Monday, 29 April 2013


A phenomenon has leapt up at me. There's a lot of it about you may say. I agree. However, this one just wouldn't be ignored. I suspect I have talked about it before but I am a touch lazy to trawl back and see what the status actually is. The phenomenon: how like the beginning is the end: the baby and the old lady. Let's start with hair. These days mine would need washing every day to provide bulk. There is nothing appealing about a glimpse of elderly scalp but the scalp visible under the down on a baby's head is utterly charming even though it would not fill a shaving mug were it to be shaved off - the down, not the scalp, silly. Drop your eyes a bit further. Both I and the baby are 'd' shaped. There is no waist where waist there should be and will be in baby's case. Any trousers which can still be done up at the waist are positively uniform for me. They enable the side view to have an 'as-if' waist. How about legs: bandy for both in my experience. Teeth: none of one's own, ten to one, I'd guess. There again, the similarities differ. Baby will acquire some in due course but easily digested and not too copious is a common factor for old and very young for many months. (In case you are kind enough to wonder, or are humanly curious, I do, actually, have most of my own teeth. They are no longer pearly but they serve and they are fixed in situ, anyway for the now.)  Walking requires care and attention for both species. I do not have fingers to hold on to but I do have a stick.  An afternoon nap is good for both. Mine is taken indoors. Babies are often walked in the fresh air.

There are bigger differences, of course. A baby is on learning duty every moment her/his  eyes are open. What's this, how's that, safe not safe, yell dont yell. Like, don't like. Try, don't risk. I'm lucky if I have staying power enough to read a newspaper right through.  The Father of my Children unknowingly keeps my education valve open. He is always ready to discuss items he has read, and assumed I have also read, in the daily papers.There are times when the odd grunt, a few "reallys" and one or two "don't says" don't cut the mustard or pull the wool. You may imagine that the retired amongst us have all day every day to fill with unprescribed delight instead of duty. Equally, a baby carries the same deduction. Wrong for both. See above for the baby's occupation and, as for me and my like, we are equally occupied in finding things to occupy us. I can hear a chorus of dissent. I urge you: transcribe it on to a 'comment' on the blog. It's true, though. I know retirees who are busy from morning to night with this and that class, group, voluntary work, outings and so on and so forth. Activities very like our putative baby's, in fact. ( I am very conscious that a sentence requires a verb. I think, though, it is sometimes permissable to assume one as in "those activities are very like...). I remember scrubbing a floor hours before the vague discomfort in my stomach and back turned in to rhythmic pulses and presaged the arrival of one or other or all. Currently, I am avoiding tidying desk, drawers and cupboards all of which will provide a first class horror task for those left to clear up behind me. You'd think I'd get a move on having a had a trial run at terminal illness last summer. Pretend I have done it, or, anyway, made a start, will you please?. But, as the thesis is intended to put  to you, what's so very different from scrubbing floors? A baby has a limited communication range. It transpires that the elderly do, too, repetition being the curse of the old and, probably, alone. In fact, I have the strongest feeling that I am acting that very premise out. Somewhere in me I know that we have had this or a very similar exposition before and even befive. Prynhawn da

Monday, 22 April 2013


One's state of being in the world can reliably be measured by the degree of bother one is prepared to undertake. A carrier bag has been stationed in my little hall since Christmas. It contains gifts which are not straightforwardly dealt with; socks that don't fit so need changing, a Kindle of which I couldn't tell the back from the front and various beauty products that I doubt will affect my beauty in the least. Now, why is this bag still there, frozen, untouched? Simply because I havent had the bother factor to deal with it. To some extent it has become wall-paper. I don't actually see it any more. However, I am in danger of hugging this 'can't be bothered' syndrome so close to my chest that the house will soon be covered in un-dealt-with carrier bags. Today, I have invited a friend to supper. It needs telling because I have not entertained anyone at home since the enforced summer break in hospital last year.  On a few occasions I have used a local eatery to take over my hospitality obligations: an expensive solution. Today is different and I have already prepared the basics of home-made eating. But, Dear Reader, it has been so long since I had my hands in a mixing bowl that I have forgotten where everything is. It is not a laughing matter. I spent ten minutes looking for the rice - kedgeree if you really want to know - and had to sit down and review things and ask myself where I would, most likely, have stored rice when I was a fully functioning feeder of friends. I did find it, among the few tins I keep routinely. It had no business to be there. Taking it down I felt a sticky resistance. Something had been spilt and not cleaned up. Not only had I wasted time looking for the rice I was then confronted with an essential use of time, to wipe the cupboard clean This is where the botheration factor really kicks in. Someone who is making a meal out of making a meal is not in a fit state to clean cupboards. Solution: sleep in an unmade bed and ask my cleaning helper to do the cupboard.

