Thursday, 30 December 2010

Oh Yes It Is

A few hours ago I made my first foray outside the house since 18th Dec and the onset of the flu. 

Having been talked into joining a joint Parish trip to "Cinderella" the pantomime on offer at our newly built local theatre, and mentally wincing in anticipation of the expected rowdy formula I found myself instead, caught up with the wildly enthusiastic audience as we followed the plot.

There is a sort of magic about this story, whether the romance of the prince and Cinders, the rags to riches aspect which appeals to most people, or the 'good overcoming bad' heroine triumphing over the ugly sisters,(and boy, were they ugly!)

The kids (and most of the adults) yelled and cheered, booed and hissed as though it really mattered, and perhaps, for a while it did.

Buttons was of course, appealing, Cinderella suitably pretty and the prince, handsome (at least from where I was sitting) and the "furry" godmother glittering and splendid.  The sets and costumes were truly beautiful and for once in my life (I have always hated panto), I joined enthusiastically in the shouted warnings etc.

Perhaps I have had to live this long before becoming young enough to drop all inhibitions and suspend all cynicism and really see this hackneyed and time-worn tradition as it is meant to be seen.

Altogether, not a bad way to return to the outside world.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Experiment

In early middle age I became something of a wine buff, not a connoisseur, never that, but a reasonably well-informed "wino".

With a good head for quality red wines (not spirits) I deemed it wiser to opt for frequent opportunities (private tastings via wine club membership) to try whatever was considered the best available wine currently on offer - wine merchants, supermarkets, wine retailers - and gradually began to acquire what I thought was a reasonably fine-tuned palate.

In the early 80's shortly after moving to this town, I entered a competition to win free membership for one year of a newly formed wine club run by a local brewery. When to my amazement I won first prize I happily accepted my free 6 bottles of red and free membership of the wine club.  This resulted in many happy tastings of wines I would never ordinarily be able to afford and a continuing education into what was and was not considered good wine.

It also led to my late husband and I buying far more wine than we would ever be able (without becoming alcoholics) to drink in the average year.

We then started to have rather more parties than ever previously, and slowly led to the consumption - mainly on my part - of vats of the red stuff.

When I found on one of our rare dining-out occasions that John, who would never drink and drive, was confining his consumption to one small glass and I was drinking the rest of the bottle in perhaps an hour and a half, I suddenly realised where this might wind up.

The lesson was a salutory one and I stopped drinking overnight, not even accepting the odd glass at an office party for about ten years.  However extreme a reaction this might seem, it worked and over the next few years I drank about the equivalent of 1 bottle of wine and perhaps a glass of whisky or two in every 12 months.

Since John's death I have drunk very little until this Christmas, when, struck down by the fly virus and beset with miserable self-pity over my Christmas loneliness, I opened first of all a very good burgundy I had been keeping for some 10 years or so, and tonight a really lovely Pinotage.  Since my head is now swimming and my eyes are becoming increasingly unfocused, it seems like a good time to wind up this "confession hour" and wait to see what it looks like in the sober light of day, tomorrow!

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Home Alone

It may not seem the best time to raise the subject (after all it is Christmas Day), but it is something I need to say, and since that is my raison d'etre where blogs are concerned, here goes:
There are many reasons why people are alone at Christmas and every other day too but I cannot believe anyone really enjoys it.

When my husband died 16 months ago I felt totally abandoned, as though there was no-one in the world who knew me, or cared for me.  Since I have three brothers this is clearly not really the case, but it is how I perceived my situation at the time.  My mother had died on Christmas Eve 2008, just eight months before my husband,  She was probably my best friend in the world yet there was no time to grieve her loss before being pitchforked into John.s last illness.

We had no children though he had a son and daughter by his first marriage, and a grandson through his daughter's marriage.  Neither they, nor my brothers live nearer than 120 miles or so which means rare sightings.

John was not a gregarious type and we had very few close friends, making the sense of isolation greater than it need have been.  Luckily I have made new friends and contacts through our local church and I am lucky in that the neighbours have been simply wonderful, kind, helpfull, sympathetic when necessary and many of them have become really close.  This I know and am gratefull for, however, when it comes to Christmas this is very much, I feel, a time for family and despite invitations from several people I just don't feel it is fair to invade people's precious and rare family time.

Last Christmas was truly dreadfull and at one stage I spoke to no-one for 10 days, this year despite all my planned activities being bashed on the head by a hefty dose of flu I do not feel half so bad.
Pondering on the reasons for this I've come to the conclusion that becoming a Christian (I was baptised and confirmed early this year) so late in life, has given me a new perspective and perhaps injected a vein of courage into my feeble self-pitying view of the future.

However unrealistic it may be, it seems to me that there actually is some type of life waiting to be lived and having been given the chance it would be churlish to throw it away untested.

I think ultimately what I have come to believe is that loneliness is a state of mind rather than a condition imposed from outside.  Heaven knows I'm no Pollyanna, but I am glad to have the opportunity to try to overcome this affliction. 

Merry Christmas every one.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Alternative Carol

Since the flu bug decided to make my Christmas the opposite of what I had planned, hoped for, and since it is now a Grinch Festival and lastly, but by no means leastly, Christmas Eve afternoon is the 2nd anniversary of my mother's death I have had plenty of time to ponder the real feel of Christmas.  Here then from my nasty insomnia-ridden early Christmas Eve morning is a different Christmas Carol:

Deck the Malls with boughs of holly
Fa la la la la, la la la la
What is life but human folly
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Christmas is a Shopping Trolley
Fa la la la la, la la la
Why on earth should we feel jolly
FA LA LA LA LA, LA LA LA LA

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Midnight Musings

Sitting once more at 3.00 am (when all good folk should be abed) wondering why, flu-ridden, sweating, pale-faced and bleary eyed (not a pretty sight), why oh why does the siren-call of the computer lure me
as no other tempter, human or inanimate can do?

Lacking even the germ (pun intended) of a theme for this blog, yet still with shaky hands drawn to the keys
I have no choice but to succumb.

Reflecting on my friends' children all tweeting, texting and keyboard bashing apparently from birth, I feel
like the dinosaur - incompetent, hesitant, nervous, that I am.  A willing enthusiastic dinosaur but still a
total novice.

My rather more competent youngest brother keeps advising me to experiment, Google this or that, press
keys, see what happens, but I am in mortal fear of losing the small amount of control I have acquired and
never being able to retrieve my golden prose as it disappears into the ether.

How much of that is conceit and how much sheer cowardice I don't know and am unwilling to discover.

Can't help wondering if future generations will be born with extra fingers as we, and technology evolve.
Perhaps speech will disappear altogether and frantically flying fingers be the only means of communication.

Just paused for my usual early morning look out of the window,  Wish I hadn't,  Yet more snow seems to
have fallen.  No chance for what is already there to vanish before the next lot lands.  Oh the joys of a British Winter!

Haven't left the house since last Saturday - Wednesday now - flu and weather, what a wonderful combination.  At least it puts me in my place, did I really think all the choir-practice, Christmas-lunch
meetings, other plans were going to be allowed to happen.  The best laid plans of mice and men........

Heaven only knows what kind of Christmas this will be if the freeze continues.  I have been around long
enough to have seen it all before but that doesn't make me any more prepared than the next helpless
hapless human.

Time to replace my sweat-soaked nightie with yet another clean dry one, hardly worth bothering as that
one will be just as bad in an hour.  Too much information?  Sorry my wits are wandering.  More anon!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Heads - We Lose, Tails - The Weather Wins

Today I should have been at St M's twice.  First for the sung Eucharist this morning and this evening for the Nine Lessons and Carols service.  Sadly, despite every effort and much rehearsal, the weather won!

Yesterday's blog saw me just about making it to the church and back, before the really heavy white stuff descended.  Overnight set the snowfall into a giant frozen blancmange, quite impossible to manoeuvre round.

