Tuesday, 26 October 2010


Ok: there's no need to shout. I am perfectly well aware of the presumption of writing a post entitled "Love". Nevertheless, that's just what I am going to do. I have been thinking about love for the best part of three score and more than ten years. Recently, I came to the conclusion that love could be columnised in two lists. There is love by circumstance and love by choice. Love by circumstance would include ones children and ones other relatives. By and large, these are people one loves simply because they exist. Surely you have come across the phenomenon of the prodigal son. I thought so. For my purpose, though, it would need some modifying. What I had in mind was the impossible behaviour of the breaking-out teenager, with which we are all familiar. Short of murder, manslaughter, arson, you know, the sort of behaviour which tends to bring in the outside world, often dressed in blue, to deal with it, I have observed parents going on loving the most dastardly little darlings who are ruining the lives of all with whom they come in touch. Parents tend to forgive rudeness, unkindness, indifference without losing the pull at the heart which is the best I can do to categorise love for the moment. I suppose this may also be true the other way around: children forgive parents who abandon, abuse, neglect and are indifferent to their young. When I was little, I had an Uncle whom I now realise was a sandwich or two short of a picnic. (Not a blood relative, I hasten to aver: married to one.) He was a horrible little man whose idea of one good joke was to play the sound of an air-raid siren on his fiddle in the middle of the night. (I don't feel able to tell you the really bad ones). He had a sqeaky voice, which should have made him sufficiently to be laughed at by me and my cousins - other than his own children - that the sting would have been taken out of his power to fighten and undermine. Do you know, we actually believed we loved this man because he was our uncle. We certainly kept going back to his house although his wife, my actual aunt, whom I suppose I did sort of love, made the worst Welsh cakes in the country. I was seventeen when I announced that, not only did I not love Uncle D, I hated him. The ensuing parental argument was along the lines of " of course you don't hate him: he's your Uncle".

To love by choice is a quite different kettle of lobster. Definition, description, everything defies possibility. From best friends in the playground to partners in life, those we choose to love, or, rather, the reasons we choose to love them, have to be recorded under 'enigma', anyway, by me. I am prepared to talk about the pull at the heart, but, in the last resort, is'nt one just left with the 'you know what I mean' option? Take the Guru - no don't, I need him to out - face the Wizard of Cyberspace. Love is a word good enough for my response to him. Why? He is no longer an enchanting toddler, an interestingly clever five-year-old. We negotiated teen-age well enough. We do have some similar ways of looking at the world but not enough to fill a questionnaire. I am left with the possibility that we were somehow related in another life. That would/could make him loved by circumstance, though, depending on HOW we were related. What about my cat? I certainly love her, which, considering how rotten she is to almost every other human in her world, doesn't immediately qualify her as eminently lovable. Perhaps I love her because I can interpret her way of being in the world as including love for me. I am the provider of the safe haven in which she lives, but I don't know if that is sufficient to explain the way she follows me and waits for me to provide a lap or a tummy to climb on to and miaows if I am too long about it. Her little head rubs against my hand and - that's quite enough. The rest is private. If I think about those I love through choice, I begin to suspect they do have one thing in common, though: what you see is what you get. There is no organisation, manipulation of the personailty to confuse or deceive. A spouse/partner starts as choice and in due course becomes circumstance, a relative. Of course, the loved by circumstance and the loved by choice may each induce the same phenomenon: the 'Ah/Yes' that stirs your heart and waters your eyes and delights your soul. Blood is incidental then. Each is just joy. See you sooner.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010


I suspect I really mean dualogue. What I have in mind is mimicing a duck. A calm, polite, co-operative conversation is going on on the surface and a frantic, angry, border-line unpublishable contra-flow is going on below; like a duck skimming smoothly across the top of a lake,while underneath, running, unseen, a being demented, to catch the last bus ever. For instance, to-day, at lunch time, I underwent some tests on my heart. They were deemed necessary after the flurry of heart overkill that took me to hospital a couple of months ago. An event which ended by distracting all the nurses in A and E. (See below for the Guru-effect). This was not a proceedure to which I was looking forward. I am rarely a happy bunny when arrangements are made for me that mean I have to skip lunch. Just because the practitioners are prepared to sacrifice their midday sustenance doesn't mean the patients are. But I duly presented myself and thus began the dualogue of which the title. Political correctness dictates staff should explain every move they/you authorise/make. "Remove all upper garments and put on the gown, tying at the back. That blue and white garment is the gown". Inner voice:" I've put on more gowns than you've had hot dinners, idiot". Outer voice: "Shall I leave my things here?" "Yes, except your bag, of course." i.v. "Actually, my bra is more valuable than my bag". o.v "Thank you Nurse." Head pops back in: "No, gown to the front on this occasion. I have to attach terminals to your chest." i.v. "Make your b....y mind up". o.v. "Thank you, Nurse". "I'm not Nurse. I'm the Radiographer". i.v. "I don't give a d..n who you are." o.v. "Oh! sorry. What about my trousers?" "You can leave them on. Elastic-waisted are they?" i.v. "No, they are certainly not elastic waisted. Do I look like the sort of woman who would wear elastic-waisted trousers. Leave me my last vestige of elegant womanhood you stupid radiographer." o.v. "No, they're not. They have buttons and a zip." "Well, we'll just roll them down then". Once in the operating theatre - in the non-invasive sense: the room where things will happen - every nut and bolt is explained. i.v. "Just get on with it. This is more information than I need to deal with. Yes, I have been fasting: why?" o.v. "Thank you. I understand. I'm fine, just a bit hungry. Oh, I see. No food in case the injection of dye makes me sick" i.v. "You infantilising nincompoop. I've had this sort of injection before. I'm not going to mess up your lovely white clinic." Three tries by junior radiographer, then senior, at placing a canula in a vein in one arm then the other. Doctor called. He manages to get it in to a vein in my hand. i.v. "At least look at me and greet me before your tear my hand to pieces, and where are your sterile gloves?". o.v. "Thank you very much", when he succeeds where others have palpably failed and left me sorissimo. (I do know that's not a word. Would you have left the 'e' in for greater clarity or put 'exceedingly sore'?) Anyway, there I am. The semicircle of magic machine is in front of me, I am taped in to a canula, my back is uncomfortable and the tourniquet is biting in to my wrist. "Everything alright?" i.v. " Why would it be, Stupid? Has anyone ever done this to you? Yes, I do remember the dye will make me feel hot. This will be the fourth time you have told me in the last three minutes. Trying to impress Sir?" o.v. "Fine, thank you."

