Tuesday, 27 December 2011


Too much time has passed since I found time to write a post: too much for me: you may well be quite satisfied with the interval. Anyway, like most householders at this epoch, I have been Yuletide-focussed. It's not my favourite time of year, for reasons I shall leave to speculation. I have, therefore, to plan carefully and do some loin-girding to get through this month of Sundays. I have worked out that today is Tuesday-Sunday, to-morrow will be Wednesday-Sunday and I have just to get to a week on Sunday-Sunday for it to have got to the eleven- months- until- it- happens-again-Sunday. (Is that Scrooge I hear whispering in the ether?) In trying to do things much as I always have, I have discovered that things are not as they always were. I can no longer knock off three menus with two or more main options, a handful of sides and a reliable selection of puddings and wines with the aplomb of yesterday. Boxing Day-Sunday I finished preparations for eight people only, and thought "Right: now I can go to bed". It was 1110 AM, so, no, not bed time. Considering it was precisely three times the time previously devoted to the same duties, I was seriously troubled. Anyway, after a little sit-down and a large water I did find the strength to stand up and carry on. Lessons have been learned. For instance, the folding stool, relegated to the garden shed since the Guru left to boil his own egg, was sent for so that this old lady could at least sit down to the peeling, chopping and what ever else-ing. Hopeless: damp, rotten, mouse-eaten, a threat to Health and Safety and a risk to limb and bottom (If I fell through it, of course. Why do you ask?) So nothing for it but to struggle womanfully on as before. Some positive lessons learnt, though. I have a rather lovely and not without value dinner service. Fear of dropping and breaking a piece has been with me as long as has the china. No more: with a surge of relief and a shoulder-dropping lightness, I realised that I no longer gave a Rhett Butler about breakage. Let it be someone else's concern. ]Think down a generation and let the young, for whom it probably has no sentimental value and for whose intrinsic value they have no concern, inherit eleven instead of twelve place settings and just eleven cups with nine saucers, and some of those a bit chipped on the rim.

Someone, whom I should recall but can't, wondered, while retrieving his dropped paper from the floor, what else he could do while he was down there. It took me six years to lose the funny side of that. It is not funny: it is practical labour-saving, back-saving, heartfelt advice. Never drop a pepper pot unless you have a collection of let-it- wait-for-a-moment other things to pick up. I now walk over the same mis-placed cat toy forty four times before a dropped tissue and an unidentifiable scrap of rubbish make the bending down efficiency friendly. Buying in bulk has lost its purpose, too. Taking its place is 'if I'm spared.' Why would I leave a cupboard full of Buy-one get Three Frees for someone else to have to rent a skip.. I don't know if they are called 'skips' in Mountain View California. Explanation: when one has an exceptional load of rubbish at any one time one rings a builder to hire one or more of these large open tanks which are then treated as your own personal disposal unit. Illustration: I answered the phone to a nephew at a moment when I was attempting to clear the back log on my desk - and around it, if I am honest.I explained my waste-paper based task. In response to his polite wish not to be an intrusion, I said that, in the fulness of time, my young would be well advised to order two skips even before they rang the Undertaker. His rejoinder: "if they order two skips, they may not need an Undertaker." Quite.

Anyway, the Festive Season has left me with a great deal of previously unacknowledged respect for my former self. I did all that, in triplicate, and danced through the night after it. "Where are the snows of yesteryear?" I ask myself. Down there melted on the floor where I can't bend down to wipe them up. Prynhawn da,

Wednesday, 7 December 2011


The other day, I read that research has uncovered an interesting phenomenon. I can see them now, po-faced, without irony, a slightly puzzled frown, bending over the statistics, coming to this startling conclusion. (Unsurprisingly, my picture is of a pile of papers on a desk: yours is of a bunch of computers, blind pulled down to shield the screens from the sun). The phenomenon?: Ah yes, that sex tails off after the birth of a/some children. The astute - and diligent - among you will have noticed that sex has been rather a pre-occupation in recent posts. First, I have to tell you, at my -any? - age, sex IS somewhat of a pre-occupation, and not only in recent posts. (This is where the Guru decides he has no obligation to read on.) Anyway, some people have noted and published findings that, once women become Mothers, sexual activity declines seriously in a high proportion of cases. Exhaustion, and, even extreme exhaustion, were put forward as reasons. An awareness of the loss of, or, at least, a change in the woman's looks, leaving her feeling unattractive, was another. However, I noticed that the article constantly referred to the woman as 'the Mum' and therein hides the clue. Men are not necessarily set up to find 'Mums' attractive. What's more, women do not readily respond, sexually, to the Mumness in them. You will note, I have spoken didactically although I did not take part in this research. But, more than three score and ten years of life as a female, many of them spent entangled in the complexities of relations between the genders, does give me a bit of a license to didact. At any rate, I have assumed it. Here goes: incest, one of the last taboos, you will agree, does not exactly rear its ugly head so much as give us a sharp prod from the inside. A man lying with a woman who has now joined the mysterious community of 'Mother' may find his inner world confused as to whose Mother. He may even lie in the land of Motherdom under a covering mist which obscures his sight, and be disinclined to make a mistake as to exactly whose Mother he is with: his own? The woman, in the meantime, is immersed in her primaeval role. What with one thing and another, which of us should be astonished at this failure of events to turn? "Oedipus, Schmoedipus," as the Jewish joke goes, "What does it matter, so long as he loves his Mother". And let us not forget Electra.

Despite an attempt to be anodyne and, even, careful, I suspect I have been somewhat contentious. Liz is never comfortable with that position, preferring to be cosily lovable, so I await your brickbats with some tension and some apprehension. As to pre-occupation, it may amuse you to know that, not long ago, I went with a friend to a One Man Show in a theatre in the heart of London. We had seats in the very front row with a raised stage immediately before us. This brought our eye levels just about to the top of the actor's legs. Need I say more? That was an occasion when the forty-year old was rather more in evidence than she of greater age. Mesmerised, I doubt I took in much of what else went on on stage. I was too cowardly to ask my friend her view - no pun intended - but, when, as an acquaintance of his, she suggested we went round to see him, I did feel my imagination might boggle over. What would I say, "I did enjoy my view of....?" As it happened, the queue for this pleasure was long and she decided we'd be better off going home. A contemporary asked my thoughts about sexuality and the likelihood of sex in older age, believing she was the only one plagued with a platonic partner. I asked the one candidate of the right age to whom such a question might be acceptable. He laughed. 'Res ipsa loquitur', as the lawyers say: that speaks for itself. Hope springs eternal.... Prynhawn da