Comings & goings at Summer’s End

I’ve always had this irrational prejudice against the Edinburgh Festival.  Not because of what it is, but because of when it is.  Same thing with the Notting Hill Carnival.  To me, these two events symbolise the end of summer, the end of warm weather, the onset of autumn.  It’s ridiculous, I know, but I don’t seem able to shake it.

The Princess is the same, only with her, it’s those signs that go up everywhere in shops from mid-August, saying ‘Back to School’.  She’s about to start her final year at University and still it bugs her.  I can understand it.

Her birthday falls at the end of August and this year she turned 20.  Big change for her; no more teenage angst.  She went off to the Leeds Festival, which was actually in the middle of nowhere between Leeds and Tadcaster.  The weather was kinder than down here, though the nights were cold and she seemed to have a really good time.  Enjoyed a lot of the bands, hooked up with a guy she’s been brooding over for about a year now, drank and smoked a great deal but hardly ate at all.  She came home with the start of a serious cold which has now blossomed into hacking and sneezing and piles of snotty tissues everywhere. Ecccckk.  She sat next to me the other night on the sofa and said ‘I’ve got the End of Summer Blues’.  Birthday notwithstanding, she’s into her last 2 weeks here, having come home after her exams finished at the end of May.  I’m going to miss her horrendously when she finally disappears back up to Mancunia.

And it’s not just her; her cousin is doing a French degree in Bristol and she disappeared off to Rennes in Brittany today.  She’ll be there for 9 months.  We went round last night to say our fond farewells, promised to go and visit.  She’s just broken up with her boyfriend of some 4 years, who was supposed to be going with her, but now she’s going alone.  She’ll cope fine; this is the girl who went off to Kolkata, aged 18 and worked in a place that tried to look after/ educate/ feed some of the city’s street kids.  The prosperous surroundings of a Breton town shouldn’t tax her survival skills too much, but it’ s going to be very different for her as she’ll be alone – though not for long, I suspect.  She’s an extremely gregarious girl and I have no doubt that she’ll make lots of new friends out there.

Then there’s my Dad.  Now 86, he’s about to head off on a three week tour of the Scottish Highlands.  Not with Saga Tours or Wallace Arnold or one of those ‘oldies’ tour operators, either.   He’s driving up and has booked all his accommodation via the internet.  Most of the time, he’ll be based in Oban and he intends to buy a pass that will enable him to jump on and off the CalMac ferries that run out to the Hebrides.  That will be a very sentimental journey for him as he and my Mum used to disappear off to the Highlands and Islands with their caravan until she died six years ago.  He was also round and about the Scottish coast during the Second World War as well, travelling from Greenock up and around Cape Wrath en route to Scapa Flow, so the trip will bring back those memories as well.  From Oban, he’ll be heading up to the Fort William area, then across to Inverness for a few days.  He’s then going to visit his sister, who lives near Elgin, for a few days, though she really can’t cope with house guests for long.  My Mum never had much time for his sister, for all the usual dumb reasons; family fall-outs and suchlike.  Since she died , they’ve picked up their relationship, speak regularly on the phone and have visited one another a couple of times. 

After Mum died, I can recall urging Dad to get a computer, so he invested in a fairly basic Dell.  In the intervening six years, he’s learned to send & receive e-mail via a Hotmail account, does all his banking online, buys DVDs and books from Amazon and now books bed & breakfasts.  He’s about as far from being an ‘I.T. native’ as it’s possible to get, but credit where credit’s due.  My biggest problem has been discouraging him from joining Facebook and accessing the Princess’ homepage, which is filled with profanity and photos of drunken student behaviour…..

As for me, I’m going nowhere; still struggling to find work and still blogging away.  To adapt a well-known lyric, I never felt more like singing the End of Summer Blues…….

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