Sunday, 22 March 2015


As a trained observer I have noticed, not suddenly but gradually, how much more often I need to say "thank you" than in yesteryear. Subtly, the small things that I didn't even register when I was a middle-aged youngster, have become large things for which I need help. In some cases, it becomes quite costly. If the nice taxi driver gets out of his cab to help me out, I feel I have to double the tip I would otherwise have given him. Equally, I subtract the tip if he doesn't get out and I am faced with the cliff-hanger which is the measure of the gap between the taxi step and the road outside. Taxi drivers, in my experience, rarely stop close to the pavement (sidewalk) so the descent is even longer than it need be.

My walking stick has a penchant for the floor. Inevitably, thankfully, someone bends down to pick it up for me. Someone with whom I am sharing a table at the hospital canteen will see me put my  bottle of water to my teeth and offer to open it simply with a grip I just about remember exercising. As it happens, I once caught sight of myself using this method of opening a closed top and it is not a pretty sight. It has definitely to be relegated to the no-no register of elderly elegance. From time to time, I am allowed to jump the queue to pay in the canteen. This is a dispensation for which 'thank you' is scarcely enough. A loaded tray, water bottle rolling about and lid of salad container bouncing uneasily around when one hand is holding a walking stick is almost Jugglerdom in the skill it requires. Recently, I went home to Wales with someone close to me. At his suggestion, we hired a wheel chair so that I could process a little further than would be possible on Shank's pony: (on foot, if it's not a phrase with which you are on usage terms. I try to be cognisant of my American-cousin-readers and translate and explain wherever I have the knowledge to do so). I found it an excercise in both acceptance and denial. I accepted that I could not walk as far as a favourite  headland and I was denying the otherwise humiliating and dependant nature of the enterprise. Actually, it was not denying so much as lifting myself away from the way it could have felt to be back in a push chair  with a fountain of 'thank yous' to those whom we displaced on the path and to the Pusher who, five decades or so ago, would have been the Pushed. It seems that somewhere, Someone has a sense of humour. How else could one accept the circular irony of the Pushed turning Pusher? Humour provides a serendipidy for which I can only say a thousand times 'thank you' or even Diolch.  Bore da

Saturday, 14 March 2015


Those of you kind enough to keep up will have noticed that I keep referring to drawer-tidying. This is partly  a wish not to burden the young, in the fullness of time, with more than is reasonable, partly a way of avoiding the inclination of the elderly to hoard and have in reserve - running out of tangibles being a metaphor for running out of life - and partly a way of sculpting the essentials from the block of clutter which has built up for a lot more than three score and ten years.

The unexpected, or even astounding, discovery in this activity is that I come across clothes I had long forgotten I had. Last week it was the jumper drawer. Right at the back, pristine in its original plastic protection, was a soft white jumper in the style of a blouse. This means that it had a collar and cuffs. On top of it was another softie, a 'goes-over' that makes a layered look that is the one current fashion even I am not too old to follow. (My canny Mother used to say about fashion that, if it came round a second time, you were too old to wear it). Buried deep were also some jumpers in jewel colours that hadn't seen the light of day for years and years. I am very excited about having as-if new clothes without shopping and without expense. The same with books. I am in the middle of a project to count my books. Since you ask, no reason other than curiosity but, perhaps, also to help with the posthumous decision of how many skips (dumpsters) will be needed for the ultimate clearout. There are 120 in the bedroom alone.  I may well be counting the last one  concurrent with ordering the skip in the first place. A few days ago, at the hospital where I work, I helped a patient find the out-patients' clinic he was looking for. On his way back he stopped and thanked me. "They told me not to start War and Peace" he said and was gone before I could blink. Humour, bravery, denial, untrue, which would you say it was? Anyway, if we happen to pass in the street and you start thinking I am always wearing something new and must, therefore, be very rich, please go home and tidy your drawers and you can be very rich, too. Alternatively, you can take a leaf from the book, counted or not, of the Emperor whose new clothes were guaranteed to keep him cool in summer and cold in winter. Prynhawn da

Sunday, 8 March 2015


There has, I acknowledge, been a slight break in transmission. This occured because my handbag was stolen. Among you there will be scores, nay, hundreds who have endured this experience, all of us with our entire transactional lives in our world-carrying accessories. I exaggerate not when I say that it took me eight days, when I was neither sleeping, eating or working at the hospital to unravel the tangle and restore the status quo ante. Even at the hospital I spent my lunch break on the phone. Anyway, I am up and running again now although my new credit card, verified, signed and activated is still being rejected by  old friends who seem unable to give up and mourn the old numbers and condescend to honour the new. The mechanisms of twenty-first living are wondrous to behold to those born the familiar more- than- three- score and ten years ago and Hell on Earth when they trip up. In the forty minutes I took to order cat food online with my new card I could have been down at the Pet shop and back twice and a half.

As  it happens, I didn't intend my explanation to include another green-ink rant, but there you are: needs must when the Wizard of Cyberspace is in the ascendant. Which reminds me, my horoscope this week tells me there will be a new love interest in my life. This is seriously unlikely. At my age I am lucky to hold on to the people I already love - and they to me, come to that. It made me think about how one - I - express love. The first thing that came to mind was whether or not I wash my hair on the day of a meeting with someone in my life. If this is a loved one then, yes, I do wash my hair. (The significance of this is that it needs doing every other day so has to hide under a hat if I have to miss a wash to accommodate the relevant date; a problem in summer, actually). So my life is divided, perforce, in to clean-hair-friends and it-will-have-to-do friends. When I was a young woman this dictum was set in concrete. Now, I do occasionally let a loved one in to the secret of scraggy hair. I was reminded of what, by now, must be a very old film: "Love Story". There was this famous- infamous? - line which went "Love means never having to say you are sorry." Rubbish: love means you can say you are sorry without embarrassment or fear or loss of face, safe in the trust of the loved one not to score points or punish. Well, perhaps to score points but with warmth and tenderness. I can't imagine who thought up that upside down pernicious statement. Was it the original author, Eric Segal, if memory serves me - which it still does from time to time? Was it ironic? I don't think so. In my experience irony gets sea-sick on the Pond so it must have been meant with insight and passion. Which brings me back to my horoscope. I think that was ironic if you must know. Nos da