Wednesday, 19 May 2010


The vacuum has been caused by a visit to a loved-one in Scotland. I still haven't found the courage to take my lap-top with me, even if it were sensible to add weight to a bag I have to rely on others to lift on and off trains for me. I missed you all, so am happy to be back. But Scotland is delicately exquisite in May. Where I was, there are hundreds of lambs with black faces and protective mothers. Everything is in bloom and proliferating. Hedgerows are full of primroses and bluebells and campions, all at the same time. I have never seen primroses and bluebells blooming together. Still, many a less expected liason has been known to work well.

The loved-one and I had many good conversations. During one, it emerged that what I saw as 'support' he saw as'collusion'. It struck me that there were quite a few split-hair possibilities of this kind. How this one came about: casually. I referred to someone I don't really know and he does as "what's-her-name". Suffice it to say that she has a way of life that, on a bad day, I could easily envy. He knows this and does not approve. After a moment - a long moment - he supplied her name, which, of course, I knew perfectly well. I went in to a thing about expecting his support and he replied that, on the contrary, I had been looking for him to collude with me in my view of her impact on my world. Thinking about it, still, I can't see how support can avoid being collusive on occasion. What do you think? Now , this is quite personal stuff to illustrate semantics so let us move on to the more intellectual. How about the difference between interest and curiosity? Interest seems rather benevolent. Curiosity can be tinged with that lovely, but naughty, Welsh past-time: gossip. I suspect that when we are curious about the doings of others there are a few ounces of malice in the mix. I suppose, though, the two are not so far apart when it comes to things of the intellect. There one can have a healthy curiosity, hurtful to no-one, and sufficient interest to do something about it. In my own experience, I find I am curious when not particularly fond of someone and interested when I am.

Fear and wish are worrying bed-fellows, too, but harder for me to see as interchangeable in daily use as, perhaps, the other examples are. You will be, naturally, conversant with the expression that one should be careful what one wishes for; the whole poisoned chalice thing. I have heard tell of a lady who married rather late in life having had the aim to be wed since she was six. It seems her spouse would not have been the easiest of people even had she been accustomed officially, to sharing her life with someone. Anyway, when asked some time later how she was enjoying her new life, she is said to have replied," Be careful what you wish for". Oops. The one I am really uncomfortable about, though, is beware of what you fear. Fear of loss, at its gravest, actually seems to attract loss. Illness, divorce, bereavement: I havent the statistics at my finger tips (literally, since I am typing), but observation confirms that the fearful do seem to suffer more than the breezily confident. When I was young, cancer was always referred to as 'C'. Sadly, many of those so afraid they couldn't say the whole word, did contract the disease. A woman who used to look forward, eagerly, to the friendship of her children when they were adults, always feared they may end up in Australia, as many Welshmen do. They did, or anyway, some of them did. She feels desolate, estranged and without accesible grandchildren. Self-fulfilling prophesy will probably cover it. We can't see electricity so there is no reason to expect to see the force of attraction that draws like a magnet our profoundest longings and direst fears.

I hope you have been interested rather than curious and will support my efforts to communicate the hidden complexities of our language to you - in my experience of it, anyway. Please, do collude with my wish for your goodwill by leaving a comment sometimes.

Saturday, 1 May 2010


Last time, I indicated that I had had a brush with the demon Gambling. At the outset, I should make it clear that I haven't had so much fun for years, and, certainly, not since I was an inadvertant attendee at a night club in Portsmouth - see below, well below by now. Having established that, I must explain that I went on a purely professional basis, to establish whether or not the company concerned was doing what it said on the tin. (Yes, M'Lud, it is an unlikely explanation but it does add verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing tale.) Anyway, there I was, at 5.30 in the afternoon, presenting myself for membership of an institution with a narrow door and a vast interior. The door was staffed by the biggest man I have ever seen and, from having been doubtful about the verisimilitude of turning up at old ladies' tea time, I swung to intense relief that it was still broad daylight and I was unlikely to be taken for a ne'er-do-well addict or any other kind of trouble maker. Neither was it an optimum time for real ne'er-do-wellers who might take a fancy to making trouble for me. The Guru was with me because there was less likelihood of my being mistaken for a spy - which I was - if I were accompanied by a young man who knew the ropes. (Don't ask: personally, I'd rather not know how he knows about a lot of things, one way and another).

It was surprising I passed the inside vetting. Having being apprised of the need for a passport or driving licence as proof of identity, I was horrified to find, that in the interests of having less to carry and less to lose should I have been attacked by said ne'er-do-wells, I had taken out of my handbag the wallet, habitually carried, which houses my driving licence. I know, I know: I should not be let out on my own. Of course, I wasn't alone, but the Guru can really be responsible only for my relationship with the Wizard of Cyberspace and his instrument of torture, the computer on which I lean as we speak. Dottiness is my own responsibility. As it happens, my 'bus pass proved acceptable and in we went with the mildest of reproaches and a request that I bring my passport next time. ( For faithful readers outside the UK, a photo- pass is issued to the over 65s which entitles them to free travel on public transport, 'bus or train, within a certain radius of the home town. Very encouraging it is, too). Although something of a stranger to slot machines and other instruments of addiction- relief I registered in a sweep of the extensive premises where we found ourselves, I am familiar with Roulette. So, we headed for the familiar, bought some chips and one minute and seventeen seconds later, I was £35 richer then I had been when we went in. Following the lessons learned in an earlier way of being in the world, I pocketed my original outlay and went on playing with the winnings. I have to tell you that it was one of the rare times in all the years of his life that I've known him, that the Guru was driven to absolute silence. Whether or not my luck continued, I am not prepared to tell you. Suffice it to say that I am a bit of a witch, myself. The Wizard of Cyberspace can't be allowed to win them all. Guru is, however, seriously concerned that it has got me hooked. He sees this as even worse than the choclate addiction he is already aware of. (I havent told him that I have had to leave in my car some chocolate treats I have bought for little people I shall see in a day or so. Even the very little would notice if the packets had been opened already). As it happens, I think I may be 'hooked'. I haven't done all that well in the money-making stakes in my life. Maybe I could redress the balance at the tables. See you soon, if I am not weighed down by the little round chips I have been carrying with me.