Saturday, 28 December 2013

Delights and Dislights

For someone who thrives on routine and ritual, the current ten Sundays in a row - from Christmas Eve to the second of January of course - are  trying, to say the least. I am ready for a sabbatical from Sabaths, particularly since, at my age, the last lot feel like only a month or so ago. I think I must never have lost that baby thing when you begin to realise that the a) of hunger will be met by the b) of lunch in what one would see as the inevitable if one were old and sophisticated enough to know the concept and, thus, the word for it. Anyway, on my eve of New Year's list of cons and pros, ten days of Sundays are conissimo. During the enforced idleness I have been reviewing the pleasures and displeasures from the vantage point of three score and many more then ten to see how they differ from those of two score. I start with the toughest of them all: the Wizard of Cyberspace. I hardly dare to put his name to paper so superstitious of his power am I, but I feel it's only fair to tell you that this very enterprise has already come a cropper once. Just as I was luxuriating in a reliving of my first delight, with two fell swoops all was eradicated. Somehow, somewhere  I seem to bring my wrist down on the bottom of the keyboard and the screen of prose flows straight out in to the ether. I may have pressed a neurotic fifty times on 'save': saved it has not. The Guru says I must have done something. I know not what. I wish I did. Anyway, I had been telling you of the great pleasure of getting up in the middle of the night to find it is 4.10 am and I can crawl back in to the lovely warm nest for lots more night. When I was forty, I would rail against the middle of the night wake up call, now I actively will myself to do so simply for that delicious gift of more bedtime. Elderflower cordial when I am thirsty comes close to re-bedding. Milk choclate with nuts will do it for me, too, although, truth be told, that delight comes with a contra-indication because I am left feeling slightly nauseous. There is delight in watching my cat watch me prepare for bed and as soon as I am in and stationary leaping on top of me to settle for the night. She is the beater when it comes to routine and ritual; from under the bedside lamp,she picks her way through and around the impedimenta on the bedside table and lands on top of me, always with her back to me although she is always front ways up during the day. People who are close to me hesitate to have work done in their house which  would necessitate moving out for a time because their seriously ancient cat's life is so ruled by ritual that there is only one side of the staircase she will walk down and relocating is, therefore, out of the question.

Of dontlights there are so many I don't know where to start. If I weren't too afraid of his power to name him, You Know Who would be high on the list.  I dislike being called 'Liz' or even 'Elizabeth' by the young lady on the Gas Board switchboard. However, I lack the courage to say, "I prefer,' Mrs. Mountford' if you please".I don't like stepping out of a warm shower in to a cool rest of bathroom. I don't like brown envelopes and I like even less postmen who leave a card saying they have taken my parcel away because I wasn't in to receive it. Yes I was and, no, he didnt ring the bell. I don't like sprouts and at my age I don't have to eat them. I hate narrow, steep stairs and have to choose restaurants by the location of their facilities. 

These are a few of my favourite things and rather fewer of my unfavourites. More to follow one of these days. Prynhawn da. PS I do like blogging.

Monday, 2 December 2013


Alright: on the bullet I have bitten. (No preposition at the end, you will note.) The particular bullet on which I have bitten is, in truth, about the real size and shape of a bullet but soft and malleable. I have , at last, put the hearing aids the NHS so generously gave me to their proper use, that is, in my ears. You have no idea what a noisy world we live in. On my return from the audiology department at my local hospital I was in the bathroom when I heard the loudest most racous meow I had ever experienced. I tore back down the stairs - well, lumbered actually - to see what harm had befallen my beloved cat to find her standing there, merely trying to establish where she could find me. The bedside clock has been banished  to a distant drawer and the radio reduced to about 50 whatevers of volume: (around 72, since you ask.) Turning the pages of the newspaper makes a  sound like a ship's cable being pulled through the door which houses the anchor. I am more than somewhat disillusioned. I thought of cat-faced-darling as having a very ladylike turn of speech. In fact, she sounds like an inebriated young supporter of a losing football side. Don't get me wrong. I still adore her. I just wish she would talk a bit less - and quietly. I have yet to put this development to the Hospital Enquiry Desk test. I am hopeful that I shall hear my enquirers the first time they ask me something  Up until now, I have been relying on guesswork and hope.

Life management has had to change. Get up at least ten  minutes earlier than erstwhile to allow insertion time. Hair spray before they go in and wait until it dries,  so as not to contaminate the little dears, of course. No adjustment to styling once equipped otherwise I might catch the relevant bit in the brush and have it speared on a bristle. My aids appear to have no controls other than in or out, loud or louder.  My colleague at the Enquiry Desk has three adjustments, one of which cuts out extraneous background noise. She acquired her aids from the same source so I shall have to look in to my seeming deprivation. Talk about " you gave her a bigger slice of cake than you gave me". Along with "you said" that must be the most frequent of childhood complaints. Another extraordinary happenning: having experienced the greater clarity and underlying scratch of everyday life, I somehow expected to be seeing better, too. This was absolute nonsense, of course, but I keep telling you directly or by implication how both complex and straightforward is the inner world and here is yet another example. All this started only five days ago and I am rather proud of how I have adapted. The instruction book tells me to try an hour or so at a time, inside and out, but I have had them in all day every day since the beginning. Oh dear: I was tempted to say 'ab inititio', a phrase I havent thought of since I left University. Perhaps my sight is unaffected but my superiority complex is not.  Sseriously, though, without having, anyway consciously, noticed a dampening effect on my confidence of the nodding and smiling response which goes with a degree of deafness, I do seem to have grown cheekier in the last five days. "There's nowt so queer as folk" as they say up North...".nothing so odd as people", for those of you in Mountview California. Bore da

Friday, 22 November 2013


Earlier in the week, those of you with the necessary skills will have noticed an alert, other than my own, to a new blog post. I had come within a whisker of finishing it when the Wizard of Cyberspace waved a wand and the whole thing vanished. Disgruntlement has delayed my making good the loss but I feel strong enough this morning to have another go. I have it from a very reliable source that I must have touched the space bar. Well, of course I touched the space bar otherwiseeverythingwould have runintoitself. Anyway, please be good enough to keep your fingers crossed or light a candle to the Wizard or whatever voodoo best fits your hope application that he will allow me to finish this time. One more thought: where the D...l is the stuff 'saved' if it goes in to cyberspace at one fleeting touch?

I had written about blessings. It seemed a good idea because I have spent an inordinate amount of time looking at the diasadvantages of living in a body that is three score and many. It was/is about time I looked at the advantages.  Milk is homogenised. I no longer have to scrape a disgusting skin off my hot choclate. I don't have to eat my greens. What possible good can greens do for me at this stage? (Rhetorical: please don't send volumes of green-eating pluses though comments on anything else seriously welcomed.) I am more comfortable in my skin. I rarely feel slighted.. When I first started work at the local hospital, I was under a mentor who had a particular characteristic. Of ten proceedures I would get nine right and she would comment on the tenth. My bristles remembered how they used to feel but remained dormant. Presently, she stopped. Either I was doing well enough or she was bored with teaching me.. According to maternal advice one shouldn't wash one's hair on certain days of the month. I can wash my hair when I like. Come to that, there are no certain days of the month. There are no more aunts to write to to keep in touch or thank for presents; what my young used to call "Grandma letters". When I do write 'thank you' letters it is out of joy not duty. I can dye my eyelashes. This started when I used to have swimming-type summer holidays  and wished to have some definition of my eyes in this raw, wet state. People started telling me how well I looked so I have kept it up. Being vain at my age is very different from being vain at forty. I give the impression that I know a lot. I don't. My memory is very full of all sorts of information.When the old man in the archive can access it it does seem like erudition not just memory. I am braver. I can give my symptoms to a male receptionist in the Gynaegology Department  of the hospital without flinching, though I have to say, it is taking equal rights a bit far to instal a male in that situation. There you have it: equal rights.  Women knew their place until a certain number of years ago (.Mind you, an ardent feminist of my acquaintance at that period called her brother to remove the offering of a mouse the cat had brought her).  I was seen as a rebellious nuisance back then. Now I am just a liberated woman. Bora da
ps Made it. Publish quickly before You Know Who notices


Sunday, 10 November 2013


  Yesterday was 'B', or Big Day, in the Bloggers' world. We came from near and far and even further to attend a Blogfest, meet our peers and increase our education, thereby, increasing our fulfillment in and our capcity to communicate through our blogs. For the most part we were  women. That is, each woman was entirely a woman, so far as I could tell.  What I meant was,the constituency was made up mainly of women. I make this pedantic point because, for me, one of the sessions that had the most impact dealt with the unmitigated glory of technology, that is, the internet, in the education of the young. Does the computer go on about the order of words in a sentence and the way meaning is conveyed? Of course it does if you ask it to. What it doesn't do is lighten your day with the sight of the teacher whose skirt is tucked in to her knickers at the back where you can see it as she stands at the blackboard but, clearly, she can't. Nor can you bring it an apple or flowers at the end of term.  We were offered impressive examples of how the world was opened to pupils who, otherwise, were missing the lifeblood of education. My growing and physical discomfort culminated in a question which I wrote down in order to be secure in asking it, in spite of a serious attack of performance anxiety. (Those of you loyal and tender readers, may remember, part of my professional life was treating performing musicians for just that complaint, which the older among you may well call 'stagefright.' Odd what a refining up will do to the name of a condition; as in 'laryngitis' versus 'sore throat.'). The question was:  how did the Speaker and the Panel see the contribution of human relations in the Cyberworld? Where was the place for them and, indeed, the time? Dear Reader, there was no Q and A slot. I would have asked it in a genuine 'want-to-know way'. I felt alarmed and saddened and intensely concerned. Of course, no-one seriously expects Cyberspace to obliterate human relations. But hang on a minute isn't that more or less implicit in what the eminent professor has just said; in a confined arena, education, it's true, and formal education at that?. But education makes an impact and here you have a very worried old lady. Will there be generations who communicate only via keyboards and Smart  whatevers? Oh Dear, I am in danger of ruining  Sunday. Happily, that was the most challenging event in an otherwise brilliant and superbly well organised day. I can't wait until next year....if I'm spared, that is. Can't maake too many plans at my great age.

