Friday, 23 September 2016

Auld Acquaintance

Choose a number, any number, with zillions of noughts at the end and you may well have the number of published books out there ready for you to read.  This 'statistic' comes to mind because I have found myself drawn to re-reading favourites I have already read at least once before. This time, I was aware of an unexpected response.  I had a sort of walking in to a familiar room feeling.  The room was full of people I knew and cared about and furnished comfortably with  no jarring elements to spoil the reunion. Conversation was relaxed and easy even though I may have forgotten some of the events and names of people that cropped up.

Having many years under the belt, (I don't understand that. Where did that saying originate, I wonder.  Do let me know if any of you knows)  as I was saying, under the belt memories seem to have sections.  There are those which are fixed, like your skin you might say. I suppose that would cover essential learning: how to eat, walk, talk for instance and, no, I do not mean to be arch here, because the predicament came to mind of a friend who had to relearn all the above after a severe car crash when she was nineteen years old affected her brain. Then there are the visual vignettes.  I believe I remember picking raspberries with my Mother in the garden when I was three. Of course, I may just  remember remembering. I  see myself holding a rusk in a laterally neutral position in front   of my baby young to see with which hand it was reached for and grabbed.  This was because there were several left-handers on both sides of the heritage. (Since you ask, one leftie, two righties). Then   there are the memories which act as memorials for the Dear Departed.  Every time I look at a potentially too tired item of food I hear a late someone very dear to me say "Put it in the freezer until you don't feel guilty about throwing it out". This section has a b) sub-section: things which recall those who are still very much alive.  "Listen to me, I tell you something..." the opening phrase from a loved one whose first language is not English, now acquired by many of my circle to start a comment of our own. A four-year old female lifting the skirt of a two-year old female to pull her blouse down straight: the catalogue is endless.  But it has just occured to me what this is all about, the re-read books, the recall of recalling and so on and so forth.  It is a way of reaching out to old friends real and fictional and to past happennings as a sort of Goodbye.  Not because that is necessarily  something to be dealt with as a matter of urgency but because, after a very long life, the number of Goodbyes to be got through will take a very long time .  Bore da

Friday, 9 September 2016


When I was at the 'what-shall-I-be-when-I grow-up' stage a job existed which was called "Continuity".  I fear it was actually called "Continuity Girl" but let's gloss over that and get on with the post.  For those of you looking up at us old ones from below the turning point between young and getting-on, continuity was what film makers needed to make sure everything was as it should be in films of a different period from the extant one. Well, actually even in films set in contemporary times too.  For an accurologist like me, it was both annoying, distracting and triumphing to spot the lapses.

I have no idea whether or not this role still exists but it certainly should.  Last night on television  I watched a replay - yes, another, - of a series where more than three murders routinely occur.  Part of it was set in North Wales.  Be prepared, Dear Readers, to be shocked.  The indigenous characters were given SOUTH Welsh accents.  I listened hard, I turned the volume up, I set the cat on 'mute' but, in spite of all that, there was no doubt: the North Waleans were speaking with the wrong accent. I was powerless to do anything to correct this outrage.  That programme was years old and, I think, the series is now filed under redundant.  Simlarly, in a film set in wartime, which I watch a while ago, about an attempt to assassinate Hitler, my continuity of interest was halted every few minutes by observing the German soldiers saluting one another with the sort of curved sweep of the cap practised by the American army.  In the entire three hours there was only one "Heil Hitler". Surely, the people responsible for authenticity must have realised this.  Or  was it a blatant ignoring of how it was, or, shock horror, was it a deliberate decision not to cause possible offence to those to whom Heil Hitler would have had a terrifying retrospective death ring. But, wouldn't it be true to suppose that anyone with personal experience of that epoch who allowed themselves to watch the film would have been prepared for retrospective nausea and fear with the experience?  On a lighter beam: in a 'Waitrose' shop in central London recently, (up-market Supermarket if you are over the Pond or elsewhere than the UK) I had cause to call for the Manager.  "Young man", quoth I, "that sign should read "8 items or fewer", not "8 items or less."  In the same way, checking in at the Out Patients section of a rather glamourous hospital, I spotted a sign which read " It is essential that children are supervised at all times."  To the young Receptionist whose first language was not English, anyway, my pointing out that it should read "be supervised" simply rolled off her back.  But, Oh, what fun to be old enough to say these things and revel in the resultant 'I've got a right one 'ere' response. Bore da