Tuesday 15 September 2009


Have you ever noticed how some happenings turn out to have what one may call a mirror image? A dear friend of mine owned a rather lovely, valuable watch with a beautiful face and a blue leather strap. Her home was burgled and the watch was amongst the stuff that was stolen. This was a great sadness to her, as was the loss of other things handed down to her through the generations, Grandmothers, Aunts, Mother. You know, the sort of things one might not always wear but would always cherish. Except the blue watch: this was both cherished and worn. A few months after the robbery, her, by then ex, husband, delivered to her letter box on St. Valentine's day, a box containing the equivalent of a 'Swatch' with a blue plastic wrist-band, still bearing its price-tag, £22. He saw this as a loving gesture, assurance of his continuing fondness for her, his awareness of her loss and an attempt at restitution. She saw it as the most amazing cheek. How dare he attempt to replace her precious watch with a supermarket throw-away and what was appropriate about an ex, who had caused her enormous pain, sending her a Valentine's gift? She sent it back, price tag and all; to him a loving gesture, to her an insult.

There is an old joke - Jewish, I think - which demonstrates this mirror thing rather nicely. A Mother is talking about her married children. "My daughter," she says, " has the most marvellous husband. He won't let her lift a hand. She has a daily cleaner to do the hard work, he does most of the cooking and always does the washing up. He'll bring her coffee after dinner while she sits and watches the television. My son, on the other hand, has married a dreadful woman. She insists he pay for a daily cleaner, she won't cook, she won't clear up, he has to do all that, and, to cap it all, she expects him to bring her coffee while she just sits and watches the television." I have the feeling this is a phenomenon which affects all of us, one way or another. One man's helpful Mother is another man's busy-body Mother-in-law. I am guilty of this turn around, myself. During the return flight from continental europe I, because of my stick, was instructed by the personnel (human resources?) of THAT Airline to sit in the window. Now, I, because it is nice to walk about a bit and I do tend to need the'facilities' from time to time, prefer to sit the aisle and not have to keep mountaineering over my neighbours. I grumbled and pulled a face and generally embarrassed my companion, but had, of course, given in, when we heard another lady, similarly be-sticked, respond to the window seat injunction with "Oh. How lovely". Ouch .One man's meat is another man's travelling preferences, I concede.

Having started on this theme, I am overwhelmed by illustrations of it. But what comes at once to mind as I sift through them is the experience I told you about a while ago when I was making, gingerly making, for the Ladies down the stairs of a London Railway station. You may remember the kind lady who stopped to tie my shoe lace. She saw an elderly, doddery old bag, laden with bits and pieces, soaked through, unaware she had failed to tie her laces, in imminent danger of losing her balance and falling down some pretty hostile steps. I saw a sturdy, late middle-aged lady with a bit too much to carry, caught in the rain, whose shoe-lace, though firmly tied at application, had accidentally come undone, walking with some circumspection down some pretty hostile steps: the only point the pictures had in common. But then, that is really what the blog is essentially - in essence, that is - about: to me, I am forty. To the rest of the world, I am seventy five. Does that phenonomenon also explain why everyone's baby is beautiful? Oh dear: where will it end, I ask myself. What about you? What about your mirror images? See you soon.

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