Thursday, 24 November 2016

Unintended Consequences

Those of you kind Readers who were actually taking in what you were reading in the  previous post will have noticed what turns out to be one of the oddest, possibly ironic and innocent pits in to which I have fallen since I started blogging.  Talking about the President Elect of the United States I wondered whether or not there was the equivalent of a Tower in which, either to throw him or for him to throw anyone else who dared to steal his cricket bat. Of course there is: he lives in it.

As it happens, as I have confided already, I sense the possibility that his very election was an unintended consequence and now he has to go on with a play-date he thought someone would surely protect him from.  My whole unseeing stupidy caused me to think of other unwitting outcomes which may well arise from well intentioned intentions. I am reminded, for instance, of Humpty Dumpty who was seriously unlikely to have sat on that wall had he known that, ultimately, it would mean the end of life as he knew it. I remember, as a very young woman, going to an auction with someone who was a serious contender. He was late and I arrived before him and, you've guessed, put up my hand in a wave to show him where I was sitting and found myself the proud owner of a rather pretty mirror.  No problem with the mirror: the problem was I could not afford the money to pay for it. Luckily, the auctioneer was sympathetic to the weeping student beseeching him and agreed to put it in the next sale and refund my  cash if it sold.  It did. I have rarely trusted myself at an auction since that time. As you have heard me going on about before and even befive, the Wizard of Cyberspace affords more examples of unintended consequences than are dreamt of in your philosophy.  There appears to be a 'thing' on the front of my laptop which totally eliminmates every stitch of work if pressed on. I swear there is no visible indication of this er-facility and I have, more than twice, wiped out a whole post or a whole letter of excuse to Parking Finers just as I got to the 'bore da' bit. There is  a sometimes advantage to this particular unintended consequence: the re-write is often more succint and shorter than the original and, therefore, better.  Non of these examples compares, however, with a very old story,  though apocryphal it maybe , best heard in a Welsh accent, of the woman who confessed to her  best friend that her unmarried daughter was pregnant; a disaster in that  day and age.  The friend asked, in horror, how that had come about.  "Oh", was the reply, " She didnt hear what the gentleman said".  Bore da

Friday, 18 November 2016


Sometimes I find myself wishing that the people who make decisions were as old as I am.  I don't mean world changing decions - or, maybe, those too - but minor decisions which seriously impinge on my daily life.

For instance, how has it come about that the broadsheet newspaper I take in order to attempt the crossword, (with a view to exercising my brain of course), has recently started to spread an article across two pages?  More, it prints photographs in the same way. Now, I am not physically able to cope with the spread unless I am reading it at a table where it seems big enough to serve as a tablecloth.  Truth to tell, it is only in convalescence that I have been reading the news in the paper which, hitherto, I simply turned on its back in order to access the crossword.  What a revelation: somehow, the ways of the world seemed to  me more filtered when picked up from radio or television.  Black and white and  the time to read drives home the significance with the force of a pneumatic drill. The Western world can't be about to be led by an unruly, spoilt infant in the guise of a squat man badly in need of a haircut.  It seems to me that the President Elect of the United States had, what in the American language may be called "a ball" during the raz-mataz of the election campaign.  Confronted with the reality of getting what he believed he wished for, it wouldn't be surprising if he were more than a little taken aback.  As in "I will accept the job of Head Boy in your Boarding School, but I don't want to live in and I want my brothers and sisters to be there, full-time, to play with me." The next logical step could well be "off with his head" or confinement in whatever Tower exists in the United States. But details such as the layout of a newspaper and the height - or not - of park benches are never dictated by the needs of the elderly.  (Since you ask, if a park bench is less than a certain height from the ground it is very difficult for the arthritic elderly to rise out of ). Self service eating facilities present more dilemmas. Are you old enough to find yourself carrying a tray, a hand-bag and a walking stick, in front of the cutlery stack wondering how the H... to get what you need without tumbling over - you as well as the tray? But perhaps, until someone offers to help you put on your socks the full force of  outside decision taking can't possibly hit.  ( I refer you back to the jolly old carers who decided 5.30 was a good time for the last meal of the day). I must confess I was never brilliant at taking orders.  For instance, I left a drama group because the Director's decisions about character interpretation were not the same as mine.  However, it seems to me I have had to get on with not a few vicissitudes in all these many decades. Deciding and accepting that I am a cliche of an old lady is both character  building, funny and extremely challenging  Bore da

