Friday, 24 February 2012


It seems only fair, having used "Under Milk Wood" and my view of the Welsh character, to point up the need in all - most - of us for a bit of bad news gossip, that I should counter-balance this with an example of quite a different take on the world. If you have been kind enough to keep up, you will know that I have a fairly strong connection to the way things work for Buddhists. Recently, I was at one of the Buddhist centres around London. I was greeted by a young, female Nun in a state of great excitement. She was off to Scotland in a 'bus over night that very night. She had'nt done that before and her pleasurable anticipation was palpable and rather touching. After she had left me, her arms full of things to take with her, several other people came up to me and gave me the same exciting news. Her joy in her adventure was shared and delighted in by the entire community. For myself, the thought of a night in a 'bus brought up the opposite of joyful anticipation. I do prefer a room and a bed and a ticking clock and not too many other people to share my night, anyway, with two legs. I had taken with me a little offering of snowdrops, plucked from my small garden. He- to- whom- they- were- offered found an egg-cup to house them and then put them on the desk of the presiding Lama. It seems a blessing lies in giving someone the chance of doing a good thing for another. This blessing is called a Merit. Two people benefit. One, in this case me, from creating an opportunity to obtain a Merit - the giving on of the flowers, and the other for the one who chose not to hold on to the gift but to present it to someone else. Still with me? I suspect I have taken us through this complex, simple notion before. It still fascinates me. Perhaps it is not unlike the Hebrew 'Mitzvah'. But there was none of the eager 'what happened next' thirst of the thrill-seeking Gossips of my youth. No secretly cynical view of the Nun's innocent excitement at what may have been seen as a fairly prosaic and not very comfortable way to spend a whole night.
Thinking of cynicism has brought to mind one of the most blatant examples I have encountered in my celebrated more than three score and ten years. Two months ago, turning left at lights, a car which had been waiting beside me in the right lane also turned left and went in to me. So far so straight forward, or left turning, if you will. I stopped, with damage to my wheel arch. He continued for a few seconds with the result that his car was damaged along the entire side. It now turns out that, in his account, he has up-ended the map of the location where this occured. He avers we were on the opposite road coming from the opposite direction. He says I was in the left lane, and that I tried to turn right and thus went in to him; all this on the other side of the intersection from where we actually were. The enormity of this chutzpah is beyond my capacity to take in. I have offered to swear under oath to my version of events so we shall see what happens next. In fact, I also offered to ring up the Queen if that would help, getting quite Alice in Wonderland in my frustration, but my Insurers felt she probably had enough on her plate what with Jubilees and Olympics. You must be thinking that Liz too often loses her capacity to see the fun in stuff. I promise to try harder to laugh at life if you promise not to look for the bad news too often. Prynhawn da

Tuesday, 14 February 2012


The difficulty with'amateur' is that it has picked up a pejorative significance. I am thinking of it more literally, as something done for love. I do love Dylan Thomas's play for voices," Under Milk Wood". Recently, I took part in a rehearsed reading of it put on by a local amateur theatrical group. (I can't think why you are so surprised. Liz is not nailed to the computer thinking up blog posts, you know). Anyway,that is what happened, I took part. What wouldn't surprise you is that "Under MIlk Wood" should rank second only to Messiah in my must-have list. In case you have no reason to be aware of its provenance, I should explain that it is about a day in a Welsh Village inhabited by what this Welshman has always seen as typical Welsh characters. A harsher, more dispassionate evaluator, may see the characters as borderline stereotypical but, so what. There is rather a thin line between essence and stereotype, wouldn't you agree? Anyway, going with the essence approach, there are, represented, many figures only too recognisable from a life up to late teen-age spent among them. It's the gossip which springs primarily to mind. As a matter of fact, both gossip and Gossip. Even after I left my parents' home to go to University, during weekend visits I was expected to go to the local Cafe and rendezvous with my Mother's friends to hear and furnish the news. My observation was that these ladies enjoyed my news only when it was bad. Good news was greeted with a thin smile and an instant implication of 'let's move on'. Bad news was greeted eagerly, excitedly with a demand for more details. These were not basically bad people. After all, in our hearts, we all know that bad news is more gripping than good. They were just unconsciously innocent about letting it be seen that it were so. There is irony, meanness and also compassion in my experience of the Welsh character. They may gloat, not all that secretly, over your downfall but they would fall over each other with bowls of soup were you to be too ill to make it for yourself. The Welsh couldn't claim exclusivity in the area of compulsive, obsessive behavior, neither. However, there is rather a lot of it about west of Bristol and north of Chester. In the play, Mrs Ogmore Pritchard, widow, twice, of Mr.Ogmore and Mr Pritchard presents a portrait of obsessive, compulsive disorder which out-clarifies all the psychiatric definitions I have ever come across.For instance, "Put you pyjamas in the drawer marked pyjamas". "Before you let the sun in, mind it wipes its shoes". Get it?
Sadly, the stock of the soup of Thomas's work in this particular production had nowhere near the intensity it not only needed but deserved. The several exceptions served only to unbalance the whole by pointing out how things could and should have sounded. It is hard when someone takes the ball of your passion and runs away with it to play a game foreign to you. I doubt I behaved as I would have liked. In fact, I gave up and detached myself, torn between my instinct and familiarity with the work, and the direction, which I allowed to take away my spontaneity so that I did neither what I was told nor what I had been able to do so often in the play in the past. The venue was icy and the outside temperature only a touch warmer. The audiences were, therefore, not huge and I am not aware of the presence of any that were Welsh. So, not that serious, then. There you are, you see: As I told you, news is interesting only if it's bad. Therefore, I must now add that there was fun in it and new friendships and I learned a great deal. For instance, amateur must always mean 'for love', not 'unprofessional'. I must do as I'm told. I must carry on blogging.I must be less obsessively compulsive about, well, everything, and I must name a drawer'pyjamas' so I can put my pyjamas in it. Prynhawn da
PS. I'd love to know more about my reader in Mountain View California. Would you add a comment or email to: Of course, maintain the mystery if you prefer!

