Tuesday, 29 September 2015

No, they don't...

In case I have cast you in to a den of confusion, the title is meant to follow on from the last post (no pun intended). "The more things change..." and you had to supply:"The more they stay the same). Well, they do not.  My current green ink frenzy is stirred up by the use of an adverb when there is no connecting verb. You will know at once what I mean: 'importantly', as in 'more importantly, the English language has no need of this mistake'. By all means: ' the English language is ( the verb) importantly accent-free', clumsy as my over-stretched example may be. Do you follow a calendar? It no doubt shows you fixed events/chores. Some of us still have a diary: a note of daily obligations not a map of months, weeks and days, full moon and High Holy days included. For those of you who follow an itinerary it seems no transport is required. We can just distort the root of the word.

Recently, I fell foul of an audiologist to whom I had complained that my hearing aids made my voice sound to me as if it was coming from outside. "Oh," quoth she, "you mean there is an echo". No, I don't. I mean my voice sounds as if it is coming from outside, not that it is sounding twice in my ears: echoing, you could say. However, it seems that in the world of audiology, an echo doesn't mean an echo, it means your voice sounds to you as if it is coming from outside. After my exasperated "you are not listening to me", you could say our relationship fell apart, or, more important, I was sent off with hearing aids that didn't work as they had been paid to do. In a restaurant it has been my misfortune to hear "can I get a whatever?" I am sure the orderer is not offering to stand up and precure a bread roll for her/himself. She/he means she/ he would like the person whose job it is, to bring one to the table, subsequently - more important - to be paid for. 'Not spicy' now means 'will hurt my tongue'. 'Spicy' means red chilli and acute intestinal discomfort. 'I'll catch you later' ceases to mean 'if you fall down'. It means ' I will communicate with you later.' There is currently an advertisement for a firm of solicitors - yes, officers of the court - which suggests that if something has been mis-sold to"you and I" this firm will sue on your behalf, (or, maybe, prosecute). Would you trust your court experience to a firm that is not sufficiently educated even to instruct its advertising agency in nominative and accusative? No doubt they are thrilled by the attention the mistake has arouised. Any publicity is good publicity. However, I would be very surprised if this publicity did more than cause a few derisory chuckles, and, more important, no new clients. There will a mass of you out there wondering why on earth it should matter. Language evolves. So it may, but, more important, it also represents clarity and boundaries, form and harmony in our entire way of being in the world. Do you enjoy the wrong notes played in a piece of music? Do they strike your eardrum with shock and horror? That is how a  mistake in the spoken phrase may effect some of us. But how important is that? I ask myself. I ask you.  Nos da

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

The More Things Change...........

It ocurred to me that, in some ways, the world, or rather, the people in it, is going round in circles. I asked the Guru what an emoticon was. It seems it is a sort of picture to describe an emotion. Well, our ancestors were conveying information via drawings on their walls quite a bit before emoticons were 'invented.' Aboriginal communication, as I understand it, depends on messages going, as it were, through the ether.  Remind you of anything?  Whenever I grumble to the Guru about something lost on my laptop he explains, sometimes with more patience than others, that stuff is stored in cyberspace, not physically on the computer. Aboriginies, you have been right all along: bush telegraph by any other name...

Is there really that much difference between woad and tattoos? Isn't there  merely a change in geography when babies are currently carried strapped to a parent's tummy as opposed to strapped to the back of ancient women working in the fields or around the house? Taking to the sea when you  believed the earth was flat and you might fall off the edge would seem a familiar adventure to men - or women, of course - flying in to space.  Maybe Colonel Glenn and Vasgo de Gama did have a thing or two in common. I was in labour with number one when the first man arrived in space. Other than the officious nurse who stopped me leaning forward to pick up the sticky new arrival - not sterile - I had done nothing, (indeed, the baby and I), that had'nt been done  for several millenia before us

I am tempted to go on with this. It's fun thinking of more 'nothing's new' examples, but I feel I have to tell you, now, why there has been such a gap in transmission. It has been scarlet swim-suit time. The Guru and I went off for our annual look at the sea in foreign parts and it has taken me longer than the time we were away to get back in to my routine life. Before we left I treated my feline boss to a spa day, (so that his minder wouldn't have to worry so much about his physical care, silly). He had a sauna, (dry shampoo bath), a hairdo, (thorough brushing, nether parts included), and a pawdicure, (self explanatory). He came home looking like a picture book cat and immediately started grooming himself, presumably to show how it should be done.  The more things change.... Bore da

