Synchronicity

Yes, it’s been a while. And I realise that my thousands of Serendipidy followers — I know you wish — have been concerned. “Has she got COVID? Is she still there?  We miss you,” I hear you cry.  Ok so I might be hyperbolising a bit.  But I am ok. Still here. No COVID. Just that groundhog day is not very interesting. I wonder why with my busy diverse lifestyle. But come April 24th when I get my second vaccination willy-nilly I am coming out!

You know that thing when you say that’s a coincidence, I was just about to……. well really is it a coincidence or is it something else.  It happens so much in my life that I am reluctant to believe in the randomness of it.  Synchronicity is why I called my blog Serendipidy (Serendipity was not available) that and because I just love the word.   I am not a particularly airy-fairy kind of person but I do believe that the mysterious life long relationship that we have with natural phenomena has all kinds effects on what we do, how we think and what we feel. The events which happen to us are not by strict cause and effect but because there is acausal relationship between the inside and the outside, a sort of cross talk between mind and matter.

Synchronicity - Wikipedia

I am not alone Dr. Jung believed in a underlying kind of ‘field’ affecting a whole different level of experience. I have vague memories of reading his book in psychology class which focused on Synchronicity.

I wonder what Jung would have made of my experience this week.   One of my sons had asked me for some photographs of him with Tod so I delved into my huge box of photographs in search of the said pics.  In so doing I found a photograph of an old friend I had not seen for 40 years. He was also the close friend of another friend so I sent her the pic with a message “look who I just found.”  Neither of us have seen this man or spoken to him for 40 years. Today I received a phone call.

“Its Sally thank you for the photo you sent me.  It’s very odd though.”

“Why” I replied.

“Well about 2 hours after you sent me the photo, I got a phone call from a friend in Cornwall who told me that this other friend (the one whose pic I had sent – no names for obvious reasons) was in hospital as he had just tried to kill himself.”

Random –   Or is it?  more like synchronicity – something urging me to find the pic. If my son had not asked me for the photos, I would not have found the pic of my old friend, I would not have sent it to Sally so did that somehow influence this person in Cornwall to call her? Who knows? But you have to admit it is very odd.

I have had many many experiences like this but perhaps the most bizarre occurred when my brother was dying in hospital and I camped out in his hospital bedroom. In that week before he passed, I began receiving emails from and/or about people who had passed many years before. Including one from the editor of Woman’s Own which said “Thank you for sending us the idea for a feature on living with my mother who has dementia we would like to commission you to write it.” My mother had been dead for 8 years then. But the most bizarre was a message from my friend Kate who died 3 years previously giving me directions to our joint close friend Penny’s funeral.  Even Tod who was a huge cynic had goose pimples.  The emails were in a loop and kept coming until my brother died, and then they all stopped. So, what was that about?

This whole photo experience has propelled me along a path that is long overdue. Collating and organizing the photos that go back nearly 5 generations.

Two enormous boxes. Great great grandparents, long lost cousins, numerous holidays snaps, way too many naked baby pics, weddings, barmitzvas, parties, 135 school photos and then they abruptly stop as digital takes over.  When I am no longer here my children will be looking at some of these pics and saying “who are all these people?” So, I see it as my responsibility to name them – well as many as possible. Although the naked baby pics all do look a lot alike!  

Top 25 Family Quotes and Sayings | Quotes about photography, Family quotes,  Memories quotes

“Let’s be careful out there”

Freedom

I am not going to lie woke up this morning feeling a bit gutted when I heard the news that the vaccine, I only had last week might not work. Suddenly summer freedom seemed a long way off.  Will I ever get a hug again? I know a bit dramatic but honestly, I have tried hard to remain positive throughout but today – well I think it is going to have to be a duvet day.

It did though get me thinking about freedom and what it means.   And I dug out my old philosophy books and looked at Jean Paul Sartre who back in the day was one of my heroes. Of course, I have now forgotten everything he said.

Image result for jean paul sartre

But he had an interesting take on freedom, and I wonder what he would be pronouncing about today’s situation.  On life during World War 2 he said – and obviously, I am not equating the trials of living under Nazi occupation with living with the scourge of COVID-19. ‘Never were we freer than under the German occupation.’  He believed that it is only when we are physically stopped from acting that we fully realise the true extent and nature of our freedom. If he is right and with my glass half full hat on – see I am trying – the pandemic is an opportunity to relearn what it means to be free.

