No-one does guilt as well as the Jews

It’s a bit odd this mask thing and the ensuing reluctance that people have to don one.  I don’t get it. If it helps in any way to reduce the spread why not? Michael Grove this morning said that he does not think face coverings should be compulsory in shops and that he trusts people’s common sense.  Really you mean the Brits have common sense. Did he not see the beaches? or the Pubs in Soho? I guess they will prevaricate for the next few weeks, the numbers of dead will increase and then masks will become mandatory like most of the other European countries.  As always two steps behind the virus. Too little too late.

But not going there. Moving swiftly on.  New research has shown that couples who share a bed sleep better and have better mental health.  Oh, bugger it – that’s another thing to feel guilty about.  Is it a female Jewish thing – guilt?  Do we come out apologising to our mothers for causing so much pain? Is that where it all starts? Molly Jong-Fast, Erica Jong’s daughter said that “we suffer two great inheritances of the Jewish people: irritable bowel syndrome and guilt,” and deemed our quintessential Jewish way of life as “praying on a shrink’s sofa”. The joke ‘What’s Jewish Alzheimer’s disease? It’s when you forget everything but the guilt.’  is really true.  My mother used to say many times that she felt guilty, but she forgot what she felt guilty about.

Intellectually I understand that guilt does no one any good and is a complete waste of energy but emotionally it is hard to shift.

I digress back to the sleep stuff.  Apparently, humans sleep in cycles, shifting between rapid-eye-movement REM – sleep which is when the vivid dreams occur and non-REM periods. My REM sleep takes me on wild and crazy adventures – and thank goodness for that because it is the only place I am going at the moment.

Researchers in Germany found that in their study of 12 heterosexual couples when they shared a bed, they experienced 10% more REM sleep.  They think that physical proximity to a loved one promotes certain sleep-boosting hormones.

So, here’s the guilt Tod and I didn’t sleep together for the last 5 years of our lives. I so wish we could have been the image on the left but sadly we were the image on the right. He was a snorer and not just any old snorer – a snorer par excellence. Tod could have won prizes for the most deafening snores. I kid you not. I still have a recording on my phone of his snores.  When he visited middle son Jake in Mexico where he was teaching, they had to share a room.  Jake messaged me. “Mum how can you stand it. The snoring. It’s impossible. What should I do? Do you think Dad will be upset if I suggest he gets a hotel room.”?  At least he now understood that it wasn’t that I didn’t love his father.

Remember the post about my mother’s Heath Robinson’s contraption to escape from my father’s snoring – which didn’t work.  She used to take a Mogadon (sleeping tablet) on a Friday night so she could have at least one good night’s sleep a week.

 

snoring

I decided that sleeping tablets were not the answer so in an attempt of having a modicum of snoring reprieve after years of sneaking off in the middle of the night to the couch, I suggested we have separate rooms.  Now I wonder did I deprive Tod of the much-needed sleep boosting hormone?  What if this exacerbated Tod’s mental health. What if it bought on the Glioblastoma?  In all honesty I would give anything to hear those bellowing snores again.

Not to belittle this research but there has been many many more research projects into the detrimental effects of snoring on relationships.  Just 5 minutes on google and there is page after page on the topic vis a vis relationship.  So, boosting hormone or not at least we stayed together for 35 years.

I do wonder sometimes about all these research projects.  I mean why do we need to know, for instance, that the horses that were bought to the UK in the 18th century were not Arabian as previously thought but Turkomans. Why spend huge amounts of money on a study at Cornell University to examine the DNA of 378 Arabian horses to find this out.  Arabian or Turkoman so what? What difference does that make to the equine industry?

horse

I have never been a great one for research which is ironical seeing as though it was Tod’s business and what paid our bills. I remember when I was working at BSB and the BBC   and focus groups were in vogue. BBH the Ad agency did very well out of our focus groups.  Thousands and thousands of pounds spent on them which only confirmed what I  already knew.  If only they had listened to me!!!!

I left the house last night – it felt wonderful.  Had a drink in the garden of a girlfriend. A bit of normality.  And we planned an adventure  – Island hopping in Greece next September.   A girl has to have something to look forward to.

“Let’s be careful out there”

 

Is This Dementia?

Last night I was writing my blog and  I couldn’t find a word that I wanted to use. It was right there somewhere in the back of my brain; I could feel the word if that makes sense, but I couldn’t grasp it.  I googled other words in the hope it would miraculously appear but no luck. So, I deleted the sentence and posted the blog.  10 mins later it appeared – out of nowhere. The word was ‘impressed’ a simple word how could I not find it? I re posted the blog, but it worried me, especially as it seems to be happening a lot – words eluding me.    Just as worrying was when I was frantically looking for my iPhone while talking to my cousin in Israel.