Having heard from my usual 'lift' that there was no possibility of getting the car out I then rang two taxi firms and got no reply from either number.  Rang our Musical Director and discovered that the evening concert was to be cancelled and told not to worry, "no-one would expect me to try to get there for the morning service".

As I put down the phone there was a loud click and all the electricity went off.  It was still quite early so I rang the only near neighbour who was likely to be up and got no reply.

As the house was already beginning to cool down I layered myself in woollies, leggings and wellies and went out to fill up the bird feeders.  A couple of unusually large (puffed up against  the cold) sparrows eyed me warily but didn't fly away.

I then went to the back garden feeders, the snow over the tops of my wellies, and treated the feeders there to a refill.  This time it was a (usually very nervous) reed-bunting which hopped off a little way until I had finished then returned to have 'first dibs' at the seed feeder.

Tried clearing some of the snow to make a clear pathway to the shed but defeated by the sheer volume of snow gave up and went back inside to thaw.  Good, I thought, I'll have a hot drink.  Idiot, no electricity!
OK house still nice and warm, can't vacuum (hooray), I know, I'll go and read my favourite blogs.

Dugh!

Luckily the power cut lasted only about an hour and a half so normal service was resumed quite quickly.

Makes you think though doesn't it, just how much we rely on having power on tap?  There's a lesson there somewhere.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

All White on the Night

Last evening I picked a careful route to the bus stop on lightish snow which was beginning to freeze.  It was very cold but the bus turned up on time and off I went to choir rehearsal.  Two and a half hours later, back home courtesy of a lift from a kindly local chorister we were first of all unable to open the door of her car, it was frozen all round the edge, and then had to scrape frost off the inside of the windows.

The temperature was around minus 8 at this time.

This morning it was much much colder and I very gingerly picked my way once more to the bus stop. and waited and waited......after about 25 minutes, shivering and turning pale blue had decided to go back home and call a taxi when a neighbour stopped his car and gave me a lift into St. M's.  When we had completed our gift-wrapping for the "punters" for the free Christmas Day lunch someone suddenly noticed it was snowing - quite hard.

This time I was taking no chances and called a taxi which crept and crawled in the snow which was getting thicker every minute.  Home in the warm  watching the heaviest snow-fall for many years I suddenly wondered why we do this every year.  Somehow we always forget that Christmas might just have to be put on hold if the weather so decides.

I am old enough to remember well the 1963 great freeze and the awful disruption that caused and also (please don't do the maths) the truly terrible winter of 1947.  I was one of four small children and we spent at least 2 months living in the kitchen of our freezing semi in Birmingham.  The snow lasted from mid-December to the end of February.  Coal supplies (no central heating then), ran out.  There were almost daily power-cuts, gas supplies were nearly exhausted and transport at a standstill.  By comparison this is negligible.

Somehow people seem to contrive to do most of the things they really want to do, however difficult, while failing totally to do the things that are expected of them.

I do so hope we won't have to let our Christmas Day guests down.  We'll see!.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Technophobe or Technoprat?

Have I mentioned that I don't "do" technical?  Strange I felt sure I had.

This morning I had a power cut.  Well, I thought it was a power cut, and waited for some 'good fairy' in the land of 'power' to put it right.

When nothing had happened after about half an hour I rang a neighbour who is home from work with flu, only to discover that her power was OK and that one of the people further up the close had a garage light on (she could see it from her window as she lives opposite, therefore I couldn't....oh never mind)

Since she has a brain which works she suggested I ring the emergency number of my supplier.  Why such an unlikely solution had not occurred to me, I...yes I do know.

Five minutes later, having been talked through the process of checks - trip switches and the like - I simply  turned every switch off, then back on and voila - light, warmth and sanity were restored.

There is no way of knowing what had caused the system to trip but at least there is now another notch on my learning belt.  How I've managed to get through a fair amount of life knowing so very little about so many things is a complete mystery to me.

Is it just a woman thing, or am I alone in the universe?

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

No-one is Indispensable

Working as a volunteer (with a very small "v"), for a few hours a couple of days a week obviously makes me an indisputable expert on the subject of indispensability!

Nevertheless I feel qualified to offer my unsought opinion (for a change) for what it may be worth.

I am currently in the rather awkward position of having to decide whether or not to continue with the little tasks I perform - which are a necessary part of the day-to-day smooth running of St. M's - or to opt out since a big part of my original volunteering was to relieve someone of a little of their over-load.

Since the said person, whom I like and admire, is leaving both the position and the area, it is now a question of whether I owe loyalty to an individual or to the organisation.  Like most people change is not something I greatly welcome but by the same token, is a part of my day-to-day life since losing my husband, and not to be avoided out of cowardice.

Perhaps, as  it is obvious the wheel will continue to turn, no matter who is at the helm, it is just a question of accepting a change of bosun.  Which in turn makes me question my reason for volunteering in the first place.

I have always maintained and still do, that volunteers are never quite as altruistic as they sometimes appear, since there is always benefit to themselves as well as the organisations/individuals for whom they work.

This is very much, as all my blogs are, a thinking aloud process, which can help to clarify problems by seeing them in print.

So........having read through the mish-mash so far, the question appears to be "The singer or the Song?"
On balance, selfishly, the answer will I think, have to be "The Song".

In other words, no matter how great an influence for good, no matter how well performed their role, no matter how well-liked in the end, no-one is indispensable.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

A Thing of Beauty is a Joy For...............

Yesterday I broke a vase.  Simple little statement, or is  it?

The vase in question was of purple glass, an antique, if anything over a hundred years old is an antique.  It was one of the few things I had kept from the days when my late husband and I spent nearly every weekend either buying or selling antiques.  Not greatly valuable, maybe worth about £70 or £80, but it was, in my view, beautiful.

Wednesday being one of my 'free' days I tend to clean, wash etc., in order to avoid exhaustion on the busier days, and for some reason I decided to wash all the glass on display in the house.  (As opposed to the stuff fillings cupboards and cabinets).  I reached for the vase - on a top shelf of course - knocked a more solid item over which hit the vase and sent it crashing to the ground.

Silence ! followed by a banshee wail of disbelief and then I burst into tears.

Having cried for a good ten minutes I got the dustpan and brush and dropped the late lamented beauty into a bag then into the bin, waiting for collection by the refuse collectors.

Next feeling shaken and wretched, I did what I never do, poured myself a large (very large) whisky and ginger. The first for about 12 months, and swigged it down in about two minutes.

About an hour later, when I could see straight, I looked at the gap where the vase had been and to my amazement, found myself heaving a sigh of relief that there was one less bit of clutter in the house to gather dust.

Every item we bought over a period of thirty years had been, for a time at least, the most beautiful thing we had ever seen.  How then, has it all become just so much tat?  Am I at last developing a sense of proportion so late in life, or perhaps at last what really matters is slowly filtering into my recently whisky-soaked brain.

So many emotions and all in one day, at least life is not too dull while I have the ability to demolish half the house in a moment, and then to laugh at my own antics.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Man's Innate Goodness ? ? ?

If' as we are taught to believe, we are created in God's image why are we not perfect?  For just how much of the mess many (most) of us make of at least parts of our lives, are we to blame?
Why are we not invariably able to select the true path and why are we not unfailingly good, kind, considerate and helpfull to others.
Why does so much that is bad flourish and pure evil sometimes go apparently unpunished?
Don't say we have free will.  There is often no such option available.
If all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.  Why is even the most determined opposition to enforced evil so often crushed under the weight of wickedness.
Of course even the worst of men usually have some saving grace.  Mussolini loved cats!  It's entirely possible that Pol Pot loved his mother!  Adolf Hitler loved Eva Braun!  No, that really doesn't work does it?

If we are created in God's image we must have at least as much capacity for good as for bad, so why is it so hard for most of us to see our own actions as they are and mend our ways accordingly?

There are, it's true. those who deliberately live their lives like unopened packages, but this is not a good life surely, it is rather, a waste of life.

