Saturday 23 September 2017

Loose Ends...

As it happens, I've missed you and I hope you've missed me.

Since I've always told it as I see it, I will do so now... but if you don't fancy what that might bring - Goodbye and God Bless You.

First of all, this business of dying - it's boring. Energy levels, too little to tap a screen; and the guru, too busy to put down his phone. Somewhere, someone is making disproportionate decisions about the disposition of my gorgeous, comfortable, sleep-confirming double bed. And I'm helpless to intervene. Be warned! Delicate decisions and activities which don't require articles have to be arranged well in advance.

Be prepared for loneliness, homesickness and all that stiff-upper-lip rubbish.

If you have a raison-d'etre to keep going, do so gracefully if only you know how. I'm reminded of a story fifty years old... Of the fiftieth birthday party of a passionate Non-Believer, whose wife was an equally Passionate Believer. They spent many, many rich hours discussing the viability of God's existence. This birthday party was adressed by the wife's minister, listing all the admirable and amazing qualities of the birthday boy, culminating in the following: God, if you exist, bless Erik Erikkson, if he exists.

God Bless You All, if you exist.

Tuesday 18 July 2017

The More Things Change....

To be honest I don't think I have ever understood the french saying that goes "the more things change, the more they stay the same".  This is not my experience.  Today were delivered two what my Mother and her friends would have called zimmer frames.  I don't remember what they are called currenmtly but something a bit less stark, I suspect, or something with less negative connotations. Anyway, there are two whatevers, one for upstairs and one for down. The idea is to do all possible to save me from yet another fall, of which there have been rather too many of late. Mind you, getting off the bed, stumbling to reach the frame and propelling it and me to the bathroom in the middle of the night may just prove as counter-productive as crawling there on my hands and knees would be.  Actually, though, it's not the mobility-aid aspect of it which gets to me as much as the overwhelming feeling of witch-like old age.  Come on now, you know  what I mean.  There am I, at five foot three instead of the five foot six I used to be, crouched over a contraption that automatically in imagination turns ones hair iron grey and adds a hump to the erstwhile smooth sweep of the prideful carriage of  previous years: indeed, of the day before yesterday.

Somewhere there is a goblin-like close relative of the Wizard of Cyberspace engaged with him in a deadly race to see who can bring me to  my knees with the most profound humiliation and the direst evidence that nothing that changes stays the same.  Take appetite: I am used to being as hearty a trencherwoman as the next.  Now I look at my breakfast soft bolied egg and half a banana and work out how soon I can push the plate away and be done with this eating business, even for the time being..  Even a pub Sunday roast stopped appealing when the experience moved from my eyes to my taste buds. Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, they make me drool just to think of them.  Eating them has the opposite effect as in ' how soon can I leave all this and go quietly home for a bar of choclolate.'. Along with the walking frames came a pole or two which were to be applied on the side of the staircase where there was no indigenous banister or other aid to the unstable.  These poles turned out to  be of untreated wood, a long way from splinter-free with spidery wisps of un-smoothed wood where a polished end piece may have been expected.  I was on my knees sweeping up the sawdust left by this installation when I realised this was not a job for someone who had need of an extra hand rail, the one precluding the other, and I had better tolerate the mess than find myself stuck on the staircase unable to move on no matter how many hand rails were there to assist me..I conclude there is only one solution to an otherwise impossible situation: change the name of the blog from "75 going on 40" to "Methuselah going on  two years old". Prynhawn da.

Friday 30 June 2017

Sunday Best

Recently, I was looking for an envelope, an everyday sort of no-nonsense envelope, when I discovered I was out of them.  In the relevant  drawer were only some rather elegant, thick white ones usually saved for letters of some significance, congratulations, condolences and beggings for forgiveness for example.  Wearily, I added common or garden envelopes to my 'must do' list and accepted my letter would have to wait until I had had time and energy to climb the hill of local shopping, Then, as I lay down to recover from the hassle, it came to me there could be another solution: use the 'posh' ones.

