The importance of touch

So there is this pigeon which just sits on a branch outside of my kitchen window. It is always there and stays for a long time. One time it flew down and rested on the patio and we looked at each other in a knowing way. On days when I am sad, I find it very comforting as I like to think maybe it is Tod.

“Hi Darling how goes it with you?” I fantasize that he answers. “Well Honey been flying around checking out stuff.” I loved the way he called me Honey. No one has called me this since he died. The pigeon coos, pecks on the branch, cocks its head to one side and we continue to stare at each other  until one of us has had enough. I swear not long after he died this pigeon flew onto the table next to my chair and stayed for the longest of times. I do think it is watching over me.

I miss Tod’s cuddles. He was a great cuddler. And it made me think about everyone else out there who must also be missing touch. I don’t think we realise just how important is physical contact until we don’t have it anymore. Someone said to me not long after Tod died make sure you have a regular massage because you will be missing the physical contact now that you are on your own. It is so true. It’s not about sex, more just having a hug when you need it, a stroke, a loving hand in good and in bad times, a sharing caress, a playful smack, even an angry thump.

So, I am concerned that the cost of this isolation for many people will be high. We aren’t meant to live in isolation. It isn’t good for our mental health or our immune system. I remember reading that physical contact — the good kind of contact obviously not the abusive contact – produces feel good hormones in the brain like serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin – all of which help boost the immune system and ward off illness. And we certainly need to be building our immune system right now. 

 Holding a partner’s hand, cuddling, visiting with friends or family – all of these activities are just as important to our wellbeing as remembering to drink more water and get enough exercise. So how are going to sublimate this? I would welcome your thoughts.

Right now, I could do with a really good hug from Tod. I need him to put those great big arms around me and tell me that everything is going to be ok. That our boys will survive this, our economy won’t fall apart, that the dyeing will stop, the world will recover, and normality will be restored. I know dream on Roma it aint going to happen any time soon.

And I am wondering how’s it going to be for all those singles looking for  online mates. Just think about it. How do you meet a total stranger when you’re not sure if both of you are virus free? It’s kind of risky. Where do you meet? You have to sit 2 meters apart? wearing a mask? very appealing. No touching, or handshakes, just the odd elbow knock and definitely no kissing and intimacy? I guess its cybersex which at least will be good business for the sex toy industry. .

Me – well I am not very adventurous and certainly not on the market which is just as well by the way I look.  Dressed in many layers — it is very cold in our house with no heating — I resemble a rather crumpled  bag lady. I have forgotten what make up looks like, hair is long and out of control, and my escapade with the wax strips has not been very successful.

I have though seen better days. Here I am aged 18 at a charity event.


“Let’s be careful out there”

The Community

I know we are living through a nightmarish scenario, but I have found a few silver linings.  One of which is a renewed sense of community – certainly more than I have seen in my adult lifetime.  As a child it was different. I grew up in a two up two down terraced house in the Highfields area of Leicester.  We were working class but with middle class values. If that isn’t an oxymoron.  Everyone on the street new each other and spent most of the time in an out of the different houses.  If one mum was working (it was a given that all men worked) then other mums would mind the children. We had no phone, no car, no television, no washing machine and an outside toilet. We used to get bathed in front of the fire on a sheet of asbestos. Maybe that is why I have COPD now.  In those days no one realised asbestos was dangerous.  The same with cigarettes. Both my parents smoked incessantly, and mum probably had a fag in her mouth when she was breast feeding me.

Oddly I remember a lot about the road even though it was eons ago.  The Batkins lived opposite and their son Terry was chronically shy and used to hide behind the sofa at birthday parties, even his own. The street flirt Jean, quite the glamour puss with her big breasts and tight jumpers fancied my father and wasn’t backward in coming forward in letting him know.  The German spinster who lived next door refused to talk to us because we were Jews until her house caught on fire and my mother saved her life. The Plumber boys were the resident bullies who lived at the bottom of the street and terrorised us kids into supplying them with bounty which was usually sweets or the odd penny.  I remember Brian and I barricading ourselves in the house while they threatened all sorts of nasty things should we ever come out again. And the lovely Polish family – who were ostracised by the rest of the street – not sure why maybe because they were foreigners – but they made fabulous goulash and kuchen which I was forbidden to eat because it wasn’t kosher.  I suspect I must have tried it otherwise how would I remember it being fabulous.