To change the lilt, I shall report on a lighter note. I have cards with all my details and contacts on them.: pure Downton Abbey. Some also have the link to 75 going on 40. In the early morning rush, I couldn't find those so, in the Minicab taking me to the venue, I wrote the link in ink. Arthritic hands, jerky drive, you get the picture. When I arrived I was presented with a gadget with my name and the name of my blog on it, about the size of a large credit card, on a lanyard to put around one's neck. This gadget, when tapped by another's, would recall all the protaganists details, down, I believe, to the name of the store from which one bought one's underwear.( "Don't we all" as Lady Thatcher once said.)  So much for giddy-making illegibility and old-fashioned old lady communication. Bore da.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013


The mysterious question of mind over matter: I have been thinking about this for as long as I can remember. It really is the most challenging of phenomena. (Actually, I suspect the true plural of 'placebo' to be 'placebi', but I am not going to get off my chair, find the dictionary and look it up - nor search-engine it. Why not the latter? Because, the moment my back is turned, the jolly old Wizard will take this page away to the waste-paper basket of Cyberspace to which only he, and sometimes the Guru, has the key. Good Lord, he may even shred it.) That having been acknowledged, I will proceed. Before my illness of last year, I had taken to the application of Chinese Herbal pain patches, placed directly on and over an area of pain, inevitably on my back. Having fulfilled the prophesy that it would take me a year fully to recover, I found myself, twelve months later, in the course of a little tidy up, confronted by the bright orange packets in which they came. Delighted, I immediately applied one. It occured to me that it was thinner than I had recalled but, never mind, my back felt instantly better and I did my trolley-dolly thing with the hospital mobile library much more comfortably and came home much less achy. Then I  took the patch off in order to shower. Assiduously, I went to replace it once clean and dried - me, not the patch. Dear Reader, I had applied straight to my skin the sticky plaster that was meant to keep the patch in its place. Of course it was thinner than I remembered. It wasn't the goods at all. Now, I had enjoyed a day of minimalised pain through the medium of a sticky device designed purely as a fail safe for the nice thick, herby patch otherwise at risk of detachment every time one pulled one's underwear up or down. There you have it, incontravertable, the placebo effect. In defence of my inner world,  or unconscious as some may have it, I should tell you that the real thing did make my back feel even better - or was that the placebo effect times two?

I suppose the first palcebo effect comes with a baby's dummy. (I forget what that would be called in Mountview California: comforter, perhaps). I do wonder what the pre-verbal little one makes of this substitute for Mother's breast. Is he/she aware that this is not the real thing? Is there an inner world discussion, in pictures, of course? For example: " I am confused. It felt softer and smelt nicer and produced the goods more readily - at all - that time before last when it was too dark to see but everything smelt correct" I have to confess I can't picture those pictures. But the child does feel pacified by this device, at least for some of the time and for some varying periods. In retrospect, I have a bad conscience about offering these to my children. I can see how it could sew the seeds of disaffection and lack of trust once the capacity to tell one from the other evolved. Oh dear! I seem, inadvertantly, to have uncovered a major factor in the struggle between the generations. As in: " My Mother misled me in to believing that great thick rubber thing was, truly, the Holy Grail of babyhood when it didnt even taste the same." It doesn't bear thinking about. At my great age substitutes are harder to come by.  I think I'll go and have a cup of coffee - no, I don't smoke - and pray for the placebo effect. Bora da.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013


Perhaps someone out there will tell me if I have just invented the word "compassless" for my title or whether it is already tried and true. No, I am not going to have recourse to the dictionary. It's allowable for help with the crossword but, otherwise, the rule is I have to rely on memory and the old man in the archive of my internal lexicon. I don't know why there is such a rule. I simply obey it. The truth is I find my self lost in cyberspace without benefit of compass. To expand: recently I sought to order some provisions on-line. I had in mind disinfectant wipes that are very useful in any cat-owned home. Looking at the little pictures accompanying the choices, I opted for a special offer pack of two. That's what I thought I opted for. What turned up in the delivery was a huge box containing fifty of the damned packs. Never mind open it, I couldn't even lift it. If my beloved cat and I were to live to one hundred and fifty four we would just about get through them. The next hurdle was telephoning the supplier to see if they could be given back. Don't laugh. I wager there is not one among you who has not spent half a lifetime ringing an organisation with thirty eight options to press in the comforting knowledge that they value your call. Some considerable time and three Customer Servicers later, they had agreed to take them back.  By this time, the cost of the 0845 phone call had crept up to the cost of the goods. Well, I exagerate, but I am sure you know the feeling.

Far more serious was my attempt, myself, to book a flight on line. Everything went swimmingly right up to "your order is confirmed. please print etc etc". I was so keen to show off to the Guru I telephoned him at work, making his praise rather curter than I would have liked. Several days later I gathered the print-off to put ready in my going-away handbag. Dear Reader, I had booked the wrong day.  I put in the right date but the wrong day, as in Sunday 14th, when Sunday was the 15th. Naturally, the Wizard of Cyberspace, or his amanuensis, picked up the date and not the day. I know, I know. You don't know anyone who could have been that witless. On my knees, even tough unseen by them, I begged the Airline to let me change the ticket. Absolutely no chance. I tried many times, hoping to reach a flexible human on one of them. I even went up to the Airline's desk while on a different trip. They were more helpful. I could change my ticket for 700 Euros. The cost of an extra night in an hotel would be much less than that so that's what I settled for.

I see myself in a misty forest in Cyberspace, watched by the Wizard who is laughing at me and gloating over his mastery of me. If I were younger he may have more compassion or, at least. the hope that I would find my way in the end. I have a friend who says if you are hungry and can read, you can cook. (To read the cookery books, of course).  I am hungry for communication and I can read. I can't compute. Bora da.

Saturday, 12 October 2013


It's a point of curiosity to me whether the word should be 'drawbacks' or 'drawsback'. What do you think? In consequence of the recent unbelievable birthday, I have been rather forced to consider them wherever you put the 's'. Take arthritis. Stiff hands cause inevitable embarrassment in public lavatories. Why? One can't turn the locking device is why. Having been interupted in flagrante derilicto on occasion, I now prop my stick against the probably -not- properly-locked-door. It falls with an alarming clatter and a multitude of apologies. Following the same train of thought, it is a nightmare to give amnesty to the paper imprisoned in its cage with just its tail prodruding. If it has been put in there the wrong way round, that is with its tail hanging from its backside instead of from its tummy, there is just one solution: forget it. Arthritic fingers don't scrabble sufficiently well. As I've noted before, museums are viable only with a companion willing to push a wheelchair.  That is not so much because of the walking as the standing. One doesn't nearly shuffle off whatever because of an infection in the back and recover subsequently to stand still for more than a nano second. (Is that one word or two? There were'nt any nanoseconds when I was a girl. Or perhaps there were but we called them 'split')   In order to keep the engine operative a startling amount of medication is necessary.  It is humbling and gratifying that a satifactory fuel has been devised for me. The drawback is that it has side effects. To quantify: the bonny old thing you see bouncing around the Hospital being a volunteer is actually feeling rather nauseous. When a further fuel is aimed at pain control  the bit of me you can't see is bouncing around half asleep. Oh for the days when I walked 'one two, one two'  along the banks of the river Ure. (You know the one: it turns up in crosswords all the time) .And 'one two, 'one two' has to be recited quicker than it can be typed to get the feel. My work depended to a great extent on my memory. Mixing up and transposing the names of the siblings/spouses and so on of the people with whom I was working was definitely not good for business. It was right, therefore, that I stop when I did. But, where confusing was a professional drawback, the honing of my memory in all those years, impaired as it became, leaves me now with a great deal more recall than I deserve as I wait on the tarmac for the final departure.

No ankles, no waist, thin hair: what a lot has been left behind on this journey we call Life. In spite of the drawbacks, though, it does seem worth the bother to enjoy my huge amount of more than three score and ten. Well, to tell the truth, it is now actually four score. I know. You guessed. I can't have been blogging for five years and still be seventy five going on forty. I like the title, though, so I shan't be rebranding as 80 going on 45. I wonder what is ahead. I suppose some loss and more deterioration. But never mind the drawbacks. Pull up the drawbridge and let them drown. Nos da

Friday, 4 October 2013


For some reason I haven't taken the trouble to analyse, recently, I find myself gazing at a toddler with open-mouthed disbelief that two such infinitisimal entities have combined to make such a lively and interesting human being. Imagine my stupor, then, at the contemplation of a whole adult. Last night, at supper with the father of my children, we spent a satisfying period watching a tiny being learn to negotiate a step between two sections of the cafe. Eventually, her foot having hovered above it several times while we held our breath, she sat and bumped her bottom down it. I do, so much, love to watch little ones learning how to do this business life. Think: every single item and atom that makes a way of being in the world has to be learned. The other day, at another cafe, I watched a little boy on his Father's knee, gaze down at a dog at the next table. His face quite clearly registered " what the Hell is that?" I do hope someone enlightened him in due course.  My preoccupation at this time must stem from my own recent and rather momentous birthday. There's a lot to be said for being this far up the ladder.  I can afford to  be much nicer. There really isn't time to take offence. I can afford to be wicked. There really isn't time to mind my 'ps' and 'qs'. I can afford to speak my mind. There really isn't time to think through the alternatives. I cannot afford to be sloppy in my appearance. There really isn't time to correct an impression of 'couldn't care less'. I cannot afford to spill my food. There really isn't time to keep changing my blouse.  I cannot afford to be forgetful. There really isnt time to remember or be reminded of what I got wrong. I had a little gathering to mark this occasion and told my friends that which you, Dear Reader, already knew. I told them about the serendipidy of my work life, where I, inter alia, had gone from part-time airborn trolley dolly to part-time library book trolley dolly. Someone commented that there had been rather a lot in between.  Indeed there has. There are so many memories that many of them have fallen out for lack of accommodation in my overstacked archive.

