Em & me
A soft drizzle. The cows are gone from the near field. All day they were out there as a noisy and excitable presence. They were happy to be eating the grass even though it is not as long and green and plentiful as they might like. There was jostling and chasing and bellowing. The entire herd disappeared just before the rain began. Joe rounded them up with his tractor. Their departure was not a long orderly line. They frolicked and raced over the fields until they were out of sight. I think today was a real outing for them. They were a bit silly with it. The rain is a quiet rain. There is just enough sound on the roof for me to know while sitting in here that it is raining out there. It is a comfortable sound. And at least now I know there is no need for buckets and towels and odd shaped containers to catch the rain. The new roof inspires confidence. We are not so far removed from those endless days of drought. The grass roof still looks burned up and terrible. This is not the kind of rain to solve the farmers’ problems but it is pleasant. And it is a kind of relief to be enveloped in an indistinct view. The hills across the valley are reduced to shadowy shapes when seen through the wet.
10 August Friday
The figs are enormous. The figs have never been so big, but the figs are as hard as rocks. Not one fig is ripening. Not one bird is eating the figs. They probably do not want to hurt their beaks. Apples are falling on the ground. They are not fully ripe but they are falling off the trees. There are no plums. We do not have plums and no one else has plums. Wild or otherwise, all plums have suffered from the lack of water this summer. The raspberries are doing alright. Every morning I can pick a handful so we have between 5 and 8 raspberries each for breakfast. I will be happier when there are more than I can be bothered to count. There are plenty more berries ripening but I eat quite a few in the day each time I pass by the bushes. Blackberries are also coming ripe. They do not seem to mind the lack of rain.
9 August Thursday
I have been driving around with a large stone behind the driver’s seat. It was in the boreen and I stopped to move it out of the way. It had a nasty sharp looking edge and it was big enough that I did not want to be driving over it. It looked like the kind of rock that could do damage to a tyre. The place where I stopped was too narrow for me to open the door all the way. I could not get out. All I could do was to open the door a tiny bit and to lower my arm down and grab the stone. I could barely lift it with one hand but I did it and I sort of swung and sort of hefted it into the car behind me. I have been driving it around like a passenger ever since.
8 August Wednesday
Everyone is now required to get a Public Services Card. It is a new card and it will be necessary for many things whenever identification is required. If you want to get one or you do not want to get one, it does not matter. We will all end up with one. I went today and sat in a little booth with a woman behind the glass on her own side. I could stretch my arms out on each side and touch the walls. It was a spacious booth. At one point the woman pressed a button and a hard wall came down behind me. It was also about an arm’s length away. The wall was pale grey. It was not claustrophobic. It was just a rigid screen providing even light for taking my photograph while I staying sitting in the chair. The woman asked me if I was frightened. She told me that I was not really locked in. Then she said: “Well, you are locked in but you are only locked in for a minute or so. No bother. It is no bother. As long as you are not frightened, it will be no bother. It will all be over soon.”
I am thrilled to have my new book EM & ME here. It is beautiful. I am happy to see it and to hold it. I am happy again and again. I move the copies around the house so that I can be surprised and delighted each time I come across it. I like to pretend that I do not know that the book is in the spot where I find it. I try to startle myself with each next appearance. I pretend that I do not know that I placed it wherever I placed it. I pick the book up to open it and to look forward to reading it as if I have never before read any of it. As if I had not written it. There is plenty of opportunity to discover the book freshly again and again. It is not at all the same as coming around a corner and seeing Em herself again. That is never going to happen. Seeing her on the cover walking down the boreen through the cow parsley is pretty wonderful.
Simon has taken some copies down to the shop so they are available for sale in among the magazines about farming and fishing and knitting. I am sort of shyly pleased to spy it there when I go to buy milk. I look at it from the corner of my eye. I do not really want anyone to see me admiring and leafing through my own book. I cannot imagine that there is anyone anywhere who does not want or need a copy of this book.
For those who cannot get to McCarra’s shop, it is already available at other shops like bookartbookshop in London, Boekie Woekie in Amsterdam, The Glucksman gallery in Cork, The Book Hive in Norwich, as well at other places I am not able to list here. Of course, it is also available directly from the Coracle website: