Wednesday, 23 June 2010

More Keeping House

And another thing, how often do you think one should wash one's net curtains? I do have several, I confess. They are not so much to peep from behind to see what is going on in the world of the neighbours. They are more to stop the neighbours from seeing what is going on in my world. One pair is internal and covers a glass door between my little guest room and the room in which I used to work. Finally, there are some covering a window on a half landing. These serve as a sun-shield, otherwise my little house would be a little oven before you can say over the horizon. Governed as I am by the mores of another generation, another way of being in the world, I do feel the need, eventually the guilty urgency, to take the damned things down and wash them. You will of course, have gathered that, physically, I am not the most flexible acrobat in the circus. Picture it: I am up a ladder, two steps are all I can risk, trying, with arthritic fingers, to extract some miniature hooks from the tentacles determined to grab on to them. The door bell rings. What to do. Clamber down from the ladder, replace my shoes and totter to the door? I could pretend I haven't heard - not unreasonable, my hearing is deteriorating as we speak. (When the Guru rings with his office voice I have either to behave as if I have heard and end up making a dinner he has rung to cancel or bellow at him to speak up. A conflict erupts between office decorum and old lady reality.) Or I could prepare an abject apology for taking so long to answer. You've guessed; he/she who was there is no longer there, anyway. Take off my shoes, again, clamber back up the ladder, feel for the little tentacles, again, and so on and so on. Do you remember the Gerard Hoffnung story of the builder and the bricks going up and down in the hod? Well, you are well on the way to visualising my grubby- curtain dilemma. Last time, I prevailed upon the window cleaner to get them down for me, since he was up there, anyway, and definitely more flexible than I. I did have to put them back, myself, but what the H..., who ever said getting older, in housework terms, would be easy?

Far, far more serious: a tissue infiltrated the washing machine. The Wizard of Cyberspace has allies, his trainees, the laundry fairies. They eat socks, too. But you know all this. You will be wondering why I didn't check all pockets for whatever. I swear I did. This tissue got in disguised as a handkerchief. Are there any fellow sufferers out there? Tissues in the washing machine are like blood, milk and cat litter: they get everywhere when spilled. I shook, I swept, I took the cat-fur remover to everything and then I sat down in a darkened room until I felt better. It's all very well, but the Guru is supposed to look the part when he's at work so bits of unidentifiable white on his professional apparel are totally unacceptable. What's more, one of the duties of the no longer young is to look pristine: eccentric is fine, scruffy is out. So please, Wizard, would you be so good as to ask your apprentices in the laundry to move their plague of white, clingy bits to the machine of my worst enemy?

I have just realised that we are very near my Mother's birthday. This may well explain my rush of housewifery. She has been in mind. She was a very good keeper of her house, and mine, come to that. When I was at University in London she would come up to see me with, I jest not, some rubber gloves and a couple of dusters - oh, and a pinny. The most embarrassing aspect of this was subjecting my house-mates to the sight of everything drying over the shower rail in the communal bathroom after she had done her worst/best with them. And yes, she did get me to take the curtains down and held the ladder while I did so. Back to work; it's never done.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010


How presumptuous, I can hear you say. I did think long and hard before giving this post that title. I started by envisaging everyone who had written on the subject, from the inception of the written word. It was a funny thought. It was soon an hysterical thought as the examples tumbled over one another and ran in pairs along my inner eye. However, I don't intend to define love, I intend just to chatter on about it for a paragraph or two. It all began when my cat was sitting in front of me at table, the other day. (This is not a Health and Safety discussion, so you can gloss over that bit.) We had both just had breakfast, she on the floor this time and me at the table, just to clarify what you are picturing. She was staring me in the eye and miaowing, her long 'you-havent-got-it-yet' miaow. There were fresh food, fresh water, clean litter, what could I have overlooked? So I told her I loved her, as often I do. I got the tail-flick response I have come to expect when she hears those words but still, and also, the miaows, which got longer and longer and longer. She must have been a mezzo-soprano in another life; in that the case, she has certainly retained the breath control of a professional singer and her voice is quite low compared with other felines of my acquaintance. Anyway, telling her I loved her was not what I had not 'got'. Then it came to me that one cannot live on love alone even if that were what my beloved cat had been asking me for. So, of course, I got up and found her a little something more to supplement and pacify. Guess what: the miaowing stopped.