Others relish and revel in every opportunity offered, usually choosing to manifest their enjoyment in odd ways

None of the choices come with lables (a la Alice in Wonderland), eat me, avoid me, choose this or that way and you will get your reward in this life - and possibly the next!

This is not intended to provoke any particular response, merely a jotting down of random thoughts on a theme which often occupies my rag-bag mind.  A sort of musing on some of the times when I have taken a wrong turning.  Given a sharp or unfriendly response when a pleasanter one would have been quite easy. Done things of which I have been deeply ashamed.  How nice it would be to be able to wake one morning and find that a sort of  'Ebenezer Scrooge' type of personality change had happened overnight.

I won't hold my breath!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

He's a Celebrity - Get him out of here

Celebrity.  How I detest that word.  Ask any wanna-be what he or she wants most out of life and the answer is invariably "I want to be famous".  Not the best at this or that, or even famous for doing this or that, just, "famous".

What a sad empty ambition that is.  I don't want to be known for anything (mostly because I have no recognizable talent of any sort) I just want to be known.

Once upon a time, not all that long ago, there were vast numbers of eager talented young people, some of whom could write, sing, dance or act, whatever their particular gift they all had something to offer, something they did well and of which they were proud,  Sometimes they became celebrated and admired for their ability to entertain, amuse, or bewitch with their performances.

When did this wonderful potential disappear, to be replaced with a "Midwitch Cuckoo" population of grey, personalityless celebrities who have nothing to say, nothing to offer, and nothing between their ears?

Last evening, bored and with nothing much to do I scanned the TV channels to see what was on offer. You,ve guessed it, "I'm a Celebrity Get me out of Here".  Oh  I do so wish someone would!

In the end I wound up watching yet another repeat, but at least a well-acted one with lovely settings, in short "Lewis".  A real programme.!

Anyone for tennis?

Saturday, 27 November 2010

"In the Still of the Night" Insomnia V

Very early mornings have very little to recommend them, particularly if they have not been preceded by at least the semblance of a night's sleep. They have, however, one distinct advantage, there is little likelyhood of disturbance.

Why is it that in a day or evening when there has been no time to get to the keyboard and start 'thinking' aloud, the minute you finally settle - theme in mind - the phone rings.

15 minutes later, having at last persuaded the caller "I just want to ask you a few questions, it will only take a minute or two", that you do not believe he  is doing market research, nor that he really isn't selling anything and that you are not remotely interested in anything he might have to say, when you finally sit at the desk again, every thought has departed at the speed of light and you no longer wish to communicate with anyone (ever again)!

Which begs the question, did you have anything worth saying to say in the first place?

In theory then, the wee small hours should provide the best ever opportunity for you to give birth to your magnum opus, or in my case, magnum 'opeless'.

Just ventured a peep out of the window to see what manner of day I'll have to step out into in about five hours.  "What a mistake to make"!  Everything in sight is covered in thick hard white frost and it's still only November.

I've always maintained that humans are not quite as evolved or else created with serious design faults and unfit for purpose, as we would like to think we are.  If we could hibernate from say, November to April just think what a lovely lot we'd be.  Rested, relaxed, ready to enjoy everything which came our way, eager to meet others after our long respite altogether a better species.

There is for me at least, one serious problem with this theory.  How do I get to sleep in the first place?

Answers on a prescription form please!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Brrrr !

A freezing white Wednesday - day of catch-up household chores - sitting with a large coffee in one hand, having a break and staring out of the window at the icy white world outside.

Watching a female blackbird warily eyeing the frozen bird-bath, finally discover the small oasis where I had poured some boiling water to make a 'lake' for my daily visitors.

First she drank for quite a long time then began dipping first one, then the other wing and finally hopped in and splashed vigorously for a couple of minutes, shook herself and flew off.

The water must have been freezing - felt like taking her a warm towel - perhaps not.

Is it only humans who are such wimps?  Well, this one anyway.  After all, birds don't grow extra feathers in cold weather and though I (and millions of others) put out food for them when it is excessively cold, surely their little thermostats must be a tad overtaxed?

I feel so lucky to have the blessing of a warm house, but can't help thinking of those not so lucky and wondering how they are fareing at this time of year, particularly those sleeping in doorways. 

Spare a thought, prayer and some cash for them.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

The Sound of Silence

As I waited, chilly and impatient for the long overdue bus to arrive this morning, I was indulging in one of my favourite  pursuits, admiring the delicate filigree 'veins' (sans leaves), of a lovely slender young birch-tree outlined against a cold dark Winter sky.  Reluctantly turning my attention to the offending vehicle I discovered that although there were several passengers on board, the sign above the driver's head bore the message - Sorry, this bus is not in service.

Assuming, since it had stopped and opened its doors, that all was well, I said "town please" took my ticket and sat down.

All the way into town I watched with amusement people's puzzled stares. quickly followed by realization that the sign was a mistake and waited for someone to say something.  Nothing, zilch, nada not one single word from anyone.

Arriving at my stop I said to the driver as I alighted " do you know your sign says this bus is not in service?"
He replied "I know love, get's 'em talking don't it"!

Bubble Bubble Toil and ..........

Among my other "close to nature" hobbies - trees, birds, sunrises and sunsets, there is also an all-consuming preocupation with 'weather'.  Often in a period of 24 hours, the only TV I watch will be weather forecasts.

Sad, but true, I will hop from one channel to another just to look for variations on a theme.  This is combined with a totally unscientific ability to fairly accurately predict what extremes of climate we may expect in the next 48 hours or so.  This I ascribe to a close affinity with 'things natural'.

Recently I remarked to a young acquaintance that we were in for a spell of very cold weather and that this would begin on a given day.  "How do you know"? he asked nervously, "because there will be a full moon that night, and the weather always changes on the full moon" I replied.

Is it only we Celts (I'm 90% Welsh and 10% Cornish) who observe nature's foibles closely and react accordingly.?

Can I hear the sound of a large crowd coming this way, what's that they're chanting? "Burn the witch"?
I'll just call the cat and get my broomstick!

Saturday, 20 November 2010

To Be or Not To Be

Recently, two people whose blogs I read regularly have written one on abortion, the other on the subject of child neglect/cruelty.  In my opinion these two subjects are quite closely related.

In a world where extreme cruelty to tiny helpless children is fast becoming endemic one has to ask the question why?

Sometimes the parent(s) is completely unable unprepared or unfit to raise a child (often because of drug or other addiction or mental incapacity).  Occasionally because he/she is still a child himself, but also sometimes because economic and home circumstances are totally insufficient to support even the parent(s) never mind an unplanned for and unwanted infant.

How much better therefor in my view that the pregnancy be aborted before the welfare and safety of the child is jeopardised and the prospective parent criminalised. 

Just as, in my opinion, no-one who does not really love or want an animal as a pet, should be allowed to have one, so, a million times more so, no-one should ever give birth to an unwanted child.

I have no intention of pointing the "moral" finger at any one particular group whether Pro-lifers, religious fanatics or welfare organisations, this is an issue which could potentially affect anyone and the terrible suffering and horrendous consequences of ignoring it are being daily brought to our attention in TV and newspaper reports from our law-courts.

Time to make a change in some of our thinking, or am I flogging a dead horse?

Friday, 19 November 2010

The Stuff Of Dreams Insomnia 1V

After a night of sleeping in short snatches, followed by long periods awake, finally fell heavily asleep at about four-thirty only to have yet another of my "lost" specials.

Once again, somewhere in Holborn with my late husband a shadowy figure in attendance the inevitable turning the wrong way into an unrecognized area leading to asking advice began.  This is a familiar pattern/theme of these nightmares and always leads to increasing fear frustration and panic.

This time, as so often before, every person we met and asked directions from turned out to be a visitor to London and pointed us in the wrong direction as we got further and further lost.

