Wednesday, 25 August 2010


From time to time, I re-read the odd blog post - do I hear the mutter that there are more than one that you would classify as odd? - in an attempt not to be too repetitive. It comes to me that if there is a repetitive tendency it is in a hint of complaint. Let us be clear and reiterate that the very thrust of this blog is to throw in to relief the condition of those of us who are, in real life, pushing eighty but whose inner worlds are just as they were when we were forty. I know, I know, you haven't forgotten, well, not all of you have forgotten, but I did feel the need to remind you that the good examinee will always keep in mind the need to focus on the question/title to which one has been asked to respond. It seems to me a time must come when we find our selves. We establish the self, recognisable and basic, ready to expand and adapt, but which is, essentially, the who-we-are. This person is ageless. The physical self cannot arrive and stay in the same known, secure place. It is not ageless. On the contrary, it wears out. It moves on. It declines in strength and capacity. The delightful 'ah yes' which signifies growth in the inner world is counterbalanced by the sad 'but no' of the failing body. It is one thing to know this intellectually, another actually to experience it in three dimensions, in the heart of you. Thus, I blog on in the hope that you will read with magnanimity my accounts of the inconsistencies and frustrations occasioned by this human condition, accepting that they are merely the recognition of what is, and not a moan in disguise.

There are, however, advantages. Intermittent faults: in my bathroom there is a noise. It is not a welcome noise. It comes from behind the wall, an outside wall, in front of which is the lavatory and its cistern and the hand-basin. It sounds like a drip. It can, sometimes, be stopped by giving an extra lift to the handle of the cistern. This can't be classified as a scientific way to deal with it so wit's end is in sight. A dear friend who helps me in the garden and looks after my Beloved (Cat, of course: who did you think I meant?) if I am away, crawled in to my roof space and out on to the roof to see if he could identify the source. This was no mean feat. He is enormous, scarcely narrower than the trap door he squeezed through. He found nothing untoward and I was left to worry. And thereby hangs the advantage. The time one has left to worry is palpably less than it was nearly forty years ago. In principle, I can leave my heirs to worry. In my car a red symbol turns up occasionally. It never turns up when I drive, with decorous speed, to the garage to show them. "Intermittent faults; they're the worst". I know. But I dont have to put up with such things as long as, say, the Guru, on his first own-car. The same with my heart. You may remember the rush to A and E with my personal George Clooney look-alike. (See below if you are in doubt about the reference.) I am in process of going through a number of investigations to pin down and treat what caused the rapid heart-beat. It simply won't happen when we need it to, to make the job easier. It is intermittent. Funny thing: I saw this as an advantage. The Medics would prefer some current evidence of what has been described as an electrical fault... no pun intended: my unconscious chose the word. You know that I pass some time as a spy/mystery shopper. One of the companies for which I work has suddenly instigated a questionnaire, by telephone, to test whether or not you have remembered details of the 'brief' you have been emailed. This annoyed me. I cant think why. Yes I can. I have been reading and understanding for three score and more than ten - minus the first five - and I don't need any more exams. More, I am a very experienced observer and reporter. The advantage is that I am now free to turn down that work if I dont feel suited to doing it. As the elderly Maurice Chevalier assured us in the lovely film "Gigi", "Forever more is shorter than before": the ultimate advantage.
Anyway, that's my attempt to redress the balance of moan versus yah boo and sucks. (Is that a polite expression for a ladyof my generation?) My scarlet swimsuit and I are going to the seaside for a week again in a little while. If I dont see you before I go, I'll see you as soon as I can when I am back.

PS. The 'drip' has been tentatively diagnosed as air in a pipe.


Tuesday, 17 August 2010


Telling you about my adventures with the on-line reporting which took several years off my life last week, I had an insight which gave me some degree of comfort. I am sure that most of you kind readers are fluent in their own and, no doubt, at least one other language. I, myself, see myself as a fluent French speaker with a smidgen of Italian, Spanish, Portugese and even Welsh. Yes, yes, I am aware of the lack of modesty, but I tell you the simple truth. Of course, we may have to define 'smidgen' in order to get the full flavour of my capacity. I suggest you see it in terms of what we used to call, during the second world war, "bread and scrape". For those of you nearer 40 than 75, this was a slice of bread over which one's Mother - or one's self if old enough - had passed a knife on which was a portion of the two ounce per week butter ration we were allowed. This application left more of a glisten than a rich yellow deposit and, as you will have realised, the resulting tartine, ('tartine': french, slice of bread and butter ; viz Bell's Concise French Dictionary) came, for that reason, to be called "bread and scrape". Anyway, I have a bread and scrape of Spanish, Italian, Portugese and Welsh and a rich smorgasbord of French.

