Sunday, 12 February 2017


As I was saying last time but one, life has had the rather cheeky effect of turning the rules of relating upside down. Yesterday, I found myself  being encouraged to eat rather more than I had capacity for.  The food was Chinese and quite delicious and the dishes were meant for sharing.  There were, however, several that I was not particularly partial to.  To my consternatiom, people kept popping morsels in to my bowl and I had no choice but to bite on the dumpling and do as I was told.  The crux of it being that I must eat to keep my strength up.  Which sounded to me rather like the " You won't grow up to be a big strong net-ball player unless you eat  up all your dinner".

As the evening drew on, concern was expressed about how tired I might be getting, as in "It's past your bedtime". At a table for five I was the only one drinking a fruit cocktail, plain and simple.  Everyone else had a fruit cocktail with a base of vodka or some other spirit forbidden to the over/under age.  My dilemma is whether to settle for the implicit caring or fidget at the infantilising. I am helped on with my coat and even with my cardie.  This, on one level, is welcome to my stiff shoulder.  On another it makes me want to stamp my feet and tell the helper to b....r off .  I can manage perfectly well, thank you.  But I can't. You know what, I never noticed I had access to naughty words when I was younger.  Or if I did, I didn't use them.  But I do find I have not only access but an impulse to speak them in old age.  It just goes to show how a well-behaved teenage can turn in to an unruly old age, But I do have the guardian inner voice that, while indulgent, does rather frown on the inelegance of swearing and the like. "Little girls mustn't use words like that". I am begining to suspect I am behaving more like 70 going on 14 in the last phase of my life.  The effect of terminal illness seems to be a relaxing of codes and a decision not to buy a box with three bath-size bars of soap in it.  Much of the over-turn in roles between me and the young, as I have acknowledged, has to be a form of caring. That doesn't stop me from the inner response of 'shan't, won't, can't make me'. Surprisingly, one of the odder phenomena  in this paradox is when one of them picks up the bill when we have eaten in a restaurant together,  It was always I who paid  This act reminds me of something else I have put to you in the course of recording chronology versus reality: the question of what constitutes a memorial.  Someone close to me, before the age of computers, would pick up a hand-written restaurant bill I was about to pay, run her eye up and down it in a nano second and hand it back saying "That's right, Dear".  She comes to mind every time I eat out.

Finally, i want to tell you about someone I have known for sixty five years,  During that time we have talked about everything on planet earth, from Moses to Trump, from raising children to Welsh Rugby.  The other day, on the telephone, he was telling me about his osteoporosis and I was bringing him up to date on my situation.  Suddenly, it came to me we were no longer two intelligent, educated, thoughtful debaters.  We were two old women discussing our ailments in Swamsea Market.  Bore da

Saturday, 28 January 2017


Watching on television news of our Prime Minister's meeting with the American President, I took the liberty of noticing - or, rather, assuming - that she had been 'styled'.  She was wearing a   suit of a glorious vivid red and her hair had been cut to a smooth cap over her head where I had been accustomed to seeing her with a good but rather wayward, windswept cut: rather like the rest of us in fact.

