“It is not given to human beings – happily for them, for otherwise life would be intolerable – to forsee or to predict to any large extent the unfolding course of events.”

Winston Churchill, Euology for Neville Chamberlain November 12 1940

Never has a truer word been said. Warning – today’s blog might not be uplifting

Anybody else here feeling a bit uneasy? Something amiss in the pit of my stomach.  Not a feeling that I am comfortable with. But I know what it’s about.  For the past 2 months we have all been in lockdown.   An experience I can share with most of the country and certainly my friends.  This shared experience bought about a sense of community of belonging and I felt secure, relaxed and in control. The Brits are very good at banding together when there is an external threat and creating a culture of strong social reliance on each other. Certainly, I have seen this on my street.

So, for the past 2 months I have been in control of my situation and enjoyed immensely the sense of community spirit.   But now with lockdown easing slightly everything is shifting.  And it is this shift which is making me feel uneasy.  I cannot ease up as I have an underlying condition.  But for many people including most of my friends they will be able to get out more, go back to work and socialise.  And I am already starting to feel a bit ‘left out’.

In addition while I  have been having  social distance walks with friends  cause I know they  have also been in lockdown, once they are out in the community again I will have to think carefully about who I will walk with.

So, the future is a bit bleak. Just more of the same but now  doing it on my own and sadly I can’t make any plans because I have no idea when I will be getting out. What a bundle of sunshine I am. I did warn you.

Interestingly I am not alone in this feeling of unease.  Many people I have spoken to  also have uneasy feelings.  Some have so enjoyed being furloughed that they are now not looking forward to returning to work. Ironically they quite envy me.  The grass is always greener. They have said that they have never felt so healthy.  The lack of pressure and the relaxation has really worked for them.  I commented to one of my girlfriends yesterday when she sat in my garden, that she looked fantastic and her reply was; ” yes because I have not had work hassles and stress. Am just loving it.”  Another friend who is a child minder for the past 15 years has given the parents notice as they have decided they have so loved the peace that they no longer want to look after other people’s children. Others have said that they are now looking at ways of  changing  the way they work.

I do realise of course we are a privileged bunch of people and we live in a bubble that is not shared by the majority of the UK or the rest of the world. And experts have warned that post lock down the UK may well face a tsunami of mental health issues.

But COVID19 has created a paradigm shift in every part of our society. Both positive and negative. On a positive front it is forcing us to redefine how we live, what we value, how the government works, how society works and the relationships we have with people.  Whereas prior to the virus society focused on status, power, wealth and celebrity – now other things will take precedence.

On the negative front I think many of us felt, unwisely as it has turned out, that science and technology would keep us safe and sound. But this virus is bigger than anything we have ever had to confront before and currently we have no defence against it except social distancing and face masks. And this makes us all feel very vulnerable.

I am convinced that by this time next year they will have found perhaps not a vaccine but treatment for the virus. But in the meantime, I am going to have to find a way of making the most of this enforced isolation without becoming over emotionally indulgent. I will remember the words of Emily Dickinson “I dwell in possibility”.

On a happier note I just watched Obama graduation speech, and that voice and that face makes me feel instantly happier.




Note to self: find more things every day that make you feel happy.

“Let’s be careful out there”



My Ebay

The clutter is getting to me every time I walk out of my bedroom, I am confronted with Capodimonte, Cole Port, Wedgewood, brass candlesticks, an abundance of tea services, plates, silver cutlery – get the picture. Something has to be done. So today I have ear marked it as eBay Day. And I have been at it for a good few hours but only managed to put 2 things on the site. I guess there must be an art to this and it’s an art that I don’t possess. I am fast losing the will to carry on.

However, under the recommendation of a friend I moved on to Etsy. “It’s easy,” she said. “Really anybody can do it.” It took me nearly an hour to find the sell button. Clearly, I am less than ‘anybody’. By the time I had finished entering my details in the various required boxes – repeatedly – over and over AGAIN because I kept getting the message that something was missing – don’t you hate it when this happen; You judiciously fill everything out and press continue and that little red message appears – Error!  You just think what’s the point? Throat slitting time..

