Media Vacation

I am having a media vacation – to be more specific a news media vacation. Which is hard for a self-confessed news junkie. I realised,  watching the news broadcast of the police shooting of  another black man in Atlanta,  that it was enough.  I felt physically sick.

When I was self-isolating on my own for the first month I stayed away from the news as I needed to keep my mental health in check and the best way to do this was to focus on other stuff not COVID19 related. It is well known that the emotional content of films and television programs can affect one’s psychological health. And mine needed to be safeguarded. But over the past month my news addiction has resurfaced.

When Trump got elected, I was so outraged that I didn’t watch the news for weeks. I just couldn’t bear to see his gloating ugly face. The same with Brexit. And when Tod’s father had his first heart attack his doctor prescribed no tv news or newspapers because it was having a detrimental effect on his already damaged heart.

I remember  too  my mother  calling me on a daily basis anxious about world news “Have you heard about…. it is terrible and …… I am so upset… etc”  And I would reply “Mum stop watching the news”. So, I am now telling myself STOP WATCHING THE NEWS.

Which of course gives me time for other things and this morning it was yoga.  Focusing  on my down dog I was mindful that the leaders of the Greek Orthodox Church  have now formally  warned their followers against taking up yoga practice. Apparently, they say it is “completely incompatible” with the Christian faith.  They do not  consider it a physical exercise but more “a fundamental chapter of the Hindu religion.” That’s not going to go down well with my Greek yogi friends. It is such  a sign of insecurity when one group, sector or religion is so fearful of co-existing with those of different beliefs. I have never understood that one.  A bit more enlightenment  would not go amiss. I finished my Yoga with a few OM’s which I dedicated to the Greek Orthodox Church.

om


The highlight of the week arrived today – our weekly food and veg shop. It’s a bit sad really how excited we get as we open all the packages and wash the contents. “Oh, how lovely apricots, rhubarb, mushrooms and avocados,” we cooed as we washed everything just in case!  How our world has shrunk.

food

I have been buying from The Odd box Company – as  it’s  usp is that its products are surplus food and veg that cannot be sold to shops because they are the wrong shape or colour.  I hate waste so this  feels right.  It would also feel right if they provided some of this food to Food Banks – which they might already do.

When we were running our drop in for asylum seekers, I forged links with a number of companies to supply us with shoes and clothes.  They told me that I would be shocked if I could see what ends up in landfill.  Perfectly good items that might for example, have one hole for a trainer shoelace bigger than another hole, or a zip on a dress not perfectly symmetrical, or a colour slightly off the advertised shade.   When we come out of this lockdown this is going to be one of my projects. I will be policing landfills.

The bottom of the garden is almost finished but there is one aspect of this lovely Cotswold stone gravel that we hadn’t thought about. Mo has been inviting all her neighbourhood friends to check out the giant litter tray.

cat

“Let’s be careful out there”

Brian The Wizard of Glastonbury

He hated school and he hated authority but  was very bright.   He lived in America and the UK, had 4 children and 4 wives and many friends.  His last abode was Glastonbury – where else. He was a colourful character. Diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer in January 2011 he died in March 2011. This was the last video he posted if you have a few minutes it gives a good flavour of who he was.  

 

We don’t choose our family and there were times when I really wished he was not my brother. But I loved him, and he loved me, and he was an integral part of our family. I forgave him for losing one of our children who he was teaching to hand out leaflets and do a bit of begging in Camden Market, when he called me at 3 in the morning to pick him and two of his children up from Glastonbury cause his car had broken down, when he arrived back from Heathrow airport after we thought he had finally left because his rental car had run out of petrol and he had no money to refill it, when his ex-wives wrote to me demanding money, when I repeatedly bailed him out of sticky situations, when the debt collectors arrived at my door looking for a Brian Felstein “never heard of him” was always my reply, when he invited me and some friends to Cornwall to take acid (I was young and foolish ) and then forgot the acid and when his long lost daughter who not only had I never met but didn’t know of her existence turned up after he died.

