Friday, 19 June 2015

Continuity

There has been a breach of continuity, nothing too serious. Some posts back I told you that I discovered my weight loss only when I came to do up my trousers without having to yank the edges of the waist band together. In a subsequent post I said that I was still egg-shaped which, to the accuracologist in me didn't accord with the waist band bit, In fact, both are true. It is just that there is a smaller egg.
Before lack of interest causes you to lose the will to live, I thought you may be interested in the subject, anyway. As you can imagine, to someone who bores for England in the dotted 'i' and crossed 't' field, the business of continuity is pretty absorbing. As a young person I was fascinated by the job of the continuity girl on the film's acknowledgement- credits Whatever they are called now, it doesn't seem to be that and, in any case, would need to have a neutral gender reference:continuity person? To this day, fast forward seventy years, I am still fixated by the question. My pleasure in any well-loved series on television is always 'yes-butted' by sloppy continuity. Yellow lines on a 50s road, phrases imported from our American cousins in a Victorian drama, American characters eating with both knife and fork etc., etc. I am inclined to be somewhat obsessive about this, (I do know you have noticed) and find myself wondering why. It seems to be to do with the security of truth. If things are as they purport to be then everything must be alright in the best of all possible worlds.  I know of families where the most profound information is kept secret: siblings with one different parent, for instance. Sometimes the offspring of a different parent from the younger ones do know but are barred from telling the others. Sometimes only the parent in common knows. Many years ago I had the acquaintance of a man who had been born with a still-born twin clinging to his knee. This came to  light only when he sought help to explore the reason for a difficulty to form stable relationships. His whole life and character had been an  obsessive odessy to 'find' his lost brother. One wouldn't find a difficulty to trust surprising in a background of secrets and lies. And, no, I don't think the nature of human beings was predicated by a stolen apple. Bore da

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Appearances

A salutary experience:  the other day some people started work painting the outside of my house. Very early - too early for a retired old lady - the door bell rang and I staggered down to answer it. After a few minutes of greeting , explanations and location-guidance, I crept back to my room and prepared myself for the day. About an hour later the bell went again. I opened it to see one of the workmen who asked if he could speak to Mrs. Mountford. There you have it, I looked so entirely different fully dressed and, let's face it, fully made up, that he didn't recognise me. There was a nano second of  one discussion while I wondered whether or not to foster this assumptionm that there were two women paying him to brighten up their exterior or to bow to the inevitable and confess that I was she. I chose the latter on the basis that he and his mates would be seeing me in all manner of stages over the coming weeks and that truth would out one way or the other.

I do confess that it has been quite testing getting used to the physical appearance of ageing, though. Lately, I have lost weight, quite a measure of weight. Thrilled, I tried some clothes I haven't worn since longer than I have courage to tell you. There was scarcely any difference in put-on-ability. You see, the weight had not been lost from the middle where the egg-shape still prevails. If I were a disciplined and dedicated doer of all the 'shoulds' I would undertake some exercises to put this anomaly right. I am not. Life is too short to touch one's toes. (I see that this is, currently, more than a figure of speech. At my age life really is too short to touch my toes). Since you ask, the weight has been lost as an unexpected side bonus of giving up chocolate and sweets. Hand on heart I swear I hadn't seen that coming and was so proud of being on the wagon I noticed nothing else. (I have a faint recollection that I have told you this already. The man in the archive is running after me flapping the relevant post and trying to stop me committing yet another old-lady fault,  repetition). There are also certain clothes embargoed: shorts, short skirts, short sleeves, low necklines, the exotic - unless you are an exotic woman in all other respects, too. I have a very dear friend whose appearance is gloriously exotic and always has been.  She suffers the opposite trial from me, invisible and prone to be bumped in to. She is constantly noticed and, she suspects, given a wide berth. Long hair and dyed hair is another no-no Framing an elderly face it looks desperate, as if denying the march of time and the deterioration of locks. Best of all, though, is the change in facial appearance. Made up or bare the  face has reached an equilibrium that is somehow without age - except for the picture in the attic. Bore da