 It reminded me of my days at secretarial college learning book keeping. I would begin with the Trial Balance and I knew as I was working through the trial bit that it was a waste of time as it was never going to balance at the end.  It’s all about box filling! And doing it the right way. I get the feeling in life that if there is a wrong way to do things then I will probably do it the wrong way.  So 2 hours into Etsy and just one set of Capodimonte listed. Lockdown is going to be well over by the time I finished listing everything.


I don’t think I am the kind of person that is cut out to sell. I just want somebody to come and take it all away. But I am worried that I might have one thing which is worth a fortune. You know like the person who goes into a shop buys a picture and then finds underneath it there is another picture worth 10 million. My mother would be furious if she thought I had given away a valuable treasure. There would be a whole host of bobby pins in my bed! And it is her wrath which is spurring me on. Although I have a sneaky suspicious that it is all worthless.

We also have thousands of old coins. 3 large bags of threepence pieces – remember those? Pennies going back to 1870’s. Farthings,  Shillings, Florins, Sixpences  two pennies etc. Did I mention that I come from a long line of hoarders? I have made a deal with Linda that if she sorts the coins — she is not working at the moment – then we can split the profits. I am convinced that among the thousands of coins there will be one that is going to make us millionaires. In the meantime, if any of you are interested here are a few other choice pieces that will hit eBay and Etsy tomorrow if I can muster up the energy.


Ever had one of those conversations when you are talking at cross purposes. Today was a classic. I had just finished my Pilates class with Penny when the phone went, and it was Penny.

Me: “Oh Hi Penny you look fantastic – so trim and fit.”

Penny: “Really I am not feeling that fit.”

Me: “I so wish I could be as flexible as you I feel quite inadequate.”

Penny: “Actually I have been feeling quite stiff especially in the mornings I think may because I am not moving around enough at night.”

Me: “Well it certainly doesn’t show”And so on – get the drift.

The conversation continued for nearly 10 mins before Penny said, “Do you know which Penny you are talking to.” Clearly not the Penny who I had just done Pilates with. But I did feel inadequate when I had the post Pilates conversation with Pilates Penny. Who is teaching both Pilates and Yoga on Zoom,  doing a number of on line courses, has various craft projects on the go, in the process of buying a new house, walking on the beach  and making good food.  Just writing this blog is about all I can muster on some days.

Note to self:  Get out of bed earlier. Be more proactive. Enroll on a course. Take up a craft. 

“Let’s be careful out there”


A girl can look

I woke up this morning – yes, I know what’s so amazing about that we all wake up – at least I hope we do. But I dreamt of somebody I haven’t seen, heard from of even thought of for 30 years.  What is that about?

In the dream I was a co judge on the BBC Strictly Show with Amanda Holden. The man in question looked exactly how I remembered him but better looking. And yes, we did get it together – in the dream. And very nice it was. Oops maybe too much information.

It reminded me of another man I once knew. I was 15 and desperately in love with this art student called Martin Oliver. He always wore a donkey jacket and had a girlfriend called Jane. I know I am in danger of repeating myself but it is very odd that I remember all these names from so long ago and yet my short memory is gone. Anyway, I am digressing again – he was not the remotely bit interested in me and probably didn’t know I even existed. But I would spend hours sitting in the corner of The Rutland and Derby (an art school hang out and nobody ever checked ID in those days) staring at him hoping that he would  just maybe glance my way) Fast forward 30 years and I am working at the BBC as a producer and I get an email from – Martin Oliver. He had heard my name in the credits and wondered if I was the same Roma Felstein as back in the day and would I like to meet. So, he did know who I was then! I was all of a flutter as I had this vision of this lovely young man in a donkey jacket. But what I hadn’t taken into account was aging. We met for coffee and what a let-down – he was not 18 – he was not wearing a donkey jacket and he was not cute. I on the other hand was still 15 – in my head.

sexy man

And being 15 – well a girl can look

And now for something very different – entirely too much info about my private life. As cranes go, I think yesterday was every little boy or maybe girls dream come true. My neighbours resumed their loft construction and the biggest crane arrived on the street. I so wished that the boys were little and still living here as they would have been enthralled. Instead I was enthralled for them. I sat glued to my window watching in anticipation of them dropping the huge load of wood they were lifting high above the trees. I did wonder for a moment if we should move  the car!

