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

Friday, 3 April 2015

Confusion

Have you noticed how school labels the days and the times for us? Attending school, one knew which day it  was because, for instance, the weekend was over so it must be Monday. Mother has reminded one to take one's gym kit so it must be Wedesnday - at least, in my school. The weekend is coming so it must be Friday and home smells of baking on that day. It was Tuesday when I went in to the town and had tea with my Mother and her friends in a place which doesn't exist anymore. (For Heaven's sake, when Hitler had finished reshaping out familiar landscape, why did we have to start pulling things down ourselves?). Later, the days are identified by other peoples' school routine; the inner notepad nagging to get the gym kit dried in time.  Machinations were required to be in two places at the same time on football/cricket days. Leave the sportsman, muddy and worn out, to wait until the littlest one has been picked up, or leave the little one to wait in the rain while the muddy one is picked up? Ironically, at one level, although I could name games' days, on another, looking after a number of other very busy people, the days all ran in to one another and I had to stop and give them their names in an attempt to hold on to the pattern required to save everyone, not just me,  from spinning in to chaos in the tumble dryer of every day..

This split turns up as we speak, the knowing and not knowing what day it is.You have Sunday every day of the ten days of Christmas. There is also Good Friday Sunday and Easter Saturday Sunday and Sunday Sunday. That  is your one true Sunday: on Easter day. I work on Mondays and Thursdays so Tuesday after Monday, could easily be Friday and it is hard to grasp that Friday actually is Friday after Thursday has passed. Ever since I  was a little girl, the names of the days have turned up to my inner eye in colour. There  is a name for this phenomenon which I can't remember. Can you help? I know it attaches to every word for some who are afflicted. However, as I was saying, the days have colours and part of the dayname muddle is the way the colours run in to one another when I am struggling to identify on which day of the week I have  made the current mess-up. Are you sure you want to know? Very well: Monday white, Tuesday dark brown, Wednesday green, Thursday light brown, Friday grey,Saturday yellow and Sunday blue and, no, since you ask, I don't have the faintest idea why. On the radio programme to which I habitually listen Sunday afternoons, are taken up by boring, talky magazine programmes. I have been typing away thinking how much more musical it is this afternoon. Good for them, bowing to popular demand. Well, actually, not so. No doubt it will bore for England when it will be Sunday: today is Friday. Prynhawn da.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Gratitude

As a trained observer I have noticed, not suddenly but gradually, how much more often I need to say "thank you" than in yesteryear. Subtly, the small things that I didn't even register when I was a middle-aged youngster, have become large things for which I need help. In some cases, it becomes quite costly. If the nice taxi driver gets out of his cab to help me out, I feel I have to double the tip I would otherwise have given him. Equally, I subtract the tip if he doesn't get out and I am faced with the cliff-hanger which is the measure of the gap between the taxi step and the road outside. Taxi drivers, in my experience, rarely stop close to the pavement (sidewalk) so the descent is even longer than it need be.

My walking stick has a penchant for the floor. Inevitably, thankfully, someone bends down to pick it up for me. Someone with whom I am sharing a table at the hospital canteen will see me put my  bottle of water to my teeth and offer to open it simply with a grip I just about remember exercising. As it happens, I once caught sight of myself using this method of opening a closed top and it is not a pretty sight. It has definitely to be relegated to the no-no register of elderly elegance. From time to time, I am allowed to jump the queue to pay in the canteen. This is a dispensation for which 'thank you' is scarcely enough. A loaded tray, water bottle rolling about and lid of salad container bouncing uneasily around when one hand is holding a walking stick is almost Jugglerdom in the skill it requires. Recently, I went home to Wales with someone close to me. At his suggestion, we hired a wheel chair so that I could process a little further than would be possible on Shank's pony: (on foot, if it's not a phrase with which you are on usage terms. I try to be cognisant of my American-cousin-readers and translate and explain wherever I have the knowledge to do so). I found it an excercise in both acceptance and denial. I accepted that I could not walk as far as a favourite  headland and I was denying the otherwise humiliating and dependant nature of the enterprise. Actually, it was not denying so much as lifting myself away from the way it could have felt to be back in a push chair  with a fountain of 'thank yous' to those whom we displaced on the path and to the Pusher who, five decades or so ago, would have been the Pushed. It seems that somewhere, Someone has a sense of humour. How else could one accept the circular irony of the Pushed turning Pusher? Humour provides a serendipidy for which I can only say a thousand times 'thank you' or even Diolch.  Bore da


Saturday, 14 March 2015

Emperors

Those of you kind enough to keep up will have noticed that I keep referring to drawer-tidying. This is partly  a wish not to burden the young, in the fullness of time, with more than is reasonable, partly a way of avoiding the inclination of the elderly to hoard and have in reserve - running out of tangibles being a metaphor for running out of life - and partly a way of sculpting the essentials from the block of clutter which has built up for a lot more than three score and ten years.

