Tuesday, 19 August 2008


If you would really like to know how I have been filling the gap between this post and the last, I have been back to my apparently unsaleable little sea-side studio to see whether I can move things on by letting it or by changing agents. I don' t think letting will work. When all the expenses have been taken off the rent, including agent's fees, tax and things like service charges - plus VAT as the potential letting agent kept telling me - my financial gain would be minimal and my gain in hassle enormous. To start with, I can't even add the 17 and a half% VAT on to the figures she was quoting so how do I aspire to full-blown landlordship? The bath got through with an "unusual" but the bed which doubles as a settee, (so I can sleep with the sound of the sea in my ears, of course, although part of the overall space has been partitioned off as a bedroom) would have to go and be replaced with a real settee. Oh Dear! more hasselous by the second. Anyway, I don't think either of us was deceived by my "I'll think about it" response.Thinking about it would only underline the lack of fuel in my coping tank and she seemed to sense that, or else she had identified the source of my deathly pallor. Either way, we shook hands in a final kind of way.

Whatever happens to it, I am having to face up to relinquishing my toe-hold in my home parish.I had never seen myself as attached to it before now and the sophisticated part of me is slightly cynical about the wrench I am beginning to feel. People I have known all my life were there with their children and grandchildren, providing a continuity which keeps them forever in touch with our roots wherever they live for the rest of the time. I rather envy that. My own young are too busy and too far-ranging to spend time there and there are, as you will remember, no grand-young, anyway as yet. I don't think I feel 40 inside about this; this is a uniform feeling of both my ages....and a touch sentimental, too, so let us gloss over it and talk about other things.

Though, to be perfectly frank, there has not been as much contact with the inner 40 year-old in the few days I have been talking about. I felt every moment of 75 arriving after six hours in the car on a journey which should have taken three and a half. I felt I had no choice but to travel on a Saturday and August Saturdays, I'm told, are change-over days; people holiday from one Saturday to another, so Everyman, his wife, his little ones, his bicycle, his tent and his dog was on the road. The gantries were flashing 50 mph warnings. No problem: we were only doing 20 anyway,and that on a good stretch. ( I feel better having told you that. If I did'nt realise about Saturday change-over how could I hope to be a letting person?) New ways of coping have to be devised, not only because of age but also because of travelling alone. Four trips to the car with not very much rather than the one trip with lots that I would have managed in the past. (Confession: I did try to carry more but the time spent on picking up the things dribbled on to the path with what my Mother would have called 'a lazy man's load' was a shame-making waste and I am surprised I've told you. Leave a comment so I know you are not put-off.) Where are the strong young rugby players with nice bottoms I have relied on in the journeys of yesteryear? Oh yes: at the airport, of course. See you soon -ish.

PS The query over the title is because I am trying not to believe I am suffering from it.

Friday, 15 August 2008


The other evening, I watched a film made in 1953 when I was 20! It was "Roman Holiday". Now there was, indeed a link between then and now, even before I matured to 40. There was a link because I felt just the same as I remember feeling then: delighted, amused and moved, too. After all, this beautiful, richly endowed and other-worldly young Princess stole out of her gilded cage and spent 24 hours as an ordinary mortal, enjoying Rome. Except she was'nt quite as normal as I would have been in the circumstances because she had Gregory Peck to fall in love with - which, as it happens, I think I did every time I saw him on the screen. The girl, you may well know, was Audrey Hepburn and the film was billed as "introducing Audrey Hepburn". Not bad to be in an Oscar winning film on your very entry in to the business. Two things struck me this time around that would not have been relevant in 1953: she looked border-line anorectic. So thin there must have been deliberate decisions about whether to film her sideways or not. And, of course, there was no what you might call 'consummation' of the relationship which developed between the two characters who did, in all other ways, fall in love. These days, they would have shared a bed and its concomittant activities before you could say "censor". "Brief Encounter" is another such. I suppose that has been one of the more obvious indicators of the revolution in mores since my younger days.