Saturday, 15 August 2015


Have you ever been to bed so  late you felt you had no need to brush your teeth in the morning?  I have had several of those nights recently and 'more than 75 going on 40' feels more like '75 going on 108' As I believe I keep pointing out, great(ish) age turns up some totally unexpected contentions - I think I mean things with which to contend. For instance, as well as getting tired, it never occured to me that a walk which has taken six minutes for the same number of decades gradually begins to take fifteen. . The phenomenon is so gradual that it doesn't register immediately but, having once been noticed,  I determined to increase my pace. No chance: the joints and screws and various other items needed for propulsion had simply stopped co-operating.

Nor did I expect deafness. There was nothing heriditary that suggested I may lose some degree of hearing. I have had some funny - both odd funny and humourous funny - experiences as a result. At the Out Patients' Clinic Enquiry Desk where I work at the local hospital I had a question from a pleasant looking man whose words I didn't catch. Granted, someone was moving squeaky equipment passed the desk at the same moment but the poor man had to repeat himself rather more than once. In the end, I cupped my hand to my ear and asked him to have one more go. "Audiology", he bellowed, "which clinic?". To my good fortune we both fell about laughing and my fears of being reported for conduct unbecoming trickled away. On his way back, passing perforce, the desk again, without stopping he pointed at me and said "I've made an appointment for you." I did, however, learn the lesson and determined to better the NHS hearing aids which, between you and me, I was already wearing, with some a little more sophisticated - also, they whistle. You may say, at my age, it's hardly worth the expense. My view is that I don't want to fade away without knowing whether those around me are blessing or cursing me. So yesterday, I duly presented myself at an audiology facility and underwent some tests which involved pressing a button in response to various high and low pitched bat and mouse noises. A diagnosis was made which I doubt took in to account the 'did-I-or-didn't-I' dilemma of what had or had not been heard. A situation which is not easy for an accuratologist who , in an ideal world, needed time to work out the yes or no of it. At any rate, a prescription was offered at a price so ridiculous I agreed to it much as one might have agreed to fund a scholarship in the Hearing Arts, in absolute expectation one would never be called upon to honour it. Scarlet swimsuit time is nearly upon us again, so the incentive was to have the aids in time to hear the waves crashing on the shore. If the Mistral blows I'll take them out. Prynhawn da

Sunday, 2 August 2015


Someone in the outer, outer circle of my life found she had had enough of dealing with things and this week gave up. I wonder if she could have put her imagination to the effect this would have on those, who in spite of her insecurities and fragility, loved and cherished her.  I have the feeling that souls in that position see their loved ones as being better off without them. So, for them, there is no question of sticking it out for the sake of whomever. As I understand it, she was not yet at retiring age so, in principal, with time for things to improve. This was clearly not a realistic expectation for her.

When I was forty eighty seemed like another country and, indeed, in many ways it is. There must be many inevitable losses in the ninth decade. The loss of a future may seem the starkest. Minor things will improve. One can fix a new knob to the door where the incumbent keeps coming off. One can find someone to lower the drying rack so that no-one has to fetch the steps to reach it. Some of us need to re-organise our way of being in the physical world. It is definitely declension of a walk along the banks of the river Ure. It is taxing to go anywhere by train if one conjugates the factors, because of the length of the platforms to be covered. To circumvent this, one can go by motor car. One - anyway, I, - can persuade a physician to try an injection which may help the pain caused by walking. What I and my contemporaries can't do is commit ourselves to a promise to do something in 2030, . Thinking about it, I concluded that hope was another commodity lost to age. However, this is not strictly so: one just has to find possibilities possible to hope for. I can't hope to walk along a river in Yorkshire, but I can hope for some relief from pain and for a handwritten, personal letter in the post. (You remember: a man or woman used to come up to the door and push paper through a special flap in it. You could then see who had been thinking of you or to whom you owed money).The old saw "eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow etc etc" suddenly blossoms with meaning. This morning, after serving My Lord Cat with 'wet' food, which is good for him, he began a plaintive wail -whine, even -which I knew meant 'I'd like some biscuits please'. In due course, the communication became much more 'what the H... do you think you are doing. Never mind what's good for me'. As a direct result of the  news which opened this post, I gave him a huge plate of biscuits: (cat biscuits, of course, silly). I did this on the basis that you have only one life so ditch the shoulds and shouldn'ts and get on with it. Prynhawn da

