Friday 20 January 2012


As you will have gathered, since the Guru moved on and out, I have been living alone. No, of course I havent, I have continued to live with she-who-had-been the third member of the household, the CAT. ( Why capital letters? To signify her importance is why.)Now, you will also have noticed the increase in computer and, indeed, other- generated hassle since his departure. This category of learn-to-manage will be common to all of us who live alone so add the mobility problems of the elderly and you will have a clearer picture of the constant challenge of everyday life in Liz's current household. Example:I have a microwave oven. It is nicely built in to a special recess in the kitchen. Except it isn't. For some reason beyond my capacity to fathom, it has slipped backwards in to its recess.This has made evident that it is standing on a platform. The platform hadn't moved, at least until I interfered with it. The Micro is, therefore, balanced half on and half off its platform; teetering would be the word were it to regress even further. What is needed is one pair of hands to steady the platform - do I mean shelf? - and another to lift the oven so that the shelf can be secured in its staus quo ante and the micro replaced on top of it, flush with the surrounding fittings. I know, I know: too much information. Suffice it, then, to say that I am having to deal with the aesthetic discomfort and efficiency deficit in my kitchen every time I go in there. On top of that, a collection of many years of dust was exposed as the machine crept ever further backwards and the revealed space is thinner than the hand which wants to get in and clean it. There is good news. The machine, itself, continues to work so that I can defrost bread and reheat left-overs without interuption.

I am not sure that this situation qualifies absolutely under the thesis heading 75 going on 40. After all, the problem would be the same whatever the chronological age of the householder living alone. It's just that I didn't live alone when I was chronologically 40. Another thing that impacts on my life is a shortage of support. A few nights ago I went to a concert. The venue was not full and I was sitting in an aisle seat with a short empty row beside me. In front of me was a man in the same position, aisle seat, empty short row. He had placed his raincoat over the back of his seat and it was resting on my lap. With the utmost courtesy, I leaned forward and asked him if he would be kind enough to move his coat which was visibly resting on my knees. He swung right round, dragged his coat away and said " and that's a ghastly hat you are wearing. Thank God I don't have to look at it". I should explain that Liz wears a beret when her hair is not fit to be seen in public. The beret is black, innocuous and infinitely more appealing than elderly hair due for a wash. With presence of mind I would have given a month's salary for back in the day, I replied that it was, indeed ghastly - I lied - but better than what was underneath and, in that he didnt have eyes in the back of his head, he shouldn't be too worried. What I forbore to tell him was that my little heart was thumping and I was left feeling thoroughly nauseous. At this point, I could have done with a supportive companion to look-here-my-man him. Whatever button I had pushed to bring that on my head - literally - I can't imagine. The story has a happier ending than that of the microwave, as it happens. At the interval in the concert, the man turned round and asked me how I had enjoyed the second, potentially challenging, piece. This was one of the more innovative ways I have encountered in more than three score years and ten of saying "I was out of order. Please forgive me." Anyway, I did forgive him, though I was tempted to say that I didn't want to engage with a man who had shaved his head down to a micro-millimetre of grey hair and had the gall to talk to a lady whose evening he had done his best to ruin. There is a rather nice synchronicity between the microwave struggling to do its thing with some grave handicap and the 40/75 year old with a similar struggle. The microwave oven still works, though on a rocky base. Apparently, so do the manners of a well-brought- up lady on an even rockier base. Prynhawn da.


Anonymous said...

Can't believe how polite you were to that awful man - I think I would have exploded, but obviously paid off. Well done, Liz! And thanks for the lovely stories!

Anonymous said...

Life and people can be trying at any age I think but you certainly positvely enhance my life experience with your blog. Thank you.