Monday, 29 December 2014

Past snows

Have you ever had the experience of preparing for bed so late you feel, in the morning, you don't need to clean your teeth again? This happened very often in my fortieth decade but I had rather got out of the habit by my ninth .Over the period of two weeks of Sundays, in the middle of which we currently find ourselves, this phenomenon occured twice. It brings with it any number of contingencies. Taxis are in to their highest fare bracket, but there is much less traffic so the journey is quicker. Were I better at Maths, I could tell you if the latter redresses the former. Perhaps one of you will tell me by pressing 'comments' at the end of the post. Personally, I find it harder to sleep if I go to bed passed my bedtime. One should never let the children get overtired on the premise that over-tired children make for an over-tired - for which read 'irritable' and unreasonable' - parent. This year it was not the case of over-tired little ones: I was irritable and unreasonable off my own bat.

I have forgotten who asked the invaluable question about the whereabouts of the snows of yesteryear. The words come so often to mind that I feel rather guilty that I can't attribute them. It feels rather like keeping a library book passed its original return date without renewing it. I use the words without paying my dues to their author. This year I broke a tradition that has served my circle for thirty seven years: I failed to give a party marking the winter solstice and the start of days that don't turn in to night at 3.30 pm. There was such a feeling of daunt that my spirit crumbled. However, to my great joy, the young turned out to have inherited a sense of tradition, had saved the date and arranged to have dinner en entire family instead. Save the date next year, please, because, on the back of the pull of tradition/habit, the young will do it for me in 2015 - if I'm spared, of course.

 The wrench of giving things up is inevitable at my age. Tights for instance,(pantyhose over the pond): my wonky hands can't pull them on, so it's socks and long-johns. This precludes wearing a skirt or dress because the glamour of on top is seriously let down by the bag-lady of below.  Bathing is also part of the past. I can't be sure of getting out of it once I have clambered in. (Please don't worry. I do shower so am properly pristine). First courses have had to go. I wouldn't have room for the main course. Puddings have gone. I have a love/hate relationship with sugar. I remember a time when I used to eat cubes of the jelly - jello - befire it was joined by the hot water which made it the centre piece of trifles and the incarnation of  baby rabbits at the table of the very young. But there are gains, by George there are gains. A peaceful inner world, a tank of tolerance where there had been a tea-cup and,  probably best of all, I no longer have to eat my greens. Bore da, and Blwyddyn Newydd Dda

Wednesday, 24 December 2014


Let me start by saying that I make only one resolution: not to make any resolutions. I have spent too many years with the guilt of failure that sets in on January 2nd and lasts until the next January 1st. I should make one very significant one, though. I should resolve to give up sugar. Rather than giving up sugar, however, I find it easier to give up resolving to give it up. The guilt of eating it is more bearable than the guilt of renegging on my word to myself. With me so far?

 One of the excuses I give myself is that there are two new years and it wouldn't seem fair to resolve on one and not the other. In my experience the more signifant new year occurs in September. It is the academic new year and a restart of routine life after the non-month of August. When I was involved in Academia, or, rather, its exigencies, there were new school uniforms to think about, new teachers to admire or commiserate over, new timetables to stretch the ingenuity, finding ways in which to be at two sporting matches at the same time, for instance.( It may interest you to know that Liz is one year older every September, and that's been going on for a very long time, now). There are practical advantages, too. Shops and offices begin to operate as usual and, for the first week, anyway, the big city is a joy to move round because August holidays have dribbled over and there are still fewer cars and people crowding one's progress. But scarcely has one allowed oneself to enjoy the freedom of a less crowded world, as it was when I was a gal, so to speak, than it is the second week in September. This is one definition of Hell on Earth, I suspect. Everyone is back, in their cars, on the Underground and the supermarket flaunting their tans and annoying those of us who have not deserted the Metropolis in favour of idleness and warmth but have made it our own for the preceding umpteen weeks. There is one resolution I might have to keep, though I don't know whether to call it a resolution or a duty and/or a task:. I must confront the clutter I call home and make it as nearly young-people-friendly to deal with as I can before I leave it too late. Were you to see the borderline chaos of cupboards, in particular, you would be sending flowers not of condolence but of encouragement to those who will have the job of sorting it out. I refer you to the oft quoted mots justes of someone close to me:" If they hire two skips (dumpers) they won't need to call an undertaker (mortician)" - translation included for Mountain View California. Bore da

Saturday, 13 December 2014


In response to the second 'comment' writer on 'Addiction' I will, indeed, expand on 'accuratology', at the obvious risk of boring the rest of you. (There you are, I have already fallen in to the addictive trap: should 'accuratology', as written above, have one or two inverted commas? Believe me. It is not a  condition to identify as a laughing matter). I do see that it may well be confused with pedantry - see 'comment' number 1.   My inner voice knows they are different but the rest of me  continues to thrash it out. Perhaps, a few more examples will help clarifification. Spelling is rife with them. Why has 'mediaeval' to be 'medieval'?  I wince every time I come across the latter rendition. Why say 'intervention' when what has been received is an enquiry? The play ended at 10.15pm. No it didn't: it was 10.16.We last met in August 2010. No we didn't. It was September. It's only about 100 yards away. No it's not. It's 99.9 yards away. Can you imagine how an accuratologist feels when the setting of a play or an opera is up-dated from its intrinsic period to, for instance, the present day? Have you ever seen an astronaut draw a sword?

You can see how one's circle could be driven mad by the manifestation of this condition. Someone close to me insists that none of it - grammar, syntax, spelling - matters as long as one is understood. I, on the contrary, see language serving, among other things, as a  boundary. The confines of correctness represent order and reliability. When we ignore it chaos may well ensue. What this old lady sees as the collapse of manners and consideration is a perilous indication of such chaos. I am not used to seeing fit young men in the seats on a 'bus supposedly reserved for the less able. Likewise, I am not a happy bunny when I have been waiting for the nice disabled loo, on the level, no stairs and a very able-bodied young person comes out having taken long enough to complete a whole toilette.

 I am not sure how helpful accuratology is when practised at the hospital enquiry desk. My colleague may say - " Down that corridor, on the right." Yours truly will say - " Along that corridor, second clinic on the right". Who knows: the expansion may make the patient late for her/his appointment. But I can't sit easy on my chair when 'down' means 'below' so the patient could expect to be dropped though the floor. However, and it's a big however, while my forty-year old self may be jumping up and down with anger and frustration, the presenting present day self is calm and acceptance incarnate. Prynhawn da.

Sunday, 7 December 2014


My name is Liz: I'm an accuracolic. I haven't been able to decide if this is a fault or a blessing or simply a fact. I have had a very long time, indeed, to live with the condition and have only just got round to looking at it and its effect on my way of being in the world. As a child one of my most frequent complaints was "But you said.....", an extremely irritating whinge to the adults responsible for me. Now, it takes many and various forms. I am annoyingly punctual. I used to think this was due to my profession where my working day was divided in to fixed slots and the significance of being ready on time became part of what we were doing. A colleague has recently pointed out that we may well have been drawn to the job because of a need to be where we said we would be when we said we would be there; the mirror image  of my own assumption.

The phenomenon makes other unexpected inroads in to every day life. I can't be doing without apostrophes - apostrophes in the right place, that is. I also watch word order and grammar and syntax with the eagle eye of the possessed. Alphabetical order: now there's a thing for an accuracolic who works in an uncomputerised library as, once a week at the local hospital, I do. My day starts with going through the books -out card index. Inevitably, in the seven days since I last looked, the cards have been shuffled in to total disorder. Correcting this, I have started to check on the whereabouts of books which should have been returned during 2013. This involves getting up to look on the shelves and to check on the trolleys which go round the wards. Standing at the shelves I am compelled to put the books that are there in to alphabetical order, both of author and of title. I am thoroughly discomforted by 'white' lies - when I recognise them, of course. I get another rush of' but-you-saids. I can't settle for pretend friendliness or warmth. I am uneasy in its presence and believe I would be more at ease with the truth of hostility. I have to put down a book wherein the characters are not behaving as I expect them, from experience of how we humans operate, to behave. It makes amateur dramatics impossible for me because I need to agree with the Director's interpretation of the character. (I am already having difficulty with the relevance of this post to 75 going on 40, but what the Hell...
 On balance, though, it is probably time-keeping which pre-occupies my addiction most. However, I do understand : punctuality can be both a bore and a perceived reprimand by those who are more relaxed about the clock. In due course, I shall have to have a headstone which says  "The late Liz, who was never late". Bore da

Friday, 21 November 2014


Much to my rue I have to acknowledge that the difference between me made up and me bare-skinned is such, with reference to the latter, as to frighten the children and drive away the horses. In days of yore I could rush in to the sea, naked - as to face, not as to birthday suit - and rush out again simply glowing. The pity is that, having registered this, I am wondering whether I would have the cheek to take the scarlet swimsuit and the Guru to the seaside ever again. My advice to all you half-my-agers is to enjoy it while you may and to look away when the elderly, needs must, expose those of their bits a swimsuit cannot reach.