So, there’s another bonus of lockdown – “I can stare as long as sheep or cows” (William Henry Davies Poem Leisure). My time is my own and I can do what I like with it. It is rather liberating in a confined sort of way.

What is not liberating is housework and I had been putting off the inevitable for a long time. The inevitable being the oven. It was only when yesterday after I roasted a chicken and the house smelt of burning that I realised the time was nigh. I am not alone here apparently oven cleaning is the most important yet overlooked aspect of kitchen cleaning. It was the carbon fumes from left over bits of old food at the bottom of the oven that was smelling the house. I know yuck what kind of woman am I – a dirty slut methinks.

It would seem that these fumes can change the taste of food especially cakes. So that’s why my cakes are not turning out well. That said I have just made a sticky ginger and treacle cake for Toby and Linda’s 2nd anniversary.  Forgetting what bicarb does and possibly  putting in a bit too much in the melted mixture on the stove, I had  what can only be described as an exploding  volcano moment!

Note to self:  Measure accurately when making cakes

The Oven – armed with rubber gloves and kitchen spray I  began my oven onslaught,  only to realise within a few minutes that kitchen spray was not going to remove 2 months of dirt. My cleaner stopped coming 2 months ago. So, I have a reprieve until Amazon send me some oven cleaner.

Such riveting information I can imagine you are all glued to your seats with anticipation of what is coming next. Sadly, not a lot. I will finish with a little anecdote about my school days which you might have gathered by now were not particularly happy.  But I was reminded of them when I  received an invoice this morning addressed to Aroma.

At Primary School when the children were in a particularly vindictive mood they would say “there’s a nasty aroma around here.” And then they would form a snake and walk around the playground chanting “join on the end if you want to play except Aroma.” I think this helped to shape who I am today. Lord of the flies had nothing on my school days.

“Lets be careful out there”

Is it all a dream?

Have you ever wondered if this is all a dream? Not just the Coronavirus but all of it. Sometimes I think maybe I am going to wake up in my small bedroom in Leicester and still be a little girl and think, “Wow that was some dream.” And if it was would it change the way I have lived my life? It’s an odd thought but one that I have quite often thought about and increasingly more so as I get older. Deepak Chopra – my ex mediation teacher. Sadly my journey with meditation lasted all of 4 days. Have I mentioned my issues with concentration? He says  “reality as given has no validity except that it matches our experience.”

Maybe it is like The Truman show and our life is just a moving image, that never ends unless we make it end in our conscious. Could be – but then I guess I will never know. But those that want to believe point to research with patients in Australia and Greece that were in a coma-like state since they were born. And they pose the question ‘How do we not know that our “bodies” are not in some other place like in a “coma” and we are just the thoughts. Interesting. Me thinks I have too much time on my hands.

Certainly, time has taken on a new dimension for me. Definitely too much, but then also too little. I know it doesn’t make sense. And clearly, I am not alone one recent tweet read: “How has April lasted five seconds but I feel like I’ve been in lockdown for about six years”

German research psychologist Marc Wittmann thinks it has something to do with the monotonous day-to-day pattern of our lives. Because people aren’t doing things that are memorable, such as going to a sporting event or having a day out with friends, then there is little to differentiate one day from the next. Well I could have told you that!

Ok that’s enough of the serious stuff. One of my friends remarked last night that since I am no longer living on my own, she isn’t finding my blogs that funny anymore. She preferred it when I had long conversations with the spoons and when Izzi (the dog – for those that have just joined the blog) and I shared the meaning of life. She is not alone the spoons have also been missing our discourses. And I notice a distinct chilling when I open the cutlery drawer. But I am mindful that if I carry on this relationship with the inanimate objects in the house it might frighten Toby’s girlfriend who is not accustomed to the mad Norman/Felstein household. I have the feeling that she already thinks me a bit bonkers and she’s not wrong there.

So dear friend I am sorry if I am not quite so funny anymore, but I will try to think of stuff to amuse you.

But her remarks have made me think about the meaning of this blog. I never imagined that I would keep it going – soon I will have posted 50 blogs. I guess I am writing the blog ostensibly is for me, to keep my brain cells lubricated, to utilise my time and to get back into writing as it is over 15 years since I have written anything. But I will also admit that my ego likes the thought that people are reading it albeit not that many because I haven’t as yet worked out how to put it out in the social media arena. But the important people, my friends, are reading. It also makes me feel less lonely by connecting. So please do make a few comments so I know you are there.

