Those were the days…….

Who else felt uncomfortable watching the  BBC drama series The Serpent? It told the remarkable story of how one of the world’s most wanted men: thief fraudster, master of disguise and serial killer, Charles Sobhraj was brought to justice. The Serpent was shot across South East Asia and is set in the 1970’s Hippie Trail. Very well done but uneasy viewing.  I was a back packer back in the early 70’s. Trusting everyone and believing that no harm would ever befall me. I was invincible.   I too hitchhiked, accepted invitations from strangers, partied and  smoked marijuana.  And it never occurred to me that I might be in any danger.  I was having too much fun to even think about it.  Yes, I do remember escaping through a few bedroom windows, and hurrying away from overzealous hand-wondering men. 

The Serpent release date | BBC cast, plot and latest news - Radio Times

I remember when I was living in Spain with a bunch of international fellow back packers I had to hide in the bushes when we got raided by the police. Two of our group, a Canadian and a Brit got arrested and spent 5 years in a Spanish jail. I shudder now when I think of my behaviour. But I was 18, naive, a sort of  hippy  and in love with the world which I thought was also in love with me. 

Back then there were no mobile phones and letters took forever to reach home and who could afford to call home anyway. So, it would take weeks and months for reports of missing travellers to reach the authorities, mostly from their families who never got  correspondence back from their letters. I truly wish that I had made a few more phone calls and written more frequently. As a mother I can imagine how worried my parents must have been – I am so sorry mum and dad.

Obviously I survived and thankfully my 3 adult sons who all did the pack backing thing survived. I did though make them promise that they would send a weekly text to let me know where they were, threatening that if I didn’t hear from them I would contact Interpol.  I also made them all watch Midnight Express before they left.  

How different is this world right now from the early 70’s. Now I can only travel in my head. I conjure up far off places that I will visit when we are free. I am thinking that perhaps travel might be limited to the UK so I am planning a trip around some of the 200 odd islands on our coasts. To keep me sane I am researching the best ones and working out routes and logistics. Sadly I doubt those wonderful hedonistic years that I so enjoyed will be available to the current generation. Maybe after The Serpent it’s a good idea. A return to travel as it once was is probably an unattainable fantasy.

I know this is a somewhat selfish perspective the bigger picture for many economies  who are so dependent on tourism is catastrophic. Last year  the industry  suffered an estimated €3 trillion euros in losses on account of the pandemic. And  tens of millions of people have lost their jobs.  

Enough already  Felstein you are  in danger of getting stuck down a rabbit hole. My oh so wise Israeli cousin continually reminds me that I am becoming too much of a  ‘glass half empty’ person and what good is that – quite right too.  I just need her sitting  on my shoulder reminding me to focus on the positive. And on that note I am happy to report that I finally came top in Bridge.

Business woman with angel and devil on shoulder - Download Free Vectors,  Clipart Graphics & Vector Art

“Let’s be careful out there”   

A bit of rock does wonders

There is nothing like a blast of very loud rock music to put one in a good mood. This morning I woke up, watched the news and wondered if I would survive this pandemic and, in fact if  the human race would survive. Yes, I do realise that watching the news first thing in the morning is not recommended.  But it is a habit that I don’t seem to be able to break.  I am and always have  been a news junkie.

However after my  morning  yoga,  a  dog walk and breakfast I put on some very loud music  – thank you Spotify –  and while cleaning the kitchen danced around listening to Led Zeppelin Stairway to Heaven  and ignoring the confused  looks of my pets I sang along loudly.  Led, you were  just what I needed.  I fully recommend this as a pick me up.

Led Zeppelin's Stairway To Heaven copyright battle is finally over - BBC  News
Best band ever

As is my wont this survival thing usually crops up just as I am about to fall asleep.  And it’s when I start the ‘if I survive game’ and promise myself all sorts of stuff.  When we were children my brother and I used to play  the ‘if we win the pools game.’ We would spend endless hours deciding on who would get what. First on the list was a maiden aunt who lived in a bedsit with her mother  in a run-down tenement flat in Kilburn. We were horrified that the toilet was 3 floors down and had to be shared with the other tenants and the kitchen well a rather grubby gas ring was in the hallway outside the bedsit.  Of course, we didn’t do the pools, but mum did and every Friday the pools man would call to pick them up.  We never won. 

