Monday, 31 October 2011


Why would a carton of Grapefruit juice which could be bought, along with two more, for £5 now be part of a trio that costs £6? Inflation is why. It's rather alarming haven't you found? A few posts ago, I think I told you that I purchased a loaf of bread for £1.65 a few yards from where I had rented a flat for £5 a month when I first worked in London. Since that Damascene experience, I have been alert to the increasing nonsense of what things cost currently. One can't buy a birthday card for less than £1 and anything one would want actually to offer one's friends could be double that. When I worked out of London Airport the flying world was plagued by what were called "creeping delays". This disingenous phenomenon was always presented with wide-eyed innocence ."Pan American World Airways announces a delay to Flight number 101 to New york. A further announcement will be made in thirty minutes." "Due to technical difficulties there is a further delay to Flight 101. A further announcement etc etc." You get the idea. Call it creeping or call it inflated there was to be an indeterminate delay to their flight and passengers were helpless to do or know anything more than that. As time went on, there would certainly be an inflation of their impatience. Now, why did that come to mind? Well, I don't always know. This time, however, I do know. I was thinking about what used to be known as Stewardesses, now called Cabin Crew. These young women had to conform to certain weight restrictions. Not in their hand baggage, silly, in their persons. The idea was that there be no danger of them brushing in to aisle-seat passengers by reason of inflated girth. Can you imagine getting away with that now? In some Airlines a pipe cleaner would have difficulty in avoiding the aisle-seat passenger. Political Correctness, Equality and Ethics rule the skies as well as the rest of the world. And no bad thing, I hear you cry.

My own experience of the effect of inflation is rather more mundane. It centres on the area between the top of my legs and my chest. See me sideways and I am 'D'shaped. There is no waist. This ballooning occured over-night. So much so that I hastily sought medical advice. Dear Reader, there is no medical explanation for it. The Good Doctor humoured me in looking in to it because, frankly, he didn't really believe it had appeared from one day to the next. The other day,in a Sale, I tried on a coat. The coat was too big but it was a bargain so... The sales person suggested I put a belt round it. Where? There is nowhere to support a belt, nothing on which it may rest. There have to be hips, pre-supposing a waist, to support a belt. Although I could manage without new clothes for the remainder of my days, some things do need replacing and an inflated view of the importance of appearance for an old lady means that I can't be seen in the usual shabby stand-by another moment. I did buy the coat, as much to confuse the sales-person as for any more rational reason (tautology?) but I shall be seriously uncomfortable with its flapability quotient. There you have it: inflated prices make it very challenging to find suitable winter cover for an inflated waistline. C u soon. Prynhawn da

Sunday, 23 October 2011


Before committing myself to this title, I looked at the catalogue to see if I had used it already. Pithy titles do present themselves but it is not a good look for a blog for them to be too repetitious. I havent, (used it before that is), but I did learn that this will be the one hundred and twentieth post. Thank you for your continuing constancy and,I hope, interest. Anyway, what exercised my thoughts this time was the invisibility of the elderly. I have become so used to it that it has become the backdrop to everyday life, the backdrop you don't notice until someone knocks it down and builds something else in its place. Indeed, my senses dived in to disbelief only yesterday when I crossed a road I have crossed more times than you have looked at the moon to see, opposite me, well, nothing. A whole block of buildings, shops I have known all my London life, gone, disppeared, no more. A building site had taken its place. Something in the quality of light had changed, too. A sense of outrage crept in. No-one warned me, no-one asked me, no- one wondered if I could tolerate a change in vista, a loss of the known, as if I were invisible. Of course, in that regard, not only would I have been invisible, but also non-existant. What impinges on my daily life has rather more of a nuisance quality. Take the Post Office, for instance. I actually purchased a stick which converts in to a seat expressly for use in the Post Office, for the queues in the Post Office, anyway. It's true: that's exactly why I bought the thing. I sit there, propped, dragging it slowly with me as the queue snakes forward, well tortoises forward. Sometimes, on a brave day,I might note the back of the person in front of me, move to the front and sit, motionless, until the back has its turn and then take mine.

But I digress. I approach the Post Office with my usual careful snail gait along with any number of others approaching from the same direction or from some other. They overtake. They push passed. They cut me up without even the excuse of road rage. I am not one of them. I am not seen. The outcome is that, in the passage of seconds, there are six people ahead of me in that queue, although we all arrived at the door together. If it is in the middle of the day, before school is out, there may be only three people through the door at the same time as I, but all at a quicker pace. I am left wishing for a fairy's wand to waft them all into invisiblity. Buses: we Brits no longer queue, (stand in line). There was a time when the saying that one Brit waiting for a bus would form an orderly queue was as it was. Now, it's a herd of me-firsts with the longest legs winning and the push-chair and stick encumbriants waiting, invisibly, for the next bus. On London buses seats nearest the door are reserved for the not-so-able. There are picture icons indicating this, and words, too. Invisible, filled with young able-bodies who cant read neither. I am, though shrunk, not all that small. But people serving in shops can't see me. They see only the young,the middle-aged and men. "Excuse me" becomes my mantra, mounting, decibel by decibel to an un-fairylike shriek which has an effect quite different from that which I desired. One day, I shall let out the raving lunatic inside me, dress all over in pillar-box red, paint my face white, discard the fantasy fairy wand and ditch the stick with a seat for one with a broom. Then I shall be through the doors, transported, served and seen like all you visible mortals. Bora da