Let’s be careful out there”

The Life of Brian

Believe it or not, the poem was not written for the COVID-19 pandemic. It was written in 1869, by KathleenO’Mara and reprinted during 1919 Pandemic.

And people stayed at home 

And people stayed at home
And read books
And listened
And they rested
And did exercises
And made art and played
And learned new ways of being
And stopped and listened more deeply.

Someone meditated, someone prayed
Someone met their shadow
And people began to think differently
And people healed.

And in the absence of people who
Lived in ignorant ways
Dangerous, meaningless and heartless,
The earth also began to heal.

And when the danger ended and
People found themselves
They grieved for the dead
And made new choices
And dreamed of new visions
And created new ways of living
And completely healed the earth
Just as they were healed.

One does wonder will our earth be healed, and will we too be healed. Only time will tell. But I guess what it does tell us is that there is nothing that new and others have been there before us.

If my brother was still with us, he would be saying that this is all divine retribution for a life not well lived. His motto was: “There is nothing wrong with our world, we are just having a weird conversation.” Some conversation we are having right now

Not your average strait-laced kind of brother. He was a talented dreamer who lived in Glastonbury – where else and had eternal hope. Always saw the best in people but never really reached his true potential. At some point I will share with you his Big Brother audition tape – he got down to the last few in the final and would have been truly wonderful if he had got in. Certainly, their loss. I never really understood why he wanted to go in the House, but he saw it as his opportunity to challenge the way people thought. So yes, I can see why Channel 4 were wary.

His biggest down fall was his inability to control his finances. In other words, he was always broke. He believed in sharing in other words what you have is mine and what I have is yours except he didn’t have a lot – finance wise and it got him into all sorts of troubles.

I remember my mother writing to me when I was in Spain saying that Brian had invited them to stay in Wales with his partner and baby. However, he had omitted to explain what the living conditions were and when my parents arrived Brian and family were living in a huge polythene camping contraption on the top of a mountain in rainy Snowdonia! “We have sleeping bags for you,” he said to my parents perplexed at why they were annoyed.

He was an interesting Uncle to my boys, and he would be proud of what they are all achieving right now. Especially Toby with his filming as Brian’s video camera was like an extension of his arm. Wherever he went so did the camera. I have hundreds of his films charting demos, gatherings, events, parties, news items, interviews and much more. They are probably quite valuable archives of the 80’s and 90’s. He died 7 years ago from pancreatic cancer.

Right now, though Toby is on furlough (who had head of this word before) and he is at the bottom of the garden mending the fences and re designing the space. It’s a great project and he has definitely inherited Tod’s DIY abilities. Nothing is too much or too difficult. He just thinks out of the box and it is sorted.

“Let’s be careful out there”

Michelle Obama

I want Michelle Obama to be my best friend  I think we could be good together.  Her positive energy is just what I need.  Whether she would want to be my best friend of course is another thing.   I watched ‘Becoming’ Netflix documentary on Michelle Obama  last night – What a woman. What a man.  What a couple.  I had already read her book  and have been a big fan since they took office but now – well I think I am in love.  How different everything would have been if they were still in the White House. How many American lives would have been saved. How reassured would have been the rest of the world.  How…..  well there are  too many  hows and it is just too sad that instead of this amazingly wise and trustworthy couple we have Trump and his dummy.

What’s the possibility that Trump could be held up for war crimes – because this virus is a silent war.  And yes Trump I am politicising it because you are supposed to be a politician. Way back a good few posts  ago I talked about the pandemic task force that Obama and Biden set up to prepare for what they knew would be a future pandemic.  It was ruefully dismantled by Trump when he came into power. “I am a businessmen,” he said, “I don’t like too many people around,” was his reason for disbanding it and of course because it was set up by Obama.  Please do take the time to watch this link below. It is something else.