I also play this game with my premium bonds. When the email arrives  “congratulations you have won please check your account,”  despite knowing that it will just be £25 I always wait a few days so I can have  some time to fantasise what I would do if I got a big win. I also play the Lottery – and have done for 10 years and never won  anything.  I want to stop but it would be sods law that my numbers would come up.  It is odd though that I have never ever won anything.  That said I know I am one of the fortunate ones and for that I am very thankful.  However, a little win would be nice.  

So, what did you all do on New Year’s Eve? I was in bed at 9 with a book – a bit extreme I know.  Maybe I was making a point.

Premium Vector | Woman sleeping at night in her bed with open book

I did however have a little pang of envy as my close  friends gathered in  one of their homes to celebrate. Apparently it was a lot of fun.  They  have stopped inviting me  because they know I won’t come which is true,  and yes I do feel a bit left out and wonder just how much this will affect the previous closeness of our friendship. Hopefully it won’t.  I have questioned  whether  I am being  a tad over cautious as none  of them thankfully have got COVID  despite   being a lot more out and about than me.  So, am I the fool here? Have I been semi shielding since last March, for no good reason?  As hopefully a vaccine will soon be rolled out  I will not now cave in. However, the governments constant U turns over this virus gives me little confidence of the efficacy of dolling out a single vaccine.

Regarding friendships in the age of COVID19  it is almost as if we have to navigate  consent with our friends much like  the way we used to  with sexual relationships.   Talking of which sex that is,  have you seen the  Netflix period drama Bridgerton?   Regé-Jean Page plays the lead, drop dead gorgeous  and what a body.  The sex  scenes – really I think I must have missed out somewhere.  I binged watched  – and went to bed alone feeling a little forlorn. Certainly, a step up from   when Aidan Turner went topless in the BBC’s Poldark? Sadly,  I think those days are over for me  although I am not sure it was ever quite like Bridgerton. Maybe too much information.

Phoebe Dynevor and Regé-Jean Page Give Us All the Juicy Details From the  First Season of 'Bridgerton'
That’s him on the left

Digressed again  sorry I was talking about friendships and going to bed early with a book.  Interestingly  the book I was reading on the recommendation from a friend was The Price of Peace Money, Democracy, and the Life of the economist John Maynard Keynes. Not exactly the most uplifting New Year’s Eve read   but a very interesting  perspective from a century ago and still  very prevalent. After World War 1 he said, “The real danger was from those who rejected international harmony for national glory,” hmmm sound familiar?  I despair that we have learnt nothing from past events.

The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard Keynes  eBook: Carter, Zachary D.: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store

So, I leave  you with the vitally important  and profound 2021 predictions of  Nicolas Aujul, who claims to see the future through visions; The royal family are apparently in for a rocky ride. There is  heartbreak for Kim Kardashian and  Megan Markle will reveal all.  Riveting news.  If only  my Granny Roth and her phrenology was still here.  

“Let’s be careful out there”

It’s All About The Pollock

So, it was all down to a Pollock.  And then it was over. Amazing really that a few fishermen could hold the country to ransom.  One does wonder looking at those poor lorries stuck in Dover   what the future might have held for us with no deal.  I guess Boris realised he would have been hung drawn and quartered if he didn’t succeed with a deal.  What amazes me is the sheer arrogance  that we British   —   scrub that we  —   that some Brits  haven’t quite grasped yet that we are no longer an Empire. And indeed ‘going it alone’ isn’t an option. 

But then there are the Marcus Rashford’s.  I have  just watched a BBC news documentary on Marcus Rashford’s child poverty campaign and it reinforced my belief  that we parents have a  huge responsibility on ensuring that our children have decent values.  Certainly, Marcus’s mother did a good job. There he is, successful, rich and yet compassionate and remembering from where he came.  I am in awe.

Marcus Rashford says 'time is now' to end child food poverty

It  made me reflect on my own parenting and while I have many faults I  think I have  succeeded in rearing 3 thoughtful caring boys.  My  parents worked tirelessly  for their community. My mother was forever visiting and caring for those less fortunate and my father never refused a request for help sometimes to his detriment. We  bought up our  children in the same vein.