“I can’t find my phone anywhere.” I said.

“Because you are talking on it,” she said.

OMG I really am losing it. Are these symptoms of dementia?  My mother and 3 of her sisters had dementia

“Maybe it is because  it was late at night,” said my cousin reassuringly. “Or that it had been working too hard.”

My brain has definitely not been working too hard.

“So that’s it,” she said, “it’s not been exercised enough.”

Ok  so brain exercises are now top of my agenda.

Naturally I took to google. “Why can I not find my words?”  Big mistake I could now have a whole host of disorders: primary progressive aphasia (PPA) – a brain disorder that robs people of their language skills. It’s degenerative and I have all the symptoms, or  Delirium, Stroke, Depression, Encephalitis, Psychosis,  a head injury, Brain Tumour, Metabolic/genetic disorders, Neurodegenerative conditions or just  severe anxiety.  You are not kidding about the severe anxiety – now that’s exactly what I have.  Maybe it’s better that I don’t know. Sticking your head in the sand re medical disorders is not recommended but, on this occasion, it might just be the only way I can survive.

A long walk was required to reduce my anxiety.  The dog looked hopeful. In our house you have to spell the word W A L K otherwise Izzi gets over excited. Bit like chocolate which also had to be spelled when the children were little, but they cottoned on very quickly “please can we have some C H O C” they would ask.  I felt like a traitor –  Izzi’s arthritis limits her to 3 x 20 minutes’ walk daily –  and I needed a very long walk. I crept out of the house and looked back to see her sitting on the window seat looking forlorn.  “When I get back,” I shouted hoping she understood that it meant she would get a short walk later.  She looked away in dismay.  And I started my walk. 

All was going very well. I had Spotify, I was listening to some West Coast music and on track to find the much talked about  lake. Through 3 parks and a rather convoluted woodland pathway I arrive at a  beautiful lake, peaceful and  full of birds including a pair of Herons. The phone rings.  Could I make up a fourth in a bridge game in an hour. Remembering my agenda re brain exercise I agreed but then realised I was well over an hour from home.  Turning back, I swiftly followed the muddy paths and promptly fell flat on my face in a pool of muddy water.  This isn’t going very well, not only am I going to miss the game but I will probably get some horrible mud infested disorder like Bilharzia which I know you can only get in Southern Africa but we have a lot of South Africans here and who knows they could have fallen into the same mud pool as me.   I arrive home, hot dishevelled, dirty and out of breath and definitely not relaxed.  Izzi sat waiting patiently by the front door. “I’m ready for my short walk,” she said.  I  change my muddy clothes.

“Hey What you are doing,” she said, “My walk.”

“In 2 hours, I promise.”

“That’s not fair.”  Of course, this is all guess work as Dr Doolittle I am not. But I do know my dog very well. She wined, she barked and then she gave up and started tormenting the cat.

But at least Mo had not been subjected to the horrors of accidently being put in the washing machine. Oscar a Burmese cat in Australia survived a 12-minute cycle in a washing machine. Apparently, its owner only realised shortly after her husband put on a wash.  The poor cat had his hands on the glass as he was doing the rotations. Ahh I can actually visualise this.  It took an agonising 2 minutes for all the water to drain out. And then of course you have to wait another minute for the machine to allow you to open the door. Goodness knows what that cat must have been thinking.  Happy to report Oscar is fine and very soft. And Izzi did get her short walk.

Now I have to convince her that she would love to have a little sister.  I have found the second dog that I want to get – a Tibetan Terrier.  I met two on my walk and got the low down from their owner.  Long haired, don’t need grooming and don’t shed hair. They are adorable. Just have to get Izzi on board.

tibetan

It’s not unlike introducing another child into the family. I remember when I was having a particularly difficult time with my eldest child and we went for a walk. He asked me

“Was it nice when it was just me,”

I replied, “yes darling.”

“Then why did you have to ruin it by having another child.”

Imagine if your partner said, “darling I am bringing in another woman to share the house with us it doesn’t mean I don’t love you just that it would be nice to have another woman around.”

And Finally – apparently and I am quoting some random person on Facebook if you smear manure on your body it works as a deterrent to COVID19. Think I might just give this one amiss.

shit

 

 

“Let’s be careful out there”

 

 

 

 

Where Are Our Leaders

Watching Tony Blair today on an Intelligence Squared discussion about the Labour politician Ernest Bevin  bought back all those feeling of disappointment and disillusionment about Blair’s time as PM.  We were all so hopeful when he first took office. A new Labour – a new way forward. He was young, enthusiastic and it was infectious. I did have a few qualms – a little too slick perhaps, too cocky  but hey after Mr Boring  Major, we were ready for something different. But he did us a huge disservice and I felt awfully let down.  Ironical that he should be talking about  a man with gravitas and social conscience.  How different he was from Ernest Bevin.

