Embrace the new ways. It’s not always better in the old days.

 

‘Most millennials I know would rather get off with Nigel Farage for an hour than pick up or make a phone call. We’ve grown up with so many methods of communication – from MSN Messenger to Instagram DMs – that we naturally gravitate towards the least intrusive means of contact. Our thoughts are carefully composed, edited, screenshotted to a friend and edited again; an unexpected phone call is akin to your mum bursting into your room while you’re stark naked, doing something questionable.’

Don’t Text Me – I’m Only Using Voice Notes Now- Juliana Piskorz. Refinery29

My heart chipped a little today.  Thinking I would surprise my son with an impromptu call, mortified to have it declined. Doesn’t do well with chatting to his mother, voice to voice it seems.  Voice note, a text message and that’s about it, when we are far apart.  So I started wondering:  is it just the way it works today, and how do I, as a mature woman feel about it?  Why am I so quick to seek rejection in things I tend to compare to ‘back in our day’ and when am I going to realise that. rather than comparing and feeling I’m being left behind, get into the new way of communicating?

Then I read the article above.  There are many more, but sometimes we have to do a little research to take cognisance of what is really going on.  So at risk of just looking back when we get to this age.  Everything is memory bound, habit bound, fearful bound sometimes, and so very much resolved to still be the primary educator, judge and guidance in our children’s lives that when we do finally realise that they are now smarter and have lives of their own, we falter, fold and feel so sorry for ourselves.  It puts us in a place we are unfamiliar with.

That feeling and all those anxieties are for another time.  I would rather not spend an hour with Nigel Farage, but I need to get over the idea that phoning someone who does not relate, is not a personal affront.

Despite what many younger people think, we are still able to explore, and occupy new forms of social media, it may just take a little longer, and just when we get it, there are more apps and characteristics to master – and we shall. In fact, it’s exhilarating to think of the possibilities.

There are also some I don’t care a jot for. Love looking at the reels on Instagram, loads of giggles and after a while the boredom of desperate people in squeaky voices, who must have spent hours getting the reel together is no a burning desire in my daily life.

There is a certain vanity at stake here.  For individuals who cannot bear the thought of intimate conversations with another, surprisingly have no problem with filming themselves.  The love of self on film is one thing, but it still brings no confidence when in the same room.  Interesting not so?  You would have a million followers, a few hundred stalkers and a smattering of really damaged people who stare at you, yet you cannot deal with a simple conversation, face to face or voice to voice?

The first few voice notes had me at: ‘ what is the matter with you? I know you are online so just pick up the phone and tell me directly what I now have to listen to.’  Voicemail proceeds voicemail trying to establish a meeting, decorate a room, organise a flight, or Christmas, when all could have been settled by just speaking to one another. In half the time.

I get it now.  Going to forget about how I sounded when we used to tape each other back in the day and my voice, totally unrecognisable, and have some fun.

I was furious at my father for saying Leo Sayer looked like he was dancing with a wooden leg.  The Millenials prefer voice notes. Just laugh.  Imagine how mastering all these new social tools will help you in business, in your journey forward, and your relationship with those, who are smarter than you now.

Or are they …

 

Are you ready with your ‘Cape of Abilities?’

 

 

‘A revival or renewed interest in something.’  The months of a sleeping and creepy, dying world is shooting glimmers of hope.  The Vaccine, oh good and bad and evil and suspect and in the end, the only way of opening up the skies and the doors and getting those all essential hugs underway.

But much as this was, is a war in the world, the initial devastation and bombing of hope, livelihood and heartbreaking loss of life, we began the journey with much resolve.  This too will end, the collective must stand resigned and resilient against the enemy.  Consideration and kindness and mountains of banana bread smells emanated from open windows.

Garden centres flourished in our clawing need for nature and affirmation that the world will carry on turning. We both respected and were a little bit jealous of those still working, even under the worst conditions, whilst we slowly began to give up on Pelaton and exercise, baking and craft making when the second wave took us under.

Oh dear God, not again, we lamented, cursed and felt very un-Christmassy. Down like a lead balloon along with a non New Year.  Some hopefully bought 2021 diaries (I did) thinking, it just has to stop.  Much has been written about the pandemic, friends who are doing the same, hoping to be published, taking part in the launching of the ‘new genre of pandemicism’ (if that is actually a word.)

Post war, casualties lie all around you.  All is rubble and much of it, on a personal level, part of your life.  Have you still got the same job?  Do you still want the same job? Relationships survived?  Has lockdown brought the angels of transformation upon you – to begin something different, something new, get a new job and then you realise, not so easy when everyone is on the same sidewalk, but no reason to think this little, personal renaissance is not possible.  It is.

I am a little in that place.  My work is travel and tours.  For most of this coming year, these two sisters are staying at home.  Travellers hold their breath, and their credit cards until they can afford the joy of travel, rather than the immediate earning need, and unless you are Mr. Amazon, most are going to be a lot more frugal.

