Sunday, 1 October 2006

Toshiba apples

The trouble with reading a good book is that I end up talking to myself, with that ever eternal, inner monologue, in the style of whichever writer I have just read. "A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian" was not the corset ripping comedy I was lead to believe from various reviewers over the last months but it was still an excellent yarn with a sense of wry humour and at times a complete farce that worked well. Ultimately though, it was poignant and clever.

After their mother dies, two grown up sisters are horrified when their elderly father remarries a much younger and voluptuous Ukrainian woman, Valentina, seeking to legitimately stay in the UK with her son. The tractor history bit is something that is interwoven throughout and is an extremely novel way of constructing the story.

An undercurrent of the book is the way the two sisters are so different. One is the war child (WWII) aware of the horrors and the other born just after, in peace time UK, and a time of hope and re-birth. There are only a matter of 8 years between them but there is a whole universe of difference with each living their own life until Valentina comes on the scene and they then have a common enemy and resolve their differences.

As for those internal monologues.... this afternoon a call out the blue from son's genetic father (Mr Y Chromosone) who happens to be not that far away dropping off his youngest daughter to university. "Great" says I, "come on over" [after all we never hear from you from almost one year to the next thinks I]. Mr Y is about an hour or so away. Ten minutes later he phones again and says his daughter is coming too and is that alright and am I sure. Without hesitation, of course I say "yes". [I think family is important and they should have more contact now that his children are all adults. A little notice wouldn't have gone amiss though but I say nothing.]

Mr Y coming is one thing and does not require me to do much, but bringing a 20 year old daughter who has never knowingly met me and suddenly I have a desperate need to make sure that the house is reasonably ship-shape and tidy, which it isn't. I am almost the Valentina character from the book. For many years I was the interloper, or perhaps the dark shadow over the lives of Mr Y's children and here his Youngest was braving the visit. Youngest and son are siblings through the father. I am delighted that connections are being made. Son has met Youngest once before and the socialising is like water off a duck's back to him - he has inherited this characteristic from me.

But Youngest is a young woman. The thought she would meet me must have crossed her mind. Is she expecting a Valentina character, all hussy and frou-frou? I know I'm not that but I can't have her thinking what a sluttish house I keep. [It isn't a sluttish house either, it is actually OK but just in need of a little spruce round the edges.]

Whatever Mr Doris must have made of me like a whirling dervlish round the house barking out commands and flapping and cleaning and polishing. He must be wondering why I am making such an effort. And all the while the internal dialogue about this or that continues. At least the house did well out of it and has a fast spring clean.

Mr Y and Youngest have arrived. Youngest was ever so lovely and I reckon we clicked as soon as I loudly acknowledged (within minutes!) that her father was pushing her through University to do courses he thought were good for her rather than making the choices herself.

Mr Doris nipped round to the corner shop to find some cake and biscuits to serve with tea and after a short while into this flying visit I excused myself and Mr Doris and we left them to it. Silly having us all round politely talking: wonderful Mr Doris; the ex-love-of-my-life Mr Y; and me the hussy [which I'm not] with son [my son that Mr Y never contributed to and originally accused me of getting pregnant with on purpose who is now the apple of his eye] and his Youngest. All polite tea and cake. But we left them to it.

I was delighted that my Daughter showed her face and went and said hello. Mr Doris had asked her to do so and she could have avoided it but she didn't. I am grateful.

It wasn't a long visit but extremely pleasant and went well. Youngest hugged us all, including me, "goodbye". We even swapped mobile numbers as she offered to come and braid son's hair next time it was needed. She offered that she was only one stop away on the train. Gosh.

The Toshiba apples are a curious recipe from the book. The eccentric elderly father found a way to prepare the multitude of apples that fell from the tree in the garden. It involved cooking them in the Toshiba microwave until a warm sticky mass. It doesn't appeal to me but I tried to think of an equally quick way to prepare a meal for our guests but as they have to rush I, and they, are spared.

It is an interesting Sunday afternoon.

Original Comments:

Atyllah said...
Definitely an interesting afternoon. Manic cleaning aside (I know the tendency all too well), I think you did a stunning job in potentially difficult circumstances. Well done, you! And, having wondered about it for ages, I am now going to doddle off and get myself a copy of a "A Short History..."
Sunday, October 01, 2006 7:38:00 PM
Cheryl said...
I got it out of the library this Easter when it was new out - like you I made the choice based on reviews - but took it back after one chapter. It was so bloody miserable and boring and all about interfering and putting each other down, and wow just written from the perspective of a whiny professional victim and grumbler, I thought. All dirty laundry and no air.
You did better than me to plough through all that self involved and depressing stodge - three cheers for you.
Oh, oops, did I mention I didn't like the book? I guess you gathered that ;-)
Sunday, October 01, 2006 8:42:00 PM
Britmum said...
Wow what a whirlwind day you had. I am glad that it turned out well for you.

Does your son have long hair? I am just curious.

The book sounds brilliant too.

Take care xx
Monday, October 02, 2006 2:18:00 AM

Doris said...
In reverse order!

Britmum Hiya :-) Yes, son does have long hair. This is a pic of it before Christmas so it is much longer now and he keeps it in canerows which are easier to manage. And when he has it out he has a huge 70's afro. Quite a dude!

Cheryl I'm glad I am not the only one who gives up on books that just do not appeal! I think the book was definitely worth perservering with especially as the relationships and the different stand points (or as you put it the "whiny professional victim and grumbler") mellow and at the end even explains why. That took us into the history of the consequences of World War II and was well explained but not until the end. Also, seeing as I can be a bit thick at times, even I picked up on the double standards in bringing up kids.

PS. I think Blogger have sorted their technology and none-beta bloggers can post comments OK now. Or maybe I am wrong!

Atyllah I'd be very interested to hear views from others who have read the book so let me know some time - or maybe you might blog it.
Monday, October 02, 2006 8:00:00 AM

Pookie65 said...
Wow, Doris, you did have a interesting Sunday. I'm glad it went smoothly for you. That Mr. Doris sounds just perfect. Out of curiousity was he already this good when you met him or did you have to train him? ;-)

Monday, October 02, 2006 12:24:00 PM

Doris said...
LOL Pookie! Mr Doris required no training from me on these sorts of things. However, in other areas of life he may have needed a little training from me and he most definitely has trained me to become [this will be hard to believe, I grant you ;-) ] a nicer person and to be more chilled out.
Monday, October 02, 2006 3:07:00 PM

Astryngia said...
How the circle of life comes around - just a stop away. Life making another transition...

Must get around to reading that book!!
Saturday, October 07, 2006 10:12:00 PM

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