For the occasion, someone emailed me a copy of Julie Andrews' "These are a Few of my Favourite Things" adapted for her 79th birthday.  I found it hilarious. I am not sufficiently computer literate to find it and quote it to you while keeping hold of this blogpost at the same time. You can imagine that it has a lot to say about the infirmities and inconveniences of advanced age. My favourite things included the handful of people who helped me celebrate, although there were inevitable exceptions. For instance, the venue would not have countenanced the presence of my beloved cat. She it was who brought me my first present: a mouse. She stood in the doorway of my room with this offering in her mouth but, attempting a meow at the same time, dropped the poor thing. It ran like mad under the bed but I decide to get in and leave its fate  to chance and the morning. My lovely friend and helper next morning did crawl about with a torch looking under the bed: to no avail and to no mouse. So whence it went and whence it came I know not. But, unlike the cat, it didnt end up on the bed with me so I hope it lives to match my three score and, by now, a very great deal more than ten. Prynhawn da

Monday, 23 September 2013


Liz has been on the go. I have decided it must be generational, but I still don't allow for writing a post while I am away.  The Guru has explained, patiently and not so patiently, that everything occurs and is held in Cyberspace. I do not have to have my very own computer with me to keep in touch with you all. Somehow, I imagine all the information on shelves in a library behind the screen, much as little ones think there are people inside the television. Anyway, whatever the fantasy, I have left far too big a gap and am glad to catch up now.

Those of you dogged faithful ones may well remember the scarlet swimsuit. It has  been to the seaside, again. Whether it will ever go another time is imponderable. There are reasons for this. Among five swimsuits it is the only one that fits, if you can call it fit, with the bulges around the back. At my advanced age there is no question of buying more and I am sceptical about losing weight. Indeed, I woke up this morning, the eve of an extremely remarkable birthday, wondering how I could lose a stone - 14lbs in Mountview, California - by tomorrow morning. I dont think so. Travel, in itself, gets more challenging. This time I was with the Guru who takes care of things like baggage and tries to walk slowly so as not to lose me too often. He also helps me in and out of the sea. Now, this is a very important function because I am not stable enough on my feet to manage the entry myself. The exit is even more challenging, especially because swimming in the cold, wet sea  is not his top idea of a fun thing to do. Indeed, on one occasion, holding my hands fast, as I thought, he dropped me and there was I, a scarlet whale, seated at the bottom of the ocean, waves breaking over my head with no idea what to do to remedy the situation. I think a combination of push and pull must have done the trick because, eventually, there I was, standing up, sea pouring off my head and out of my ears,having swallowed gargling amounts of salt water and feeling rather more than a little foolish. Fortunately, the funny side of it came to me and I started to laugh, much, I suspect, to the Guru's relief because his  face  which was a nice shade of off-white, suddenly took back its customary glow. The fact that the episode had been watched by rather a lot of people on the beach was potentially one humiliation more. But, as it happened, there was only kindness and friendly banter on all sides. I washed my hair for the second time that day, but I am still dealing with the water in my ears: quite a Jules Verne moment. Unfortunately, we were subject to a Provencal hazard, the Mistral. Out of our four days this vicious wind blew for three, whipping degrees off the sea and making it impossible to sit around in sybaritic idleness. Instead, we had an outing to a nearby town renowned for what I am forced to call its 'bling' and had lunch among the something - not youth, necessarily - dore. (Can't find an accent for the 'dore'on this machine). After a day's turnaround to do the washing, I was off to Austria, of which more later. At my tomorrow age one can no longer think ' one of these days' so if Liz wants to do some travelling or even revelling, it has to be NOW. Bore da

Sunday, 25 August 2013

More Nevermores

The serendipity of the circularity of my work life  delightes me, still. It seems there are some things that aren't gone forever more. However, it also got me thinking about things which will certainly not come round again no matter how serendipitous one's  imagining  may be.  I shall never run for a 'bus again. I shall never wear a mini-skirt again. I shall never have another pregnancy. I was about to say I would never have auburnish tints in my hair again, but that would be a fallacy because I could easily purchase and apply some. My hair just won't grow rich brown anymore but settles for a sort of sludge. I shall never be nine stone again - about 126 pounds in Mount View California. As it happens, I am currently heavier than I was on the day before my last child was born, so, heavier than at nine months pregnant. No more high heels in which  no longer to  run for the aforementioned 'bus.Now this is something of an advantage: I no longer need to change my shoes in to what we called "driving shoes". Because, silly, one couldn't drive in high heels and so slipped on a pair of flatties which were kept in the car for the purpose. Now, I should have to bend down, untie my shoelaces, drag off my brogues and, having remembered to bring a shoe-horn, apply my purposeful flatties. I don't think so.

I have left it too late to go to Japan. The culture fascinates me and the food is to live on permanently, given the option. But I can no more explore where one needs one's feet. Walking is rationed. Last week I went with my oldest friend, (also known as the Father of my Children) by air to Dublin for the day, to see my next oldest friend. The distance from Check-in Desk to Departure Lounge at Heathrow is a kilometre. I have it on the best authority, the porter who pushed the wheelchair I was obliged to ask for. That facility was supplied at Dublin Airport, too, so I was able to save my walking capacity for the city centre: 'center' if you are in MV Ca, see above. On this occasion, nevermore threatened to creep in to what was a delightful, peaceful and enriching day. Unspoken was the awareness that all three of us were well beyond the Departure Lounge and actually  waiting on the tarmac, on board the aircraft for a departure of whatever degree of finality your creed permits you to believe in. Our friend is fifteen years ahead of us but as strong in mind as ever with an essence of self which has remained unchanged for the six decades of our acquaintance. He is reading for a degree at Trinity College. This is more a 'never before', than a 'nevermore'. They have never had a graduate of his age in their entire history. We have pledged to go to his graduation so the wait to take off  on that final flight must endure at least another year.

There may well be even more 'never dones' than 'nevermores': all grist for the next or, anyway, future blogposts. But the sun is out in this extraordinary repetition of the summers of childhood when the sun always blazed and there was always sand in your toes. I shall walk down to the 'bus stop in the calm knowledge that the next 'bus will surely follow the one I have not been able to run for. Prynhawn da.

Friday, 9 August 2013

More Change

You may remember my excitement, a post or so ago, at the serendipidy of my employment life. From making an index at a publishing house, via helping passengers at London Airport to flying in stewardess mode with unaccompanied children, I find myself, at the hospital, working in the Library with the book index, at an Enquiry Desk helping patients' with their enquiries and, wonder of wonders, that which I failed to note the last time, pushing a trolley of books around the wards and, therefore, once again, a Trolley Dolly. Whomever you may believe in or not, Something, Somewhere must have a sense of humour. There have been so many changes in recent times that that little joke on Life's part is very reassuring.

Not only a new paragraph but a new start after a couple of days.  I will tell you why I broke off. The Wizard of Cyberspace, with whom the faithful among you are only too well acquainted, stole all the post but for the above shortish paragraph.  Yes, I had pressed 'save', boringly, neurotically often. To no avail. The blogpost had gone, leaving only a tiny, forlorn reminder of the inspiration behind the whole. To add insult to you-know-what, I think I must have been instrumental in aiding and abetting. I think there must have been something I leaned on which acted as 'delete.' There is, therefore, a further problem: what did I do and how can I avoid doing it again? The Guru is too busy to ask and, anyway, I didn't want to delay any longer in case you thought I, myself, had gone off to join the Wizard in Cyberspace.

 I had been thinking about change. Recently, the papers have been discussing phubbing. I understand this to mean attending to your mobile phone and snubbing the people you are with in real space and time. As you know, the Guru serves as my insight in to the contemporary world.  He phubbs all the time.  On one occasion, fed up with the phenomenon and feeling mischievous, as he read yet another text message, I pulled out the crossword and bent my attention to it. The Guru's response: he told me not to be so childish. Now, I happen to know he was very well brought up, so that assessment could have been based only on his conviction that his phubbing was perfectly acceptable contemporary behaviour and in no way reflected bad manners. But manners have changed. Walking - shuffling may be fairer - down my local road the  other day, in scorching heat, begging the minimal shade of shop awnings, I was twice cut into by pedestrians overtaking on my outside to duck in to a shop on my inside. On the same day, I was pushed out of the way for an extremely able-bodied teenager to take the seat in the 'bus which is labelled for the disabled. As it happens, politically correctly, it says " those less able to stand". That pleases me. Most political correctness does not. Though I do have one other acceptable example. There is no need to say "manned". One can say "staffed" instead.  Political correctness probably deserves a post all of its own but it would be nice to hear your views in the meantime. Liz is off, now, to the world of Mindfulness with the lovely psychologist who comes to help me with it. What with that and political correctness I may yet end up fit for Guru's world of how-it-is-now. Bore da

Friday, 26 July 2013


There is still cause for aestivating. The temperature has not dropped below 26 degrees centigrade since I complained to you last time. In my defence - against all of you who love the heat, of course - I offer the plea that I have never had a wish to hibernate and positively enjoy the cold weather.  I thought that at three score and a lot more than ten years old my blood would have thinned and I would better be able to tolerate the soaring temperatures. It hasn't. In an attempt to thwart the Wizard of Discomfort, I went with the Father of my children on a river cruise in aid of a very worthwhile charity.  Advantages: cool breezes, wonderful views, even of Tower Bridge being opened to let our tall mast through, and interesting fellow travellers. Disadvantages: 30 degrees and no shade. Worse than that, the outing was described as a breakfast cruise with a recital by a dear, young soprano friend thrown in as an incentive. However, breakfast and singing  were to take place below deck, access to which was via a flight of stairs that had a gradient of one in one. That's right. You heard: one in one. In other words, a ladder. The ladder was decked out as pretend stairs, in that it had steps of about four inches wide, covered in something or other. Give or take a hyperbole or two, it was a ladder. To add insult to certain injury, the 'facilities' were also below.  Picture Liz, stick in hand, steppping gingerly over various coils of ropes and impedimenta, nothing supportive to hold on to, surveying the prospect of spending the next several hours hungry, needing the Ladies, gently boiling in the unshadowed noonday sun. Actually, gently boiling probably equates to simmering, wouldn't you say? Got the picture? There was but one solution: Keep Calm and  Carry on.