I'll tell you where this is leading. How many of us can say we are as totally fluent in a language other than our native one as we are in that? I guess most of us are like me: definitely good enough where I have any fluency at all, but, even so, several degrees from absolute equality with the Mother tongue.( The Guru has a Mother tongue and a Father tongue. He is almost equally fluent in both, but, since he no longer lives in his Fatherland, may not be fully au fait, for instance, with current idiom). My revelation concerned IT. I understood that I am capable only of bread and scrape dealings with the language of the web, the internet and everything else in the purlieu of the Wizard of Cyberspace. I suspect that even the Guru can manage only up to a smorgasbord of IT though, to me, it seems as if it is his native tongue. Only the Wizard and those who hack in to American Intelligence are 100% fluent. Perhaps, if I look at it as a foreign language, available if I would only take the time and trouble necessary to master - mistress ? - it, I could and would gain sandwich proficiency, if not smorgasbord. The one thing my present language status does demonstrate is that, other than Welsh, the others are Roman tongues and lean on my having done Latin to A level.( Don't bother with the Maths: it was 60 years ago). I very much enjoy language and its means of communication. This can sometimes be a minefield. There was an occasion when I met a famous Welsh bass-baritone in an Airport lounge. I addressed him with a 'Good Afternoon' in Welsh and was rewarded with a stream of that lovely language of which I could not make out one word. Embarrassing?: it still haunts my nightmares.
I realise I am doing some verbal showing off in this blog, but I am really happy finding the 'mot juste' and varying the ways in which I express myself. Good Heavens! that must mean I have come some way in my effort to achieve smorgasbord in the English language, anyway. I am also doing not too badly in Cat and my cat is not doing too badly in Human. She has just alerted me to the need for a clean litter tray. See you soon. Nos da.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

More eccentricity

Before I get on to my confession of yet more evidence of what one may, with kindness call eccentricity, with realism dottiness, I learn from the comments added to the last post - no irony intended - that I have risked some confusion. The shoe horn in the bed: there was a shoe horn in the bed because I tend not to strip and remake it at the weekend. Mattresses are a bit heavy if you have a dodgy back. And I do old fashioned sheets and blankets which need to be tucked in. I don't do duvets. (I sleep too restlessly to keep a duvet on the damn bed, if you really want to know). Anyway, the bed is remade only on days when a kind person comes to help me with the housework. I sat on it in order to put on my lace-up shoes and simply put the shoe horn down in/on the open bed after I was shod: simple, no? The other query was about the role of the Nanny who let her little Princess- charge run about in the restaurant without control. I think it may be difficult to know who should be doing what if both parents and Nanny are in attendance. When I encountered the females of the group in the Ladies, the Mother was removing the nappy, (diaper, if you are over the pond), and the Nanny was passing the wet-wipes. My instinct is that Mother is not often on bottom, or any other,duty and rather enjoyed the opportunity. Nanny may have been unused to sharing and not sure about the way the hierarchy worked. Anyway, that's the best I can suggest.