And I am not going to mention Boris’s talk to the Nation last night  except: “go to work, don’t go to work, work from home, actively encouraging you to go to work, don’t use public transport, only use public transport if necessary, stay indoors, sunbathe as much as you like – are you confused?  A friend said after he had watched Boris’s  speech a few times he  thought that it made more sense if you listened to it backwards.  I think I shall just carry on the same way I have for the past weeks. That way I know exactly what I should be doing.
I tempted fate when I mentioned that I am no longer an insomniac. It was 5 am when I finally got to sleep after two doses of my herbal sleep tablets. I am still not feeling 100
per cent  and my breathing last night was not good. Having a tendency to be a little overanxious – I can easily talk myself into being sick.  Me and Woody Allen would be hopeless partners  but then I am a bit old for Woody.

I think the Oximeter might not have been a good idea. I have been a little over enthusiastic in my use of it. Last night at 3 am I found that my oxygen levels had dropped to 91 and as I was experiencing a tightness in my chest, swollen glands, blocked ears, a headache  and uneasy breathing I was convinced that I had Coronavirus. So, I took up the offer of the test  – or at least I thought I would.   Now I know why testing has not been increasing.  None of the codes I was sent worked. Apparently, the codes come from the government, but the offer of the test comes from COVID-testing and the two are not synched. Why am I not surprised?

Happy to report that I am feeling a lot better today. That said I thought today I would take it easy. Just my yoga and this blog and a little afternoon nap. And  it was serendipitous  (I have wanted to use that word ever since I set up this blog  – and no I didn’t make a mistake serendipity was not available so I used serendipidy instead ) that my girlfriend in Dublin sent me a wonderful speech she gave to her  Unitarian Church at the weekend. She read some extracts from An Apology for Idlers by Robert Louis Stevenson. It certainly resonated with me as did her wonderful Irish voice. As I don’t have her permission, I cannot post the link so you too can enjoy her voice but it is definitely worth some of your time.  In the meantime, a short extract. And thank you Doireann

AN APOLOGY FOR IDLERS – Robert Louis Stevenson

” Boswell:  “We grow weary when idle”

 “Johnson: That is, sir, because others being busy, we
want company; but if we were idle, there would be no
growing weary; we should all entertain one another.”

“Idleness so called, which does not consist in doing nothing, but in doing a great deal not recognized in the dogmatic formularies of the ruling class, has as good a right to state its position as industry itself.”

“Let’s be careful out there”

Que Ser Sera

When I was a little girl my father would sing Que Sera Sera to me. Never has it been more apt.

Que Sera Sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours to see
Que Sera Sera

And this is on the day when our ‘esteemed’ prime Minister will outline the way forward. Oh, how I wish I had confidence in this government’s ability to steer us through this epidemic. So this morning I sat on my terrace drinking my coffee and singing Que Sera Sera and reiterating my mantra of the last 2 years, ‘it is what it is’  and remembering my father.

I don’t talk much about my father maybe because he wasn’t as bonkers as mum. He was a stable, somewhat bombastic, loving, generous man. With Dad you got what you saw – unlike mum there were no sides to him. He loved people and sport and would follow anything sport related. Thank goodness for mum’s sake Sky Sport hadn’t been invented.  I remember not long after he died I called up my mother and asked her what she was doing.

“Watching football,” she said.

“But you don’t like football,” I replied.

“I know but I am watching it for your father as he can’t.”

I know what she meant. I find myself watching the Rugby which I never liked but Tod loved.

My father adored me and was immensely proud of everything that I did. I was a swimmer in my youth and Dad was my coach. Every morning before school he would take me to training sessions and sometimes after school as well. He would drive me to matches, be on the touch line with a stop watch and I could hear him shouting above all the other parents. He loved it and in the end more than I did. Telling him that I wanted to stop took a lot of courage – it took him a long time to get over it. 

But when I hear that song Que Sera Sera I have this wonderfully fuzzy feeling inside. The song my mother used to sing to me was Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Maybe that is equally apt.

What is not apt at the moment is my bridge playing – I am failing miserably. This morning by the time I had finished my two hour online competitive game, I was rewarded with a pounding headache, a stiff neck  and bottom of the league. I have enough time to perfect my game so why am I not doing this.