Admittedly things went a bit awry in the teenage years. I remember being  in   disbelief when other parents remarked on how well behaved the boys were. Excuse me? Are you talking about my children? The ones that squabble, fight and compete incessantly with each other. That’s not fair, why don’t I get some of that ‘niceness’.  It would seem as if they couldn’t wait to get home so they could explode and scream at  mom!. Of course, it wasn’t a conscious process at all and wasn’t intended to hurt  me. Children act out at home because they know that they can get away with it. Home is their safe place. A place where they  feel secure and can show their ugliest behaviour…because they know we will  still love them and that they will still get their needs met even if they act out.

 I guess it is the same for us adults. We have arguments with our partners and say things which we wouldn’t dare to say outside – yes we save our worst behaviour for the ones we love most.

It got me thinking about whether  babies are born with a natural empathy for others, whether some have a more inert  tendency towards empathy than others.  Did in fact Hitler or Stalin or Pol Pot have empathy at birth? Recent research reports that  even very young babies have the capacity for empathy and  experiments have shown that   hearing other babies cry  can trigger of this empathy. That said  while children’s empathy seems inborn,  this gift that is ours as parents and as  a society  can be lost  depending on how we react to these earliest overtures.

And apropos of absolutely nothing I think I am becoming more bonkers – becoming I hear you say. The lady who talks to spoons! Well if you had been in bed with me last night you might be thinking that I am definitely sinking. I am a dreamer, and not just any dreamer but a  dreamer par excellence. My nights are full of adventure and intrigue  – what I get up to in my dreams is quite beyond comprehension. And when I wake  in the morning I am  astonished at what I must have been going through while asleep. No wonder I am exhausted. But last night was a first.  I started dreaming before I got to sleep. Yes really.   I pinched myself to see if I was awake and yes I was and yes I had been dreaming. I guess the dreams just  got impatient and couldn’t wait until I was asleep to start their fun. I guess I have mum to thank for this. Yes I inherited her great skin but I also inherited her nuttiness.

Abigail's Dream Adventures Episode 1 - YouTube

Just as well that I have fun at night because there is certainly no fun happening anywhere else in my life.  It is all getting a bit weary  here in London.

“Let’s be careful out there”

2020 – It’s a bit JOMO

So its official Christmas is cancelled. Good job I didn’t order a turkey!

I certainly haven’t missed the pre-Christmas build up. Every year about this time I have FOMO –  “fear of missing out,”  which apparently is  a real phenomenon . The magazines are full of what to wear to all the glittering parties one apparently gets invited to plus an abundance of features about party etiquette and the best way to recover from a hangover. And some of my more sociable friends have their invites in full display on their mantelpieces. I am left though with mixed feelings. It’s a case of damned if you do and damned if you don’t. It’s complex. I fret that I am not getting  lots of invites and yet I hate parties, so I am relieved that I don’t have to attend. But of course, one would like to be invited

Left Your Christmas Party to the Last Minute? These Amazing Venues Have You  Covered | Hire Space

When I  had a rather high-powered job in television I had lots of mantelpiece invitations especially at Christmas.  Juggling the invitations was a huge headache.  But I had a very  sobering experience.  My popularity rapidly declined when, Murdoch took over the company , and I, at 6 months pregnant got made redundant.  Invitations diminished  rapidly  and my so-called best mates disappeared.  No more invitations on the mantelpiece

If truth be told standing around, sharing trivia chit chat with strangers (which I can’t hear anyway unless I get rather too close for comfort –  the perils of being hard of hearing ) is not a fun way to spend an evening especially if you are not obliged to for work.  For us audio challenged people  we  smile a lot, nod enthusiastically and hope that our  ‘wows’ and ‘really’ and ‘how interesting’ are  appropriate.  Of course, there is always the chance that someone might ask me what I think and then I panic and  use the  bathroom as a  refuge.   “So sorry,” I say hastily “Do you know where the bathroom is.”  Then  sit on the toilet wondering why I am here and how soon can I leave

Back in the day when I had a training company and networking was vital I remember one particularly awful experience.  My business partner and I had been at a pharmacy and optician network event (I know very exciting)  which was being held in an Indian restaurant. Now restaurants at the best of time have poor acoustics, and to make it worse the majority of  attendees were  South Asian who generally tend to speak quite softly.   I spent the entire evening nodding and smiling and not  hearing a word that anybody said. It was quite surreal just watching  all these mouths opening and shutting and yet not being able decipher any intelligible sound. On the drive home my business partner said, “You were talking to a lot of people – did you make lots of contacts.” I rather sheepishly admitted that I hadn’t heard a word anybody said.   “For God’s sake,” she said exasperatedly, “get a bloody hearing aid.”