But he bought excitement and diversity to our family. The boys all have wonderful memories of Brian adventures of the annual Christmas mistletoe shenanigans when he dressed up as a wizard and sold mistletoe in central London. Our house was left with shreds of mistletoe for months after he had departed. Of the all-night Rave’s that he used to put on under London Bridge and his alternative perspective on life. I loved him, and I miss him. Just hope no more children appear.

.

Happy Birthday Brian.

“Lets be careful out there”

Optimistic Pessimist

Meet Scott the mystery window cleaner in Great Yarmouth. He has washed more than 700 properties for nothing – in a bid to help local firms “bounce back” after lockdown. He pays his small team out of his own pocket, and estimates the work carried out to date has saved local firms in the region of £8,000.scott window cleaningI could certainly do with him here. I have these cowboy window cleaners who spend roughly 30 seconds on each window and demand £25. I periodically terminate the agreement then in desperation think I will give them another chance. I have now washed every window inside the house so there will be no “I am sorry Mrs Felstein, but the dirt is on the inside.”  I hate it when my surname is pronounced Felstyne – with the emphasis on the ‘yne’.  Why does that bother me so much? I think because somehow it sounds derogatory.  Name aside I am now confident that any dirt that still remains on my windows after their 30 second swishing around with the cloth – will be their responsibility.  I will report back.

 But thank you Scott for your generous communal spirit. Even though I cannot benefit from it.  What people do now count and can provide a meaning to life which has been sadly absent.

 It is interesting how shared adversity can really foster a sense of community and affinity with others that can be masked in normal times. The challenge of course is how to sustain this after adversity ends. Which I am presuming it will. It is not just community that can find a silver lining to this pandemic it can also have a dramatic effect on the way society operates. For example the Black Death helped to end Feudalism, The Chernobyl disaster hastened  up the collapse of the Soviet Union (the verdict is out whether this was a good thing) and the experience of community solidarity and the states intervention during World War 11 encouraged the setting up of the welfare state. So, looking forward if we seize this moment in time, we have the potential now to change the way we live and make our society better. I am an optimistic pessimist – I hope for the best and prepare for the worst. 

“Both optimists and pessimists contribute to the society. The optimist invents the aeroplane; the pessimist, the parachute.” — George Bernard Shaw

Sociologist  Michael Young (Lord Young of Dartington) spent his life documenting and fostering social solidarity in Britain  ( he helped found the welfare state in the 1940s ) In the 1990s, he wrote in a study of people dying of cancer  that death, while  separating  relationships, can also bring people together.  “Death is the common experience which can make all members of the human race feel their common bonds and their common humanity.” I think this is very relevant to COVID19 as when we see the number of deaths rise in the UK there is a collective feeling of empathy for those who have lost someone.  But oddly there is also a kind of awful normality to this. The more it goes on the more we accept and expect.

Our evening dinner conversation usually starts with: 

“So how many deaths today? 

“Really still 250 but there was only 65 yesterday.

“Yes, but that was the weekend the figures always rise after the weekend. “

Who would have thought in January that we would be having these conversations over dinner? 

And so, I continue with my lockdown – the rest of London might be opening up but here we will remain in lockdown until I see the numbers reducing significantly. And finally, our stones have arrived. Now the hard work really begins as we ferry 11 x 150 kilo bags from the driveway to the bottom of the garden, which is a mere 350 feet, down two flights of stairs in wheelbarrows.  We envisage two bags a day. Hopefully it will be finished by the anniversary of Tod’s death and Toby’s birthday on 17 June. 

stones

 “Let’s be careful out there”

Is Racism Endemic?

The race debate continues in our house. Many of Toby’s friends are Black and he is quite militant about the race issue – rightly so. We do though have differences. And that comes from age and life experiences. Today we were discussing the pulling down of the Bristol slave owner statue which I agree had no place there.  I would have preferred a less violent removal but clearly a more democratic removal had not worked. It had been requested for many years that this statue be taken down as it was a hurtful reminder of a terrible period in our history. 