Well first off good bridge players need to have the ability to concentration. Not one of my best attributes. It was the consistent remarks from my teachers “Roma needs to concentrate more.” Well little has changed. Another trait is that of  controlling ones anger.  It’s a fact that sometimes things will go wrong and banging the table and storming off is not appreciated. I have never been a good sport. Even when we used to play cards with the boys when they were little and I had to set a good example, I hated losing.  Tod and I had to stop playing tennis together early on in our relationship because we would argue so much about whether a ball was out or in. Next is logic. Bridge is a game of logic. It is not a game of rote…..in fact far from it. It requires the use of logic in order to figure out the hands and what’s going on in the play and to defend. To play well you need to visualize your partner’s hand – as well as the ability to count! Oh dear I fall foul of this too. I am not logical as you have probably seen from my blog. And counting well its fingers and thumbs. I also have a tendency to shoot from the hip. And finally there are rules that need to be followed. Never been good at rules.

Note to self: maybe time to find another past time.

I know if you don’t play bridge this will mean nothing to you

Which brings me to my next hobby which is also not going that well. On line Scrabble. I have 10 games going at the moment and I am losing them all. None of this is any good for my self esteem. I need to find something that I can win or at least be good at. I was good at being a mother but my boys don’t need mothering anymore. I was a good radio producer but I no longer have a job.  I am a reasonable cook but dinner parties are out. I was good at netball but not much call for over 65 netball players. 

So I am thinking of joining a virtual choir https://www.thesofasingers.com/ or  https://www.lifefulness.io/

Maybe we will get to sing Que Sera Sera

“Let’s be careful out there”

VE Day and a dead fox

Just in case you missed me  I have been a bit sick for the last 48 hours. Not COVID19  well I don’t think so but who knows. It’s hard to keep up with all the symptoms. I do check in with the COVID symptom app which they tell you to do even if you have no symptoms and yesterday, they invited me for a test. Yet to take it up.

I hauled myself out of my sick bed yesterday to celebrate VE Day. I mean if those brave soldiers can fight for our freedom making an appearance is the least I can do. We had a street party and it was quite wonderful. Bunting galore, 40’s music, Churchill all very moving. I kept bursting into tears but think it probably had more to do with my state of health than the occasion. I even put on a dress. People tried to keep to social distancing, but I think we all just might have slipped up a bit. But it was certainly good for morale. Methinks there might have been a few interlopers from other streets but hey who am I to question. I am willing to share my lovely street with others who are not so lucky.

anna maria (1)

Above are the neighbours with their very civilised afternoon VE Day tea,  note the white tablecloth.  Compare it with my Heath Robinson set up – well what did you expect.   Despite being sick I think I made the best Victoria Sponge ever – thank you Delia Smith your recipe worked a treat. It’s taken me a while, but I now realise the longer you beat the butter and sugar and then the eggs the lighter the cake. Of course, you bakers will have realised this a long time ago – me – well it has taken me almost all of my life. Note the background to Toby Linda and Izzi – its the fall out from the garden shed awaiting collection.

toby and linda

And talking of the garden shed look what the builders found underneath the structure.

I am wondering is it a fox or a dog and if it is the latter whose was it? Think probably not a good idea to put it on the Next Door website under the heading DOG FOUND.

So now I have this huge empty space at the bottom of the garden that needs a lot of work and a huge clear loft with all the rubbish congregating in the bedrooms which needs sorting. And I am wondering Why?? I know fast forward 6 months I will be very pleased. Maybe.

And it seems apt that today post V Day  I should be wading my way through some of the letters from Billee to my Mother (they were sisters) from her war time exploits in Cairo. I have learnt a lot about my mother and Billee today. She, apparently was having sex with most of the British soldiers in Cairo because, “I feel so sorry for them out here, so I am just giving them what I know they want.” Meanwhile she is advising my mother about my father and advising her that it is important they have sex a few times before she decides if he is suitable as a husband. “Go and spend the weekend in a hotel because if  you are not sexually compatible it will be a disaster,” she advises. Adding, “and have you told him about the Colonel yet – will he mind?” God they were like rabbits these women in the war.  And they talk about the Sixties.

So tomorrow its back to thermals as the temperature is due to drop 15 degrees. Perhaps it might spur me on to take another look at EBAY. Wondering if any of the 150 vintage Liebig Company Fleisch Trading cards are worth anything.


“Let’s to be careful out there”

What did you do in the great epidemic?


