Sunday, 28 February 2016


It has occured to me that the thrust of this blog may have given the impression that there is little or no acceptance of chronological age, that the inner world has stuck at 40. I hasten to disabuse any of you faithful followers who may have come to that conclusion. Where the 40 bit matters is largely in the physical. My inner forty-year old fights the restrictions various painful conditions impose. There is a certain irony in having to choose a cinema I can reach, by public transport or car, that deposits me near enough to avoid a - for me - long walk. Indeed, one of my locals has steep steps up to one screen and steep steps down to the other. In the same vein, restaurants with facilities on the same level as the tables are a necessary first choice. The 'going on 40' section of my title is still dancing through the wee hours, going to jazz clubs and walking three miles home after public transport has stopped. That part of me doesn't expect to be invisible to people who bump in to the old lady as if she were not there at all.

If I am really honest with you,  if I were still forty, I could join in the lives of the young people close to me in a way I would really relish. As it is, their stories are mostly a closed book to me and I would be in serious danger of a painful rebuff if I pushed too hard to be allowed in. (Too many metaphors, I fear). My toes curl at the memory,  when I was young, of my elders attempting to be one of the girls when my friends and I were in to the cocoa- and- biscuits- sitting- on- the -floor stage. At the heart of the matter, though, is the way it actually feels to be the age I really am. I am who I am. That's the best bit. I am, as the French would have it, comfortable in my skin. There are huge advantages in this condition. I know what I mean and can find the exact words to express it. I am confident to say that I am not about to stick to a regulation that doesn't make sense to me and is, at bottom, an expression of power in she/he who laid it down. I find I am willing to have a look - alright, analyse - my responses and reactions particularly when they are negative, thus cutting down the number of times I do or say something inappropriate and/or foolish.

 The other evening I went to a gig the Guru's band was playing at an extremely illustrious venue. His music is swing and jazz: my era for certain. They gave one set in an hour of pure excitement and joy and were well cheered to the over-air -conditioned rafters. There was an 'after party'. Me, I am no longer forty. I went home. Bore da

Saturday, 13 February 2016

More Snows of Yesteryear

A strange phenomenon has been brought to my attention.  There is a way in which the world seems to be divided in to mentors and those who are mentored. (Can you imagine Liz writing 'mentee' ?)  There are those who are blessed with an intuitive understanding of what people are capable of and a talent for showing them how to achieve it.  There is, however, an uncomfortable consequence: the mentor is usually left behind as the fledging fledges leaving her/him behind, no longer wanted.

I suppose the inevitable starting point for this would be parenting. From help with shoe laces to help with Higher Mathematics - the latter not in Liz's household, I hasten to point out - there is a range of lessons and supervision which it would be not only impractical but tedious to recite. Then comes the day when the young are, if not wiser, at least fuller of contemporary knowledge than their erstwhile teachers and mentors. Currently, this must be truer than ever before. Planet Earth has exploded in to an orbit of technology unrecognisable to many of us who are seventy five going on forty. Any spirit fortunate (?) enough to think of returning to this planet would be tempted to sue for wrong delivery, finding themselves expected to twitter and face the book and to choose their onions sight unseen and delivered by a vehicle primed by a computer. The mentoring phenomenon becomes rather more unexpected when it moves from actual parenting of the young and very young, sprung from the mentor's loins, to any random adult hovering outside her or his potential, unable to take the plunge in to what seems to be the unsafe world of the possibly possible. A mentor may act through the physical, as when an accident or Fate have produced a malfunction. I am thinking of physiotherapists, nurses, speech therapists and so on. Mainly what I have in mind, though, is mentoring of the spirit. Think of a young person who, because of conditions over which she/he had no control, emerged in to young adulthood without the confidence to buy a loaf of bread, for instance. A handy mentor would find a way to instil the ability to undertake this seemingly mundane chore so that confidence would sprout and enable the 'student' to undertake even more tasks previously thought of as out of reach.
This rather simplistic example may be at one end of a spectrum which ends with the confidence to apply for a significant job, marry, perform and so on and so forth. However, in all cases, the mentor must watch as the 'student' plunges in to fulfilment and is soon out of sight while the mentor is, equally, soon out of mind. How often would YOU think back   to the person with the starting gun as you race, without her/him, to the finishing post? Prynhawn da

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Nowt nor Somat

As I suspect I have green-inked about this more than once before. Yet I find myself  impelled to do so once again. Yesterday morning my mobile phone (cell) woke me at 7.45. So up I get, track down my handbag (purse) locate the frantic phone, slump back on the bed and answer it. It was the garage advising me my car needed its M.O.T (road-worthiness) test because the current one runs out in two days. I suggested it was a bit early to ring a retired person, offered to ring them back (when my brain was also awake) and would they please, in future, use my land line. This was a request repeated with every contact with them.

As before, they agreed. However, it set me thinking. Just about everyone from toddling to retirement has a mobile phone and this object is carried close to their person in pocket or bag. It means that one can be reached absolutely anywhere. No more hopelessly ringing your home phone in their office hours which exactly co-incide with your office hours. "We have tried without success to contact you a number of times...." which results in being thrown off their list, disinherited, a penalty charge, an appearance at the Magistrates' Court and so on and so forth. To everyone younger than I am it makes no sense at all to use any other means of communication. I can just about remember where the d.... thing is and hear it only when I have my hearing aids in, never mind seeing it as connecting me to the rest of the world.  I have learned to give only the landline number when asked, just as I have learned to say "Mrs. Mountford" when giving my  name if I don't want the teenager in accounts to call me "Elizabeth"  A shaft of light pierced the mist and mobile phones suddenly fell in to their proper seat in the current world. The problem for a 75 going on 40 is how to take advantage of technology without losing touch with things which still work in the old style. How would I be a Mumsnet Blogger without it? How would I acquire  an urgently needed book - for a discussion group, since you ask - without amazing Amazon. How would I fill my mineral water needs and my washing machine needs without the online supermarket?  But I am not prepared to expose my banking needs to technology, nor do I pay bills nor perform any other such delicate duties using it. There must be a way in which I can find a compromise so that I am neither Luddite nor Technolover. At the moment I am neither one thing nor the other, (hence "nowt nor somat"). I an straddling the C20th and the C21st and at serious risk of being torn apart astride those two. I beseech you: advise me how to resolve this dilemma before I am forced to do the proverbial splits. Not a good look on an old lady. Bore da