We then moved on to Churchill and I didn’t understand why he also became a target. “Do some research,” said Toby and check his background. So, I did and despite his great achievements in keeping the UK safe and winning the war against Nazis, with the help of course of America, there is evidence to suggest that Mr Churchill’s views on racism were indeed questionable.  I admit, I was surprised. I guess I had never really looked into Churchill’s background.


This came from from iNews:


He referred to British imperialism as being for the good of the “primitive” and “subject races”. In 1937 he said: “I do not admit, for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America, or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to those people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, or, at any rate, a more worldly wise race, to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.”And there is much more. I will let you do your own research and draw  your own conclusions. 


I think that racism is endemic in us all and that we have to go that extra mile to overcome it. Toby reminded me that whenever I retell the story of how I had to stop the car because in front of us were two men having a road rage punch up, I always tell the story saying “there were these two black guys fighting…. “”Think about it mum why did you need to say two black guys, you wouldn’t have said two white guys.” And he is right. We need to check ourselves and be mindful of the language we use because language is powerful.


Interestingly I do the same thing when someone Jewish is in the news because of negative behaviour. My girlfriend and I after watching the Netflix documentary both said,  “And he was Jewish”. As if we expected because he was Jewish, he shouldn’t have behaved so badly. My mother used to say if a Jew was in the news for something bad, “he would have to be Jewish wouldn’t he.” Meaning this isn’t going to help our cause – anti-Semitism. There is a parallel if one person  does something bad then everybody from that group, race, community is viewed as bad. 


When dad died, mum was so concerned about anti-Semitism that she changed her name on door bell from Felstein to Felsteen as she thought it would  make her less  distinguishable as a Jew.


I recommend the Netflix documentary of Epstein – it is riveting and upsetting but does omit a lot of stuff. First off where did Epstein get all his money from? It is a mystery. And also, why isn’t Ghislaine   being investigated. It is quite obvious that she procured and colluded in all of Epstein’s appalling behaviour. And of course, although it does allude to people in powerful places, I am sure at some point the Trump connection will be further elaborated on. I suspect the reason why Ghislaine hasn’t been bought in for investigation is that she has a lot of information on a lot of people that the FBI does not want it to be in the public domain.


On a more mundane level and let’s face it my life is pretty mundane at the moment today I tackled the oven. I know really have you nothing more exciting to write about. Hey, whose blog is it anyway?


I had my own mini kitchen revolt as the food was refusing to be cooked in the dirty disgusting smelly oven. So today I put aside a few hours to tackle it. 3 hours later and I am still scrubbing. The oven cleaner was hopeless. Despite following instructions, it removed nothing. Better was steel wool and good old-fashioned Ajax. Although I had a cleaner until 4 months ago, I think she avoided the oven at all costs. Can’t say that I blame her. It’s one horrible job and once lock down is over I will be bringing in oven cleaners. Apparently, there are companies that just specialise in cleaning ovens. I can see why now. Quite happy to part with a few pounds not to go through this again.

                                              I am now the proud owner of a clean oven

 

“Let’s be careful out there”

Playing Dead and A A Milne

Today I played dead. Quite an easy role really. Just had to lie on my bed with a sword on top of me. I was playing the mother – well what else – in Toby’s short film for his bimonthly film club. I did a bit of research cause I wanted to look authentic.

“The key to believably playing dead on screen is, first of all, to really let your yourself go ― release all tension and energy and go completely limp. (I can do that)  Then take a deep breath just before the director says ‘Action’  and hold it for the duration of the shot until you hear ‘Cut.’ This way, you’ll avoid being seen breathing during the take.” I think I nailed it.

Am a little concerned  though that the camera angle might make my nose look big. Have always had a thing about my nose. When I was a teenager at night, I used to tie a string under my nose and across the top of my head in the hope that I would wake up with a retroussé nose.  It didn’t work

It was made worse by a girl friend who was very pretty, very blonde and had a small nose.  “I will never get a boyfriend,” I moaned  to which my mother replied. “Yes you will darling you have a great personality.” Fat lot of good a great personality is in a dark night club. Who is going to see my personality. What they will see is my big nose.

