Saturday, 23 September 2017

Loose Ends...

As it happens, I've missed you and I hope you've missed me.

Since I've always told it as I see it, I will do so now... but if you don't fancy what that might bring - Goodbye and God Bless You.

First of all, this business of dying - it's boring. Energy levels, too little to tap a screen; and the guru, too busy to put down his phone. Somewhere, someone is making disproportionate decisions about the disposition of my gorgeous, comfortable, sleep-confirming double bed. And I'm helpless to intervene. Be warned! Delicate decisions and activities which don't require articles have to be arranged well in advance.

Be prepared for loneliness, homesickness and all that stiff-upper-lip rubbish.

If you have a raison-d'etre to keep going, do so gracefully if only you know how. I'm reminded of a story fifty years old... Of the fiftieth birthday party of a passionate Non-Believer, whose wife was an equally Passionate Believer. They spent many, many rich hours discussing the viability of God's existence. This birthday party was adressed by the wife's minister, listing all the admirable and amazing qualities of the birthday boy, culminating in the following: God, if you exist, bless Erik Erikkson, if he exists.

God Bless You All, if you exist.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

The More Things Change....

To be honest I don't think I have ever understood the french saying that goes "the more things change, the more they stay the same".  This is not my experience.  Today were delivered two what my Mother and her friends would have called zimmer frames.  I don't remember what they are called currenmtly but something a bit less stark, I suspect, or something with less negative connotations. Anyway, there are two whatevers, one for upstairs and one for down. The idea is to do all possible to save me from yet another fall, of which there have been rather too many of late. Mind you, getting off the bed, stumbling to reach the frame and propelling it and me to the bathroom in the middle of the night may just prove as counter-productive as crawling there on my hands and knees would be.  Actually, though, it's not the mobility-aid aspect of it which gets to me as much as the overwhelming feeling of witch-like old age.  Come on now, you know  what I mean.  There am I, at five foot three instead of the five foot six I used to be, crouched over a contraption that automatically in imagination turns ones hair iron grey and adds a hump to the erstwhile smooth sweep of the prideful carriage of  previous years: indeed, of the day before yesterday.

Somewhere there is a goblin-like close relative of the Wizard of Cyberspace engaged with him in a deadly race to see who can bring me to  my knees with the most profound humiliation and the direst evidence that nothing that changes stays the same.  Take appetite: I am used to being as hearty a trencherwoman as the next.  Now I look at my breakfast soft bolied egg and half a banana and work out how soon I can push the plate away and be done with this eating business, even for the time being..  Even a pub Sunday roast stopped appealing when the experience moved from my eyes to my taste buds. Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, they make me drool just to think of them.  Eating them has the opposite effect as in ' how soon can I leave all this and go quietly home for a bar of choclolate.'. Along with the walking frames came a pole or two which were to be applied on the side of the staircase where there was no indigenous banister or other aid to the unstable.  These poles turned out to  be of untreated wood, a long way from splinter-free with spidery wisps of un-smoothed wood where a polished end piece may have been expected.  I was on my knees sweeping up the sawdust left by this installation when I realised this was not a job for someone who had need of an extra hand rail, the one precluding the other, and I had better tolerate the mess than find myself stuck on the staircase unable to move on no matter how many hand rails were there to assist me..I conclude there is only one solution to an otherwise impossible situation: change the name of the blog from "75 going on 40" to "Methuselah going on  two years old". Prynhawn da.

Friday, 30 June 2017

Sunday Best

Recently, I was looking for an envelope, an everyday sort of no-nonsense envelope, when I discovered I was out of them.  In the relevant  drawer were only some rather elegant, thick white ones usually saved for letters of some significance, congratulations, condolences and beggings for forgiveness for example.  Wearily, I added common or garden envelopes to my 'must do' list and accepted my letter would have to wait until I had had time and energy to climb the hill of local shopping, Then, as I lay down to recover from the hassle, it came to me there could be another solution: use the 'posh' ones.