In a rare drawer tidying exercise, I came across some belts, . Being an habitual hoarder and not too keen on the sort-out sessions my Mother, with relish, did regularly, I hadn't seen these items since six inches ago. What to do with such a collection when there is no realistic chance of them ever going round my middle again. Postpone the decision is the only possible decision. Likewise, glorious evening clothes from the era of another life: even if I were to shrink in to them anew, this Cinderella is 98% sure not to be going to the ball ever again.  There are shoes in the cupboard with heels that make me feel giddy just to look at them. I remember keeping a pair of slip-on shoes permanently in the car because there was no question of pedalling in my out and about footwear. The females close to me have lives so busy there is no possibility of  trapping them in to a ruthless three pile day. (You do know what I mean: one pile 'keep, one pile 'charity', one pile 'throw out'). I don't feel inclined to ask a male. I suspect I am secretly looking for help from someone as sentimental about possessions as I am. Somehow, I can't think the men I know would choose compassion over ruthlessness. Mind you, I happen to know that the Guru had shirts and 'T' shirts from the time he was twelve years old in his wardrobe. I suspect we equate our clothes/possessions with security and continuity. Perhaps we feel as if we were sacrificing crumbs of our sense of who we are when we drop a faded scarf on to the charity pile, or even worse, on to the throw away pile. Is it that a sense of a whole self depends on continuing to own every item that has ever meant anything to us, as if the outer container of the inner self depended on outgrown belts and too tight evening dresses - or suits, of course; I am nothing if not politically correct. (That's not true as you very well know. But I do do my best). Well there you are: I  just typed the two 'do's' without a space. That's the answer: only the dodo survives in my lexicon of what was then and what is now. You can't have one without the other. You can't have now without then. Bore da

Friday, 7 November 2014

In short

As you are aware, or you wouldn't feel like reading this, life after the magic seventy is rather different from life at forty. How banal: I know, but it seemed to need saying. What I have been noticing, even relishing, in the last little while is the way in which happenings, occurences and so on have changed their weight and balance. The concern for what goes on in the world remains and is heightened. A colleague recently said she couldn't bring herself to listen to or watch the news. Surely, the least one can do is listen and watch. What I wanted to put to you, today, though, is the pleasure in things one might not even have noticed in earlier decades. I like to 'do' the crossword in a national broadsheet. (The inverted commas are because I finish it but rarely). Usually, it is on the back page so all you need to do is turn the paper over and there you have it. It's easy to check yesterday's and it's easy to start on today's. However, recently the paper has been going in for more advertising so rather too often there is a full page advertisement on the back page and the crossword is inside that page. On the days when it is on the back page I feel a little flutter of satisfaction, something warm in the region of the solar plexus that goes down in to the core of me.  All is right with the world.

A parking space just where you most need it drops some more warmth in to that happiness bucket. Sometimes there is a real letter in the post, hand written and from an identifiable source. Plop goes another fluid ounce. Opening things provides an inexhaustable source of potential pleasure and contemporary pain. I can't open things. Someone close to me gave me a gadget which grips a top and, when a handle is turned, obligingly takes it off. That's pleasurable.  At work in the hospital I have to use my teeth on a bottle of water. No, I can't take the gadget with me, silly. My bag is the weight of a small toddler anyway. I do  have grave doubts about the professionalism of  being caught with a bottle in my mouth when an enquirer turns up at my desk but I do need the hydration and, of course, the swallow of warm glow that comes with  success. Finding I do have some more toothpaste, cupboarded but forgotten, is another example of this delicious phenomenon. Someone who uses a singular verb with a singular noun has the same effect; further, sea water that is warmer than you thought when you plunged bravely in. I am struggling to find a simile that will really illuminate what it is I am relishing and trying to share with you. Is it like  gulps of warm soup on a cold day as, one after the other, they settle in your tummy and spread warmth down your arms and round your back? No, it's not quite that. It's gentler and more profound: a sort of central 'yes'. Never mind. One must just hope that the bucket keeps replenishing before one kicks it. Bore da

Sunday, 2 November 2014


The significant news in this household is that a new Manager has moved in. A feline of such pedigree that one is informed even of the names of his great, great, great grandparents. So far so impeccable. Now, Liz has never been owned by a pedigree cat before, nor a male however neutered, so there is a great deal of learning on both sides.  He is black and VERY furry. As far as I can tell he has no face, only eyes which are deeply golden and two holes through which, I assume, he breathes. He is two and a half and has been living with his breeder until a month ago when he moved in with a local family with whom I have a Vet in common. The short version is that the Mother of two small children with her own health issues found she had too much on her plate to serve him in the way to which he was accustomed. Evidently, the breeder  also failed him. She had wanted to breed from him, but it turned out that he didn't find that an attractive proposition, spurning all the princesses to whom he was introduced.
 The interim slave explained that he would need grooming and provided all the necessary equipment so to do. Now, there was Liz's first mistake. What was it about him that made him too much to find room on her particular plate, and what was meant by grooming? These were two rather important questions which slipped under the radar of yours truly, who failed to ask . His age, the Vet connection and even his trousseau blinded me to the more mundane of his requirements, The Guru will be pleased to hear that he has pulled one of my toes in to the 21st century, at least: I actually looked on line to find out about grooming. Dear Reader, there were three screens- full of instruction. The bit about how to deal with his rear end was very good for my figure: it took away all my appetite . He, on the other hand, has a ginormous appetite and, for lack of advice at the weekend, I have given him two pouches of food which were vacuumed down before I had time to step back from his tray. However, he seems not to have touched neither the milk nor the water put down for his needs overnight and this morning. Second mistake: I have clearly bitten off more than I can chew and am landed with a boss who, it seems, cannot be left for any time at all unless with an expert bottom brusher with the capacity to see which way round is a cat with no discernible face who is the same width all the way along. Wish me luck - and  him patience. Bore da

Friday, 24 October 2014


At this point in time - I can't believe I said that - anyway, currently, I can say I am a fairly well being. (Because, Dear Reader, I am allergic to jargon and cliche is why). Having out-run the Grim Reaper two years ago I am in a condition much as you would expect an elderly lady to be. I have not gone back to my pre-condition but I am still quite fluent in the day to day requirements of the 'Survived'. One of the amazing people who saved me at the time told me I should regard myself as having run two full marathons, uphill carrying a bicycle, or some such, on my back. It took me ten days to regain my strength simply having heard her say that. But seriously, the state of one's body and its capacities do take up rather too much time and management the further one moves from the long-distance running days of yore.

If you learn to listen to your body it will tell exactly what the source of the pain may be. I have been talking to a friend who has had an intractable stiffness in her neck for a very long time. When she asked herself what factor was a 'pain in the neck' in her life she realised it was her boss and, in due course, changed her job. Don't laugh. Try it yourself. Another related yarn: someone I know suffered difficulty in swallowing. He spent days with various specialists working, without success, to resolve his predicament, living on soup, mousse and jelly. (Not American jelly but American 'jello'.) In the end, responding to the question " What can't you swallow?" he identified a severe upset with the circumstances of his life and took steps to sort it out. It's fun, isn't it, trying to translate the idiom in to the underlying truth. It reminds me of trying to understand my beloved cat's efforts to inform me. "What kind of miaow?" I would ask her and she would obligingly miaow again and again and again until the stupid two-legger got the message. A woman I met who suffered permanent back ache had frail, elderly parents in another town, a difficult partner and four teen-age monsters. Well, she would, wouldn't she, with the load she was carrying.The difficulty lies in trying to work out what is a bodily expression of some inner world hassle, what is a medical condition requiring qualified treatment and what is down to three score and ten years of wear and tear. My forty-year-old inner voice spends fruitless minutes persuading my elderly outer self that this or that pain is nothing to do with anno domini and should be atended to fifthwith. On the other hand, many General Practioners will collude to dismiss the concerns of the no-longer-young with a sort of what-do-you-expect-at-your-age prescription. I am reminded of the story of two no-longer-young musicians who, on meeting, would start with an organ recital. Bore da

Sunday, 12 October 2014


One minute I am sure there is nothing new in the world and the next I am driven in to a corner in a darkened room aware that so much is new there is no way I can hope to assimilate it, not even all, but enough to survive in the here and now. (It's kinder not to groan at me: after all, that's what the blog is about. ) I was thrust in to the current realisation because my foot slipped off the clutch pedal of my car. I asked the Guru if there existed such things as non-slip covers for car pedals. He likes driving and is boysie about cars, when he was little routinely taking them apart to see how they worked;(No, silly: his toy cars.)If you are young enough, you won't be surprised that he told me to search-engine it. Well, truth be told, he mentioned the name of the search-engine, but, as I keep telling you, I don't say 'Hoover' either and I am b....y minded about making a verb out of a noun and thereby providing free advertising. (Perhaps that last would do better in green ink. Listen, I can barely use the computer let alone change its colour nor even find its paragraphs.) Bless him, he does persist in trying to drag me in to the world everyone else is living in. Having said that, the Father of my Children doesn't even have a computer. Considering the breadth of his interests and capabilities, this could be surprising. However, he is not good with frustration - who is -and has taken the wise decision not to put himself through it. It may also be that where he lives it would cause quite a stir were he to throw it out of one of the windows.(paragraph) Yesterday, I went to see one of the most human, funny and altogether satisfying films I have ever seen. In the context of this post, I mention it because I had quite a challenging journey to a cinema showing it. To avoid one of the necessary three bus-legs I drove to the point where the second bus started. No problem there: the problem was finding somewhere to leave the car. I do have the right to park on a single yellow line by virtue of my Blue 'Disabled' badge but for three hours only. It took me so long to find a solution I nearly missed the film. The point being that, had I search-engined it, I would have found it showing almost within walking distance of where I live: humph. There is a sort of mysticism about the cyber world. It's as if the phantasy of omnipotence sometimes experiencced by the teenaged young has come true. There is something/someone out there who really does know everything on earth and elsewhere that is capable of being known. I have been honoured to know several young people who indulged in day-dreams of being an oracle, a greek God from whom all knowledge flowed, myself included. Therefore,after three score and a lot more than ten, it's not surprising, surely, that I am finding something weird about this phenomenon coming to pass. One can access car pedal covers, information about a relative living in Hawaii, Marmite - even if it arrives in a jar too big to stand on a shelf- the forgotten maiden name of a college friend not seen for sixty years, the unruly doings of people in the news and, I am told, pictures of the streets where we live. I am aware that this particular obsession of mine crops up with potentially boring frequency. I beg you to forgive me. I am as a child in front of a toy shop window: everything is possible but there is so much out there I feel terrified and have to go away empty handed. It is as if we had so little faith in an all-knowing, all powerful God that we have had to create one. Now I have a headache. I shall go in search of an analgesic without benefit of engine. And so to bed. Nos da

