Sunday, 24 July 2016


One of the ways we observe, note and enjoy any  babies passing through our lives is by anticipating their inevitable stages of development. She/he has smiled. There is a tiny white line on her/his gum: Heavens above, a tooth on its way.  In the meantime, she/he will have sat up insupported, then raised her/himself to her/his feet clinging on to the side of the cot, (crib). Soon will come the attempt to walk holding on to a caring finger or a table top or whatever comes to hand - which falls to the ground, both the support and the baby. There is a delicious anticipation of  the pleasure of seeing her/him feed her/himself, of holding a bowl of porridge over her/his head crying "all gone" as the remains dribble down her/his chubby cheeks. Hair has appeared and is fine and whispy. We know that  nursery and then 'big' school will follow.  All this is true even if we are semi-detached grown-ups watching friends, neices, nephews, children on the 'bus on the way to and from unavoidable school.  Each time the little one comes upon another milestone one or more will have been left behind. One cannot, except in certain tragic circumstances, unlearn how to stand, how to walk, how to feed oneself.  That is a positive outcome. These steps are of the essence.  We have some idea of the rites of passage, even if we have not bred the young ourselves.  We may even have noticed them in our own history and inner worlds. However, by and large, the milestones are mostly for the best and may  be expected to lead to a mature and integrated grown up person.

The thing - one of them - about growing old is that the  milestones work the other way round.  Instead of going forward towards more prowess, more participation we start to leave things behind, to go backwards down the road relinquishing what was, marking the way to whatever will be at the end of it. The Guru, amongst other things, runs a swing band. I have had to pass the milestone of a significant gig in a huge venue because there would be nowhere to sit. Once down on the grass there would be nothing short of two tall men to get me up again. When bikinis first appeared on the summer scene, I wore them. Another milestone passed.  Kind readers who follow me may remember the scarlet swimsuit.  Believe me, it covers as much of me as is practible and emerges from its cover-up on the very edge of the sea and not before. I no longer hike along the banks of the Ure - nor anywhere else for that matter. On my last visit 'home' with someone close to me, we borrowed a wheel chair to move me around. When asked how he managed to push me up the hills, my motivator replied that that was no problem and he would let me free-wheel down!

 What I have been telling you is very visual in my inner world: something circuitous about the journey as if I would approach the milestones backwards, losing teeth, failing to walk, to stand,  hair whispy and so on. It's hard to know if a little one knows whom she/he is.  I believe I do. In passing back along the milestones there is a constant and it is me. Nos da

Afterthought:  of course it's not circuitous.  It is the same, straight - ish - road I trod but going in the other direction.  Good night again

Tuesday, 19 July 2016


This year, as always, I failed to watch Wimbledon. (For those of you Dear Readers who live on another planet, this is an annual lawn tennis contest which takes place in the south west of London). There is a very good reason for this: some fifty five years ago I was confined to bed conserving an embryonic first-born whom we hoped would not miscarry as several had before.  To while away the time I listened to the commentries,  on-going as play proceeded.  Ever since, I can neither hear nor see the tennis without feeling a pregnancy nausea.

No doubt you all have similar physical memories which don't always have any inner-world words to go with them. On the occasions when I carry a tray on my hip, (to have a hand free for the bannister, of course), I feel the sway of an aircraft on a windy day.  If ever I am carried away knitting too long for arthrtic hands, the ache takes me back to hours spent practising the piano some seventy years ago.
I can't light a gas hob on my cooker without an inner jumping back against the time the jet seemed to explode and set fire to a pan handle awaiting its turn for the heat. On the rare occasions when my aristocratic, sweet tempered but otherwise rather aloof cat allows me to hold him, I have a lovely warmth in my chest and remembered posset on my shoulder.  Recently, I underwent some tests to determine why my body wobbles at the hint of an excuse.  I was asked to close my eyes and lift my legs up and down as fast as I could.  For a cyclist - or anyone, come to that - Wales is full of hills. I don't need, in that case, to give you my psychosomatic reaction to that particular exercise. Of course, there are countless examples of illnesses which spring from a problem the inner world is having difficulty to process. Sometimes, the background story is not a happy one.  I was acquainted with a man who, all his life, had had a problem with one of his knees.  As a child he had been unable to pursue a sport or even engage in much physical play.  After many years and in rather special circumstances it emerged that he had had a stillborn twin who was delivered holding on to my acquaintance's knee. Sudden loud bangs bring up the walls of the cellar under my parents' house  where we sheltered from the bombing raids, and, yes, even the smell of the cosy 'siren suit' I slept in the quicker to take cover if there were a raid.  However, the sight of an ice-cream cone leaves me not only hot and prickly with remembered sand  but also, because I do indulge, joyous with the reproduced heaven of the soft, sweet, deliciousness trickling down my childhood fingers.  Bore da.

Sunday, 3 July 2016


Picking up a handbag upside down can prove very educational.  The contents obligingly fall out and give you the chance to evaluate what you have heretofore regarded as without-which-not to carry around.  It made me think about how this has changed over the stages and decades of a life lived 'in case'.

My first handbag was in the shape of a sun-flower and similarly coloured. Inside was a penny, a hankerchief - that is, a piece of linen about six inches square which preceded the paper tissue with which the inside of a contemporary bag is usually littered - rather more money than a penny when I had grown enough to be sent to buy bread or butter. Milk was delivered and, today, carrying the weight of it, I remember the milkman and his horse and cart with nostalgia, and a postage stamp: don't ask.  Oh, and as soon as I was allowed to go to the corner shop by myself, my phone number in case of a crisis. I graduated to a bigger one, square with short handles, which I wore on my wrist from my dozen through my early  teens..  This one contained a purse with proper money, a mirror china-backed with a  picture of a tabby cat, again a handkerchief  and, strictly without my Mother's knowledge, some pink-tinted lip gloss.  Make up was absolutley forbidden until eighteen years had passed so the subterfuge was essential to give a little glow to pale lips.  By now there was also a comb but I remember using it only when I thought I may bump in to the boy who interested me. There was also a season ticket for the 'bus in to town.  Next came a grown-up bag.  By now there were a lipstick, a powder compact with a mirror, a miniature hair brush, a pair of stockings - in case of a ladder, sillly, a pen, which often leaked the fluid ink which worked it,  a diary/ address book, {some of them in code), letters to be posted and a season ticket for the Underground to get me to college.  There was a separate brief case which carried college stuff. Things remained much the same for a few years with the addition of a passport  and some tights until I came to need a rather bigger one. In this I carried, as well as all of the above, tissues, cotton-wool, plasters, scissors, a little packet of bribes - er, I should say sweets - and enough small money to use a public telephone in a crisis. Currently, there are all the things that constitute 'above' in the examples  above , plus a Blue Badge disabled drivers' permit to park, a 'Freedom Pass' for public transport travel, a mobile phone, countless crumpled credit-card receipts, a credit card, a debit card should I run out of cash and a purse with such cash. There is a lipstick, which I no longer bother to use, a hair brush which I do, no tights because I usually wear trousers, a pen with solid ink for doing the crossword when eating alone and a nourishing nut-bar because hunger is uncomfortable.  Like Ernest, my life begins in my handbag.  I trust it won't end there. Prynhawn da