Dear Reader, I leapt off the bed, re-inspired, and put my letter in to the envelope that was rather too far above its station. It then came to me that this was a phenonmenon capable of massive extension.  With a terminal illness I should have no more need of 'keeping for best'. I could look in my underwear drawer and enjoy the frills and laces that had been kept for special occasions. (Don't ask) .Likewise socks, tights and stockings.  These days I mostly wear socks which will do nicely under trousers and stockings require something on which to attach them to keep them up. I therefore extracted a suspender belt, also frills and lace but, here's the rub, my waist was no lomger the size it had been when this item was purchaased. The next obvious step was to review my wardrobe.  Nowadays I do live rather an indoor life so there wouldn't me much scope for dresses and silk blouses and the like. However, my remembered forty-year old self had enjoyed the feeling of silk against my skin so I added those blouses to the 'what-are-you-keeping-them-for pile. Further down the house is the china cupboard.  Here rest several china tea sets the heritage of Mother and Mother-in-law and one that had been a seriously indulgant purchase of a don't- want- to- live -without- it set of my own. You have guessed correctly: I now take my hot drinks in exquisite fine bone china.  The cups take about a half of the capacity of the ubiquitous mug, But who cares, I can aleays refill. ( Though I do remember and have noticed again, that the second cup is never as lovely as the first.} If this trend continues I shall have to wear some exquisite night attire that has been closetted since a way of life  ended a couple of decades ago.  My bed is now covered by a glorious, antique, embroidered linen counterpane which has been masquerading as a picture folded over a brass pole at the end of the bed ever since I moved in. I even  manage to risk the Honourable Cat having a go at it - not so far .Fortunately, the  concept of Sunday Best no longer bears the tediousness of having to sit still, eat carefully and not play games which  it bore in its origins.  Bore da

Thursday, 15 June 2017


It would be comforting to think you may have missed me because I havent 'posted' for too long.  I confess that energy levels vary from ok through okish to what energy? via you-are-joking-aren't you.  As it happens, though, if I push past the reluctance the energy will spring in and I am good to go

. I find myself the victim of a strange phenomenon. Bits of me are being broken off and dealt with by varying others and varying organisations.  For instance, I have  had to assign a piece of me to an Occupational Therapist. She needs the part that lies on the bed and is in apparent danger of pressure sores, and worse.  As it happens, I do not lie that long and that still but   O.T. good practice requires me to have a special pressure-proof mattress which has the effect of lifting the bed an extra six inches and precludes the use of a fitted bottom sheet. As you may have noticed, I am not one of life's most eager compliers so a certain amount of tension was created while I negotiated the O.T. down to a promise on my cat's life that I would ring the instant I found I actually needed such an extra mattress. She also has the bit of me that uses a grab-rail two thirds of the way down the bed and helps when I pull myself up off the bed,which food and nature require I do from tiome to time. There is a portion with the District Nurse who has taken over the sore bits of me both left over by the Podiatrist who now just has me as a name on a 'was'list and various other cuts and blemishes about which YOU NEVER KNOW. There is a palliative care doctor who takes that part of me that does need her services and also arranges delightful massage-type treats for a happily consigned back and legs,  I do find all this a challenge, particularly when I feel bossed in to doing something I wouldn't dream of doing if I were still a wholly holistic me.  I would not, by instinct, stuff an extra pillow under one leg - which one did she say? - in order to prevent whatever it is I am supposed to be preventing.  How does anyone sleep soundly if worrying about displacing a pillow whose purpose one hasn't grasped in the first place and whose presence threatens a cramp which disturbs  all the shoulds and musts and shouldn'ts and oughts whatever the initial good intention. Myself, I end up dreaming of an egg falling off  a wall whose survival was beyond all the King's horses and all the King's men from before the start of time and without benefit of Health and Safety . Prynhawn da

Thursday, 25 May 2017


A couple of weeks ago someone with whom I grew up died.  This had repercussions, some predictable and some unexpected.  The greatest of the latter was like the opening of a door in to a room packed with as- if tangible memories, visual, spiritual and emotional.  A lumber room which had been closed so long I had no recall of what had been stowed away in there and could even have denied the presence of some items another person would have sworn she/he had seen me put  in there.

I saw her winding my wet hair around her fingers to make ringlets that would dry my hair curly.  I saw us playing on the beach near where we lived.  I am wearing a sort of ruched swimsuit that little girls wore eight decades ago. There were long-forgotten smells, like the one of our home with a splash of pipe tobacco in it which my Father smoked. There, too, was the cat we shared, a black and white moggy whose name I didnt find amongst the items.  I had the black bit and she the white. There were chicken cluckings from the birds we kept for their eggs.  Had you asked me last week, I suspect I wouldn't have known we kept chickens  Much of the room was filled with relics of the second world war during which we grew up.  There was my siren suit, with its cats ears, ready to step into the moment the air raid sirens went. I think that siren suit's ears were the trigger for a life-long passion for cats. There, too, was the bolster she used to divide her bed when I had to sleep with her because visitors had my room. Not everything was related to the lost-one.  I saw school notebooks and a letter of commendation from a later time when  I had done a good job in a crisis at work.  On that occasion - fog at London Airport - I met Louis Armstrong as we travelled by train to fog-free Scotland for take off. There is a very real risk this analogy, if that's what it is, is running out of believability But, in that vein, mostly it was the essence of the Departed that I kept catching.   In today's terms she had had a very difficult early life, a text book nightmare of confusion, loss and change which went un-remarked by the adults responsible for us, as would have been usual in that era.  She dealt with her way of being in the world by being a performer: being what each of us wanted her to be whenever we wanted her to be it.  This couldnt be kept up all day every day so I think I experienced as much of the reality of her as anyone did.  Anyway, now she is no longer called upon to perform.  She is in a place, at last, where she is safe to be herself. Bore da

