this week I have been mostly
my old celluloid doll, from about 1951 when my sister was born, now has a new set of clothes!
Someone said to me – you really have to be upbeat about getting old.
What a load of rubbish. How can you be upbeat, whatever it means, when bits of your body don’t work the way they should – and let you down at the most inopportune moments…
When you can’t enjoy good food and good wine any longer because they don’t make pills strong enough to take away the pain of heartburn…
and even if you do enjoy a croissant now and then or an ice cream your weight and blood pressure will rocket and you’ll get type two diabetes -that’s if you haven’t got it already…
the idea of a sex life is as probable as there is life on Mars, try being upbeat when you know all that sort of fun and pleasure is gone forever…
try being upbeat when you also know you’ve had an awful lot more years in the past than you are going to have in the future and try being upbeat when you know it’s not when you’re going to die but how?
Will it be heart or stroke or cancer or motor neurone disease or something worse? Is there anything worse than motor neurone disease, cancer, strokes and heart attacks? Oh yes there is…
You may have enough money for your needs but how to get more out of life with it?
Foreign travel is out of the question, mainly because you’re scared now of the unknown – everything that was so exciting and an adventure when you were young is now a crisis that puts your blood pressure up and stresses you out.
It might be out because of all those questions for the the travel insurance, you daren’t tell a fib because you won’t be covered…and the fear you’ll be ill or die in a foreign country, or worse still, something dreadful will happen to your partner; and how could you cope – the ‘what if’ scenario is rife when you are no longer young.
And the frightening thought that something will upset your stomach, or his, and you’ll feel off it for days – all that money wasted…and you can’t sleep in a strange bed anyway..
You while away the days looking back on the time when you had that wonderful thing called energy – and great things to look forward to and to plan for – and you were the same age as everyone else – young.
Now everyone else is young – and you are just another of those old ladies who fumble about with their purse at the checkout holding everyone up or talk in the queue or on the bus.
What is it about old ladies and talking? A life story including how many grandchildren in two minutes – that’s what being old means.
Then sometimes your partner looks at you in a way he never did in all the previous forty years and you think – jeez I must have dementia- you can tell it by his look – you are having the first signs of the personality change that goes with it and you don’t recognise it – but he does. Or you think he’s going a bit strange and wonder is this it – is the rock he once was now crumbling?
How frightening will that be, ask yourself that and then tell me how to be upbeat.
When the black dog is yapping round your heels and you can’t eat, drink and be merry and have some good old fashioned sex to banish it; when that same dog climbs on to your lap or sits with you on the sofa and lies snarling and grumbling at the bottom of your bed – show me how to be upbeat then. And don’t tell me getting old doesn’t make you depressed – because it does. The trick is not letting anyone know, and fighting it.
Ahh, but that’s just the crappy negative side of it all – there is a different side to getting old – the positive thinking, make someone smile along the way, giving something back side.
And in the words of Gerald Good – who is he – don’t know – but like this quote
‘if you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness.’
‘The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings’. – Eric Hoffer.
watch this space for being upbeat about getting old – part two…The real upbeat side to being thankful for waking every morning and being able to make decisions and put your own shoes on…
Well it must be, mustn’t it? – why do I think this? Not because I am a little forgetful at times, neither because I am scared of going in a lift on my own, nor because I hear myself repeating things more than once; but because I don’t read.
I don’t read any more, and this from someone who devoured books at a great rate of knots – from someone who always, as her mother said, as a child could be found with her nose in a book.
I read everything from Cop Shooter to The famous five stories and secret seven adventures of the maligned Enid Blyton and read all my way through the children’s section at our local library in Liverpool – I went on my bike every Saturday morning – oh yes those were the days…
The children’s pilgrims progress had me enthralled.
I carried on reading into adolescence, anything and everything…
Ok so I wasn’t a discerning reader – but I loved it – from late nights with a torch under the bedclothes to lazy sunday mornings when I should have been doing something active perhaps, I could be found reading…and have stayed a reader all my life. Until now.