Somehow we ended up in a house with a huge party of people who had apparently rented it for the night,
we were trying to find a room when I found myself alone and struggled through a maze of rooms untill I was suddenly outside surrounded by marsh.

This was full of farm animals, all happily splashing about in water and in the distance I could see the Tower of London.

A passer by told me the best way to get back to Holborn was to "keep travelling East".  Trying to discover how to do that from my watery prison with increasing panic I woke, hot, sweating and full of rage.

I know the human mind is a morass of weird ideas, half-formed thoughts, instincts and memories but really this makes me think I should be in therapy!

Where on earth do these extraordinary dreams stem from and what, if anything, should I glean from them?

Having spent twenty-eight years of my working life in London I felt I knew - at least the areas in which I worked - reasonably well, so just why my dreams/nightmares are full of hitherto unknown places is hard to imagine.

In case anyone should think the answers are plainly to be seen, I should point out that I had these dreams when John was alive too.

I've just read through this and feel that though it might be wiser to scrap it, there was obviously some reason why it felt necessary to set it out in print so, for what it's worth warts and all - read , and shudder!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Dip your Lights - You're Blinding Me

Woke this morning for the 2nd day running, to freezing fog. Dark, very cold unappealing in the extreme, in fact the only reasonable response to such days is Brrrrrrr I'm going back to bed!

Arrived, reluctantly to the place where I do the odd hour as a volunteer only to find there was virtually nothing to do.  Brief revival of better spirits on receipt of warm hug from lovely friendly cleric, followed by self-centred 'why can no-one else see how miserable I am'?  After a firm self talking-to about such an attitude felt briefly more cheerfull - for all of ten minutes - then gloom descended again.

Returning home found a statement in the post from a company I have never dealt with, telling me I owed them £83 pounds.  Spent a half hour sorting that out on the phone sat with a huge mug of drinking chocolate with 3 spoonfulls of sugar (don't take sugar), and contemplated my navel while staring miserably out of the window at a cold, misty uninviting garden.  Deep joy!

I know, I thought I'll go and read my emails.  Ha! should have known better.  No internet access - again!

Switched everything off (almost including my life-support machine) and unplugged the router, then the phone rang.  The caller was a very good friend calling from the Netherlands, a friend moreover from whom I had almost given up all hope of ever hearing again, due to the fact that he was apparently terminally ill with a very aggressive form of cancer.

I had prayed repeatedly for him without any real hope that he would survive and had shirked all idea of trying to contact his lovely wife for fear that the news would be the worst possible.

To my amazement, he sounded much his old self, cheerfull, wise-cracking and up-beat and says that though the treatment - which he describes as "chemical poisoning" was fairly dreadfull he now feels quite well and is looking forward to a family Christmas.  He had rung to ask how I was!!!!

What a wonderfull piece of news and what a lesson to me in how not to behave.  Needless to say my spirits have rocketed and the light at the end of the tunnel is not merely visible, it is possitively dazzling.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

"Written on the Wind"

A week when frost and rain have alternated daily the only constant has been a gale-force wind.  This irritant reminded me of just how much a force we can neither see, smell nor touch can influence our lives.  As with other great forces; Christianity, love, hate jealousy etc., while invisible in themselves they are only too visible in their effects.

Looking at a very new baby, how often have you heard, "Oh look, he's smiling" "No it's just wind"
"Can't eat that, it gives me wind!"

Leaves swirling in an Autumn gale like a russet dervish.

Wind singing in the trees or more devastatingly, mowing them down with effortless ease.

Wind in a conche shell sounding like the trumpets of doom

Wind sending skittish cats chasing their tails in lunatic circles.

Artfully removing roof-tiles from strategic places so that just the right amount of rain will drip through.

Stretching the fluffy white clouds into long thin strips against a dark blue background, and changeing the faces in the passing clouds from skeletal hollow-eyed horrors into beatific bearded old men.

Drying billowing lines of washing far too quickly, for the ironer to keep up. and tearing cherished balloons from the star-fish fingers of wailing infants.

Drying the ripened corn ready for the farmers' next move.

Providing just the right thermals for birds, paragliders, hot-air balloonists and other airborne creatures to sustain their flights.

All these, and a million other "gifts" provided by an intangible invisible force reinforces belief in the Supreme Creator.

One last thought.  Where does the wind go on a still day?

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Waste not Want not

Sitting in Wetherspoons this afternoon watching my step-daughter toying with and finally discarding a huge pastry crust from her chicken pie, and her soldier son photographing (not eating) the truly massive plate of mixed grill he had chosen, I suddenly found my initial amusement turning, first to anger, then to distress.

Carefull to show neither reaction I was nevertheless at a loss as to where it had come from.

At a few hours' distance it is suddenly much clearer.  This is undoubtedly a throw-back to the post 2nd World War attrition which was the back-drop to my childhood.  We were, even by those days standards a poor family and the everywhere visible injunctions to waste nothing were totally unnecessary since there was absolutely nothing to waste.

My three brothers and I were never hungry, never lacked for companionship, never went unwashed to bed but there were no frills, no luxuries and no paid-for entertainment ever.  My mother made my father's tiny wage stretch to unbelievable lengths and worked from morning to night to keep the house clean and as warm as possible while drying all laundry (hand-washed ) on bannisters chairs airers - no washing machine, tumble dryer, central heating or other luxuries.

We ate what we were given without question and usually without complaint and did our share of household chores with only occasional rebellions and if we were not outside playing with friends because of bad weather or because it was too dark we had our own made-up games, quizzes devised by one or other parent, or now and then a radio programme to occupy us.  We all joined the local library as soon as we could read and I lived out my fantasies based on characters in whatever I was reading at the time.

When our local school was bombed we had to move to another, further away.  Long walks to and from school and indeed everywhere else were just part of life and we never gave any other means of travel a seconds thought.

As I was the only girl, my clothes were usually new - though made by my mother and very basic - my brothers were not so lucky and garments were passed down the line, altered, repaired until beyond all further use when they went to the rag and bone man for a few pennies.

My father grew all our vegetables and we wasted nothing. What was not fit to eat went to the pig farmers via a waste-food collection scheme, and other bits went on the compost heap which in turn fed his roses (my father that is not the pig farmer).

All my life the habits ingrained in me in childhood have influenced the way I discard (or fail to discard) things which are no longer of use, and it is only in very recent times that it has become possible to deliberately give away something I no longer want , simply because it has lost its appeal.

Even now, I never throw food away, if it can't be eaten by the neighbours' cats, it goes out for the birds.  My step-daughter and grandson grew up in a different world.  Different, not better!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

"Love Actually"

Massive subject - miniscule input!

Talking this morning to a lovely, kindly, supportive and well-intentioned member of the clergy, who having spotted that I was less than full of joy informed me that I was loved by many people including him.  This as a relatively new Christian still leaves me feeling at a loss as to how to respond.

The idea that one's social contacts, I hardly dare call them friends as yet, feel love for all their peers, still is a weird concept for one who has never used the term lightly.

While recognizing that there are many types and degrees of love, the christian brotherhood/sisterhood variety still feels alien to my upbringing and the idea of publicly acknowledging the existence of such a bond fills me with nervous trepidation.

Never a demonstrative type (in public), and with a healthy respect for others' "space", I nevertheless find since the loss of my husband, that one of the most important losses after the initial greatest one, is the loss of human touch.

For me this is a pretty steep learning curve and whether I'll ever be a ready "hugger and kisser" is doubtful, but I greatly value the loving kindness of those who are not so afflicted and have to admit to feeling better for the hugs, handclasps and smiles which come my way quite unsolicited.

Is it really love or is it the desire to empathise with those seen to be in need of visible overtures of friendship?
I don't know, the jury is still out, but whatever it is, it is heart and spirit warming and - by me at least - very welcome.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Nocturnal Niggles

Yet again the Sandman has failed to do his job and I find myself peering out over the bags under my eyes at a moonless world.