In my mid-twenties I met a plastic surgeon at a party – as one does – who offered to change both my girlfriend and my nose. I could have taken offence but instead we took him up on the offer. My girlfriend went first.  I chickened out and decided to live with a big nose. She, on the other hand, has a beautiful nose.

nose

I wanted this nose

I learnt a horrid truth this weekend that no matter how much I like my puddings my stomach can no longer tolerate dairy. It is a sad day for someone who  would happily eat cake and puddings for breakfast lunch and dinner.

The realisation came after I made one of my all-time favourites – rice pudding with cream, milk,  butter and sugar. Not satisfied with just the one helping I had several and then spent the entire weekend on the toilet.

My love of rice pudding began as a child when I became obsessed with  A A Milne’s poem Rice Pudding.

What is the matter with Mary Jane?
She’s crying with all her might and main,
And she won’t eat her dinner – rice pudding again –
What is the matter with Mary Jane?

Maybe it also had something to do with the name Mary Jane – which is what I wanted to be called. Actually, I was obsessed with all A A Milne’s poems. My other all-time favourite was Disobedience. Which  ironically  is very relevant today as Toby has become my COVID19  game keeper to ensure  that I  stay safe.

James James
Morrison Morrison
Weatherby George Dupree
Took great
Care of his Mother,
Though he was only three.
James James Said to his Mother,
“Mother,” he said, said he;
“You must never go down
to the end of the town,
if you don’t go down with me.

Clearly, I passed this on to my children as they can  all retell The King’s Breakfast word for word.

a a milne

It’s an odd thing this memory business. I can remember sonnets from Shakespeare and a multitude of poems and yet sometimes I can’t remember the start of my sentence! At least I will be able to entertain my fellow inmates in the car home.

I was moved this weekend by the memories of D Day. Watching all those poor young sods getting off the boats and wading onto a beach that would soon be their graveyard. What must it have been like for them – terrifying I imagine? And the parents?  Not knowing if your sons will come home. We have COVID19 but we have never had to go through this kind of war.

I so wish that I had spoken to my father and my grandfather  about their war time experiences. But conversations were not encouraged. My father after spending 2 years in and out of hospitals from a bullet in the middle of his head, and his father’s trench experience in World War 1 meant they preferred to bury their experiences.

It prompted me to re-read the third book  in  Pat Barker’s The Regeneration Trilogy, The Ghost Road. The lead characters  are  two famous historical figures: the war poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen. In the trilogy they meet, as they did in life, at Craiglockhart Hospital near Edinburgh. The novel’s pivotal character is also a real person, the anthropologist turned psychiatrist William Rivers, who is treating both men. Not an uplifting read but beautifully written and a real insight to what these men went through in this awful war.

Clearly, we have learnt nothing from history, thousands of years of pointless war and still it goes on. Tod always said ‘human beings are not a viable specie’  – he just might be right.

“Let’s be careful out there”

TGIF – Not

I am sad today. I don’t want to be in London. I want to be in Cornwall celebrating my son’s wedding.


The frustrating thing about this virus is usually we have a semblance of control over what we do, who we are with and how we think etc. But with this virus we feel control has been taken away from us  because IT has the control and IT is deciding on what we do and who we can meet and, in some way, how we think.
When I awoke this morning the full impact of us not have the wedding this weekend hit me, and I had this empty feeling. It was like the feeling one gets when one is hungry, but nothing satisfies the hunger. So, I set about de-cobwebbing the house and taking out my frustration on the spiders that were hiding in the corners of the rooms. It didn’t help much. Still feeling empty.
I know in the scheme of things with over 40,000 dead and economic disaster cancelling a wedding is minimal but when not much else is going on in your life having something to look forward to is very important. And at the moment there is not a lot on the horizon to get excited about.


In four months besides developing an unhealthy relationship with the inanimate objects in my house I have seen very few people and, apart from the disastrous foray last Sunday to Hampstead Heath, I have not left my house and park for 4 months. So, it’s no wonder that cabin fever is setting in


And to top it all today I got my my quarterly financial statement, which was depressing, a letter from an insurance company saying they had overpaid me £1,800 and please could I return the money and the news that my roof needs urgent repair. And of course, there is still the matter of having to replace my boiler. So, all in all not a great day.