I have read Mills and Boon and Zane Grey and all the Leslie Charteris ‘Saint’ books ; from the Don Camillo Omnibus to Leslie Thomas and most things in between.
Oh and then I was in the sixth form for a year and went to college and a whole new world opened up – Dickens and T S Eliot and Thomas Hardy and Dylan Thomas, poems and stories that set my blood racing, and DH Laurence, oh the bliss, and Gerald Durrell and his animals and Maya Angelou…
I was transfixed with the magic and the beauty and the power of the English language – I just couldn’t get enough
So what’s happened? Has my brain shrunk? Have I no concentration? I can read a knitting pattern…
I can read the emails from my friends and I can write snail mail letters and emails in reply
Why oh why do I do jigsaws on the iPad and play spider solitaire and Mahjong?
I never used to – I loved getting into bed with my book – not a computer – or longed for the holidays when I could read uninterrupted
It was my escape – I wept at the sad parts and wept even more at the happy endings – I read Jilly Cooper every summer for a good few years such brilliant holiday reading; and I waited breathlessly for each new Dorothy Dunnet story of Francis Crawford of Lymond to be published. I read all H E Bates novels and was so disappointed with the tv adaptation of the darling buds of May I nearly cried and didn’t watch the rest of it until the repeats many years later.
I spent a lot of time in bookshops and browsing market stalls – I dreamt of having my own second hand bookshop – I spent any spare cash on books and I wouldn’t part with them – I remember lending Midnights Children to someone and not getting it back, and being so upset – I called my books my friends.
I discovered Mary Wesley and I couldn’t believe books could be so excellent – in fact I wore long skirts and big hats – if I’d have had dogs they’d have been called Milo and I dreamt I was going to be a writer.
Oh yes then I found out about Elizabeth Taylor and books like Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont and all her others that were so – so just right for the English language and told of a time I didn’t know and a past I would not have belonged in – how I loved them all. Anita Brookner – I read and re read – such a way with words…
Later in life I discovered Penelope Fitzgerald and wondered why I hadn’t heard of her, then there was Rose Tremain and her Music and Silence gripped me and I kept reading her books too.
And then suddenly I realised I wasn’t choosing to read as relaxation, I would watch tv and knit, I learnt to use a sewing machine, I wrote some poems and did a few online writing courses. Now I don’t do writing courses – my ability to gain pleasure out of writing short stories or a couple of hundred words for woman’s weekly coffee time read or a piece of flash fiction seems to have left with my youthful enthusiasm and energy.
Maybe that’s it – I don’t need the escape any more.
I am content with my life, I am happy in my skin and I am all grown up…
Well I just hope the enjoyment of reading comes back to me – to be a writer you need to read, all the time and voraciously and I like to believe there is still time for me to write. I’m still out of the coffin – and 68 is just a number!
Here, where we live in the depths of rural France, some dogs are tied up on three foot of chain and stay there like that for the whole of their lives, never taken out for a walk, nor taken in the house; one has one of those awful collars that deliver an electric shock each time she barks and so when we walk past she barks and then yelps – no that’s not the word – she screams in pain, oh and by the way it doesn’t work – when the battery goes flat she still barks…until they put a fresh battery in.
Another in our village is a boxer who has the run of a large courtyard – who is ok with people but attacks other dogs – he escaped this morning and would have killed our cairn terrier but I picked her up in time – just…
His owners think nothing of going away for a week and leaving him in the courtyard – presumably some other neighbours throw some food to him. Poor dog barks and barks for the first few days and then eventually gives up – feeling he’s been abandoned no doubt.
It’s a great hunting area here, and the hounds are kept for 6 months of the year in a small pen, no one takes any notice of them at all, and then on a weekend for the other 6 months they are bundled into a trailer and then can run around after the deer and wild boar.
The French government has now passed a law to say that animals are ‘sentient beings’ – guess what – before this they were considered as goods or chattels…
I wonder when we will become kinder, to each other, and to all the creatures of this earth? Somehow, I feel if some members of the human race can kill, maim and torture their fellow humans, what chance have the creatures got?
