Tuesday 1 July 2014

Sine Qua Non

Far be it from me to show off:  (note the title). It is, simply, that seven decades or so ago when I was at school, we were all treated to lessons in Latin as a matter of course; rarely part of the current curricula it would seem. Heaven forfend I should be expected to read and understand it now, but there are a few phrases which the old man in the archives will still throw up from time to time. The fact that 'num' expects the answer 'no' is a frequent one. It took some getting used to, I remember, that there was no 'yes' nor 'no' in Latin, only a way of putting a question that expected either the answer in the negative or one in the positive. ('Nonne' for positive if you are still interested and I have remembered correctly.) A for instance might be "you are not hungry are you?" "No, I am not" Or, "I note that you are hungry""Yes, I am". It fascinated me to learn that the same applies in Mandarin. "Hot, not hot?" "Hot.". would serve to illustrate. No, I don't speak Mandarin. Someone close to me does. Anyway, back to today: I am in a mood to tell you that with which I cannot do without. We can start with breakfast. Of course, none of us can do without breakfast - or shouldn't anyway. What I had in mind was what went with breakfast, namely twelve tablets, all white and one capsule, yellow. This conglomeration, or whatever one calls a collection of tablets and one capsule, are meant to keep me going and on an even keel. These I swallow daily, matitudinally, and am, so far, still with you. Then there is the patch. This is applied once a  week and is intended to help with the chronic pain caused by the wonky back.The packet contains instructions to note the exact time of day at which I apply the patch so that it can be replaced at precisely the same time next week.

There are also several things you already know about without which I cannot do. My stick seat is one. It is invaluable as a walking stick and half valuable as a seat. Because, silly, if I open up the top to access its seating property, I run the risk of being tipped off it by any passing dog or scooter-fired toddler.. Around my house are several aids to safety or wobble-avoiders, like grab handles here and there, mostly in the shower, and a sort of bar thing slid under the mattress at the side of the bed that I grasp to lever myself out of it - the bed, that is. A process of elimination applies to the opposite of 'without which not', which I understand as "with which not". Shorts would be one example. No matter the heat, the locality or the company, shorts are not age-appropriate. Forward planning is another. Fellow volunteers at the hospital where I work are given an award according to the number of years they have worked there. The honour starts at five years. I may, just about, make that. The ten year badge is extremely likely to be outside my time span. Lovely shoes are also a with which not. I just can't risk falling over so am resigned to sensible what my Mother would have called 'cuban heels'. Such shoes don't come fancy. Romantic love qualifies: definitely 'with which not'. But love of the caritas kind is deeper and richer and more widespread. There is also less anger, less injury and less offence. However, I am even less inclined to obey rules, the 'without which not' of other peoples' ideas of how things should be, even pain patches. Come to think of it, the greatest of all the ' sine qua non' has to be, as above, love. Never mind the tablets, the capsule, the sensible heels, the real ' without which not'' is simply love. Bore da

1 comment:

Tanya Roussopoulos said...

Brilliant, thank you Liz. From walking sticks to grab rails to love, your sine qua non items are so funny and apposite. I read it in bed with a stiff shoulder and it's galvanised me to face the day. Warm wishes to you.