A discussion, or dissertation more likely, arose between two early middle aged women I know.  The gist of which was that in 2017 not much has changed in the infantilising, patronising and diminishing way in which women are still treated at work and, indeed, everywhere else in the world.  It sprang from observing that Mrs May's appearance ahould  have no place in talking about her work and what she hoped to achieve. It was noted that she had been called 'headmistressy' as had Lady Thatcher in her time.  No-one had ever called Mr. Cameron or George Bush 'headmastery'. (Mr Obama wasn't) One of the women, a distinguished and senior person in her profession, admitted that she had felt herself forced to project more 'girly' and younger than she actually was in order to hold the attention of  bosses who, otherwise, were incapable of taking her reports, requests and presentations seriously. This stance was taken after years of struggling to hold on to a more realistic projection of who she was and she was sickened to find the strategy worked. The second woman had been promoted in a situation where she was already far up the ladder of success but then had to fight to be given the same job-title as a male colleague in the same situation. Assessing the clothes of  notable women is another irritating example of irrelevance but, perhaps, more readily noticable to those of us no longer having to deal with this outrageous situation, at least in the workplace. Although I am still prepared to go on about being called Liz by people on the telephone I have never met and don't intend to meet. I can see that in kindergarten it would not have done to call me Miss Mountford but that was many decades ago and should be binned, by now, with all the annoying rest of that insulting behaviour. I digress,  Tell me, honestly, did you ever hear a discussion about Churchill's ties or Eisenhowers shirts? No, neither did I.  I have occasionally heard criticism of shabby or inappropriate attire in a male public figure.  For instance, there is a television authority on politics who, it seems, was told to get a better hair cut and wear a tie while at work and, I must say, I was distracted, myself, from the portent of what he was saying by the shaggy dog nature of his appearance. However, the joke is, that at this point in my diatribe I have  noticed, in a light-bulb moment, that at last there is parity.  Which of us has not had a go at the hair of Mr. Trump?  Prynhawn da

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Topsy Turvy

As it happens the title of the blog ought, temporarily, to be changed, anyway for this post. It will have to be called  "75 going on 4" since it pertains to a new element that has entered in to the relationship between me and my young.  Now, as you will have noticed, I rarely divulge bits of uniquely personal stuff but this time has to be the exception.  Because of the nature of my physical being at the moment the member of the young lot who doesn't normally live in London has come to do some Mother-caring.  All well and good, on paper.  In the execution of it some hilarious turns around have cropped up.

Liz is supposed to go easy on sugar and other murderous representations of  the sweet and delicious Himself has taken on the role of superviser - or vigilante - in this respect. Occasionally, I am allowed a miniscule portion of that which I crave, so there came a moment when such a dispensation, in the form of pudding following dinner,  was in the offing. At a point where I had nearly finished the main course, himself made to go to the kitchen.  "Pudding?" I enquired with impressive nonchalance.  He looked at my not quite finished plate and said "When you have eaten that all up." You can imagine the hilarity with which that was greeted.  It would be close on fifty years since I said just that to him  I have run out of parallels to compare it with. The pot  calling the kettle black. The worm turning.What comes around turns around and so on and so on. (I suspect I have misquoted the latter option.  Please correct me if so).  It reminded me of a time when the same protaganist was examining the newly bought anorak of his continental- european Godmother. (One has to be so careful with regard to the use of 'Europe', don't you find?)  He was six. In some urgency he pointed out that the garment had no hood which, of course, his did.  She extracted a hood  by opening a tiny zip (zipper for over the Pond) and showing it to him.  "Yes it has", she explained.  "A very teen ('thin' if English is your first language) hood".  "A tin hood wouldnt be any use" ionsisted the youngster.  "Hmm", replied she." There was a time when I taught you English."  For various boring physical reasons it is useful if I am helped in to anything with sleeves, particularly if it is heavy, like a faux-fur lined winter jacket.  I am told to stand still, that I was impeding progress.  Either the phrase was imprinted in his psyche and recalled at the distance of decades or it was 'perchance', operating via the mystery of the collective unconscious. I am waiting, with some trepidation, to hear him withold my treats because I didnt eat up all my greens
Bore da.

Thursday, 12 January 2017


Every time I hear or read a grammatical or syntax mistake my pedantic inner ear behaves as if a whole orchestra had played a wrong note.  It can't be helped.  That's how things are.  I know people who have such a sensitive sense of smell that they have, if it's possible, to move to a different table in a restaurant when a heavily perfumed diner turns up.  Their hearing is so acute they can hear a pin drop  I have known musicians who, seeing me look around to track a noise will say "No: it's coming from over there." exactly opposite to where I was looking.  Anyway, I have allowed myself to believe that my reaction to atonality is just such a legitimate physical attribute.