Thursday, 10 November 2016


 It is now five weeks since Liz had an operation and I am still working on half, well, maybe, two thirds cylanders. One of the conundra is how much is legitimate debility and how much Anno Domini. (Oops, I am reliably reminded that one doesn't say that anymore: it is BCE, I believe:  Before the Christian Era, as I think I have pointed out before. There must be those who might be offended by the use of that time-honoured way of expressing the passage of time, but in view of what may happen to the Western world as a result of events in the USA it pays to be extra careful not to give offence to anyone anywhere.

Reconciling current experience with long-term expectations is proving quite a challenge.  The saga of the Council-sponsored carers continues. Liz has to reconcile  herself to a complete stranger poking her head around the door and saying "Hi Liz".  The demand on my conscience and charity is beginning to outgrow the supply. One lady  came up four times from the kitchen to ask such basic questions I began to wonder whether this was some kind of test of the degree to which my mind had given up the ghost.  One couldn't use the microwave oven, One couldn't use the oven oven. One - the one who couldn't use the microwave but hadn't time to wait for the oven to heat - forgot the frozen peas which had been the subject of Liz's descent  in to the kitchen, herself, to point out freezer and the peas therein, along with a saucepan very used to holding boiling water and some vegeatble or other. At one moment, the degree of exasperation was such that I actually asked one carer what she, herself, ate.   You don't need to know.  On an occasion when I resorted to Fish Fingers  (a child's form of goujon in case you are not familiar with them.  They are about three inches long and one inch wide, usually cod covered with bread crumbs).  Looking at the plate in front of me, I picked one up and let it fall back on to the plate. Crash, Bang, a mini-brick: I might just as well have thrown a pebble on to thin ice.  Oh Dear!  This is sounding so ungrateful.  I am not.  It is just that the 'care package' is such a good idea in principal. However, it is a huge waste of resources because  it fails in the execution - something I would gladly have performed, with a kitchen knife, if someone close to me had not turned up and taken over the kitchen in what a little person of my acquaintance once called "The knickers of time."  Bore da

Post Script.  Liz is desolate to have too little strength to attend the annual Mumsnet Blogfest. Enjoy and profit by it: I always do

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

As I was saying...

The break in transmission of which you were advised has lasted rather longer than I had hoped.  Originally, it was to allow time for recovery from an operation to remove a tumour that had no business to be where it was.  This was accomplished well with no need for further treatment. Since then, I confess, I have been lazing around reading, trying the crossword and being generally a bit of a bed potato.  
Came a day when I saw that a jumper and trousers were not so very different from pyjama top and bottom so discarded the latter and put on the former.  Today, I added some underpinning.  Next will be make-up and then Liz will be back to her pre-op self.  In the meantime, much amusement has been afforded by the carrying out of the Council's Care programme. It seems to me to be geared to those who are so sick they can make no contribution whatsoever to their own care.  Although, through the offices of kind friends, I need help only in the evenings to prepare a light meal, at least one, and sometimes three, people turn up three times a day to help with dressing, medication and whatever else doesnt need doing since, in the morning for instance, I am manifestly dressed and breakfasted when the Carer arrives.  I do welcome help with a light supper.  There is never the same person twice so the littany of where is the kitchen, where is this that and the other has to be repeated eveningly. Light food is interpreted differently by each one.  One can't cook fresh pasta for five minutes in boiling water and one can't prepare a 'ready meal' - bought on the advice of a canny daughter - a) because it can't be microwaved or b) because it won't go in to the oven. There was one lady so scary I had to ask her to leave.  She must have been fortyish, witch-like, dressed like a teenager with reality difficulties and not a word of English.  Even the cat hid under the bed which was, in a way, quite reassuring because he is black and, had she really been a witch, surely he would have taken to her.  There was one ocassion when three people stood in front of my bed at the same time listing how I would be helped to dress, to take medication and various other infantilising ministrations.  Dont misunderstand me.  The Council's care scheme is, in principle, a miracle of need-meeting and I am blessed to be in its net.  It is in the commission that it falls down. The patient - I -feel like a list to be ticked off without scope for variation or individuality. Still, it has provided me with tales enough to keep blogging for the  next little while and that's a positive since I am, for now, cocooned from the world the rest of you inhabit.  Bore da