Yesterday saw me in Oxford for the first time for some six or seven years.  Cathedral - Debenhams - Phillips Books - Cathedral again, all in all a lovely day: tinged with sadness, since it was there that I spent my honeymoon in 1971.

Walking through Christchurch Meadow, the scene of many of our early photographs was suddenly quite a gut-wrenching memory and I found myself very close to tears.  Strange how small things trigger enormous reactions.

For me there has always been something magical about Oxford.  A combination of incredibly beautiful buildings, lovely green settings, bookshops and coffee shops and the teeming thousands of visitors, students and locals, together with a touch of Morse/Lewis make it immensley attractive.

The sonorous tones of "Tom" recording the hours is also one of my earliest and best-loved memories of this most charismatic of cities.

My late husband and I often did the "favourite places" thing, with Canterbury then Oxford top of his list and York then Oxford top of mine.  Is there something special retained in the ancient stones of these places, or possibly some inherited memory from previous centuries which flits in and out of our conscious minds.?

Not sure where I'm going with this, nor even sure it's worth setting down but insomnia has it's own way of dictating behaviour and busy fingers (even if the brain is barely present) follow their own directions.

Four twenty am and possibly worth trying to get an hour 's sleep before the day officially arrives.  More anon!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

The Right to Vote

The latest piece of politico/law orientated insanity has my head turning 360 degrees.  What can the mere man/woman  in the street do to change EU edicts which are apparently designed to overthrow all the most carefully constructed legal systems in Europe.

As a life-long socialist I would never normally condone the infringement of anyone's 'human rights' but what exactly do we mean by human?

Just how far outside 'normal' behaviour does an individual have to go before he/she becomes a social pariah, and at what stage can they be deemed to have forfeit the right to take part in everyday activities?

While I would never try to remove the 'comforts' obtained - often after quite a struggle - which make the daily life of those incarcerated for the good of the community, there surely must be some level at which such "goodies" reach a peak.

The right to vote was won by enormous and sustained effort and suffering by dedicated individuals of both sexes and is in my opinion one of the greatest privileges available to British citizens,  Not ever to be casually taken for granted by anyone, in or out of prison.

Has the concept of earning or deserving a privilege disappeared from our way of life?

At the same time, are we now to reward even the most evil of offenders rather than punishing their crimes?

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

The Great Chain-saw Massacre Continues

Disturbed by a tremendous racket quite early this morning, I decided the 'bin men' must have been unable to sleep for once (they usually turn up about 1.00 pm) and thought no more about it.

Busy with bed-changeing, washing, all the usual mind-numbingly boring chores of a day at home, I paid no attention to the constant roar from outside.  Until stepping outside to fill up the bird feeders I was dazzled by the amount of extra day-light and realized that yet another tree had been murdered by Heaven knows whom and my previously well sheltered garden is now minus yet another of its protectors.  This time the tree was a very tall eucalyptus which lived in the corner nearest my house.

Never my favourite tree - constantly shedding tons of strap-like leaves which were useless as compost - it was also perilously close to the corner of my sitting-room and I had often wondered just how big a root-run it might have.  Nevertheless, it was quite gracefull, and had the merit of providing a screen from my neighbour's windows.

Now I have the undeniable benefit of much more light, together with the rather less welcome, too close view of the houses at the back which were previously invisible.

The problem now is what to plant (find space for) in my garden to replace the screen while not obscuring the light, all the time nervously keeping an eye on my changeing sky-line to see where the axe will fall next.

One thing no-one has even considered for a second is the dismay and consternation caused to the bird population.  My friendly morning robin has failed to show so far today and I fear there will be other abscences soon. 

If I have to live in a tree-less world I think I'll emigrate.  A rain forest might be good!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

"Woodman Spare That Tree"

Before leaving home this morning at around 9.00 am, I was struck by the lovely colours in a huge Acer at the back of the house. The sun through the still plentifull leaves was a glorious bronze/red and although the tree in question keeps the sun from my garden in the morning, I thought it a small price to pay for such a dazzling sight.

On my return, some 4 hours later I was at first puzzled, then shocked and horrified to discover that some blind philistine had cut it down.

My first reaction was fury, closely followed by an almost physical anguish at the loss of a beautifull and long-familier part of my personal landscape.  This tree had become a friend of many year's standing.

Anyone who doesn't have this 'tree' thing will never understand the depth of feeling involved.

Many years ago, working in Grays Inn Road in London, I waged a one-woman battle to try to save a young Plane tree when the now ITV building was being renovated from its Sunday Times past to its present place in London's media life.

Having bearded the site-manager in his Portocabin office, followed by a visit to the Camden Tree Officer, I had finally obtained a promise that this young tree would remain untouched by the work in progress.  Imagine how it felt to return to work one Monday to find a gaping crater where the tree had been and a pile of building materials dumped alongside.  Apparently no-one had passed the protection information on to the work-force.

I spent most of that day in floods of tears, much to the amazement/amusement of my colleagues who clearly thought this hormonal half-wit was more to be pitied than scorned.

Even my late husband, well used to my 'tilting at windmills' way of life said "it was only a tree" !!!

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Loneliness - Causes - Effects - What to do about it?????

Apropos of nothing in particular, simply because it is a part of many peoples' lives, it occurs to me that not enough consideration is given to this terribly important facet of existence.

It is perfectly possible to be lonely in a crowd, in a close relationship, in a family and indeed anywhere. Sadly life doesn't come with any guarantees  that a particular life style, life choice will produce a given result and for most of us, trial and error are the means by which we arrive at our solution.

For some people the idea of actively putting themselves in a public arena and "confessing" to the awful "shame" of needing people to communicate with, socialise with, form group or individual liaisons with, is just completely impossible.  For others, it is all too easy to loudly proclaim how desperate they are for company at virtually any price.  Yet others, attempt to sidle into existing groups, as it were, unobtrusively.

If the lonely individual is young it is perhaps not so difficult to form new friendships since most group activities cater almost exclusively for that sector, but as one ages, it becomes increasingly difficult to break into ready-formed "clubs" and a common experience is that the newcomer is made to feel like an intruder.

The lucky few people who have never experienced real loneliness are I think a totally different breed from those who live with the condition (curse), on a day-to-day basis.

Marriage break-ups, huge irreparable differences of opinion, bereavement, depression with its side-effects all can cause intense loneliness in even the best-balanced of people.  How to cope with it and if possible at least alleviate its effects is quite another matter.

If you are in the enviable position of having a thriving active community nearby, it will be less of a strain to make at least a few aquaintances, some of whom may in time become good friends.  If not, it will be necessary to seek out a group of people who share some of your own tastes, interests.

Some people, myself included, have had to totally reinvent themselves and start again from scratch, not easy but quite rewarding if enough effort is put into the process.

Each and everyone of us has at least one skill, gift, personal trait which is worth developing and can slowly lead to new options, ways of passing the days (if, alas, not the nights) and it should be possible to beat the grey cloud of depression - at least some of the time- and begin to find ways of making life worth the effort.

A long, pretty grim sounding diatribe I know, but some things are better aired than left to smoulder.
If you disagree please feel free to say so.  Or indeed to agree !

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Insomnia 111

Yet again faced with the dubious blessing of a sleepless night, having somehow lost the ability to relax, it seemed pointless to lie with a whirling mind and restless limbs with the keyboard beckoning.

The rain lashing at the windows and early (very early) traffic on the distant A41, are the only sounds.  Somehow having the world to myself is not as thrilling a prospect as it might seem.

Strange isn't it how one's perception of peace shifts according to the quality of  what is on offer.  My own company used to be quite adequate when it was seldom available, whereas now that it is all there is, almost any alternative appears preferable!

Perhaps it is just part of the human condition to always want what is not 'on the menu' and to despise what is.

I wonder if maybe I could start an insomniac's nocturnal dialogue club and if I did, would my lonely night-time cyber conversations start a trend, or would it lure all the creepiest night-owls out from their hiding places blinking at the unaccustomed intrusion into their dark surroundings.