As a habit, I am a veritable Girl Guide in my 'be preparedness'. My carry-on bag holds an umbrella which doubles as a parasol during aestivation and a bag of nuts or whatever to guard against hunger at any time. On this  occasion, in the interest of glamour, I had dispensed with the basics and in the bag had only half of a forgotten banana, a great deal the worse for hanging about, and a shawl to cover the opposite contingency to the one I was facing - freezation. I told myself all bad things come to an end and prayed they or I would come to that end before soon. The soprano was deeply sympathetic about my access dilemma and brought me a plate of food. I took it from her and put it down beside me while I divested myself of my bags and freed my hands. You've guessed. Crash, bang ,splatter, there was my plate up-ended on the deck. I thought I was too old for embarrassment: I'm not. But I applied a touch of Mindfulness and allowed myself to be tidied up without recourse to an outpouring of apologies. When we moored temporarily,on the way back, waiting for our time to dock, Himself and I dis-embarked across a miniscule stretch of Thames and went to an adjacent hotel to deal with nature and whatever. It was not my best mannered moment nor my most ingratiating and I doubt I shall ever be asked again, but needs must when the Wizard of Overheating prevails. When I was forty I'd have shimmied up and down that ladder like any monkey you have ever met, bearing sausage and scrambled egg in one hand and my carry-on bag in the other. As it was, the only carrying on I achieved was the inevitable brouhaha I created by my elderly incapability to run the course as it was presented." O dee meah", as my baby son would have said when rueing his day. Prynhawn da

Tuesday, 16 July 2013


You may prefer to lose the dipthong and spell it "estivation". Either way, its the only possible state for one who manages life better at a maximum of 24 degrees centigrade than she does at 30. For those of you over the Pond, that must be a favourite of about 72 fahrenheit as opposed to avoid-at-all-costs 85. There are difficult choices to be made. One could hunker down with some air-conditioning and let the rest of the world go by, the fee being a feeling of invisibility and non-existence, or one could live an as-if ordinary life out and about and risk a collapse from heat stroke. I have been trying the latter. However, being isolated or left out in the cold is parallel in thermal terms to the effect of overheating. One is either 100% overheated or 100% 'frozen'. I am further isoltated from my fellows because there is almost universal glee about the sunshine and the con-committant heatwave. Were I to dare verbally to notice, let alone complain about the heat I should be ostracised or even committed as an alien being. Believe me. I speak from experience. So picture Liz, crawling down the road, hogging the scarcely woman-sized width of the shade offered by the shops and, sometimes, even their canopies. Admittedly, those do provide a wider shadow but they are very short and soon walked passed. One positive factor is that I do have enough cool clothing, some of it never worn, having been purchased for the holiday which never  materialised last year.

My Enquiry Desk shift at the hospital works well on a number of levels. There is air-conditioning even in the wide hall where we are located. Not only that, there are draughts from the star-fish of passages with which we are surrounded. It's a great vantage point from which to observe how the natives deal with the extraordinary weather conditions.  The male doctors are shirt-sleeved, neatly rolled up - the sleeves, not the doctors. They wear ties for the most part and maintain an air of professional purpose.  The females wear  linen trousers or dresses, down to the knee and with something of a cover for the top of the arms. There is quite a challenge in identifying these illustrious beings. For reasons of hygiene they do not wear their name badges on a lanyard around their necks as we do. They pin them to belts or trouser pockets. Were one desperate to identify such a being, it would be necessary to peer at their nether regions. I hope you imagination is boggling. It is an act not to be contemplated lightly. Less identifiable are the many other passers-by. We have seen men with huge tummies and bandy legs in torn -off jeans or wide-legged shorts. We have seen ladies with bra straps peeping and some with clearly no bra. The coolest look, in all senses, must be the sari. They serve to point up what a disaster most of the rest of us make of dressing for the tropics.  The library is a different matter: no air-conditioning and a windowless basement. But there is a jolly fan which swings merrily about and serves as a hurricane for even the substantialish cards with which we work. Indeed, it is  a bonus to bend down and pick them up from the floor, giving the backs of our necks a turn at the cool air. There is something very reassuring, though, in the make-do-and-mend of the library with its old-time card indices a nd no air-conditioning: familiar to the 40 year old and, therefore,comfortable for my current self. But, by the end of the shift I am so confused as to the order of the alphabet that I have to write it out, letter by letter, put it in front of me and consult it for every Mc or Mac as I try to establish the sequence of its next relevant letter. If only the Wizard of Archive would keep his hands off it until next time. Nos da

Sunday, 7 July 2013


It's all very well for the rest of you but I hate the heat. There you are, I have registered it in black and white. I do feel guilty. After all, we have been waiting for summer for about a year. In my case, two years because I spent the last one in hospital. I feel guilty that I begrudge all those near-naked bodies on Hampstead  Heath their sun-worship while I cower in my air-conditioned bedroom at a fixed 19 degrees. I thought myself slightly crazed when I had the air-conditioning unit installed. After all, on this side of the Pond how often was I going to need it? Never mind how often, just think how cool. I also had one in the room where I worked. That one stopped working and I stopped working, too, rather than spend the obscene amount of money it would have taken to mend it. My lodger, who is from a consistently warm place in Continental Europe, is more or less permanently miserable because of the weather. Not today: she is positively shining with delight and has gone off to picnic in the Park. The world is a different one, it seems, in the warmth of the sun.

Now,  at my age in the heat there are sartorial considerations to consider.Which is not to say there were'nt always such considerations. But there is a world of difference between which sleeveless linen dress or floaty skirt and which long-sleeved garment will be the coolest in the wardrobe.  No-one over let's say fifty, should display upper arms unless they are beautiful and toned and blemish free. Mine are not. The answer is to wear a sort of vest in fine cotton with a jacket-type garment over it. That does mean two layers of fabric over the back but a combination of vanity and a fear of frightening the horses stiffen one's forebearance considerably. I do rather miss the clothes of my youth, though. A day or so ago I again had the privilege of listening to the Big Swing Band   that had me as-if tripping round Trafalgar Square a blog post or so ago. This time we were also treated to some period dresses, you know, if you are old enough or have seen "Dirty Dancing", tight waist, voluminous skirt, stiff petticoats underneath. Even if I had kept mine, mysteriously, I am a stone or so - fourteen pounds if you are in Mountain View California - heavier than I was the first time around. (Confession: the 'or so' is nearly another stone.) However, the young lady wearing such a dress,(frock) bright red with white polka dots and layers of black tulle underskirt, had bottomed it with a pair of red and white trainers and  black pop socks -  stockings to the knee if they are dubbed something else over there in M V Ca. The effect was ludicrous. We hadn't even progressed from gym shoes/plimsolls in the fifties. We would have been wearing genteel heels to our court shoes, not more than two inches high, I should guess, and a stocking was a grown up, right to the top of one's leg,  fixed with a suspender hanging from a pretty band around the waist - not the same as a man's braces supporting his trousers, (pants) as seen , again, in M V Ca.  It was not a juvenile, stopping half way up. Think of it: " a glimpse of stocking was thought of as something shocking", enchantingly so, whereas a glimpse of pop sock is simply unattractive and bad taste not to mention out of period.

 This post shows signs of being a lesson in translating from the English to the American. In which case I have bitten off more than I can chew. My repertoire is almost exhausted, as am I , in the heat. Prynhawn da.

Saturday, 29 June 2013


It seems to me I have already talked about life's full circles in the ways everyone's physicality reverts to baby and childhood.  Recently, I have noticed the most incredible full circle that is peculiar to my life and does not reflect ageing in general. When I first started work iit was with a firm of publishers who specialised in law books. I was engaged to make an index for a book in the pipeline. Currently, I find myself, something like sixty years later, going through the indices of the books in the Patients' Library at my local hospital. If you have been kind enough to keep up, I ask you to recall a post or so ago where I explained that  there were actual cardboard indices both to catalogue the books and to record those that are out on loan. No computers as we speak: they have been threatened for a couple of years but seem to have got lost in the world of One-of-These-Days. So there am I, dealing with  indices all over again. That's wierd enough but I have also been promoted to a second job where I staff an enquiry desk for half a day. My next job after the indexing was at London Airport. I was attached to what was then called Passenger Handling. You wouldn't get away with that, now. It would surely be Customer Services. Anyway, part of the specification was to direct passengers and help in whatever way was appropriate. We also checked them in, manually, of course, pulling the ticket from a slender book of varying usage. A couple of days ago I had the most extraordinary sense of deja vu as I pushed a lady in a wheel chair to a place where there was a little-known lift big enough to take it and its passenger,who was exhausted by waiting and frustrated at the difficulty to find a lift with enough room for her. I just about mangaged not to ask her her final destination and whether or not she had baggage for the hold.