She is right. The dye does make me feel hot and swirls round in places of more intimacy than I dreamt would have been involved. I am in and out of the machine like a cuckoo clock. Each time, I dutifully hold my breath and pray she remembers to tell me to breath normally in due course. Mostly, she does. To be fair, there is only one occasion when the breath-holding seems over long. "Alright?". i.v. " Must have as much breath control as a mezzo soprano. But it's not your business to assume that. What if I'd had the breath control of an angry infant? Hurray for me." o.v. "Fine thank you. What stage are we at?" " Nearly finished." Then a lot of step by step explanations about what will happen next, even to putting my clothes back on. i.v. "She means well; but the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Shut up and get me out of here." o.v. "Thank you. That's very helpful."

But out of there she does get me. "You've done very well", she says, carrying my bag, my stick and my raincoat - how did that get in to the 'theatre'. i.v. "Done very well, have I? perhaps I'm a swan after all." o.v. "You made it very easy." Oh Dear, is nothing as it sounds in this world? See you before too long.

P.S. Before you label me economical with the truth, both the i.v and the o.v had its degree of verisimilitude; the i rather more than the o to be wholly honest.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Adapting, again

The 'Coolth' post had me thinking, in a slightly aslant way, not just about what the young consider 'cool' versus what's 'boring', but also about simpler ways in which Now differs from Then. This sidewise- with- a- difference examination led me to register other ways, lacking in the fashion element of cool and boring, in which the elderly have to adapt. Telephones: how many times have I dialled a number and waited, and waited, and waited for a connection until I remembered you have to press a button before or after you dial in order to get the purr which, in my old life, used to be the automatic response of the lovely big instrument you could tuck between your ear and your neck. What's more, you got your purr the moment you picked the dear thing up. I know, I know, you can walk around with the non-purring kind. This is a good thing?

To-day, the Guru and I indulged in a little frozen yoghurt. It was quite delicious. However, I like to eat it seated in the local cafe which supplies it. He likes to eat and walk. He, of course, is not holding/using a stick - cane - and wouldn't need a third hand to deal with the tub and the plastic spoon that, of necessity, comes with it. Rather than put him through the boredom of sitting in the bright pink cafe, I did receive the deliciousness in an old-fashioned ice-cream cone. In principle, this should be manageable with one hand. In practice, it dribbles, the yoghurt disappears down the cone and the cone, itself, defeats one of life's rare guilt-free exercises by being inordinately sweet. Someone will have to adapt. Either someone will have to remain static in the cafe, against his/her inclination, or someone will have to come home seriously covered in chocolate frozen yoghurt.

Last time, talking about coolth, I did touch on changing manners. I see I find it quite hard to differentiate between current manners and current mores. I find it bad manners to have conversations with those not present, otherwise known as texting, when dining with those who are present. I am reliably informed, ( you will note that I often find myself reliably informed) that this is perfectly acceptable behaviour, therefore, mores not manners. As I recall, "Dear X" as opposed to "Hi" was another example from that post. Is that 'acceptable' form of address now mores or manners? I think there must be a whole blogpost possibility in this. When - and how - do manners become mores and, because of that, oblige the elderly to adapt to them? Discuss. Some things don't change. A friend who is almost three years old - the friend, not the friendship: well, both, actually - took me to the Circus last week. By far the most reveting item was the look on this little one's face as he took in the proceedings. What could his inner eye have pictured in advance when his Mother told him he and she and Liz were going to the Circus. What unlikely experience could he possibly have had to help him to anticipate it? It was utter joy to watch him, sideways on as I was. I was not distracted/attracted by what was going on in the Ring until my eye was caught by one man jumping over the head of another while both were standing on a rope about a mile high at the top of the Big Top. By which time, my friend was more entranced by his flashing butterfly than by the death-defying antics of the men in the air. What can you say... plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose; reassuringly, no need to adapt to anything new in the mores of little children. Nos da.