 I suppose our children, grandchildren and great children will be asking “what did you do during the great epidemic.”  A bit like ‘where were you when the Cuban missile strike was about to happen, or Kennedy got assassinated or Mandela was released?’

I remember all of these but probably most memorable because I was older was when Nelson Mandela was released. I had been an avid anti-apartheid campaigner for many years, boycotting various products and trying to persuade my father to stop banking with Barclays, unsuccessfully.

We were at home with Zak our youngest and sitting together on the couch and waiting with incredible anticipation for Mandela to emerge. I remember thinking what will  he look like, because nobody had seen an image of him for so long. It was very exciting and a momentous event. Years later I was employed to do the PR for a huge Nelson Mandela worldwide benefit concert in Cape Town.

It was on  29 November 2003  called The 46664 (Mandela’s prison number) Concert  and it was held at Green Point Stadium, Cape Town. It was hosted by Mandela and its goal was to raise awareness of the spread of HIV/AIDS in South Africa.  Among the artists appearing were Beyoncé, Bob Geldof, Queen (Brian May and Roger Taylor), Dave Stewart, Baaba Maal, Youssou N’Dour, Yusuf Islam (previously known as Cat Stevens), Peter Gabriel Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Eurythmics, Bono and The Edge from U2 and many more. 

Should I run low with cash I still have an autograph from Beyonce who wrote to Zak, Jake and Toby with much love from Beyonce. 

As I have no grandchildren as yet hint hint – I doubt that my grandchildren will be asking me the epidemic question.

I am in good company with the blog though for William Shakespeare wrote a daily blog during the Great Plague. On Day 13 he wrote that he had been ‘wearing the same doublet and hose for two weeks.’ Another reluctant clothes changer.

And while The Grove Theatre in London was closed Shakespeare used his time efficiently and wrote some of his darkest plays; Macbeth, King Lear and Othello – all whilst isolating. It will be interesting to see what our current writers produce from this period.

I will have this blog. Not great literature but as I hadn’t written anything in fifteen years, I think quite an achievement. I do know though fellow readers that some days the blog can be rather bland.

I have never been a great writer. Good journalist/reporter/interviewer yes. I loved the research, the chase, nosing out a good story and finding great interviewees but flowing wonderful prose has always eluded me. And now when words are also eluding me, I am happy that I can just put word to paper or screen.

The mundanity of my daily life continues, and I am pleased to report – for those who have been eagerly awaiting the next instalment of the demolishment – that the first load of rubbish has gone. I had 4 different rubbish companies competing for my business and managed to negotiate a very good cash price. I was always a good haggler although I am not proud of this attribute.


Tomorrow I need to bake a cake with no eggs. We are having a street party, music cakes etc all from the safety of our front garden. We have such a wonderful  community on our  road.  That’s another thing I will miss when lock down eases.  But I don’t have any eggs and just a little  bit of flour so need to be creative.

When my brother had pancreatic cancer and he was in his last weeks, he decided to get married to his long-term partner Tamatha. They got married in London and I tried to make a cake with no butter, no flour, no eggs no sugar and no chocolate. He was on a special diet. Lot of good that did!!! It’s all very well these alternative cancer diets but if you have to spend the last few months of your life eating nothing that you like, well is it worth it? I gave up  keeping Tod on a special diet and in the end just let him eat what he liked. Who am I to play God?

Back to the cake – I used a lot of coconut and nuts and it was quite awful. Sadly, he died a few weeks later. Nothing to do with the cake.  I made a wedding and a funeral all within 6 weeks.

That’s much too sad to end this blog on and I will try to refrain from ranting on about how on earth the UK  can have the  highest death rate equal only to that other illustrious country governed by  another great blonde  leader.  Not going to talk about it  because it caused me a sleepless night last night. I made the mistake of watching the midnight news and then became so angry that I spent 20 mins tweeting and posting on Facebook. So, I said earlier I am not going to mention this!