Monday, 8 May 2017

Grandma's Eggs

Teaching ones Grandmother to suck eggs is a phrase I have never got my understanding around. Of course, I do know that it means it is unwise to teach Grandma something she undoubtedly knows already, but why "suck eggs"?  I didn't know either of my Grandmothers.  I do know the ethos of my family, though, and sucking eggs doesn't strike me as having been a routine pastime for family visits.

What I have in mind at the moment is, nevertheless, egg-related.  Think of an egg-timer: Turn it upside down from its Grandma position and there you have "advice for the young".  Once again, my pedantry would like to clear things with the youngster-in- an- old - container basis of this blog.  I think it works,  Besides, a pedant with a terminal illness has to look passed its ps and qs occasionally. Right, first piece of advicce.  1) Keep fit. Your ancient body will have enough to cope with so muscle-neglect during earlier times can only present a doodled- on sheet of paper on which to sketch your older mobility.  2) Watch your teeth.  Those of us brought up in the second world war have had to be extra vigilant.  Regular dental care was not always possible.  Preparation for your day can take long enough without the added hassle of organising teeth and avoiding apples. 3) Leave your hair alone. Well, not entirely alone.  By all means wash, dry, brush, comb and even pop in a few rollers if it would help the shape.  Have it well cut.   Do not colour.  False hair doesn't go with real skin .  It just doesn't so keep your hair in good condition and don't pretend grey is brown. 4) Don't use energy to find romance if your are not already in a relationship of some standing.  Romance is lovely but tiring, demanding, frustrating and with rules that may have changed since you did it last.  A warm, funny, conversational companion spells romance after three score years and ten.  There's a bonus if the physical stuff is possible, too, but see  (1) above.  5) Read the papers.  You can only too easily be left in the cold while the younger attendees of a gathering discuss, argue and fear the portent of current news. No time to read?   Don't pretend: you do have time enough now you have almost none of the duties of your younger days. 6) Try to ration discourse which begins " when I was your age/young/fit/working"  Few younger companions will give a d..n.  7) Accept that long-term givens may turn in to present impossibilities.  You may have been used to walking along the banks of the river Ure mile after mile with lunch at a pub twelve miles on.  Be thankful,  now, that there is a pub at the top of your road.  8) If you didn't learn Italian or German or  re-learn Welsh, be straight with yourself.  You were neglectful: live with it. 9) Above all, relax. you are whom you are.  Time to let yourself off the persistent struggle to be a better person. ,Good enough is good enough  Prynhawn da

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Short Cuts

Having always had a leaning towards unorthodox solutions, I find, in my current circumstances, that I am even more inventive about competent management.

At one point in my life, I had a little studio in my home county.  This, in itself, is unremarkable.  However, it meant that of many things I have two.  For instance, I have two small travelling clocks.  What makes more sense than having one at either side of the bed so that, on whichever side I am lying, I can see what time it is  Some examples are quite ordinary and no doubt apply to everybody.  In every possible place of need there is a box of tissues.  There are, by the same reckoning, rather too many telephones distributed where I can pick them up two rings post first one..  I know, I know, why not just have one mobile phone one can carry in one's pocket?  Where's the challenge in that?  I remember, as a fairly little one, confusing my Mother by asking for a second bar of soap: one to rest on the hand basin and one by the bath.  My experience having been that the only bar of soap found itself at whichever site I  was not.  As an 'accompanying other' in my earlier life I travelled a great deal.  I had two complete toilet bags and two make up bags so that all I had to do to be ready was pick them up and go.  Mind you, there is a school of thought that suggests there is something therapeutic in picking up one's toileteries to pack one by one as a way of taking leave and of replacing them, similarly, as a way of coming home. This method would probably help even a bad case of Transition Anxiety.  Perhaps I havent told you about this phenomenon for which I humbly (not too humbly) take credit. While I was working and met many performing musicians who moved about a lot I identified a situation where one was neither still at the starting point nor yet at the destination.  For instance, waiting for a taxi.  You are sitting in your hall but can''t feel still at home in  your spirit but not yet on your way to wherever.  This situation can cause  feelings of real distress and anxiety.  Clearly, it matters more the greater the gap between the here and the there.  A better example of that may be if you emigrate from your home country to live in another.  With your old home emptied by the removers you can't feel as if you still live in it but you have yet to arrive in your new environment: (nowt nor somat, as I've pointed out before).   You are, thus, in transition and must treat yourself kindly and with respect. Actually, the truth seems to be that what I really relish in all this  is that very challenge to find a solution. .  Bore da