But what I mean, in being ready, is that lockdown brings lethargy – not to want to think, depressed at the very thought of everything, inertia central.  And when we can move and leave the house again, work again, socialise again, what kind of life are you going to want?  What kind of things matter more more than before?  Will you be ready to greet the world with your new ‘cape of abilities’ and empowerment tools?

Will you be prepared?

For this year, I have to diversify – remaining optimistic about doing what I totally love, and also being practical that financially other avenues may be more fruitful in the meantime.

Will I be ready and how can I prepare myself for the full return of the New Normal?  How has this been a lesson, a time to re-adjust, re-evaluate and re-align my life to be better, richer, more fruitful than it was before we stood dazed in half disbelief, and laughed when asked to bump elbows …

I’ll be ready.  Will you?

Of course you will.  With all those fabulous powers you have …

Image pintrest

Hands up who is a little scared right now? Harness it.

The execution of Lady Jane Gray by Paul Delaroche.

A little dramatic I know. But this painting, one of my favourites in the National Gallery, sort of sums up this year.  We are faced with death, not sure what to do about it, feeling our way as best we can and all so frigging tragic. Innocent (in some ways) we are facing execution by lottery of the virus and no matter what we do, sort of sacrificial lambs one and all … and it’s bloody awful.

Sat in the Gallery, before it closed, once again, and stared at this painting. Feeling as helpless as she must have felt. Because seriously, we have all been doom scrolling for the statistics and wondering if our little world will end on a hospital bed.  Didn’t feel so much before, all bravado and such over the past year, and it has been a year, being ha ha … is this for real, is this sort of really serious and now to … don’t touch me, spritz the sanitiser, avoid absolutely everyone and spending winter at one address. Christmas, yes it was lovely, yes it was lacking … and thinking, am I breathing ok, am I still smelling the Brie?  Even sort of starting thinking, if it happens, where the hell will my body go. Such morbid stuff.

Not at all evading the issue of real people losing their lives to the virus and the utmost pain endured.  I have been close to those who have sacrificed their loved ones, and left wanton as to the next step … it is not out of flippancy, but real fear that I think … are we all a little scared?  You are right.

Only I cannot stop living, right now. When it hits home, really home, all the jokes of stealing wine and illegal this and this, dissipates with the loss of a real life, a young, gone to soon life.  I cannot, and nor should you. If life is ready to be done with me, I must live as much of it that I can, right now.  Good thing I am of an age that going to the disco no longer has me panting. Curfew doesn’t  concern me, but the loss of jobs and livelihood do.  This year has ravaged and taken from so many. I have followed the rules, but I have also realised that I cannot, will not, give up before I have no opportunity to do so.

It is one of those things – me wanting to live a full life, and acutely aware of those who have not been given the chance.

This is to what I write about. It’s about still hanging onto hope. I am scared, very scared, even more so now, but I cannot settle for never laughing again, or travelling again, or just going outside the door and going … what can I do under the circumstances?

I can keep talking. Wishing and hoping. Most of all, I can keep talking. About curfew lifting and going to Paris.  Starting your own company, a little new business, a different way.  I can keep hoping you will say … enough of the couch and the comfort eating and get up to do something positive.  I can keep urging all to muster the strength of planning for better – a trip, a business, mending ways with those you are estranged from, deciding that time is of the essence to do the things you have always harboured in your heart and felt to afraid to begin.

So if you are feeling a little scared, it is ok.  We never expected this, but then there are chapters in our lives we never expected either. Scared, you are allowed to be, knowing you are in the category or a vaccine because of your age, who would have thought. It’s good, and ageing.

The poor lass in the picture had no choice and she fumbled her way to the block.  We may feel the block is close, but until it actually happens , I am saying … do not go gently … go with a great defiance of maybe the virus ignited a new fire in your hearts, a new idea to bring to fruition and more importantly, a conviction that you, and what you are about to do, defies fear.

 

Do we really begin to feel so old, or do others make us so?

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” ― Sophia Loren

It has been a while since writing, much has happened and mostly the superior irritation of feeling a lot older than I normally do.

I berate myself for doing this, but as much as I tried, the weariness and physical inability to dance through the moments, left me not only hobbling and frayed, but spiritually bereft. All my own doing …

At first, lockdown had me at ‘once again’ transforming everything.  Walking and, oh dear Lord, trying to become a runner without having trotted for a million years.  ‘Besimpled’ is all I can say.  Would it be karma at her wittiest, in bestowing me with ‘runner’s knee’?  One minute I felt the twinging of my right knee cap and before you could say, ‘we can have wine again’ I was hobbling to the Physio therapist for treatment.  ‘You have Runner’s knee.’  ‘You have to be kidding!’ Pain central.

This was not enough however, I was shifting to the London mode.  Time to return to the wee bairns (now seriously in no need of mother’s attention), signed a lease, took a repatriation flight and spent three weeks, with the wounded knee, living out of a suitcase.  Moving to a new house – falling down the stairs. I am Methuselah. And I was doing it to myself, feeling like a cripple without fitness, no energy, lots of depression and basically, deeply unsatisfied, hurting and unhappy.

The injury heals and the energy returns.  Which made me wonder if I was just plain feeling my age, dear God, or sinking into the acceptance and telling everyone that I was feeling old and miserable, and thus began to be treated thus?