She is not alone, my children are fed up with repeating everything 3 times,  Tod was forever pleading with me to get a hearing aid, “look at how frustrating it is talking to my mother,” he said, and the neighbours have complained about the volume of my television.   So why don’t I get one? Vanity. Accepting that something is not working. The inevitability of aging.  It’s bad enough that my knees are creaking, I can’t remember stuff and my hair is rapidly turning grey and now I have to admit that I can’t hear as well

As always I have digressed.  So this Christmas and New Year for me anyway is a bit more JOMO than FOMO. In fact most of the past 9 months has been more JOMO.  While many of my friends are missing their social life I have quite enjoyed this oasis of peace and lack of pressure. And  FOMO so I am told, diminishes with age.  Well I am certainly  becoming more comfortable with myself and I do wonder if perhaps I am a bit of a closet introvert. Maybe I have become a little too comfortable with my own company which just might not be good for my mental health.

NOTE TO SELF: Get the vaccine and get out a bit more in 2021   

“Let’s be careful out there”

It is all down to the nativity play

So that’s why I haven’t made it big in the world it is all down to not being picked for a  lead role or in fact any role in the school nativity play.  How I longed to be in  that play. I didn’t care if I wasn’t Mary any role would have been ok even a sheep or lamb.   But as  I, personally apparently according to my fellow pupils,  and enforced by anti-sematic teachers (it was the 50’s) killed Jesus it was not to be.  And certainly, my mother would not have allowed it either.  

A  nationwide Virgin Media study of 2,000 British adults found that those adults who played the part of the ox now earn a cool £43,000 a year on average, more than TWICE as much as those who played a lamb or sheep, who made on average £20,000. Ok so maybe not a lamb or sheep.

‘Marys’ are also the most likely to be truly content in their adult life, while ‘Josephs’ came in second place, with those who played the role likely to end up with a job in finance or banking.

And apparently the angels  are most likely to end up in a modest role within the healthcare industry, earning an average of 25k, while children who played the Wise men probably  end up working in construction. So, parents now you know. Get in there and make sure your child is chosen for the Ox role or Mary or Joseph but definitely not the angel as those poor buggers are really not appreciated.

This is who you are in life, based on who you were in your Nativity play

I remember  aged around 8, my mother told me that as we were Jewish we didn’t celebrate Christmas. I think up until then she had played lip service  present  wise, to  Christmas. I was mortified.   Not only did I  have to deal with the truth that Father Christmas wasn’t real and didn’t come down our chimneys and eat the cookies, but that the whole festival was a no-go area to us. I know we had Chanukah, but it felt like a poor relative to Christmas

So on Christmas day mum would cook something like kippers which we hated  just reinforce the no Christmas stuff and we would be schlepped into the local hospital to serve tea and be jolly for those less fortunate .Of course in retrospect I know this planted in me a  life long charitable instinct but at 8 –  well it was tough.

The thing is I secretly loved Christmas, the lights, the euphoric feeling that people appeared to have and the Carols. Oh, the Carols. So beautiful. I knew all the words and would hum them under my breath  just omitting  the word ‘Jesus’ which I knew had I uttered  awful things would have befallen me

PLAY: Can you name these Christmas carols from just one line? - North Wales  Live

I was the only Jewish child in the school so you can imagine just how easy that was!   And thus, was  more knowledgeable than any of my fellow classmates in the new testament.   Why? Because I was excused participation I would sit at the back of the class, supposedly getting on with other work but listening intently in a way that I never listened in  other  classes. There is something about being forbidden that makes one  want to do the opposite. And when the teacher would ask the class a question my hand would be hitching to go up with the answer. I think it just might have been the only class I would have been top in.

Unlike my own upbringing in our house we celebrated everything. Christmas, Chanukah, Easter, Passover, Jewish New Year, Christian New year, Harvest Festival  Sukkot, Thanksgiving, Halloween, all the birthdays and anything else that might be going. It was a busy household.

Hannukah Starts Tonight So Here's 18 Differences Between Chanukah &  Christmas | The Jewish Press - JewishPress.com | Jeff Dunetz | 26 Kislev  5779 – December 4, 2018 | JewishPress.com

Tod was a big Christmas fan and presents were very important to him. I would start thinking  and searching for  Tod’s present in the summer. And I never seemed to get it right – that said his present for me were always quite fabulous.  And when the boys got older and would be out late on Christmas eve Tod would be sitting impatiently by the tree shouting for the them to get up as it was present giving time. It’s not the same without him.