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

These I Have Missed

Having offered you 'These I have Loved' and 'These I have Loathed I felt moved to proceed to These I have Missed   It's perhaps not surprising that there are things  one misses in the 75 not 40 category. One of them, for me for instance, would be my waist. I haven't seen that in years .Arms would be another .Actually, I have seen them but they are a long way from being suitable for public viewing. I simply don't do them so am always on the look-out for sympathetic sleeves. Ankles have also  gone walkabout. I need to choose between a total disregard for skirts or a total disregard for the elderly predicament of no difference in width between knee and foot .As it happens, I do find, as the days hurtle by, that I am less and less troubled by what the eye of the other is seeing so have been out in a dress and fat ankles.

I find I miss longhand. One of my nicest possessions is a fountain pen of such refinement it ranks more as an 'objet d'art' than a wordsmith's tool. There will be those among you who have never filled a fountain pen nor scrawled a love message in blue-black. . However, in a cloud of lost yesteryear I see I have rather romanticised the longhand thing. An error made at the top of a hand- written page incurred a fine of huge proportions: one had to re-write the whole page.However, the advantage of the electronic conveyer of that which must be written down is that what it promises in practical error-removing and re-think possibilities, it loses in malfunctioning. As we speak, the short line curser which shows you where your letters are has joined the nomads so I am having to guess where the print will start and am doubtful about the length of sentences and paragraphs. The Wizard of Cyberspace never interfered in my earlier writing life.

Babies: I miss living with and looking after little people. I miss the feel of a small body against my chest and the gummy, smiley greeting at picking-up time .Truth be told, I miss the absolute sense of purpose the twenty-four-seven -fifty two  the role assumed. I miss good manners and find my own exagerated in a sort of 'yah boo and sucks' compensation. I do know, Gentle Reader, things were always better in the country where one was forty, but I am not the only green-inker who thinks the snows of before were whiter than  the snows of today. With some ruth, I miss forward planning. Recently a television programme I enjoy came to its season's end. Just think, I can see what happens next only,  as a dear, elderly friend used to say when I tried to arrange a meeting for a specific date, "If I am spared, Dear" Bore da

Tuesday, 7 July 2015


Today is the tenth anniversary of the terrorist bombings in London which killed fifty seven people and injured many more. Someone in my circle lost a leg. How it feels to  be him is beyond my imagination, but he shows us all a warmth and health of spirit that shames  anyone grumbling about a tricky computer for instance, in to the incontravertibly old-fashioned solution of counting their blessings. I have always advocated that a trauma has to be measured holistically, in the context of the sufferer's way of being in the world. A baby whose toy lies outside her/his reach is within  her/his rights to carry on as if deprived of a loved human being. To an obsessive tidier a plant pot spilt on the carpet can  feel like a car crash to a differently wired personality. However, this having been said, in the interest of what degree of sympathy to offer, it must be acnowledged that the loss of a limb is,   nevertheless, a gold amongst bronze disasters and should be treated as such without any 'yes-butting' about our own disasters

It is no secret that I am a World War Two child. ( Anyone who can add up must know that). It seems to me that my generation has a response to disaster tht is laced with the wine of a remembered state of mind. Disasters were daily events, particularly in the big cities. As it happens, although I didn't live in a big city, I did come from a town with a very important port which was an early and frequent target of German bombers.  I had been disaptched - I want to say 'abandoned - to boarding school for my safety so had to contend with the breath-holding worry that my parents may not have survived from one night to another. Imagine: no mobile phones, not even direct dialling. How was one of a hundred little girls to find out about her family's fate when such an odyssey had to go through Matron to a form teacher, to the Head and then through a telephone exchange whose lines were mostly taken up with essential and hush-hush emergency calls. Shortages and deprivation of material as well as emotional necessities were simply the way things were. Stoicism became the yeast in our bread, essential but virtually unnoticed, a condition which my lot lives with to this day. And now, especially, the blessing-counting is necessary in the wake of indescribable horrors in the rest of the world.
 .I know, I  know: what has this got to do with being 75 (more than) going on 40? Well, we shall just have to call this post "75 going on 6". Bore da


Friday, 19 June 2015


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