The rather flooded witch was relieved to have a weekend away from her working holiday away. There has rarely been so much rain all at once in a few June days, as last week. So dark, so dismal. The little rays of sunshine consisted of seeing dentist – always lovely – and having assignations with both the plumber and the electrician. All three were very tanned, as usual. Wonder where they got the tan?
So packing laptop and other necessities she pondered the ridiculousness of taking a computer and a telephone to go and visit friends and family. What would we have thought of that, thirty years ago?
First on the agenda was GP Cousin, who on hearing of my approach had swiftly invited every relative he could think of, and not all were so put off the idea that they stayed away. In fact, a surprising number, for us, turned up. Daughter was furious when she heard, but what could I do?
The mind struggles to order cousins into first cousins and second cousins, with the once removed added in places. We rarely get together, and me being UK based doesn’t help, so it wasn’t just the 11-month-old grandson of my Wolf cousin who was new to me. After some baffled thinking, I concluded I’d never met Wolf’s youngest son, either, and he is 18. Years. I suggested he might want to befriend Offspring on Facebook. He thought he might.
Our hostess, Swiss Lady, struggled to keep track of anyone at all, often giving people new names. Didn’t matter. We nameless ones were too busy dealing with our jealousies and inadequacies while admiring her garden, where the sun was beating down.
The next morning I took off for the next place, after giving GP Cousin a long lesson on blogging. He had asked for it. I left him with a copy of Dina Rabinovitch’s Take Off Your Party Dress, which will be a much better read for him than The Da Vinci Code. The third cousins had been sent off the previous evening with some English children’s books, which their poor parents will have to deal with, since even Swedish 6 to 8-year-olds don’t read foreign languages.
On the train ride on a minor train line, I got excellent service by the guard. She happily accepted three forms of payment from me and changed my prepaid plastic tickets into something fresher (they are going Oyster) without batting an eyelid. And handed out new timetables to all the passengers, seeing as it had just changed. That’s service.
Pizzabella and the New Librarian picked me up at the other end, which is so worrying. Being in a car without their mother School Friend feels weird. Babies grow up. It was Pizzabella’s 22nd birthday party, so another load of assorted relatives landed. Pizzabella doesn’t like cake, however, so in its place we always get a large plate of fruit. Lovely, but you can be too healthy, you know. She has recently learned to eat peas. About seven is deemed the right amount for a meal.
New lot of cousins, but not mine. School Friend served up tea called Blåkulla, which is the place that witches fly to on their brooms. After that, I could only be grateful that the Cousin-who-saves-kittens-dumped-by-the-motorway let me hold the cutest baby of them all, the 34-day-old Italian Painter.
Aahhhh… Thank you, Kitten Saver.
This lot of people were left with Mary Hoffman’s The Falconer’s Knot in Swedish (thank you, Mary) and Gillian Philip’s Crossing the Line, and Pizzabella who does things with paper, got plain-ish paper. Poor Bird Watcher got nothing, but he’s probably used to it.
Reading their local morning paper, there was an article about the best friend of GP Cousin, which is an odd coincidence. We once studied literature at university together. Small world.
As she passed through Varberg again on her way back, the witch thought she caught a glimpse of herself, aged about three, on the platform.