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