This year, and now that most of the children have flown the nest and Tod is no longer here and we have Covid I will be paying lip service to Christmas Day. It will  will be late afternoon ‘Linner’ in the Gazebo by the open fire, with the boys and just one partner as the other two are with their parents. We will have a roast lamb, a vegi option and panettoni bread and butter pudding.  And lots of nice things to drink. Actually, it all sounds rather nice just hope that rain doesn’t stop play!     

“Let’s be careful out there”

There’s nowt so queer as folk

I’m having that after glow birthday feeling – yesterday my Gazebo was well and truly road tested as close friends came and went to spend time with me. I think this is probably my best buy of 2020. It has enabled me to spend time with friends and family in a COVID safe way. Yes it was bitterly cold but the sun shone and when it went down we had a huge pit fire which kept us warm well into the night.

There is something about fire that brings people together in a very special way. It’s the flickering light, crackling sounds, warmth, and distinctive smell. It has an interesting magical way in which it draws people closer together. If we go way back in time and look at how the cave people lived we can see that when all they had was each other, in the darkness of a cave, the light from a fire would be an elation, it would enable them to communicate with each other, share how their days had been and most importantly ward away any unwanted beings. Luckily we don’t have to ward away enemies, well not yet, but last night I could see how it promoted sharing and story telling. It is almost as if the fire was saying “yes it is OK for you to open up, to reminisce and share feelings. ”

I realised too just how important it is for my children and close friends to see me relaxed and happy. How hard it must have been for them over the past few years watching my sadness. I guess one can become a little self obsessed with grief that one forgets that others have to co exist with you. It was a wake up call for me when one of my children said, “it is so nice to see you smiling and looking happy mum.”

NOTE TO SELF: Must try harder

In the spirit of it only being yesterday that it was ‘my special day’ I indulged and stayed in bed with coffee and my IPAD. I watched an intriguing Louis Theroux documentary on Scientology and suddenly remembered my own brush with this odd religion. I think I was probably about 16 and I was in Brighton accompanying a girl friend who had gone there for an abortion. I had to kill time while she was in the clinic so I wandered around the town and was accosted by some young people who persuaded me to take a scientific test that would help change my life. Well I had nothing else to do that day.

So they plugged me into an E-Meter  which is a shortened term for electropsychometer. It’s a kind of lie detector – it measures the galvanic skin response of a person. Scientologists believe it can “see thoughts”. And from what I can gather its supposed to tell the auditor whether or not the person has been “relieved from spiritual impediment of past experiences”

All I can remember is that they told me that unless I joined up I was in danger of ending my life by committing suicide because ….. well you probably get the gist. So far I have escaped the Moonies and the Scientologists but there is still lots of scary stuff out there.

It is an interesting and somewhat alarming documentary. But then I am never surprised by the antics of my fellow humans. Here we are just out of lock-down, the numbers have decreased, vaccines are on the way, so there is light at the end of the tunnel and yet – this was 09.30 at Harrods on December 6 – not a mask in sight. I rest my case

Image

Moving on – if you too have had your fill of stuff like “I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here” here are some alternative films you might find interesting. You can always check the trailers out first on You Tube.

After Springly Akeelah & the Bee, Virunga, Knock Down The House, Capernaum, Shoplifters, The Other Side of Hope, Babel and more mainstream The Joy Luck Club. I loved the book.

Look forward to your feedback.

“Let’s be careful out there”

It’s getting a bit crazy out there

Did you ever play that game “if I was rich I would…..”? Sure, you did unless of course you are already rich.  Well I have just added  dream interpreter to my list of housekeeper and  cook. I would like   a dream interpreter sitting by my bed every morning and explaining my extremely lucid dreams. Last night’s, or probably early this morning as apparently we remember most dreams just before we wake, was truly bizarre.