Right now, we are free just ‘to be.’ So, has the pandemic liberated many of us?  We no longer have to make so many decisions about how we live our life, who we should meet up with, who we have not seen for a while, places we have not been, restaurants we haven’t visited, concerts we haven’t attended and so on. 

I have begun to reflect on how many things I did just because they were there. How perhaps I was going along with what others wanted me to do or expected me to do. We all live in a fast -paced consumer society with endless options and truly little of what we or maybe I did was because of a considered decision.  Maybe doing exactly what we want but without too much thought is not a very valuable freedom.  

Today apart – as I have had a bit of a dip –   lockdown has not been that tough for me.  There is much less I have missed than I thought. Undoubtedly, I have missed my partner, but he died before COVID19 and the contact with my children, but I have enjoyed the peace, the lack of social pressure and ‘have tos’.

Sartre wrote that ‘Total responsibility in total solitude – is this not the very definition of our liberty?’   Of course, he was talking about 1941 when life was vastly different. Because then choices were literally about life and death. Resistance fighters found themselves thinking ‘Rather death than …’   We are not in that situation, but death is maybe a bit more prominent in our lives right now, and it does remind us to take seriously the choices we make, about our work, our relationships, and our lifestyles.

The BBC has a new property programme A Simple Life – focusing on families that want to up and leave the city for a quieter life.  I have just watched it from under my duvet. The pandemic is focusing us more on our life choices. It has made us realise that maybe we   are living a life that we never freely chose but just drifted into. There is now almost a new urgency that unless we make a change – this is going to be our lot until we die. 

Certainly, I have drifted. If I talk to 16-year-old Roma, the non-conformist, the questioner, the one that argued and fought for what she thought was right, she would not be that impressed.  I had so many ideals and passions but somehow, I allowed myself to become consumed by the desires and thoughts of others and came to falsely believe that money and materialism offered me security. So, I bought into that life. I had houses, cars, jobs, private education for my children etc etc.  But now, in true Sartre mode – I am rethinking it all.

I am waking up to perhaps a new kind of freedom. The challenge for me and I think for society is how we now respond.  Can we recover and make a post epidemic life richer and more worthwhile?  Looking at the leadership around the world I am not that confident.

The pandemic has given me the time to think and ponder about my life and my future. And remembering my now favourite  poem “We have two lives and the second one begins when you realise you only have one,” I need to get my ducks in a row  so I am ready to dance when  I can finally experience the outside world again.

Image result for cartoon pondering life

So, when I get out from under my duvet — thank you Judy I am writing this blog while still in bed on the new laptop which you bought for me – – I will endeavour to put this new positivity into practice. 

In the meantime, I leave you with one final Sartre quote:

“Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.”

“Let’s be careful out there”

Dementia – a note for my children

Over heard telephone conversation between two of my sons.

” Mum has lost the tea she has just made.”

“Again – she’s becoming Nana.”

No I am not , I shout – or am I?

It get’s me thinking maybe I should compose a briefing for my children.

What to do if I get dementia?

Many years ago, when your Nana started getting confused you asked. “What do you want us to do if you get like this mummy?”

It’s a tough one. They watched me care for my mother with patience, love and humour and I would like to think it showed them the way. But they are not me.

 When I began what, I call ‘the journey’ with my mother when she was first diagnosed with dementia I made an important decision – do it with good grace and celebrate the good bits.  And there are quite a lot of good bits. For one thing, she forgot a lot of things that you used to make her angry particularly who she bore grudges with. And my mother was a big grudge bearer.

It was a journey not to the far-flung corners of the world, or something that I particularly looked forward to. It was an altogether different kind of trip, where I knew the road would be rocky, unpredictable, sometimes very painful, and    sadly not with a  happy ending. But while she was here and I was in charge, we were going to have a lot of laughs.  And that is the thing with dementia it is how you approach it that makes all the difference, especially in the early and middle stages. Admittedly towards the end it can get a bit grim. And in that case boys just give me the pills!!

My mother was 82 when she got dementia –  Vascular Dementia, which means the poor brain is isn’t getting enough oxygen – it is being attacked on all fronts and doesn’t stand a chance.  Dementia  is one of those few words, like ‘cancer’ or ‘coma’ that seems to carry a primeval power.  It doesn’t matter what advances have been made, what treatments there are nowadays; it conveys a finality, a definitiveness that instantly redefines life. It is horrible, irrevocable, and merciless.  I didn’t know how rapidly she would  deteriorate but I did know that we would travel the road together.  