Friday, 3 October 2014

Sod's Law

Many years ago, I drafted a law that has continued to rule my life ever since. This was 'Sod's Law'. I am aware it is not the most elegant of titles but it seems the most apposite. "The co-operation of factors which are random and fortuitous operates in inverse ratio to the urgency of the need". To wit: When you have no need of a taxi, three plying for hire will pass you in as many minutes - or fewer. When you are desperately late and it's raining there is no sign of a 'For Hire' from where you are standing right up to the distant horizon. My most recent example pertains to a cancelled hospital appointment. I was to see an Opthamologist some Wednesdays ago. This appointment was cancelled and no replacement offered. I went to the department, I telephoned it and the appointments office for the whole out-patient system many times and got absolutely nowhere. Made robotic by the need to have a problem with one of my eyes resolved, came a day when I spent the whole morning on the phone, an automata with a dialling finger. Finally, I came upon a human who was familiar with the situation and was able to tell me that the person who made appointments was not there but would be in the next day. Noting in my diary to provide sustenance and water for the next day's waiting time I went down to pick up the post which had just arrived. You have guessed correctly: there on the mat was a letter from the hospital offering me an appointment in a few day's time:that wouild be Sod's law in triplicate. Examples come avalanching out so fast the old man in the archives is barely able to keep to his feet. You, too, will have experienced the toothache that goes as you ring the Dentist's door bell: the longed-for invitation that arrives just after you have committed to selling flags on a windy winter street for some charity you didnt even catch the name of. Sometimes it is possible to reverse the effect or create a solution which defeats the letter of the law without actually, criminally breaking it. During the scarlet swimsuit holiday, the Guru and I took a public ferry to an island opposite the bit of coast we were staying at. We drove five miles to the little emabarking port and left the hired car to bake itself in the sunshine. While lunching by the harbour, having a need for a comfort stop I encountered a lady who was staying at the same hotel. She and her husband had come in the hotel's private yacht. When offered a ride back on board with them, I demurred, saying we couldn't because we had left the car at the harbour. Reporting this to the Guru, he looked at me as if I had come from out of Space. "Blow the car," said he, "I will walk back on my knees, if necessary, to get it." While he froze with with hot embarrassment and tried to stop me, I went back to the lady and rescinded my polite refusal with an even politer acceptance. I have now totally lost the thread of where this fits with Sod's law. I think I may have been trying to say that having denied the co-operation of factors offering the Guru and me the unique chance of a voyage on a delightful private yacht I was able to restore the situation and comply with the Law after all. I need some sea air to clear my head. Bore da

Friday, 26 September 2014


If you are anywhere near my age prepare to have your gander rise. The situation is thus: the tablets, pills and capsules which fuel the engine of my physical health, arrive in partmentalised boxes, one for each of four weeks. The boxes consist of little spaces covered with film, labelled by day and by time, to wit: Monday, Tuesdat etc., breakfast, lunch, tea and bed. These boxes are called, rather coyly, 'dosettes'. I am sure you are ahead of me, but just for affirmation, the two risks you have spotted are 1) If you drop one you still have to take it, 2) likewise if the cat has been playing football with it, because there is no happy box containing replacements. The 'not only but also' of this frustrating situation is the delivery of these dosettes. Up until this week, I have collected them from the local pharmacy in passing, any of the few days before the due date. Needing plasters - bandaid in Mountview California - I went in to the relevant pharmacy on Saturday preceding the Tuesday when a new four-box allocation was due. I asked for them and was told "Tuesday". I said it was going to be a problem to come Tuesday and here I was, now, so where was the problem? "Tuesday" was the firm response. "We are not allowed to give them before the due date". Irrelevant that I had always had them on or about. "That's the rule. Due date". Dear Reader, I lost it. I ranted that I was a mature, intelligent, responsible person and could guarantee I was not going to take the contents of every single dosette with one cup of coffee in one fell swoop. (What is that, by the way?) I think fear of having to hospitalise me for overwheening rage encouraged the pharmacist and the manager to give in and hand me the four dosettes already elastic-banded together so very evidently ready. Being old is a two-way street. There are huge advantages and equal disadvantages. I don't like the way it makes me feel to be treated as if I were a not too bright four year old, but I welcome the help when I can't easily get in and out of a taxi. But then,a plus, I do indulge in taxis from the profligacy of advanced years. I asked two of the people close to me to point it out if ever they saw signs of dementia in me. "How would we know?" was the response, "You were always eccentric". Humph. I worry that I am often left out of things because other people take the decision about my physical capabilities. I was not invited on one occasion, for instance, where there are steep stairs to negotiate. I would rather creep down the stairs holding grimly on to the banister than endure the feeling of being excluded. As a result, I worry about decisions I took, in the name of good parenting, for my young when I thought they were not equipped to take these decisions, themselves. I hereby apologise. Now I know how it must have felt. It was probably not for me to embargo high heels for a fourteen-year old on the basis that they would ruin her still forming feet. All her friends were wearing them. She was a pariah and I was a Gorgon. A last thought: I have been reading a novel in French, (in order to oil it, silly - the French, not the novel) I was asked by the young if I had had to look up many words. I told them it was not too many. "Google is so good for that" said they. Not for me, I didn't even consider it, remember it. I turned the flimsy pages of my war-time printed French-English dictionary to find what I needed and stuck them back with cellotape when they fell apart. Bore da

Friday, 19 September 2014

Indian Summer

Unless you have been very unlucky, you will have been enjoying the most delightful and cherishing Indian Summer: late-ish September and warm sunshine and lovely pale blue skies with little brushes of white. The early mornings and the evenings are cool to cold so it's a cardigan on and presently taken off. Nighties, cotton but heavy and with sleeves and a dilemma about whether to re-instate the duvet or not yet It comes to me that this is a very edifying metaphor for old age. Old age, as I experience it, is warm and pleasant in the middle, with serious disadvantages at either end. Discomfort and disability nibble early and late. If I sit for long - not even too long - I have to get up very carefully and stand still a second or two to gain equilibrium before stepping forward. At night, I can no longer sleep in my preferred and habitual position on my right side because that now hurts my back. So I sleep on my back, which fancy tells me, is why I have psychedelic dreams. But the days, as I said, are warm and welcoming and full of lovely sights. The trees are turning slowly in to their autumn colours and there are Worcester Pearmain apples, if only I could find the shops which sell them. The metaphor, as you will have noticed, conveys the sense of small pleasures, well-known but no longer easy to access, subject to the threat of early frost in spite of the sun. (Picture a new paragraph, if you please). When the trees begin to lose their leaves, I shall have to think of contemporary friends who have also dropped off the branch. A few weeks ago, with the Father of my Children, I had dinner with college friends who now live in the States, whom I hadn't seen for sixty years. Actually, that's not quite true. I had seen the lady but not her husband. The Father had not seen either. Three minutes after we met the other three were deep in political discussion and I was reminded of the passion of those cocoa evenings when we were all about twenty or so. I kept rather quiet, being parsimonious in the political interest field. Then I was asked a direct question about my response to the contested actions of a certain politician. Trapped, I said the first thing which came in to my head:"He must have known something I didn't". Dear Reader, I got away with it. In the Spring of my days I was no more politicised than I am now in the Indian Summer so I was left both relieved and guilty because my response could have arisen from deep and prolonged consideration rather than from fright about how I was going to mask my disgraceful ignorance. (Picture another paragraph if you don't mind). Just as some activities don't work when it is no longer summer, so it is with some activities now that one is in the winter of one's life. "I could have danced all night" was then. not now. The other day I went to hear the Guru's band play in the ballroom of the Festival Hall. People were dancing to the music and I suddenly realised I had been dancing on those very same boards sixty one years before. Good Lord, that was before anyone else in the crowd was even born. The thing is, at this end of my life, I couldn't join in the dancing, but I could, and did, enjoy and swell with pride at what the Guru has achieved and was giving to us all. So, there is no anticipation of a winter of discontent in this glorious Indian Summer and, anyway, it is exactly two years since I survived to leave hospital so, Happy Anniversary. Bore da PS It occurs to me, rereading the above, that my delight in the Indian Summer metaphor left me vague in articulating it. Quite simply, I meant that the new - or newish - pleasures and re-experiences of exceedingly old age are mirrored by the summer warmth of the autumn sun. Prynhawn da