Dear Reader, I leapt off the bed, re-inspired, and put my letter in to the envelope that was rather too far above its station. It then came to me that this was a phenonmenon capable of massive extension.  With a terminal illness I should have no more need of 'keeping for best'. I could look in my underwear drawer and enjoy the frills and laces that had been kept for special occasions. (Don't ask) .Likewise socks, tights and stockings.  These days I mostly wear socks which will do nicely under trousers and stockings require something on which to attach them to keep them up. I therefore extracted a suspender belt, also frills and lace but, here's the rub, my waist was no lomger the size it had been when this item was purchaased. The next obvious step was to review my wardrobe.  Nowadays I do live rather an indoor life so there wouldn't me much scope for dresses and silk blouses and the like. However, my remembered forty-year old self had enjoyed the feeling of silk against my skin so I added those blouses to the 'what-are-you-keeping-them-for pile. Further down the house is the china cupboard.  Here rest several china tea sets the heritage of Mother and Mother-in-law and one that had been a seriously indulgant purchase of a don't- want- to- live -without- it set of my own. You have guessed correctly: I now take my hot drinks in exquisite fine bone china.  The cups take about a half of the capacity of the ubiquitous mug, But who cares, I can aleays refill. ( Though I do remember and have noticed again, that the second cup is never as lovely as the first.} If this trend continues I shall have to wear some exquisite night attire that has been closetted since a way of life  ended a couple of decades ago.  My bed is now covered by a glorious, antique, embroidered linen counterpane which has been masquerading as a picture folded over a brass pole at the end of the bed ever since I moved in. I even  manage to risk the Honourable Cat having a go at it - not so far .Fortunately, the  concept of Sunday Best no longer bears the tediousness of having to sit still, eat carefully and not play games which  it bore in its origins.  Bore da

Thursday 15 June 2017


It would be comforting to think you may have missed me because I havent 'posted' for too long.  I confess that energy levels vary from ok through okish to what energy? via you-are-joking-aren't you.  As it happens, though, if I push past the reluctance the energy will spring in and I am good to go

. I find myself the victim of a strange phenomenon. Bits of me are being broken off and dealt with by varying others and varying organisations.  For instance, I have  had to assign a piece of me to an Occupational Therapist. She needs the part that lies on the bed and is in apparent danger of pressure sores, and worse.  As it happens, I do not lie that long and that still but   O.T. good practice requires me to have a special pressure-proof mattress which has the effect of lifting the bed an extra six inches and precludes the use of a fitted bottom sheet. As you may have noticed, I am not one of life's most eager compliers so a certain amount of tension was created while I negotiated the O.T. down to a promise on my cat's life that I would ring the instant I found I actually needed such an extra mattress. She also has the bit of me that uses a grab-rail two thirds of the way down the bed and helps when I pull myself up off the bed,which food and nature require I do from tiome to time. There is a portion with the District Nurse who has taken over the sore bits of me both left over by the Podiatrist who now just has me as a name on a 'was'list and various other cuts and blemishes about which YOU NEVER KNOW. There is a palliative care doctor who takes that part of me that does need her services and also arranges delightful massage-type treats for a happily consigned back and legs,  I do find all this a challenge, particularly when I feel bossed in to doing something I wouldn't dream of doing if I were still a wholly holistic me.  I would not, by instinct, stuff an extra pillow under one leg - which one did she say? - in order to prevent whatever it is I am supposed to be preventing.  How does anyone sleep soundly if worrying about displacing a pillow whose purpose one hasn't grasped in the first place and whose presence threatens a cramp which disturbs  all the shoulds and musts and shouldn'ts and oughts whatever the initial good intention. Myself, I end up dreaming of an egg falling off  a wall whose survival was beyond all the King's horses and all the King's men from before the start of time and without benefit of Health and Safety . Prynhawn da

Thursday 25 May 2017


A couple of weeks ago someone with whom I grew up died.  This had repercussions, some predictable and some unexpected.  The greatest of the latter was like the opening of a door in to a room packed with as- if tangible memories, visual, spiritual and emotional.  A lumber room which had been closed so long I had no recall of what had been stowed away in there and could even have denied the presence of some items another person would have sworn she/he had seen me put  in there.

I saw her winding my wet hair around her fingers to make ringlets that would dry my hair curly.  I saw us playing on the beach near where we lived.  I am wearing a sort of ruched swimsuit that little girls wore eight decades ago. There were long-forgotten smells, like the one of our home with a splash of pipe tobacco in it which my Father smoked. There, too, was the cat we shared, a black and white moggy whose name I didnt find amongst the items.  I had the black bit and she the white. There were chicken cluckings from the birds we kept for their eggs.  Had you asked me last week, I suspect I wouldn't have known we kept chickens  Much of the room was filled with relics of the second world war during which we grew up.  There was my siren suit, with its cats ears, ready to step into the moment the air raid sirens went. I think that siren suit's ears were the trigger for a life-long passion for cats. There, too, was the bolster she used to divide her bed when I had to sleep with her because visitors had my room. Not everything was related to the lost-one.  I saw school notebooks and a letter of commendation from a later time when  I had done a good job in a crisis at work.  On that occasion - fog at London Airport - I met Louis Armstrong as we travelled by train to fog-free Scotland for take off. There is a very real risk this analogy, if that's what it is, is running out of believability But, in that vein, mostly it was the essence of the Departed that I kept catching.   In today's terms she had had a very difficult early life, a text book nightmare of confusion, loss and change which went un-remarked by the adults responsible for us, as would have been usual in that era.  She dealt with her way of being in the world by being a performer: being what each of us wanted her to be whenever we wanted her to be it.  This couldnt be kept up all day every day so I think I experienced as much of the reality of her as anyone did.  Anyway, now she is no longer called upon to perform.  She is in a place, at last, where she is safe to be herself. Bore da

Monday 8 May 2017

Grandma's Eggs

Teaching ones Grandmother to suck eggs is a phrase I have never got my understanding around. Of course, I do know that it means it is unwise to teach Grandma something she undoubtedly knows already, but why "suck eggs"?  I didn't know either of my Grandmothers.  I do know the ethos of my family, though, and sucking eggs doesn't strike me as having been a routine pastime for family visits.

