There was a sudden image. Knowing what I had in mind to put to you, I waited for a title to turn up. I saw a row of doors and that did the trick. The doors are to represent a stage of life. You are not supposed to open the one next to where you find yourself until it is the right moment to do so. It's simple, really. The significant example which comes to mind finds behind it clumsiness. Throughout my middle years I would stand, with impatience politely concealed, in a queue behind an elderly lady paying for goods. Two minutes to undo the zip of her purse, three minutes to count out the money - if she were particularly adept, several more for her to accept and accommodate the change and then do up her zip again. Remember to step backwards as she lumbers round to move away, dropping her stick in the crush. Sometimes, there'd be a hint of rueful smile, as if she knew, but rarely. Thanking Whomever I was not thus incapacitated I would rush through my own transaction and get on with my day .Not any more. That door is open and I am on the other side it. The queue is behind me and, this being the 21st Century, there is rather more obvious impatience breathing down my neck. I was constantly bending down to pick up elderly dropped walking sticks. Would you like to see the batter and bruises on mine?
Another door is marked 'invisibility'. Honestly, I can't remember if I walked straight through the invisible Elderly, pushed passed them and cut them up at the entrance to the Post Office. But I doubt it. Manners were better because they still mattered. Even when the root of good manners is a wish to be acceptable to others, the effect is a good one. Goodness knows why they have, for the most part, ceased to matter. The Guru, very much of this Century, would doubtless postulate that they do still matter: they have just changed. He was jolly cross when I brought out a crossword to do when we were eating together and he brought out his phone to send a text message on it, or receive one. Who knows. It was, in any case, a parallel conversation to the one we were supposed to be having. He could understand the'rudeness' in the crossword but found his own behaviour totally normal. I got one of those eyebrow up, right-one-'ere looks. There are two doors there: 'invisibilty' and 'manners'. It is clear to see, on a daily 'bus queue basis, how I have walked through the door to 'invisibilty': a definite disadvantage. I may still be on the right side of'' manners', though, unless I've walked through the disguised 'it-was-much better-in-my-day' door. How restless I would become on the fringe of a conversation between my Mother and her friends which would inevitably include quite a number of 'good old days' lamentations. Whatever the Past had held, it was certainly a much better place then the Present. I am currently in charge of the scripts of those conversations and regularly read them aloud. Incidentally, I am also invisible in many restaurants. Whether that is age or the woman-on-her-own syndrome or both of the above is irrelevant. I have taken to wearing a dash of the outrageous just as a ya boo and sucks statement. (Is that a ladylike expression?) What do I mean? Well, a scarlet jacket or multi-coloured beads give one a certain je ne sais quoi. Yes I do know: a certain eccentricity. It may be threatening instead but that beats invisible any day.
I once saw a play the set of which consisted of a row of doors. Throughout, the characters dashed in and out of these doors, creating, anyway for me, total chaos and confusion. That's it: a metaphor for life, mine anyway. Prynhawn da