Yesterday two things happened.  The first was a darling elderly gentlemen, who has yet to work out the wearing of a mask on the bus, or defiant perhaps, escorted by I surmise, his wife, who verbally  erased him from any form of independence.  A two year old had more freedom of choice, how to get on the bus, where to sit, how to sit, what was in front of him, outside the window – it was horrible to watch and the more she babied, the smaller he became.  The same happened in a coffee shop.  Two women in their thirties I think, brought in their mother.  Brought, it was more like escorted, plonked down on a chair, positioned and decided what was best for her to drink. The more they ignored her, only to order her to drink up, the smaller she became, and I knew I had done that to my own mother, not so long ago.

Why do we do that?  It’s a patience thing I guess and I was treating myself equally so, having no patience with this injury, transferring the frustrations of a lame leg and moving into a state of believing I was to old to cope. Resisting the change, even though I had brought it upon myself?  Looking for sympathy and then feeling sidelined because others had no patience with me? Physically, things will take a little longer – I doubt I would qualify now for things I would not have qualified for two decades ago.

But I was pissed off yesterday.  We are dealing with such ageism anyway and now, spirits sink at every turn when we are made to feel smaller, and I just hate that we fall for it. We accept that those younger are so much smarter and can stream, beam anywhere, virtual this and drink us under the table, but maybe we just secretly don’t want to know and do all those things anymore.  Champion of the Boat race drinking at University was sort of my highlight and now Mommy cuddles the bottle of wine, not because she has become a stereotype, but perhaps sometimes this world had just become so super boring.  We have cooked, cleaned, bathed, soothed, medicated, worked, travelled, loved and lived in full technicolour, thank you.  Kudos to Hugh Grant and Colin Firth who both turned 60 this week, the heart can still flutter and maybe more so that the looks are chiselled rather than winsome.

‘Ageing is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been.’  David Bowie.

As to the question, yes.  We allow ourselves to feel old, become morose and think we have passed our time and wallow, and yes, others do make us feel old and we allow them too.

I will never wear the purple hat and fall into the stereotypes we tend to, but dammit, I allowed myself to think my life, romance, experiences and everything else, was over, because I struggled to walk, moved into a new house, take three buses to work and wore a knee brace on a nine hour shift.

And I am looking back at the pictures – not to feel sorry for myself, but to teach myself that granny frocks and socks and trainers and not really my style, so why the hell did I think my age made it acceptable?

If you are reading this with some delightful socks and crocks … you know what I mean.

Cheers!

 

 

er

Summer heat and finding my feet.

If Lucifer is testing me, am not ‘going to pull ‘a Karen’, but Hades, it’s hot!  London and heat like this has us wilting at sunrise and crisp by even fall.  32 degrees at seven pm – how are you holding out? What are you doing to keep cool?

George has been semi comatose all day.  Feet in cold water, feeding of the ice cubes, poor little fellow.  I have resorted to freezing grapes and juice, cold showers on the hour and still the glow has turned to ditch digging sweat. Still, its great to be back in London. From the alcohol ban in South Africa to this – Lucifer has been busy.

Patiently waiting for the International boarders to open, the wait is ongoing.  Decided to do a ‘repatriation’ flight back to the UK.  The prospect was daunting with all the rules and regulations and I was in a total panic; what if the temperature was a little high, the document a little missing … this was all a non-refundable exercise.  No going directly to the airport, loaded on buses and single file, we returnees were ushered onto the flight.  Gone were the lovely uniforms, replaced by white suited, visor clad and mask wearing crew. Understandable.  Worst airline food in history – no hot food, no coffee – day old smashed chicken and a slice of cheddar on a stale bun. Moving on.  Then there was the delightful ‘you must register with the UK government and quarantine threat.’ No-one at the airport to check.  All the drama for nothing – I think most airlines are stepping up to the ‘repatriation’ game to just get back into the air (at a hefty fare of course.)

Don’t blame them.  Let the world open up now thank you!  It has been too long, very sad and life changing, but too long. So what did you do in the months of not being allowed to step outside, stop working or work from home.  How did it work for you?  Are you still employed?  Many face redundancy and worse, many over fifties are now facing an uphill battle to find work.  Don’t stop going for it, it will happen.  This is just the time to re-evaluate and perhaps change direction. Is there something you have always wanted to do but feared for it at the same time?  Now is the time.  This lady is in the tourism business.  The tourism business is on it’s knees right now, and it breaks my heart, but I remain optimistic that it will pick up again.  That doesn’t mean I am not looking in different directions for something to add to my working life.  If weddings are on hold, I have seen wedding photographers change course and are giving virtual lessons, doing family shoots … you know what I mean.  It isn’t easy, and that is why, once again, I am finding my feet in a new dynamic, in a new world so to speak.