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Transmission resumed

It has been scarlet swimsuit time. For those of you new to the site and without time to browse backwards, scarlet swimsuit time is when I take that item and other relevant ones on holiday to the sea-side in France. The Guru came with me which made the whole thing manageable. I see that, in my life, there have been five stages of travel management: the first as a single person breezing through controls with a few pairs of clean underwear, an extra blouse (no 'T' shirts then),and a hairbrush packed in to a small carry-on case, swanning through with the Father of my children taking charge, hand baggage and baggage in the hold, muddling through with small people in tow,nappy -filled hand baggage and baggage in the hold, back to a singleton, eyeing a likely strong arm to help me take my cases off the carousel and, finally, wheelchair pinned with medication safely in hand baggage on my knee and baggage in the hold. Anyway, it was a lovely short - too short - break and the Guru, who generously helps me in and out of the sea, avoided dropping me under the waves this time.The scarlet swimsuit also brought to mind another one I had when expecting one of the young. This one had a black top to under the bosom and was red below that, rather baggy as I recall. Some months pregnant, when in the sea, the swimsuit filled up with water via the ill-fitting leg part and left me in danger of having a boat tie up to me in the reasonable belief I was a bouy. It is not easy, remembering the snows of yesteryear, to settle for the constraints of now, but I am not doing too badly as is regularly re-inforced when I am working at the local hospital and see rather much of what people have to endure simply to get from breakfast to bed. In that line of thought, the other day I noticed a piece in the paper which said that one's waist ought to measure no more than half one's height if one were to live a long life. (Goodness knows how these statistics are arrived at. How many people were stopped in the street by a human with a tape measure and asked to stand up against a lampost with a nick in it to show the ideal distance from the ground?) My waist is nearly half as much again as is allowed by this dictum. I had a moment of panic, picturing my imminent demise then suddenly heard my inner voice bellowing "Good Lord, woman: what are you worrying about? You are extremely old already". No chance of narrowing the waist nor delaying the inevitable then. As it happens, demise is rather sadly in mind. Those of you on the blog-alert list will know, already, that my beloved four-legged friend died a few weeks ago, so forgive me while I tell the others. She is profoundly missed and lies under a semi-circular head stone near the gate on the path to the front door. Bringing the scarlet swimsuit home had a poignant newness to it. There was no-one winding in and out of my legs, purring and tearing at my suitcase with her claws. No-one who loves and is loved on a basis of total trust and little disappointment - for her, none for me. I have managed to stop feeling guilty about the depth of the loss. She was a huge part of my life for more than fifteen years and the pain is a reality which I am allowing to be perfectly appropriate. She had rested at the Vet's for a few days after the event and came back in a white cardboard box, covered with painted flowers and inscribed with her name. I couldn't want anything different for myself, though I think it had better not be in the garden by the gate. Whatever would the young tell the Estate Agent? Bore da

Friday, 22 August 2014


The Oxford Dictionary seems to me rather cautious in its definition of 'irony'. It reads something like expressing a view in terms the direct opposite of that which you actually mean. Personally, I use it to describe the cheek of, say, the Wizard of Cyberspace when he hijacks my work and whisks it off in to the ether. It is as if someone with a rather malicious sense of humour presents you with a seemingly rational declaration which is the opposite of what you were expecting and is really meant to humiliate and flatten you, back to your ignominious status as a raving idiot. Today, what brought it to mind was my eyeliner. It is sold on the basis that it is virtually indelible. (When I say 'eyeliner' I mean for the bottom rim of your eye not for lining the bottom edge of the eyelid). Anyway, I find that it is not in the least indelible and is very soon lining a quarter of an inch of the skin below my eye. The irony is that from there it IS indelible and requires a good six minutes to erase, not to mention stretching the delicate skin of that area. "I wish you luck with that" can often mean "there's an ice-cube's chance in Hell" of whatever it is you are wishing for coming to pass. "You don't say" means "you have spoken but I don't believe a word of it". Problems are inevitable when an ironist is in intercourse with a pedant. The one is mischievous, the other precise. As you can imagine, the chorus of such an exchange would be a series of " But you saids". My Mother used regularly to say it was a good drying day when it was chucking it down with rain. We didn't call it irony but it did rather cease to be funny after the first ten years or so. There's another point: it is often intended to be funny in a positive way, as, surely, my Mother meant it to be. "The squirrels are enjoying the figs" is a regular comment about a friend's garden where a large fig tree, given to her by her daughter when she moved in, is heavy with fruit which is eaten by the dear litle furry things (!) before she can harvest them, herself. I can't think why we British emigrate. Irony rarely translates in to another language never mind in to the mores of elsewhere. I suspect we are seen, ironically,as rather impolite in our politeness. Visiting a relative in the States (not in Mountainview Ca, I hasten to aver) I quickly earned a reputation with which I was not really comfortable, for being difficult to understand in conversation. Ironically, so were they. I was not good at the literal in spite of being a seaker after truth, precision and exactitude in my striving to be comprehensible. There's an irony in spades for you Bore da

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Behind one's back

The other day, I broke a long-standing rule: I responded to an advertisement that promised an instant, lasting cure for age-related wrinkles. It was very expensive, but what the H..., you are only old once. After several days of using it my skin did, indeed, look smoother so I began to be reconciled to the price and even started to use it more liberally.  By chance, in a friend's bathroom,  I came upon a magnifying mirror. Dear Reader, my skin is not smoother. My eyes are weaker; so much for vanity. It seems I have to put up with the status quo now and relinquish the status quo ante.

In that vein, prudently, I have been taking 'end of life' precautions. The young have been given lists of this and that and told where to find one thing and another. During this process, when my desk was covered in supposedly relevant papers, a relative rang and asked if it were a good time to talk. While describing the state of my desk I added that, before telephoning an Undertaker (Mortician, if you are in Mountain View California) the young should order two skips (Here, my American language skills fail me. I don't know what a recepticle for rubbish is called. (Yes I do: it's a dumpster. Hurray for the man in my language archive; a fast mover when the need is really urgent). He replied that if they ordered two skips, they may not need the Undertaker. I rather enjoy what we call Gallows Humour, don't you? Well, actually, I enjoy any kind of humour. It feels like the oil which smooths the sluggish engine of my existence. My colleague and I, on the Enquiry Desk at the local hospital, keep telling one another funny stories and even  jokes in general circulation. Recently, it was about her three cats. Caught outside, in a cloudburst of rain, they dashed, together, for the door to the inside. Two of them got wedged side by side in the rush, stuck and intractable. The third, having been pipped to the post, saw his chance and leapt over the pair of them. It's not a helpful image to have in your mind's eye when someone is asking where is the Intensive Care Unit.  We find ourselves laughing so hard the enquirers have to speak up and apologise for interupting us, but, please, don't tell that to our manager. I have also been setting out my wishes for my funeral. Looking at it, nicely printed from my laptop, I saw that it was virtually a programme for a concert. I am really disappointed that I won't be there to hear it. A very dear friend is a celebrated performing musician. Ages ago, before I was up in the bracket that has to take these things as imminent, he overheard me saying how many of his recordings would form part of my memorial. He said he might well play the pieces in person. "But", qouth he, "we'll have to talk dates because I am getting very busy". Bore da

Friday, 1 August 2014

As You Were

If my parents - and yours - were suddenly to find themselves back among the quick, it is certain that they  would think themselves landed on Mars or even a planet not yet discovered. "We pressed the button marked Planet Earth" they would complain to Mercury or whomever had been responsible for their travel arrangements. "Our daughter is expecting us. What do you mean she didnt get our letter. We should have what-mailed? Used a social network? We don't want to meet her entire network of contacts, just her." Having visited four major stores in London looking for the face powder I habitually use, I found it was out of stock in all four. Bravely, the Guru, unseen, breathing down my neck, I decided to order it on-line. Forty five minutes later I had completed the transaction  The next day, an email arrived asking me to email them a bill for gas or electricity not more than three months old.  It was a  question of security. They needed to verify my identity. I thought they must be joking. They were not. I emailed back along the following lines: I am a very old lady. I could just about manage to order than d....d thing on-line under the guidance of the wonderful Guru. I could no more email a document  to you than manufacture the item in my own kitchen. Back came an email virtually on its knees: most apologetic, Forget it, the request is on its way. It hasn't arrived yet, so watch this space.

Even from watching advertisements on television I become totally confused. What is broadband? What is an app? Why won't my phone turn on the central heating? Do birds still twitter? Is Skyping scraping the barrel of communication?  Someone to whom I once risked skyping - again, thanks to the omnipotent Guru - came to her computer stark naked. Mine doesn't have a camera so the world is spared that particular horror. The imagining of the bewilderment of the last generation suddenly seems apposite to me and mine. I spend hours - and money - on the phone looking for information I could  simply have Search Engined. (I don't say 'Hoover'' either). It just doesn't come to me to look online. Sometimes, when I have done so, partly out of guilt because I am grateful for the Guru's attempts to pull me in to the current century, and partly out of shame at my Luddite behaviour, I am confused by the list of the choices offered to me. Usually, none covers exactly what I need. Oh dear:What  I do need is to lie down in a darkened room and perhaps wake up back in the nineteenth century. However, some automata do enhance the universe. At the hospital where I volunteer, the loos have a flush system which responds to the approach of one's hand. Very hygienic it is, too. The loos, themselves, however, have fallen foul of domestic cut-backs. You have a hands free flush, a hands free water supply, a scruffy floor and a paper towel holder that is nearly always empty. Hot air? In that situation? No thank you. I should say I am grateful for the hands free 'tap'. How often have I found myself with soap on my hands and the tap too stiff to turn. Prynhawn da

Monday, 28 July 2014

Communication - I think

One of the joyous rewards of having a four-footed friend is learning how mutually to communicate. My hospital Enquiry Desk colleague told me how she fed her cat a necessary tablet of medication. She wrapped it in her favourite food and she and her husband watched while the cat cleaned the whole plate. Giving one another a hug of relief and congratulation, they heard a sound and turned round to see the cat neatly spit out the entire untouched tablet. I suppose one may call that a failure of communication, but from the cat's point of view it was incontravertible: you don;t fool me. That was not cat food and I am damned if I will play along with such a deceit. However, I have to say that there was an occasion when my own dear friend elected to sleep downstairs instead of with me. When I told her she knew where I was if she needed me, I got one of those sing-song not quite miaows that definitely signifies comprehending  acquiescence.

That's enough cat. Not everyone shares the degree of felinitis with which I find myself cursed - or blessed. I do, as it happens, have  an almost compulsive wish to commuicate accurately, even with humans. I just wish my lexicon of possibilities were wider and richer. Of course, not all communication is about words. Noticing is another road to understanding, another way of passing information. I realise that I have made an assumption that everyone notices. I did, from a small girl. It made me worried and guilty and often ashamed of something I had done or not done. In reality, no-one had even noticed whatever it was. To this day, I have to remind myself that not everyone has the mind space to observe, notice and take note. A day or so ago; I asked the person helping me, who had kindly changed the cat's litter tray, if there were any solid matter in it. (On Vet's instructions, the cat is being monitored). She hadn't noticed. How could you not. with eyes and nose at your disposal. Oh Dear: here I am back with that subject. The Guru speaks four languages. Two of them are totally fluent. I don't know what degree of fluency he has in the other two. He is still not always an easy man to understand, to comprehend as a fellow human. Words and deeds are not necessarily the open sesame of communication I would like them to be. There is a catch there, too. It is too easy to spot an economy with the truth when you are a communication addict, with a good enough memory for what had actually been said or done, of course.