I was on Oxford Street in London’s West End, in morning rush house in my blue striped cotton pyjamas with a bagel running across the street looking for somewhere to toast it for breakfast.   When I realised where I was  –  horrified I ducked into a grocery shop –  of course there are none on Oxford Street, asked to borrow the phone to call my son to fetch me but didn’t know his mobile number – there’s a lesson learn your children’s mobile numbers –  obviously nobody picks up the house phone anymore.  Back outside my location changed to  the local shops behind my  family home in Leicester and I  thought – great I can just walk home now! So what  was that about.  Home, pyjamas  bagel – maybe it is do with comfort and security. Something we all need right now.

Methods of Dream Interpretation: What Do Dreams Mean?

We are truly living in some very strange times. I mean really a 16-year-old from Connecticut has become the first person to have 100 million followers on Tik Tok.  Why? Because she has invented a scientific phenomena, made a huge impact on the world, found the secret to happiness, has raised substantial funds to help the poor and needy, has triumphed over adversity, written a master piece –  no none of these   Charli D’Amelio  has made her name posting videos of herself dancing in her room.  And because of this notoriety she has now moved with her family to LA, acquired an agent, appeared in a Super Bowl half time advert and has a drink named after her at Dunkin’ Donuts.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NIU-eSuiy8

 We are living in a world where children believe they are stars and post endless videos of themselves doing mundane things like putting on makeup and picking out clothes to wear. Adults think that pictures of their food are interesting and important, and people die taking moronic selfies in dangerous situations.

And on the other end of the spectrum  you have a government asking the elderly to sign “do not resuscitate” orders.  I was horrified to read that in Switzerland, where the daily death toll from Covid is around twice the spring peak, doctors called for those who are vulnerable, including the over 60’s  (that’s me) and those with heart disease or diabetes to sign end-of-life forms  to ease intense pressure on the hospitals.  Shades of the  1973 movie with Edward G Robinson and Charlton Heston Soylent Green. Don’t want to ruin it for those who might not have watched – but it tells the story of New York in the year 2022, when the population has swollen to an unbelievable 80 million, and people live in the streets and line up for their rations of water and Soylent Green. That’s a high-protein foodstuff allegedly made from plankton cultivated in the seas. But  all is not what it seems!!

I think I just might have digressed somewhat  but  when an Ocado delivery driver  includes  three carrier bags of urine with a customer’s grocery order methinks maybe it’s all getting a bit crazy.

“Let’s be careful out there.”

Deserts Island Discs – a veritable feast of interviews

I know it’s pretty chaotic at the moment  but walking in the woods today I felt a sense of calm  a feeling of gratitude and I found myself saying thank you to the trees. Yes again – I hear you say but there  wasn’t anybody else around to thank and anyway Tod is in some of these trees

I  remember not so long ago trying to fit in a walk in between a somewhat frantic schedule and  reciting  that iconic poem “What is this life if full of care…. ” etc etc and  uttering those magic words “if only”.  Well ‘if only’ is here and I do feel fortunate.  I can if I chose ‘stand and stare – as long as sheep or cows’ and I can most definitely see ‘where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.’

And while I know I have complained about being on my own and having too much time and so on today is a good day and I  appreciate  being able to do exactly what I want with my time within of course the constraints of lock down restrictions.  So much so that this morning in the middle of my yoga I stopped, switched off the zoom, because I just wasn’t  feeling it.  And what’s more I didn’t feel guilty. There’s a first.  My life has been so governed by ‘shoulds’ and ‘ought to’s’ deadlines and guilt  that  I am feeling quite pleased with myself right now.

Instead I went for a long walk, sat on Tod’s bench, had a conversation with him albeit a bit one-sided, ignored passer-by’s who thought I was probably just a mad old lady, and  enjoyed my glorious woods. So, William Henry Davies I am today ‘full of care’ and have as much time as I want ‘ to stand and stare.’

There are some good things too about being an insomniac – as well as the quiet  it also allows me  to catch up on the Radio programmes I have missed. Last night I delved into the archives of Desert Island Discs on Radio 4 and listened to a recent one with Sir Keir Starmer –  hopefully our next Prime minister.  The verdict is out on Lauren Laverne she doesn’t quite have the laid-back quality of Kirsty Young or Sue Lawley.

