Who’s in charge here?

I have decided that because this year has been so shitty, I am not going to count my next birthday.  What does it matter anyway how old I am.  Not that everybody agrees. Apparently it matters  quite a lot  –  we  over 60’s are  stuck in COVID world and  are continually referred to as the ‘elderly’ and the ‘vulnerable’.   Bloody cheek. This labeling isn’t helping my mental health.

Interesting it was only last year that The  Office for National Statistics said although 65 has traditionally been seen as the start of old age, 70 could be seen as the “new 65”. And that’s they said  is because  many people who reach this milestone birthday can still expect to live another 15 years. If that’s the case then 60 is just middle age.  

Anyway, come December I am going to be 60 again. I didn’t have a 60th birthday as I was stuck in a  Berlin ICU hospital  watching over  one of my children who had fallen off a balcony on his head and trying to get  nurses to understand my broken German. Really what kind of language puts adjective verbs and almost everything else at the end of a sentence. The hospitals and doctors were brilliant  which is more than I can say for the bedside manner of some of the nurses. I was told by my German girlfriend not to take it personally it is a cultural thing.

I didn’t particularly mind missing my 60th as I have never been one for big parties.  It did however take me a while to accept 60   as I have been lying about my age since I turned 40 much to the annoyance of my younger cousins  who complain  that they have now overtaken me.

Of course, I wouldn’t have  lied if we didn’t live in such an ageist society.  When I left the BBC at the age of 50 I was the oldest by at least 15 years of my team. For me not being entirely truthful was about avoiding being judged –  and yes that does happen.  Fortunately, I look good and I know I could easily pass for someone in their mid-fifties. So why wouldn’t  I?

At the weekend the clocks went back  – so  if they – whoever they are can fiddle with the time  then so can I. “When you don’t take charge of time you become father time’s bitch,” not sure who said that and its a bit sexist but well, I ain’t  nobody’s bitch. 

Taking Charge High Resolution Stock Photography and Images - Alamy

Einstein determined that time is relative –in other words, the rate at which time passes depends on your frame of reference. Admittedly right now  COVID  is skew-whiffing  (maybe I have just made this word up I am well known for my malapropisms) time because  despite doing very little time seems to have sped up considerably.  

I still remember as a child waiting impatiently for the birthdays, holidays or  Wishing Day to come round. Yes Wishing Day – you mean you didn’t have a Wishing Day?  Ours was the middle of September.  We would sit on the rocking chair in the lounge and make a wish which would then magically turn up in the oven. Obviously not on.  And it really did feel like magic. My mother would have spent weeks  trying to find out what our wish would be.  One-year Brian and I  suspected that maybe there weren’t any magic fairies, so I decided to test the magic. I wished for a dollies cradle which I was sure my mother would never have guessed.   And when  I ran to the oven – there it was a beautiful little lace trimmed dollies cradle.  Well my maternal  grandpa was a magician!

So,  I am not working, I have no ties, I have nobody telling me what to do, and if  my time is relative to my life then I am going to be the boss.  I guess it’s about a mindset. I  know because I can  waste entire afternoons.  

Now I just need to walk the walk rather than talk the talk.

Walk the talk – Karolinska Institutet Career Blog

“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”



Time Again

Big big frustration I have just lost the Blog I have been writing for the past 2 hours. I pressed a button and the bloody thing vanished. It is like being back at the  beginning of my computer days when I had my first Amstrad and I was working as a freelance journalist.  The number of frantic help calls to Tod as I lost yet another vital piece of writing. And I thought I was over all that. Well Tod isn’t here – in fact nobody is here and I am going to have to write the sodding thing again.  Yes I know I  have time but do I have the inclination. Not really. But here goes.

The morning  started  badly. I got locked in and  I am not speaking metaphorically. The front door was jammed. Not that I am going anywhere but hey one does need to know that one can get out. What if there was a fire? or I had to escape from burglars? or just wave to neighbours.   So, what to do?  Face time with Toby my youngest son because he has the most patience. And when dealing with technology I need patience.

So, the conversation went a bit like this.

Toby: “I can’t see the lock; Mum I am just seeing your face. Switch the camera around.”

Me: “How do I do that.”

Toby: “The little button with a video camera at the bottom of the phone.”

Me: (Only had this phone for 10 years!)  Ok yes, I see it.  Here we go.

Toby: “Up a bit mum can’t see the lock. No to the left, to the left. TO THE LEFT.  Mum you are going to the right.  Step back a bit you are too close, no that’s too far back.  Aim the phone inside the lock. No not at the ceiling. Mum you have gone off camera I can’t see the lock.”

And I thought that trying to take the picture of the inside of mouth for the dentist was difficult. This has been a trying few days for me and my iPhone.

So, it went on. 30 minutes later, sweating profusely and with the aid of a credit card I managed to release the jammed lock.  I was upset, the dog was upset, the neighbour opposite was wondering why I kept walking up to the front door and then disappearing and reappearing. Izzi barked throughout. Now, not only am I exhausted but I also have a headache. And it’s only 9.30 in the morning.