 

bevin

Indeed right now had Bevin been in charge I am sure he would have been better prepared and we would have a  COVID19 plan in place.   So what happened to politics when did it become  dirty, self efacing, and egotistical  or has it always been so.  The last good PM contender that I remember was John Smith the Scottish leader of the Labour  Party who  sadly died from a heart attack. I  think he would have been a good PM but  we will never know.  Since then we have had a catalogue of unimpressive leaders.  Maybe I am looking back with rose coloured spectacles but back in the day I am sure there were more  politicians who  really did care about making society a better place – now it is feels like  ego, power mongering and  self promotion. Of course, there are exceptions. But it is embarrassing that we have world leaders who appear to be looking down straws that have mirrors at the end of them.  And just to top it all we now have Kanye West saying he is going to run for the White House.

To add to my  somewhat pessimistic mood when making breakfast this morning my toast fell on the floor – and yes it was butter side down! It reminded me of the Dr Seuss’s children book The Butter Battle Book about the Cold War. Not your normal  kind of Seuss book. Much darker – it was an overt political satire and protest against the nuclear arms race. The main characters being  members of the Yooks, who appear to represent the US and NATO countries, while the antagonists, the Zooks, appear to represent the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact countries. The book finishes with an impasse, as a Yook general and a Zook general stare each other down over a bitter land-dividing wall, both holding their atomic beans over the ground. Remind you of anyone?  It ends with an ambiguous blank white page that could be interpreted as the end of all life.

butter Battle

I wonder what Seuss would have written right now about COVID19.

I seem to have gotten a bit lost here – I apologise. I blame Tony Blair. But he just got me thinking about politics and leaders and my emotions got the better of me and took me off on a tangent going nowhere.

I forgive myself – this is my 80th blog and on occasions I am bound to get lost.  If, however, I was David Sedaris, with his wonderful sardonic wit and observational talent, I would be able to make mountains out of my molehill. I do however have one thing in common with Sedaris  – sadly it’s not writing   but rather our choice of  clothes.  It’s no fun getting dressed up when nobody can see you. I pass by wardrobes every morning  and hear desperate pleas of ‘pick me pick me’ as my clothes hang bored and unworn in my three wardrobes. What’s the point? So it just becomes another sweat pant day.

This is Sedaris on clothes from a piece in the Irish Times.

““I had bought all these outfits, and I was so looking forward to wearing them,” he says, mentioning with particular wistfulness a lavishly ruffled black Comme des Garçons jacket – “a cross between when Mammy was in mourning after the baby died in Gone with the Wind, and something that PT Barnum would wear” – now hanging in his closet, an artefact from an alternative reality.

“Let’s be careful out there”

 

 

 

 

Returning to Work

We are now a two-kitchen family. Very posh. Not really just a necessity as Linda is going back to work tomorrow and Toby might be unfurloughed on Thursday. As I am vulnerable, I am attempting to stay safe. Sods law of course despite the last 4 months of semi solitude I will probably  get it.  Which will amuse my friends who think I am over cautious.

The plan is that when they return from work they will strip off, put their clothes in the washing machine and shower. They will eat their food in the cosy new kitchen which is equipped with fridge microwave kettle toaster etc. It also has a comfy sofa and a tv. Really what more could you want? And we can eat the evening meal together – 1 metre apart – with the windows open.   You probably also think I am a little OTT.

While Linda who is freelance and thus hasn’t been furloughed and needs money   is keen to have work – others like my son have quite enjoyed a long-paid holiday.  And it is not surprising that some have developed what has been called ‘furlough fever’ and the prospect of rush hour and long working days are less than enticing.  Which is a problem for some businesses.

Apparently one company boss said on social media while his employees were on furlough  “I need to restart my business to avoid insolvency. I have a plan which ensures it’s done safely. The problem is my furloughed staff are finding every excuse not to return to work. How do I compete with a chancellor who is paying them not to work?”   I am sure he is not alone. Its tough for business owners.

But even before COVID19 companies were seeing the benefit of remote working practices. A 2019 IWG Global Workplace Survey of 15,000 professionals in 80 nations found 80% percent of businesses in Germany, 76 percent in Brazil and 58 percent in India had flexible working policies. And these policies also seem to be translating into practice. Over 50 percent of survey participants reported they were working more than half the time remotely.

Certainly 3 years ago when Tod was at The Royal Mail they had bought in hot desking and were asking employees to work half the week from home. Tod was far more efficient and a lot happier.  But this long absence from work has given many  furloughnees  the  time to rethink their lives. Michael a friend of mine in his mid thirties with two young children went back to work last week. He said that his time on furlough was productive both as a parent and in giving him space to think about where he wanted to be in 5 years’ time.