Saturday, 15 April 2017


Before I wander off to other spheres, I feel compelled to add one more 'Commonplace' to the ones in the previous post and to elaborate on another. The latter first:  there were so many words around choclate that I lost the will to choose so it ended up reading just like stuff from my 'bucket list' without quotes, academically annoying. . The addition comes from one of the many cat-related books you won't be surprised to hear that I have been given over so many feline-worshipping years "All around the world people are enduring great discomfort in order not to disturb the cat."  A Commonplace collection is without end but I do think it is time to return to the main theme which should still be the dichotomy between chronological age and the age of the spirit.

I suppose there is a variation, now, though.  It has to be more to do with the on-going consistency of the age of my inner world alongside the knowledge that both that and the outer world are earmarked to come to a predicted end in due course.  It should go without saying that there will be an end for us all: it does feel a bit different, though, to have been told when that is likely to turn up - as in toes, if you believe the old saw. There are amusing side issues.  Dear friends involved in the planning of a wedding are facing problems of numbers. There are separated parents and steps and the young all to consider for a small venue and I hesitated to say that I could be left out of any problematic arithmetic since it was towards the end of this year. I am daring the appliances in my kitchen and laundry to break down.  I have no intention of replacing anything expensive at this stage.  There is a sense of relief in letting go of certain domestic duties.  After all, this and that in disrepair will either have to be dealt with by the young or represent a not too serious lowering of a potential selling price. It is too late to respond to the advertisements for Life Insurance although the television is always urging me to buy this or that scheme to " save my family from excessive funeral costs". I never notice these ads other than in the afternoons.  Does the advertising world consider it is only young children and Mothers, making up the afternoon audience, who would want to subscribe to such schemes? I struggle to make order in a tsunami of paper and have already consigned one huge black rubbish bag to the brazier of another friend. Would it be fairer to leave behind three tonnes of out of date documents instead of five? I confess I came across papers relating to a car I havent owned for twenty years. Go figure as I am told they say over the Pond. The trees of the neighbour who wouldnt let me pay to have them lowered so that the summer sun would not leave my garden at 2.45 because " where was the benefit to (him)?" are coming in to leaf. Potentially one less irritation to be endured.  Bore da

Tuesday, 4 April 2017


First, I should explain the break in transmission.  This technophobe, in process of writing a post looked up to see that what I had typed was now on the screen in letters two inches high.  If I could touch-type I might have caught it earlier but I was rarely looking at the screen  Anyway, after a couple of weeks of despair - no Guru: too busy - I started to click on this, that and the other and finally discovered how to change the font to one that made more sense.  I have no idea which of the clicks-on brought this about so couldn't do it again no matter what size the Wizard  were to send next time, That having been explained, to business.