Dottiness: You may recall that I have been doing the occasional stint as a Myster Shopper. You know, a sort of spy employed by an agency whose clients want to know whether their employees are doing what it says on the tin. Casinos were among the more interesting I have told you about, see below. This time, I was asked to take two bus tours around London and a river cruise on the Thames. I picked up the first bus at a stop I had identified before and took it
as far as the pier where the river cruise was to start. I cruised to the Tower of London and back and alighted to find the bus for tour number two which I had been told would be right there. I had, however, and inadvertently, got the wrong boat back - wrong company, that is - so was not disembarked at the same pier. Therefore, there was no sight of the right bus. Resourcefully, and rather hungry by now, I took a taxi to where I knew there would be a stop for the right bus and also a couple of adjacent cafes. So far, so good. I then took the right second bus tour to finish my assignment. (With me still?) By the time I had done and seen and heard enough to fill in the report forms, this elderly lady was somewhat worn out. Like a good person, though, I staggered home and immediately started by filling in, on line, the 15 page report form for the tour on bus 1. Dear Reader, the Wizard of Cyberspace was at his worst. Three times I lost it all and had to start again. Then, when I did manage to complete it and move on to fill in the form for the river cruise, I neglected to press 'submit' and lost it all again! I know, I know; shouldnt be let out on her own. The Guru, appealed to by text message, actually took the rare step of responding with a call. He told me to do nothing until he got home. I ignored this, not really understanding what he meant, and proceeded to the form for the tour on bus 2. to do "in the meantime". Of course, when he did get here, there was no way he could retrieve what I had lost because I "had changed the web-site". No, I didnt understand how that worked, either. Anyway, two and a half hours after I had started I was back to the beginning, doing bus 1, yet again. This time, half way through, one of the questions that had rolled off my eyeballs the other times leapt in to relief and, wait for it, I saw that I had boarded the wrong bus for tour 1, thus done the wrong tour number 1 and was completely f....d. The only thing to do at this point was feed the Guru, grab a bite and retire to a dark corner to think dark thoughts about encroaching dottiness. The whole fiasco had taken from 10.30am to 9.30pm., from leaving home to switching this machine off. But, and it's a big BUT, I came to see that the Wizard had actually been trying to warn me by wiping out all the early efforts and, if he is that aware of my state of mind, there may be a way in which he is actually my Guardian Angel in disguise. See you soon.
P.S, I did the right number 1 bus tour the next day.

Sunday, 1 August 2010


Last night, in the middle of the night, coming back from a necessary pit stop,(comfort stop if you are not in to motor racing), I came upon a shoe horn in the bed. I had been in bed something like four hours without noticing this intruder - or even extruder - so I am forced, as you will be, to accept that I am no Princess. Now, supposing your childhood was very different from mine, I had better draw your attention to the nursery story which tells of a young girl
who tries to impersonate a Princess who had been kidnapped by witches when she was a baby. This chancer was by no means the first comely young girl to have had a go at the deception, so the Palace authorities had devised an infallible test: under several mattresses in the Royal Bedchamber was secreted a pea. None of the pretenders complained of discomfort so each, in turn, was discounted as the real thing. Eventually, of course, after many adventures, the 'real thing' does find her way home and is very soon belabouring Housekeeping for the carelessness of the bed-making. There was joy and celebration throughout the Kingdom. The lost-one had finally come home. She goes on to marry her fairy-tale Prince and live happily ever after. However, there the similarities with my situation stop, at the pea in the bed.

The Guru and I treated ourselves to Sunday lunch in a restaurant today, rather a nice one since, for reasons which are really irrelevant to the current topic, we deserved a treat. Also lunching was a small girl, about eighteen months old, who was a little Princess of the first order. Although initially imprisoned in a baby chair and pretty escape-proof to my eye, she very soon prevailed upon the three adults with her to let her out. By prevailed, I should explain, I mean screamed so loudly it was let her out or let the rest of us out. She was attractive in her own right, though, and scarcely her fault that she was border-line out of control. She proceeded to run, unchecked and a loose cannon, through the restaurant and under the waiters' feet. I did wonder what the legal position would be if she tripped a waiter up and was injured by falling china or even glass. Does any of you know? Being a gossipy nosey-parker and having turned those characteristics in to a way of earning my living, I soon set about deciding who was what to whom. The three adults were a man and a woman no longer young and a much younger woman. The man had an oriental appearance echoed in the lovely chocolate eyes of the little one. The older woman put me at the disadvantage of being half behind a pillar so it was hard to check a resemblance. There could, just about, have been a resemblance with the younger woman but she didnt seem close to the others. If she were the Mother, where was the Father? I concluded the young woman was the Mother and the older two were the parents of the missing oriental father, no doubt away on business elsewhere. However, later, meeting the females in the Ladies', it began to seem more likely that the young woman was the Nanny. Rings on fingers were no help and even I held back from actually asking. Anyway, where is the detecting fun in actually asking the protaganists?
Dear Reader, in the end I cheated and with the collusion of a possibly indiscreet waiter, ascertained that the older couple were, indeed, the parents and the younger the Nanny. I should say that this information was gleaned while the said waiter, who does know me well, it has to be asserted, was wielding a brush and pan to clear up the bits and pieces habitually left by little Princesses - and Princes, for that matter - under the table in restaurants. I would not be surprised if you all know of little Princesses having grown up to be big Princesses, who continue to achieve what they want by shouting and running circles around the people close to them, but I doubt if any of them has gone to sleep with a shoe-horn in the bed. See you soon.