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Inevitability

Strictly speaking, this post doesn't chime particularly with the as- if exam question, "Inner 40 as opposed to outer stopped- counting": discuss. However, what has been exercising my mind is the number of situations,  which, once started, can't be stopped. Washing one's hair comes to mind. Once it is wet there is no going back. You may dry it without benefit of shampoo, but, once comprehensively wet, it does make more sense just to carry on.  You can't unopen a letter, nor can you unpost it. I have long tried to teach myself to keep a letter overnight in case, come daylight, I have changed my mind about posting it at all. It doesn't work, not even for the ones written in green ink.

Should you be among the carriers of the future, you can't stop that, either. Labour, once started, has to be followed through to the - hopefully - glorious end. The first time I realised this, on the stairs of the maternity home where number one was born, it was a life changing moment. I saw, that without seeing,  I had been a border-line control freak and this was my initiation in to something over which I had no control. Alright, alright, one can control the course of labour to some extent. You cannot stop the actual event absolutely, tell it to fade away until you feel more like it or when the stars are more propitious. As it happens, number one was arriving as the first man was walking in space. I don't suppose he could stop that either. "Oops, I've remembered a prior engagement. Put me down at once": probably not. Fainting is another example. I remember, heavily pregnant, carrying the toddler in my arms, knowing I was going and trying to control things so that the little one landed on the one who was still in utero. Modesty prevents me from listing obvious other intervention-impossible experiences. No doubt you are working those out as we speak. As it happens my habitual use of hyphens always brings to mind a dear and old friend, a noted journalist, who encouraged my writing and was a fully signed-up hyphen user, himself. Sadly, he recently shuffled off this mortal coil and I suspect, like birth, there's no stopping that, neither. Nos da.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Larceny

Somehow, somewhere, I must have annoyed the Wizard of Cyberspace. My computer is behaving like a recalcitrant teenager or, worse, a newly verbal toddler: "won't, shan't, can't make me" about covers it. My 'toolbar' diappears, typed letters appear a couple of seconds after I've pressed the keys and the screen goes misty blue and static at the squeek of a mouse. Much worse, after the business of my stolen handbag, two days ago my car was stolen. I am begining to adjust to the years of  my life which have to be devoted to telephoning and otherwise organising matters in the wake of these disasters. Who would want a four-year old Polo in need of a wash, I asked myself. The child-policewoman who came round with her 'Victim Support Card' told me it was a desirable get-away car because it was so inconspicuus. Thank you very much, always keen to do a service, even for car-thieves. No doubt I am far from alone in this experience but it is decidedly freaky to come up to the parking bay in which you left your four-wheeled friend to see a stranger in it. It's like the nightmare where you have the right key but the door opens in to the wrong house. I don't know about how you would have felt, but the experience took me many seconds before I could re- believe  in my sanity: yes, I had left the car on that very disabled bay, no, it hadn't changed make and registration, there was a cuckoo in my nest and my bird had flown.

It set me thinking about forgetfulness and other vicissitudes of old age. (Well, it would do, wouldn't it?) In the past, if my car had a puncture, I would stand by it and flutter my eyelashes until some nice, strong rugby player came by and offered to change the tyre.  There was a gap in middle age when that didn't work any longer and I had to deal with it myself, but now I simply wave my stick and, hey presto, Age UK sends a carer with a spanner and I just lean against a wall and watch. In a big London store the other day, I spotted a sign suggesting a treatment that would delay the ageing process. I don't need that, I have aged. In my Welsh home town there are two car-hire companies. Neither will lend to  anyone over seventy five so homesickness has to wait until someone close to me who lives north of the border ventures south and drives me - or did before my car was stolen. And, no, I can't just take the train because I need a car at the other end to visit and revisit where the 'bus service is really just a figment of one's imagination. But, by and large, and on balance and whatever other cliche comes to mind, it's not so bad up here in the mighty 80's. At forty I would have been close to a breakdown at the outflow of hassle from the vehicular theft: what about the little ones at the school gates, all different schools coming out at the same time, what about the stew in the oven, what about the night's supper in the boot (trunk) with milk going off in the summer heat? Now it's just funny, faced with that cuckoo and managing to rationalise it and hop in a taxi. It no longer matters where one could find the snows of yesteryear. Bore da