A week or so ago a friend lent me a Commonplace Book.  In case one or other of you has not had the pleasure of perusing such a volume let me tell you that it is a collection of sayings, poems and other wordy, audio or pictorial memorabilia thought to be worth anthologising by she/he who subsequently does so  It seemed like a pleasing end-of-term occupation so I thought I'd think of a few for myself. I am not sure I can attribute them all so I am hoping I shan't be at risk of a charge of plagiarism - a heinous fault in my book. About left-over food "Put it in the freezer until you don't feel guilty about throwing it out". (Cousin)  On a  very small 't' shirt "Keep calm and ask Mum".  "The co-operation of factors which are random and fortuitous varies in inverse ratio to the urgency of the need". (A lawyer friend and yours truly.  Eg There are numerous taxis rolling by except when you are late and it is raining chats et chiens).  "Do not despair for Johnny head-in-air, He sleeps as sound as Johnny underground.  Fetch out no shroud for Johnny in the cloud and keep your tears for him in after years.  Better by far for Johnny the bright star to keep your head and see his children fed" ( John Pudney's war poem)  ."Mae Hen wlad fy Nhadau etc"  (Welsh National Anthem). "When with rosy feet the dawn...." (Handel's Theodora)  Lorraine Hunt Lieberson in any shape or form. A voice and presence to make you believe in ultimate alrightness. "Opitimism, as in: A box of three bath-sized, hand-made soap given to she of the terminal illness.   In response to being called "An angel-faced darling" a small child asking if her pet were a "cat-faced darling".  Otherwise known as the cherishable clarity and innocence of the very young.....D.V.   Edith Piaf. "Une |Chambre a Louer" if you have to choose. Music, music, music ad infinitum.  Hope expressed by the French 'suite a la prochaine'.   And,finally - for now-  as goes without saying,, CHOCOLATE (Yours truly)
Bore da  P.S. Piaf's song is actually called "Les Amants D'un Jour"

Friday, 17 March 2017

More Holes

It won't surprise you that I rather enjoyed thinking about what should fall through the hole in my final bucket.  So here goes with some more.

 14)  Cold food, eg salad, on a hot plate with hot food. 15) Ant and Dec. (For those of you spared the joys of UK entertainment these are two men of no obvious talent, all bow-ties and toothy grins for whom I discern no particular purpose but who were actually chosen to host a TV programme about our heir to the throne).  16) Donald Trump   17) Plastic packaging.  This morning it took me nine minutes to extract a new tooth brush head from its enclosure and two minutes to clean my teeth.  18) People who make assumprions about Psychotherapists, disparaging and far too generalised. For example, psychotherapists/analysts are all mad.  Well, that may be so but at least the madness is put to good use. 19) Donald Trump  20) Hair dyed to a colour that doesn't go with the skin nor the age of the dyer.  21)  Messages left on the telephone that are so garbled they require multiple hearings and still don't make sense.  And if they include a number to call back at least two digits will be so muffled as to make the process quite untenable.  22) Icing sugar sprinkled over a pudding that is already sweet. 23) Parking tickets  24) Neighbours slamming doors at 1am.  Indeed, currently, neighbours in any shape or form.  But that's another story.  24) Automatic cars that continue to move even though you havent got your foot on the throttle  25) Dripping taps   26) Jackets of mens' suits that don't go below the backside, in spite of the appeal of some of the backsides  27) Loss of trust, as in, for example, being made use of in some way without one's prior knowledge nor consent.  28) Steep staircases  29) Runny eggs.  30) Donald Trump.  Bore da

Friday, 10 March 2017

Bucket holes

It is quite normal, as I have been given to understand, to make a list of things to acomplish in the last paragraph of one's life. You will realise, of course, that this is the affectionately named "Bucket List".  I have been thinking about this and realised I have left it a bit late physically to do the things that might have gone in to my Bucket.  However, I have made the discovery that in this unique Bucket there is a hole.  A pile of things will, thus, unwanted, have disappeared in to the void.

Things- dropped- through-the-hole-in- my-Bucket list ( in no particular order):   1) Potatoes which are not fully cooked.  I have never understood why a raw carrot is delicious while a par-boiled potato is an abomination  2) The habit of television providers of minimising the cast list at the end of a play or film in order to 'trail' another forthcoming programme. You can hear my teeth grind all the way to the laptop to look up the cast list, full size, via a search engine. 3) the use of a plural where a singular is called for as in " one in four have...whatever. 4) Bayonet light bulbs that won't screw in to the fitting together with 'daylight' spiral bulbs which give a ghastly white light or light which is insufficient even to light my thoughts . 5)  The Wizard of Cyberspace: naturally.  6) The feeling of being left out/not wanted.  7)  Full price parking fines when I have never received the first notice which allows you to settle for half the price. 8) The strip at the bottom of my laptop which is the private province of the Wizard who regularly uses it to wipe out an entire, finished piece of work which can't be found anywhere on earth nor in cyberspace even though I have 'saved' religiously all the way along..I have resorted to placing a glass cube engraved with a small cat on the space in the hope it will train my wrists to keep the H..l off. (Note to self: if the cat were black would that make me the Witch of Cyberspace?)   9) Umbrellas which blow inside out in the wind.  How can we go to the moon but not keep shelter over our heads in a storm? 10) Over-ripe bananas  11) "I'll ring you tomorrow"  which turns out to be euphemistic for ' one of these days'.  12) A dish in a restaurant described in its full glory which has, however, neglected to advertise it contains chilli. That would make it its partial glory, of course. 13) A relay of music on the radio which neglects to tell you who the players were -  see 2) above.  The dropped out pile is beginning to look endless and may well keep me occupied in frivolous musing until the time comes when my foot will, perforce, encounter the rim of my holey bucket. Prynhawn da

