With loads to do and busy days ahead Hoover and I have had several early starts. Don’t worry, it won’t become a habit. I am not a morning person, however much I like the morning shadow escorts. Now that all our guests have left we are back to normal shcedules. The bank holiday weekend has passed and the rain that has doused all the village fêtes and festivals has moved to Europe leaving us bathed in sunshine to dry the laundry.
On seeing one of my paintings of washing drying on on washing lines, someone once told me a story. David Hockney’s mother came to visit him in California and being a good son he took her to see the sights. Returning home he wanted to know what she thought of it all. ‘All that sunshine and not a washing line in sight,’ was the reported comment.
It may well not be a true story, but I do love washing on a line and it was Tom’s photograph of socks drying on the line that inspired my most successful series of paintings. I can feel a development from that theme growing.
My mind is more preoccupied with writing these days and it is storylines that bounce into my mind more often than anything else. Even when I am drawing or painting there are stories forming and reforming as a line is drawn across the whiteness of the page, Why is it that Frankie runs so fast? What is it that stirs her to run on a particular occasion, the time that catches the attention of the person who matters? Who is it that is watching?
This morning as we were out I spotted a hefty stone lying on the grass of the path.
“Watch out! The Stone Rollers are back,” I warned Hoover. She snuffled about, nudging at them with her nose before going to investigate the hedge.
Then I spotted something nearby.
A sudden scuffle rippled the long grass and Hoover bounded over to investigate. Some invisible person was hiding safely out of sight. What was it that I glimpsed scurrying across the field beyond the hedge?
Suddenly my mind was in a whirl. The Stone Rollers. Who rolls these stones into the path? And why? How do they feel when I pick them up and chuck them back into the hedgerow? What is it like when Hoover comes snuffling at their front door? What do they call me? Or Hoover for that matter?
Images and stories came racing up behind the questions. A new story was forming. As we slithered down the steep path that leads down to the school – still empty in the summer holidays – personalities developed, I could see the faces; histories were gathering. By then I was pretty sure that it wasn’t a rabbit that I saw hurrying away from us. It was the wrong colour. And the wrong shape.
As we ambled back along the village road to the house we spotted another stone.
It is quite right what they say – five minutes of inspiration and a lifetime of hard work. But too few people tell you that the hard work can be a delight too.