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