Friday, 3 March 2017


It seems the unconscious pays little or no heed to the physical.  At least, mine doesn't and is busy with business as usual while the outside of me is getting used to the change/threat? to my life's circumstances .For instance, before I retired I was supervised by an analyst who had been a world-class cricketer.  I was telling a friend about a visit he made to see me and reported that I had been "bowled over" by his kindness in coming.

 In addition, I rather suspect The Wizard of Cyberspace of collusion with my inner world. I managed to send an email to one of the consultants engaged in my care to the wrong email address. The result of this mistake was that I missed an appointment with him.  Fortunately, the date has been reset and I have confided it to someone close to me as surety against messing up again. As it happens, I had cause to be grateful for my instincts, both as a hoarder and in avoiding interaction with the Wizard as much as I can. I was still in a stew about using the wrong address and had still to uncover the right one. I looked on the Specialist's web site and under several Search Engine headings all to no avail.  I then had the idea that I might find an old email from him and be able to use the 'reply to sender' option on it.  Dear Reader, five months back but I found it. Has any of you trawled through five months of emails, or even kept five months of emails for that matter? Anyway, it produced the required result but I was too afraid of Sir Wizard to 'select all' and press 'delete' to lighten the load of the rest of the hoard.  How could I know or risk where that would end? And, yes, I have noted the possibility of unconscious reluctance to attend this appointment being the force which caused the mess up in the first place.I find there are blurred and inconsistent lines between the business of the unconscious,  unintended consequences and the sometime lack of caution in what we say and do. I had a visit from the young-ish Grandson of someone close to me.  He is a delightful person but appears to have arrived in the world without benefit of  filter at all.  As he took his leave at the end of a somewhat challenging meeting all about geneology and Donald Trump, he said "I have read that pancreatic cancer is very quick, so I had better come back and see you quite soon".  Not all that quick, thank Goodness. Bore da

Sunday, 12 February 2017


As I was saying last time but one, life has had the rather cheeky effect of turning the rules of relating upside down. Yesterday, I found myself  being encouraged to eat rather more than I had capacity for.  The food was Chinese and quite delicious and the dishes were meant for sharing.  There were, however, several that I was not particularly partial to.  To my consternatiom, people kept popping morsels in to my bowl and I had no choice but to bite on the dumpling and do as I was told.  The crux of it being that I must eat to keep my strength up.  Which sounded to me rather like the " You won't grow up to be a big strong net-ball player unless you eat  up all your dinner".

As the evening drew on, concern was expressed about how tired I might be getting, as in "It's past your bedtime". At a table for five I was the only one drinking a fruit cocktail, plain and simple.  Everyone else had a fruit cocktail with a base of vodka or some other spirit forbidden to the over/under age.  My dilemma is whether to settle for the implicit caring or fidget at the infantilising. I am helped on with my coat and even with my cardie.  This, on one level, is welcome to my stiff shoulder.  On another it makes me want to stamp my feet and tell the helper to b....r off .  I can manage perfectly well, thank you.  But I can't. You know what, I never noticed I had access to naughty words when I was younger.  Or if I did, I didn't use them.  But I do find I have not only access but an impulse to speak them in old age.  It just goes to show how a well-behaved teenage can turn in to an unruly old age, But I do have the guardian inner voice that, while indulgent, does rather frown on the inelegance of swearing and the like. "Little girls mustn't use words like that". I am begining to suspect I am behaving more like 70 going on 14 in the last phase of my life.  The effect of terminal illness seems to be a relaxing of codes and a decision not to buy a box with three bath-size bars of soap in it.  Much of the over-turn in roles between me and the young, as I have acknowledged, has to be a form of caring. That doesn't stop me from the inner response of 'shan't, won't, can't make me'. Surprisingly, one of the odder phenomena  in this paradox is when one of them picks up the bill when we have eaten in a restaurant together,  It was always I who paid  This act reminds me of something else I have put to you in the course of recording chronology versus reality: the question of what constitutes a memorial.  Someone close to me, before the age of computers, would pick up a hand-written restaurant bill I was about to pay, run her eye up and down it in a nano second and hand it back saying "That's right, Dear".  She comes to mind every time I eat out.