Where on earth did that come from?  The lack of sleep (three night's in a row) is clearly beginning to leave its mark on my fragile psyche.  Time to stop before they come to get me.....

Sunday, 10 October 2010

The Last Butterfly - Swansong

Today is warm sunny and beautiful as only a rare few October days can be.  Attempting to save the shreds of  my once-lovely garden from brambles, elder, and other unwelcome invaders (I have the national collection of weeds)!, I saw not one or two, but six red admiral butterflies on what remains of the yellow blooms of my buddlea.

It is not the first time I've noticed that the imminent approach of Winter offers a final glimpse of  the best-loved visitors of Summer.

Do they know I wonder, that their days are numbered?  Is it a last peacock-like show of glorious colour before the inevitable happens?

Beauty, whether in nature or in human form is a transient, fleeting thing and those few people lucky enough to be blessed with it, are no more able to hang on to it than is any other living creature.  So how should we respond to it?

My own attitude is to accord it admiration, respect for its uniqueness, but no more than that, since, sadly we are all as we are and only God has the ability to turn an "ugly duckling" into a swan.  Therefore, make the most of what we have, enjoy each other's special attributes and as we age, try to avoid mirrors!

Monday, 4 October 2010

Soggy Doggy Bloggy

As it is the heart's desire of my neighbour/friend/life-support system (let's call her K), that i do a dog-blog here goes. 

At the most inopportune moments, like when I've just got in from a tiring or traumatic couple of hours surrounded by people whose grasp on life is even more tenuous than mine, just as I sit down with my feet up there is a ring at the doorbell and there is K, large as life, ten times noisier than the rest of the world and ten times more welcome.  "Do you feel like walking Ziggy with me, I won't be out long  and he needs some exercise Bless him"?

The last thing I need is exercise, what I want most in all the world is my feet up and a coffee, or better still a large glass of red wine, but what i say is "yes I'd love to, hang on while I get my coat", and as i say it, suddenly it's true.

As I said to her the other evening there is something tremendously therapeutic about going for a walk in the rain, with a completely bonkers young collie (to say nothing of his owner), whose idea of fun is to get you to lob his ball as far as you can so that he can either completely ignore it and hare off in the opposite direction then sit laughing with his tongue dangling while you retrieve the ball and try again, or dive into the filthy brook and run lovingly back as fast as he can so you can have the full benefit of a 'doggy shower'.

So far he has contrived to drop at least half a dozen balls right down in the reeds at the bottom of the water so there is no hope of ever getting back while he makes sad little whining "why don't you jump in and get it for me, you would if you loved me" noises.

When he finally accepts that he has donated yet another ball to the river gods he decides what he really wants is a paddle, so five minutes later back he comes at full gallop to give us yet another mud bath.

If all this sounds less than heaven then I have completely failed to do justice to two wonderful friends, one with two legs and one with four.  May they never lose their enthusiasm for long soggy strolls nor their willingness to share it with me.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Izzy Wizzy Let's Get ......Nah Let's not!

This being a day when miraculously, I have for once had a solid 6-hours sleep and am feeling, for me fairly energized, it seems somehow incumbent on me to fill the day with chores.

Is this guilt, conditioning from 'way-back', a desire to catch up before the energy runs out, or merely some type of insanity?

How is it that many of us feel that in order to justify our existence we have, not only to work to the point of exhaustion, but also to be seen to be filling our time profitably?

I have read a great deal about the concept of original sin, but original guilt - where did that come from?

Whatever the reason, I now have an empty linen-basket, loads of freshly-ironed clothes, a clean house and how do I feel? Cheated - that's how! Though what else could have been done on such a vile wet, windy, miserable day I've no idea.

Far be it from me to offer up any theories on the human psyche but what a sad old lot we are if we are unable to find a better way of utilising good energy than in sanitizing our surroundings.

Perhaps it is just me after all. What a horrible thought. Think I'll go and have a whisky or maybe drown myself in the bird bath!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Insomnia 11

Once again at the magic machine in the all-too-early hours. Currently obsessing about the fact that while my blogs are now beginning to be read, so far none of my friends, contacts etc have been able to post a comment successfully.

Anguished phone-calls, emails keep coming my way: "What am I doing wrong, why can't I send my comments?" How on earth should I know I only write the things, what happens after that is a complete mystery to me.

Clearly there is something very basic which has been omitted from my 'education' and it could well be something I am failing to do which does not allow their remarks to appear on my posts.

While it is a sad reflection on my blogging skills that I was only able to go 'public' with the aid of a good friend, it is even more humiliating to be a failed "nerd"!

Now I will have to throw myself on the mercy of said friend once more and beg for further guidance. Deep joy!

S.. the thing, think tis time to make some tea.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Melancholia (Glass Half-Empty Syndrome

For those of us with an introspective bent the title of this piece is a central thread which twines ( I won,t say courses) through our daily life. Negativity, in all its soul-destroying bleakness often seems the only response in a world of perplexing questions.

Knowing how destructive this force can be is no remedy for treating the disease. Think about that word dis - ease, a perfect description for the wretched state of mind it portrays.

A poor sleeper at the best of times, I have currently been having a series of nightmares when I do actually manage a few hours sleep. These in the main, consist of being lost in various locations with which I am totally unfamiliar; the latest for some obscure reason being Edinburgh.

No doubt a host of explanations could be offered for this odd state of affairs, some of which I'd rather not think about, but at present a cure appears out of reach.

This is, I realise, hardly the stuff of light entertainment, but then I'm not a court jester and have my own opinions as to what should or should not appear in a blog.

Not, in my view, merely a means of public massaging of one's ego, nor just an exercise in light-hearted "look how funny I am" efforts to amuse the wider world (should anyone actually read your stuff ) but also a way of verbalising one's own angst. Especially if like me, there is no-one in whom to confide this sort of inner dialogue.

Aware though I am, that this is only a 'dip', and that the merest touch will quite easily lift the current downward trend and put life back on course again, yet still it is perhaps a good thing for all of us to recognise that there are people with whom we are in daily contact who may be suffering from the "black dog" syndrome and to whom a smile and a friendly gesture can make all the difference to the day.

A long and miserable diatribe, and not one I would normally put in print, but just now and then it seems necessary to let life's "Pollyannas" know that there are other attitudes to life than the "every cloud has a silver lining" one and that for some of us - every silver lining has a very large very black cloud attached.

Now that I have successfully depressed half the population life suddenly looks much better!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Insomnia

It is only 3.50am but it feels like mid-day. Know the feeling? Welcome to my not very exclusive club.

The inability to sleep is something of a family curse within my tribe. It is a question then of either lying there prone with one's mind racing or getting up, making tea, watching awful all-night repeats of films which were not worth watching when new or trying to do something constructive. This is none of those, but is a way of releasing the previous day's tensions without actually killing anyone.

Yesterday was a bad day, full of angst, anxiety, anger, acrimony and not least adrenaline, about to be utilised!

Somehow, whatever problems have arisen during the previous day, whether dealt with well or ill they contrive to re-appear in the wee small hours grown to giant proportions.

Putting words on paper used to work for me, but since the world of computers became a part of my life on-screen words are in some mysterious way more theraputic. A kind of vanity no doubt, but still quite a powerful way of dealing with one's inner demons.

The people who impose their more unpleasant characteristics on you during the day, can have quite a crushing affect if you are having a vulnerable or over-sensitive 24 hours, but night-time scribbling/blogging is a good way of ridding yourself of the ego-shrinking results of verbal attacks without actually engaging with the individual concerned. A way if you will, of emerging triumphant from a battle which you have not actually fought!

Freud would have had a field day no doubt. Luckily for me, he is no longer with us.