Yes yesterday I said  that my post  today would be a bit more upbeat.  Well I lied.

I just came across another box of letters that had been  hiding in the loft.  I know really how many letters can a girl have – well it would seem hundreds. I  come from a long line of hoarders. Chucking out doesn’t come easy to us. Its genetic. Actually there were two boxes but one was Tod’s school and college stuff, his writings, all very personal and it felt like an intrusion to go through it  so it’s going back in the loft and it can be dealt with by the children when I am no longer here.

letters

The letters

But the other box was an interesting mix of letters from old boyfriends, songs dedicated to me – I had a penchant for musician’s, love letters from Tod, essays from my brother. There was one letter –  30 typed pages long. He has got the ‘knowledge’ from Guru Maharaj Ji. Remember he was the little, rather overweight Indian boy, who rode around in Rolls Royce’s. “Well you don’t expect him to walk do you,” said my brother when I enquired why he needed such a big car. I am all for alternative religions and whatever works go for it – it’s just the preaching bit that I find tiresome.

For those who don’t know this particular Guru at the age of eight, Guru Maharaj Ji was delivering the spiritual discourse of the eternal wisdom to large audiences. Brian  once persuaded me to accompany him to a meeting with the Guru when he visited London and we had an almighty row because I refused to kiss the Guru’s feet, which apparently was a great insult. “It an honour,” said my brother.  “I don’t need an honour,” I replied.

maharaji

This is not how he looks now – probably circa 1970

There were also a few quite nasty letters from ex boyfriends who were not happy with the ex-bit. Most are now in the bin.  But I am enjoying reading all my mother’s letters to me – she was a brilliant witty writer and it evokes some wonderful memories and all the letters that I wrote to her – she kept every one of them. Even those I wrote to her from camp aged 10. I did say we were a family of hoarders.


I also came across a note my youngest son wrote to me when clearly, I was not flavour of the month. “I hate you mummy – you are the worst mummy in the world and I ‘m never going to speak to you again” Reminds me of my running away letters!

It’s date night tonight for Toby and Linda so I shall make myself scarce. I could finish cleaning the windows, I could wash my hair, empty my emails, watch Netflix, read or play bridge. I think the latter is probably in need of most urgent attention. My partner is about to divorce me as I played probably the worst game ever last night. I disgraced myself, thoroughly and am suitably embarrassed. So tonight, I will join an online game and improve – she is giving me one last chance to redeem myself!


Enjoy your Friday night – think it’s time for a single malt

“Let’s be careful out there”

Why do we even need to say Black Lives Matter?

‘Black Lives Matter’ – what’s that about? Of course, they matter. Why do we even have to say this? How sad that this is still an issue. I feel that I have been fighting racism since I was 16.  It is an anathema to me and one I find difficult to comprehend.
“Mum you are either a racist or not – there is not any in between NOW,” said one of my sons discussing the killing of George Floyd.  Not surprising that the boys are highly charged by the situation. They have been brought up by parents who have instilled in them the importance of fighting racism and confronting it whenever or wherever they came across it.  As a Jew I know only too well what can happen. But I think there is a difference between anti-Semitism and racism – which is not belittling anti-Semitism. Jews are seen as a threat and Blacks or people of colour are viewed by racists as being subhuman – simians.
Conversations continued with the boys. Another son is currently having a hard time with someone he believes is a racist. “I don’t think I want to see this person again,” he said yesterday on his way to the demo in central London. “In fact, I think I want to write a letter to tell them how I feel.” I counselled against this. Writing hot emails is never a good thing. Abraham Lincoln had a ritual when he was angry with someone, he would write a letter to the person put in it all his emotions and then he would put the hot letter to one side. Apparently, Obama did the same thing. Boy would I have liked to see the contents of Obama’s wastepaper bin. Interesting when Tod was dying and he wanted to address stuff with his elderly mother, the therapist also advised that he should write his mother a letter – but not send it.
I actually don’t believe this person is a racist just a bit of a hot head. Is there a difference? yes.  Although my son will say you are either one or the other – there is no grey area anymore. So how do you change racists? I have no idea. Is it learnt behaviour? Is it endemic  passed down through the generations , is it ignorance, fear, low intellect – yes probably and other stuff as well. How many Brits agreed with Enoch Powell’s speech Rivers of Blood in 1968?   It is not helped in America  by a leader who displays racist behaviour  and is incapable of leading. What message is that to the rest of the population.