Challenging, but exciting at the same time. Finding you feet is what it is all about.  Doubt if I will ever be hired as a CEO in the next few months, but Lordy Lord, do I want to do that?  Rather be a dog walker (when it gets cooler).  No, it is not going to be easy, but it is going to be a path of discovery and DON’T LET ANYONE TELL YOU OTHERWISE. If I am a typical Karen, than it is only because no is not a word I have a place for anymore.  Over the past few years, I have had enough no’s to build a fountain – base of no’s ,water of tears, but I have put that angel right on top.

As Dory would say, ‘just keep swimming’.

A darling friend, who like me has had an interesting, if never to be repeated, past few years.  She took her maintenance and bought a Guest House in December.  World crashing, I asked her how she was coping.

‘After what we have been through, this virus is nothing.’  That’s the spirit boss girl, that is the baby steps to success.

Not quite going to dive into the Thames, but a paddling pool in the living room is looking ever so attractive.

Hello lovelies … it’s going to be a great time.  I have been lying low, sort of if you have nothing to say, don’t spill the banal onto pretty ears, but now, oooh, now there is so much to say, do and discover.

Watch this space and get inspired in your own Silver Street – such a cool avenue.

Images: The Standard

 

 

 

 

Covid and Peanut butter sandwiches.

In a world gripped by Covid, we are all struggling, in our own way.

The day has been one of torrential rain, gales so fierce it is difficult to go outside.  I am safe and warm in my home, but I am also in a country that many are facing starvation – poverty so dire, it is difficult to imagine the sheer extent of it all.

So tonight I write, not of pretty gardens or far off beautiful places, but of what is happening, right here, right now.  And the heart is breaking for those who fight the elements of the fiercest cold, and the most desperate of hunger. The predicament has always been here, but perhaps Covid has brought the plight of the homeless and destitute to the fore.

Began for me, oh dear, staying longer than expected in South Africa, and making the best of it.  What to do, get though this, until I could fly back to London.

I felt very sorry for myself. How to pass the time and I have no work here.  Do a little decorating, work in the garden … wait it out.  Then  I found, by chance, a group of women who were making sandwiches for children who were now, not getting a meal at school, for schools have been closed.  Make a few sandwiches, they asked, help these children have at least one meal a day in their bellies.

I can do that, I thought.  Make my own little contribution.  Toss in a bag of oranges, or two. Every week I made sandwiches, peanut butter sandwiches ( peanut butter is more nourishing) and happily deposited my bags of charity at the point of collection.  Once a week. Keeping the distance.

If I could post some of the pictures of the children, and adults, receiving packages of basic food, I would. But I won’t, for their sakes.  They are lovely, the utter gratitude, but also the real ‘picture’ of hunger, and fear. They do not need to be put on social media, or this post, and I will respect them.

This amazing, and generous, group of women has grown to the stage where nearly two thousand sandwiches are made every week.  As is, the need for other basics became evident.  Blankets, clothes, diapers, plastic, drinking water and even just something like tampons were top of the list. A handicapped child was found in a squatter camp, his mother trying her best. We were made aware, hospital visit arranged, a wheelchair donated by funds from children, parents, anyone who could help. Still I thought, do what I can, from a distance.

I was asked to visit a squatter camp, to take photographs for a newsletter, for a charity. Was reluctant. It’s one thing helping out, and quite another, getting up close. Feelings of dread, not wanting to seriously engage. I did go. There are people, of all races, living under plastic sheets, hoping against hope for a wooden structure, a steel container, anything to protect them from the elements. There is no race issue here, only one of survival. In the most basic form. The most basic act of just getting through the next hour, the next day.

And I thought.  How did you get to this?  How can you not make something of yourselves, seriously, is there no job, or self help scheme to lift you from this desolate state? As I began to speak to a few living there, there isn’t. Zenophobia excludes help. A few are trying to earn a few cents by begging at stoplights, making scarves and jewellery, selling plants they have gathered in the mountains behind them.  Yet, everyone I spoke to was strangely calm, hopeful and grateful. Can I just say, I felt so small.

I would love to post pictures of the smiles on those children’s faces when they received a peanut butter sandwich. I cannot.

The pandemic has prevented many from going to work. I worried about getting more wine. Africa is Africa and poverty will always be here I suppose, but now, in this time, people are willing to risk getting Covid rather than starving. They will risk the disease instead. In becoming involved, I have seen the elderly grasp at a parcel of soup mix, children running for bread, mothers crying quietly with resignation, others huddled against the cold. Under plastic, crates, makeshift corrugated iron sheets. And still helping others.

Around the world, statues are going down, anti racism protests, political chaos.  Dare I say it, but there are do-gooders who shout for a while, and go back home.  They should come here and see the volunteers who risk their own health, and at times safety,  to go into townships and squatter camps to feed and nurse the worst hit by the lockdown. Quietly – in all weather.

I would love to post the pictures. I won’t. I will honour those who think a tin of beans is a gift.

As the rain beats down, and the winds lift the tiles, I think of those who need a blanket, and a peanut butter sandwich.

 

As they say, keep safe, but also, keep giving. Give in any way your can.

 

 

 

Lockdown, a little bit of sex and the Chameleon going for a walk.