I imagine creative people might put this time to better use, but for me it serves a purpose, even if it is only to unscrew a valve and release some steam. Which then allows space for the more pleasant events of the previous day to begin to take precedence over the others.
Walking or rather exercising the mad young collie of one of my neighbours while we had a happy catch-up in for once, a sunny evening. In the end I suppose the good trivia of each day usually manages to outweigh the bad.

4.35 am time to gather my wandering wits and face another baggy-eyed day.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Ageism and me

I have always believed and said that age has nothing to do with what is written on a birth certificate or indeed any other document. It is a state of mind and an attitude to what life throws at us and how we react to each other and the challenges of each day which is the true measure of age.

This has nothing to do with the dyed blonde/brunette/redhead, Botox treated, artificially enhanced inhabitants of the planet and their (usually pointless) attempts to avoid the ageing process.

Not that there is anything intrinsically wrong with that approach, just that it is a separate issue.

On the bus this morning I noticed that the front two or three seats labled "these seats are for the elderly, disabled etc" were all empty, and all the passengers, myself included, mainly well over sixty-five, scrupulously avoided sitting in them. The result being that when we reached town all the front seats were occupied by those in their teens and twenties.

"Hang on" I thought, "there's surely something wrong here". As the youngsters skipped happily off the bus and we edged our slower way forward it seemed to me that we are possibly cutting off our noses to spite our faces. Perhaps in failing to recognise that we are indeed old, or at least older than many we are perhaps depriving ourselves of some of the all too few benefits of having reached seniority.

Not accepting what we feel we do not need , is maybe an attempt to push the clock back, in much the same way as the determinedly youthful both male and female insist on wearing too short skirts , tight shorts, ultra low-necked sleeveless tops etc., perhaps we are all in denial of the dreaded "old-age" tag we all hate.

I think what I'm trying to say is all these external manifestations of age-defying antics have little if anything to do with real old age which often is, but need not be a sort of acceptance that life is no longer there to be lived, avenues no longer to be explored, new ideas, interests, relationships all suddenly no longer available to us.

For what it's worth, in my opinion, that is a kind of slow suicide and is totally unacceptable as a recipe for any kind of life.

Take risks! Fall flat on your face! Look a total prat, but above all don't die untill you have to.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010


This is a message from The Interloper.

I am this blogger's friend, and have been tidying some things up for her. If there seems to be a lack of order in the last few posts, blame her 'editor', not her.

Roses are red
They scratch like a dog
It isn't the author's fault
How I sorted her Blog

Inpsiration Perspiration Exasperation

Whew! Made it on to the right page. What an achievement. Yeah I know, pathetic isn't it?
Ideas come and go but by the time I've got to the page I've long since lost the plot!

Perhaps in a parallel universe there might be a place for waffling of this calibre but if so, I would
hate to be an inhabitant.

The first four blogs I created (I think that's the word) and of which I was rather proud disappeared into cyberspace at the speed of light and though I can read them on my screen,
sadly the world has been denied that privilege.

Dry your tears, there will be endless replacements.

Trying to type using an index finger swollen with two wasp stings is not my idea of a pleasant
day at the desk. The little ....... stung me once and while I was flailing wildy in a vain attempt
to dislodge the beast, it did it again...........D'ye think it was trying to tell me something?

More than enough methinks for my second effort, just off to listen to a recording of Vaughan
Williams "The Wasps".

More anon.

Technophobe

As the total disappearance of my four previous blogs will confirm, I am a total technophobe. If
any person knows of any good reason why I should be let loose on a computer they must state it now.

Never having met one before this must make me unique in my neighbourhood. How does someone with the digital competance of a dead bat learn to use this fascinating, terrifying machine ?

By trial and error that's how!

Since declaring my intention to get aquainted with technology many people have made offers of
help, however very few have lived up to their promised help and I am floundering in a mud¬bath of instructions advice and long¬distance verbal assistance.

Since on¬line information appears to be in Serbo Croat or something similar, and in any case
requires the ability to actually get on¬line in the first place progress is agonisingly slow.

If anyone out there has any real advice I'd be glad to hear it (assuming of course that this
actually gets "out there" this time.

Help.........

Daydreamer.

Helpless, Hopeless, Useless

It seems that no matter what I do none of my posts can be accessed byanyone other than yours truly. What I am doing wrong or failing to do is a total mystery and looks like staying that way. Only one of the people who have offered me help has a blogspot and is therefore the only one likely to have a clue about my problem. Unfortunately, he is also the least likely to ever supply the offered help, quick to promise slow to deliver!

Sadly for me at least, since no-one else is ever going to set eyes on my illiterate outpourings, this would appear to be the end of the line.

Alas the world has been deprived of a latter-day Shakespeare.

Heartbroken Hannah!

Ringing The Changes

A year yesterday since my husband died. Seems centuries ago, so much has changed
in my life.

For the past 12 months I have continued to wear my wedding ring. Don't really know
why, perhaps habit, perhaps as a sort of amulet. Whatever the real reason have now decided
to remove it for good.

This time I do know why. For me the wedding ring is a badge of office, a statement of
status to the rest of the world. It says 'I'm married'. As this is no longer true it is time to go-
it-alone.

Does this sound like bravado: is it whistling in the dark: who knows?
One of my friends is slightly shocked by the decision, perhaps she's right. It will be
interesting to see if anyone notices. As for me, I feel somewhat naked.

Not my usual light-hearted style but then, not really a light-hearted subject.
More anon.

Pavlovian Repsonses

An experience this morning left me initially angry, then disappointed, hurt and somewhat
surprised at my reactions. Without going into any detail let me first say that anyone who
knows me at all well would readily confirm that what is on the lid is not necessarily what is
in the box.

We all have a public face and with just a very few that is all there is, but most of us I contend
wear masks quite a lot of the time.

Whether this is a good thing is another matter. Clearly we cannot always say just what we'd
like to say and often for very good reasons we choose to modify our reactions to situations
and people who affect us emotionally. The conventions of a so-called civilised society demands


certain responses from us and rather than start World-War 3 we fall into line.



As you can see I am still wrestling with my technical inadequacies too!



What I think I am trying to say is that sometimes something other than the usual

response is necessary both for our own well-being and that of our peers.


Having let down my guard and briefly removed the customary face mask I now

feel embarassed at having made a mountain out of a molehill. Odd creatures

aren't we?

Oh well, back into my shell till the next person ruffles my feathers - how's that

for a mixed metaphor?


The Power of the Inanimate over the Inadequate

In many ways there is a horrible fascination in banging your head repeatedly against the brick
wall created by total incompetance and fear of all things technical.

There is the lure of the unknown which encourages the foolhardy to imagine they have the key
to an unfamiliar technique, quickly followed by humiliation, rage, sometimes a hissy-fit but
ultimately total frustration.

Why are some people able to leap ahead of others with the agility of a mountain goat while others never quite get the hang of it?

Sadly I am one of the latter and my new love affair with the computer is rapidly losing its
attraction. I shall get me to a nunnery, assuming there's one that will take me, there to
intercede with the god of inanimate objects on behalf of the victims of Machiavellian
machines.

This may well be my last excusion into the world of blog.

Unsolicited Gifts

This is the third attempt to reach my blog spot. Heaven help me if I ever have anything
important to say!

This morning I was disturbed by a ring at the doorbell which proved to be the postman with
a parcel from a charity I support from time to time. This is not the first time I have been
bombarded with totally unsolicited and unwanted gifts by a charity hoping to squeeze an extra
donation out of me.

My objection to this form of moral blackmail is two-fold. Firstly, I need no persuasion to
donate to causes I already support and secondly and much more importantly, the money
spent on the gift in question could have gone directly to the beneficiaries . Am I alone in
thinking there is something inherantly wrong with an organisation which purports to be in
dire need of funds yet spends hard-won cash on useless trash?

Perhaps it was just getting out of bed on the wrong side, but as the steam poured out of my
ears and the cooling-down process began I still felt there was some validity to my argument.

Has anyone any suggestions for a suitable reply to this organisation?