We had become part of a growing statistic –  a new socio-demo-psycho-medico-political segment. Somewhere out there, a computer was whirring away and saying ‘Don’t send them holiday brochures anymore’.  And just when my children were almost grown up and becoming independent and I had thought that I was getting back my freedom – puff, just like that, I had to start parenting all over again, only this time for my mother.  I would be lying if I didn’t admit to you boys that there were some days when I had some very uncharitable thoughts as will you and that is ok.

My mum’s diagnosis was not a complete surprise. I had watched her memory begin to fade.  There were small things, almost funny at first; occasionally she would forget what day it was, or get lost while driving in familiar neighbourhoods, or forget names or words; all were things I noticed, but didn’t label. I invented excuses and put it down to ‘old age’.

But the diagnosis helped. I stopped  getting  frustrated and angry by what I thought was simply irrational and scatty behaviour. I now knew what was happening.  I called her; not once or twice a day like before but seven or eight times to remind her what is happening that day, to check that she is eating, to see if there have been any important letters and generally chat.  While before these calls made me feel stressed and anxious, I  began to  find them reassuring; she may be ‘slipping’, but for the most part she’s still there.

And we had a lot of laughter, and a new contentedness.  We joked about her forgetfulness and blamed Ginny, the family ghost, for losing things. And we giggled about the fact that she had forgotten many of the things that used to annoy her.  Mum used to have a memory like an elephant, and could hold a grudge; she would never forget nor fully forgive anything that we or anybody else had done wrong. Well now, the grudges are gone; she doesn’t remember them or the events, which created them. Last week she said, ‘I don’t think I like so and so’ and I when asked why, she laughed and said ‘I can’t remember.’

You boys were less fazed by the situation. You had spent a lot of time with your nana and although you were tough and abrasive with each other you were always   warm and sensitive with her. And while you noticed the changes it didn’t cause you any alarm. Of course, it will be different if it is me – your mother.  I remember after one visit to Granny’s house you asked, “Why does granny write messages and stick them on the door?” and when I told you that she couldn’t remember things and these were to remind her you just took it at face value.  

So, boys this too was part of my journey.  Not only was I engaged in the ultimate role reversal, not only did I have to watch my Mum’s decay and cry for her and my loss of her, but, if I am honest, there was an additional concern. Beyond my pain for my mother, I was also worried for myself.  Is this my future?

My memory has always been my downfall. I have put it down to being slightly dyslexic. My friends say having a conversation with me is like playing the panel game Don’t Say a Word. “You know who I mean, …. the man with the red hair and the big nose …. he has the squeaky voice….’. On a good day, I would laugh at myself.  On a bad day, I get frustrated and angry. Now I am terrified. Is my memory getting worse? Am I on this path too?

“Don’t worry” said one my boys  “by the time you get old they will have found a cure.”  That should be reassuring, but its not; I fear his flippant statement is neither true nor confidently said, and that deep down, they do have fears.

 And on bad days when I was alone I would feel a deep sense of loss.  The essence of my mother was still there, and much of the time she was not only quite lucid but she retained her wicked sense of humour.  But my best friend, who my mum had always been – the personality that was my Mum – was  starting to fade.

So, my dear children  my quest is to share the journey I made with my mother and there is no pressure for you to follow suit.  But if  there is any money left in the coffers rather than one of these soulless old age homes, use the money to keep me at home with a live in carer and a good supply of marijuana.  And when it gets bad  just dispose of me however you wish. Preferably  quick and mercifully.

“Let’s be careful out there”

Imagine how we would be if we were less afraid

What a difference the sunshine makes to one’s life. I am thankful today looking at a blue cloudless sky and crisp white snow on the ground. I am thankful that  I feel relatively healthy and I am thankful for an unexpected gift which  arrived last week from a friend – it was as if she knew  what was going through my head over and over again. The  book The Boy, the mole, the fox and the Horse (yes for some reason the  B and the H is a capital) is beautifully bound and illustrated. 

It almost felt like the author Charlie Mackesy  was also reading my thoughts and  had written this book just for me. Of course he had also written it for thousands of others because it’s the stuff we all know but don’t take notice of and sometimes  the simplicity of a book like this is a reminder to put these thoughts and emotions  on the top of our agenda and action them.

