Tuesday 29 July 2008


Titles are sometimes elusive. It's not as if there haven't been examples in the blog, already, of my having to adapt my 75 year-old self to my 40 year-old aspirations, but it came to me that there is a number of devices I deal with on a daily basis that I have come to take so much for granted that I scarcely notice them and they deserve an airing. For instance, I have been making a Kaftan, as you do if you are going to spend a few days near water and have to make your way there via public spaces. There is a sensible limit to the amount of space and time when your actual swimsuit - however red - should be witnessed by A.N. Others and a full-length Kaftan will hide any number of sins. Anyway, I have been busily stitching for a day or so and am pleased with the result; (also red, dots and shapes on a white background, if you must know). I had to convert two and a half metres of fabric into this garment. That's quite a lot of back-stitching; all the way up two sides, two hems hemstitched and hemstitching around the neckline cut from the top. As I stitched, two forward one back - I think: it is hard to picture without doing it - it reminded me of the way I have to tackle stairs, right foot on the stair, then left foot on the same stair. I can't always walk up them one foot after the other, as in what you might call running stitch. Silly, isn't it, but it amused me.

It also sent me to the stairs to do a bit of practice. I can't be seen backstitching up the stairs in some slightly glamorous hotel at the sea-side, a converted ancient mansion, without the lifts (elevators, if you are over the Pond) which would ruin its integrity. I have to report, Dear Reader, that practice has made perfect and I can now reliably do stairs in the way I didn't even notice when I was your age. I am also slightly ashamed, though pleased because I may yet be able to improve my performance on broken-down escalators (see earlier post!) Ashamed, because Someone-Who-Knows has been telling me for ages that it just needed practice and perseverance to conquer the stairs and strengthen the legs.

Opening things requires ingenuity, too. I use my teeth. I told you about the lovely B and B where I stayed in Scotland, didn't I? At breakfast, cooked while you wait and in any permutation you can think of, conserves were served in little packets. Impossible for arthritic hands so, teeth, mine own, as it happens. Can't think how the dentally challenged arthritic would manage. Anyway, there I was tearing at my honey pack like a dog with a bone, when I realised I was being what you might call, if you were kindly disposed, supervised by an elderly gentleman at the same table. "I'm so sorry, " I tried, helpfully, "no strength in my fingers, to-day". "You did that, yesterday, too". Oops, hadn't even been consciously aware of it yesterday, it seems so natural. Take ring-pulls. Well, I can't. I have to use a tin opener. My cat sees that as a huge advantage. She wouldnt be able to hear me tug at a ring-pull. I have to ravish an envelope to get to what is inside. Often I don't open them if they don't look worth doing time for. Don't even think of trying to change the sim card in your mobile phone if you are me. I have to keep the same one whatever seductive offers come my way rather than keep stabbing the little door that would let me in to its intestines to transfer them to a new one even if the new one will do everything except make tea for me. But I must be honest. I really love my little phone and that's really the reason I don't operate on it. It was one of the first objects I owned in the struggle to join the current world. And, though you haven't actually, asked, I thought you would like to know that I do have a sewing machine. The geography of my house is such that I can't watch television and sew unless I do it by hand, and I have the sort of conscience that prefers to do something while passively watching television, having been brought up to see entertainment in which one wasn't participating as rather decadent. Archaic, or what? See you soon.

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