The temperature is 29 degrees with what seems like 100 per cent humidity. It appears to have melted my sense of the fun, the irony in the way the world works.  To-morrow promises to be cooler. Watch this space for some jollier communications. Nos da

Friday, 18 July 2014


A friend recently pointed out that my blog is suffused with ambivalence. I assumed she meant between life and death. This I am not sure about but it could be implicit in the title: an ambivalence between the chronology of 75 and the instinct of  40. Thinking about her comment my head started to feel bigger on the inside than the outside Ultimately, I decided ambivalence was one of life's threads for everyone, sown in tiny backstitch along the seam of everyday. Like a good student, therefore, I write keeping the question - sorry, title - in mind at all times as instructed by my teachers those many decades ago.

Take television for instance. I watch rather a lot of it. I have favourites, usually detecting or other puzzlement situations. There is a drawback. Each series comes to its end, presumably so as not to bore the audience or to afford what is called in the North of England 'teachers' rest'. (Half-term down South.)  In this case it would be actors' and technicians' rest, I suppose. or even a fallow period for the sponsors. To me it presents a hazard. What if I am no longer able or around to watch television? As you must know, the series always end with a monumental crisis. There is a very good chance I shall never know what-happens-next. I can't see myself contacting the producers to explain my problem asking them if they would  be kind enough to spill the beans ahead of time. I would, of course, offer my absolute respect of confidentiality, swearing on my life never to divulge to another living soul. Oh Dear, there it is again. I can't swear on my life because that, (my life) is the lynch pin which supports my please-tell-me-now plea. I have grown quite sneaky in this pursuit. I switch on the computer and Search Engine the programme to see if I can devine the future. On one occasion this gave me an awful shock. One of my favourite characters is a lady doctor working at the turn of the century - the last one, silly, all Victorian pre-suffragette. On screen a numbered list of the episodes of the next series told me Dr O was scheduled to die. I spent a horrible period believing the end of the known world was on its way. Dear Reader, when it came to it it turned out it was her Father who was doomed. Since he had appeared only by refrence not by substance, I had formed no attachment to him. I let him go without a twinge and took my first full breath since I had first spied on the what-is-to-come. I am wrestling with how to reconcile myself to letting go what the rest of you are taking for granted. It's rather like knowing I shall never have a waist again while I watch the glorious young tighten their belts - really - and plan the hemline for next year. Or  giving up the race at the half-way mark while everyone else charges on to the end. Still, it is very pleasant to be able to enjoy half way, having had my turn at.  going all the way.  Prynhawn da

Tuesday, 8 July 2014


As a matter of habit, when I have enjoyed a book, I re-read it from time to time. It's rather like calling in to see a family of old friends. Occasionally, people take me to task, seeing it as a waste of productive reading time. Usually, I liken the experience to listening to the same music over and over again. No-one seems convinced and I'm not sure, now I come to see it in black and white, so to speak, that I do, either. However, reccently there has been a sea-change. Reaching for an old friend on a top shelf I suddenly had a vision of a pile of books I was given for Christmas - yes, seven months ago - lying on my desk top threatening to fall over. In other words, so many books and so little time. I can see that spending time with past friends at my age precludes my making any new ones. Being me, a Libran, I stumbled upon a compromise. Rather than start on any of my own unread tomes, I borrowed one from the library in the hospital where I work.'Fair dos' as we say in Wales. Mind you, I need to admit something to you: since I was rather ill two years ago I seemed to lack the concentration to take up with book-friends either past or present. Lazily, I have watched television but, lying on my bed to do this, I often fall asleep. In retrospect, I apologise to my Father who regularly did that, except when there was rugby or soccer showing. Then he would wake up with a start and shout "kick the d....d ball you fool." and wake my Mother up, too. I used to berate him for this, I'm sorry.

At some level I am also doing new things. I see that has two aspects. One: I am making sure to do certain things while I still can and two: I am saying a sort of Goodbye to things. An evening or so ago I went to hear a couple of friends performing in the same concert. The venue was distant and hard to reach. The Minicab company I use was able to help only on the outward journey because most of its drivers are Muslim, it's Ramadan and later in the evening, homeward bound, they would be breaking their fast far from their vehicles. As I thought about these difficulties, it came to me that the chances of hearing this combination of friendship and music were necessarily limited. They belonged to a dimension I have to ration severely - the future. Dear Reader, I went and it was one of the most rewarding I have been to in a long music-appreciative life. Having worked out that I shall not need any more clothes, other than those which it is essential to replace through wear, for the rest of my life, I also have the urge to buy something that catches my eye because it may be the last frivolous purchase I shall ever make. I am searching madly for the word that describes this phenomenon. Do, please, click on the 'comment' facility and supply the word if you have it. I doubt I shall sleep until I know. (Ambiguity, perhaps?)  Not having a substantial future is, in itself, a new experience. Oh Dear, I do need that word. As it happens, I am feeling like blogging for a long time yet so there's possibly still  time enough to explore the new and value the past. For those of you faithful followers who will remember its significance, I am working up to seeking out the scarlet swimsuit once again. The Guru has kindly agreed to come, too, so no need to seek out the half-backs around the baggage carousel. I bought a new floaty thing to go over it, so there we are again, whatever that b....y word will turn out to be. Nos da
PS July12th, I think it ios 'dichotomy' so there you are. Nos da, again

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Sine Qua Non

Far be it from me to show off:  (note the title). It is, simply, that seven decades or so ago when I was at school, we were all treated to lessons in Latin as a matter of course; rarely part of the current curricula it would seem. Heaven forfend I should be expected to read and understand it now, but there are a few phrases which the old man in the archives will still throw up from time to time. The fact that 'num' expects the answer 'no' is a frequent one. It took some getting used to, I remember, that there was no 'yes' nor 'no' in Latin, only a way of putting a question that expected either the answer in the negative or one in the positive. ('Nonne' for positive if you are still interested and I have remembered correctly.) A for instance might be "you are not hungry are you?" "No, I am not" Or, "I note that you are hungry""Yes, I am". It fascinated me to learn that the same applies in Mandarin. "Hot, not hot?" "Hot.". would serve to illustrate. No, I don't speak Mandarin. Someone close to me does. Anyway, back to today: I am in a mood to tell you that with which I cannot do without. We can start with breakfast. Of course, none of us can do without breakfast - or shouldn't anyway. What I had in mind was what went with breakfast, namely twelve tablets, all white and one capsule, yellow. This conglomeration, or whatever one calls a collection of tablets and one capsule, are meant to keep me going and on an even keel. These I swallow daily, matitudinally, and am, so far, still with you. Then there is the patch. This is applied once a  week and is intended to help with the chronic pain caused by the wonky back.The packet contains instructions to note the exact time of day at which I apply the patch so that it can be replaced at precisely the same time next week.

There are also several things you already know about without which I cannot do. My stick seat is one. It is invaluable as a walking stick and half valuable as a seat. Because, silly, if I open up the top to access its seating property, I run the risk of being tipped off it by any passing dog or scooter-fired toddler.. Around my house are several aids to safety or wobble-avoiders, like grab handles here and there, mostly in the shower, and a sort of bar thing slid under the mattress at the side of the bed that I grasp to lever myself out of it - the bed, that is. A process of elimination applies to the opposite of 'without which not', which I understand as "with which not". Shorts would be one example. No matter the heat, the locality or the company, shorts are not age-appropriate. Forward planning is another. Fellow volunteers at the hospital where I work are given an award according to the number of years they have worked there. The honour starts at five years. I may, just about, make that. The ten year badge is extremely likely to be outside my time span. Lovely shoes are also a with which not. I just can't risk falling over so am resigned to sensible what my Mother would have called 'cuban heels'. Such shoes don't come fancy. Romantic love qualifies: definitely 'with which not'. But love of the caritas kind is deeper and richer and more widespread. There is also less anger, less injury and less offence. However, I am even less inclined to obey rules, the 'without which not' of other peoples' ideas of how things should be, even pain patches. Come to think of it, the greatest of all the ' sine qua non' has to be, as above, love. Never mind the tablets, the capsule, the sensible heels, the real ' without which not'' is simply love. Bore da

Saturday, 21 June 2014


Perhaps you, too, have been noticing that life is inclined to meet itself coming back; that is, that what was true about the beginning is often true of the end. A few posts ago, you may remember, I told you how my professional life had come full circle: from Airline Enquiry Deak to Hospital Enquiry Desk and from part-time trolley dolly in the air to part-time trolley dolly with books around a hospital ward. I have been thinking of more subtle harkings back, though. For instance, I remember scrubbing floors immediately before the birth of my babies.'Nest building' the Old Wives called it. Now, at the other end of life I find myself not scrubbing floors but tidying drawers and cupboards and making 'where to find it' lists for my young. The wispy hair of a baby is not unlike the wispy hair of the aged, without the reassurance that the hair will soon thicken and even curl....the baby's, that is. For lots of us whatevergenerians we  have similar walking problems as those toddlers. As I watch the just -learning little ones stagger from one support to the next I see myself making my way down the road with stick and hope, jerky and unreliable but without a steadying parental hand.