Thursday, 13 October 2011


Another way of describing the coalescent, melding me in to a whole, effect of my little pot of tablets, capsules and pills, (see below) would be to call it "Prevention". Triggered by the current intention of the European Community to ban all vitamin and mineral supplements, I made myself think about whether or not they worked. Several factors operate here. I had to bear in mind that I am not great at being told what to do so my thinking could well be influenced by the adrenaline rush of defensive anger that filled me as soon as I heard about it. It was along the lines of: "how dare you tell me what's good for me or not. I've been taking these things for years and I am already double your age". There you have, immediately, another factor. Could I risk giving any of them up? Who knows what might fall off, deteriorate or worse - worse? - if I stopped taking whatever? I am also consoled by routine. How would it feel to have breakfast without the companionship of my little pots - one at a time, of course? Every time I go away I prepare tiny plastic bags of the little dears, one per day, to take with me. I avoid, with the determination of the obsessed, anything which needs taking three times a day, even prescribed by AUTHORITY. I have had no success at all in training myself to remember the midday dose. I can just about deal with bed-time, but not reliably. Recently, for an infected toe, I was prescribed anti-biotics four times a day. The combination of poor arithmetic - lifelong - and poor memory, combined with 'won't, shan't can't make me' made for total chaos and indifferent treatment for the poor, black toe. (It's better now, I hasten to assure you).

I digress. The latter was treatment, not prevention. For decades I have been using an anti-wrinkle cream. The cost was always high, even when I was not only working but also had the support of the Father of my children. The cost has now risen to the price of my Father's first car. (It was a Morris, since you ask, registration number ACY 726. Not bad recall at a distance of 70 years). I have denied myself shampoo, lipstick, steak and champagne in order to go on affording, if that's the word, this preventative miracle. Dear Reader, the last birthday has woken me up. I am not particularly wrinkled, as it happens, but it came to me in a blinding flash, it is too late for prevention. (You may wish to point out a Freudian slip: I should have written:"latest birthday"). I have been aware, since the actual three score and tenth, of some creeping hesitation as I forked out for this motor, I mean product, but only now have I seen the light. What a sense of freedom. Concealed at the back of the top shelf in a bathroom cupboard is a quantity of tiny samples of this and that I have been given over the years. Do you really believe a night cream comes out only after midnight, or would you be prepared to use it as a day moisturiser? Eye cream: will it know the difference if I put it on my cheeks? I have decided that this particular carrier bag full of freebie goodies will easily see me through my remaining years, clear my conscience and prevent on-going foolhardiness and penury. What do you think? Nos da

Wednesday, 5 October 2011


Before you overwhelm me with shouts of "Repetition: you've used that title before," let me assure you, I know. It was a long time ago and referred to quite a different coming together. We can call the current one 'Coalescence 2' if you prefer. But it is lovely to know you are paying attention. Anyway, as I was saying, coming together. Even those of you as un-gifted as I, mathematically speaking, will have worked out that, given the time this blogpost has been running, I can't still be seventy five. Coyly, I have been referring to myself as ' more than three score and ten'. Actually, as we speak, I am seventy eight. No call to change the title of the blog but, maybe, some explanantion as to how I maintain this huge number is due. Dear Reader, in my kitchen is a small round tray. On this tray stand nine small pots ranged in a circle around the edge. In each pot there is a colourful collection of tablets, pills and capsules. Some of them are there courtesy of the NHS,( UK Health Service to kind readers over the Pond)and some, courtesy of various dietary experts, alternative health carers and sheer desperation. Every nine days I refill the, by now, empty pots and go through the cycle again. The point of the title has emerged. This collection is keeping me together. My coalescence depends on the interaction of pharmaceutics, herbs, minerals and vitamins contained in the little brown pots lying on their tray on the designated kitchen worktop.

The Guru has another Godmother, even older than I, who, one otherwise innocuous day, suddenly decided to stop taking even her prescribed medecine. Nothing changed. Her health continued at the same level it had throughout all the years of pill-taking. Now, I do not aspire to that level of Chutzpah, but, I do ask myself if there may not be a more profitable way to spend the hour or so it takes me every nine days to prepare those potions. The trouble would be dealing with mind over matter. Recently, I was warned there may be a behind- the- scenes problem with my eyes. Naturally, with no test, no confirmation, nothing yet diagnosed, I now don't see as well as I did. (I do have a diagnosis, as it happens, it is called 'auto-suggestion'). Stated baldly, what if my pots do contain the concatenation of my coalescence? Surely, it would be better to go on taking them than to watch bits of me fall off, one after the other, for deprivation of magnesium, propolis, vitamin C and so on and so on. In the first Coalescence post, I gave the example of mayonnaise: a coalescence of eggs, oil, a touch of seasoning and a lot of patience. There would be no mayonnaise without one or other of these components, now would there. You would have a puddle of olive oil, a mess of eggs and a dirty bowl.The mind boggles. Since I wish to be neither a puddle of oil nor unscrambled eggs in a dirty bowl, I have constrained myself to go on taking the pills - and tablets and capsules - until I coalesce in to a pile of ash on the Crematorium floor. Bora da