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Volunteering

Recently, circumstances have given me pause for thought about volunteering. You may have noticed, of course, that I drop in, from time to time, the information that I volunteer for work in my local hospital. I am  thankful that I have skills which can be put to use in that context. Volunteering is a time-honoured arm of the need for service, sometimes ad hoc and sometimes permanent. I see it, inter alia, as a back up for paid workers who simply haven't time enough to do all a situation requires. There are probably two streams: one that uses the volunteers professional skills, say, when nurses go temporarily to an area where there is a severe out-break of disease   to do their usual work, and the other where the skills may well be professional but are no longer used in gainful employment. More often than not the work is not the result of a crisis. In that case, the volunteering is often open-ended. and can continue ad infinitum.

When I was in paid employment, one of my duties was to train and supervise volunteers who worked with the public in what has come to be called "the helping professions". They were usually people who were still gainfully employed but who were happy to give time where they felt they could offer something valuable enough where there was a need for it. A conclusion we came to which was incontravertible, was that what they were doing was a professional job without pay. The vital element was the 'professional'. To-day, I still see that as the foundation of the phenomenon. However, there is a vital difference between that sort of professionalism and the paid sort: volunteers, being without monetary recompense have a different relationship with those who manage them - if any. While the volunteer must give of her/his utmost, the management should bear in mind that the usual strictures and sanctions on paid employees may not be equally appropriate. Apart from serving as adjunct to professional, i.e. paid, staff, there is also an enormous band of people giving time for what one may call more mundane causes, like, for instance, staffing an enquiry desk at the out-patients clinic at a hospital. Inevitably, the corps of people available to do this, year after year after year is made up of those who are retired and often of a generation which took the need for this service for granted. They may have had mothers who rolled bandages during the war, or who made tea and sandwiches for refugees from the bombing and destruction. If I were able to state a viable demographic it would probably produce a picture of a middle- to late-aged woman or man with a certain level of education and, possibly, time- though not necessarily cash- rich. This would fly in the face of the need for diversity and equal opportunities, essential elements in the world of today. But, wait a minute. Is this absolutely a no-no?  Of course, if we keep the age, the level of education and the freedom from earning, diversity and equal opportunities must easily be accommodated. Where there could be problems is if the diverse and equal do not have a history of volunteering and are also youngish and on a possible career path with a C.V. to consider:('resume' if you are over the Pond) I think that one of the foundation stones of  'professional'  volunteering is long-term dedication and the gift of experience. I know, I know, it does sound more like a band from the Womens' Institute, or rather, the country's somewhat patronising view of it, but these volunteers can work for as long as they and their marbles  can handle it. The young will be  short-term, moving on to finding a way to earn a living and add to the store of expertise - or, even humdrum - in the outside world. Prynhawn da

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

These I Have Loathed

If any of you kind keepers up is as old as I am you may well remember a radio programme called "These I Have Loved". It was a programme of recordings chosen by well-known people who also gave the background to their choices. There are several programmes like it now, with selectors being interviewd.  Then, the subject just got on with listing and playing all by him/her self. Re-creating such a programme would be relatively easy and, indeed, I have known it as a sort of parlour game among friends dining together. However. the other side of that particular coin has to be "These I have loathed".