Historian and political commentator Doris Kearns Goodwin said that emotional intelligence is more important in a leader than is IQ – obviously it would be good if they had both like Obama but just as important is being able to exercise self-discipline. “All of us feel a normal human emotion of anger or jealousy or envy but if you allow these emotions to fester, they can become poisonous,” says Abraham Lincoln.  Need I say more

Teddy Roosevelt, who admittedly had many flaws,  but I liked the way that he  dressed up as a police commissioner and went  onto the streets to see whether the police were doing their jobs properly. Well that would be a start.

I realise today’s post is turning into a political rant, but I do feel I can’t just ignore what is happening around me without comment.

Tomorrow would have been an auspicious celebratory day for our family Jake and Pippa’s wedding in glorious Cornwall.  Needless to say, it is not going to happen.  The only saving grace is that bad weather is predicted for the entire weekend. Thankfully being a last-minute kind of person, I had not bought my outfit although I had looked at some shops and nearly bought a hat!

Dressing as mother of the Groom carries a certain amount of responsibility and sensitivity. The old joke is that the mother of the groom is supposed to fade into the background at the wedding. Well that wasn’t going to happen. I am not the fading kind of person.  But I am sensitive.  So, I  knew that I should ensure that my dress didn’t clash with Penny, (mother of the Bride)  or Pippa, or the bridesmaids, that I am not showing too much flesh and I embarrass my son, (learnt this when I showed too much cleaverage at Jake’s Barmitzvah.) and that I look suitably lovely but not over glamorous.

Penny and I had been asked to take the ceremony. Such an honour and it was an event I was so looking forward to.  After the initial wedding invite ‘discussion’  (!) we had guests coming from around the Globe, flights booked, hotels booked, florists and photographers and caterers secured, musicians booked etc etc.  Jake had even asked a carpenter friend if he could make a Chuppah – as he wanted to honour  the Jewish tradition  and get married under it. The phrase “should have gone to wedding insurers” comes to mind but who 9 months ago who would have predicted the tsunami that was to hit all of our lives.

Both Jake and Pippa are such troupers despite the planning and excitement they are pragmatic and just want now to take control of their lives.  I am very proud of both of them.

So, today’s blog is not a bundle of laughs and tomorrow is another day.

 

“Let’s be careful out there”

Rock with Mother

Glastonbury cancelled; Reading cancelled. WOMAD cancelled just a few of the many festivals that the young people and not so young people look forward to every year.

So, thought maybe this was a good time to remember the mother-son bonding experience of taking my 13 year old son to his first rock concert.

My first recollections are the sudden realisation that I would be spending three days in a mud-drenched field in Reading with my son, my sleeping bag and 55,000 rock fans. It didn’t go down well with some of my friends who remarked “You, at a rock concert, in a tent. . . with no en suite?”  I think they had forgotten I used to be a hippy. Glastonbury was part of my education.

The mother-son bonding got underway   as soon as we arrived as Zak  single-handedly erected the tent. The male self-help survival instinct, completely non-existent at home, took over. In full macho style – testosterone has its uses – he became at one with the mallet. His father would have been proud.