A bit ago my attention was drawn to a poster advertising what seemed to me to read Pan Am Frolics. Now, those of you old enough may well remember the American airline of that name. I might as well come clean: that was the airline I worked for. On further enquiry, it turned out that the sign had actually said Pam Ann and the figure dressed as the Trolley Dolly was, in fact, a drag artiste. To my great sadness, I was not free to attend. Do you think I would have had the cheek to pipe up that present was a really, truly one? Somehow, I think that may not have been seemly in the elderly - not the admission of Trolly Dollydom but the piping up in public. Today, I had the pleasure of watching two more drag 'queens' who were taking part in the Gay Pride event in Trafalgar Square. I was on my own so there was nobody with whom to share what one might politely call the irony of my being there, bringing up the average age  by a considerable factor. Impolitely, one might call it lunacy as I wobbled on my stick seat waiting to be pushed over by the enthusiastic photo takers milling around me. But I bet I was the only one who had danced the jitterbug the first time around as I watched the present day infants jigging about beside the 'lady' on the stage to the period music of the Big Band behind them. Had I somewhere to lay down my stick and pose my handbag I'd have been jigging about myself: not on the stage, you'll be happy to know but around the Square or even in the middle of it. Now I come to think of it, I could have kept my handbag, slung across me over my shoulder and really looked the part as they ran me in. Be calm in your beds Dear Reader: I didn't. Nos da.

Monday, 24 June 2013


Never mind what day it is: I have lost my capacity to work out what time it is. As a younger, working person, I could have told you within the nearest second what hour of the clock it was. Now, as assiduous followers will recall, I depend on my cat's appetite for breakfast to establish when is getting-up time. Summer days mean that it is full daylight from 5am so the light peeping round the curtains mean only that it is not the very middle of the night. Transactions have also changed their timings. For instance, it takes me twice as long to dry my thinning, poker straight hair than it did when it was lush and curly. Making sense of the haystack is time-consuming and infinetly boring - for you, too, I suspect. Every morning I have a competition with myself: how many seconds can I stand, unsupported, on each leg in turn in order to put my trousers on. I do try, I promise. I do exercises standing on a kind of spring board to enhance my balance. I stretch and bend and remember the flexibilty of my youth. Some time ago, I drove in to the centre of London with the Guru. We found a meter on which to park and he started to wander off. When asked where he was going, he replied he was going down the road to buy a ticket while I got out of the car. The cheek of it: but he was only half joking as I lumbered out in the snail's pace he had foreseen.

  Some things are quicker. Since I have less often to present an outside- the- house persona, decisions about what to wear are less significant and, therefore, quicker. Just between us, I have been known to wear the same clothes for two days, providing,  it goes without saying, they are scrupulously clean and the underpinnings are refreshed daily. Living alone, for the most part I have to rely on eyesight to inspect the condition of my apparel. Never mind "does my b.. look big in this?" For me it has to be "can you see what I had for supper in this?" Ever since I could handle words I have noticed that the days of the week - that is, the names for them, have appeared in colour on my inner screen. There is a name for this but I can't remember it and, in the afflicted, it usually applies to all words, not just one group. Anyway, the rainbow of the days goes round  a great deal quicker than it used to. I both mind and dont mind. Nice things come round more quickly but the sands are also running out more quickly. For my young, the distant past is about five years ago. For me it is about twenty. One of the people I have known longest in my life is the Father of my children. Without his friendship I would have little verifiable past nor history. As I am sure you know or have guessed, I am a believer in who you were being who you are.  Think Russian Doll: all the former yous fitting in to the current presenting you. I am still working to reconcile this belief with the Mindfulness of total 'Now' that I am being trained in. As I remarked, a post or two ago, my cat has proved the best of instructors in this phenomenon. She is absolutely in the Now so that, even waiting for me to provide the flat surface of me on which to lie, she can both anticipate that future and be wholly in the now of her patience. Recently, in passing, I said to someone close to me that I wasn't allowed to buy another book until I had read all the ones already in my possession. Immediately, she responded, that, having nearly died last summer, I should, on the contrary, buy and read anything I wanted when I wanted it. That freedom will take some getting used to. There is more than enough historical precedence for economic wariness in my make-up; brought up in the Second World War, for instance. But I see she is right and time should  be wasted no longer, so  off to the book shop with the hope I shall have enough time left to read all I buy. Bore da

Wednesday, 12 June 2013


Recently, I have dropped the odd comment to lead you gently  to the idea that I have started to work voluntarily at the local hospital. What a very old lady is doing in a very large hospital must be hard to imagine. Well, for one thing, I am the rear end of a trolley- pushing job taking library books round the wards. The trolley is heavy, the corridors are vast and I am no longer forty, as we know only too well. The toughest bit  to deal with is bruised pride. The front end of the trolley is staffed by an old volunteer hand. She walks and pulls at a rate of knots. I need not only to keep up at something between a trot and a canter, but also to hide the fact that I am struggling to keep up at all. This particular lady is four foot nothing and very spry. I am convinced she could deal with the thing alone. However, Health and Safety requires there be two of us and we are certainly both needed to heft it over the inevitable little step created by the lift which takes us from ward to ward. (Elevator, in case you have lost your English-American dictionary over there in Mountain View, California). Health and Safety also requires bare arms below the elbow and no jewellery. Exceptions are made for wedding rings. I know, I know, there are anomalies. Why would bacteria keep clear of your wedding ring but not of your engagement ring. Likewise, one has to remove one's wrist watch and loop it around the lanyard bearing a photo and the word "Volunteer" in red letters repeated at intervals of one inch right round one's neck. The biggest anomaly, though, is in the books, themselves. How anyone could describe a library book as bacterium-free has stretched my curiosity to its limits.  Don't misunderstand: I am very germ conscious, especially having spent two months in hospital, myself, last summer. It's the inconsistencies that get to my pedantic little mind.

 The pedantry extends, too, to the card index which serves as catalogue and borrowing record. That's right. You did read correctly: no computer, an old-fashioned card index. It gladdened my old-fashioned heart no end. I know where I am with a feely row of cardboard information.  I am not easy, as you know, with the Wizard of Cyberspace however genial he may appear to all of you. Anyway, the card index: every time I present myself,  I take one letter of the alphabet and put the cards in it in to alphabetical order. Every time I present myself anew, the Wizard of Indexville has muddled them all up again. It's like painting the Forth Bridge. By the time you get to the end it is ready for re-painting at the beginning. (I can't really keep up with the parentheses. I shall have to ask you to Search- Engine the Forth Bridge for yourself). My other challenge is simply the distances to cover. It takes me three minutes to walk from the Library to the nearest call-of-nature facility. The canteen is enormous with bottles of water at one end and glasses at the other. Picture poor Liz, handbag falling off her shoulder, stick in one hand, tray in the other, bottle of water rolling about on it, traipsing forlornly from stage to stage collecting bits and pieces more by their stability on the tray than by their appetite appeal, getting really wound up because minced meat, carrots and potatoes wrapped in pastry are called "shepherds' pie" when they should be called pasties. Aware as I am of the tricks played by the inner world, I still transpose my crossness on to some totally innocent event or source. Like kicking the cat when cross with the spouse. However, the food is good and wholesome and one can always read the signs on the wall telling us how healthy it all is: no bacteria there, then. Bore da.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013


As I was saying, my cat has been teaching me the rudiments of Mindfulness. After I had signed off last time, she gave me another spot-on example. I did something which annoyed her and got a sizeable hiss for my mistake. She was totally emersed in the NOW of her anger and stalked off my knees. Moments later, she came back and snuggled down, again. The 'now' of the anger was replaced by the 'now' of the warm, familiar lap. Getting to resemble our pets has taken on a whole new dimension. I have been giving some thought to the opposite situation. Where does the mind go when it is not focussed on the moment? You know the scenario: cheese in the cutlery drawer and knives in the fridge. Arriving at the library when one had intended to go to the supermarket, would serve as another example. I suspect the category must also include the mislaying of objects. One's mind can only have been absent when one puts down one's keys  other than in the right place and is then at risk of having to stay in for three days because they have disappeared off the face of the house. This also pre-supposes that you have a right place to put things.That would be one way to prevent the inevitable chaos when the mind is absent from the act of putting things any old where. I am too often plagued by the problems of Cyberspace. Try as the Guru has to educate me, I can't seem to hold in mind what I have been told. Among the words "reboot the modem", I understand but one: 'the'. Who is to say how efficient, cyberly speaking, I should be if I were totally mindful of what he was saying.