I have lost my sophistication of palate and find my current favourite food to be buttered toast with apricot jam. As I remember it, little ones also eat buttered toast, soldiers with their boiled eggs. I wouldn't have fed mine curry. Now, I can no longer eat spicy food, myself. Some things are not prone to circularity, though. Babies tend not to have cupboards full of clothes they wore a stone ago - fourteen pounds if you are in Mountview California. The sheer amount of STUFF I've accumulated overwhelms me. I was looking for a small basket the other day. I found one full of shoe-cleaning kit. I haven't cleaned my shoes in years. No, not because I am a slut, but because the ones I habitually wear are patent and are managed with a wipe down with a damp cloth. My heart sank on behalf of those I shall leave behind. A month off work for each of them will only nibble the surface. I need help to muster strength to do at least some of it before I shuffle off this mortal coil. Lying on my bed with my cat on top of me is not a fair division of the end of life chores I, and the young, have to become familiar with.  What if I were to do a drawer a day?  Were I to count the drawers I may find I would need to live to a hundred and seventeen to have enough of them  - days, silly, not drawers. I have been watching a programme on television set in the early 1940s. The war is on and every aspect of people's lives is affected. Dear Reader, I was there. I feel at home with the programme. I feel strange when it is over and I have to turn off the computer and shut down the air-conditioning and even the television set, itself. None of those things existed in my 'real' life time. I understand shortage and tolerance of situations we go on strike for in the present day. Don't get me wrong: I am comfortable and somewhat blessed in the present. It's just that my present is like my past only in matters of hair and mobility. The past seems to be where my real home is and I am just a visitor in the here and now. However, I'd like the visit to go on for a little while yet. Nos da

Friday, 13 June 2014


Last week, finding a pint of milk rather too heavy to add to my carry-home shopping, I ordered it 'on-line' with the goods that my Mother would have called 'dry goods'. That would be cat litter, washing powder and anti-bac hand wash, for instance. I duly found some pictures of milk containers and duly clicked. Dear Reader, what arrived was the biggest container of milk I have ever seen. So unlikely am I to get through it before it goes off that I was tempted to throw most of it away there and then. Had I kept the pint/litre plastic container that I had finished, I might have refilled it. It had, however, already disappeared in to the re-cycling bin. Unforunately, this was not the first on-line ordering disaster. In my 'fridge is a jar of Marmite - a sort of yeast based spread, if you are in Mountview California  - which one loves or hates - the size of an about to deliver pregnant tummy. There is also a slice of Parmesan cheese that's too hard for me to grate and more sea salt than there is in the Atlantic.  I hear you: I should be more vigilant but I am not very good at pictures and icons and, I suspect, part of me treats the computer like an assisstant in a grocery shop who is listening to me and, well, assisting. "Does Madame want one litre of milk or two?" for example.

There have been some successes, though. I ordered some hair-spray on-line and, after waiting for help to open the parcel, found the item I wanted and had accurately ordered. You may recall I also bought a note-book that way. Sadly, it was only a close approximation of the one I couldn't find in a real live shop but I am too mean - cheap - to discard it.  I have been known to buy tickets for events on-line. I say this with overweening pride, but, why spoil a good story with the truth? Were I to tell the truth it would be that I get as far as the pay page and then the transaction falls apart. I am reduced to telephoning the venue, difficult if it is around midnight when the mood takes me. Aside from one totally marvellous venue with an old-lady-proof website, I can't even select a seat competently. I have found myself in 'prestige' seats and in the ' Gods', too far up to see the stage, let alone the people on it. If I were to be alerted by the price as to the high  or low of my choice things may go better. By the time I realise there is a mistake I can't retrieve the pay page. Nor can I find my hard goods order again if I remember something I forgot to order in the first place. "Your order can be revised until 6.17 pm the day before delivery". No it can't. The transaction is lost to me. I know, I know. I appear to have forgotten the Curse of the Wizard of Cyberspace. I truly thought that, by ignoring him, he would leave my life: no chance. Out of thought simply means more vulnerable. In a rather up-market boutique I saw a perfect dress. It didn't exist in my size. The lovely lady in the shop suggested I try on-line. Not being in confessional mood, I acquiesced. I felt rather grown-up and courageous even in the attempt. Two hours later I knew a very great deal about confusion, had not seen even a whisper of the item I craved on the hundreds of click-ons and was ready to throw away the computer. Prudently  - though serendipidously - I installed a grille over the window behind my computer table. By the time that would be unlocked and opened and the window, itself, dealt with the urge for destruction would have defused - of the computer, that is. I might still have lost the will to live, myself. Tell me that I am doing well enough for more than three score and ten, I beseech you. Any solace is worth the pain. Nos da

Saturday, 7 June 2014


Alright, I confess. Today I went to the Mumsnet Workfest. As we all know, this event is intended for young Mums wantng to go back to work or start their own businesses. I am so far from being a young Mum that my age would run right off the page. In fact, I am not even a young Grandmother. One or two of the Grandmothers I know are young enough to be my Grandaughters.  However, I went for two reasons. One, was the chance of meeting, again, an editor/publisher who was there last year,  to talk about the possibility of making a book of my blogposts  and, also, some guidance about publishing the book I am writing with a friend that I have told you about. Two, was the pleasure I get from seeing a crowd of intelligent and lovely faces - and that's just the babes in arms who have been brought along. Just kidding: it is the Mums who appear so lively and interesting. Sadly, the lady was not there this time so I am resigned to research on the internet when I get back my strength.  I have something of a rarity value on these occasions  so people come up and talk to me. It is really exciting to hear their aspirations and their intentions  I was impressed with the break-out sessions I attended and rather wished I were in a  position to profit from them in a current, productive way. Still one never knows....  I should say that the whole affair was immaculately planned and carried out but I did jump ship early to take my two buses home with lots to think about.

However, for those of my faithful followers who may have no interest in the above, I shall return to the theme of 'Where-Are-The Snows-of-Yesteryear'.  I have a red, full length, glorious silk coat. I wore it for a very special birthday party to which I was invited. Dear Reader, it was too long and I had to keep hitching it up. This rather detracted from its elegance.. I told myself I had formerly worn it with high heels. The truth is, I haven't worn high heels since long before the advent of the coat. I have shrunk. The coat trailed because I am at least an inch shorter than I was. I was forced to remember that, as I write, one of my young looks down on me when I was used to looking her straight in the eye. The phrase 'little old lady' takes on a whole new dimension. Nothing to be done although my inner voice did have a go at suggesting I might try high heels now. To the danger of tripping over my hem would be added the danger of falling flat on my face - or, if I am in luck, on my backside. I find myself opening a ring-pull tin with a tin opener. (Can, in Mountview, California). No-one warned me of the little losses one would have to find a way around. Never mind: the sense of what's funny inevitably makes everything tickety-boo. I leave you with a story. A little boy, aged seven, lived alone with his Mother until came the day when Jack moved in. Several months later, the child was heard to say to Jack "When you came to live with us, Mummy and I needed you a lot. But we are alright now, so you can go back to your own house." His Mother, unsurprisingly, remonstrated with him saying he had hurt Jack's feelings and asked why had he said those things. The child replied that he had thought long and hard about what to say, adding "I could just have told him to f.... off." Nos da.

Saturday, 24 May 2014


Just as I was leaving the shop with a bargain container of  my favourite shampoo - 33.8 clts, since you ask - it occured to me that I would be very unlikely to live long enough, at a pea-sized dose a time. to use it all. I shall have to leave a note, or codicil, for the young telling them to look for and use up the shampoo they'll find in the bathroom. That started me thinking about what else, as well as bulk buying, is no longer relevant in my  life. I have a rather pretty watch which was left to me. I can no longer see the figures on its face so wearing it for best is not an option unless someone else is responsible for telling me when it's time to go, or even, time to get wherever. The make of trousers I have been used to buy are now three times their original price. Not worth it when one is rather more than three score and ten. Obviously, there are people who can afford to buy a pair for each house, so, cynically, the trousers are priced with that in mind. Were I to expect twenty years out of them, I may have been tempted. The demarkation of degrees of relationships has disappeared. 'Mrs Mountford' meant a stranger. A stranger may well have stayed at 'Mrs' for ten years. Elizabeth is for the outer circle of acquaintance and Liz, well, you know about that. I don't think I have the time left to get used to a letter or email from someone, or even a company, whom I haven't met and sometimes haven't even heard of addressing me as '.Liz' How do they know?. (Green ink).

Some things have required active change rather than negative adaptation. In the past, I looked much the same with or without make-up. Now, make-up is essential in order  not to frighten the horses. It seems to be to do with skin tone - yellowish - and droopy eyelids. That's enough shock treatment. Rest assured I do not open the front door without a measure of what the young seem to call 'slap'. Mind you, I still have to remember to say 'blusher' instead of 'rouge' when the item needs replacing. The mascara I use is not imported in to the UK so a kind friend brings it from elsewhere in the EU. I was about to ask her to bring two on an approaching visit when it came to me that one would probably do. Someone I know recently brought back some wine from a trip to France. Since that person is a contemporary of mine, I am left to assume that he/she is not plagued by the is-it-worth-its of bulk buying. I sometimes wonder where is the lass who walked twelve miles along the river Ure, regularly. As I write it takes me fifteen minutes to walk to the 'bus stop five minutes away. Management is the key. Do not plan to do as many things as you used to in one day. Remember, once you have reached the store, you still have to walk distances within it. Have your hair cut to accommodate its current texture. The curls of the past have gone, like the snows of yesteryear. Oh, but it is so pleasant to be able to talk to people one doesn't or scarcely knows. It is lovely to let insults or hurts  roll off you and it is perfection to avoid all situations where you don't feel absolutely  like yourself. It is also rewarding to have a mosaic of experience to throw light on to what is happening in the here and now. What does it matter if curry ihas become  too spicy when Mars bars taste the same as they always did. Nos da

Friday, 16 May 2014


A week or so ago, Mumsnet published a guest blog which set off my little grey cells. The thrust of it was the decision of the Mother of a small boy to bring him up without reference to gender.  He would wear a dress, if he felt like it, play with dolls and/or knock things about with a toy hammer and similar boysie - or girlie - pastimes.  Sadly, I am not sufficiently IT savvy to have another look at it for the sake of verification, but, considering the effect it had on me, I don't think that would be particularly necessary.  I did write a comment on the post wondering how the child would fare when he got in to the wider world. This was not enough to quiet my disturbance.  The prime question I asked myself was "why ?" What was the perceived advantage of non-gender upbring? All these days later I have not been able to think myself in to a rationale. Is it a strike for feminism? Is it a perceived desire to give the little one the widest possible life-experience? What I have been left with is a feeling of fear at what I perceive as a most extraordinary use of the Mother's power over her child.