Finally, i want to tell you about someone I have known for sixty five years,  During that time we have talked about everything on planet earth, from Moses to Trump, from raising children to Welsh Rugby.  The other day, on the telephone, he was telling me about his osteoporosis and I was bringing him up to date on my situation.  Suddenly, it came to me we were no longer two intelligent, educated, thoughtful debaters.  We were two old women discussing our ailments in Swamsea Market.  Bore da

Saturday, 28 January 2017


Watching on television news of our Prime Minister's meeting with the American President, I took the liberty of noticing - or, rather, assuming - that she had been 'styled'.  She was wearing a   suit of a glorious vivid red and her hair had been cut to a smooth cap over her head where I had been accustomed to seeing her with a good but rather wayward, windswept cut: rather like the rest of us in fact.

A discussion, or dissertation more likely, arose between two early middle aged women I know.  The gist of which was that in 2017 not much has changed in the infantilising, patronising and diminishing way in which women are still treated at work and, indeed, everywhere else in the world.  It sprang from observing that Mrs May's appearance ahould  have no place in talking about her work and what she hoped to achieve. It was noted that she had been called 'headmistressy' as had Lady Thatcher in her time.  No-one had ever called Mr. Cameron or George Bush 'headmastery'. (Mr Obama wasn't) One of the women, a distinguished and senior person in her profession, admitted that she had felt herself forced to project more 'girly' and younger than she actually was in order to hold the attention of  bosses who, otherwise, were incapable of taking her reports, requests and presentations seriously. This stance was taken after years of struggling to hold on to a more realistic projection of who she was and she was sickened to find the strategy worked. The second woman had been promoted in a situation where she was already far up the ladder of success but then had to fight to be given the same job-title as a male colleague in the same situation. Assessing the clothes of  notable women is another irritating example of irrelevance but, perhaps, more readily noticable to those of us no longer having to deal with this outrageous situation, at least in the workplace. Although I am still prepared to go on about being called Liz by people on the telephone I have never met and don't intend to meet. I can see that in kindergarten it would not have done to call me Miss Mountford but that was many decades ago and should be binned, by now, with all the annoying rest of that insulting behaviour. I digress,  Tell me, honestly, did you ever hear a discussion about Churchill's ties or Eisenhowers shirts? No, neither did I.  I have occasionally heard criticism of shabby or inappropriate attire in a male public figure.  For instance, there is a television authority on politics who, it seems, was told to get a better hair cut and wear a tie while at work and, I must say, I was distracted, myself, from the portent of what he was saying by the shaggy dog nature of his appearance. However, the joke is, that at this point in my diatribe I have  noticed, in a light-bulb moment, that at last there is parity.  Which of us has not had a go at the hair of Mr. Trump?  Prynhawn da

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Topsy Turvy

As it happens the title of the blog ought, temporarily, to be changed, anyway for this post. It will have to be called  "75 going on 4" since it pertains to a new element that has entered in to the relationship between me and my young.  Now, as you will have noticed, I rarely divulge bits of uniquely personal stuff but this time has to be the exception.  Because of the nature of my physical being at the moment the member of the young lot who doesn't normally live in London has come to do some Mother-caring.  All well and good, on paper.  In the execution of it some hilarious turns around have cropped up.

Liz is supposed to go easy on sugar and other murderous representations of  the sweet and delicious Himself has taken on the role of superviser - or vigilante - in this respect. Occasionally, I am allowed a miniscule portion of that which I crave, so there came a moment when such a dispensation, in the form of pudding following dinner,  was in the offing. At a point where I had nearly finished the main course, himself made to go to the kitchen.  "Pudding?" I enquired with impressive nonchalance.  He looked at my not quite finished plate and said "When you have eaten that all up." You can imagine the hilarity with which that was greeted.  It would be close on fifty years since I said just that to him  I have run out of parallels to compare it with. The pot  calling the kettle black. The worm turning.What comes around turns around and so on and so on. (I suspect I have misquoted the latter option.  Please correct me if so).  It reminded me of a time when the same protaganist was examining the newly bought anorak of his continental- european Godmother. (One has to be so careful with regard to the use of 'Europe', don't you find?)  He was six. In some urgency he pointed out that the garment had no hood which, of course, his did.  She extracted a hood  by opening a tiny zip (zipper for over the Pond) and showing it to him.  "Yes it has", she explained.  "A very teen ('thin' if English is your first language) hood".  "A tin hood wouldnt be any use" ionsisted the youngster.  "Hmm", replied she." There was a time when I taught you English."  For various boring physical reasons it is useful if I am helped in to anything with sleeves, particularly if it is heavy, like a faux-fur lined winter jacket.  I am told to stand still, that I was impeding progress.  Either the phrase was imprinted in his psyche and recalled at the distance of decades or it was 'perchance', operating via the mystery of the collective unconscious. I am waiting, with some trepidation, to hear him withold my treats because I didnt eat up all my greens
Bore da.