I then moved on to the Late Chief Rabbi Johnathan  Sacks interviewed by Lawley just before he was inaugurated.   Interesting both he and Starmer  chose Beethoven’s 2nd Symphony. And while  Keir (like me he also hated his name during schooldays and wished he could have been called something more ordinary like John or Michael or Peter – I  wanted to be a Susan or Jane )  ended with Artists for Grenfell, Bridge over Troubled Water which sent me into floods of  tears- not just for Grenfell but because it was Tod’s favourite song. It sometimes shocks me just  how deep is one’s grief which most of the time can be held at bay  but when it comes out – it is like an eruption. Thankfully no-one was around.  Sacks ended  his discs with Sholom Katz – Lest We Forget which also left me in tears remembering all those that perished in World War 2.  Not sure this is exactly the best way to lure one into a peaceful sleep. 

TRA: Desert Island Discs - Trebuchet

I had met Rabbi Sacks on several occasions when I interviewed him for the BBC.    He was an impressive spiritual man of great intellect and a brilliant orator, but I think that  he was conflicted  by the pressures of a diverse Jewish community and he walked a  fine line between the views of the ultra-Orthodox  and those on the progressive wing.

I am excited to have discovered a whole host of other incredibly interesting people on Desert Island Discs which was first broadcast with Roy Plomley in 1942 and since then over 3000 programmes have been aired.   So for starters I will be listening to:  

Bruce Springsteen, (so sexy don’t care that he is getting on a bit)  Tracey Emin (I think I finally understand her bed!) Hugh Masekela ( one of the first guests on my embarrassingly failed C4 chat show) Maya Angelou (“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ) Princess Grace of Monaco (always been a bit intrigued by her it’s the fairy tale princess fantasy) Bill Bryson (read all his books) Malcom Gladwell ( nearly read all of his) Nicole Farhi ( love love her clothes if only I could afford them) Shirley MacLaine ( because she was my mum’s favourite actor) and Steven McQueen (  12 Years a Slave director whose anthology of films is currently on the BBC. So far Small Axe – brilliant and Mangrove have been aired. Each of the five films tell different stories of Caribbean people living in London from the 1960s to the 1980s. Growing up in Leicester and sneaking out to what was ostensibly and very exciting black blues parties was a highlight of my early teenage days.)

With all this on offer – who needs sleep. A veritable feast awaits me.

“Let’s be careful out there”

Talking to oneself

Since my incarceration began back in March I have noticed   I am losing the art of conversation.  And not only am I losing the ability to converse but also the interest to converse. I have become quite content with my own company and methinks this is probably  not  that healthy. I can easily fill my day with dog walks, yoga, reading, housework, baking and Netflix.  In fact, some days there isn’t even enough time to call a friend.

Take today it is already  Friday afternoon and it was only yesterday that it was last Friday, and I have only succeeded in getting dressed and walking the dog. Really quite baffling the speed in which the days are passing.    The only positive is that hopefully it won’t seem that long then before we get a vaccine. And I shall be fighting to get to the front of the line.  I have absolutely no qualms about taking it. Despite the  claims that the coronavirus pandemic is a cover for a plan to implant trackable microchips and that the Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is behind it. Quite frankly  Gates is very welcome to my brain!

Woman Talking To Herself Stock Illustrations – 6 Woman Talking To Herself  Stock Illustrations, Vectors & Clipart - Dreamstime

I think getting out into the real world again is paramount for my sanity. I became particularly worried the other night when in bed I found myself saying “good night Roma, sleep well.” And even more alarming  when I heard myself answering, “thank you, you too.”

I am told it is healthy to talk to yourself but there is probably a happy medium and I might just be overstepping this mark. Before even emerging from bed I was conversing with my clothes about which jumper would be the cosiest for this cold morning.  Luckily the jumper didn’t respond.   I could  say it is because Tod isn’t here anymore  but who am I kidding I have been talking to myself since around the age of 5 when I would invent a whole host of imaginary friends. My dolls took  on human qualities and  would take up so much room in my bed that I would end up sleeping  on the floor so as not to crowd  them.

I vaguely remember a doctor’s appointment when my mother, worried about my incessant chatter with these imaginary friends, asked  whether it was normal. I can’t remember what he said  although Dr Rodker the family GP always had the same answer to everything ‘probably a bit of infection there’.

So now, alone for most of the day, especially as Toby and Linda have moved downstairs  and created a mini flat so they can redeem semi normal life without worrying about infecting me, I have even more time to discuss the intricacies of life with Roma.  And I have to say Roma can be brutally honest about my  short comings. Afterall she knows me better than anybody else. No cover ups there. But  I am trying though to be a bit kinder and more empathetic to myself.

