Friday, 27 April 2012


I am quite discombobulated. The 'Blogger' format has changed. At my age all change is guilty until proven innocent. I've established that there is still a 'Save' click-on and still a 'Publish', all up instead of down and much paler than I remember. Maybe ink is costing more or it's cost-effective to discombobulate or both of the above.It also says 'Preview' and 'Close.' What on earth could they mean? Anyway, if the Wizard of Cyberspace allows me to get to the end of this post, we shall discover if what you see out there, particularly in Mountain View California, stays the same. Seriously, though, change is practically non-negotiable when you are seven score and more than ten years - much. The change which got me to the computer is about tadpoles. One of Liz's eyes now houses two tadpoles. This is change in spades - well, baby frogs, let's say. The Father of my Children had this same experience and was then discovered to have a detached retina. Because of what he went through,it was Post Haste to the Doctor. From hence booked in to the eye clinic; on Saturday morning, if you please. That surely makes it serious, doesn't it? No, of course it doesn't, merely precautionary. I am quite happy to house un-serious tadpoles, or even frogs, come to that, but I'd rather not detach my retina. Himself spent weeks upside down on his bed. What would happen to my beloved four-legged best friend? Equally, my lodger, my campers, the washing machine? I did try washing them off my fringe, wiping off my mascara, putting drops in my eyes. Nothing worked. Thus, to the medics went I. (Something to do with Shakespeare's birthday, I suspect in my verb inversion) Think of me, to-morrow morning, no make-up - because they put drops in your eyes, silly - and no car because you can't see properly for several hours after they look in to the nethers of your optics. Which brings me to another change. Walking down to the hospital, I shall catch sight, in the various shop windows I pass, of this waddly old lady lurching along, the be-prammed babies staring at her third leg, and wonder where went the elegant stride of yesteryear; off with the melted snows, I suppose. I watch people walking on the open land opposite where I live and follow the known paths with my inner eye - the one without the tadpoles - and feel quite jealous. More, my curly hair has stopped being curly. It has more or less agreed to keep its colour but it has given up its mojo. The man who cuts it has at last given in and given it a shape that doesn't depend on curl. Relief all round, though a very different look in the mirror and a very different technique with the brush. I like it. Not one person dear to me whom I have seen since this catastrophic reversal has even noticed. I am both changed and invisible. A waddling, three-legged tadpole-housing eccentric blogger with straight hair who can't tell, from the new format, how much she has written. Perhaps, when I eventually turn in to a frog someone will kiss me and turn me in to a Princess. That'll do nicely. Nos da.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012


There's a thing:in more than three score and ten years, you'd expect me to have experienced more than a few misunderstandings. I confess, I would more readily expect them to have occured in my forties than my seventies. However,it seems age offers no protection and the part of me that is still forty is more than capable of suffering them, currently. Example: friends invited me to the National Film Theatre at the weekend. We went to see "La Grande Illusion". I was passionately in love with the lead actor, one Jean Gabin, in my susceptible teens. I saw it, then, many times, for that reason. Now, it was time to see it as a work of art and an ageless plea for what I can only and simply call peace and, sadly, the illusion, only, that this may be possible. For reasons I won't go in to, the day had had its stresses. Some of them had translated in to a great deal of physical movement involving cardboard boxes, cars, storage and the like. Geographically, this had left me, lunchless, quite near the NFT, but early: time enough to eat. There followed two battles. One with the jobsworth keeper of the barrier in to the complex including the NFT and the National Theatre. He didn't want me to come in without the ticket my friends were holding. That battle I won by the little old lady method. It can work even better than the eye-lash flutter used to. Battle number two was to get the tea I craved in a restaurant that, 23 seconds before, had started its dinner menu. More little old lady. I won again but three waiters and a Manager later. Hunger satisfied it remained only to negotiate the NFT's many stairs. Needing a response to Nature's call, I was thrilled to see a door, on the same level, with the Disabled symbol on it. I rushed over in and for relief. I was intercepted by a large man who, again, asked for my ticket. Appalled, I said, again, that my friends were waiting outside with it. Patiently it was explained I could'nt go in without a ticket. My Russian blood - as my Mother would say - was up and he suffered a diatribe about little old ladies and disabled loos. Without a word, he opened the door and I saw the inside of the Theatre. No loo, no stairs, simply an entrance for those who couldn't manage the climb. Oh Dear.

