Monday, 29 December 2008


Well, it would be wouldn't it? On December 29th, one's thoughts may well turn to resolutions. But I do know I am not the only one to decide that the only reliable resolution is not to make resolutions. However, that, by now, is so unoriginal that I am rising to the challenge and making some that will stand, anyway,a bit of a chance of being kept.

The first and most far-reaching is to kick in to touch the concept of 'for now'. It will do 'for now' I say as I push another jumper in to the drawer without folding it properly and without stacking it, colour-related, on top of its cousins. Throwing things in to the bottom of the wardrobe because you "haven't time" to find another hanger and hang it up and it will do 'for now' is another from-now-on no-no. The fridge is another trap for the procrastinator. A milk bottle is clearly at risk of falling over in the too tight space in the door, but it will do 'for'now'. Of course it won't as you find out when you open the door and it falls in to your arms.
Milk, blood and rice are the very Devil to clean up don't you find?
The other day, I made up my face without much care, thinking, as you have guessed, "that'll do for now" and was invited out to lunch, spontaneously, no time for repairs, by people I would rather have had a proper face on for.

On reflection, many examples do seem to be to do with tidiness and keeping house. I rather like those domestic things and really, truly, definitely I am making a resolution to put things away where they should go and not dump them in a pile, however tidily, just for now. In the melee, fracas, bedlam, whatever word you think would best fit to describe Christmas with many - actually, several - people in a small house, it is certainly a test of one's taste for housework: the' for-now' principal was a very tempting quick-fix. However,as we speak, I can't find anything that I put somewhere "just for now". I have lost two DVDs and a leather notebook embossed with "Profound Thoughts". My hope is that they were muddled up with gifts the visitors took away with them and they will re-surface in due course. Since the visitors do not hail from the UK the things may not re-surface until next Christmas. Oh well, resolution number two, more acceptance, more tolerance.

I think I have spent far too much of the last 75 years trying to put things right, or righter, and/or fretting when I couldn't. That will be the 40year old, who still has that kind of energy and evangelism. I am resolved not to wear myself out trying to replace a broken glass with an identical one. I will tolerate five of one sort and one of another on my table. I am blessed with household help and I have decided to put up with the fact that light bulbs are never dusted or, better still, hoist myself up and dust them myself. What will it matter in the longer scheme of things? The concept of 'Good Enough' is one that I have lived and worked with for what seems like forever, but, suddenly I see that there is a tension between that and the 'for now' syndrome. How can I reconcile giving up 'for now' with 'Good Enough'? I know: 'for now' simply isn't usually good enough. 'For now' is a postponement of best effort; 'good enough' is acceptance of having given ones best effort. Whew: that's a relief .

Last one, anyway for to-day: I am resolved to be more tolerant of other people's life choices. If a dear friend chooses to ally herself to a person some of whose properties I can't, personally appreciate, it is up to me to behave as if I do appreciate them. I do have a much too finely honed insight in to what people are like and what they may prefer not to have me know about them. It is a very uncomfortable trait I'd rather be without. Someone once likened it to being a painter who sees twelve shades of green in a leaf, where I would see only one, but, although it can be maddening for me, I can see twelve 'beneath the surface characterisitics' where I would much rather see only what I was expected to see. That doesn't give me licence to react to the bits under the surface rather than to the public presentation. Ok, OK: I can hear you: I am resolved to improve my manners. That's all that that comes down to. There you are. See you soon.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Homesickness 2

It came to me the other day that homesickness can take rather different forms, even rather sneaky forms. The day came when I was off to hear "Les Contes d'Hoffman" which, you may remember, is the last opera at the Opera House for which I shall have to pay full price, being eligible for a 50% reduction with my disabled parking eligibility. Well, who should be there but he-to-whom-I-am-er-married, with his other arrangements. They were sitting in the same curved block, over to one side and, of course, a pound or ten further forward. It was only too easy to see them, to observe them, though I don't think they had seen me. In fact, moving through the crowded foyer before the performance, the arrangement had actually physically knocked in to me. She clearly didn't notice, being intent on getting wherever they were going, because she didn't look the type who would not have apologised for bumping in to an old lady with a stick, even in a crowd of the more-than-middle-aged, which, sadly, one does find preponderant at the Opera House these days. Himself hadn't noticed me neither so it remained my little secret.

Anyway, there I was, able to observe and assess. I found myself wishing I had not forgotten my opera glasses. ( Actually, truth to tell, I don't use them very often because when you wear glasses all the time, it is a bit of a nuisance to take them off or put them on top of your head in order to accommodate the binoculars, so it is quite easy to come out without them.) But, on reflection, I don't think there would, necessarily, have been any advantage in seeing them through a lens brightly; the distance was good enough. Interestingly, I found I was not primarily watching the lady. What surprised me was my reaction to Himself. He took off his glasses - he was always a glasses wearer - and puffed on them to clean them, taking his hankie from his breast pocket to finish the job. This was something I must have seen him do three million and forty five times when we were together and I was taken by surprise at the wrench it gave my little heart. There he was, exactly the same, but acutely different, if you see what I mean. Why hadn't I registered that he and his way of being in the world would be with him no matter who was sitting beside him? They shared a programme, another feature I, and others, had often teased him for: he would always buy only one programme. Still, we all have our meanesses and that was one of his.