Lockdown day one million.  Little mercies.  A good walk.  Will I call it a ‘Beautiful walk’ as at My Silver Street?  In the beginning perhaps, on the Estate and nature in all her glory, hedging towards Autumn. Now it is the same walk, round and round. At least I still drag myself out of a virus inflicted crazy dream and little sleep state and pull on the trainers.

Beginning each day with ‘Enough, going to do this and that, change my life, change the world’ to end of day … blah. Getting the little soldiers into a plan of action.

The weekend had me in a chatroom. The Zoom Room.  Chatting to family who are shedding the jumpers for summer frocks, and an Art Class; sketchbooks.  Of course Karen, the moment you find a shop open with Art Supplies. you have to buy the biggest Sketch book known to man.  A great big, bloody red Moleskin sketchbook.  Initially the idea was sound, to put and plaster and tag and dot little pieces of inspiration.  Quite the other when you have to show it to the group via webcam and cannot actually hold the atlas/doomsday book up for them to see.  Memo, a little one will look so much more attractive in your handbag whilst sipping a noisette ‘a la sidewalk cafe in Paris in future.  The Red peril will not fit into your suitcase.

Where the Art continues to be curious and beautiful, the book reading attempts right now, have been less so.

The painting is by Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678)  You can find it in the Wallace Collection, in London.  It speaks of abundance, both in flesh and nature, of plenty, of fertility and harvest.  Surrounded by humans, satyrs, children (fertility) and reference to Bacchus/Dionysus, the god of wine and hedonism, the composition is one of sensuality, voluptuous abandon and lust.  Lust, sex and passion.  An allegory of Fruitfulness.  Ripe with sex.

Poetry does it beautifully, and many novelists can engage the words with graceful imagery to evoke all the nuances and beauty of sex.  Just as many get it so wrong. So embarrassingly wrong.  There is even a ‘Bad sex in literature award’.  I kid you not.  Anyway, there is no Daunt Books close by, but dear Lord, why have the past two ‘International Best Seller’ books been sadly lacking in writing about sex in a realistic, yet magical way.  Of course, the first I read had to deal with every topical subject the author could tap into; we have war, rape and revenge.  Now I am trying to, with a skewering, vinegar in your eye determination to finish, has me going ‘oh dear, forgiving Lord, has EL James begun writing under a pseudonym?  Have I not escaped her? Again the topical jam it all in list: dreary marriage to a cold hearted orc, jumps in the Seine, totally rescued of course, anyone can dive into the Seine with its currents and whip out the desperate – runs away, to the idyllic seaside town.  Instant job, lodgings, favourite of all – late life sexual awakening, first orgasm and sjoe … the convenience of it all!  Does it not reduce you to a pulp of craving for wine – it did me.  So please, good recommendations for I cannot do the ‘hope it goes to Hollywood’ stuff.  Amazing don’t you think, when you think of it, just how every book seems to be ‘The number 1 bestseller’ – what would happen if it were the ‘Number 4 best seller’? Oh dear … Suggestions please, or I shall revert to the classics once again (always a good thing) to read about real passion and sexuality.

Fans of EL James, by the way, you have made her immensely rich.  I hope she took some grammar lessons with the loot.

Sadly, the past week, we read of the passing of Nigel.  Monty Don and his beloved Nigel, which I watched religiously on ‘Gardener’s World’ – the perfect couple, boy and his best mate. They were the closest to what I believe a real home, garden and life should be.  It is a long time ago, I had any of these together, and I suppose they were like a dream team – his loss will be great, for those who love the programme, but immense for Monty Don and his family.  Times I think, this is what it really should be like, pushing the wheelbarrow through the seasons, followed by two faithfuls in a beautiful garden – and the nuzzling, the unconditional love an animal gives, that is the most powerful love. I hope one day, when I grow up and settle down, I will have a companion like Nigel.

In closing, I stumbled upon another unique couple.  On my walk today – we have  to distance and it’s rather a stop and let pass situation, complete with masks, as one does in the fresh air. Seriously? An elderly gentleman came towards me, and I stopped to allow him right of way.  Walking stick in one hand, the other was held out in front of him, almost in a shield holding fashion and it was only when he was right beside me, I noticed the chartreuse, bulging eyed chameleon perched there.

I am not a fan, afraid more like. When it comes to some animals, I wish David Attenborough a long life, he can cuddle them. Yet, as I walked on, I thought of how much he must love that green fellow.  The responsibility to nuture is there. Is gives sense to being. Maybe the fraught existence of sex and lust and passion has waned with every step.  Maybe he still feels them all, I hope he does. We must endeavour to feel the fluttering for as long as we can.

Reflections in the water.  A few Geese and Coots still visit.  The birdsong is lyrical, and the tiniest weaver is in the orchestra. It is a quite and reflective time; I may not be able to visit the Galleries, but art abides.  Not sure of the reaction if I meet swivel-eyed Sam, now being aware of him, but how charming was that moment in the morning?  Just to find a really, really good book that doesn’t make me despair.

“I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.”
–“Sonnett XVII,” by Pablo Neruda

“my blood approves,
and kisses are better fate
than wisdom”
–“since feeling is first,” by e.e. cummings

Want more words like these … be safe and plan for your own continued journey.