Friday, 23 September 2016

Auld Acquaintance

Choose a number, any number, with zillions of noughts at the end and you may well have the number of published books out there ready for you to read.  This 'statistic' comes to mind because I have found myself drawn to re-reading favourites I have already read at least once before. This time, I was aware of an unexpected response.  I had a sort of walking in to a familiar room feeling.  The room was full of people I knew and cared about and furnished comfortably with  no jarring elements to spoil the reunion. Conversation was relaxed and easy even though I may have forgotten some of the events and names of people that cropped up.

Having many years under the belt, (I don't understand that. Where did that saying originate, I wonder.  Do let me know if any of you knows)  as I was saying, under the belt memories seem to have sections.  There are those which are fixed, like your skin you might say. I suppose that would cover essential learning: how to eat, walk, talk for instance and, no, I do not mean to be arch here, because the predicament came to mind of a friend who had to relearn all the above after a severe car crash when she was nineteen years old affected her brain. Then there are the visual vignettes.  I believe I remember picking raspberries with my Mother in the garden when I was three. Of course, I may just  remember remembering. I  see myself holding a rusk in a laterally neutral position in front   of my baby young to see with which hand it was reached for and grabbed.  This was because there were several left-handers on both sides of the heritage. (Since you ask, one leftie, two righties). Then   there are the memories which act as memorials for the Dear Departed.  Every time I look at a potentially too tired item of food I hear a late someone very dear to me say "Put it in the freezer until you don't feel guilty about throwing it out". This section has a b) sub-section: things which recall those who are still very much alive.  "Listen to me, I tell you something..." the opening phrase from a loved one whose first language is not English, now acquired by many of my circle to start a comment of our own. A four-year old female lifting the skirt of a two-year old female to pull her blouse down straight: the catalogue is endless.  But it has just occured to me what this is all about, the re-read books, the recall of recalling and so on and so forth.  It is a way of reaching out to old friends real and fictional and to past happennings as a sort of Goodbye.  Not because that is necessarily  something to be dealt with as a matter of urgency but because, after a very long life, the number of Goodbyes to be got through will take a very long time .  Bore da

Friday, 9 September 2016


When I was at the 'what-shall-I-be-when-I grow-up' stage a job existed which was called "Continuity".  I fear it was actually called "Continuity Girl" but let's gloss over that and get on with the post.  For those of you looking up at us old ones from below the turning point between young and getting-on, continuity was what film makers needed to make sure everything was as it should be in films of a different period from the extant one. Well, actually even in films set in contemporary times too.  For an accurologist like me, it was both annoying, distracting and triumphing to spot the lapses.