What I have in mind at the moment is, nevertheless, egg-related.  Think of an egg-timer: Turn it upside down from its Grandma position and there you have "advice for the young".  Once again, my pedantry would like to clear things with the youngster-in- an- old - container basis of this blog.  I think it works,  Besides, a pedant with a terminal illness has to look passed its ps and qs occasionally. Right, first piece of advicce.  1) Keep fit. Your ancient body will have enough to cope with so muscle-neglect during earlier times can only present a doodled- on sheet of paper on which to sketch your older mobility.  2) Watch your teeth.  Those of us brought up in the second world war have had to be extra vigilant.  Regular dental care was not always possible.  Preparation for your day can take long enough without the added hassle of organising teeth and avoiding apples. 3) Leave your hair alone. Well, not entirely alone.  By all means wash, dry, brush, comb and even pop in a few rollers if it would help the shape.  Have it well cut.   Do not colour.  False hair doesn't go with real skin .  It just doesn't so keep your hair in good condition and don't pretend grey is brown. 4) Don't use energy to find romance if your are not already in a relationship of some standing.  Romance is lovely but tiring, demanding, frustrating and with rules that may have changed since you did it last.  A warm, funny, conversational companion spells romance after three score years and ten.  There's a bonus if the physical stuff is possible, too, but see  (1) above.  5) Read the papers.  You can only too easily be left in the cold while the younger attendees of a gathering discuss, argue and fear the portent of current news. No time to read?   Don't pretend: you do have time enough now you have almost none of the duties of your younger days. 6) Try to ration discourse which begins " when I was your age/young/fit/working"  Few younger companions will give a d..n.  7) Accept that long-term givens may turn in to present impossibilities.  You may have been used to walking along the banks of the river Ure mile after mile with lunch at a pub twelve miles on.  Be thankful,  now, that there is a pub at the top of your road.  8) If you didn't learn Italian or German or  re-learn Welsh, be straight with yourself.  You were neglectful: live with it. 9) Above all, relax. you are whom you are.  Time to let yourself off the persistent struggle to be a better person. ,Good enough is good enough  Prynhawn da

Sunday 30 April 2017

Short Cuts

Having always had a leaning towards unorthodox solutions, I find, in my current circumstances, that I am even more inventive about competent management.

At one point in my life, I had a little studio in my home county.  This, in itself, is unremarkable.  However, it meant that of many things I have two.  For instance, I have two small travelling clocks.  What makes more sense than having one at either side of the bed so that, on whichever side I am lying, I can see what time it is  Some examples are quite ordinary and no doubt apply to everybody.  In every possible place of need there is a box of tissues.  There are, by the same reckoning, rather too many telephones distributed where I can pick them up two rings post first one..  I know, I know, why not just have one mobile phone one can carry in one's pocket?  Where's the challenge in that?  I remember, as a fairly little one, confusing my Mother by asking for a second bar of soap: one to rest on the hand basin and one by the bath.  My experience having been that the only bar of soap found itself at whichever site I  was not.  As an 'accompanying other' in my earlier life I travelled a great deal.  I had two complete toilet bags and two make up bags so that all I had to do to be ready was pick them up and go.  Mind you, there is a school of thought that suggests there is something therapeutic in picking up one's toileteries to pack one by one as a way of taking leave and of replacing them, similarly, as a way of coming home. This method would probably help even a bad case of Transition Anxiety.  Perhaps I havent told you about this phenomenon for which I humbly (not too humbly) take credit. While I was working and met many performing musicians who moved about a lot I identified a situation where one was neither still at the starting point nor yet at the destination.  For instance, waiting for a taxi.  You are sitting in your hall but can''t feel still at home in  your spirit but not yet on your way to wherever.  This situation can cause  feelings of real distress and anxiety.  Clearly, it matters more the greater the gap between the here and the there.  A better example of that may be if you emigrate from your home country to live in another.  With your old home emptied by the removers you can't feel as if you still live in it but you have yet to arrive in your new environment: (nowt nor somat, as I've pointed out before).   You are, thus, in transition and must treat yourself kindly and with respect. Actually, the truth seems to be that what I really relish in all this  is that very challenge to find a solution. .  Bore da