Instead let’s celebrate Fray Fraynelin Cuevas Mendez who is 102

Made her own cake


“Lets be careful out there”


Spain in the Sixties

So, life for me isn’t that bad during lock down and there is a little bit of me that will be quite sad when it stops. Of course as I have said many times before I am cushioned from the reality of what is happening in the wider world. And long may that last.   But I do realise that my life has shrunk – unhealthily.  And it might be easy to slip into this new norm. I am sleeping better than I have ever done before.  A confirmed insomniac I have not touched my sleeping tablets in many weeks.  I feel quite calm – until I watch the news! I am eating very well. My garden is looking beautiful apart from the destruction that is about to land on it from Toby’s demolition.  I have been secretly talking to the plants to prepare them and I did see a few of the trees having a conflab and threatening a branch swaying demo. The plants too were not that happy, but I assured them we would be very careful. Prince Charles has nothing on me.

I know this relative calm will end soon and  I will have to confront the reality of the situation unless I intend on isolating until they find a vaccination.  And if Toby and Linda return to work then we are going to have to rethink the living arrangements. One idea is to put up a see-through tarpaulin to seal off some of the rooms downstairs in which I will live.  Not the greatest idea but needs must. Of course, they could always move out!  

Woke up very confused this morning and it took me a good while to come to.  Lying next to me was a bobby pin (for the younger people that might be reading this although I doubt there are any – it is what our mothers used to pin up their hair).   I think my mother might have visited me during the night and left her calling card. Probably had something to do with all the nostalgia going on in my house at the moment. She wanted to get in on the act.

We had a steady trail of visitors this morning.  Gas engineer arrived to assess the boiler and quote for a new one. The builder returned re the structure in the garden. Sadly he wants £3000 so that’s not going to happen.  Fruit and veg man delivered our weekly order, the gardener popped in to see why some of our plants are dying and a whole stream of licensed rubbish clearance people vied for our business. All gloved and masked.  What a weird world we are living in!

And I sorted my last box of pics.  Such a trip down memory lane. And it has all passed in a blink of an eye. Similar I suppose to how the weeks are passing right now.   I am beginning to sound like my mother but how can it already be Tuesday? Last Tuesday was only yesterday – wasn’t it?  Found the pic of my first ever boyfriend who I met in Marbella and with whom I was completely besotted. What a mistake that was.  Always fell in love with the wrong men until I met Tod.

The man in question owned a night Club in Marbella (1969) I was a very impressionable young girl. I was on a momentous trip with my girlfriend Sally. We took off from Leicester with two back packs, pots and pans tied to our ruck sack and £5 each which was stolen we think by a travelling salesman on the boat going from Southampton to Bilbao.  You see my mother had every reason to worry about me.   So, there we were in Spain on the start of our year long adventure with no money. Ever resourceful we hitchhiked to Portugal  (I have no idea why) and threw ourselves on the mercy  of the UK embassy.

Lisbon then was very much a 3rd world city. Imagine, not used to seeing travellers, here came two somewhat bedraggled teenage girls, with rucksacks and by now a few bits of clothing that we had washed and were trying to dry, tied next to the pots and pans,  speaking no Portuguese and just a few words of Spanish.   We must have looked as if we had landed from the moon.  With a generous hand out of enough money to see us on our way (think they either felt sorry for us or just wanted us to go) we continued what was a hilarious and adventurous albeit somewhat perilous  journey. More later suffice to say that we jumped out of many cars to save our honour, including climbing out of a few hotel windows.  Both fell in love with the same man, an Algerian, freedom fighter who lived in an artist colony in Althea.  Worked in bars and hotels, looked after children, smoked a lot of dope, fell in and out of love and lived the life.  And this was Franco’s Spain. I really don’t think we had   any idea of the danger we could have been in. Look it was the Sixties.  Free love drugs and rock and roll.  Oops hope my kids are not reading this!

If you want to know more about what my life was like in the late Sixties I recommend the Drifters James Mitchener. And yes I too was in Morocco and that’s a whole other   scary story which I will save for another blog. I have got to keep you reading!! I would put up a  pic of Sally and I on the road but I  need to ask permission first.


Have finally finished all the pics and duly scanned them to the various occupants of the photographs, binned another 500 and now just have the one case, rather than 3, which I need to collate so that my children will know who everybody is.   I know frightfully interesting! Maybe the boys won’t be interested either.  Tough I am leaving the pics for them anyway.   Do you think I might be becoming just a teeny bit obsessed??

Until tomorrow

“Let’s be careful out there”