Today   — although I am fast losing the will to carry on –  I was going to write about time because I don’t get why I never seem to have enough time in the day to get stuff done.  And it is just stuff.  My world has shrunk beyond anything I would have imagined and yet, far from being bored I haven’t managed to accomplish many of my desired tasks on my ‘to do’ list.  The best bit of lists is the crossing off or the ticks and my list  doesn’t have any.  Everything seems to take at least 3 times longer than before.   How is this possible. This is what I did yesterday.

5.30 am Oh God is it really so early. Please let me go back to sleep. Why can’t I sleep till 9 like in the old days. Oh how I loved the old days.   6.00 am No clearly not going back to sleep. Don’t reach for phone. You know if you start so early you will get sucked into social media  and before  you realise it you have lost 2 hours. First cup of coffee on my balcony.  Feed the animals and  dog walk –  at least I beat the joggers.  7 am  back to bed with second cup  of coffee and my best friend – my IPad.  Goodness knows what will happen is she stops working.  Then I really will have to slit my throat!

Note to self: Do not watch News. Remember how you felt when you saw the BBC Horizon Programme  –  it took you 2 hours to recover from the comments; “this disease is now out of control.”

Wash, clean up the kitchen, (those bloody little elves have been at it again!)  Yoga session, baked a lemon drizzle cake for eldest son, played bridge, walked to post box with birthday cards for middle son. And that was about it but by 9 pm I was exhausted and fell into bed hardly the energy to read my Kindle. So, thoughts please?

I googled Einstein’s theory of relativity   to get some insight into this time thing  but being an impatient sod, and having very little focus at the moment, I couldn’t get through it all.  Basically, he talks about  how the faster we go, the more the time is affected.  But if I go much slower time will have stopped altogether. And it hasn’t. Maybe I need to read it all again.

I think that as the world around us has lost its schedule so I have  also lost mine.  Going forward and I have no option but to go forward, I believe that putting a daily schedule in place, and keeping to it, is what will help stop me going a little insane.  The broadcaster and journalist Joan Bakewell said recently that daily schedules are vital to one’s sanity. She even schedules reading time.

Just for the record the sun has almost set and I have not done any Pilates or Yoga or my mediation. I can see that I need that schedule more than ever.

Let’s be careful out there”


Am I dispensable?

I am wondering when I see groups of young people gathering in parks and on streets, completely ignoring the ‘social distancing’ dictate, whether it is a deliberate ploy to get rid of us oldies.  Time for us to bail out and make room for the next generation.  Apparently, we have had it too good, us baby boomers.  And if we continue to draw our state pensions, for which we have worked all our lives, then there will be nothing left for the generation below us. Of course, there is a chance that I am being paranoid. But I woke up this morning with a very uneasy feeling.

Mornings are not my best time of the day particularly as I seem to be waking earlier and earlier. Today I was in my woods at 5.30 even before the sun rose.  If I am not careful soon, I will be waking up before I go to bed.  The irony is that for so many years I could hardly drag myself out of bed desperately wishing for just another 30 minutes of sleep. And now – well up at 5 and I have the whole day to fill.

So how did today pan out. I am not going to lie – so far not very well. 6.30 back to bed with a cuppa and Netflix, watching the last episode of Orthodox a 4-part drama series. Very good. Those Haredi Jews are something else. 8.00 breakfast of porridge. No appetite but forcing myself to eat.  9.00 Pilates.  Desperately needed to stimulate my endorphins. 10.00 phone calls to children and friends. 11.00 the start of the big spring clean.

I remember at this time of the year my mother an observant Jew, would start the meshuggah pre-Passover clean up. For non-Jews well it’s a long story goes back to Pharaoh times just google it. It would entail every room in the house being cleansed and even the tiniest bread crumb removed. All the Passover crockery and cooking utensils would be schlepped down from the loft to replace our current apparatus which would be hauled back in the loft for the 8 days of Passover. As it got closer my mother’s neurosis would intensify until the day before when my brother and I would be exiled to the garden whatever the weather with strict instructions not to return for at least 5 hours and then only once we had emptied our pockets and ensured we were completely devoid of any food particles. And then we would have to starve until the kosher for Passover food arrived. Yes, it was all a bit crazy. But in a way I miss the rituals.

Now, of course, I have plenty of time for the big spring clean, but I can do it at my leisure. Time is such an odd commodity. The dictionary defines it: the progression of events from the past into the future. Time is not something we can see, touch or taste but we can measure its passage. But sadly, time only moves in one direction and while it is possible to move forward in time we can never go back. Hence the frustration of hindsight. The ‘the number of — if only’s –I have had in the last 10 days. And the promises I have made.

I will endeavour tonight to stay up later in the hope I just might wake up past 5.30. Need to shorten my day. I know I know I need to see it as an opportunity to do all the things that in the past I never had time for. And on a good day I get it. But perhaps not today.

So, to end on a positive note:



“Let’s be careful out there”