I find myself wondering, however, if abstinence was what was actually practised in real life as it was in films. I think it certainly was to a much greater extent. Perhaps, it wasn't decided by a moral attitude, but by the nearly non-existence of reliable contraception. Anyway, the likelihood of a one-off romantic encounter, with both pairs of feet off the ground that is, being an earth-moving, life-changing experience is not to be relied on either, so, all in all, why not let's leave it either out or to the imagination: dot dot dot as in Victorian novels. Nothing original in any of these thoughts but I still enjoy the reflecting.

During the reflection, in thebackground I have been listening to extracts from "The marriage of Figaro", the bit where the Count asks the Countess to forgive him, (from trying to exercise his feudal rights to 'bed' her maid on the night before her marriage - the maid's to Figaro, that is: you may remember). She does. I do wonder whether anything has changed there. Is the pain of infidelity any different in the 18th Century, the 20th century or now. What do you think?

I can't understand why I have embarked on such a serious question as the changing mores in sexual - or any - behaviour when it is August and, if it were not for the Olympics and Russia and Georgia, the newspapers would be scratching round for material to amuse our holiday mood. I think I'd better leave it for now, particularly since I shall have to find time to clean the front of my pale grey trousers, covered by newsprint from resting said newspaper on my tummy as I lay reading it on the bed trying to avoid the Olympics and trying not to worry about THE FUTURE; scarcely worth it at my age, you will say.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Relating 1

Well, there you are. I am pleased to see you haven't disappeared while I have been visiting a loved one, at 34c in my scarlet swimming costume. He is there to work so we could not spend all that much time together. He joined me for breakfast on his day off announcing there were not many people he would be up for at 10 o'clock in the morning on his day off. There are not many people I would tolerate 34c for, on my day off or any other day come to that, so we agreed we were 'ad idem' in the fondness stakes, though, I suspect , secretly he did see his as the greater sacrifice. It got me thinking about relationships. Now, I don't want to mislead you: I spend most of my life thinking about relationships, professionally and for pleasure. Gossip and curiosity have been my hobbies throughout my whole life. Perhaps , what I should have said is that it prompted more thinking about relationships when I should have been on holiday and giving my brain a good rest. Anyway, it is, actually, very simple: there are people for whom we would gladly over-heat or for whom we would happily lose sleep , and there are people who make us boil and who annoy us in to losing sleep!
I do get rather over-heated on the subject of the Estate Agent who has been handling the sale of my sea-side studio. (See 'Demandingness') An accepted offer has now fallen through and I am not sanguine about the quality of his interest in selling it with its bath in the living room "not to everybody's taste". At the time we accepted the offer my instinct told me it should not be counted on and I asked him not to take it off the market. I don't know, and he did'nt explain whether this was ethical, or even legal, or not, but he did not do as I asked and made no effort to find another buyer. So we are back to the begining in an appalling state of the market. I was reminded of this when a dear friend was talking about a rather glamorous new boy-friend she has acquired. In the first flush of the relationship he seemed to be everything a girl could wish for, good-looking, gifted, kind, thoughtful, sensitive, not in the least competitive - she is quite something in the glamour/achievement stakes herself - and altogether good news. No grown-up would really expect this to go on being an unadulterated account of the state of the affair and, gradually, the picture has had to be modified; not much, I have to say, but modified, nevertheless. The principal addendum is that he doesn't do long-term committment. My dear friend sees that this, as it happens, suits her, too and they are having a lovely time enjoying the here and now: enjoying living. What amused me was the link with the Estate Agent: although she is, as it were, under offer, that need'nt mean she should come off the market. These agreements do fall through and other prospects could be kept on the books. What do you think? The question of ethics remains relevant, but the point of telling you was more about the parallel with house selling, which amused me, than about the question of right and wrong.

I have just added a 1 to the title. Relating could easily run to 101, but that's as far as we can go to-day. See you soon.