Friday, 26 August 2011

Yet More Adapting

It's not surprising, given the nature of the blog, that there should be considerable material referring to various ways in which the inner forty-year old has to adapt to the restrictions imposed by the immoveability - in all senses - of the more than three score and ten- year old. Some are concerned with usage, some with conditions, mental and physical and some with mores. I checked the complete list of posts and, indeed, there are several called "Adapting" or words to that effect. (I would have said "there is a number", but the Guru already calls my expressions "archaic" so I've spared you that one.) To-day's prompt came because I went to a shop to buy a present for a forth-coming baby. Why is that remarkable? Well, it is remarkable because of the method of making this purchase. The options were, first, to buy online. This would have been simple. Put the item in to Google: 'a contraption to wrap around a baby in order to carry him/her clasped to your body'. I don't think so. Try 'baby carrier'. Better, but I was faced with tiny pictures of what looked like ruck-sacks, for front or back, Mother or Father. Then there appeared tiny pictures of what looked like winding sheets. Possible, but hard to determine from a postage stamp. So, give up on the possible bonus of having the item sent straight to the new Mother, keeping dry in the prevailing thunderstorm, and try something else. Second option: telephone a baby goods supplier and describe what I thought the Mother wanted. "Yes Mrs Mountford - at least I didnt get "Liz" - I think I know what you mean. Gone for at least 60 pence worth of telephone time and back with the suggestion that I come in and look at them. Third option: find a local baby shop, see the item, choose a colour - Oh the responsibility - pay and go. All that was so familiar I really enjoyed it. Once home, wrap in gift paper, enclose a note, find a padded bag big enough, up to the Post Office ready for the queues with my stick/seat and off to go. I know, I know, had I stuck to option one, I'd have been home and dry with no rain, no wrapping paper and no queue, but would I have felt like a person buying a present. No I would not.

Alright, I am now prepared to let you in on a situation of some delicacy. You may remember the Guru's astonishment - g.bsmacked would be nearer - at the urgency with which I prevailed upon him to mend my computer. He simply would not let go of the opportunity to point out how this old lady computer-phobe had become so dependent on the enemy. In vain did I explain that it was not the disfunctional computer that disturbed my equilibrium. It was the fact that there was something not running smoothly in my life. Younger, I could handle disfunction - objects, not mine - with aplomb. Now, I am ill at ease if a light bulb goes, if I see dust where I can't reach, if a tap leaks. The routine of computer use, emails, blogposts, search engine, (no, I try not to say Hoover neither. I say vacuum cleaner. Google has the same affiliation although you could, with justification, say: see above) if once disrupted, changes my approach to the peace of everyday. I see there is a subtle difference, only, between being troubled because the computer is breaking down and being troubled when anything at all is not as it should be. But difference there is: agree? Anyway, Guru found the solution, a new computer. And you are among the first beneficiaries of its incarnation. Naturally, it was he who set it up and it works nearly enough like its predecessor that I am down to just fourteen queries for when next he has time to talk to me. I think the Wizard of Cyberspace is lying low for the moment, risky though it may be to say so. He has, however, sent a few apprentice wizards - small 'w' to signify - to test my patience and perseverance.

From old-fashioned shopping to 21st century communication: what a journey. However, I have just had something of a revelation. For centuries, Welsh women carried their babies in shawls. One end was wrapped around the baby, the other around the mother. One single piece of fabric,one simple solution, one simple purpose, or even papoose. So what IS new? Nos da

Thursday, 18 August 2011


Oh Dear! Feedback has suggested that "Planets" doesn't read as clear and smoothly as I had assumed it did. A little elucidation: What I hoped to create was an understanding of one way to manage the unmanageable. Let's say that circumstances had contrived to make her way of being in the world intolerable for our imaginary friend. Say we see her world as Planet Reality. Our friend realises that the only way to survive the weight of the emotional pain she feels there is to move to a different world. Planet Survival, I called it. The imagining then follows her, via a budget airline, from the one Planet to the other, listing the sort of things which would be likely to be packed in hand baggage, and others in checked-in (hold) baggage. Obviously, a lot has to be left behind. Life would be narrower,more restricted but feasable on the new Planet. Once there,a new way of being in the world develops and she manages really well. There are still glances back, ties,short visits to Planet Reality but, by and large, the only way she could hope to cope at all would be to establish herself on the lesser but viable Planet Survival and do her best to pretend it's what she wants and enjoys. Simple, yes? However, the computer having succumbed to The Wizard again, I have VERY little and limited access to it and may not even be able to reach you all at all. With hope, Liz