There were two intervals and I was careful about where and when I moved about, feeling I would rather watch and imagine than be introduced and face the reality. But she looked nice enough, unexceptional, dressed appropriately - his appropriate - with pearls just like the first gift he ever gave me. I found I wanted to find fault with her; she was plain, she was badly dressed she didn't look very bright, and so on and so on; all of which would have been difficult to see, really, with or without opera glasses. However, it came to me that it didn't really matter. She was loved and enjoyed and was sharing the life which was very familiar to me and it was that which was causing the homesickness for what might have been, had he and I been more nearly in tune. It was not, simplictically, the man with whom I had shared all those decades of married life whom I was missing .( In any case, from the anecdotes he, himself, tells me he is a very different 'husband' to her at this stage of his life from the one he was to me.) But what I was missing and, indeed, envying, was the sharing of the life I knew so well, missing, perhaps, (and you can miss what you have never had) how he is now, retired, less busy and making things work tenderly and with care.

I remember when I was first on my own and would find myself in a restaurant or other public place, I would look around me and, perhaps, see a woman in a dress so ghastly I couldn't even picture the kind of shop where such dress might be bought. I'd criticise and analyse her and feel superior in my nicely-turned-out self. Then my inner voice, seeing her turned in to her companion, laughing, smiling, would challenge my right to judge her, when she was not eating alone and was well and at ease in her 'ghastly' clothes. Salutory, wouldn't you say?

On a lighter note: if you are in the UK to-day you will know that it is currently very cold, wet and drearyissimo. This morning, I found myself carrying my clothes in to the bathroom to dress under the wall-heater. So what's new? 65 years ago in the winter I would dress under the bed-clothes or run down to the living room coal fire and dress in front of that. That would make me 75 going on 10, would'nt it?

Friday, 5 December 2008


This follows quite naturally from the last post: if you suffer from rejection you are very likely to suffer from homesickness, too. What and where is home? Well, we've been told often enough that home is where the heart is. But the heart can feel at home in a particular physical place at one time and not at another. When you were little you will have felt at home at your Gran's when she was soft and cuddly and had made Welsh Cakes for you and not at all at home when you had been left there - without your permission - when your Mum and Dad had gone away and there were strange night noises and nothing smelt like it did in your own house. You may well have felt at home in your own house until, again unasked, someone provided you with a little brother or sister who, as of right, took over your Mother's lap, your Father's shoulders and was even forgiven for pulling the cat's tail.

Someone I know well is aware of the capacity to feel at home in the South African veldt while missing his feeling of at-homeness on an island in Scotland, walking on Welsh cliffs, and with certain people no matter where he and they may be. I think I know about the at-homeness with people. I think of the people with whom I feel at home as those with whom I feel entirely myself, no adapting, no modifying, no awareness of self, simply being. Unexpectedly,( for me, that is), I feel very much myself in the context of this blog; I feel at home in it. My heart is in it so home is where etc etc. I don't feel entirely at home on the computer, though. That, as you have guessed, is because of the wizard of Cyberspace. I know he is there, waiting to gobble up my thoughts, or, anyway, my words, the moment I have put them down. I have learned one or two tricks to grab them back before he has gone too far but there is no way I am going to tell you about them because he will prempt those, too. (To prove the point, I first wrote the first 'c' in 'Cyberspace' lower case and was so afraid of retribution I couldn''nt get back fast enough to change it.)

I am really afraid of stuff you have to click on, or, even, not click on, simply do nothing : afraid I will wipe out the entire memory on this thing. It's not helped by my Guru whose repeated "you must have done SOMETHING", I have told you about before. As I said, and keep saying, I have done NOTHING, never. The words are simply not there anymore. How to reconcile my feeling of being at home while writing with my fear of the medium? Perhaps it is symbolic. Maybe one has to fear the medium in which one finds one's heart in case it has the power to wipe the feeling out, to carry it away in to the inner -world equivalent of Cyberspace. Anyway, maybe we have to qualify "home is where the heart is " to "home is where the heart feels safe".

Sometimes, my heart doesnt feel safe out there in the commercial world. My 40 year old self watches my current self opening her purse, searching for money, closing it, pushing it back in to my bag, with horror. It takes FOREVER. That will be the physical stiffness, you see. I am occasionally driven to apologising to the trader or the queue, recognising that I had no patience with people like me when I was not a person like me. (See stationary escaltors and stairs to Ladies' loos in previous posts.)

That's enough tempting fate - and the Wizard. See you soon.