“My life had been a routine, get up, get the children off to school, tube, rush hour madness, at my desk by 9.30, 8 hours later rush hour, home, kids, dinner, fall into bed exhausted.  But after this  3 months break, I have really begun to think about is this really how I want to live my life.”

trudging

It is true sometimes I wonder how I got sucked into such a conventional way of life. It was never what I intended.  I don’t regret the children one bit if anything I would have wanted more. But I had other plans.  More unconventional ones.  I was going to travel the world with the kids,  run a bar on the beach or live off the land with lots of animals. Instead I took the conventional road because it felt safer. And once you get on a particular path it is hard to get off it. You get sucked into the world of work, buying a house, kids, schools, universities and suddenly  you have run out of time.

I remember once, when my eldest was at primary  school and it was my time to host a dinner party – back in the day when dinner parties were still  in vogue.  Most of the other mothers were quite conventional and organised – at least they seemed to be.  I was having a few anxious moments because  I didn’t have crockery that matched.  Tod gave me a bewildered look “Ffs when did you start worrying about matching crockery – when did this become important.”  And he was right I was in danger of becoming a conventional middle class mum.  By the way I still don’t have matching crockery and it doesn’t bother me one bit. And I can’t remember the last time I had a dinner party.

Meanwhile I am going nowhere – well not until a vaccine is found. I have all the time in the world to fantasize  and plan this next stage of my life which I can assure you is not going to be conventional.   Just hope I get the opportunity to play it out. Think my kitchen flowers are in tune with my mood.

 

flowers

 

And for those confused about the etiquette of how to behave in this pandemic Debrett’s is issuing a new handbook which will include a good manners for the pandemic section.  Nods, bows and namastes in the place of kisses and handshakes, paper plates not china and should you be hosting a garden party – a firm “I wish I could give you a hug” and “Feel free to use the bathroom”  is the way to go.  There’s something I doubt Debretts would have thought about this time last year.

“Let’s be careful out there” 

 

 

Carrying other people’s stuff

So, today’s blog is a lot about me.  Maybe I am sharing a bit too much but it’s a blog and I am ok about you knowing a bit more about me.  Probably as most of  you already know me this will come as no surprise.

I have a big notice on my fridge which says, “IT’S NOT MINE”.  It is there to remind me not to take on other people’s stuff. No mean feat. Well not for me anyway. I am a past master on taking on emotions that are not mine.   When the children were little, they would come home crying about a fight they had with so and so and fret at night about not wanting to go back to school.  I would have a sleepless night. In the morning I would wave them off with trepidation in my heart worrying what so and so would say or do to them in the playground. I am embarrassed to admit that one time I went to the school at playtime and hid behind a tree just to make sure that one of my boys was ok. I know- really OTT.

So, as I awaited his return from school on tender hooks about what might have happened, he breezed in smiling with a “Hi Mum.”

“How was it” I asked nervously.

“All good mummy.”

“What about…  ”

” Oh, that’s all forgotten we are best friends now,” he said switching on the tv.

So, while he moved on, I was left carrying all his stuff.  Despite understanding this ‘carrying stuff’ thing I still find it very hard to leave the lady at the river.

For those new to my blog who don’t know the Buddhist parable ‘Lady’ and ‘River’ see below:

monks

A senior monk and a junior monk were traveling together. At one point, they came to a river with a strong current. As the monks were preparing to cross the river, they saw a very young and beautiful woman also attempting to cross. The young woman asked if they could help her cross to the other side.

The two monks glanced at one another because they had taken vows not to touch a woman.

Then, without a word, the older monk picked up the woman, carried her across the river, placed her gently on the other side, and carried on his journey.

The younger monk couldn’t believe what had just happened. After re-joining his companion, he was speechless, and an hour passed without a word between them.

Two more hours passed, then three, finally the younger monk could contain himself any longer, and blurted out “As monks, we are not permitted a woman, how could you then carry that woman on your shoulders?”

The older monk looked at him and replied, “Brother, I set her down on the other side of the river, why are you still carrying her?” 

In my head I say to myself ‘put the lady down’ but it doesn’t always work.

Highly sensitive people – of which I am one – have an immense capacity for empathy. We are often the caregivers for our friends and family. Our empathy often surpasses that of the regular definition of the word. Rather than simply noticing what someone else is feeling, many of us actually feel it ourselves, in our own bodies.