It occurs to me that the saddest absence of mindfulness must be experienced by those of us afflicted by dementia. Where, indeed, has the mind gone? How is the selection made of what is remembered, what is understood?  I have an image of a huge jigsaw, the pieces all broken up and jumbled together with no picture to  help reassemble them in a recognisable pattern. Among my contemporary friends, that affliction seems to be the most feared. Perhaps the end of the journey, when the mind has settled for the un-made jigsaw, is bearable because it doesnt leave room for demanding responsibility, for duty, for mindfulness. Knowing one was in the process of making the  journey must be the hardest to bear. The challenge is to distinguish between absent-mindfulness and the tumbledown mish-mash of the loss of the mind as the essential element of being a being  in the world. Someone close to me spent a considerable sum of money on new spectacles, having mislaid the ones he had. As well as the money, he endured the inconvenience of impaired vision while he waited for the new ones. Countless wrong buses and half-fat milk later - because he couldnt distinguish on the shelves which was the full fat,  silly -  he discovered the original pair in a biscuit tin. I now make lists and write notes to my insouciant self. The trouble is, I forget to read them. Bore da

Sunday, 19 May 2013


It has come to mind that it is going on for three weeks since the last post. Measuring time is a challenge since I no longer have a work-life with a regular diary for it. I used to know what day it was and what time by the repeat appointments I had. Now, I have to work hard to arrive at the knowledge. I welcome the lady who helps with cleaning because I have both to get up and to register what day it is. The incentive to get up is usually provided by my cat who stands on top of me miaowing until I tip her off in order to move my legs to the ground. On one occasion, when this didn't happen fast enough for her, she raised a paw and hit me on my cheek with it. I exaggerate: tapped would be fairer and there were no unretracted claws. I remember when I had a whole cat family that that was how the mother trained the little ones, with judicious smacks on whichever bit needed the lesson. Which is a long-winded way of saying I felt honoured to be thus dealt with. Once up, I have to find a time to practice the Mindfulness technique which has been prescribed to help deal with the black dog you may recall me complaining about. Having spent a lifetime viewing and interpreting the 'Now' from the point of view of the 'Then', I am not having an easy time with 'The Moment': the living totally in the exact moment of the present. I know the system needs practice but she who is capable of leaving three week gaps in her blogging, falls easily off the waggon of discipline in this matter too.

The extraordinary thing about the phenomenon of being entirely present in the moment is that that is exactly what my cat achieves. Observing her I was able to learn a great deal about how to do it. She eats Now, she sleeps Now, she wants her litter attended to Now, she wants me to provide a lap Now. However, she is aware of a past and, equally, a future. She will sit patiently under my bedside lamp waiting for me to complete the bedtime routine so she can come and lie on top of me. She knows, in that instance, what the immediate future holds and she recalls this from her memory of the past, but she lies on me fully in the present. I am fascinated by her observable routine. She is faithful to it, in time and in place. Perhaps, this is an essential factor in living in the moment.  I see, too, that being fully in the present doesn't preclude one from a capacity for patience which assumes a focus on the future. I'm not sure of the wisdom of  telling the kind psychologist who comes with tapes and hand-outs and enthusiasm to help me master the technique that my ultimate understanding of it came, at last, from the illumination of my four-footed friend. The habit of analysis is not an easy one to break and I am as 'if only' as anyone. Oh Dear! That's a lot of thinking for before lunch, but I leave you with another thought. To-morrow, I am attending a training course for volunteers at my local hospital. I have been given the programme and note, with some interest, that between 1330 and 1350 we are to do "Personal Developement". I have spent three score and a lot more than ten on just that subject so am particularly keen to see what we can do in 20 minutes. Bora da, see you much sooner, I hope next time.

Monday, 29 April 2013


A phenomenon has leapt up at me. There's a lot of it about you may say. I agree. However, this one just wouldn't be ignored. I suspect I have talked about it before but I am a touch lazy to trawl back and see what the status actually is. The phenomenon: how like the beginning is the end: the baby and the old lady. Let's start with hair. These days mine would need washing every day to provide bulk. There is nothing appealing about a glimpse of elderly scalp but the scalp visible under the down on a baby's head is utterly charming even though it would not fill a shaving mug were it to be shaved off - the down, not the scalp, silly. Drop your eyes a bit further. Both I and the baby are 'd' shaped. There is no waist where waist there should be and will be in baby's case. Any trousers which can still be done up at the waist are positively uniform for me. They enable the side view to have an 'as-if' waist. How about legs: bandy for both in my experience. Teeth: none of one's own, ten to one, I'd guess. There again, the similarities differ. Baby will acquire some in due course but easily digested and not too copious is a common factor for old and very young for many months. (In case you are kind enough to wonder, or are humanly curious, I do, actually, have most of my own teeth. They are no longer pearly but they serve and they are fixed in situ, anyway for the now.)  Walking requires care and attention for both species. I do not have fingers to hold on to but I do have a stick.  An afternoon nap is good for both. Mine is taken indoors. Babies are often walked in the fresh air.

There are bigger differences, of course. A baby is on learning duty every moment her/his  eyes are open. What's this, how's that, safe not safe, yell dont yell. Like, don't like. Try, don't risk. I'm lucky if I have staying power enough to read a newspaper right through.  The Father of my Children unknowingly keeps my education valve open. He is always ready to discuss items he has read, and assumed I have also read, in the daily papers.There are times when the odd grunt, a few "reallys" and one or two "don't says" don't cut the mustard or pull the wool. You may imagine that the retired amongst us have all day every day to fill with unprescribed delight instead of duty. Equally, a baby carries the same deduction. Wrong for both. See above for the baby's occupation and, as for me and my like, we are equally occupied in finding things to occupy us. I can hear a chorus of dissent. I urge you: transcribe it on to a 'comment' on the blog. It's true, though. I know retirees who are busy from morning to night with this and that class, group, voluntary work, outings and so on and so forth. Activities very like our putative baby's, in fact. ( I am very conscious that a sentence requires a verb. I think, though, it is sometimes permissable to assume one as in "those activities are very like...). I remember scrubbing a floor hours before the vague discomfort in my stomach and back turned in to rhythmic pulses and presaged the arrival of one or other or all. Currently, I am avoiding tidying desk, drawers and cupboards all of which will provide a first class horror task for those left to clear up behind me. You'd think I'd get a move on having a had a trial run at terminal illness last summer. Pretend I have done it, or, anyway, made a start, will you please?. But, as the thesis is intended to put  to you, what's so very different from scrubbing floors? A baby has a limited communication range. It transpires that the elderly do, too, repetition being the curse of the old and, probably, alone. In fact, I have the strongest feeling that I am acting that very premise out. Somewhere in me I know that we have had this or a very similar exposition before and even befive. Prynhawn da

Monday, 22 April 2013


One's state of being in the world can reliably be measured by the degree of bother one is prepared to undertake. A carrier bag has been stationed in my little hall since Christmas. It contains gifts which are not straightforwardly dealt with; socks that don't fit so need changing, a Kindle of which I couldn't tell the back from the front and various beauty products that I doubt will affect my beauty in the least. Now, why is this bag still there, frozen, untouched? Simply because I havent had the bother factor to deal with it. To some extent it has become wall-paper. I don't actually see it any more. However, I am in danger of hugging this 'can't be bothered' syndrome so close to my chest that the house will soon be covered in un-dealt-with carrier bags. Today, I have invited a friend to supper. It needs telling because I have not entertained anyone at home since the enforced summer break in hospital last year.  On a few occasions I have used a local eatery to take over my hospitality obligations: an expensive solution. Today is different and I have already prepared the basics of home-made eating. But, Dear Reader, it has been so long since I had my hands in a mixing bowl that I have forgotten where everything is. It is not a laughing matter. I spent ten minutes looking for the rice - kedgeree if you really want to know - and had to sit down and review things and ask myself where I would, most likely, have stored rice when I was a fully functioning feeder of friends. I did find it, among the few tins I keep routinely. It had no business to be there. Taking it down I felt a sticky resistance. Something had been spilt and not cleaned up. Not only had I wasted time looking for the rice I was then confronted with an essential use of time, to wipe the cupboard clean This is where the botheration factor really kicks in. Someone who is making a meal out of making a meal is not in a fit state to clean cupboards. Solution: sleep in an unmade bed and ask my cleaning helper to do the cupboard.

  Assiduous followers of 75 going on 40 may remember that I bought two cars, one after the other, the starting mechanism of neither was I able to manage. Picture the hassle/botheration factor in that situation, not to speak of the monetary bother involved in changing the starting mechanism. In my sober after-state, I can see that, having easily started the twin of the car I purchased and not test-driven the identical other, it was clearly a fault in mine and should have been rectified by the dealer. Probably the most expensive outcome of can't-be-bothered I have indulged in in recent times. I have to say that I have seen myself as having a rather large tank of bother in my past lives: several children, house work, professional work and the Company Wife thing. Now I am stuck with sticky cupboards full of stuff with use-by dates in 2011. When I die successfully, having flunked it last summer,  my young will have to hire several skips to deal with the rubbish lurking behind every storage door before they even ring the undertaker. (In case they are called something else over the Pond, a skip is a big iron -? - container used by builders for stuff they have torn out for which they have no further use. Oh, and an undertaker is, I believe, a mortician). I put this to a nephew  who happened to telephone during this reflection. He responded that if they hired several skips they may not need the undertaker. Quite. Bore da

Tuesday, 9 April 2013


You will have noticed how fragments of a song or a smidgen of prose pop in to your mind as a response to an external stimulus. It's a phenomenon I really enjoy and I often  share the joke with myself as I attach the 'quote' to its source. A simple illustration: during the recent cold weather when, as they say Down Under, we were all thoroughly rugged up, I was enjoying fish and chips with one of the people I have known longest in my life. We had been observing a couple who were interacting loudly and in not too friendly a fashion. It all seemed very serious. As they stood up to go, the young woman pulled on a woollen hat that had rabbits ears in bright pink standing a good six inches above her forehead. The contrast between that and their earlier earnestness was astonishing. Suddenly, we started humming simultaneously: "Where did you get that hat?..." a comic song of days long gone but thrown at each of us by an inner voice with a long memory. Sometimes, in my experience, the smidgens form a memorial to the originator. (I was about to say "virtual" memorial when I realised that that has quite a different meaning these days.) Anyway, every time I say "probably" I hear the voice of a truly dear departed saying  "probally". In all her life she never managed the second 'b' and she is thus lodged for ever in my inner ear even though it is now many years since I actually heard her say it.

