Tuesday, 30 October 2012


Have you noticed that how you are dressed will affect how you feel? It seems to me  there are four categories of dress: 1) very casual, i.e., dressing gown, pyjamas, even nightie with track suit over, slippers This is borderline 'stay-in-bed' wear.You wouldnt expect to feel sufficiently competent to deal even with the window cleaner - particularly  not the window cleaner if you hadn't been expecting him. In this garb you would either be very relaxed and happy or decidedly depressed: definitely not on top of things. 2) Casual, i.e. track suit without the night wear underneath.(What IS underneath is my business): trainers. You could deal with the windowcleaner - if expected, greet the postman and accept a delivery. You would feel competent enough but  rather lazy and hoping the chores would go away. 3) Ready for the day, i.e. fully dressed, trousers, top, supportive underwear, proper shoes,make up. ( No: I don't think of trainers as proper shoes and make-up applies only in 3) and 4)). You could go to work, welcome a friend, have lunch in a cafe. You would feel efficient and in a good enough mood. 4)Seriously 'Best.'  /formal, i.e. glitter on top, velvet below, skirt suit with silk shirt and a" foulard" thrown over. You could go to a wedding, out to a very glamorous dinner or lunch in a three-week-wait-for-a-table restaurant.. You would feel beautiful, attractive and interesting to talk to. There is an unmentionable category 5) - see below

I spend much of my life in category three (3). During the hospital stay, it was entirely (1). Much of the time I felt peaceful and without responsibility. More of the time I felt weak and depressed. As I began to recover, I moved from hospital gown to own nightie. Hospital gown is associated with the pits, especially when an example was thrown over my modesty and my boiling self when there was no-one present other than me and the nurse. So strong was the revulsion, I found myself appealing to her relation, The Good Lord, explaining He was unlikely to give a Rhett Butler about my being starkers if I were cool rather than tangled up and roasting - in Hell,  as she would assume I would be. My supply of nighties had to  be quadrupled so now there is no room for them all at home in the drawer marked 'Nighties'. Enough of that. There is a more current dilemma. I have been venturing forth at level 3). I take taxis because my confidence is not quite up to 'bus level. Unfortunately, level 3) seems not to indicate the possibility of  incapacity. You need help in and out of those monsters only if you look as if you need help, that is, in a beige anorak. Believe me, however 'professional' or 'City' I  may look I cannot get in or out of those things unaided. All those yellow grab-handles, none where you need it.  What to do? I haven't a  real category, not even 5) for beige anorak, only 'bin it', so I shall have to keep the formality and suffer the indignity. Nos da

Monday, 22 October 2012


Convalesence is boring. At least, mine is.  Why aren't I doing all the things I longed to have time for when I was still a working person? You may well ask. Laziness, lack of energy contrariness may all qualify as reasons.I can still keep house, or keep it oiled, anyway. It will be clear to the faithful among you that I am not what you may call computer literate. When the hose of the vaccum cleaner breaks - no: it's not a Hoover - I immediately start working out how I can get to John Lewis and would I have to take the carer. The carer, when apprised of the problem, asks why I don't find and buy the part on line. She is thirty. I am the age I am. Fifteen minutes later the part is ordered and we are waiting for the 'dispatched' email. I couldnt have got my out-door shoes on in that time never mind have travelled to John Lewis. (For those of you over the pond or elsewhere, John Lewis is a remarkable household goods and all-you may-ever-need shop, headquarters central London, branches here and there. I love it ). The extraordinary thing is that while I was in hospital for eight weeks, none of the computer literates coming in and out of my house, thought to get the vacuum cleaner mended. Ah well, nice to know you are needed, even if only by the inanimate.

I have close relatives on the other side of the Atlantic and, springing from the aforementioned boredom, idly put their name in to Google. (Google is going to be another Hoover if we pedants aren't careful). Imagine my horror to find them listed there! How does this happen? Who collates for and feeds this information machine? I learned that the lady bit of the couple was the only one with that name in the whole of the United States: the ONLY one. This fact stretched my imagination to snapping point. Out of humdreds of millions of assorted Yanks, as we used to call them when they were over here during the war, she is the only one with that name  .I cant get over it. Of course, she owes this distinction to her marriage. Her original surname was far from unusual and, even combined with her first name, wouldnt have made the records. (Her first name is Shirley. That's all I'm going to tell you). I then put in my own name and found myself, the Father of my children and my children all listed, neatly, one under the other. It's not a feeling I am comfortable with. I thought having someone help me deal with my underwear was intrusive enough. This ranks even more so. How can it help you, me, the world, the universe to have a list of me and my attachments? What is the listing for? And so on and so on . I can always get out the green ink and write my concerns to those concerned, if anyone is in the least concerned about the take-over of communication  by a keyboard and electricity.  While I have been thus reflecting, the light has gone. There's something for me to do, go and put some electricity to good use. Nos da

