A seven-pearl necklace inspired by Barbara Trapido's first novel "Brother of the More Famous Jack", a book (paperback, Penguin, 1st pub'd 1982) which kept me company through the many sleepless nights of my early mothering years.
22 - The kitchen is large and dauntingly grotty. There is excess rubbish piling up in a Heinz bean carton beside the overflowing rubbish bin. Where the legs of the table meet the floor there are encrustations of toddler food. The tops of some home grown vegetables are wilting on the work-board alongside seeping used tea-bags and half-eaten bowls of that morning's cornflakes. It is also perfectly apparent to me that the Goldmans write their telephone messages all over the wall....Rosie has scratched up a conspicuous message in black marker pen for her father. 'Jake must fone criss,' it says. Underneath it, Jacob has written, 'If criss fones me again tell him to phuck off.'
83 - Roger told me, on one occasion, that I laughed too much. There were other things I did which caused him displeasure. I read Vogue magazine and I did my knitting in public. These were badges of female subjection which Roger attempted to eliminate in order that I might go forth as his brave and equal consort.
102 - Jane herself was certainly not at her best that day. I entered to find her crabbing unreasonably at Sylvia, who had wet her pants. Jonathan, who came into the kitchen to make cheese doorsteps for himself, ignored her very pointedly. As she had once said to me, she was not one of those insufferable people who does it all right.
Centre pearl (4th)
137 - I spent my thirty-first birthday listening to the radio news in the bin. I was knitting up the dishcloth string at the time and beginning to feel a little better. A little less desolate. The radio announcer addressed an eccentric remark to me.
'Now we have a humanist's despair before the News,' he said.
'Did you hear what he said?' I said.
'A few minutes to spare before the News?' said the occupational therapist. The radio announcer had obviously said it only to me. There is a comfort to be got out of feeling that you are completely crazy.
145 - 'Why is it all so clean?' I say. 'This is very bad for my nostalgia. I always thought dirt was a principle.' Jacob laughs a little and shrugs.
'Dirt is in a sense a principle, isn't it?' he says. 'One doesn't want to have one's wife on her knees chasing dirt. One wants to put the needs of one's children before the needs of one's possessions. One doesn't want to bow down to wood and stone, you know, like the heathen in his blindness. My children are grown up. You want me to tread fish fingers underfoot forever just to please you, Katherine?' I like him as much as I ever did.
208 - 'Your scheme will work on one condition, Katherine, if I may say so,' she said, 'and that is that you wring - I emphasize wring - from that stubborn and truculent son of mine, a very specific and very business-like commitment to share the domestic work and the child-care with you.....this is what you do. You put down a schedule for him , in writing, and make him sign it....Photocopy it and leave a copy with me, because if you don't, I have a good idea how it will be in that little house of yours.'
221 - 'I like it here,' Jane said, over her tea, while I fed the baby. 'Jake was wrong about this place, wasn't he? It suits you very well. I could stay here forever. Rosie is determined to marry that young man, you know. I don't like it one bit. That's what I'm going back to - planning a wedding.'