  Assiduous followers of 75 going on 40 may remember that I bought two cars, one after the other, the starting mechanism of neither was I able to manage. Picture the hassle/botheration factor in that situation, not to speak of the monetary bother involved in changing the starting mechanism. In my sober after-state, I can see that, having easily started the twin of the car I purchased and not test-driven the identical other, it was clearly a fault in mine and should have been rectified by the dealer. Probably the most expensive outcome of can't-be-bothered I have indulged in in recent times. I have to say that I have seen myself as having a rather large tank of bother in my past lives: several children, house work, professional work and the Company Wife thing. Now I am stuck with sticky cupboards full of stuff with use-by dates in 2011. When I die successfully, having flunked it last summer,  my young will have to hire several skips to deal with the rubbish lurking behind every storage door before they even ring the undertaker. (In case they are called something else over the Pond, a skip is a big iron -? - container used by builders for stuff they have torn out for which they have no further use. Oh, and an undertaker is, I believe, a mortician). I put this to a nephew  who happened to telephone during this reflection. He responded that if they hired several skips they may not need the undertaker. Quite. Bore da

Tuesday, 9 April 2013


You will have noticed how fragments of a song or a smidgen of prose pop in to your mind as a response to an external stimulus. It's a phenomenon I really enjoy and I often  share the joke with myself as I attach the 'quote' to its source. A simple illustration: during the recent cold weather when, as they say Down Under, we were all thoroughly rugged up, I was enjoying fish and chips with one of the people I have known longest in my life. We had been observing a couple who were interacting loudly and in not too friendly a fashion. It all seemed very serious. As they stood up to go, the young woman pulled on a woollen hat that had rabbits ears in bright pink standing a good six inches above her forehead. The contrast between that and their earlier earnestness was astonishing. Suddenly, we started humming simultaneously: "Where did you get that hat?..." a comic song of days long gone but thrown at each of us by an inner voice with a long memory. Sometimes, in my experience, the smidgens form a memorial to the originator. (I was about to say "virtual" memorial when I realised that that has quite a different meaning these days.) Anyway, every time I say "probably" I hear the voice of a truly dear departed saying  "probally". In all her life she never managed the second 'b' and she is thus lodged for ever in my inner ear even though it is now many years since I actually heard her say it.

As it happens, there is a queue of things where the three score and more than ten diverges from the two score. My inner self is running for a 'bus. My actual self waits for the next one. I shall never run for a 'bus again. Nor shall I ever sit at the back of the'bus or on the top floor again. Why not? Because I have to sit down  close and quickly before the driver jolts off  or I shall risk having to be scooped up off the floor where I have been tipped. I shall never again, politely, stand up so some old dear can have a seat. I am that old dear. There will be no more walking twelve miles along the banks of the river Ure. But I am ruthlessly walking come rain or shine the several hundred yards down to the local shops and back, No, I don't have a hat with rabbit's ears and, anyway, I think it is, at last, getting less arctic. Many 'nevermores' are really welcome. My young are so unlikely to want most of the belongings which fill my house that I no longer feel an oppressive duty of care towards them... the things, not the young. Temperamentally, I am not suited to 'last times' I havent noticed, and would always rather a 'goodbye' ceremony when whatever is to be lost. I remember one of my young leaning against me as I sat on a high stool when the clear words came to me: "She will never do this again". I was right. Having started, the examples are teaming, overwhelming. Overall, though, the relief of the nevermores is greater than the regret. But at least twice a day my inner voice can be heard quoting Hilaire Belloc: "Nevermore Miranda, nevermore. Only the high peaks hoar and Arragon a torrent at the door..." or words to that effect. Bore da.