The other day I was reading in the paper about an aristocrat who had taken a rather unusual step to ensure the continuation of his line "It seemed like a good idea to 'name-of-wife' and I."  Now this gentleman - literally - must have gone most likely to Eton or similar and even to a good enough university.  How is it possible he can make such an ill-informed mistake?  If you take out the wife you would be left with "It seemed a good idea to I.." well, I don't think so. I do know that it is a mistake which crops up all the time and clashes with my well-being all the time.  If in doubt, all one has to do is to remove the second or more person and see how it would sound, then, as in anecdote  above,  With nothing more pressing to do I am tempted to red line and count the number of singular nouns married to plural verbs in the daily papers.  "The group do..." where my inner ear would want "The group does..."    Why, in the name of Current World Chaos should we give a d..n? Because it seems to me symptomatic of a dangerous failure of boundaries and a loss of formality, or formulation, of  an organised way of being in the world: sloppy lanquage equals sloppy morals, behaviour, standards and so on and so on. (What do you think?  I do wonder how much value this preoccupation adds to my life, but at its nicest it is fun and at its most pedantic it gives me something else concrete to fret about).
On the more delightful side of life, I had a very nice experience during a visit to my G.P. (General Practioner or 'everyday' Doctor if you are over the Pond). He asked about my appetite.which has diminished somewhat.  "Oh dear" said he, " we shall have to keep an eye on you to see you do not lose too much weight."  How many decades have I, and so many other women, waited and longed for just such an admonition. Bore da

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Transition - again

Mylittle furry friend has something wrong with his left eye.  Such is the scale of eye problems in his breed that we have had to wait weeks for a specialist to see him.  In the meantime, he has to have drops in the eye three timesx a day.  Exactly: you try it and still remain persona grata in his life. I fear that the drops have been accomplished more in the breach than the observance but we must hope his beard will equally benefit from whatever the  drops contain, having received rather more of them than has his infected eye.  It occurs to me to wonder how I should have responded if one of my young had announced one morning that they intended to be a cat opthamologist. It's the kind of profession one needs for a party game: "Guess what I do".

Since I am as yet symptom free my cat can be the invalid in the family.  I do wonder if he is aware that all is not well with him but he comports himself with his usual gentle good humour.  I am particularly pleased with this current cold snap because he comes to sleep curled up in my curl up which is companionable and reassuring, as you can imagine. It is a strange land, this land of transition.  It is something I may well have put to you before.  In the past I have noticed it as a condition that crops up when one has left home but is not yet at the new destination.  Generally, it is not a comfortable sensation.  This time feels different.  It is not uncomfortable but even has its moments of humour when it comes to me that it will not be my concern if the President Elect of the USA, when established, continues to turn logic on its head and overturns the goodwill of any state that continues to work and/ or hope for peace among all people.  I was, as you may have sensed, going to say "all men", but don't want to risk offending those who have discarded "he" and "she" in favour of well, what exactly?  Not that I am against the principle of gender equality, very far from it.  It's just that some of the ways and words in use to overcome the sole use of the masculine are so silly as to defeat their purpose. There: Ive said it. That's another condition (plus?) of my being in transition.  I find myself saying just what I mean.  A dear friend asked me to tell her if there was anything at all I wanted from her. "To see more of you" I told her. A forewardness I would not have considered for one moment ante deluvium or whatever the latin would be for before the knowledge that the end was nigh-ish.  Prynhawn da

Monday, 26 December 2016

As I Was Saying....

Thinking about the title of the last post - no pun intended so maybe I mean 'latest' post - I have noticed an unexpected development: I am, indeed, keeping calm.  It feels as if the rythym of my inner world has settled.  Breathing is  level, the solar plexus restful. It is not that I feel less alert but that the alertness breathes calmly, like the continuo supporting the musical excitement in the intricacies of the work whose sounds we follow perhaps ignoring the under-beat and to which we respond with whatever emotion feels appropriate.

