Thursday, 20 June 2013

Silver

Sunday week, 30 June, is our Silver Wedding Anniversary, and I will be burying Chip’s ashes, along with those of her beloved Kez, in the place she chose for them, under the oak trees in the parkland that rises behind the house, and which gives views over the house, garden, village and the sweep and roll of Deepest Devon beyond. This is the field where we were delighted to see hares play, and roe deer are a barely noticed commonplace.

Neither of us were particularly sentimental about, well, mortal remains, but both of us understood only too well the power of symbolism, and I will be sure to do it right.


Chip chose oak trees as they support more species of wildlife than any other British tree. This
venerable pair are at least as old as the park, which was laid out in the 18th century.
The gable end in the centre of the frame is our house.


We climbed the hill to select the site and admire the view on a
gorgeously blue and hazy day at the end of September, 2011.

Monday, 4 February 2013

So, How Did You Meet?


I tended not to tell this story when Chip was alive, because she retained a wariness of the law from her childhood – and indeed young adulthood – living around criminals.

It all started, as so many things in my life did, when I moved into a 15th-century house in Faversham, Kent, in 1971. I was doing a PhD at the University of Kent at Canterbury and so had access to the staff accommodation register. The house had been modernized and extended and they had hoped to get a professional man in. No such luck: I took it and moved in with four undergrads, including Rosie Boycott (known to us as Rosel, though) and three others I'm going to call Conrad, Hawk and Jemima, because they may be compromised on other blogs. Anyway, Con and I stayed there for five terms in all, with others coming and going, and took the shine off the place sufficiently for the landlords to let it to some more undergrads.

Con and I had only moved around the corner, and we soon got to know the new tenants at the old place in Abbey Street, and continued to hang out there for another couple of years.  In 1974, I moved back to London, to Putney, and in 1977 started renting a mansion flat in Chichele Road, Cricklewood, where I would stay for the next 12 years. In the meantime, one of the guys who had taken over the house at Abbey Street, along with his girlfriend, had moved into a flat nearby with a Miss Smith and her daughter. Miss S, like me, was involved in a small way with the retailing of hashish. This had brought Miss S and Chip into contact several years before, and, with her first husband, Michael, in Wormwood Scrubs on a smuggling conviction, she was round there as often as I: we actually met a couple of times before we met, as it were, although neither of us were much taken with the other, and I came away with the impression that she was Miss S's sister.

Anyway, in 1981-82 I worked for a year for a magazine called Mediaworld, which had its offices in Bouverie Street, just off Fleet Street. I used to meet up with friends who worked nearby in the city at lunchtime. One of these was the aforementioned girlfriend of the guy from Abbey Street. They had recently moved out to Tottenham, coincidentally literally around the corner from my first home. She started asking me to bring in dope for a friend, and I did so. Pretty soon, I was doing this on a weekly basis, even more so, until it dawned on us that I was taking the dope into the city, and she was then taking it back to Tottenham, where it would be picked up by Chip, who was driving across North London from Queens Park – which was barely 20 minutes brisk walk from my place – to do so.

So Chip was formally introduced as a customer, and was a good one, too, picking up stuff for her many friends, and popped round increasingly often in 1982, Then, on 27 May 1982, she came round later than usual, as I was watching the cup final replay between Spurs and QPR, and didn't go home.

So when anyone asks me what good smoking dope ever did for me, I have a ready answer: it brought me greater joy than anything in my life, it brought me love, and it set my feet firmly on the path to fulfillment and emotional completeness.

with Toots in 1985. I can't believe she'll never look at me like that again

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

yet another thing...

So now I have eight blogs. You can find your way the others by clicking on the name Rayge over there in the sidebar  –––––––> to get my profile, which lists links to them all.
This blog I am keeping solely now for pictures and memories of my life with Chip.













Sunday, 4 November 2012

and another thing...