I have no idea whether or not this role still exists but it certainly should.  Last night on television  I watched a replay - yes, another, - of a series where more than three murders routinely occur.  Part of it was set in North Wales.  Be prepared, Dear Readers, to be shocked.  The indigenous characters were given SOUTH Welsh accents.  I listened hard, I turned the volume up, I set the cat on 'mute' but, in spite of all that, there was no doubt: the North Waleans were speaking with the wrong accent. I was powerless to do anything to correct this outrage.  That programme was years old and, I think, the series is now filed under redundant.  Simlarly, in a film set in wartime, which I watch a while ago, about an attempt to assassinate Hitler, my continuity of interest was halted every few minutes by observing the German soldiers saluting one another with the sort of curved sweep of the cap practised by the American army.  In the entire three hours there was only one "Heil Hitler". Surely, the people responsible for authenticity must have realised this.  Or  was it a blatant ignoring of how it was, or, shock horror, was it a deliberate decision not to cause possible offence to those to whom Heil Hitler would have had a terrifying retrospective death ring. But, wouldn't it be true to suppose that anyone with personal experience of that epoch who allowed themselves to watch the film would have been prepared for retrospective nausea and fear with the experience?  On a lighter beam: in a 'Waitrose' shop in central London recently, (up-market Supermarket if you are over the Pond or elsewhere than the UK) I had cause to call for the Manager.  "Young man", quoth I, "that sign should read "8 items or fewer", not "8 items or less."  In the same way, checking in at the Out Patients section of a rather glamourous hospital, I spotted a sign which read " It is essential that children are supervised at all times."  To the young Receptionist whose first language was not English, anyway, my pointing out that it should read "be supervised" simply rolled off her back.  But, Oh, what fun to be old enough to say these things and revel in the resultant 'I've got a right one 'ere' response. Bore da

Sunday, 21 August 2016


Those of you who have been faithful followers for all the time I have been 75 going on 40 will be sure of two things: one, I can't possibly be 75 still and, two, I have lived in awesome fear of the Wizard of Cyberspace since the beginning and on-going.  (It's extraordinary how the inner voice will still pop up with some long-out-of-date information.  I was about to write 'ab initio' when some shame-backed reticence stopped me.  But it's a phrase I havent thought of since University days which were well before your parents were born). The point is that, recently, I have experienced the Wizard in a positive and magical, as a Wizard should be, mode.

Some weeks ago, one of the people dearest to me in the whole world was granted an Honorary Master of Arts degree from a very presitgious University.  Glossing over the fact that he neglected to tell me in time for me to attend - some over-protective decision that it would tire me, a decision not really his to take - he did tell me how to access some photos of the event. Now, as you know, thanks to the Guru, I can just about turn this machine on and I can even do some rather more sophisticated things with it,  I don't entrust it/me with my banking, but then I don't entrust any system with my banking. With considerable effort and exhausting concentration I  found the stamp-sized collection of photographs with the help of Mr. Google.  Scrolling relentlessly down I found two of my friend.  Dear Reader, hold your breath, I was able to print them off. With more thanks to the Guru I have an idiot-proof print and copy machine, except that this idiot forgets every time what to do and ends up pressing this that and the other with hope in her heart and eyes closed,  Suffice it to say, eventually it worked and I made several copies for other near and dear who may like to see them. (Since you ask, I had to print them one at a time because I have forgotten how to change the number- needed digit).  Anyway, there I was with adequate copies on adequate paper.  However, when presented to the Numero Uno in this little circle, he announmced he would like them in a form he could frame. Yes, and I could deliver them via Jupiter, too.  Step in the Guru yet again and this brings me to the point of this post and the good old Wizard of Cyberspace. From my mobile phone Guru found the photos - don't ask: I can't even guess. We were in a restaurant at the bottom of Baker Street in London, He researched a copying shop at the top of the street and sent the photos up there ready to be passed on to photo quality paper.  Yes, REALLY   I can't begin to guess about that, either. We duly went to the shop. A size was chosen. A number agreed on and, in one minute and three quarters I was holding two copies of two photos that could have been taken with coloured film on my Brownie camera. If I am honest, I am still in shock and that was a week ago. The Guru, not surprisingly, doesn't see what all the fuss was about. He was just teaching his Godmother to suck eggs. Prynhawn da