As soon as we were in lockdown someone on our road in North London started a WhatsApp group. And within days there were offers of help and goods being exchanged. The group has been quite wonderful. When my boiler stopped working within hours a local plumber was on hand.  When I was looking for yeast as I had no bread somebody left a box on my doorstep and when they knew I was on my own another neighbour left a bunch of daffodils to cheer me up.

This week the family 2 doors from us had a tragedy. The mother, in her early fifties, had an aneurism and was rushed into hospital where she has been operated on and is currently on a ventilator.  And within hours the street had rallied around to offer support to the devastated family.   A food rota was set up and I am making dinner on Saturday. It is heartening to see how much care there is

I am sure we are not alone and there are similar set ups all over the UK. My Scottish girl friend who lives in a small village sent me this pic below.

phone box


I do think we will all be changed by this experience and it goes without saying how tragic it is for all those who have lost their lives and their loved ones, but maybe we will come out of this with a different  and better perspective on life  I know that I certainly will.

Last night I couldn’t sleep as I was thinking of Helen. Only at the weekend we had swapped cakes. I had made banana cake and she had made cupcakes which we left on each other’s doorstep. And now she was in critical care. I think it is the randomness of it all.  It is not something I used to think about but now  I do dwell on it.  You can be a very good person live life healthily and then get cancer and die or walk in front of a bus or….and alternatively you can be a despot, liar greedy and cruel and live to a ripe old age.   And if it really is all random then where does God fit into this.   I know deep stuff.

And it is Thursday again and its clapping time.  Really where on earth did the last 7 days go? I know I keep banging on about this but how can time just keep flitting by especially when I manage to achieve less and less each day. I love the clapping it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside. I usually end up crying.  But at least tonight I won’t be returning to an empty house as I have company now.

So today was the first day that I have shared the house in 4 weeks. It is lovely but it takes a bit of getting used to.  It is odd talking and getting a real person answering me.  I am very disappointed though with Izzi who has been my constant companion never leaving my side, even following me to the toilet. And now – where is she? Well not with me. She is following Toby around.  And where did she sleep last night? With Toby.  She didn’t even come into my bedroom   – – where she has slept for the past 4 weeks, to say good night. Oh, you fickle creature. When they move out again, I will not forget this behaviour.  Don’t think it will all just go back to how it was when it was just the two of us.  And Mo is no better. She has spent the entire day fast asleep on my bed because that dirty little stop out didn’t come back all night.



“Let’s be careful out there”

Cocooned from reality

At 7 this morning I was sitting on my balcony with a cup of hot ginger and lemon listening intently to the cacophony around me. The skies were quiet, the woodpeckers were pecking the pigeons cooing and a wonderful array of other birds were tweeting. One could be forgiven for believing that this was just a normal warm spring morning. The beauty of my garden in full blossom belies the reality of our situation. But I am grateful that for now, at least, I am safely cocooned in my home. Of course I am aware of the thousands of people who are sick, dieing or just in far less comfortable surroundings than I am. But I can’t do anything about this. I cannot control anything outside of my home which is why I am focusing my energies on controlling what is within my capacity. And that is my animals, my pilates, my mediation, this blog and my housekeeping.

I am so pleased you can’t see me right now because it is 12.30 and I am still in my pyjamas. I have, however, dusted downstairs, cleaned the toilets, sorted the fridge and tackled a cupboard. No point in doing too much as I have a good few months to go and I don’t want to be left with no cupboards to sort. Sorting them twice would be just too sad. Who would have thought that we would be saving jobs for later so we don’t get bored. Imagine saying to a friend, “Today I just cleaned the downstairs toilet because I want to save the upstairs one for tomorrow so I have something to do.” What a weird weird world we are now inhabiting.