As it happens, there is a queue of things where the three score and more than ten diverges from the two score. My inner self is running for a 'bus. My actual self waits for the next one. I shall never run for a 'bus again. Nor shall I ever sit at the back of the'bus or on the top floor again. Why not? Because I have to sit down  close and quickly before the driver jolts off  or I shall risk having to be scooped up off the floor where I have been tipped. I shall never again, politely, stand up so some old dear can have a seat. I am that old dear. There will be no more walking twelve miles along the banks of the river Ure. But I am ruthlessly walking come rain or shine the several hundred yards down to the local shops and back, No, I don't have a hat with rabbit's ears and, anyway, I think it is, at last, getting less arctic. Many 'nevermores' are really welcome. My young are so unlikely to want most of the belongings which fill my house that I no longer feel an oppressive duty of care towards them... the things, not the young. Temperamentally, I am not suited to 'last times' I havent noticed, and would always rather a 'goodbye' ceremony when whatever is to be lost. I remember one of my young leaning against me as I sat on a high stool when the clear words came to me: "She will never do this again". I was right. Having started, the examples are teaming, overwhelming. Overall, though, the relief of the nevermores is greater than the regret. But at least twice a day my inner voice can be heard quoting Hilaire Belloc: "Nevermore Miranda, nevermore. Only the high peaks hoar and Arragon a torrent at the door..." or words to that effect. Bore da.

Thursday, 28 March 2013


It's all very well for you youngsters, but keeping warm is not that easy for those of us in the eighth decade. During a drawer clear-out I came across some stockings. There is no way I could bear to be bare between stocking top and knicker bottom, now, but I don't remember even noticing the gap when I wore stockings half a lifetime ago, before tights were invented.  This is the longest winter I can recall and I am both getting used to it and getting tired of it.  The aforementioned gap is covered by long-johns. Just in case they are called something else in Mountview, California, I should explain that long-johns are like the underwear our Victorian male forebears wore, up to the waist and down to the ankle.  They can be made from wool and do the job of a tight but rather better. One wears socks over the feet, since you ask.  (As it happens, in the 'adapting to age' process, I have had to give up wearing tights because arthritic fingers don't do a good enough job of peeling them on) That arrangement necessitates wearing trousers to disguise this particular adaptation. Further, one is wearing rather more items underneath the top cover so that dressing and undressing takes longer. Meeting certain natural needs also takes longer. By the time this and that have been pulled down and pulled back up again, if one is out there in the town, the queue for the facility is reaching unmanageable proportions. The answer is, don't wait for the last minute but allow time both for the off and on and for the queue. I have taken to wearing one of my few jumpers with a highish neck every day. This means a late night hand  wash and an early morning rush for the iron although the black dog is still doing its best to keep me in bed at all costs.

As it happens, it is actually a hungry tabby cat that gets me up. She stands on top of me with escalating meows until I give in and shrug the covers off. Yesterday, there was a variation. She hit me. Her claws were sheathed but it was a slap on the face just the same. Her solution is to spend her life glued to one of two radiators. There is no room for me or I'd join her like a shot.  Confession: the heating is timed to go off between noon and four o'clock when I am usually out. These freezing days I leave it on so that my dear friend's radiator retains its friendly warmth without interuption. I know, I know, the planet must be saved but the best I can do is to have a bad conscience but go on trying to keep me and my loved- one warm. I have a sheep-skin jacket; another breech of political correctness in itself. It is forty years old and orange, which was fine when I was also forty, but I am not too sure of the propriety of an elderly lady, stick in hand, rolling over the snow and ice in a  bright orange wrapping with the collar askew because a handbag has to be slung across the chest to free up the hands for balance duty and that disturbs the lay of the collar. When I catch a glimpse of myself in a shop window there is a temptation to turn myself in to a witch and disappear in a puff of smoke. Everyone I know has taken off - no, silly, not the layers I talked about above: gone away - so, Dear Reader, you are the only one I can complain to. But enough is enough and if you don't hear from Liz for a while it's because the meows and the smacks have failed and she is lodged in her bed for the duration. Bore da

Thursday, 21 March 2013


Many years ago I was staying  in the United States with someone to whom I am very close when I glanced at her cookery book shelf. It was lined with what looked like twenty identical volumes. These turned out to be individual books, each with a sort of theme. However, on closer inspection, it was clear that the purpose for volumes that added up to two feet wider than the Larousse cookery bible was to accommodate repetition. For example, the recipe for a white sauce appeared in volume 1.  It also appeared in volumes 11,111 and V11. (Except, they were numbered 2,3 and 7 - I am, obviously, a word snob) I asked why the reader was not referred back to  the first volume, as in 'see volume 1 page 44', rather than re read the thing every time a basic white sauce was needed. Repeating it made it easier to access, I was told. Along with 'Mozart's Greatest Hits', this phenomenon started my war with "making things easier".  My most recent gripe is with 'mediaeval'. It has lost its 'a'.  Now, I, and my school friends, spent a considerable time learning how to spell 'mediaeval' and I am not pleased that all that effort has gone for nothing. Guru tells me there are often spelling mistakes in these blog posts so I don't want to pose as an impeccable speller, but typos and ignorance are very different from having life made easier for one when life is hard and every lesson with that in focus has to be a welcome one. To return to Mozart: isn't it a touch infantilising to presume that there are those among us who can appreciate a pretty tune but not have the staying power to hear the development of a whole piece? The argument runs that the" more acessible" pretty tune at least brings Mozart to more of us. Heaven forfend that I should advocate no Mozart for the great unwashed but why not a whole Mozart. More accessibility is essential, but so is education. A generation before mine, born, say at the end of the nineteenth century -  for instance my Father - often left school at twelve years old. Letters and old school books show that those youngsters were literate and well-informed with no need for accessible short cuts.

I am also more than willing to enter the apostrphe war. Yesterday I met a friend for lunch in a restaurant that boasted "todays" specials. She had to hold me down and confiscate my red pencil to prevent me running round altering all their menu cards. I do believe there is a way in which accessibility becomes tantamount to not bothering. I am quite prepared to have a discussion about civilisation losing its attention to containment and form, becoming sloppy round the edges where it is sloppy round the edges of its literacy. If the underprivileged young of the century before last could handle 'mediaeval' why can't we?  I do see that I am a cliche of an old woman in many ways, as in "things aren't what they used to be". But they are not and I am not convinced they are better. (Nonsense, of course they are. You don't see me down at the stream doing the washing).  By the time one is reconciled to three score and a lot more than ten there is a huge amount of stuff in the archive and some of it in corners too remote to reach with any reliabilty. In the same 'todays' restaurant, I saw a face I recognised from forty years ago when she ran a restaurant, herself.  After a long wait my archivist found her name which enabled me to approach her.  It was, indeed, she and, more astonishing than my memory, she remembered me, and by name. Perhaps I ought to leave more space for this kind of past and leave the mediaevals and the apostrophes to legend. What do you think? Prynhawn da.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Pros and cons

Thank  for your patience. Liz is on a path midway between black dog and normality. Actually, it feels more than midway: probably two thirds towards what passes for normality in this eccentric old lady. As it happens, blog posts form themselves in mind all the time. The spirit to send them to you sometimes drags a bit. There is a mental image of the black dog straining at the lead (leash if you are over the Pond) pulling in a direction different from the one Liz wants to take.  Anyway, during the silence, I have been musing on more of the advantages and disadvantages of three score and rather more years. After all, that is one way of expressing the theme of the blog. This morning, I sat on the bed to pull on some clothing. If I had one pound for all the times I have heard/said "do not sit on the bed. It ruins the mattress" I would have money enough to eat caviar and drink whatever once a week for a year. But I no longer care. This mattress will see me out and, if it doesn't, I shall simply have to buy another and ruin that. If I want cheese on toast for both lunch and dinner, I eat it. The voice of my conscience is well aware of what constitutes healthy eating but I choose to ignore it with confidence and delight. As it happens,  black dog doesnt do much for the appetite. The plus is that I now have rather an extended wardrobe with items fitting that have been relegated to the back of it for many a year.That's another pro: fashion ceases to matter.  On the contrary, one would look ridiculous in a short skirt and bizarre combinations - not Victorian  combinations, silly, though those, too.
As for the disadvantages, life is probably too short to catalogue them all. And the blog posts could serve as a reference volume for quite a few.Some are worth reporting, however. The other day, I was faced with a glass jar of coffee and its fitted lid. It would neither turn nor be prized open. Tentatively, I banged it against the wooden kitchen counter: to no avail. I applied the 'grip and turn' gadget supplied by a loved one: nothing, niente, nada, nicht. By this time, a sensible person would have settled for tea or cocoa. Not Liz: the determination to get inside this jar overcame all sense of proportion. It was a battle between equal forces.  There was only one solution, to go in to the street and stop the first passer by who looked young and strong enough to do the deed. I made for the front door and opened it to find the postman on the step. What he thought is not recorded, but he opened the jar without jolting the contents all over the threshold and honour was saved both for the jar and for Liz.
Ironically, while there is confidence to sit on the bed, confidence in other areas has been badly upset and to some extent lost. In fact, it feels rather like the business of the coffee jar. You will, of course, have had the experience of opening something in such a way that the contents spill out all over the place. It seems the summer's illness opened my jar of confidence in such a manner as to splatter it everywhere.It must be possible to retrieve some of it and, unlike coffee, put it back in to the jar. Any thoughts about the most efficient way to do this would be very welcome. In the meantime, Liz will enjoy the pros of not giving a damn - or, anyway, not much of one - and the cons of recalcitrant coffee jars.  Bore da

Tuesday, 26 February 2013


As a rule I expect a mirror to reflect, accurately, that which is facing it. It's simple. However, my mirror, my inner mirror, that is,quite often reflects that which I would wish to see reflected in it. For instance, the other day I was on a bus. I had taken a seat near the front which displayed a sign giving priority to those "less able to stand".  The bus was very full and presently a lady boarded who was using two sticks. Dear Reader, my legs were about to lift me to my feet to accommodate her when the irony struck and I sat back hoping some real forty-year-old would have the grace to offer a seat. She did. During a recent snowy spell, I picked up the phone to see if an elderly friend was safe and to offer to clear her steps for her. This impulse and image dispersed only after she answered the phone and instantly asked me if I were mobile and if my steps were clear.  I have been more than forty for nearly as long ago as I was forty so it really is time I saw the world as it is not as my wish/instinct would want it to be.