For me, one of the things that I most enjoy about writing "75 going on 40" is the involuntary way humour creeps in. Humour seems to be the lubricant which makes manageable the incongruity of a lively, mischievous forty year old inner life in a very old body. Faithful followers will have noticed I have some ingenious ways of getting over the I-can't-any-longers. Humour in the situation which exercises me at present, would have to be a sort of gallows humour and, strangely, disrespectful. None has come to me, voluntarily or involuntarily. The power the parents - dare I say it - the Mother, has over her child for the first few months, seems to me to be absolute. This little boy, and boy he is, is completely open to what his Mother is offering him. Doesn't he have the right to be honoured and valued for what he is: a male human being? Goodness knows it's hard enough establishing one's identity. The matter can take decades. Whatever is the gain in interfering with that process? What will happen when he goes to school? Is he going to find that other little boys have a sturdy approach to their masculinity? Will he be ridiculed? How will he adapt if his Mother suddenly lines him up with those in his class at school who are firm in their maleness? Will he still wear a skirt if he chooses to? For Heaven's sake, life is complex enough. Why risk precipitating him in to a vortex of confusion just as he joins the world beyond his family? Had I but been aware of my power when my young were little I suspect their adult lives may have been rather different. (I hereby apologise to them). For the first time, I'd like to ask any of you who has a view to add a comment to the post, itself. But thank you to those of you who always email me personally.

In spite of myself, the humour has crept in. Presumptously imagining myself in to the ambience of that little fellow's home life, what came to me was what they say in Yorkshire: that youngster is going to find himself  'nowt nor some'at'. 'Nothing  nor something' if you are in Mountview California. Nos da

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

What's more

A dreaded lurgie has affected the last few days. From time to time flu-like symptoms turn up and spoil my life while they go on. Sometimes the symptoms turn in to a cold. Mostly they just keep me aching and shutting me down. At my age, I'm not sure how many days I can afford to take off in this, or any, situation. Every day has to be precious and I am not sufficiently disciplined to do something constructive so as not to 'waste' them. But I have had some fun thinking about more of the compromises that smooth the path of the no-longer-young. Pragmatically, there are gadgets. I was given a sort of grab handle thing. You place it over the top of a bottle or whatever needs to  be twisted open, turn until it grips tightly then manouevre the handle to open up. It's too big for my handbag so passing youngsters still have to be asked to help when I am not at home. Washing delicates by hand has stopped. I find that there is a programme on the machine which is gentle enough, although I apologise to my departed Mother every time I consign the finest of my things to the machine. (Since you ask, I have a spin dryer so there is no need for wring and twist).Lately, I have noticed that I need to drop my cat's dishes from a bit of a height rather than stoop to place them on her tray. Yes, she has a tray and a mat over it to stop the dishes - yes, dishes, plural - from slipping. This is not something she is sanguine about since it is scarecly enlightening to see one's food take a little leap before more or less settling back in situ.

Cooking was one of my best things to do. Since the Guru moved on in to his grown-up life I have hardly cooked. I look at my range of cookery books and remember an entirely different woman who gave dinner parties and ate well, herself. This is unadulterated laziness and I am aware it can't be good for my health. More, I am one of those people who scorns the pre-cooked super-market food but ends up eating it. There is also 'take-away' or, better still, delivery. I am crafty and order as soon as delivery slots open so that I don't have to wait too long and the food is more or less hot enough from the first vans out of the restaurants.(Trucks, I suppose, if you are in Mountview California). I struggle with the technical, as you will have had rubbed in ad nauseam. Recently, being unable to source, locally, a certain kind of indexed note book I have been using for decades, I ordered one on- line. (Please say you are proud of me). The irony was staring me in the face. I ordered the book to re-do my address and telephone book which is hardly readable under the popular letters and, sadly, full of the no-longer-with-us. While I can order the book and this and that on-line, I will not countenance consigning my contacts to it! This is not a considered choice: it simply doesn't count as an option. The struggle to live in the 21st Century when I am so clearly footbound - handbound, hidebound? - in the 20th is rendering me schizophrenic. I need a new vacuum cleaner. There are offers. Trade in your old one for money off the new. The logistics defy me. Do I take the old one under my arm and swap there and then? (Don't be silly. I can't even carry it up the stairs) Would someone come to the house and effect the changeover? Shall I drag in to John Lewis and deal with it woman to salesperson or how does it work if I try to do it on-line? Bring out the brush and pan. Bore da

Sunday, 27 April 2014


To resume: forefend you should think I had given up blogging. The gap lies in the lap of a book I am writing in collaboration with a friend. She is a youngster and, therefore, still working, so the Easter period was an ideal space for her. It's nice to be back, though. I have been thinking about the expedients one invents to overcome or accommodate the vicissitudes of three score and a great deal more than ten. Not only that: there are plenty of examples of adapting and adjusting in the younger world, too. Mind you, I think people of my era must have the edge. Brought up in the war there were untold, probably uncounted ways of making-do and insteading. The one that springs instantly to mind is the little bottle of orange juice all we children were issued with. Real oranges were folklore as were bananas and many other things we now take for granted, (though I can't think why onions were part of the war effort and, therefore like hens' teeth). The resemblance the bottles had to oranges lay entirely in the colour. The liquid was certainly orange-coloured. I wonder if any of us has encountered a seriously ill orange, with a high temperature and a foul taste in its mouth. That would cover it from a point of view of description and flavour . It seems to me I remember my Mother and her friends using potatoes instead of flour in the baking. She, and they, would draw black lines up the back of their bare legs to simulate the seam in a stocking, the which those of them without contacts in the United States army didn't see from start to finish of hostilities. There was a US post office next door to where my Father worked so we did know one or two. Dinner in a real home equalled one pair of nylon stockings. A date with the 17 year old elder daughter equalled one for her, too.

Thus, after my middle years of comparitive going with the flow, I entered my current age with no little experience of the business of adaptation. My bath with its lovely fierce jets had to go. Why? Picture it. There am I, warm and cosy, aches and pains nicely pummelled when the time comes to climb out. I can't. I am as entrenched in the bath as if leg-cuffed, hand-cuffed and bottomed down. Clearly, I did emerge or I wouldn't be here to tell the tale. But I was scared and frustrated and thoroughly chilled,  Dear Reader, out went the lovely bath and in came a chic shower. For one who hates water pouring down on her head the shower doesn't do it; nor does it sooth the aches and pains. I suppose I can keep clean, though, and that has to matter.  It seems a long way from the 5 inches of water we were allowed in a bath during the war. It strikes me how honest we must all have been. No official ever appeared at the bathroom door to measure the level of the water but 5 inches were stuck to and no cheating. Still, some adapting has to be more user friendly than others. A friend has a friend who makes his living as a film extra. He is a very striking, handsome man with a goatee beard. On his last shoot he was asked if he would like a small, wordless part as a Rabbi. He agreed with alacrity. There was a proviso: he had to have hair extensions to his small beard to make it more Rabbi-like. We agreed it was a very good thing that was the only adjustment he was asked to make. Nos da.

Friday, 11 April 2014


A day or so ago I was standing at a kerbside in the centre of busy London waiting for the taxi I had decided to treat myself to. (Never mind the syntax, even I can find myself too pedantic at times: 'to which I had decided to treat myself?' I don't think so.) The decision was taken on the grounds that I was carrying a stick and three heavy shopping bags and would have needed two buses to reach home from where I was, with a good walk at the end of it. Anyway, there I was, waiting for the kind of taxi for which I have a Pensioners special rate when a young man came up and asked me if  I needed help to cross the road. He said he had been watching me and thought my hesitation was because I was afraid. When I could speak I explained I was quite alright, just waiting for a ComCab. Since many other free taxis were passing all the while, it was not surprising that his manner then changed to one of fear for his own safety at the hands of this obvious madwoman. Dear Reader, I assure you I was politeness itself and thanked his retreating back profusely for his thoughtful kindness. However, I'm not sure I am safe to publish what my inner voice was saying. (I am sure: I can't).  I'd be glad for some input as to how long it takes to adjust to this business  old age. The other day, I stood up on a crowded 'bus to offer my seat when an elderly man with a crutch got on. Naturally, the person next to me, who had arisen to let me out, believed I wanted to get off and was decidedly nonplussed when I sat down again having realised the pot had been calling the kettle black.