The next is even more lost in translation. To-morrow, I am responsible for a poetry reading during lunch hour. These events are usually attended by two women and a cat but require the same preparation as one would afford a National Theatre production. My inner world has created many impediments to doing this properly so it has been a very last minute pulling myself together. The good, patient lady who is the over-all organiser was to print programmes. She needed the material. I had made five, yes, five attempts to collate and type the list presentably, fighting with the word processor facility all the way. It even had the nerve to take over the enumeration when it hadn't been asked to. Anyway, at the fifth attempt, I left all numbers out and, at last, managed a fair copy. I rang her to see how I could get it to her. "Email it", quoth she. From Word Processor to Email? Not in my lifetime. Print, read out,fax, drive over, but re-do it on an email? A bad joke. (I know: no verb).Dear Reader, she actually managed to talk me through how to transfer from one medium to the other. Not, however, before the MISUNDERSTANDING. "Put the cursor in the middle of the space where you would normally send an email". Yes dear. However, this brought the material into the space for hiding recipients, BCC I believe it's called. It took more than a few goes but, having, at last,tried putting the cursor in the top left hand corner, where I normally start "Dear Guru", for instance, it worked. I wish I could say I was proud. I'm not. I'm exhausted.

Finally: there are three young men living in the house. (Don't even go there. The explanation is more than my blogsworth). A cry from one of them, the longest incumbant; where are his violet underpants? Text messages all round but, clearly, neither of the other two is in a position to look and see if he has misunderstood whose underpants are whose. Nos da

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Love, again

It wouldn't be surprising if someone of my great age would feel she had plenty to say about love. Those dear, faithful readers who have been kind enough to keep up will remember that there have been previous wanderings in to this particular minefield. However, there will be more to say on the subject than is dreamt of in anyone's philosophy and I don't see why a concern about presumption should inhibit me.
As I was saying: love. Today's impulse was occasioned by a recent paschal visit to my homeland.That visit deserves a post all of its own. After all, not everyone is driven eighteen miles out of town to buy a leg of Welsh lamb from the best butcher in the Principality. That will have to do for the moment, though. During the visit, my chauffeur and I met some old friends of his who have, I am delighted to note, become friends of mine. Indeed, they undertook to be guardians to my rocking chair when I made the final move from the domestic toe-hold I had kept in the land of leeks and daffodils long after it had ceased to be economically viable. Pause for a green ink moment:in that town, there is an embargo on the hiring of cars by those of us passed the middle of the eigth decade, so no train and car combo possible. Driving all the way from London is exhausting but a car is virtually essential at the other end; result: stalemate or a generous son who also has a touch of hiraeth for the old place. He drove. During dinner with our friends, it emerged that, recently, the lady had had a difficult time. She had lost her parents only a few months before. She told us that having been extrememly close for nearly sixty years, they died on the same day. Someone of my temperament, or any nosey-parker, for that matter,would have found it very difficult to leave it there. I didn't. I asked how that had happened. She told us her Mother telephoned her from the town 50 miles away where she lived, to say that she had called an ambulance for her Father because she was very concerned about his health. This lady was of the nature that simply never felt able to bother the Doctor so my friend at once understood the real severity of the emergency. She alerted her sister who lived near their parents, That lady went straight round to her parents' house. Receiving no reply to her knock, she assumed her Mother had gone in the ambulance, too, and drove on to the hospital, believing she would find her Mother there. She was not. The news was broken that her father had died actually in the ambulance so she rushed back to the parental home. Letting herself in, she found her Mother dead on the floor with the telephone, open, in her hand. It is more than likely that each had died at the same moment as the other.Thus, each was spared the knowledge that the other had died.I am tempted to say " the conscious knowledge" because who knows what the depth of their loving connection might have made possible? The story appeared in the National newspapers. I don't think I saw it but then I would not have been aware of my friend's maiden name if I had.
I found the story beautiful and poignant and full of hope. I was envious, too. How blessed one would be to experience such a profound, mutual love no matter from what source. The awareness that it is too late, at more than three score and ten, to expect to be blessed with some of life's most exquisite experiences remains intellectual, stays in the head, until such a story emerges. Then it moves from the head to the heart. Bore da