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