Till more xxx

Image: own and Bournmouth news.

The diary that time forgot.

Every since I can remember, I have been the diary type of gal.  Dear Diary.

My daughter was angry with me when I destroyed my teen diaries – it was the de-cluttering and moving of stuff, but endearing it was that she may want to read my silly musings of being in love with Robert Redford and that beautiful chap from ‘Chopper One.’  The seventies desire for Wesley in ‘Rich Man, Poor Man’ and who could forget Nick Nolte emerging from the ocean in ‘the Deep?’  I wasn’t fussy or anything, anyone would do to come and rescue me from a small town in the Free State, when high school was about disappointing dates and detention.  I was a child living out of herself, into dreams of better things.

My diaries are my chapters.  Written notes on friendships and romance, children’s playdates and visa applications.  Notes on ‘he loves me not’, and divorce. On the dying, and changing and being lonely and lost.  And good things, notes on Rome and Juan Les Pins.  My of course, the best children in the Universe. Tangible references of jobs suffered or loved – places lived in and said goodbye to.  All in those little books.  It will be easy to read my life one day.

Always a thrill to get the one for next year.  Clean, smooth pages to be filled. A ritual. And not just any diary, it has to be such that I have travelled the world to obtain, just the right one.

This year began the same way. Notes on clients to meet, tours to give, trips upcoming.  And then the dairy just … sort of died. We went into Corona forever it seems.  The willingness to write in it seems obtuse, hoping to fill, lying fallow on my table. The loneliness overwhelming, the silence too loud.

Had an entry yesterday. A doctor’s appointment in Cape Town, some thirty minutes from my home.  Easily done in better days, now nervous to leave the sanctuary and dare the drive, but I had the letter of permission to travel – oh dear Lord, even writing this seems insane. I had something to do other than fear, and listen to the negativity and gloom, I could travel, albeit a mere distance.  Felt like an exploration, not without dread and the dread manifested in two police/military road blocks.  What should have taken little time, turned into an hour and half of stressful edging in traffic, being pulled off and questioned as to my purpose to get into my car in the first place.

Cape Town, like any other city in the world, is a lonely place, bereft of life. The doctor’s rooms a laboratory.  Sanitising to within  the layers of skin, shoe covers, head covers, masks and gown.  How can one be amongst a few and still feel so isolated and untouched?  But, as much as I have become a criminal in the foraging of wine in this country, I also discovered that there was a possibility of coffee, a real, barista type coffee, secretly vended at a service station.  Which service station was elusive but having had the letter to travel, I was determined to drink the beans before going back to lockdown.

At first I thought, it must be the service station at the airport, weary travellers and needing the fix and all that.  Veering towards the airport, I slammed into another roadblock, now having expired the appointment and no reason for being there.  This is fear, I thought: how to explain my reckless abandon of rules in search of coffee? I was interrogated, and turned back. Before leaving the freeway, I spotted the midas gold on the other side of the highway, it was to be true, sighting of red coffee cups outside the venue.  Only I was on the wrong side. Undaunted, I turned back over the bridge, made it to the place and order the largest grande whatever in existence.  Only to realise, stupid, stupid me, that now I was on the highway, back to Cape Town, contravening all rules and about to be arrested for getting a cup of coffee.  The fear, the angst, the delicious nectar.  In the end I managed to get back without a fine, or worse.

Angry. Astonished at the lengths I would go to for a bit of normality.  I am a London girl, coffee is our go to, our first stop, our conversation.  In a way our identity, how we call the order, feel caffeine mix with blood and strut to the tube empowered with our morning sanctuary. What the f…k is this all about? We face months of servitude to the virus, to the government and the not knowing what is going to happen, day after day, month after month.  Coming here before lockdown seemed a good idea, but will I still be lockdown when the rest of the world is coming back to life? There are questions, quiet resentment, lots of fear and no information as to when and how we shall overcome and find some semblance of normality – and most of all, be able to fly home. For me, the rebellion in finding a cup of great coffee was my stand.  But is it worth a diary entry? The coffee thing that is?

The United Kingdom, and many other countries have suffered great fatalities with the virus.  Life has ceased, and fallen apart in so many ways.  As with the rest of the world, but where I am, hunger is becoming more of a threat, than the virus.  Little can help those who cannot work, living in dire conditions and facing poverty and starvation. Seven weeks of no income is awful here.

And so, tonight, as I look at my diary, with helpless frustration, I don’t even want to think of maybe, when, whatever … hang on,  at least I thought so.  She may lie idle now, for who wants to record another day of nothingness (oh, I went for a walk, now allowed) and how many times I thought I saw a spider in the house … not so much.  We no longer speak or debate about Brexit, or can confirm dates, meetings, visits and now that I have cancelled my trips until when … the lethargy of uncertainty is of no value for the dairy.

