Saturday, 29 January 2011


When I asked my inner voice for a title for the idea I had in mind, the answer came up "reconciliation". As you may have gathered, I am very reliant on my inner voice. This time, though, it may well have produced a compromise. "Acceptance" may well have done better. To what am I reconciled, you may ask - I hope you are asking. Let me give you an example. As a wedding present, (before you were born, since you ask), we were given a twelve piece dinner service. At that time, dinner parties were what one did with one's friends. There were even fashions in menus. Avocado filled with prawns was one: grilled grapefruit another, in the starter catalogue. In my circle was a particularly delicious dish we called 'blanquette de veau'. I have sometimes tried to make it since. It turns out brown instead of the pale beige it was back in the day. I did actually confront the butcher, who explained that forced, milk-fed calves were no longer comme il faut, or politically correct, in current parlance, and that was why I could no longer produce a milky blanquette. Quite right, too. I choke at the image, so thoughtlessly out of awareness at the time. Back to the dinner service. It was/is Danish in origin. The design has been discontinued so, irreplaceable. Having had a number of people to a party celebrating the Winter Solstice, (because it isn't going to get any darker, silly),I was in a position to use and therefore check just about every piece. To my sadness, I found that almost every category had a piece with a chip or, even, a piece broken. I really did fell sad, and angry, too, that, over the years, others had handled the plates, suffered accidents and never told me. This lasted a good few hours until I found myself, without conscious contribution, thinking, "Ah well, 'they' will just have to inherit a set of ten". This is what I mean by reconciliation. I mean accepting what is and not having to spend the rest of my life on the telephone or on the internet trying to track down replacements. My inner 40-year-old would have brooked no such possibility. Twelve pieces or nothing: indisputable.

I was disproportionately delighted with that relief of burden; the feeling of moving on, literally lighter in the breathing department, knowing that ten could equal twelve in the inheritance stakes. I am finding it harder to respond similarly to the question of my hair. Does the phrase "flax on a distaff" mean anything to you? Picture a pole with strands of bleached cotton hanging lankly down from it. Now you get it, except the cotton is not bleached but faded mud. Where there was bounce and curl there is now droop and cling. In other words, my hair has lost its mojo. I was vain about it. I passed it on to one of my young. He is beginning to betray that trust. He is still curling and bouncing but he has sacked some of it from on top and more from the front sides. The man who cuts it - mine, that is - insists there is no problem. This holds me back from the steep climb to reconciliation. I need to get there, face up to him and tell him to cut it as he would cut straight lank hair and pass me my bonnet. The fact that I am 'D' shaped has, however, reached the summit. Only I and a few medics know the truth about my shape. While not affording quite the same liberation as did the china service, my shape is in a place of passive acceptance, that is, somewhere between rebellion and reconciliation. Passive acceptance: the typical Libran compromise, not reconciled, not rebelling but on a fence half way up the mountain of liberation. Prynhawn da.

Saturday, 15 January 2011


It may not be a surprise to you that I find translation absorbing. There are so many manifestations of it that I am going to have to save some for another time. What I have in mind just now is the need for the young- elderly to have access to a translation of what is in current usage. You may remember that, occasionally, I have been known to visit an establishment to make sure, on behalf of its owners and/ or organisers that it is doing what it says on the box. This occupation is called 'Mystery Shopping'. You may prefer espionage. To digress for a moment: I did actually have one assignment that required me, on behalf of its competitors, to have a look at a children's nursery school. It wasn't until the 'final comment' box, where one is encouraged to put a personal view of the experience, that I fully took in the fact that I was actually working for competitors, not for the proprietors. I wrote that I felt this excellent school had not made enough of the philosophy underlying its ethos. I even submitted this report and had, hastily, to ring up my employers - a move permitted only in dire emergency - and ask them to scrub that comment before submitting the report to the client. It is a thin line between investigation and industrial espionage. I do see that. Anyway, as I was saying, under this aegis, I was asked to go to a Retirement facility. The 'scenario', which is their word for telling you what to do, was headed "Your Journey". Now, travel in London is not easy but it was hard to see how travelling from where I live to where this facility found itself was going to fill the many pages of prescribed report I was expected to download. However, download them I did and soon came to see that what I was to report on - that upon which I was to report, of course - was, in my terms, my experience. Did you know that your experience is now called your journey? I suppose you did. I have added it to my lexicon but I suspect I shall be unlikely to use the word in a context which doesn't include buses and cars and trains and the like. In that scenario, I should have called my Nursery School experience a journey, I suppose, damn it.

In the same portfolio, I was doing my utmost to print off one of these posts to post, (yes, I am aware of the irony), to a non-computing friend of my age. The Guru has shown me how to do this more times than I have digits to count on. He has shown me so many times that I was too terrified to ask him to show me yet again. Against his sensitivities, I had even written down his instructions: ignominious failure every time. I was still getting only half the post and that half sideways, if you see what I mean. Came the day when I was really desperate. The floor was covered in half posts the wrong way up and I was clean out of resources. I gave in. I asked him to show me again. My main fault had nothing to do with translation. I had failed to select 'print selected' so my obliging machine had ignored my blued text and printed what it thought I should have selected. The sideways fault was also entirely down to me. My setting was on landscape instead of portrait. (I quote). Being a person of visual imagination I did recognise the fault of which I was guilty. But, I ask myself, indeed, I ask you, what has happened to horizontal? What has happened to vertical? The Guru, with what may be equated with patience for the purposes of on-going optimism, explained landscape and portrait were correct usage for this situation and put the settings right. But this old lady was left with an urgent need for strong drink and a little restful journey where there is an admirable landscape. See you soon.