Thursday, 12 January 2017


Every time I hear or read a grammatical or syntax mistake my pedantic inner ear behaves as if a whole orchestra had played a wrong note.  It can't be helped.  That's how things are.  I know people who have such a sensitive sense of smell that they have, if it's possible, to move to a different table in a restaurant when a heavily perfumed diner turns up.  Their hearing is so acute they can hear a pin drop  I have known musicians who, seeing me look around to track a noise will say "No: it's coming from over there." exactly opposite to where I was looking.  Anyway, I have allowed myself to believe that my reaction to atonality is just such a legitimate physical attribute.

The other day I was reading in the paper about an aristocrat who had taken a rather unusual step to ensure the continuation of his line "It seemed like a good idea to 'name-of-wife' and I."  Now this gentleman - literally - must have gone most likely to Eton or similar and even to a good enough university.  How is it possible he can make such an ill-informed mistake?  If you take out the wife you would be left with "It seemed a good idea to I.." well, I don't think so. I do know that it is a mistake which crops up all the time and clashes with my well-being all the time.  If in doubt, all one has to do is to remove the second or more person and see how it would sound, then, as in anecdote  above,  With nothing more pressing to do I am tempted to red line and count the number of singular nouns married to plural verbs in the daily papers.  "The group do..." where my inner ear would want "The group does..."    Why, in the name of Current World Chaos should we give a d..n? Because it seems to me symptomatic of a dangerous failure of boundaries and a loss of formality, or formulation, of  an organised way of being in the world: sloppy lanquage equals sloppy morals, behaviour, standards and so on and so on. (What do you think?  I do wonder how much value this preoccupation adds to my life, but at its nicest it is fun and at its most pedantic it gives me something else concrete to fret about).
On the more delightful side of life, I had a very nice experience during a visit to my G.P. (General Practioner or 'everyday' Doctor if you are over the Pond). He asked about my appetite.which has diminished somewhat.  "Oh dear" said he, " we shall have to keep an eye on you to see you do not lose too much weight."  How many decades have I, and so many other women, waited and longed for just such an admonition. Bore da

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Transition - again

Mylittle furry friend has something wrong with his left eye.  Such is the scale of eye problems in his breed that we have had to wait weeks for a specialist to see him.  In the meantime, he has to have drops in the eye three timesx a day.  Exactly: you try it and still remain persona grata in his life. I fear that the drops have been accomplished more in the breach than the observance but we must hope his beard will equally benefit from whatever the  drops contain, having received rather more of them than has his infected eye.  It occurs to me to wonder how I should have responded if one of my young had announced one morning that they intended to be a cat opthamologist. It's the kind of profession one needs for a party game: "Guess what I do".

Since I am as yet symptom free my cat can be the invalid in the family.  I do wonder if he is aware that all is not well with him but he comports himself with his usual gentle good humour.  I am particularly pleased with this current cold snap because he comes to sleep curled up in my curl up which is companionable and reassuring, as you can imagine. It is a strange land, this land of transition.  It is something I may well have put to you before.  In the past I have noticed it as a condition that crops up when one has left home but is not yet at the new destination.  Generally, it is not a comfortable sensation.  This time feels different.  It is not uncomfortable but even has its moments of humour when it comes to me that it will not be my concern if the President Elect of the USA, when established, continues to turn logic on its head and overturns the goodwill of any state that continues to work and/ or hope for peace among all people.  I was, as you may have sensed, going to say "all men", but don't want to risk offending those who have discarded "he" and "she" in favour of well, what exactly?  Not that I am against the principle of gender equality, very far from it.  It's just that some of the ways and words in use to overcome the sole use of the masculine are so silly as to defeat their purpose. There: Ive said it. That's another condition (plus?) of my being in transition.  I find myself saying just what I mean.  A dear friend asked me to tell her if there was anything at all I wanted from her. "To see more of you" I told her. A forewardness I would not have considered for one moment ante deluvium or whatever the latin would be for before the knowledge that the end was nigh-ish.  Prynhawn da