Wednesday, 29 June 2016


A subject I have often touched on, emphasised or  brought to your attention subtly or in your face, green-inked or simply typed is the vicissitudes of coping with the two edged sword of singledom and old age. The scenario seems to me to be inexhaustible.  Yesterday, I made an excursion right in to the city in order to buy a special gift for a special person.  Naturally, fortification was needed after the strain of choosing, paying and carrying so I dropped in to a cafe for a little something.  Came the moment when I needed the facilities. Picture Liz, handbag, precious gift and various add-ons strewn about her person trying to fit in to a miniscule space and find the room to deal  efficiently with the call of nature.  Oh for a companion to mind the goods while I went, free-wheeling, to the back of the place

Younger, I don't remember there being a problem.  Either I would be accompanied and could leave stuff in safe keeping, or I was agile enough to deal with it myself. Clothes that did up at the back necessitated a Resident Other. Roast chickens did for one shared meal. Currently, I am glad to see the back of it after the best part of a week. "Hold this." "Open that" "Close the other" are all redundant. I have not the slightest intention of taking a cruise: been there, done that.  But it is remarkable how all the advertising, offers and enticements are geared to two people sharing. I do remember, though, telling you, quite early on, how, travelling alone, I station myself at the baggage carousel, next to a likely-looking rugby player and affect shock horror when my case sails passed before I can reach to pull it off. Inevitably, kindness and brute force do come to my rescue.   If her/his bag comes before mine I simply find another qualifying candidate. It is by no means all hasselous, though.  I have the whole bed to myself, if you don't count the occasional feline visitor on the pillow next to mine. (I wouldn't mind at all except that he is Persian and has the concommittant bushy tail.  Fingers crossed that he faces the other way round when there are only his no-nose snores to accommodate). I can eat rubbish, buy ready-made, have cereal for supper and salad for breakfast. ( I wrote that for effect: I don't actually do it). There are potential problems if, for instance, I have an elderly lady's fall. It still surprises me how difficult it is to get up from the floor and I am grateful to be living in a small house where there is nearly always something nearby to grab on to. One helpful thing I have learned, though, is that you have to be in very good health to suffer the ills, diseases and impossibilities of old age singledom   Bore da

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Wednesday, 15 June 2016


Like many people with lives similar to mine, I watch rather too much television. Programmes I find I enjoy are often American or American-style thrillers which come in series. There are some cracking British ones, too, and the characters quickly morph in to friends whose well-being will be of some serious concern. Now, here's the rub: when a series ends, as usually it does, on a dramatic scene of life-threatening crisis in the life of one of your best friends, how are you going to survive comfortably with the awareness that you may not live to see the start of the next series when the crisis will be resolved and you can breath freely again. Or even, hold your breath if the pertinent character is still in crisis?

The predicament doesn't stop there. Think of all the young people whose development is too far ahead to be accessed by the like of us. Who knows, that toddler grandchild of your second cousin once removed could be Prime Minister one day. You may well be saved the experience of a world ruled by a mahogany-faced lunatic with scraps of orange hair or the propagation of a race evolved from pigs' bladders and pieces of well-oiled technology, but you will also miss the crowning of King George or even King William.  (I am rather expecting I might witness the crowning of King Charles since Her current Majesty is even older than I am).  It would be good to think that a cure will be found for all the inhibiting niggles that come with three score and more than ten. I expect, though, to be long gone before someone waves a  magic wand over my arthritic bits and pieces, my aching frame and disobedient muscles and makes them forty again.  I am counting on the assumption that we all, of whatever vintage, would hope to see, while we are  extant, cures of the currently incurable, clean water for the millions who don't have it and, dare I presume, peace where war prevails. Instincts  along those thought lines must go without saying.  The Guru is a really gifted man. I am sad that I won't be here to witness where his abilities have taken him in, say, ten years time. I do wonder, too, whether my four-footed, short, dark, handsome bed-fellow will go on to be twenty two years old as did the beloved cat of someone close to me. I shall, however, be gratefully pleased to share  with him whatever time we may still have in common.

Which brings me back to my opening exposition: it is with the profoundest gratitude that I note that the finale episodes of my two best companionable series, breath-holding with potential disaster, did end with happy-ever-after resolutions. One of them had our heroine leap out of an unconscious hospitalised state to stride a horse and gallop off, holding her wounded side, to save her life-threatened husband and the other gave a seven- years-after - the- villains -had- apparently- succeeded -in- annihilating- our- heroes scene, a final scene of  blissful domesticity with rather a lot of miniature human beings created in their image.  Now I can not know what-came-next with aplomb and satisfaction, alive or not. Bore da

Friday, 3 June 2016


A life covering a number of decades will have experienced/witnessed/adjusted to many changes in fashion and trends, or even fashionable trends if you like. Some are inspired. Some are useful and some are downright codswallop.

Take fish: why on earth would you serve it skin-side up? By the time you have turned it over you will have scattered all its accompaniments and splashed its sauce, should it have one, over everything else on the plate. Likewise, the tower. Meat or fish topped with potato topped with a field mushroom topped with two sprigs of broccoli. Often in the time taken to dismantle this the food is cool and/or too much for the horizontal space on the plate.  That is, of course, if you have been given an horizontal plate. What factor enhances solid food by serving it in a soup bowl? The knife slides up and down the slope.  There is not enough space on the flat part to do an efficient job of cutting up  and there is a sense of the Chef having, somehow, won in the battle of supremacy between her/his genius and your discernment. In the interests of civilisation, I do look around at eaters in a tower-building restaurant. Believe me: we all dismantle the nuisance edifice.  Even if you could cut through it, whose jaw is capable of accepting a four inch multi-  layered bite?
 What and why are twice-fried chips?  Anyway, what has happened to 'twice'?  Has it gone the way of 'thrice' because, only too often, I am hearing 'two times' whenever there is a 'twice one'. Years ago, there was a saying that standing by a 'bus stop, an Englishman would form an orderly queue of one. Graceless saying, in my view, but useful to describe the good manners which prevailed in some place in some forgotten era. I could green ink about manners for the rest of my days without being sure if the lack of them is a trend or fashion or just the idleness of a 'me first' collective unconscious. I have a dear friend, a musician, who threatens to compile a list of restaurants that don't play music. Whose idea was it that, without choice, (willy nilly, as it were), a diner is subject to whatever carry-on the manager dreams,or nightmares, up to make discourse between friends just a bit challenging? Dear Reader, I have just noticed one of the most pervasive trends of them all: the demise of the subjunctive. So let me rephrase that. "Whose idea was it that a diner be subject to whatever etc etc. Bore da