All my family and friends treat their animals and pets with the love and respect they deserve and happily the world is a better place for it.
better late than never… ok so it was November when I was last near Galway having a drop of the oul porter.. so I am never going to make a regular blogger – nor any sort of real blogger, I suppose but Spring is springing in this lovely part of rural France and my hideous hangover has finally abated – no – not from November’s porter but from Saturday’s wine – lashings of it and far too much for someone the wrong side of sixty…or could it have been a dodgy mussel in the paella? Or a bit of both? Who knows… but I am grateful to be over it!
Not only was there pints of porter but also in Ireland there were dogs, friends and family, beautiful views and lots of water.
And then its off to Spain we would jolly well go, stopping off to see Gibraltar on the way to the Algarve and meeting up with friends near Orba and escaping the worst of the french winter weather
I learnt that not knowing a word of spanish is a terrible handicap when himself spent a week in hospital in Antequera.
I also learnt that the kindness of strangers is a truly wonderful thing and there are people who were on the campsite at Humilladero who saved my sanity. I can’t thank them enough.
Then hallelujah and praise be – my sister arrived. Up all night – to travel by bus, by plane and travel sick to boot she arrived like a breath of fresh air and I was no longer alone!
All was well eventually, and a little over 4000 km on the clock of the camper van and we were back home. And wasn’t I glad?
And my quotation to end these ramblings on
‘If you want to turn your life around try thankfulness’ G.Good
Three weeks holiday in the UK…
and this is what it does to us!
No, seriously we had a wonderful time. This is Lotherton Hall where we went with the daughter and grandchildren – the children don’t stand still enough for photos but these folks did!
We went to London to see the poppies – we couldn’t get this close as it was incredibly crowded – this photo was taken a few weeks earlier by our friends who sensibly got there a lot earlier – but what a fantastic sight.
And then we went to rock in the isles to some really good music! What a production!
We met with friends, had real English fish and chips, and drank good, PROPER beer…
We had a wonderful evening, courtesy of our friends in Golcar, at the West Yorkshire Playhouse where we saw the brilliantly performed ‘Kite Runner’.
We went to the cinema to see Turner – Timothy Spall was his usual brilliant self!
It seems we have had all our years culturing in one visit – but that’s the way it is – we expats know what we miss!
So having caught up with our daughters and grandchildren and loved seeing them – its back now and its on with the writing course and making soups and preparing to return to Galway and visit my sister next week!
I know what you’re thinking – ‘Life is one long holiday for her now she’s retired’ – and do you know it feels like it is too – isn’t that great?
Work is great too, when you are younger and energetic – because how else could we afford this – and know to appreciate it?
Todays quote has to be:
”Retirement is wonderful. It’s doing nothing without worrying about getting caught at it. ~Gene Perret – or maybe even:
‘Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the blue sky, is by no means waste of time.’ ~John Lubbock, “Recreation,” The Use of Life, 1894
My creative writing course has started – yippee.. now there’s a real focus for me to sit at the laptop.
Here’s a bit of rhyming nonsense I wrote nearly a decade ago! Now I am determined to take it more seriously – well a little – and be more disciplined.
This writing Lark
The fire is lit and the flames are roaring
near me on the sofa, Sammie cat is snoring
I sit with pen in hand on my 13th cup of tea
waiting for the muse to come, for a writer’s what I’ll be.
I’m on my second breakfast, or perhaps by now its lunch,
Oh what the hell, I like to eat, I’ll call it morning brunch.
The words are there within my head, perhaps that might be true
but there they stay, well hidden, apart from this stuff I write to you.
So I go and wash the kitchen floor and clean the bath out too
How come when I hate housework, I can find so much to do?
I have my health and loads of time, as I sit here by the fire
I thought I’d find it easier when I knew I would retire.
My pencil’s neatly sharpened; my pen is full of ink
and from this mighty task I know I shouldn’t shrink.
Is that the time already? Good grief it’s nearly dark,
Suppose I’ll go and make the tea, and give up this writing lark!