Wednesday, 17 August 2011


As you will have noticed, it is the really funny side of a three score and more than ten external life being lived by an inner forty- year old that fascinates me and, I hope, Dear Reader, you, too. However, sometimes, it has to be acknowledged, real life is not always that ready to afford us the fun. This came to me, recently, after a conversation with someone in the position of being something of an expert in the matter. The matter is survival. (You will come to see its relation to the planets as you read on). This lady sees herself as exisiting on a very small planet circling, as it would, around the main, huge one. She moved there some years ago when life on the main planet became unmanagable. I believe she would find it fair if I told you just a little about how that came about. She was living what she saw as a pretty normal life, in pretty normal circumstances with the usual expectations of the present and future and a clear enough view of the past with its dark and light, joy and disappointment: an ordinary woman with an unexceptional story, millions like her out there on Planet Reality. Over some time, she suffered a number of losses. Some were sudden, some were gradual, some could be incorporated and some, well one in particular, she would need to accept were incapable of incorporation. What to do? She made valiant efforts to continue her life on Planet Reality. Weighed down by the excess baggage of the grief and pain she suffered, feeling unsupported, afraid and at risk of becoming too demanding of the good, reliable things still available to her, she decided to decamp to a much smaller planet, just to the North West and still in sight of Planet Reality.

This was Planet Survival. As everyone of you will know, travel is far from easy, these days. The only direct route to Planet Survival was via a budget airline. Not only that, her new home was not going to be big enough to accommodate anything like the bulk of her possessions. Two such predicaments will need some ingenuity in the resolution. What to do? What to take? What to leave behind? Having booked a flight, the priority was to plan the actual trip. As, yet again, you will be aware, one is allowed only 100ml of liquid in hand baggage on any flight. It was clear that tears would have to be left behind, or, anyway, strictly rationed. 100ml - I hope kind readers over the Pond will excuse the metrics - is not much liquid so that would take some getting used to. Vulnerability had to go in hand baggage, too, much as she would like to have left it behind. As for hold baggage, one suitcase weighing 15 kilos was the limit. Thus, most of her history, in its heavy books, would have to be abandoned or, at best, archived so that she could access it should things ever change enough to make it possible either to glance at or even read some of it, again. Sadly some friends would, inevitably, remain on Planet Reality . She could take only those of whose love she was sure enough, even if love was more realistically evaluated by a capacity to speak the same language as she.Ah!love: too difficult to make a decision. No doubt there was some love that was there and might have gone with her had it but known. It was so tied up with tears, though, she would surely have exceeded 100ml. If ever she reached a sensible decision about love she could always send for it. Loneliness: some left behind, some must be taken. There was room for only minimal family. That went on the very top of her hold baggage, love squeezed in beside it. Next, she packed her sense of fun and laughter. Fortunately, they were light enough that there was an enormous amount in before she got to 15 kilos. After that, music, filling all the remaining gaps: not too many slow movements and no Lutoslawski.

I gather she has been living on Planet Survival with great success. She can see Planet Reality and, truth be told, has been known to spend the odd week-end there. Sometimes, a phone call, a sighting in the street, some seemingly obscure reminder, will pull her reluctantly back to the feel of life on Planet Reality. As things stand, though, she does not see herself going back to live there, permanently. She is happy and, for the most part, secure on Planet Survival. At any rate, her postcards back to Planet Reality make sure there is no hint of anything but the Good Life she is thoroughly enjoying, refreshed by new and exciting elements never available to her on Planet Reality.