I've been thinking about how to continue this blog, and think it would be best to leave it as a place to write about our relationship in the past tense, to celebrate Chip's life (and in a small way, mine) and the things we created together, specifically our homes and gardens, past and present. I'm still engaged in the process of transferring 30 years of transparencies and prints into digital images, and I find blogging a congenial way of sharing them.

I'm also going to revive my 'dying light' blog for whatever artworks I can create or rediscover, and start a couple more: ScrapBook about my adventures with the puppy, and In Deepest Devon about the place I live and consider to be far more about who I really want to be than anywhere else I ever lived. 

If anyone has any comments or suggestions, I'd be pleased to see them.
 

so, grief...

I expected the welling heartache, the tearing sense of loss, the hollow pain, the aching, slow, readjustment to a radically rearranged world. I've felt it before, to varying degrees, when my dad died, or a loved pet (fortunately have yet to lose a good friend to death), or I lost something of myself some other way. It's just another bereavement, I thought, harder and more intense than the rest, sure, but it's familiar territory, I have the map, I'll find my way to the other side.

I was wrong. This time there's a triple  threat: along with the exquisitely distilled sorrow, there is horror and fear. The horror comes in sudden images from Chip's final month, like a slap in the face from an invisible hand: I'm not talking grand guignol horror (although there was a little bit of that), just the way that the disease took life from her bit by bit, slow and inexorable as a glacier, grinding away at that magnificent spirit until it was reduced  to a simple need for help; awful, in the fullest sense of the word. I had to suppress these feelings to get by, to provide the only help I could give, simply by being there to the end, but after the slap in the face (you remember, a mixed metaphor or two ago), it comes back, and I have to feel it now, damp-faced and shivering.

And the fear – anxiety is a better word – manifests itself in many ways. All through our 30-year relationship, Chip was the worrier – her glass wasn't so much half empty as smashed to pieces on the floor, its erstwhile contents irretrievably staining a prized Persian rug. My role was to be a reassurer. Now she's gone, though, I seem to have taken it on (anyone here who's read Alfred Bester's The Pi Man will know how this works). Scrap has diarrhoea (always outdoors I'm pleased to report) and I'm assuming virus at best, fatal congenital condition a possibility, normal puppy development an unlikely tale. A few floaters have appeared in my left eye, and I'm thinking macular degeneration or detaching retina, but can't get an appointment with an optician until tomorrow.

Previously, I have always been able to reassure myself by relying on a natural resilience and good health, as well as a history of making the right decisions in a crisis, but the last year or so have taken so much out of me physically, emotionally and spiritually, that I don't think I can take another hit right now without sustaining some permanent damage, so I'm over-protective and fearful.

I have to keep reminding myself that 'It's only been x weeks [currently x=8] since Chip died, you can't expect to be anything other than you are right now,' but in one sense it seems an age, and another it's still happening now. I'm more or less fully functional in terms of getting out in the world, talking to people, 'acting normal', doing what needs to be done, but at the same time, I'm (temporarily, I continue to hope) also insane.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

So how have you been, Ray...

...and the simplest answer, and the one I'm inclined to give whenever the question is put to me in person, is, 'I'm all right,' even though the last thing that 'all' is, is right. The problem with trying to say something more profound, or accurate, is that the process of grief, of sorting through the emotions, of recovering from the necessary insanity of Chip's last few weeks, when I had to suppress all that rage, horror and awe, and ignore the sense of loss gnawing and tearing away, is an amphetamine rollercoaster with more twists than a Tory and a tendency to jump the tracks every now and then and plummet into darkness. It is it difficult to say anything cogent, with things changing all the while – not just from day to day, but minute by minute sometimes. Quite a lot of the time, though, I'm rather enjoying the ride – all that LSD I took back in the day has prepped me well for periods of temporary insanity – which is why I say 'all right'.

I intend to keep this blog going with photos and stories about our relationship, while I make a new one about what happens next.  In the meantime, for those who have not seen it, there was an obit of Chip in the Daily Telegraph:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/culture-obituaries/books-obituaries/9574999/Pip-Granger.html . The Times are also set to print one, but it has yet to appear.





Friday, 7 September 2012