“I would have them all one colour” said Henry about the handmade tiles. We had arranged the colours temporarily into two groups - into sea and sky, and autumn leaves.
Over espresso with our friend, we got to talking about families - about whether or not one likes one’s parents or siblings and, if one doesn’t, does one love them? Does one continue a relationship with a blood relation if the only thing one shares, is history?
In Henry’s case there seemed, after thirty years of trying, to be no more point.
Alone again in our kitchen-to-be we de-segregated summer-sea and autumn-leaf tiles, laying them out to clash happily on the temporary peninsula. An unconcious reaction, no doubt, to the somewhat chilling familial tale we had been listening to.
It was time for breakfast. Julian thrust yesterday’s bread in the fire on a piece of bamboo hand-crafted into a toasting fork.
“It’s like being a grown up and a boy scout all at the same time!” he bubbled, his curls jiggling up and down.
We are excited. After almost three years here, the kitchen is suddenly more than a dream: There are plug-points and a potential layout where electricity and energy move unhindered through the room; Julian will have his granite worktop at last (and his tap); Monsieur Trazic has come to measure for the glass front door through which the burnished light of the low sun will pool onto a terra cotta floor; Bright tiles are waiting to disco on the splashback….
We are happy. Autumn this year is one of the most colourful I have seen and it’s right outside our door. We have come back from a run (Julian’s third in his snazzy three month old Nikes) on which the cherry trees hollered their last scarlet ballad before the frost to a backing group of butternut poplars. I am preparing for a day painting boards with gesso and packing prints. Hopefully there will be time to paint. We are a team.
Over muesli and toast we continued the conversation about families – preferring to think of them as mini-societies; as groups of people who do not choose each-other because they fit together but rather are thrown together, becoming golden opportunities to aspire – aspire ‘cos it can feel impossible at times - to rise above our judgements and perhaps catch a fleeting glimpse of our shared humanity.
I had a sudden urge to build a big area of brightly coloured tiles in Henry's house.