Friday, 20 February 2015


No-one likes to be left out, unless, of course, it's for an unclothed swim in Norway in winter. I have  noticed, however, that, in my inner world, I take this condition a bit too far. The other day, I was offered a  bread basket from which to choose a roll or whatever. My eye was caught by  a crunchy-looking white one at the far end. However, nearest to me there was a rather dull looking, squidgy brown one. Dear Reader, I took that one so as not to put it through the experience of being rejected. I feel bound to swear that I exaggerate not. A trip to the green-grocer is an exercise in compassion resulting in a fridge full of crooked carrots, bruised apples and some over-ripe bananas. Clearly, this particular neurosis needs attention more urgently than any of my others.

It may be possible to exorcise it simply by confessing. Let us see. I have to be very careful in a book shop, for instance. A book, once browsed, will have to be bought so as not to hurt its feelings. (Somewhere inside me I do know that books don't have feelings, thank you very much. That's what this bleet is trying to address). As I grow even older the habit seems to be managed in one of three ways. One: I smile indulgently at myself and go on apologising to but not buying the tasteless little red water-carriers masquerading as tomatoes, buying some more expensive ones instead,  two: I go the whole distance and simply buy the costly vine-grown ones or three: I go straight for  the water-carriers and their tastelessness. After all, over-breeding is not their fault. Broken biscuits, the heel of a loaf can all count on me to rescue them. My current feline friend turns up in the middle of the night waking me by crouching above and on my head where, presumably, my hair reminds him of the fur of his Mother. This is not a sensation that pleases me, not only because of the touch of  Obsessive Compulsive Disorder I endure, but also because I can't believe that cat-dander is good for my coiffure. I have to rouse sufficiently to lift him down to the level of my shoulders, not an easy feat, raising one's arms above one's head and relocating an unwilling, resisting log of fur to where he doesn't want to be. Turf him right off?  Give him an experience of rejection? You are joking, of course.  Truth to tell, though, the last couple of nights, I have drifted up to find him already established where I prefer him to be. Not so stupid that one. For weeks, now, he has been using the facilities appropriately; no more 'accidents' in various wash-basins and carpet corners. But, he and a friend who is living here, have had to declare war on one another. Well, I did think that she had declared war on him. In fact, it's mutual. Last Sunday, when I had already changed a tainted litter tray, he shot in to her usually door-shut bathroom and performed again in the basin. She, understandably, was livid and accused him of being opportunist and evil. I protested that he was just a cat and, thus, couldn't be accused of such heinous intention. No, I don't believe that either. Bore da

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Now you see me......

On the days I routinely work at the out-patients enquiry desk at the local hospital I regularly witness a series of flotillas comprising a leading man followed by two ladies in full burqah and nihab. The sequence is rather like the one you see of migrating birds which appears as a sort of triangle with a leader in the van and a graduating breadth behind. I am struck by what I see as the irony of this arrangement. As I perceive it, the cover-all garments are intended to protect the modesty of the wearers and render them more or less invisible. As you will have realised , the effect is, in our western culture,  exactly the opposite: the women are infinitely more conspicuous by very reason of the total concealment of face and form. A friend recently reported her young Grandson as having asked how his little friends at the school gates would recognise their own Mummy. I have to assume it is either by a pre-arranged position or by voice. Anyway, there are no dramatic reports of  any small people being inadvertantly fed at  the wrong table

I have put to you many times one predicament of the elderly. There is a way in which we become totally invisible. I find myself bumped into, cut across, overtaken in to the lift and 'bus and enduring coats hung on a hook immediately behind my seat which is intended for the incumbent, only, of such seat. No "Do you mind", "excuse me" or anything indicating that there is an awareness of the presence of another human being.The Hospital provides yet another illustration. On the corner of the Enquiry Desk there is an internal telephone. Frequently, a young medic will appear, pick up the telephone, have a long consultation, put the phone down again and walk off as if leaving an own  phone. The three hundred and forty fifth time this happenned, I took my courage in both hands and called after the offender "You are welcome". Not a hair was turned and, indeed, it was I who was left in the wrong for the heinous crime of churlish intervention. Not long ago, I was walking on the right of a narrowish corridor at a concert venue in order to be well-placed for the lift to the auditorium which was situated to the right in a lobby further along. As I emerged in to this lobby, I was confronted by a young woman and her male companion heading in the direction from which I had just come. I, being more than three score and ten with a stick, stopped. So did she/they. For what seemed like a very long moment this woman, half my age  with no walking aid and I maintained a mute stand-off. Eventually, she did take a step backwards at which point, as I proceeded liftwards, I heard the man say, fortissimo, "I can't believe what manners have come to these days". I wish I had had the b...s to go after them and clarify who had which manners. I didn't .Clearly, there is only one thing for it: I shall Liz forth and equip myself with Burqah and hijab and let my cloak of invisibilty serve to make me as visible as the nose on your face. Prynhawn da.

Sunday, 1 February 2015


Yesterday, I was looking for something in what I call the present cupboard. There  finds itself wrapping paper, string, labels. tissue paper,  bubble wrap and potential presents. There is, therefore, no excuse whatsoever for resorting to a book token on a nice card with its own envelope rather than the latest Le Creuset stick-proof frying pan to be posted wherever. This chore having been done, I discovered that it was exactly one hour later than I thought it  was, leaving me in a get-up-and-go-NOW position with the floor littered with all the paraphanalia I had tossed out in the interest of my research. What a dilemma: leave it until I got back or risk being late for a concert and tidy it up before I went. The problem with great age - one of them - seems to be an obsessive need to leave the house visitor/stranger - proof. Suppose I don't come back. Would I want the last impression of me to be that I was a degenerate slut who left scraps of wrapping paper and a carrier bag full of carrier bags all over her bedroom floor? Well, clearly not.

Now there's a dilemma of a different ilk. The accuracholic in me is not comfortsble with those last three words. Are they a sentence? There is no verb so that rules that out. If I put a colon before them what happens to the question mark? Should it read "...bedroom floor: well, clearly not?..." Answers on a postage stamp, please, or by pressing 'comment' at the bottom of this post. I may have told you that there is a plan to go through every drawer and cupboard in order, in the fulness of time, to spare the young many, many months of irritating sorting and disposing. To this there are two approaches - at least. Do I hold on to stuff that has significance, from habit and sentiment, though it is  aeons passed its sell-by date and will never, ever be of use to me again? Or do I keep only the real necessaries and have a poorer environment as a result? As the process proceeds, I am dumbfounded by the quantity - and quality - of what fills my house. I have my Mother's sewing box. It is full of buttons and pins and needles and ribbons and rainbowic reels of thread.Today, I mended a jumper of a rather rare and luscious green with a reel of thread from my Mother's box which matched exactly. Were I to begin to take in sewing I would still never get through it all, with the addition of my own sewing tools,  collected before the inheritance from my Mother. (I have seven  tape measures, since you ask). Similarly, I have ounces and ounces of wool, and part finished knitting, including the back of what must have been an embryonic pullover or jumper in a complicated pattern for which I no longer have the pattern. Knitting was a passion but arthritis intervened. There shouldn't be a problem with books and music and clothing. There are recognisable avenues of disposal for those. It's the this and that (detritus?) of three score years and more than ten that may easily faze them.

 However, all this has made me aware of the delightful richness my stuff represents. I could throw out the television set and give up volunteering at the hospital and not be bored or idle for a second using all those resources. Perhaps not: maybe I should just  hold on to the pleasurable knowledge of the gold that surrounds me, keep up the passive pastimes and, above all, keep things tidy. Prynhawn da.