The unexpected, or even astounding, discovery in this activity is that I come across clothes I had long forgotten I had. Last week it was the jumper drawer. Right at the back, pristine in its original plastic protection, was a soft white jumper in the style of a blouse. This means that it had a collar and cuffs. On top of it was another softie, a 'goes-over' that makes a layered look that is the one current fashion even I am not too old to follow. (My canny Mother used to say about fashion that, if it came round a second time, you were too old to wear it). Buried deep were also some jumpers in jewel colours that hadn't seen the light of day for years and years. I am very excited about having as-if new clothes without shopping and without expense. The same with books. I am in the middle of a project to count my books. Since you ask, no reason other than curiosity but, perhaps, also to help with the posthumous decision of how many skips (dumpsters) will be needed for the ultimate clearout. There are 120 in the bedroom alone.  I may well be counting the last one  concurrent with ordering the skip in the first place. A few days ago, at the hospital where I work, I helped a patient find the out-patients' clinic he was looking for. On his way back he stopped and thanked me. "They told me not to start War and Peace" he said and was gone before I could blink. Humour, bravery, denial, untrue, which would you say it was? Anyway, if we happen to pass in the street and you start thinking I am always wearing something new and must, therefore, be very rich, please go home and tidy your drawers and you can be very rich, too. Alternatively, you can take a leaf from the book, counted or not, of the Emperor whose new clothes were guaranteed to keep him cool in summer and cold in winter. Prynhawn da

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Measures

There has, I acknowledge, been a slight break in transmission. This occured because my handbag was stolen. Among you there will be scores, nay, hundreds who have endured this experience, all of us with our entire transactional lives in our world-carrying accessories. I exaggerate not when I say that it took me eight days, when I was neither sleeping, eating or working at the hospital to unravel the tangle and restore the status quo ante. Even at the hospital I spent my lunch break on the phone. Anyway, I am up and running again now although my new credit card, verified, signed and activated is still being rejected by  old friends who seem unable to give up and mourn the old numbers and condescend to honour the new. The mechanisms of twenty-first living are wondrous to behold to those born the familiar more- than- three- score and ten years ago and Hell on Earth when they trip up. In the forty minutes I took to order cat food online with my new card I could have been down at the Pet shop and back twice and a half.

As  it happens, I didn't intend my explanation to include another green-ink rant, but there you are: needs must when the Wizard of Cyberspace is in the ascendant. Which reminds me, my horoscope this week tells me there will be a new love interest in my life. This is seriously unlikely. At my age I am lucky to hold on to the people I already love - and they to me, come to that. It made me think about how one - I - express love. The first thing that came to mind was whether or not I wash my hair on the day of a meeting with someone in my life. If this is a loved one then, yes, I do wash my hair. (The significance of this is that it needs doing every other day so has to hide under a hat if I have to miss a wash to accommodate the relevant date; a problem in summer, actually). So my life is divided, perforce, in to clean-hair-friends and it-will-have-to-do friends. When I was a young woman this dictum was set in concrete. Now, I do occasionally let a loved one in to the secret of scraggy hair. I was reminded of what, by now, must be a very old film: "Love Story". There was this famous- infamous? - line which went "Love means never having to say you are sorry." Rubbish: love means you can say you are sorry without embarrassment or fear or loss of face, safe in the trust of the loved one not to score points or punish. Well, perhaps to score points but with warmth and tenderness. I can't imagine who thought up that upside down pernicious statement. Was it the original author, Eric Segal, if memory serves me - which it still does from time to time? Was it ironic? I don't think so. In my experience irony gets sea-sick on the Pond so it must have been meant with insight and passion. Which brings me back to my horoscope. I think that was ironic if you must know. Nos da

Friday, 20 February 2015

Rejection

No-one likes to be left out, unless, of course, it's for an unclothed swim in Norway in winter. I have  noticed, however, that, in my inner world, I take this condition a bit too far. The other day, I was offered a  bread basket from which to choose a roll or whatever. My eye was caught by  a crunchy-looking white one at the far end. However, nearest to me there was a rather dull looking, squidgy brown one. Dear Reader, I took that one so as not to put it through the experience of being rejected. I feel bound to swear that I exaggerate not. A trip to the green-grocer is an exercise in compassion resulting in a fridge full of crooked carrots, bruised apples and some over-ripe bananas. Clearly, this particular neurosis needs attention more urgently than any of my others.

It may be possible to exorcise it simply by confessing. Let us see. I have to be very careful in a book shop, for instance. A book, once browsed, will have to be bought so as not to hurt its feelings. (Somewhere inside me I do know that books don't have feelings, thank you very much. That's what this bleet is trying to address). As I grow even older the habit seems to be managed in one of three ways. One: I smile indulgently at myself and go on apologising to but not buying the tasteless little red water-carriers masquerading as tomatoes, buying some more expensive ones instead,  two: I go the whole distance and simply buy the costly vine-grown ones or three: I go straight for  the water-carriers and their tastelessness. After all, over-breeding is not their fault. Broken biscuits, the heel of a loaf can all count on me to rescue them. My current feline friend turns up in the middle of the night waking me by crouching above and on my head where, presumably, my hair reminds him of the fur of his Mother. This is not a sensation that pleases me, not only because of the touch of  Obsessive Compulsive Disorder I endure, but also because I can't believe that cat-dander is good for my coiffure. I have to rouse sufficiently to lift him down to the level of my shoulders, not an easy feat, raising one's arms above one's head and relocating an unwilling, resisting log of fur to where he doesn't want to be. Turf him right off?  Give him an experience of rejection? You are joking, of course.  Truth to tell, though, the last couple of nights, I have drifted up to find him already established where I prefer him to be. Not so stupid that one. For weeks, now, he has been using the facilities appropriately; no more 'accidents' in various wash-basins and carpet corners. But, he and a friend who is living here, have had to declare war on one another. Well, I did think that she had declared war on him. In fact, it's mutual. Last Sunday, when I had already changed a tainted litter tray, he shot in to her usually door-shut bathroom and performed again in the basin. She, understandably, was livid and accused him of being opportunist and evil. I protested that he was just a cat and, thus, couldn't be accused of such heinous intention. No, I don't believe that either. Bore da