Yes, today I am in a philosophical mood.  

Apparently the idea for the book came about when  Mackesy  was chatting with a friend the explorer  Bear Grylls about what is meant by courage and what was the bravest thing  they’d  ever done.  Grylls is well known for his courage  but Mackesy said “the bravest thing I’d ever done was when I was struggling and had the courage to ask for help.” And so, he explained “I drew it.” I loved his illustrations that accompanied the words.

“I wonder if there a School of unlearning

“What do you think is the biggest waste of time? Comparing yourself to others

charlie mackesy on Twitter: "The biggest waste of time.… "

“Imagine how we would be if we were less afraid

and another that really resonated with me

 “Often the hardest person to forgive is ourselves

This is now part of my morning Yoga and meditations.  

Perhaps it is even more pertinent now as  I am in the last phase of my life and I do really want  to make it worthwhile because if not, well what is the point? I did warn you people that I was in a thoughtful mood today.  So, I dug out that wonderful poem My Soul Has a Hat.

 It goes:

I counted my years

and realised that I have

less time to live by

then I have lived so far

I feel like a child who won a pack of candies and at first ate them with pleasure

but when she realised that there was little left, she began to taste them intensely

etc etc

and ends with

……….We have two lives

and the second begins when you realise you only have one.

The poem is now pinned on my wall in front of my computer

Indischa Flower - After reading this beautiful poem,... | Facebook

Note to self:  It is time to stop ‘talking the talk’  Roma and begin ‘walking the walk’  (Think I might just have had this Note to self several times before)

“Let’s be careful out there”

Talking to spoons and a large penis

The spoons are not happy

All this television watching is clearly doing some good. This weekend I learnt that to ripen unripe avocados you put them in a container with a banana – who would have thought. And yes, it works. Within 48 hours my very hard avocados were nice and soft. Life has shrunk somewhat over the past 9 months!

And while I am on the domestic topic I have to revisit that old chestnut – housework.  Why? Because I am starting to feel  a bit of a failure.  All this time and I still don’t have an organised house.

Speaking with a girlfriend recently she remarked that her fridge had never been so organised and that her cupboards were – well beyond tidy. I didnt like to ask but I bet her knicker drawer was colour coded. I opened my cupboards and was ashamed. The condiments were a mess. I mean how many half filled oil bottles does one need. The cups were all higgledy piggledy on top of each other, and the cutlery drawer – remember back in the day when I used to talk to the spoons – well I still do and they are not amused.

“Come on girl get it together – just look at us.  We  have stray forks in our compartment, teaspoons mixed up with the soup spoons, ladles and wooden spoons  edging towards our space. And why is there a cork in here?”

Toddler Chores and My Silverware Drawer — KCKidsDoc

It’s called anthropomorphising   and apparently it is not that uncommon to give human characteristics to non-humans especially when you are starved of human contact. And let’s face it I have been in semi lock-down since the beginning of last March and  probably only seen about the same half dozen people in all this time,  so I guess it is no wonder that the inanimate objects  are getting more than their fair share of attention.  Look if Tom Hanks  can  anthropomorphise  his volleyball on his desert island I guess I am in good company.

But I do know that I could do better on the housekeeping front. According to Ideal Home Magazine there are 43 easy cleaning jobs to do while in lock down – for every room in the house.   

Clean inside and outside your kitchen cupboards, organise kitchen cupboards, wipe on top of kitchen units, deep clean the oven, sort and soap the cutlery draw, empty and clean the fridge, defrost the freezer, clean the kitchen drainer……

Actually, I am bored now.  Seriously there are another 36 jobs. This is a lost opportunity. When will I ever have all this time again?   And I am embarrassed to say that I still have 49,000 emails in my in box 23,000 unread. Wtf am I doing with my time? Yoga, Bridge and dog walking are all very well, but  I could also  have a very clean and organised house for the first time in my life.   

Big Note to Self: Get out of bed earlier

And now for something  completely different.  A children’s tv show in Denmark  about a man with a giant penis has caused fierce debate. Can’t think why! Apparently  the character uses his very large ‘member’  to hoist a flag, tame a lion and retrieve an oven from a lake.   I wonder if he uses it to clean his house as well.

John Dillermand: Children's TV show about man with with giant penis airs |  7NEWS.com.au

“Let’s be careful out there”

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.

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“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”