I have come to realise that I am prone to feeling depleted and drained by the emotional pain of others and this can often manifest itself physically. It was a trait that I shared with Tod. We were both highly sensitive people. I cared and nursed Tod for 9 months when he was so sick and while I outwardly I remained calm and in control inwardly it was clearly having a devastating  effect on my body  from which I am still recovering. I couldn’t understand why I  kept getting sick with ailment after ailment when normally I don’t get ill.  It was a wakeup call to  the effects of emotional stress on the body.  Obviously, this was an extreme situation but as an Empath – which is the term used to describe describe people who absorb the world’s joys and stresses like emotional sponges  – I know I have work to do.

So,  for anybody who  might  recognise  these emotions in themselves or in friends  below are some of the symptoms to look out for.

  •  Natural giving, spiritually open, and a good listener.
  • Absorbing other people’s emotions
  • Overwhelmed in crowds
  • Highly intuitive
  • Need alone time
  • Overwhelmed in intimate relationships and afraid of losing my identity.
  • I need the natural world to nourish and restore me
  • I have highly tuned senses and can get frayed by noise smells or excessive talking.

 

Right now  I am walking around the garden repeating “IT’S NOT MINE” as a situation evolves in our house. I am on my 5th lap hopefully by lap 10 I will be on top of it.

“Let’s be careful out there”

Drugs

Yesterday I was in la la land – and very nice it was too. Thanks to a concoction of codeine/paracetamol/ibuprofen and diazepam. Prescribed by my doctor for an acute attack of sciatica. I  now understand why there is such an epidemic of people hooked on pain killers. Because anything and I really mean anything  that stops pain is what you want.

Pain is all consuming. You can think of nothing else but how to get it to stop. And Sciatica and tooth ache  are the two worst ones that I have experienced. Luckily, I still had Tod’s morphine hidden away for emergencies. At 3 am on Friday morning I wondered was this one of those emergencies?

And of course labour pains.  I still remember the euphoria when an epidural stopped the pain. Made me wonder why on earth anybody would want to go through labour without one. So much so that when attending ante natal for my third child I had stamped all over my notes EPIDURAL. Toby however had other plans. He arrived after one humongous contraction which broke my waters and he shot out, caught by my girlfriend just  20 minutes after arriving in the hospital. I felt cheated. “I want my epidural,” I demanded to my nurse. “But you have had the baby,” she replied. “I don’t care where is my epidural.” Never was one to to listen to reason.

 
So, Leicester is in Lockdown. Probably the safest place to be today once the rest of the country opens up.  Yesterday was my wedding anniversary and Leicester is my  hometown  and where I got married. Like the Queen with her two birthdays one official and one private we too had 2 weddings. One, the Jewish wedding that my parents had long dreamt about, but thought would never happen — I was 34 when I got married — and the second a rather debauched affair in the garden of my girlfriend in Cambridge.

I decided that my present to my parents would be our wedding. “Whatever you would like mum” I said. “Just let us know what time you would like us to be there.” Rabbi Sunshine at the Beth Din – which is a Jewish rabbinical court had other ideas. Rabbi Thunder,  would have been a more suitable name., He needed convincing that Tod was Jewish. Taking his trousers down was not sufficient evidence.  Nor where his parents’ marriage certificate and birth certificates. Or  the fact that Tod’s great grandfather was a New York Rabbi.   They needed the physical evidence. They wanted grandparents birth certificates which we couldn’t locate.

Only when I stormed out of his office proclaiming that we would have a Reform Wedding  — an anathema to orthodox Jews —  that Sunshine relented and gave his permission to marry.

wedding

Amidst bright sunshine in Leicester we stood under a Chuppah and did the deed. So, it is not surprising that I keep abreast of what is happening in the town that I spent 15 years living in. And I am shocked by the reports of slave labour, COVID and criminal negligence in garment factories there.  Rumours of these activities have abounded for quite a while but not investigated. So Alok Sharma why have you not acted earlier? Just another convenient political fuck up.

Too little too late again! Factories are finally under investigation for both furlough fraud and using what can only be termed as slave labour. Some of these factories operated at 100% capacity while on furlough, with poorly ventilated cramped buildings, paying migrant workers very low wages. When one worker applied for statutory sick pay, his boss told him that he would not receive it and ordered him to keep working through the illness. Some workers said they were told to continue working despite testing positive for coronavirus and were warned not to tell anyone. And these migrant  workers  mainly aged 20 – 40 (hence the rise in younger COVID infections in Leicester) are living in cramped housing – some times  40 men in one terraced house.

 
So, it is no wonder that Leicester has a coronavirus spike. But it is not just the bosses that we should blame. So too are those outlets that are aware of the conditions yet continue to buy their clothes from these factories. Why? Because they are cheap.