That evening, over our primus-stove dinner of Pot Noodles, I thought I had better broach what was on my mind. What does a responsible ex-hippy tell her son about drugs? The experts advise that parents need to keep the door open so the child will always feel able to talk to them. I wanted to say: “Look, there will be lots of drugs at this festival, and although I completely trust you, I think I should remind you not to be tempted to try anything. It isn’t that I think marijuana is terrible; just that you are too young. If, when you are older, say over 16, and you want to experiment blah blah blah” Pretty cool, I thought, and certainly not the message my mother gave me when she advised me against ‘reefers’.  But I had hardly got the first word out when Zak looked at me with that bored, Kevin expression and said: “For fuck’s sake, not drugs again, mum.” We left it at that.

reading_festival_2012751_website_index_dxic_standard

Poor boy, I don’t think he had realised that, after all, his mum might not be the ideal companion for a rock festival. But as the weekend went by, I couldn’t help noticing the way he trailed three paces behind me as we walked around the festival, refused to call me “mum” and indicated with his eyes that it was time to move on. The biggest giveaway was that he asked me not to get too excited and shout or dance when we were watching the bands together. And when I left the tent in the middle of a storm dressed in two black bin liners – he almost had an apoplectic fit: “You can’t go out like that mum, it’s so embarrassing.”

In turn, I tried hard not to be too much of a mother. So, when he ate salt and vinegar crisps and drank Coke for breakfast, I refrained from pointing out that fruit would be a much better breakfast choice. I managed not to panic when, at midnight, I watched thousands of people rocking in the main arena to an incredibly loud heavy metal band, knowing that my 13-year-old son was somewhere in the middle of the throng. I didn’t even ask the guys in the next tent to turn their music down at four in the morning. And I somehow stopped myself from listening to the Archers omnibus on Sunday morning.

As we left the festival, I could see that Zak was  obviously high on the experience – at least I hoped it was just the experience – and I knew that this was a moment to be cherished but perhaps not repeated.   I think we shared more laughs and special moments in four days than we had in the previous 12 months. Mother to a teenage son is not the easiest!

Fast forward 20 years and I had another mother son bonding experience with Zak when we took a road trip together to the south of France to visit middle son who was working as a chef in a small hotel.  We have to grab these moments whenever we can because they are rare, and they will always stay with us and with the children. I can almost hear them relating the experience to their children.  Just wish they would hurry up and have some!!!

“Let’s be careful out there”

 

 

COVID19 – A Watershed

“I have worked for 20 years in advertising. I earn a six-figure salary. I have a fuck off car, beautiful home, good marriage – BUT – it’s time for a change.” We were talking about how the past 3 months has altered the way we view life. I am not going to reveal who this person is yet as he hasn’t told his colleagues but as I mentioned yesterday, I suspect life is not going to go back to how it used to be before COVID19 for many people. This particular person said this last 3 months has given him something very precious – time. And he doesn’t want to lose this again.

A recent  Sky News Poll  shows my ad man is not alone. “The world will never be the same again after Coronavirus, and a majority of Britons wouldn’t want to go back to the way things were before,” revealed the Poll.

I get this I really do but the problem here is that this is ok for the privileged few who can afford to be choosy, who can afford to give up a six figure salary, who can afford to have an about lifestyle turn. There are millions who do not have this luxury but for  those who do it just may be an opportunity. On hindsight – that wonderful word again – I wish that Tod had given up his large salary and lived a more leisurely life which would have suited him much better. I feel that probably I am partly to blame here as I got caught up in the rat race of  wanting the very best for us and the children when the very best was not necessary.    If I had my time again this is something I would change. We had often talked about what we would do when Tod retired in a few years’ time – and high on our list was moving to live somewhere near the sea, but we left it too late. So, making life work is incredibly important.
I am hopeful that employers and companies will also be changed by this virus. That they can see that business can work while its employees still have an acceptable work/life balance. That is, of course if there are many businesses still operating.   But only time will tell.
As you can see, I am incapacitated with a sprained ankle and I have even more time than normal to muse over life and bore you with my pontifications. .

 

ankle

 

So with this enforced relaxation I finished off a David Sedaris Masterclass. I love the  way this  brilliant author/comedian/performer takes mundanity and medicority   on  a journey of discovery.   I was listening to Sedaris reading one of his essays on The Spirit World something which has always intrigued me – the what if’s.   I am still contemplating visiting one. Sedaris was conversing with his sister who had just seen a psychic and apparently one of their sisters who had committed suicide, had been in contact.  Sedaris is sceptical and says, “if they are watching over us at all times what is to stop them from watching us on the the toilet.” Well I had wondered that too. If for example Tod or my brother or my parents are watching over me – can they see everything I am doing? I would have to change  a few of my activities – toilet being one of them.  His sister replied, “I’m guessing that certain places are just off limits”.  “Then who would make them off limits” says Sedaris “maybe God,” she says.   Check him out that’s Sedaris not God. But of course you can check God out too if you feel so inclined. 

