18 June, 2007

busy June days

Between Sports Day, summer concerts, sleepover guests, dinner guests, yikes there is a lot to remember this month. I am beginning to have that slightly frantic feeling that is familiar from other end-of-schoolyear times, when I really don't want to think anymore about what clothing needs to go in Avery's gym bag, what lunch she needs for the barn, what permission slips to go see Damien Hirst's diamond-covered skull next week, tickets for the school production of "Peter Pan," deposits for next year's school trip (heavens, they just got home from this year's!).

Plus I've got us tickets to see "Gaslight" with the delectable Rosamund Pike. I remember loving the film, so I can only imagine we'll all love the play. I have as well a ticket for me to go all by my lonesome to see my revered crush Matthew Macfadyen LIVE on stage in "The Pain and the Itch." I've never seen him perform live before, so I am planning to be quite overwhelmed. John is very nicely putting up with my fevered enthusiasm, without pretending in the least to share it. He and Avery will go and see her beloved form teacher Miss Leslie perform a cello concert instead, which will be a perfect evening for everyone.

Speaking of which, the school summer concert was absolutely wonderful, at the lovely Hinde Methodist Church in Marylebone. Avery reported breathlessly after the final rehearsal that little Molly in Form Three fainted from the heat and had to be taken home, but by the time the concert began, it was very pleasant and we sat upstairs to get the best view (John being unofficial photographer for King's College!). The highlight, I think, was the whole choir singing "Green Eggs and Ham" with enormous gusto, to huge applause, so much so that Miss Potts the music mistress turned to the audience and said, "That was so wonderful, and the gulls enjoyed performing it so much: would you like to hear it again?" That's genius, working with children, to be spontaneous and celebratory. Darling Miss Leslie, their form mistress, had also showed that sort of spirit earlier in the day during Latin lessons, Avery told us. "Sophia started off with her recitation using a funny accent, and after that Miss Leslie told us we all needed to have a funny voice for our readings, too." I love that school.

Let's see, what else is keeping us busy? Well, a film crew spent all of Thursday in our street filming a movie with a cast of... well, almost no one I'd ever heard of, except Vinnie Jones whose name sounded vaguely familiar and then I was pretty sure I saw him. "Black leather jacket and slicked back hair, Mummy? Yep, that sounds like a 'Vinnie' to me." Given that the film turns out to be called "The Heavy," it seems highly unlikely that any of us will see it, but still. Unknown actors or no, it was exciting to be trudging home from the stable with Avery, dragging all her clobber, and to come upon a real film set, and to be held back from walking down our street. "If you could wait here, just for a moment, they're filming right now, and then you'll be on your way. Thank you SO much," gushed the little go-fer with a clipboard and a walkie-talkie. A far cry from the film crews who used to clutter up our old street in Tribeca with alarming frequency, dropping their craft services litter on our stoop, crouching outside our door so that we could not get in, and generally behaving as if it were their street, not ours.

Avery's deep in the Form Five test prep for next year's all-important examinations to get into senior school. I continue to lag behind in the ambition stakes, playing as ever the role of slacker mother who simply cannot get into the competitive spirit on behalf of my child. Granted, I spend most early evenings cooking dinner while Avery does her homework at the kitchen table, and certainly my ears prick up if I hear, "Mummy, can you help me with..." But in general my heart is not in hovering over her with her work. This attitude seems to have trickled down to Avery herself, who after reporting how she and one of her little chums had done on a practice exam said, "Her mummy assigned her essays to write on every day of the half-term holiday, and then her mummy corrected them and they revised them together." Yikes. "Do you think I should be doing that with you, darling?" I asked. "No, not really. The way I see it, the other little girl is like... a hothouse orchid, a really well-tended flower. Whereas I am... a wild rose, just occurring naturally in the garden." Hmmm. I went a little further and asked, "Do you think it would be better to be an orchid than a rose? I happen to really like roses, but your Nonna loves orchids." She thought a minute, and said, "No, roses aren't better than orchids, and orchids aren't better than roses. It's more a matter of the kind of flower you like and the kind of gardener you are. And I think your gardening suits me."

I looked over at her, sitting beside me in the car, with her hair blowing all over since we had the top down on such a pretty day. It seemed there couldn't be a nicer maternal moment. But of course John, upon hearing the story, is flexing his pruning shears and buying compost as we speak. Well, one of us should be paying attention, I guess.

All right, a celebratory evening beckons. Avery has achieved her Silver in her skating instruction, and a scoop of Baskin Robbins "Grand Slam" is being consumed as we speak. She has been working so hard on those spins and triple whatevers that, as much as I dislike the skating rink, I have to be proud of her. I must go prepare my broiled salmon, couscous with pine nuts, orange peppers and red onion, and sauteed sugar snap peas. Both the salmon and the couscous are experiments, so if they're good, I'll provide recipes. And... last night Vincent convinced me to take part in some homemade pizza dough-making (at Vincent's house the phrase "we'll have pizza" does not involve a cardboard takeaway box, needless to say). So I am the proud possessor, this evening, of a bag of "strong" flour, and a box of yeast. Tomorrow will see me playing around with herbs to add to the dough, and one hopes I will produce a side dish worthy of the shoulder of pork reposing in my fridge. Stay tuned.

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