Tuesday, 15 September 2009


Have you ever noticed how some happenings turn out to have what one may call a mirror image? A dear friend of mine owned a rather lovely, valuable watch with a beautiful face and a blue leather strap. Her home was burgled and the watch was amongst the stuff that was stolen. This was a great sadness to her, as was the loss of other things handed down to her through the generations, Grandmothers, Aunts, Mother. You know, the sort of things one might not always wear but would always cherish. Except the blue watch: this was both cherished and worn. A few months after the robbery, her, by then ex, husband, delivered to her letter box on St. Valentine's day, a box containing the equivalent of a 'Swatch' with a blue plastic wrist-band, still bearing its price-tag, £22. He saw this as a loving gesture, assurance of his continuing fondness for her, his awareness of her loss and an attempt at restitution. She saw it as the most amazing cheek. How dare he attempt to replace her precious watch with a supermarket throw-away and what was appropriate about an ex, who had caused her enormous pain, sending her a Valentine's gift? She sent it back, price tag and all; to him a loving gesture, to her an insult.

There is an old joke - Jewish, I think - which demonstrates this mirror thing rather nicely. A Mother is talking about her married children. "My daughter," she says, " has the most marvellous husband. He won't let her lift a hand. She has a daily cleaner to do the hard work, he does most of the cooking and always does the washing up. He'll bring her coffee after dinner while she sits and watches the television. My son, on the other hand, has married a dreadful woman. She insists he pay for a daily cleaner, she won't cook, she won't clear up, he has to do all that, and, to cap it all, she expects him to bring her coffee while she just sits and watches the television." I have the feeling this is a phenomenon which affects all of us, one way or another. One man's helpful Mother is another man's busy-body Mother-in-law. I am guilty of this turn around, myself. During the return flight from continental europe I, because of my stick, was instructed by the personnel (human resources?) of THAT Airline to sit in the window. Now, I, because it is nice to walk about a bit and I do tend to need the'facilities' from time to time, prefer to sit the aisle and not have to keep mountaineering over my neighbours. I grumbled and pulled a face and generally embarrassed my companion, but had, of course, given in, when we heard another lady, similarly be-sticked, respond to the window seat injunction with "Oh. How lovely". Ouch .One man's meat is another man's travelling preferences, I concede.

Having started on this theme, I am overwhelmed by illustrations of it. But what comes at once to mind as I sift through them is the experience I told you about a while ago when I was making, gingerly making, for the Ladies down the stairs of a London Railway station. You may remember the kind lady who stopped to tie my shoe lace. She saw an elderly, doddery old bag, laden with bits and pieces, soaked through, unaware she had failed to tie her laces, in imminent danger of losing her balance and falling down some pretty hostile steps. I saw a sturdy, late middle-aged lady with a bit too much to carry, caught in the rain, whose shoe-lace, though firmly tied at application, had accidentally come undone, walking with some circumspection down some pretty hostile steps: the only point the pictures had in common. But then, that is really what the blog is essentially - in essence, that is - about: to me, I am forty. To the rest of the world, I am seventy five. Does that phenonomenon also explain why everyone's baby is beautiful? Oh dear: where will it end, I ask myself. What about you? What about your mirror images? See you soon.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009


I have been away. I hope not too many of you have given up clicking on to 75goingon40.blogspot.com thinking I had succombed to the difficulties of being 40 trapped in a 75 year old body. As it happens, those of you who are good at Maths may well have worked out that, by now, I must be at least 76 going on 41, but we shall gloss over that and maintain the status quo ante. Anyway, as I was saying, I have been away and am experiencing the usual re-entry hassle. One can appreciate the holiday, the real merits of the holiday, only via the in-your-face reality of what everyday life is like. For instance, I am back to " press 1 for this, 2 for that, 3 for the other and 4 for no-one will answer whatever you press". "We thank you for your patience and one of our assisitants will be with you as soon as possible". Now, I am not patient, I just have no choice and it is as inappropriate to thank me for it as it is to take me through a menu that has no bearing on what I want to know in any case.

All the people who have taken the summer off, and I mean part of June, all of July, all of August and the first week in September are back, on the roads, parked in the 'pay and display' bays and the Disabled bays, too. The road works remain impediently unfinished and nobody is working on them. School has started. This means you take your life in your hands if you venture out after 3pm because the little darlings are all coming out and their Mothers are lining up to be in good time to meet them. The roads around where I live are choked with People Carriers and the pavements with baby-sibling pushchairs. The queue in the only remaining Post Office for miles around wanders out in to the street again and the major part of the gift I have sent to a loved one in Scotland is the forty minutes I spent trying to dispatch it. A neighbour with two cars has come back after a time so long away I had come to hope he had left permanently. I will tell you why. Near our houses - much nearer to mine - is a one-off Residents' parking space, with no overhanging bird-mucky trees, that gives easy access to home for a lady with a walking-stick and cat-food to carry. Now he, although boasting a Residents' parking space right outside his house, prefers this space and will not move the car which is on it until his lady brings up the other car behind ready to slide it on to the space as he glides off it. I have watched this pantomime a thousand times but it still beggars belief. Anyway, for months they have been wonderously away and I have had the pleasure of parking there whenever it is, in the normal course of events, available. All that has to be re-contended with during the re-entry period.

Actually, part of the holiday was passed with above loved one. If you have been kind enough to be keeping up, you will remember that I did that last year, too. This year there was no ceilidh but lots of Scrabble in the rain. I am a fan of Scotland, particularly the part where The Loved One lives, but I end up wearing every item of clothing I have taken, all at the same time. Yes, it does occur to me to pack some woollies. I wear those, too. Picture it. A sometime elegant lady padded out with three cotton T shirts, a cotton cardigan and a huge woollen one with an anorak on top of it all. I had to buy some tights to keep the nether regions a bit warmer and a scarf for my neck but, don't get me wrong, I had a lovely time. I just underestimated the Girl Guide 'Be Prepared' thing. To round off the misery of coming back, there are all the unopened letters. There was one from my Bank telling me they had done something I didn't want them to do. That is, I wouldn't have wanted them to do it had I known they were going to. Apparently, under the pile, there found itself another one that said they would do it if they didn't hear from me in fourteen days. As luck would have it, I came back on the fourteenth day and thus began the press this, press the other saga while I tried to sort it.

There, of course, is your clue. In my use of the reflexive I have let on that I was in Continental Europe as well as Scotland. Those of you who will remember last year may picture the scarlet swimsuit once more in situ. It was even harder to walk in to the sea and not too much fun travelling on that well-known friendly Airline that charges one to check in at the Airport. Anyway, with the Guru's help, my young inner self had a lovely time in the ache-relieving Mediterranean sea. And coming back is not all bad news: there were ten minutes of purrs and leg rubs from my four-legged furry best friend and all night she slept where I could not have changed my position without disturbing her had I even wanted to. She is still keeping me closely in her sights and I love it - and her. There are friends to contact and music to hear. When the five loads of washing have been ironed, it will be great to be home again. See you much sooner.