A Blog For Ellen
Object #11 –hand (recent tangerine-eating visible by thumbnail)
This is my left hand. My hands get strong and dry when I’m on tour and heaving things about. They slim down a bit between whiles. When I type my fingers dance around the keys thought-to-screen without my conscious intervention. Nothing to do with me, it feels.
I am wearing my wedding ring and my engagement ring. I leave them at home when I go away on tour, for safe keeping. I can’t wear them on stage. When they were new, I took them off when I told stories too, because I couldn’t stop fiddling with them. They are silver. Granny’s wedding ring was too, I think. I can see her hands with her ridged, neat fingernails, and I can feel her holding my hand with her cool papery-skinned hand.
When I roll pastry with my wooden rolling pin, I hear mum’s wedding ring click on the wood of her rolling pin. When I reflexively sweep crumbs off the table, I hear her ring clicking on the grey-and-white checks of our formica-topped kitchen table. That’s still her kitchen table, although it was re-covered with a brownish top to match her work surfaces, along with the grey topped stools which were re-covered an olive green when we moved from Hyde to the bungalow in 1985. When it was grey-and-white checked I used to sit at it and line up a fistful of raisins in the squares, eat them one by one, while mum bustled behind me with Radio 4 on.
I see Mum’s hands in mine, of course, although mine are a bit squarer, like Daddy’s. His had crooked little fingers. I can feel his hand too, and smell the bonfire smoke coming off his jumper, and hear his tread, which was iambic – short-long, short-long, short-long.
In so far as I know left from right it’s because when I was about 5 years old, I badly burnt my left palm with steam from the kettle. I remember Granny bandaging it. It blistered and eventually popped, very satisfyingly. Now I run my left thumb over the cushion of my palm when I’m working out which way is left. What sense of direction I have is written on my palm.
I can feel mum’s fingers squeezing my shoulders to see if they are a bit too bony, stroking my hair off my forehead. I can smell the good onion and garlic smell of her fingers when I sat on her lap after dinner.
Years ago, she took a photo of all our hands flat on a table outside the Daneway Inn, in a circle. There we are.