This category has been triggered by work going on in the adjoining house. The new owner, having told the neighbours on either side that he was just going to alter the patio doors at the back of the house is actually gutting the entire interior of his Grade11 listed dwelling with a drilling and a banging such as you have never heard even in the dentist's chair during root-canal work. This morning I went to see the foreman because a friend had come, in some distress, wanting  conversation and support and I couldn't hear my thoughts never mind her words. I was told, in a bland and indifferent voice, that certain work had to be done in a certain time framework and basically, by inference, to take my unreasonable self off and never darken their  door again. So, drilling on the wall common to both of us is definitely loathable. Mind you, I should confess that when I moved in a builder friend arrived to find me drilling a hole to place a picture hook. "Making a coat hook for next door, are you" he said. The next current loath is a cleaning product advertised by a loathsome man who promises "Bang and the dirt is gone." I would rather live in the dirt than use the product. I loath my aged lapses of memory and the slowness  of the man in my archives  finding the answers and even dropping some before he can deliver them.  I am not too fond of the Wizard of Cyberspace but  would be afraid of loathing him for fear of repercussions. I don't like sniffing unrelated to a cold, jars I can't open, waiting in out-patients, the condition of many public toilet facilities, intractability and people who find my external more- than-three- score- and- ten appearance an excuse for lumpen rudeness and a total disregard of  my presence in their space.  Desist: as it happens, aside from the drillers, I confess I have had rather a hard time finding things I loath. Honestly, if  it were not for the perceived need to follow a theme, I could have stopped long ago. So much for the calm tolerance of now as against the angst of yesteryear. Oh, and by the way, the man in the archive has just produced the name of the "These You Have Loved" producer: Doris Arnold. Don't you just love when a jigsaw is complete? Bore da  PS., Milk bottles on the table

Friday, 10 April 2015

If Only

My name is Elizabeth: I'm a recovering chocaholic.  I know, I know: it is only two minutes since I confessed to being an accuracholic. Well, to be quite accurate, it was about a month or five weeks ago. Sadly, the two conditions are not mutually exclusive.  Last January 20th I took the decision to climb on the 'no chocolate, no sweets' wagon; this being a more acceptable alternative to drastic medication measures that were being proposed for reasons of health. (Just how drastic can be surmised from the concommittant nature of the sacrificial alternative ). This decision had a totally unlooked for add-on bonus. One morning, taking both sides of the waistband of  my trousers in both hands and yanking them to meet in the middle, I found I had over-shot. The hook on my right side by-passed the loop on my left by about three quarters of an inch. (You work out the centimeters, or ask the Guru). I clambered on to the scales to find I weighed, fully dressed, that which I had weighed with no clothes on a day or so before. Indeed, next morning, once again in the alltogether, I found that I had lost nine pounds or roughly 3 kilos. How an eight-ounce bar of choclate can produce at least two pounds in weight is beyond my understanding. But there you are, the proof of the pudding is in the non-eating.

This brings me to another bit of green ink. "Things" as the saying goes, "are not what they used to be". Last week, I was introduced to a young person where I work. We chatted for a bit, while she observed what it was I did and how it was I was doing it. She was awsomely qualified with several first degress and further degrees and very impressive CsV. As it happened, I had occasion - or it seemed to me I had - to use a proverb, or, even, so as not to give it airs above its station, a saying. I am not prepared to take an oath but I do believe it was "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush":utter blankness, not to say incomprehension.  I had a stab at explaining: I got politeness,. I tried "A stitch in time saves nine". A what-have-I -let-myself-in-for look ensued. I couldn't say how I looked but I couldn't get my head round the fact that this delightful, intelligent, educated young person had never walked passed a proverb in her life before. I am aware that life was always " better" when we were all forty, but I am still going to stick my neck out and aver that, currently, current education is  proof of that. I have the feeling that those of  my young who have already put in  half a century were the last to be taught grammar in any formal sense. The accuracolic chocaholic in me still feels faint in the presense of "I" when it should have been "me". Indeed, there is an advertisement - for solicitors, no less -  on television at the moment where the speaker uses "I" glaringly discordantly. It may not surprise you that I rang the number referred to and asked to speak to someone responsible for advertising. Dear Reader, I got nowhere. It must have been "People in glass houses should not throw stones". Prynhawn da