As yet, the lurgie that has been routed out of its secret hiding place in my interior has not produced any symptoms.  I am, therefore, well able to manage day to day as the days currently find themselves. I am, however, as I said, intrigued by the even breath phenomenon. The significance of little things has changed.  To save myself a scalding, I hurriedly put a hot mug down on a polished surface.  Even though I picked it up pretty d..n quick, a mark was left.  About to fuss over and/or polish it, it occured to me that, in due course, the young could deal with it. It was a lovely feeling of freedom, a shift in responsibility. Among the gifts I was given during yesterday's event was a box of three very special bath- size almond soaps, my all time favourite. " That's optimistic" , I said in the fervent hope I did not render uncomfortable those among us who were not in to gallows humour. I am aware, though, that this is all very well and good symptom-free.  I shall, no doubt, have to watch the walk to the gallows rather less flippantly as the lurgie asserts its rights over my body very much more insistently. I have also noticed a readiness to speak the truth instead of prevaricating or keeping quiet.  I actually said to a friend whose life is uber-busy but, evidently, with a corner as yet unused since she asked what she could do to help me, that I would like to see her more often.  Centuries - well decades - of polite reticence ditched in one sentence. I shall have to ask my Guardian Angel to keep a watching brief over these new impulses. Someone close to me who is one of the people I love most in the world gave me a How To Survive Cancer sort of book.  That was thoughtful but the writer, ages younger than I, underwent devastating treatment and her book is geared to those who will do similarly. My instinct is to let nature take its course. Those of you keen eyed and faithful readers may remember me recounting the tale of the musician friend who, overhearing me say I planned to play his recordings at my funeral (before its imminence, of course) asked why he couldn't play live, then added "we'll have to talk dates though.  I am getting very busy".  That's one for the gallows wouldn't you say?  Bore da.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Stay Calm and......

Naturally, it is tempting to complete the injunction: Stay Calm and Carry On.  Unfortunately, Liz has to tell you that she will, indeed, do her best to carry on but nature has put a time limit on her capacity to do so in the form of a tumour which is not given to much co-operation under the current treatment  possibilities. Kind on-going followers may remember the sagas (plural 'sagas' or 'sagae?) of the women sent to help feed me after the last, (quite recent last), operation which, it seems had nothing to do with the present condition.  Anyway, I remember them and they rather predicate against going through a similar experience again even to buy a few extra months.  So, it would seem that Liz is now actually 75 going on 75, though there will be those among you astute enough to have worked out that, in the eight years I have been blogging, I must have moved on somewhat from 75.

Thankfully, it seems there is no tumour on my humour so I can only hope that this will be one area where I can reliably carry on.  Indeed, during the week,, I had lunch with a friend on an occasion when it was my turn to pay.  At some point she disappeared and I assumed she had gone to the loo.  In fact, she had gone to pay the bill.  I protested it was my turn and we agreed it certainly would be next time.  I said "Promise?" and she said "Cross my heart and..." but we decided, unanimously, not to finish that particular saying. No doubt, if I had symptoms which impinged on my life as we speak, it may be possible to think a little more realistically. I don't, so I suspect there may be a tinge of delay in acceptance which makes it easier to be matter-of-fact.  However, it IS a matter of fact so I must be sure to allow myself to catch up with the implications fully enough before too long.  I am going to see a Person Who May Know More and, therefore, help decision-making, tomorrow, so that is the next of the 'one step at a time' proceedures my family and I are undertaking.(Forget the pun). In the meantime, life's other little jokes do carry on. Without my having seen him go in, my jet black cat had settled himself inside the jet black interior of his yurt. (No, I didn't.  I am not that profligate. Two yurts and various other extreme luxuries came with him in a trousseau from his previous owners). My first indication of his whereabouts was the sight of a square inch of pink going up and down, seemingly disembodied, inside the yurt, accompanied with the slurping noise incurred by washing by licking when you don't have an adequate nose.  Prynhawn da