Monday, 5 March 2018

Missing The Bath

There has been more than a foot of snow lying on my garden for over a week.  fieldfares have flown in from the countryside in search of sustenance  and the wind skirling from the arctic has caused my poor arthritic spine to declare a National Emergency.   I recall winters like this from primeval times when i was younger and fitter, in memory they seem to have occurred more frequently and with greater intensity but maybe that's simply my mind playing tricks and forgetting the majority of bland winters because they were mundane affairs not deserving of taking up space in the hippocampus.

It could also be due to the fact that climate not only affected us when outdoors but it followed us when we came in so we were cold day and night. My three bedroom childhood home was heated with a small one bar electric fire in the living room.... THAT WAS IT !!!   no central heating, no heaters in our bedrooms, no carpets, no warm towel rail, no double glazing, loft insulation, wall cavity filling, just that one poxy twelve inch radiant bar that we bickered over continually.   

Surely anyone over sixty five recalls waking to the INSIDES of windows covered in the most spectacular ice ferns glinting in early morning sunshine, their spiky fingers spreading from corner to corner, a three dimensional, frozen lace curtain heralding the fact that the room had hit sub zero.

Bath night was a torture of goosebumps, damp towels, cold pyjamas, two inches of tepid water that barely covered the nether regions and a quick dash down the stairs to take a turn drying off in front of that tiny semi circular false promise of warmth.   Later, gypsying from town to town, one of my top priorities when flat hunting was a good sized bath and unlimited hot water, hardly surprising considering the traumatic experiences of home ablutions.   The best one was a cast iron monstrosity so deep and long that i had a foam covered, empty fruit box for the feet to rest on for fear of drowning in its bubbly depths.  

As age continued it's onslaught on my rickety skeleton a long, scalding, deep, Radox filled soak became the only way to warm up and ease the ache if i became chilled, so imagine my dismay when moving to Hexham to discover i had inherited a wet room with no tub.   my beloved children had numerous suggestions from a Victorian hip bath to a half beer barrel all of which i churlishly turned down whilst appreciating their deep concern expressed on my behalf.   

Whilst i love the comforts of twenty first century living with it's abundant warmth and softness and wouldn't go back to the not so golden age of the freezing fifties, i haven't learnt to love my wet room and probably never will but, as in all things, the benefits outweigh the loss.   safety trumps luxury every time.  I may miss the easing of aches and pains when the temperature plummets but surely the agony of a broken hip would be much, much worse.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Profit And Loss

In the middle of a conversation with a friend about coping with change, my mind went on a wander, roamed into the fiscal realm and decided to take  a walk on the allegorical side.   perhaps my bizniz alter ego took charge for a moment firing synapses that linked the acceptance of change to a profit and loss formula.   reducing emotions to the realm of practical finance helped remove the sting inherent in considering personal adjustments and enabled me to focus not on the "loss" but on the "profit".

Life consists of a continuous cycle, gaining and losing, losing and gaining, joy to sorrow, grief to celebration, a child is born a grandparent dies, round and round and round, nothing stays the same the only consistency is inconsistency.   as a wise man once put it "there is a time for everything under heaven: a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance."   perhaps, once we grasp that nothing is forever, we can find a certain equilibrium, an acceptance of whatever comes our way.
When my sons grew out of childhood and began emotionally moving away it felt as though i had lost an essential part of myself, my sense of purpose and identity went AWOL for a while.   i feared i would lose them, and i did.... in that incarnation.  but what i gained was far more precious in many ways.  we became equals and they CHOSE to be a part of my universe, everything was given freely, adult to adult not imposed by dependency.  i lost my babies but gained two wonderful, independent friends, and daughters in law, and granddaughters, and in them and their love i refound myself.   a nett gain in the Great Balance Sheet of life.  
More recently the move from Lindisfarne to Hexham was a huge heart wrench there was so much that had to be left behind.   Being a Bournemouth girl the sea is embedded in my DNA, the cry of the gulls a lullaby, the salt tang a taste of home, big wide open skies a gift from God to keep humanity humble.   being landlocked once again has reopened the void that island living filled for a decade, feet are now firmly planted on the ground,  water walking a luxury of the past.   

Another huge miss are the coffee shops, little oases where for a while i could escape the confines of home and surreptitiously peep from behind The Guardian, being the only socialist on the block, and see the comings and goings of my neighbours and tourists as i slurped an Americano by a log fire.   the blessing of having a cafe in the back garden all gone and listed as a loss in The Ledger Of Life but offset by other factors such as the ease for my children reaching me now there are no causeway tide times, the security of living in a fully fitted for disability flat, doctors and hospital on the corner.   The audit sheet balances as it always does if we chose to seek the profit and set aside the loss.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

The Pirouette Of Life

The decorations that survived rough handling have been wrapped in shredded tinsel and returned to their dusty, nest in the cupboard deep under the stairs.   the wrapping paper has been retrieved from the recycle bin where it was erroneously discarded whilst dizzy with post pressie rapture. trifle and gateau have been devoured and the calories promptly deposited on hip and thigh.   thank you letters are written and are now at the mercy of the Post Office.  new year clock watching is relegated to memory and fireworks to ashes, allowing The Indomitable Fred to emerge from his self imposed exile under the bedspread. another year passes into history, a further digit will be added to my age, a few laughter lines will be added to the network, and the journey of life continues it's relentless pirouette. 
Did you know that the making of New Year's resolutions has been around for over four thousand years?  you can blame it on the Babylonians, though they celebrated at the end of March after the first new moon of the vernal equinox.  in 1752 we adopted the Gregorian calendar to bring us into line with Europe and the new year moved to 1st January.... anybody seen a petition to "take back control" of our calendar recently?   Those trendsetting Babylonians would make promises to the gods in hopes of being treated well through the coming year, returning borrowed items and getting out of debt were a la mode. nothing much changes over the millennia does it? now where did i put those library books? 

Of course, we shouldn't need New Year to prompt changes but we humans aren't naturals when it comes to self improvement.   we seem to embrace the negative when it comes to attitudes and actions as enthusiastically as Mr. Vader embraced the Dark Side, with equally disastrous results in terms of relationships and health so to have a specific time set aside to re-assess where we are on the spectrum of life isn't without merit.  
Given omnipotence there's one resolution i would see imposed on each and every one of us on a daily basis.... to be better and kinder than we were yesterday and commit to making this a happier universe.   we seem to have become a negative and confrontational society with the need to lay blame for every perceived fault and flaw, lacking the will to show others the tolerance and leniency we would like shown to ourselves in our frailty.   this attitude of censure and criticism is turning us into an aggressive and confrontational nation lacking in joy and harmony.  I very much doubt anybody wakes on the first of Jan and and makes a conscious decision to be more negative, nitpick daily and criticise at every opportunity, perhaps we absorb these attitudes by osmosis from those around us.   if so perhaps we need to choose our friends more wisely.   

Lacking the godlike powers necessary to enforce brotherly love on a universal scale all we can do is choose to improve our own little corner by taking an honest look at ourselves and shining some of that criticism inward, not in a self destructive manner but in self awareness, and determine to start making the changes necessary to become the humans we would like to be.

My resolution for 2018:

       spend more time with happy people.

             speak kindly to all.
                     treat others as i would like them to treat me.