 

factories 1

And what do we consumers do about this. Well it is like the mask controversy. Supermarkets leave it up to individual choice to decide on whether both staff and shoppers want to wear masks. Consumers are told that our power lies in our personal choices about where we spend our money and we can boycott those clothes chains that use low paid migrant workers. It’s a cop out.  Government should mandate and ensure  that all factories treat their employees fairly and that  masks must be worn at all times when indoors in public places. Why is it so difficult to act responsibly?

“Let’s be careful out there”

 

 

Happy to share the housework

Delighted to see that an unexpectant upside to COVID19 is that men are now taking on more of the housework.   So, pleased for those women  who have always shouldered more of the childcare and household work.

This came out of an American study by Dan Carlson,  a sociologist at the University of Utah. Other  studies  in Canada, Germany, Turkey and the Netherlands  found that while women  are still the major housekeepers, men are doing more domestic work during the pandemic than they did before it.

“Across the board, whether it’s dishwashing, laundry, childcare, reading to kids, physical care, we’re seeing a universal movement toward more egalitarian sharing,” said Dan Carlson.

men

Apparently  there is an upside to male domesticity as men who help out in the home apparently  have more and better sex.  Well that makes sense.  If you are not  exhausted from cleaning and child care then you have more  energy and inclination  to indulge in other things!!!

So guys you know what you’ve got to do to keep your sex life thriving.

Anyway it got me to thinking as women have historically been the home makers does it come more naturally to some women. And am I not one of these women. Over the past 4 months I have come to realise just how sole destroying housework can be. You finish cleaning one room when another needs attention and another and another and then you have to start all over again.  The kitchen alone is a full-time job; breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, because lockdown is so boring one needs to amuse oneself with food. And then there are the animals. I could just spend my day cleaning the kitchen. It is like the weeds which seem to grow several feet after a rainfall – never ending.  You might as well let it all get dirty and just clean up once a week. Except of course you have to live with the chaos for 7 days. I fluctuate between obsessing about trying to keep everything clean and tidy to wtf.

So how come some women seem to do this effortlessly and their homes always look spotless? I know they exist because I have been in their homes. I have friends with tidy homes.  Clear surfaces, kitchen tables not full of rubble, spotless hobs, floors shining, and no piles of things that don’t seem to belong anywhere.  Everywhere I look there is stuff. Just for openers this is my printer in my office. Why is there a tape measure, a 1916 army water bottle and  an unopened  plastic bag of support stockings that were issued for my late husband who died 2 years ago? They must have homes so why aren’t they neatly tucked away in a sewing box or a  box for “what on earth shall I do with this – and why have I got it in the first place.”

 

printer

See what I mean – is there no hope for me

The corner of our kitchen is full of stuff that is on its way to the basement – it has been on its way to the basement for months! I have this terrific urge to sweep everything into the bin, but I know in a few weeks there will be a  “has anybody seen…?” I blame my mother – eat off her floors but the house was complete chaos. She was one of those forever “have you seen” kind of people. Bless her she really tried but like me it was not in her nature. Luckily Dad who we called Hoover Harry  was a dab hand with the  vacuum  –  it was the one thing he did with relish. That and mowing the lawn. Must be a 50’s-man thing.

Should  I just accept my domestic inadequacies and focus on my other qualities. Except that yesterday I  also realised  that my brain was not  wired  for economics. And as I continue to have a surplus of time on my hands  I am finding there is a heap of other things that I am not wired for. Bit worrying.

This week I spoke to a friend whose mother had died alone in a care home.  She hadn’t seen her  since March and felt distraught that she couldn’t even give her mum one last hug. “So much I would have wanted to say,” she said.  I also have other friends whose relatives are in Care Homes  and they are desperate for some contact. I will refrain from going into a rant of the diabolical treatment of the elderly in this pandemic and how one  thinks that just maybe it is a convenient way of  population  control and the  pension deficit.  Maybe they can redeems themselves a bit  — only a very little bit — and fund the care homes so they can introduce  hug tunnels like the one that has been installed at a care home in Brazil. It allows elderly relatives  the opportunity to cuddle their loved ones safely. It’s the simple things that can make all the difference.

 

hug tunnels

 

 

And talking of the elderly I have finally signed my Will although it hasn’t yet been witnessed. Clearly there is a reluctance here as it has been sitting on my desk for 2 weeks. I suppose it is accepting that I am going to die – at some point.  The inevitability of it is daunting.  I have also still to sign the Power of Attorney document. Which is even more daunting.  Methinks  I will put in a codicil saying on no account do I want to go in a home  – even one with a hug tunnel – and if my children who will have Power of Attorney  put me in one  then I am leaving   my entire estate  to a cat and dogs home.

