Monday, 20 April 2009


I HAVE NEVER found out if my Great Aunt Judith’s calculations were correct. Being a spinster living alone in a small seaside resort, she had much spare time which she divided between philosophising, and preserving broad beans by blanching and packing them in rock salt in the hundred or so Kilner jars that dotted her kitchen. At both enterprises, she excelled, and she theorised that if we were to take a small reflective disc – the mirror from her powder compact; or, I suggested one of the countless CDs that came free with her Sunday newspaper – and if we were to take her large magnifying lens (supplied to her free of charge by the county library to compensate their under-investment in large-print editions), and we were to go outside and stand between the hollyhocks in her front garden (which overlooked the cliffs high above the rest of the resort), we might spend a most pleasurable afternoon permanently blinding any people using the coin-operated mechanical telescopes on the central promenade. Unfortunately she died before either of us was to test this theory, and I am too much of a sentimentalist to undertake the proposal without her. And so her thinking goes unrealised and I am left with only the broad beans to mark her life’s achievements.