Monday, 15 October 2012


 The theme of childhood keeps me in its thrall. As I write, I am in the hands of carers. Well, not exactly as I write.  The current good lady is in another room. In principal, however, I am in their hands. It seems that overnight I went from a pretty competent, early old aged woman of some sparkle to a cliched geriatric. In order that (subjunctive to follow) the picture may come more easily to your inner eye, there are certain items of underwear I can't put on by myself. Which? You do know. Why not? Well, I can't bend sufficiently well to bring foot to opening, so to speak. Of course, you are right, I could sit down to do it but I am stubbornly trying to change as little as possible and I never did sit down to put this item on. The bra is different. I simply can't manoeuvre to fasten it so it has to be done up from the  front and then dragged round to the back. Or, worse, the carer does it up for me. Of all the good, kind and sensitive experiences I have undergone, though, I am left, as an abiding impression, with what it feels like to have your knickers and/or tights, yanked up from the waist band. You must remember dressing your little ones: pull the vest down, pull the pants up and a little pat to show it was all over. Quite: I'm glad you would find it infantilising and humiliating, too. I have to say I had a little hissy fit and, before good manners could prevail, snapped "Don't do that, if you please". I have, though, made one effort at solo outing. Yesterday I took a taxi - I know, but I couldnt have done it otherwise - to have lunch with the Guru and his loved one. He drove me home but the loved one, trapped in the back of a two-door, had to push him out of the car in order to help me out. I must be making progress. He has stopped treating me delicately.

As for hissy fits, the Cat - than whom no-one is more important - persistently hisses at one of these carers. Actually, the one of the waist-band yank. Goodness knows how she knows, but she does and is not shy to hiss and tooth-bare when this person comes in to the same room as her/us. What resources would a human little one have against this assault on the ego? Well, tantrums should do it. (Is that the plural? Should it be tantra? But then, should it be mantrum?) Anyway, my predicament has set me thinking about the minefield of actual littlehood and the awfulness of dependence on those who may not have the skills to recognise the potential for hell-on-earth that nestles is the so-called idyll of childhood. The revolution - I was looking for a word to convey more of a revolving, in the sense of coming full-circle - carries so many identical dilemmas that it surprises me I have  any adult recall left at all. Fortunately, I can now manage food so that it doesnt have to be cut up. I am steadier on my feet so the carer has to be near but not attached to me. Along with the pint sizes, I cross the road to the pond, nearby, and watch the ducks. I stopped carer number one from bringing and throwing stale bread because the siamese twin thing would have been  seriously impossible to tolerate. I am not vying for a space nearest to the edge of the water just so it's MY bread the ducks will eat, nor am I going to kick and scream when it is time to go home - at least, not aloud. So where have three score and more than ten years gone? It seems one returns to pass 'GO' without necessarily collecting £200. So there is nowhere else to go but back round. However, on the way one may have bought property, gone to jail, had children, had a job and generally impinged on the lives of others. Throw all you like, my little ones, but remember you have a whole board to play before you can come round for the second time. Prynhawn da.

Sunday, 7 October 2012


As I was saying, I was in hospital for eight weeks and have been home for three. The scarlet swimsuit - and the Guru - missed their sea-side holiday and the beloved four-legged friend was left with nothing but depression and memories for all that time, explanations being impossible though the Guru did try. Hospital was an amazing experience. Which is to say, that which I experienced was. Much of the time I took leave of myself and have no recollection whatsoever of where or what I was part of. At one point, early on, I had to change hospitals. I have only the vaguest recall of the father of my children explaining this to me and of drifting awake in surroundings different from those in which I had drifted away. Acres, hectares,even, of time had disappeared. I remember wishing I were unconscious, that I could be given something to remove me from the pain, but, the reality is that I was unconscious a lot of the time. The mind boggles reflecting on what happened to me in that darkness. What about bodily needs, acceptable and unacceptable? Fine when one is elsewhere: distressing if one is present. Eventually, when I was, for the most part, alert, I discovered a method: take yourself out of yourself and observe from above. Things were being done for and to me that had last been done when I was between eighteen months and two years old. I kept thinking of my own little ones and hoping that I had wiped and creamed and cared for with  respect and tenderness enough. I have a clear memory of being strip- washed and the discomfort of being cold and damp at one end while being briskly rubbed down at the other. I used to beg my Mother to dry as she washed. Sadly her empathetic memory provided no tenplate for doing this so I tingled and wriggled in vain She must have wondered what the fuss was about. After all, how long does three feet of human need to be dry all over..
I was fed via pipes and stuff in my veins. I didn't miss food much. I missed my favourite drink, a mixture half of grapefruit juice and half of water. I pictured a glass of this and held on to it through all the terrifying dreams and imaginings. What do the little  ones picture when they are hungry or thirsty? \No words to describe things to themselves nor to catch the attention of The Fount of All  that is both Good and Bad.. You can scream or mew, if that is the sound  your voice makes, but, basically, you are dependant on the intelligence and imagination of those with whom communication is not easy.. My Goodness, how differently I would have treated my little ones had I had this insight at the time they needed it.
 It was strange to be told I had nearly died. I didn't die and now I shall have it all to go through again when the 'right' time comes. Strangest of all, though, is to have gone through a happening that encompassed babyhood and old age  together, contemporaneously and jumbled up in a kaliedescope that shook down at eleven months or seventy nine years or both. Was it the baby or the sick old lady being given a blanket bath or yet both ? Think Russian dolls. Must be some vital philosophical revelation in there somewhere: discuss   Prynhawn da