It made me think, though. If you cannot live on love alone, can you die without it? I think you can. You wouldn't just lie down and be, as it were dead, never get up again, you'd probably contract an illness which, although curable, somehow wouldn't be cured. Damn it! I don't know exactly how you would do it but it wouldn't be surprising if many ill people were, if the truth be unveiled, quietly fading from lack of love. I do know it is possible to be as if dead inside. Life goes on apparently unchanged, on the outside. A three dimension version of you operates without any noticeable inconsistency; rather like a Stepford Wife, in fact: a facimile of the real thing. There was a film along similar, but kinder and more profound lines: Lars and the Real Girl. Brilliant, see it. But much must depend on the cause of this death by non-love. Rejection will do it every time, wouldn't you say? Being subjected to a pretend love, particularly parental, would be another good way to experience it. We, surely, all know people who are so desparate for love that their lives become distorted with the effort to acquire it. You know, the Mother's Little Helper people who are the first at the scene in a crisis and who are able to devine - and provide - what you want before you are even aware you want it. Sainthood may arise from that very phenomenon. I'm not proud of the way that sounds. It sounds condescending and even pejorative. Forgive me. I don't like myself for interpreting/noticing a hunger for love in those whom I am fortunate to know as really kind people who will do anything for anyone. I don't believe it detracts from the value of what they do: it just serves, anyway me, as an explanation for why they do it. I can't see how I could have the gall to leave the subject there, but, for the moment I must go and check what my beloved miaowing mezzo wants now. If there is anything I can do for her, you would expect me to do it wouldn't you, craven seeker for love that I am.

Sunday, 6 June 2010


The wizard of cyberspace has been laughing all the way to the delete box. This time he surpassed himself. He took not only the blog but all the functions of the computer that needed the internet, plus the television service. In short, no service of any kind from my service provider . Naturally, this happened at a week-end and stretched in to one with a bank holiday tacked on. By the time the non-service provider had reached me on his list of frustrated and bereaved electronic dependants, a long time had passed. "No signal" was the fullest explanation the screens were in a position to furnish. At last, arrived an engineer who went back to his car with a visitors' permit to park and came back a very few minutes later to say he just wanted to check that all was well. "All is not well", protested I, wondering why he thought he was here at all. "Oh yes," quoth he,"I've fixed it." And so he had. He wouldn't tell me how so I am left with the imagining that he and the Wizard are allies and, together, had decided I had been punished long enough. I do know that I could have taken my laptop to a nearby coffee shop or found an internet cafe and, thus, blogged to my heart's content. Pause: do you really see me as a person who would or even could take all the wires out of the back of this machine and expect to re-assemble them in another location when I don't even enjoy coffee, never mind an internet cafe where I would raise the average age by about 5o years and have to ask for help even to switch the damned stranger on. No, of course you don't. Anyway, here I am and I hope not too many of you have given up on reading me ever again. (Mind you, I have one non-fan who informed me she didnt read my blog because she couldn't stand other people's on and onings; nice phrase, I've decided to acquire it.)

Talking of gaps, I'd like to stretch the concept to include slots. My local Post Office, a grown up one with a site all its own, not shared with a shop nor anything else - those, nearby, having been closed by authorities running a competition as to who can boast the longest queues in the remaining ones - has closed the two posting boxes sited on its outside wall. This is for Health and Safety reasons anounces the unblinking appended sign. I enquired further, well you would wouldn't you, and was told this was because the post collector had to bend down to take the letters out of the box. I know, I know; when I was a gal, etc etc. But it does make you wonder where it is all going to end and whether those of us who still have a sense of humour can hold on to it in the face of the humourectomy apparently undergone by the rest of the world. During opening hours, one can post letters in a box inside the Post Office. Later, one must just find a red what used to be called pillar box. I can't see that they are any more back-friendly than those on the wall, but then who am I to bring logic to a strange and po-faced world?

A more interesting gap has been in my contact with a young, sort of related, man. I hadn't seen him for about eight years: from little boy to early man. He had the ethereal look I remember from his childhood and the hair and appearance of the University student he is, currently. I think we both found it harder to re-connect than we would have done had our statuses (stati?) been the same as when we last met: he a child and I less of an old woman. The progression made it rather more difficult. I had never met this young man and could only sense the child I had known well. I think we both found it difficult to communicate after the facts of the gap in time were filled in. He seems a man who plays his cards rather close to his chest so even I, who rather prides herself on her white witch self with a well-honed intuition, could'nt say whether or not he enjoyed the reunion and would be prepared to repeat it. I did enjoy it but was, later, assailed by a sense of the loss of the years in between. They can never be regained. The legions of little stories, and big ones, for that matter, which had influenced and interested him, formed him, were lost to our common history. I would love to have had a visual and audio diary of the little nonsenses and big momenti that we should, automatically, have shared had things gone differently. What can I do, at this late stage, to bridle my over-romantic idea of the continuum and importance of relationships with no gaps? Grow up, I hear you say. Life is full of no signals. Prynhawn da.