But then, as a friend who has also survived a few rough years, and bought a guest house in December said: ‘We have been through so much worse, this is nothing and we are going to be fine’, I thought: unlike Pepys, I don’t want to record any more pain and suffering and write a plague diary … wait for the novels and plays etc … but I should record the little things that have taken precedence at this time. Like seeing the ocean again for the first time in weeks, how my hair is about to lose control of its own nature. How the human spirit is beginning to defy draconian laws.  Being there for others, supporting the frontline workers … hoping and hoping it will end, and how this mad woman, nearly got arrested in pursuit of a great cup of coffee.

Be safe, be well and dream of better … it will come.

 

What to say, we are all living in hope and counting the days …

What to say?  Always believed if you have nothing to say … don’t.  Try and sit on that, and then just go … there must be something to say in this epic plague (third world war?) time when we are all in lockdown and the world has come to a total standstill. Surely, like Samuel Pepys I should be recording the ‘worst of times’ and keep a diary for future generations to go … wow… really?

My diary is totally empty.  Seriously, I still use a week by week dairy to write in and it is … totally empty. Could note that I, let’s see, ate, slept, did the laundry, scrubbed, washed, ironed and then just … got so interminably tired of my own company. This lockdown thing could be, yay, I am on my own and not have to spend it with stuck with another, or sadly, I am stuck with me. Not sure which is the better, but this is not going to be a negative, wanting to lynch the spouse sort of post – it’s going to be,  weeks in and … is there still a world out there and what is madam doing within the walls of confined space.

Positive, definitely positive – sort of “About a Boy’ units of the day positive. I do the units.  An hour of this and an hour of that.

Let me begin with that ‘I don’t do Facebook’ secret.  A new group called ‘From my window’ has me connecting with others who wish to post their views from their windows. Jealous at some of the most magnificent views, and blessed when I see some others, like the view from your apartment is the inner courtyard with no direct sunlight all day. A view from a hotel room, there are many of those – wonderful people working in essential services who cannot be with their families.

On the Estate I am in at the moment, we are not allowed to walk around, never run or take the dogs out for a walk.  We are limited to our own properties. No buying of alcohol or cigarettes. The wine is dwindling, as is my sense of humour, but no, we shall be postive. And thinner I surmise, sans the alcohol, though unsurprising, as is the times, I have been offered ‘alcohol’ via dubious means, if I need it.  Nothing like a restriction to boost the illegal trading of alcohol, but I must admit, meeting a dubious character in a car park close by, to pay a months wages for sneaking the wine into my boot is still something I am going to resist, for now. She sips from the last bottle.

At first, all fearful, law abiding citizens and now the sneaking has started:  dog waling in the dark, running at five in the morning past my window, for fear of being caught.  As one is allowed to go to the shops, and we have a shopping centre outside the gates, one gentlemen walks at seven every morning, with a shopping bag in an attempt to fool us he is on his way to buy groceries – when the shops only open at eight am. Will the lockdown make creative criminals of us all eventually?

No, being productive is the answer when one’s life is confined to a few square feet.  And yes, I found a puzzle. I have resorted to the ‘le puzzle’ – one of Lake Como, which I was to visit later this month, so alas, puzzle will have to do.  What else? The random squat en route to the kettle has transformed into the walk/jog routine in my garage. Hit the music, run in circles and boy am I one proud mama for doing it.  A step up she thinks.  Told you I found the missing weights whilst chasing a mouse (now identified as a shrew) and so they are on the kitchen counter to be held, lifted and released when the toast is ready. Very proud.

We all know that nature is playing the upper hand at the moment:  fishes in Venice, flocks of seagulls on the West Coast and numerous lion, elands and other species on golf courses and taking over villages – sweet.  Not so sweet when you wake up to face a praying mantis on your pillow – not after the shrew, ants and noo noos in drains that have come to visit. Love nature, stay out of my house.  It’s like camping I say again.

Weekly visit to the shops.  I have a mask that looks like Donald Duck but I wear it, and my winter gloves from London. It is summer, going into Autumn here, but I wear the orange gloves and care not a fig how I look.  Which brings me to how I look.  Never one for camping, I am now as close as I shall ever be – no salon for the hair, no waxing ( and yes I did try the razor and yes, I shall suffer as a result) – been without make-up until I went, oh dear, I cannot face you in the mirror and today did it all, to be beautiful with my puzzle. One must look good whilst doing the puzzle of Lake Como.

Units I say, is everything.  We wake at ungodly hours for lack of a proper busy day, drink tea at four in the morning and resort to ‘The Daily Mail’ for something to do.  Ok, it’s awful I know, but I do read the other news and am being a good girl on the content page.  Magical watching of streamed galleries, exhibitions, documentaries and the odd, smaltzh on Netflix. Somehow cannot watch anything gruesome for, for me, gruesome is right outside at the moment.

Out drunk on the peppermint tea, the green tea, the ordinary tea, the instant coffee (would I give my life for a proper take away coffee) and so over thinking about what next to eat. So over most of this actually but being positive, I am updating playlists, emails, photographs and over the memes and funny stuff which has paled to the reality of it all.