 

Let’s be careful out there”

 

 

Fiscal juggling

I failed. Once a news junkie always a news junkie. It’s a drug and I am an addict. My favourite job when I was a journalist was cutting the papers. This was a time when Fleet Street was booming. When the Amstrad had not yet hit our desks. A time when we smoked and drank without health and safety warnings. We stayed out late without concerns about the morning and before the accountants told the owners it was time to move. It was a time before it all became sanitised. My day would begin with a cup of coffee, a cigarette, a pair of scissors and all the daily papers. Pure joy. Great way to start the day. Doing it online doesn’t give you the same buzz. It is the physical activity of something tangible like newspaper and a pair of scissors. Ok so  I am just an old fogey.


I have also failed to understand why we suddenly have so much money for Boris to promise billions to invest. One minute we are in austerity and then suddenly we have all this dosh. Has it been hiding under a bed at Number 10? I admit that I am fiscally challenged but anyone else share my confusion? In a bid to become a bit more competent  I  enrolled in an economics masterclass. Five minutes in and I needed a dictionary. Some people’s  brains are just wired differently.  I have  finished the first section and quite honestly, I am now even more confused. None of it seems real. It all relies on so many intangibles. It’s a bit like juggling and trying to keep all the balls in the air at the same time. And at this moment the balls are not looking very steady. The economist talks about Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner. Remember the Road Runner cartoon when Wile E. Coyote was tricked for the umpteenth time into running off the edge of a tall cliff, when he appeared to be momentarily suspended in mid-air before plummeting towards the ground. It was only when he looked down that he fell. Well it seems that is what it is all about. I know a very simplistic explanation from a complete economic ignoramus.

What happened to funny Roma one of my friends asked. She complained that my blogs were getting a bit heavy. That I am no longer ‘fun Bobby’. Fans of Friends will get this. She might be right. I blame the news. But before I change track, I have to share the video below with you. It seems that some Americans have a direct line with God when it comes to the topic of masks. It could be a comedy but sadly it  isn’t. I watched in horror as Florida residents have their say on wearing masks in public places. I will leave you to experience the full extent of the moronic comments. (Moron has become my go to word during this pandemic) but as a taster one woman said that she doesn’t wear underwear for the same reason that she won’t wear a mask – “stuff has to breath” and another said that God has given us the miracle of breath and now the state wants to take it away. This is why Trump just might get re-elected if he doesn’t pull out of the race. Please watch it so you understand what is happening in America right now. 

On my dog walk today I watched a bunch of children jumping off the edge of the bank and swinging across the river. There were squeals of delights and laughter as they showed their prowess in managing this difficult manoeuvre. Took me back to my local gang days. In order to join the gang, you had to perform certain tasks. One was jumping off the bank and swinging across the river at the bottom of our garden. The leader – a boy called Oliver, who I could quite imagine that nowadays  would have been in a far more questionable gang than  was ours  — said I had to do it with my eyes closed. I was 9. Needless to say, he lied, and I fell flat on my face. He also said that I had to take my knickers down to join the gang. It was just me and one other girl in the gang – a girl called Angela who would have happily taken her knickers down for anybody. When I refused (my mother had instilled into me the importance of keeping my knickers on at all times) my brother stepped in and said it was ok because he had already ‘seen it.’ 

I leave you today with new research from the University of Nottingham into the likelihood of alien civilisations in our galaxy. Apparently, there are just over 30 each with intelligence and technology to contact other planets.   However, the chances of contacting any of them are very slim because the closest one is likely to be 17,000 light years away which means that communication would take 6,120 years.

See being a news junkie has its positives. 

 

“Let’s be careful out there” 

 

 

 

