning soft and obviously opposes devolution. Alex Salmond- isn’t that name of Norman derivation?-will have his guts for garters, let alone starters.
The next gobsmacking sight was Neil striding down the nave of Winchester Cathedral, in search of ossuaries which contain the scrambled relics of Emma, Cnut et al. You’d have thought he’d be on the side of the Roundheads, who were responsible for the vandalism and general mayhem, but, instead we had a cavalier flick of the hair, an ironic twinkle to rival the Pole Star and his verdict on the Parliamentary iconoclasts:
Bunch o’ killjoys!
Attaboy, Neil. Keep eating the testicles and see you at Up Helly Aa!
© Candia Dixon Stuart and Candiacomesclean.wordpress.com, 2012