Thursday, 2 February 2012


You will be sympathetic to know that Liz had been laid low with a lurgie these last few days. How bad it was, in reality, is hard to assess. The first day I got up and prepared for a normal day when I realised that I was still sitting on the bed pulling on a sock five minutes after that manoeuvre had been initiated. I reversed the process, removed my upper and outer garments, too, and got back in to the bed. The next day I reviewed my situation and realised that, were I to have an exam that day, I would certainly have been able to get it together and present myself as required. However, I have not had to take an exam for about fifty five years so there was no incentive in that category. I have, however, experienced similar situations. Fifty years ago, I had my first child. The day after his arrival was certainly comparable with the day after exams. There was the most delicious feeling of 'it's over. It's done. I 've got through' I'm not sure about flying colours but I am quite sure about blood and sweat; tears, too, of joy and relief that there were ten of all that should be ten and four of all that should be four and a complement of accessories, as in eyes and nose and the like. Today, I arose and prepared myself as if for a normal very-well-thank-you day. As it happens, I don't feel all that well but the spirit feels better upright than prone. There is no rehearsal for being three score and more than ten and, when I feel poorly, I am always wondering how much is due to virus and how much to antiquity. The Father of my children is four score. He would be a good reference point but he is in such robust good health that he is disqualified - unqualified? - from being a role model. There is no rehearsal for first time childbirth , neither. Several miscarriages gave me a clip but there was no way to pre-see the whole film. Fortunately, if one goes on to have more than one child, the first can serve as a good run-through of what to expect. How is it I can remember every moment of that birth from forty nine years, eleven months and two days ago when I can't remember what I had for breakfast this morning? (Yes, I can. It was just a poetically licenced way to put short-term memory loss).

Liz has another reason for being up and about, today. There is to be a rehearsal of "Under Milk Wood" this evening. Adult for the last circa sixty years, but still influenced by maternal counsel, I am doubtful about staying in all day and then going out in the freezing night air to attend. I have to be particularly careful because, not having been assigned the part I aspired to and saw myself as best qualified for, my inner world may conspire to make me forget to go or raise my temperature back up so that even this matyr could not possibly go out. The fact that one is particularly well related to one's unconscious rarely precludes its doing what it likes to achieve what it really wants, no matter what, I've found, haven't you? Illness is a very reliable way to make an I-don't-really-want-to statement. I believe there is a way in which the inner world does offer the possibility of serving as a rehearsal for life. As in: I will try out whether this is the right thing for me and if I break a leg so that I can't proceed I shall know it is not. Someone I know quite well complained, for a long time, of a stiff neck. Movement was difficult and she was in constant pain. On top of that, she had a very demanding job and a toddler with the usual NO, WONT,SHANT, CANT MAKE ME position in life. She tried everything you would expect her to try and it was not until it was pointed out to her that her life was a pain in the neck that she began to feel any relief. Anyway, I shall apply my poorly self to my disappointed role. As in life, keep a sharp eye out for hidden signposts and hope, that in spite of poorly understood and under-appreciated rehearsals, it will be alright on the night. Prynhawn da.