Now, it is absolutely no good you trying to guess, even if you thought you had enough data, of whom I speak. I made it all up. It was, though, triggered by the predicament of several acquaintances and former work associates and an imagination too used to seeing things in visual images. But next time you glance at the night sky, blow a kiss at the smallest planet as it circles a big one and think of Tinkerbell. Bora da

Monday, 8 August 2011

Hassle Avoidance

As you will know, if you have been kind enough to keep up, the latest post was called "Hassle". It turns out to have been the toe of the Giant's shoe, the hair on the elephant's head, the tip of the iceberg. Since then, I have been subjected to the Emperor, the Juno, the ultimate definition of all hassle. The Wizard of Cyberspace came and stole everything. My emails, my googles, my Mystery Shopper work, my profiles - that's what Guru says; I wouldn't know a profile if it was sitting on my lap as I write - all disappeared. Even the seascape wall-paper I enjoy during the wait for things to warm up upped anchor and crossed the channel. Worse is to tell. My blogposts had gone. Every single one, ab initio. The short version of the outcome of the last four days is that Guru has been able to restore its basics but everything is much more complicated to access than before and I have to wait patiently - I know, I know, patiently is not what I do best in many respects - until he has a window to come here and mend it in situ. (I tried lugging it to him. That was the just partial success I have described). He has had two - at least two - identifiable reactions. 1)He is delighted that I have become so computer-dependent (not even secretly delighted) 2) He is increasingly, but quite sweetly, impatient with my, to him, incomprehensible panic and demands on him. He knows everything is still there, somewhere. I have nothing but my faith in him.

The crisis rather pre-empted my scheme. I had intended to write, straight after the latest post, a piece about hassle avoidance. So I shall move on from the above red ink outburst and give you the suggestions that came to mind. Hassle can be avoided in numerous unsuspected ways. For instance, take the lock off your mobile phone. Instantly, you have one less step before you can activate it. Guru is concerned about what an unlocked phone may get up to in womens' handbags. Take a chance. Live dangerously. Live longer with one hassle less. If the number you rang is engaged, use the 'ring-back' service. It saves your dialling finger and you can go on with the ironing while you wait. (I don't do this. I don't have patience enough to wait, nor ironing since Guru left.) I called in an electrician to arrange for a ground floor switch to operate a lower ground floor corridor light, left on for security, so that I didnt have to 'run' down the stairs every night to switch it off. I have two gadgets to operate the radio in my bedroom, which is also where I've installed my desk and the computer. Why? Well, so I have neither to get off the bed to find it beside the desk, nor leave my desk to find it by the bed: simple, no? My hair-dryer, which used to lie on the floor in the cupboard I call, with all seriousness, my dressing room, now hangs from a hook on the wall. Why? so I don't have to waste the expenditure of an eye-watering sum of money spent on acupuncture continuingly bending down to pick it up. There is a land-line phone in every room. Now you know why: so that I don't have to rush round looking for one. I have been known even to throw money at a problem, so great is my hassle-avoidance drive. Well, taxis, if you must have a for-instance. Yesterday, caught in an unexpected down-pour, I bought an umbrella from a shop I was sheltering near. It makes the 23rd I own: honestly. But no getting wet hassle. Having been advised by the Chinese doctor responsible for the above acupuncture, to sleep with my ankles higher than my hips, I have put redundant phone books under the mattress rather than spend the night chasing the pillow I was supposed to put directly under them - my ankles, that is. I even put nine days worth of tablets in to little pots so I don't have to search them all out, one by one, every morning. (Because that is the number the tray will hold, since you ask.) The list is endless, obsessive even. But I have only so much energy, I am considerably more than three score and ten by now and every little helps. Clearly then, the most efficient way to avoid hassle in my case, would be to throw the computer out of the window. There I've said it. The Wizard is listening. You are listening - I hope - and that's the answer: I am accustomed to having you out there. I don't want to have to do without you, so I shall go on avoiding little hassles in order to keep enough hassle-capacity to cope with the technocological revolution that keeps me in touch with you, Dear Readers, and with loved ones on islands off islands in the far north. Anyway, by the time I have found the key to unlock the padlock that holds the grilles across the window and moved the table to reach the grilles and the window and struggled to open it, the feeling has usually passed. Prynhawn da.

A ps to amuse you: listening on the radio to a pianist playing as I typed, there were about five seconds when he and I were fingering in precise tandem. Awesome.