The nub of the problem seems to be the need to see oneself as others see one. Here, there seems to be a dichotomy between how  others perceive  ones inner world, ones way of being in the world, and ones actual, physical appearance, in the external world. I think I have reached a Nirvana of harmony and balance. What you pick up from my inside is what  and who I am. What I look like standing by the kerb of a thundering London street must be very different. Sometimes, the pain in my back and legs is such that I crawl up the street taking twenty minutes to do the erstwhile five minute walk  home from the nearest 'bus stop. During this journey I am clearly invisible - is this physically possible, can one be clear and invisible? - as people jostle passed me on the inside. Just now, a leadless, (leash, if you are in Mountview, California), collarless chocolate labrador nearly nearly tripped me up. I asked him if he were with anyone. A voice replied "It's she and she's with me." That was it. No apology, no smile, just umbrage because I had got the gender of her beloved wrong. I read of a lady so disillusioned by the lack of humanity in the current technology which governs our world that she decided to end her life. She did so under the auspices of the Swiss clinic, Dignitas. I was overwhelmed, not only by her courage but by the serendipity of the name of the organisation. Perhaps this deserves a post of its own. Until soon....Bore da

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

In Memorium

On Remembrance Day a couple of years ago, I wrote a post about the unstructured, unexpected, surprising even, vignettes by which we remember those who have died before us. Since then,   many more examples have come to mind, all of which seem to leave an imprint rather more meaningful than a headstone or an obitury. Many years ago, our GP friend told how, coming back from the seaside with a car full of tired and sandy little ones, he came upon an accident. In spite of the need to get the children home, he stopped to attend to the injured. In moments, he felt a hand on his shoulder and heard a voice say "Stand aside. I'm a ,  Doctor". Quietly, he stood up and drove his family home. The other day, someone came up to me at a 'bus stop and, addressing me directly, asked whether all the 'buses from that stop turned left at the top of the road. From further down the queue, a voice piped up "Oh no. One of them turns right". The voice went on to explain   at great length, all the routes from that stop. There was our friend, firmly in mind again, though I doubt I shall ever see where he is buried or where there may be a formal memorial. A friend from childhood  once pointed out that I must be rather impatient. This is not at all how I see myself and, indeed, had patience enough, when I was working, to do the kind of work that was, necessarily, slow and painstaking. But every time I wish that something would happen more quickly than it seemed to be, I hear his observation again and he, anew, lives for me for a moment.

Naturally, there are some people who provide lots of little  film - memories  When I was very small, I had the habit of  trying to kiss and hug my Father when he was at table. "Never interfere with a man when he is eating" was his contribution to our little ritual. I swear that my cat says exactly the same thing when I bend down to stroke her while her   nose is in her feeding bowl, and I am five years old once more. I have the feeling that I may have told you before about a person very dear to me who kept rather a messy household. When, in her absence, I gave her home a thorough turn- out, her comment when she came back was that it would take her ages to get it back the way it was. Over the decades, that episode has stopped me interfering with someone else's effort a thousand times with her voice in my ear. A casket with her ashes or a rose bush on her grave would have much less impact in memorium. Every time I come across a case of sibling rivalry, I hear the voice of my lovely Mother-in-law dismissing my analysis of children squabbling with the succint words "People have been having brothers and sisters for centuries". I wonder what small movie might recall me in death to those who have been close to me in life. There was an occasion when I described the new wife of a family friend whom I had just met as rather eccentric. All the young, in unison, shouted "You, calling her eccentric." The thing speaks for itself. Nos da.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014


How lovely to watch the little ones as they try to make sense of the world. It is something which I have always done but, retired, I am giving it even more time. When you think of what has to be learned in order simply to function in an every-day life, the mind has to boggle. How much has to be learned and how much can be known through instinct? How long does it take to be sure that someone will come if you scream? How do you acquire that skill? How fortunate are those whose carer will take the trouble to interpret the screams. (I resisted the impulse to write 'Mother'. I am aware of the obligation to watch out for political correctness though I am not brilliant at it.) I remember taking the risk of approaching a young mother who dragged her three-year-old son from the restaurant where we all lunching because he threw a tantrum when she obliged him to sit, not next to her where she had installed her baby, but next to his Grandmother whose perfume had already caused me to break out in a fit of sneezing. When I came up to her she was standing by her car with the child inside. I expressed the hope she wouldn't hit me or call the Police and pointed out how limited were her son's resources. He couldn't say "You've gone and got another baby instead of me and I can't stand the way Grandma smells." He could only produce the kind of tantrum that makes the fondest parent wonder what on earth they had done in the interest of procreation. Her eyes filled with tears and she said that she had never thought of that. This interfering old lady went on her way with  intervention neither from the law nor the fist.

I see the little ones eyeing my stick as they are pushed passed me. Do they think some big people have three legs? I believe I have told you before about the little one on his Father's knee outside a cafe who was staring at a neighbouring dog. I waited for as long as I dared for Father to say "That's a dog. Say 'hello' to the nice dog". It didn't happen. I am in awe of the expedience babies use in cracking this-business-of-living code. Someone I knew as a child has a French father and a British mother. He solved the two-language problem by speaking French to men and English to women. One baby I knew would say "Carry you. Carry you" because that's what was said to him each time he was about to be picked up. What process did he go through to learn he needed the second not the third person? For a long time, a little boy of my acquaintance called any food he could hold in his hand 'apple', because a segment of that fruit was the first thing he was aware of feeding to himself. I watch my cat intently because she has even more complex communication skills than a baby. If I am at home when she deposits solid matter in the litter tray she scarcely covers it up. If I am out it is very thoroughly hidden. This can be only because she has learned that, if I am on hand, I will clear it up forthwith. For those of you in Mountview California, I should explain that London taxi drivers have to undergo what is called 'The Knowledge'. Every street, every building of interest, every station has to be committed to memory. Can you imagine, in a city that size? It beggars belief. Still, if a baby can do the equivalent, so can they. Bore da.

Sunday, 9 March 2014


You may have been wondering where I have been since the last post. Last post is actually more accurate and ironic than I expected: it feels as if I have been listening to the trump of the last post while I have been trying to access the account that deals with 75 going on 40. The Wizard of Cyberspace has instructed the Powers That Be to send me, in red, a notice that my email and password are incorrect. I do have two accounts and have changed the passwords  of each several times. No combination  worked until, suddenly, it did and now I have forgotten what the successful combination was. I really shouldn't be struggling with the 21st Century. It's not safe.for me. I clicked the 'back one page' and found the email address I had used. The password was just a series of dots. Of course, you knew it would be.

 The other day I did a round of a good many electrical suppliers trying to find an old-fashioned light bulb that wouild give these tired eyes the lumens they longed for. If you feel you'd like to know, by my bed, on the side  where I sleep, is a lamp with a 150 wattage bulb in it. I know, I know, I just have to hope that none of the many people of my acquaintance who is ecologically aware is going to read this particular post. I do feel horribly ashamed, but then, at my age, it comes to lumens or literature. Anyway, I exhausted myself and suffered increased pain in my dodgy back all to no gain. When I complained to the Guru he asked why I had not tried online. Hours of traipsing round a city battered by rain, hale and wind produced no 150 watt light bulbs. Five minutes online and I had sourced and ordered some, warm and dry as, not the bulbs. 'Online' would simply not have entered my head by itself. Anyway, they duly arrived: ten of them. Sourced I may have done. Understood the illustrations, I did not. The good news is that I feel free to leave the light on while I run - I wish - downstairs for whatever reason. I don't have to conserve every moment of its useful life. They are marked "for industrial use" so I suppose that if I do the crossword with the light on that would represent the required industry.Were that the only denial of the here and now, I would be a very happy person. It is not only my clumsiness in the 21st Century, when I do remember its conveniences. It's that I so rarely do remember them. I have not been to the cinema for a very long time, much as I love films, because the weekly magazine that provided the listings for films, plays and music which was my can't-do-without reference book, stopped publishing and resorted to a website which I can't find and  couldn't follow even if I could find it. Up until very recently a website was where a spider made his home. I fear, for me, it still is. Nos da

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Deja Vu

 Last night the Guru's Swing Band had a mammoth gig which I went to with some trepidation. Why? Well, apart from me, the oldest person there must have been all of thirty. I went on the 'bus which meant that I approached the door from the end opposite to a snaking queue the end of which was not visible to the be-spectacled eye. Taking my courage in both legs I advanced straight up the couple of steps to the Doorman in control of things. Not unreasonably, he pointed me to the far west where there was evidently an end to this queue. Firmly, waving my stick at him, I said that old ladies with incapacities were not about to line up in the wind and the cold. He must be fond of his Grandmother because he let me in and this post testifies to the fact that I was not riven by those still waiting in the queue. I knew that the band's first set was not until 9pm but there was a great deal going on before that. It turned out that the main opening event was lessons in jitterbugging and related dances from circa the Forties and Fifties. Imagine my excitement: I must have been the only person there who danced those dances the first time around. The girls were mostly wearing the waisted, full-skirted dresses of the time, with trainers, but even a pedant like me was able to accept the practicality of that. My poor feet were itching to get in there and threatened rebellion as I sat, decorously, on a chair provided by another young man who must have loved his Grandma. I honestly think - is there another way to think - that, had I seen a place to pose my stick, I would actually have joined in.

I remember an attempt at a parental embargo because of the risk of underwear-showing as one twirled and pirouetted without caution. The solution was to sew weights in to the hem to hold the skirt down. That didn't work, of course, largely because I took them out away from parental observation. My seamed stockings and ladylike knickers, colour co-ordinated, were, therefore able to enjoy and be enjoyed by the lovely freedom of the boogie. When I told the Guru of my retrospective identification, he nearly fell over. He looked at me as if I had dropped from Venus. Clearly, there was no way to associate the ancient with the modern, in the past and on the present dance floor. ( I have some reservations about the personification of various non-person references above. Please forgive me. I am really carried away by last night's events. But I agree: I don't like 'arch', either.) Memories I didn't realise I had stored swam about in my current consciousness; people, too. I have been here before, I knew, different county, different companions, replicated experience. With my inner eye I could see, clearly, the young me swung around a boy's back, thrown about at the end of his arms and coming to rest in an elegant curtsey at the end. There were no mobile phones - Good Heavens, what else was there none of - so I had to keep looking at the time to be sure to be ready for the parental pick-up. 'Nice' girls did not go home with anyone else, especially not A BOY. Oh Dear, where are the snows of yesteryear? Melted by the hot Chinese herbal pain patch I have to wear to sooth the chronic pain in my back. Prynhawn da