A Sense of Purpose

Feeling nostalgic. Grey outside – what day is it? Sunday? Monday? Takes a minute or two to work out if it is still the weekend or the start of the working week – for some. For others it is just another day in lockdown. So, it’s important that I get up, get dressed and take the dog out. In the park I see a mum with her two toddlers, and not only can I remember this time clearly, I can actually feel it. It’s a good feeling – warm and fuzzy and makes me smile.  And it got me thinking about those days which in a way were easier because I knew what were my roles. I was the mother of 3 boys, I was a daughter, I was a sister, I was a wife and I was a journalist. I am still a mother but a different kind of mother. My parents, my brother and my husband are all dead. So now I have to find a new role, a new purpose. A recent survey of almost 7000 adults between the ages of 51 and 61 showed that having a purpose decreases your chance of premature death. And those without a sense of purpose were almost twice as likely to die in the four years of the study. If COVID doesn’t get me than I would hate it to be my lack of purpose that does the deed. graph sense of purpose Izzy was bored with my musing and sat patiently with the ball in her mouth waiting to play.  She looked very grey round the mouth, her jowls drooped,  she was panting and she looked old. Actually, we have a lot in common! “How would you like a little puppy to play with,” I asked. She cocked her head to one side, and I am sure I heard her say, “Really another small thing in the house, a cat is not enough. Stop prevaricating find your purpose?” Izzi is a very intelligent dog  –  a cross between a Belgium Shepherd  and a Collie. Actually she would hate another interloper – it was bad enough when the kitten arrived. Before lockdown I was busy.  I was arranging a wedding which of course didn’t happen. I was already starting to organise the annual Stand Up for London’s Air Ambulance Comedy Night and the second Tod Talk charity event.  I was working with  companies to organise regular donations for the Asylum Drop In that I volunteered with,  did my training with The Felix  Food Bank Project and I had a number of exciting travel trips arranged. Plus, I had my Gym and Bridge.  Now I need to find a purpose that works with my current lockdown status until they find a vaccine which will allow me to get back into the world. I know I am exceedingly fortunate, and I am mindful of those who have to cope with very difficult circumstances. And I am remembering a book a friend gave me a few years ago –  Viktor Frankl’s  Man’s Search for Meaning.  Not an easy read. But an important book. Frankl describes his daily experiences and observations of his life inside the concentration camp in Nazi Germany. It is where he developed his beliefs about how one can sustain a desire to live even under the most inhumane and desperate circumstances.   The inmates who had a sense of purpose were more likely to survive the degrading conditions of the camp. Obviously, my search for a sense of purpose in no way compares with the life these people had in Frankl’s concentration camp, but it does show the importance of finding meaningful goals when life get rough. victor Frankly So, people I am up for suggestions.  Open to all ideas. Message me.

“Let’s be careful out there”

Let’s put women in charge

As The Week dropped through my letterbox this morning, I was agog. It can’t be 7 days already. There must be some mistake. I have only just finished reading last week’s issue. What can I say I am a slow reader and The Week is my toilet companion. Sorry too much information. But honestly guys it is uncanny how the weeks are flying by and a bit scary especially as what the years behind me are now so much longer than those infront of me!

When you have bags of time to enjoy life this little hiatus doesn’t seem so bad but when time becomes finite one wants to cherish every moment. And cherish is not a word that would describe my current situation. It is not horrible in fact I could probably meander along quite happily like this if it wasn’t for the fact that I feel I am wasting precious time.

I am in limbo – albeit a comfortable limbo — but still a limbo. And when I see the morons crowding onto Bournemouth Beach on the hottest day on record in the middle of a pandemic, I see my days in limbo getting longer.

What is in the minds of these ‘I’m alright Jacks’ that propels them to drive hundreds of miles – and in some cases sit in long traffic jams – to sit on a crowded beach. Something which I would find abhorrent even in non-pandemic times. What part of the ‘stay safe’ message do these tens of thousands of people not get?

Clearly British Airways too has no intention of changing its planes to adhere to safety regulations. I just read a letter from a passenger who said he flew in seat 29F to Portugal and could see the entire plane crammed with people. It had 100% occupancy.

It just compounds my belief that the ‘I’m alright Jack’s’ out number the responsible ones. Unlike the citizens in some of the Nordic countries where a cohesive safety-first culture and a high level of mutual trust between citizens and authorities seems to have worked much better with changing behaviour. Maybe if we had a government that had behaved responsibly, that had not been two steps behind the virus at every point, ignored advice and the examples of its European neighbours, citizens just might have had more trust in them and behaved responsibly too. The government has been reckless and many of its citizens are now following suit.

I feel envious of those living in New Zealand with Jacinda Arlern, in Norway with Erna Solberg and Iceland with Katrin Jakobsdottir. They are not alone of the top 10 best-performing countries (in terms of testing and mortality), the leaders are women. In a crisis good leadership is vital and these women have proved that they make good leaders. Perhaps it has something to do with the hurdles they had to overcome to get where they are. Whatever, they are doing a damned good job.

 

So as you can see at the moment I feel a mixture of embarrassment disbelief and fury when I look at the numbers of deaths from COVID19 in our country. And because I have little faith in our government doing the right thing even now I have just been on line to order a supply of wipes, masks and sanitizers in readiness for the second wave.

I was amused though to read in The Times Tom Stoppard’s view on living with COVID19.

“It is a life I have always wanted social distancing without social disapproval. All those events you’d no longer had to dress up for, prepare for, all those encounters you no longer have to anticipate. Many of us are far more ambivalent about resuming ‘normal’ life than we like to acknowledge. We are capable of celebrating just a little when the dinner party host rings to disappoint at short notice.”

My late husband would have agreed with Stoppard and would have relished the peace and lack of social pressures. And there is a small part of me despite my misgivings about wasting my days – that when this is over which hopefully it will be – I will also pine for the days of silent streets and cancelled commitments.

“Let’s be careful out there”