Waking up. Grateful that I can. Getting through the day. Planning. Oh, I am so going to travel more than ever before, even to Brighton if I must, but travel. To be on a tube, a train and a plane again. Tried the sewing, nah!  Tried the freezing of food – awful experience – tried the meditation – even worse. Talked to my plants, imagined a new career and spent a whole lot of time looking at my nails after eating them for lack of something else to do. Being positive people. Have avoided any challenges, like downing a raw egg and talking stock of my life, again.  Ugh what is this about too much time and contemplation, constantly think I need to re-value my life, all the time.

It has been good, I say. I am being quiet, appreciative and planning.  All has changed for sure. The world will never be as we know it and I plan to be part of the new one, what do you call it …

What to do tomorrow? The same as today, I guess. Another squat and three planks. That’s all for now.  Oh, and never admit that the puzzle is bloody hard. Never.

Don’t look at the dark side right now. Miss my boys on the balcony, my friends and family and oh, yes, have the Zoom thing down pat … with the make-up, because let’s face it, looking at oneself on Zoom is not a pretty sight, and we do keep looking at ourselves, don’t we? To the frontier, to the getting out of the hoodies and sweatpants and no make-up, we have got this!

Be safe, be ok and be planning for the great you to be…We will get through this and smile …

I am thinking of you all of you out there and love you for being yourselves at this time  … We Silver Streeters have each other …

 

Gently, gently we need to tread. Gently to dispel the dread. To nature we shall cling …

 

‘The woods looked simply glorious in the morning sun, and all nature was at

its best.  Fancy a war on in surroundings like this.  It seems unthinkable.’

Private J.W. Graystone, of the 10/East Yorkshire Regiment, wrote of his camp

at Authie on the Somme.

 

There is a plague upon all our houses. A war of a different kind.

I have been silent for weeks – perhaps too disbelieving as to what was unfolding, uncurling like an evil, alien creature, to infect the world as we know it. Seemingly surreal, we witness life shut down, jobs dissipate, incomes flutter and space more and more limited. Sometimes I think that it wouldn’t matter what I say, would anyone be listening anyway, does it matter (it does to me) – and angry at all the awfulness that spills like an oil slick on a pristine sea.

I don’t really know – but what I do know is that my life, and everyone else’s, will never be the same again. I want to blame who I think is to blame, but blame is hot air. No longer matters. Human nature, in these circumstances, swings from jovial banter (the thousands of memes are testament to that)  boosting our spirits as we distance ourselves, to the worst traits, fake news and crashing negativity.  Not for a second can I be blasé about the situation we are in, we are burying thousands – but I also know if I want to keep sane for the days to come, fear will take me down.

Far from my family in isolation, on another continent, for the time being.  This is what I find the most difficult to deal with.  When all the fluff of life filters to the pavement, it is family and the people you love, you want to be closest too.  Fortunate in that my children are all isolating together, with George, who continues to coax giggles and offer hugs as only an animal can,  thus ensuring the adequate levels of love and optimism in their confined space remain high. They are together and that is a great comfort to me.  Many are separated and find themselves in foreign climes, we need to be aware of that and pray they will get home when the restrictions are lifted.

 

This is the crossroads of choice. Common sense tells us to be cautious, self isolate and take extra medical and hygienic care.  Washing of hands for 20 seconds (I have come to see doing this as my spiritual ritual).  Much thinking and absolving and washing away of oh, so many thoughts …  More importantly, the choices, of optimism and fortitude.  There are generations below us who are facing more trials in the future – adding our woes to this tragedy does not help them.  It has them worrying about us – if I am positive, no matter how fearful, at least it is one less voice of doom.  Courage is my choice (though I do have the little melt down, in private, which is ok) as is refraining from sinking in the mire of tragedy lovers.

What I am doing is rising up to my renewed faith in nature.  My renewed faith in faith. How long has it been since I really paid attention? I mean, really paid attention, as a child does staring into a pond,  fishing for tadpoles, or studying a rock pool for ages?  Not just listening to birds but attempt to learn their unique calls, coax my sickly icebergs back to life and lie on my back, in the afternoon, now that I have the time to do very little, and stare at the clouds. To the trees I go.  If this sounds twee, that is exactly what it is – nature is calming and more importantly, it is the reminder that:

The ability of nature to endure, despite the bullets and blood, gave the men a psychological,

spiritual, religious uplift.  The unconquerability of nature provided the reassurance

that life itself would go on, that there was after all a purpose and meaning to things.’

 

Johan Lewis-Stemple

‘Where Poppies Blow.’

Our war right now may be different, the dread the same, but already one hears of increased birdsong, cleaner waters, less pollution as we go into hiding.  Nature’s resilience and that gorgeous light in the morning is my song against the darkness.  With calm, common sense and the beauty all around us in the natural world, we are going to be fine.

Already looking at my life, and the world around me with new, heightened senses.  Still get scared, there is loss on a scale unprecedented, and then there is us … the breaking and the making of us.

What will you be doing during the lockdown to take the fear and keep calm at this time?  Let me know, even if it’s just to share.  We all need to support each other.  Stay safe.

 

Quote from ‘Where Poppies Blow’ – The British Soldier.  Nature.  The Great War. by John Lewis-Stempel 2016. Published by Weidenfield & Nicholson. London.