I have just got off the iPad and a two hour Skype conversation with Kristin Smyth.
At the end she said that she thought that my blog was a good excuse to have a lovely long chat. ‘Facebook just isn’t enough.’ She also went on to say that nobody could possibly fit this length of conversation into a normal routine, she looked exhausted.
My husband’s family and Kristin’s family are close family friends. Together they share jokes from the past which they have to ruin to explain. The laughter that is emitted between both is old laughter.
Several times during our conversation I see my tonsils in the little rectangular mirror box on the screen, because of the laughing.
We talk about the musical instruments that the children have chosen to learn, we talk at length about Alexei Sayle, we talk about me finding my voice out of a crisis and how something good always comes out of something bad.
She is sitting in the box room in her flat in South London, surrounded by books. I ask if I can take her picture but she says no because of the bed hair. I promise I won’t.
Friends arrive and I shout for the children to come and talk to her. I go and make a tea, sit down with my friends and forget completely that I am meant to be on the ‘phone’. Half an hour later, I jump up and run back to the iPad. Kristin was asking my kids what was the highlight of our trip in a caravan around Europe in 2011. One said ‘The Somme and all of France’, the other was more hesitant.
‘It could be a place, or a feeling that you remember’ Kristin said with encouragement.
‘I feel pleased that I am never going to have to travel in a caravan with my family again.’
Kristin laughed. I said ‘I’m back and she said ‘I’m just going to go and make myself a cup of tea.’
I sat looking at all the books on her bookcase then decided to take a screenshot without her in it. She suddenly sat down and I managed to get one of tea without her knowing.
We then got on to the best conversation topic that could ever be, travel.
My husband and I travelled surface from London to New Zealand in 1996. We had only known each other for 3 months but I was going to my cousin’s wedding in Auckland, I was going by train, and he decided to come too. Kristin and her partner did a similar trip so we talked about Blinis in Siberia and Mackerel caught and smoked by the Trans-Siberian Railway in Lake Baikal. She and her partner are now planning a trip to Hawaii.
Today, she is going to an Australian Literary Festival in London. The first speaker is Tony Wheeler.
I ask her if she has seen my bit of news on Facebook today. Last night I tweeted The Wheeler Centre in Melbourne when they put the call out for a topic for discussion. It was for the Emerging Writer’s Festival with the hashtag #discuss. And this morning, my words were on a blue plaque hanging on the wall of the Telstra shop in Bourke Street! The Wheeler Centre is named after Tony Wheeler.
‘Small world’, she says.
‘Massive cup’ I say.