One of the things I miss this time of year are the Christmas cards from an old artist friend Mil Lubroth. I met her years ago at Egee Art in Chelsea, and loved her, her work, her infectious good humour. We placed a lot of her work in palaces and embassies, but there was a particular painting of hers that hung by my desk there for months - each time we sent out an exhibition tour to the Middle East I'd quietly hope it wouldn't sell (I know, sorry - not good for business, but I loved it and couldn't have afforded it). When the wannabe pilot and I sold up in London to fund his training, it was presented to me on my last day at the gallery, the back signed with good luck messages by everyone I had worked there with. Here it is, still above the desk where I write (excuse the mess - I have officially run out of space down there this year). Next to the children and the hound it's what I'd rescue in the event of a fire tonight:Mil stayed in touch - somehow just knowing she was in Madrid when we moved out to Valencia was like having a touchstone - and her handmade Christmas cards 'Querida Kate!' in flamboyant turquoise ink were a yearly treat. The painting is 'A Walk in the Generalife' - the summer palace in the gardens of the Alhambra, one of my favourite places in the whole world. It's like an optical illusion - depending on the light you see glimmering bismillahs, stately women walking, Moorish architecture, searing blue skies. It's a palimpsest - overlaid images, beautiful whispers of the past (we are back to lovely ruined things again). When someone like Mil dies it seems impossible - her obituaries were heartfelt talking of the ancient sadness of her eyes but her ready smile, and the personality that could light up a room. Maybe it was that combination of dark/light that I responded to in her work.
This time of the year, maybe you are feeling reflective too? It doesn't help that the pilot's away for days - again (Africa). What are you thinking about at the moment? We've survived a year of longhaul (just - flamingos and bikini clad hostesses anyone?), our baby in hospital, Dad's death and miraculous resurrection, me being knocked out by a flying copy of Harry Potter (hardback) and a summer spent sporting a black eye c/o the repentant pilot. Like a lot of people cutting back, no hot dates/jolly holidays, make do and mend - and, in spite of work for people like the Times and Blueprint, another year has gone by with no book. All of you know how this feels - Pseudo talked of how perpetually waiting for good news 'keeps you from living,' Marta talked about how it feels like you are dropping your work into a big black hole. But the encouragement and support from everyone are like the lovely messages scrawled on the back of Mil's painting. There is so much goodwill from around the world behind this book cheerleading every step closer to publication that I'm damned if its not going to be a success.
Who cares what's coming? Recession - pah. As Winnie said - Keep Buggering On (or for the female take on this as Scarlet said recently - 'chin up, tits out'). When the going gets tough - we get writing, agreed? There's this wonderful word - sprezzatura - the ability to make the difficult seem effortless. I like the lightness and energy of it. It's what being a writer, or artist, or anyone at the top of their game is all about. Mil had it in spades. If I was going to have one New Year wish it would be to have more of that. I'm bored, and restless, and raring to go - I want lightness, success - how about you? 2009 here we come.
TODAY'S PROMPT: Resolutions are so ... worthy. Are you doing them? Or shall we have some fun? Another year has flown by. What do you really want next year? If we were going to wave our magic wand tonight and grant you three wishes for 2009 what would they be ...