More Wasted Funds ...

Difficult to believe but yet another unwanted item has just landed through my letterbox from the same demented charity as my previous post.
The first item was a small cup and saucer with cats and kittens in various "cute" positions and colours all round the rim: this time there is a tea-spoon with a small porcelain bead set in the handle, also with a kitten picture.
This is enough not only to turn me off cats for life, but also to make me write a long angry letter to the said charity about the huge waste of time, money and resources entailed (no pun intended) in this irritating enterprise. Am I really the only person in the world who considers this type of appeal offensive in the extreme.
However cheaply these goods are produced, they must involve some cost, to which has to be added the price of post and packaging. Why is this money, donated by soft-hearted/headed idiots like me not going directly to the cause?
I'm rapidly turning into Misery of the Month. Someone please save my sanity and suggest a remedy.

Saint Swithun

Is it just me , or are there others 'out there' who sometimes wonder why those created Saints for apparently good reasons at the time, are only remembered for rather unpleasant reasons. In my beleagured thinking this list includes the late (and by me at least, unlamented) Saint Swithin.

This August would I think cause almost anyone other than a duck, to wish the aforementioned Saint to pack his bags and leave his place in Heaven and take up residence somewhere more appropriate - the Lake District or a Rain-forest perhaps.

Are we never to see the sun again or am I just a tad overwrought?

Seriously though. Does anyone know anything good about the above-named ? If so, please enclose answers in a water-proof envelope.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

English and Media-Speak

Having just returned from a very good but extremely long church service this morning (I sing in the choir), exhausted and in need of a long, feet-up sit down I switched on the "box". Nothing much of interest so started flicking round the channels.

Shopping channel on jewellery had not one, but two experts talking about their subject which was described as "joollery" by both of them.

Fed up with this after the fifteenth or so time switched to Eastenders in time to hear the offer of their favourite panacea for all ills "a nice cup o tea", quickly followed by "I'm tellin yer de troof". If they would just stop and fink abaht it fer a mo, they might realise that a good percentage of the population is now from other parts of the world and they don't all speak such good English as wot we does.

Having said that I realise that in fact many non-native English speakers speak much better English than most of us.

Having lived in Wales, Birmingham, Wiltshire, Kent, London and Buckinghamshire and spent
a lot of time in the Netherlands I now realise that almost the only people who speak good standard English these days are the Dutch, closely followed by the Germans.

Accents are interesting, dialect words even more so, but horrible dropped-aitch ungrammatical English is not.

Here endeth today's diatribe. Any takers?

Friday, 10 September 2010

Elixir of Youth (Life)

Have just returned from a pleasant couple of "volunteer" hours in the local church and ran into a casual acquaintance who I haven't seen for a month or so. "You really do look well, how do you manage to look so young?" was the greeting.

Since it is at least a third of a century since I was even remotely young this took me by surprise. "I'm glad you think so" I said, "but since I am on the inside looking out I have no idea whether it is true".

After the usual catch-up chat we parted and the conversation set me thinking. Assuming the remark was actually meant and not just a passing pleasantry, it seems to me that the answer is just one word - curiosity!

When we cease to be interested in people, ideas, what goes on around us every day we shrivel, failing to respond to outside stimuli leads to atrophy and losing that most valuable of all asset, a sense of humour is tantamount to throwing in the towel.

Laugh and live, grumble and crumble.

Is this really the answer, who knows? but at least have fun finding out.

Monday, 6 September 2010

And there was light!

At last the longed-for help with my would-be blogger life has been generously rendered.

A good friend (on whose head be blessings), has just spent two hours of his valuable time acquainting me with the basic rules which will I hope, finally get my literary outpourings (effluent) in the public domain. Look out world you won't know what's hit you.

This patient and good-tempered individual has finally drilled the rudiments of the world of blog into my thick skull where hopefully they have taken up residence for all time.

Now all that remains is to find something of interest to say. Where to start?

All my previous ramblings/rantings have made no impact whatsoever on the rest of the world possibly because no-one could access them. We'll see whether this reaches "breathers" or whether like the rest it winds up in cyberspace.

This is a Test


This is a test, so hold on to your hats!
Thanks; nice hat!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

The Triumph of hope over experience

In a period of self-inflicted aloneness (not to be confused with loneliness), it occurred to me that one of the reasons we as humans continue to hope against all apparent reason is that there is always, for most of us anyway, the possibility that we are not entirely in control of our own destinies.

Whether it be God, some kind of social circle, family or even just a friendly passing stranger, there is always the possibility of the involvement of others in our lives.

If we tend towards the morbid or introspective a sudden shake-up from 'outside' can have quite startling results. Even the most determined misanthrope can be kick-started into a new attitude, activity, interest or friendship by a seemingly accidental brush with an outsider.

From personal experience I know just how valuable this can be and how it can cause us to re-evaluate our most deeply held opinions. Long live the ability to keep an open mind .

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Get it in perspective

After a disturbed night feeling less than sparkling went to a very good church service. Several baptisms and generally happy morning. However, spirits descended sharply on return home. Inspiration suddenly strikes. This is a good chance to get on with some weeding.

Stuck my ungloved (idiot) hand into large tub of lavender and was stung by a wasp. Gasping from the pain tried to knock the little b..... off my left index finger and the vicious evil little beast stung me again.

I know we are all God's creatures, but I can't help wondering what He/She was thinking when the wasp was created.

There is little doubt that we all have our place in the scheme of things, and at last I'm beginning to discover mine.

The babies in church this morning are just starting on their voyage of discovery, while I am
getting daily nearer to the end of mine yet I am living proof that contrary to popular belief age does not bring wisdom, only more questions.

What a load of piffle!

Time for this baggy-eyed crone to get some much-needed rest.

I'm afraid I'll almost certainly be back!

Night!

Friday, 30 July 2010

battered bewildered and confused

You would think by now (my third attempt), I'd be getting the hang of this blogging mularky , or do you know me better than that already?

Every time what appears to be the grain of an idea looms into view, my total ineptness, is there such a word? interferes with my desire to communicate.

By the time I've got to the empty page all inspiration has long since departed. Whatever made me imagine I could do this?

Here's a promise, the next time I rear my dazed head I will have something to say.

Meanwhile does anyone know of an idiot's guide for trainee idiots? Answers in Braille please.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Mindless Meanderings

Here I am again. Once again with nothing of value to add to the daily helping of Internet dross. That however, will in no way affect my intention of adding my 10 cents worth.

Today standing at the bus stop I watched a red kite floating on the thermals with the grace of an
Angel. These huge, beautiful birds once almost extinct, now on the increase in the UK, seem to me a symbol of hope in what sometimes seems to be a dark and lightless existance.

As it circled lower and lower a woman sitting waiting for the bus said "Ooh look at that horrible great thing, wouldn't want that in your garden would you?"

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Novice

Hello World. In case anyone thinks I've lost the plot, this is the first time I've ever used the internet. At my advanced age of .....years computers and I have never previously crossed swords.

A bit of a steep learning curve but what the Hell, nothing venture.....

Widowed just under a year ago after 38 years of marriage, life seemed to have shut down on me and the only way out from under was to try to do everything I had never had time or opportunity to try before.

Among the seemingly endless list of negatives were things like: learning to drive, learning to use a computer, mobile phone, ride a bike, swim and dozens of others. I began by starting to sing again after 24 years, first having singing lessons so I could join the Parish Church choir without frightening the crows out of the trees.

Next came the first driving lesson of my life. Quite terrifying for me, but even more so for my poor driving instructor. After ten fairly hair-raising lessons he was kind enough to say he thinks I will make it (eventually)! I'm not so sure but will continue until I kill my first pedestrian...... do they have driving lessons in prison?

Hurdle no 3 is the biggy, bought the computer etc., found someone who kindly set it up for me now comes the hard part, learning to use the .......thing. Help!

Speak to you later. Or maybe not, depends...