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.