A few days ago I went with one of my young to an exhibition. I don't do this often because my legs and back get tired before I have seen even a tenth of that for which I had come in the first place. Spying a wheelchair and being nothing if not practical he suggested we use it. The bullet was duly bitten and I clambered in." It's not that long", said I, with some rue, "since I was pushing you around". The pleasure of enjoying the exhibits without the habitual grinding pain of standing and walking too far did outweigh the intrinsic embarrassment of the situation, though. It only needed someone to speak of me in the third person, as in " Can she see from down there in that chair?" to highlight the dichotomy. "Why don't you ask her" quoth my pusher, at which the 'concerned' onlooker melted swiftly away in to the crowd. There is no rehearsal for old age. One can hope only that the sense of humour that saw one through the middle years will continue to serve one well in the final ones. I really don't see myself as someone who needs a wheelchair in a Museum, nor needing someone else to clear the snow. However, I do recognise my image in an actual mirror.  I have learned that that is also distorted and that what I see in front of me has not quite the same alignment as that which is seen by people  beside me in the same dimension .  Someone close to me caught sight of herself in a mirror the other day. Regarding her image she struggled to recognise the self it portrayed. Having spent her youth exquisitely beautiful she was not easily reconciled to the current reflection. No good to persuade her that, as it happened, that reflection was not an accurate representation of the  face the rest of us saw. The loss of the beauty she had enjoyed before would not be easily mollified by a sort of its-not-as-bad-as-you -think, however helpfully intended.
 I see there is some relationship between the mis-alignment in a looking glass and the perception of oneself as a person who gives her seat to others less able to stand whilst resting on her stick herself. "Between the idea and the reality, falls the shadow". : no doubt. Nos da

Saturday, 9 February 2013


My self and I are beginning to win the struggle with the Black Dog. As it happens, a friend introduced me to an idea. It was not really a new idea, but new as a formal philosophy in the context in which she put it. The idea is to make a friend of misfortune. In variouis shapes and forms, I have thought of and heard of this before. For many years I have been talking to parts of me that were in pain and getting them on side, so to speak. I have talked to dilemmas and analysed them in to reason. I can't ascribe the author of this particular exposition because I've forgotten it, but I was attracted to the notion of "hallowing misfortune" which is how it was put on this occasion. It doesn't feel so very different from making friends;  moves it in to a realm of sanctity, perhaps. Anyway, that's what I hope I've achieved with the Black Dog.
One outcome is that I have had to examine the phenomenon pretty minutely. Familiarity makes friendship more possible.With this exercise I found, to my puzzlement, that my inner world is like a jigsaw. One aspect of the Black Dog is that pieces of my inner jigsaw have become dislodged and realigned themselves in the wrong place. Patience for instance: patience has moved to where panic used to be. To expand: any annoying thing  I have been used to putting up with became impossible to manage. Down to six packets of cat food, and not yet able to carry much, I panicked. I had to give myself a good talking to, unravelling the strands until I was able to see that I could take a mini-cab, ask the driver to wait and bring me back for not much more than the delivery- to- door charge I normally pay for an order of too-heavy-to-carry groceries. (Cat litter, washing powder and the like if you must know). Forbearance is not unlike patience.  As it happens it has changed places with impatience. If someone speaks to me discourteously or sharply  a negative riposte springs too quickly to mind. Peace of mind and the belief in the general alrightness of things have swapped with anxiety. As a child I loved doing jigsaws. The trick was to put all the straight edged pieces together first so that one had a frame on to which to fit all the rest. I am at the stage, currently, where I have just about finished such a frame and am beginning to place random pieces where they should be. An added difficulty is that I don't have a picture on a box to guide me. There are at least two options. One is of an elderly lady, rather more than three score and ten, shorter than was,  peering uncertainly at a threatening landscape. The other is of a woman in early middle age, eager to get up and go,remembering her height gave her a great advantage putting a ball in a net, directing her world with confidence and aplomb. It feels scary to  see the mass of pieces in front of me, muddled and overlapping. Some days it's hard to see how they will ever make a cogent whole again. Perhaps, I have to forget any picture I have known before and locate them where they seem to want to go. How about an elderly lady, eager to get up and go who directs her world with confidence and aplomb. I like that picture. I shall make the jigsaw fit it. Nos da.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Double Trouble

Those of you kind enough to keep up may remember, from a post or so back, that I crashed my car. In fact, that turned out to be the trigger which let in the black dog. Not only did I have to deal with the stupidity and the loss, but with the ensuing hassle. All this was just before the Christmas period, a significant factor because there was pressure - self imposed - to have wheels for the holiday period. Following a family pow-wow it was decided I should go for an automatic. I do see the logic of this since most of my driving is done in heavy traffic but I have never found changing gear a problem in the past. What problem there was started with provenance. Where was I to source a suitable replacement? Picture it: there was I, ashamed to admit I mourned my twelve-year old car, not at full physical strength and, as it turned out, emotionally challenged, too. That arithmetic added up to my going to the dealer who had furnished and serviced the crashed car. It seemed an easy option. A vehicle was found, at another branch so some delay in seeing it. You can imagine, festivities looming, wheeless and low on bother, that I put pressure on them to hurry things up. Several fraught days went by but we got there eventually and I took delivery of a cheeky little car, electric blue and automatic. I had not test driven it. Dear Reader, when I did sit behind the wheel  of this car I now owned and went to start off, I found I could not squeeze the gear-shift to move it in to 'drive'. Surely my hand was not that arthritic. It was. A comparatively short version of the story is that I presently found myself behind the wheel of a manual car that lacked the spirit of the other but was conventionally co-operative. A deal was struck  and I went off leaving the skin of my teeth behind in the hope it would be ready for Christmas. It was.

Here enters the 'you-couldn't-have-made-it-up' element. It transpired that the car I had tried was actually already sold to someone else. An identical was available so all seemed well that ended well. It didn't: end well, that is. The twin car was duly delivered, without having been driven by me, so test free, as it were. I sat, for the first time, behind the wheel of my second attempt, wrong colour, wrong gear system but acceptable enough, to find - deep breath - that I couldn't turn the key in the ignition. You have correctly understood. I had bought a second car which I couldn't start. No, not test driven neither because it seemed self-evidently identical to the one I had actually driven. There was apparently no explanation as to why it should be different. The dealer agreed the key was seriously stiff but he could turn it. As I tell you this, I begin to see why my only recourse was to the black dog. I had bought and paid for two cars I couldn't start. Since the humour in the situation is a bit hard to hold on to as I unfold my tale to you, I think I may have to leave it there. However, for those of you who, like myself, would always like to know what happened next, I can say that a new system for starting the car was installed, at a further stringent cost. It operates by pressing a button which starts the engine from outside the car: not only from outside but from inside the house when the car is parked in the street some distance away. Enough! I am using public transport and avoiding those areas which require more than one change of bus or more than half a mile walk. When the black dog and I are on much better terms I may find the mojo to drive again. Bore da

Double Trouble

Monday, 21 January 2013

Canine lore

Happy New Year! Liz is back, aware that five weeks have passed since the last post. And there's the irony: the last post does have quite another association, one that comes rather nearer to explaining why so many weeks have gone by since I was last at the computer. Liz has been suffering from what Winston Churchill used to call the "Black Dog".  This was an entirely new experience and I hold myself very blessed that I have gone well passed three score and ten without it.  Depression: a very extreme form of 'can't be bothered'. There will be so many of you out there - at least, I hope there are so many who have waited, faithfully, for the silence to end - who know only too well what I mean. That having been said, I'm not sure I know, myself, what I mean.  The manifestation was in a difficulty, amounting to impossssibility, to get up. Having forced that step, courage and energy had to be found to get dressed. Liz got round this by wearing the same jumper and over-jumper every day. (Don't worry, the well part of her did keep changing the things that went under them.) Thereafter, finding something to do that was do-able occupied rather a lot of the remaining day. The aim was to reach a time when it was realistic to retire back to bed and watch television mindlessly. All confidence, all self-belief disappeared.  When I sought help to understand and withstand this phenomenon, I was told that it was a direct result of the near-death experience I underwent in the summer. This makes sense. The body is ravaged by such happenings and, ultimately, the mind must work through it.

You can imagine what piled up on the desk during those weeks. If I count the cost in money, the fines for not paying bills on time would make a tidy sum. What a dilemma! The less you can be bothered, the more things are waiting to be bothered about. One nasty chore a day became the aim and once actually sitting at the desk, it gradually became possible to do a bit more. I am left with some clarity I should  have come to sooner. I have begun to understand the reality of old age. The body, the mind begin to give up, to lose elasticity. Some things can never been regained, can never be replaced. There is more loss than gain out there. Time is reversed, There is more what was than what will be. But there is love and music and humour and that's not bad to be going on with.  There hasn't been much space for the 'going on 40' year old in these last weeks but she is still very much there.There are now four parts to Liz's life,the more than 75, the 40, the cat and the black dog. There is much to learn from the latter, but learn accept and respect we will. Prynhawn da; a funny car story next time. PS Yes, I have noticed the swing between first person and third. Anyone care to suggest what Liz/I was up to?