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.

cards

“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”