I am now ready for my daily Pilates session. The big dilemma is do I do it with Lucy in Australia, Sylvia in Texas, Mandy in Canada, or a home grown Sue. They are pretty much interchangeable, all very fit, attractive and well groomed. How come there are no instructors that vaguely resemble me? I guess that would be a little off putting afterall we all need something to attain to. I will however, never be a size 10 with a flat stomach, perfectly shaped boobs and shiny hair.

I have learnt an important lesson – do not do meditation when you are hungry.

Last night before beginning day 3 of my mediation I put a potato in the oven (baked potatoes have become my staple diet) I was hungry and this was the easiest and quickest meal to make. There I was crossed legged on my cushions listening to Deepak and trying to focus on his message of Hope in Uncertain Times but try as I would, all I could focus on was my dinner. The smell of baked potato drifted seductively up the stairs.

My internal conversation went something like this:

“Focus on your breathing, what was the mantra Deepak said I should keep repeating if I have found myself drifting away from the meditation. Shree Keem Va or was it Kreem sheem Vo – oh fuck this just isn’t working. What shall I have on my potato tonight, cheese or tuna or some of that delicious wild garlic paste? I hope the oven is not too high and the potato gets burnt. Wonder if I should pop down stairs and check. Maybe if I try a few Oms I might get back into this. “

Suffice to say yesterday’s meditation was not a great success.

Today is just a short blog because time is running away with me I have to prepare for tonight’s virtual seder organised by my god daughter Sophie for around 35 of us.

Note to self: Do something radical with the face and hair. Because ‘other people will have to look at me!

Unlike Grandfather in yesterday’s blog who flung salt water at Grandmother, the Abramoffs, who hail from Uzbekistan have a tradition of hitting each other with spring onions!! I imagine there will be a few other Uzbekistan’s traditions on offer. Plus copious amount of wine or in my case whisky which is my preferred tipple.

“Let’s be careful out there”

Home Alone

Baptism by Fire


Hi and welcome to my very first ever blog. Well a girl has to do something when she is in self-isolation for 3 months!!! I am in my sixties – and have never felt old until the government started to bandy around the term ‘elderly’ and ‘at risk’. I have 3 grown up sons and was married to an American for 35 years before he sadly died 18 months ago from a Glioblastoma. And am now Home Alone for the very first time in my life. And it really does feel like Baptism by Fire

The Dalai Lama advises everybody to spend a little time alone each day. Time to reflect and chase away the negative thoughts such as anger, resentment, jealousy, and tiredness. Try to replace those with positive emotions such as optimism, gratitude, love, and peace.

So, I am trying, and I emphasise ‘trying’ to internalise these wise words as
I begin my coronavirus self-isolation.  But I am struggling, and it is just Day 1.  I have never lived on my own.  I know that’s a bit sad.  Travelled extensively on my own yes but never actually lived entirely on my own – until now.
Until yesterday two of my sons and girl friend were living with me but
they have vacated the home because I am considered at risk from Coronavirus; I
have Bronchiectasis.

And suddenly this large 6-bedroom house which is usually bustling with noise
is suddenly very very quiet and it is just me and my dog and my cat.  And the government is saying that I need to do this for 3 months!!! WTF I will go stir crazy. Get a grip – I am a big girl I can do this, can’t I? Note to myself – routine. Do not start watching Netflix until at least 6 pm.  

But how will I cope if I encounter a spider, or the cat brings in a mouse, or
rat or half dead bird. If I need something from the attic, or a fuse goes, or
the heating stops working.  Bloody hell I sound a complete wuss – what happened to the intrepid Roma, the one who hitchhiked across Europe aged 18 on her own, who braved the swamps of the Okavango, who
drove from the east to the west coast of America through the blizzards of Nebraska, escaped from a Moonie commune in San Francisco, worked with very disturbed boys in  California, got mugged in South Africa during the Soweto  uprising to name just a few adventures. And survived relatively unscathed.  So yes, it is really time to be a big girl.

So, this is a somewhat self-indulgent blog which is to help me get through the next 3 months and out the other side mentally intact and disease free. This is the next big challenge in my life. And I know I am not alone – there are millions of you across the universe doing exactly the same thing so please do send me your stories, advice, books to read and films to watch. They will all be very much appreciated