I too have now  become an armchair Goggle Box  critic except unlike  Anne and Ken or  Giles and Mary or Jenny and Lee it is just Roma and Roma. So, it’s not quite as much fun. Take watching I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here  – there is no one to tell me when the gory bits are over.  So, I have to hide behind my hands  and just  peek through my fingers  hoping  I don’t catch anything too gross.

This week  however we took a few risks  so we could continue the shared Bake Off experience. It was a bit surreal Toby and Linda  at opposite ends of the lounge masked , with the French windows open.  It was Laura versus Herminie  whose showstopper was a bit of a shocker.  Such a shame  for the patisseries queen – everything was wrong, the look, the taste, the texture. But good news for Laura the messiest baker on the show. 

So, what’s on my weekend agenda. Interestingly  the two-day weekend  is a relatively new phenomena apparently it  was in part born from another economic crisis.  During the  1930’s  Depression  many industries  hadn’t adopted the 40-hour workweek  and they cut employees back to five days a week, so that fewer working hours could be distributed among more people. By 1938, the 40-hour workweek was enshrined into law with the Fair Labour Standards Act. I suppose it remains to be seen if  things will change post COVID.  

Anyway, on my weekend there is still Netflix The Crown to be watched, leaves strewn across my garden to be cleared,  Bamboo and plants to be replanted, the new gardener will not be asked back! A  Polenta cake to be baked and  of course the daily dog walks. Now you can understand  why I haven’t been blogging.

ELet’s be careful out there”

Auspicious Times

Yesterday was an auspicious day – yes we have finally got rid of the orange idiot – but it was also Tod’s birthday and what better present for him than Biden. Not the ideal candidate but at least it is not Trump. And I think Tod would have approved of this mild mannered sensitive and empathetic man. And if he pops his clogs, well he isn’t exactly a spring chicken — then we will have the first black female president.   It’s an odd expression ‘pop  your clogs’ – I think it comes from  the idea of ‘popping’ meaning pawning – a person’s clogs after they have died because of course they no longer have any use for them.

Anyway, we can all breathe a sigh of relief and  the knots in my stomach are slowly unwinding.  I can start sleeping again – well at least try and best of all soon there will be no more Trump. A result.

It was also auspicious because finally my roof is fixed although I still have to get someone to take down the useless expensive scaffold   – but I am not going there again!

My brother-in-law said Tod would be smiling on his birthday to see Trump defeated.  I wish I knew that was true. How wonderful would it be to know that someone you are close to is still around somewhere in the ether? I have been thinking for some time of going to a spiritualist or clairvoyant just to check out if he is still hanging around. I doubt it as I am sure I would have felt his presence.  He wasn’t exactly a shrinking violet.  One definitely knew when Tod was around.  Spiritualists will say that one sign that someone is hanging around is ‘visitation dreams’  well I have had those.  Quite a few of them.  Another is  electrical phenomena – yes have had that too. Lights flickering and then black outs.  It   is  probably all a loads of cobs wobble  and I know that Tod didn’t believe in any of this, but I am still curious. After all my grandmother was a palmist and phrenologist and grandfather was a magician. 

I remember  waiting at Heathrow arrivals watching people embracing and crying with joy at seeing loved ones and thinking wouldn’t it be great if there was another special arrival space  for people who had died, and they were allowed to come back for a visit.

Have you ever played that dinner time game – If you could bring one person back from the dead, who would it be?  Sadly, the rules preclude it being  a member of your family.

It’s the regrets that sometimes hound one – the ‘if only’ s’ and ‘why didn’t we’s’. Bloody useless this hindsight – what good is that. Where was it when I needed it most.  But I am learning to let it go –  it is just taking a while

But I can also smile now when I think about Tod. I am smiling just remembering   the stack of birthday presents that I bought him that I know he didn’t like. I used to dread present buying time. It  was hugely important to Tod probably  because his mother never really  did the birthday thing.   I loved a celebration and any excuse to get us all together worked for me.  We had Jewish New Year and 31 December, we had Hanukkah and Christmas. We had Thanksgiving, Halloween, Bonfire Night and Fourth of July and anything else that was up for grabs.

 I fear there is not a lot to celebrate right now except, of course  the mere fact that we’ve made it to this point in life. We are still here despite all the challenges we are facing.  So maybe we just need to celebrate getting through another day. And I should celebrate just managing to write another blog.

“Let’s be careful out there”