And now to my blackbird saga – the bird that built 3 nests in the same place over the past week and which I had to remove. Ok so blackbirds can’t read. Today I found a fourth nest – even bigger than the other 3 on the same fence.  She is one determined bird – perhaps she knows something that I don’t about this particular fence, but I certainly know something that she doesn’t about my four-legged furry friend.   And there would be carnage if any baby birds were to be born in the vicinity of our terrace.

nest cat

 

See – I just left the nest on the chair for a short  time while I looked for a place to put it and  when I returned  our killer Main Coon was already there!

“Let’s be careful out there”

The Heath and My Chinese God Daughter

Momentous day for Roma Felstein. I got to leave Finchley. I was let out for a social distance walk on Hampstead Heath with a girlfriend.  The first time I left  home in 14 weeks. It prompted a wardrobe exchange, a discussion re appropriate footwear, and a safety bag equipped with mask, hand gel and disposable gloves – just in case. Girl Guides would have been proud – that is of course had they let me in. Wrong religion. I also considered make-up but opted instead for sun cream.


Driving with my windows open in bright sunshine I felt free. It was almost a Thelma and Louise moment. And like Thelma and Louise it didn’t end well. Just 200 yards into the Heath, after the Rhododendrons which are in full bloom and look stunning – I stumbled and fell flat on my back. It’s an embarrassing moment – suddenly everybody around you stops and stares but because it is lock down no-one knows what to do.


“It’s ok” I say trying hard not to be too self-conscious, “I am ok – please don’t try to help me – I am vulnerable.” Sounds like I have leprosy. “No don’t pick up the water. Please just leave my glasses I will pick them up.” I felt like I had the plague or that maybe they had the plague. You always feel so foolish when something like this happens. I didn’t trip over anything; the ground was perfectly flat which prompts people to look at you quizzically wondering if something else is going on. “I AM FINE” I say trying to be polite but firm.
I hobble back to my car, tail between my legs, feel thoroughly depressed and let down. Perhaps this is a message ‘it is is not yet safe for you to leave your house! Dammit.
So, the rest of the day I have been resting with leg on ice and elevated – my ankle is the size of an orange.


It got me thinking though the Heath was brimming with activity as is my local park every day from early morning until late at night. Picnics, basketball games, cricket, football, tree climbing. Everyone is having a good time. And every day is a Sunday. Parents playing with their children, youngsters listening to music and chatting, runners running and walkers walking. We are getting used to a new norm and it would seem loving it. So, what is it going to be like going back to working 5 days a week, 8 hours a day, rush hour, commuting and for some wall to wall meetings? That is of course if there is any work.

We have all been shown, albeit briefly a different way of life. And maybe a realisation that perhaps what we were doing – isn’t what we want to be doing going forward. If anything, COVID19 has shown us the importance of a good work life balance. What we do with this is our individual choice. It will be interesting to see. 


Confined to my horizontal leg up position I have been watching a lot of screens today not least the news in America.  And as thousands gather today in Trafalgar Square for  a rally Black Lives Matter –  hopefully with masks and 2 meter distance – I  am reminded by my god daughter of the racism that she experiences in the UK as a Chinese person.


“Recently I have questioned whether, or not, I feel safe or accepted in a country that I have grown up in. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I feel angry, upset and massively let down by the way that some people have chosen to behave in light on Covid-19. I was left heartbroken watching a BBC documentary of Chinese children saying they were being targeted in schools; seeing graffiti on the front of Chinese businesses; and reading reports of violent assaults towards East-Asians all over the world.
To Everyone who has been shouted at, spat on, egged, and attacked you belong exactly where you are. I wrote this and I hope it speaks to some of you”

https://www.facebook.com/shoufan.wilson/videos/10222372681966909/

 

 

“Lets be careful out there”