The Widow Bird.

Swirling, long black feathers whipped by the wind.

‘What is it? I asked.

A widow bird. The image remains.

A dance of grief in the air, round and round to quite still, high above the earth. Performing a dance of grief. Movement of pain. Rolling, crouching, arching, twisting. I know that sting of grief, like a cloying, soaked cape you cannot wrench aside.  Or dries and peels. A black sheath around your heart. Few escape the strangling grip of grief. Some get more than their share.

South Africa burned last week.  Hopeless desperation and opportunity erupted into looting, destruction of property amid a frenzy of hatred and entitlement. Told to stockpile, stay at home … oh God, again, and again, for how long again …and wait for a coup.

Unkindness on those streets. Every good person suffered. Everyone lost a little of their souls.

So I stayed home.

I became a widow to the country I live in.

I have been here before.  No stranger to violence, I shift away, step away a little, time steps between and I forget a little.  Africa is Africa I tell myself, take the rugged, brittle beauty of belonging and try not to fathom the rugged cruelty of poverty, hopelessness and fear. My children have left her shores, living, not a dream, not without deep loss, but thankful they are not here.

I am a widow to the closeness of family, together in the country of their birth.

Followed I have, returned I have … there is something about the pull of homeland that lies so deep within my breast, not the platitudes I read, or the quirky stories told, but it is this bloodied soil that I have stepped from, that holds me forever in spirit. The bloodied soil I gave up, yearn for and cannot hold onto.

The butcher bird impales its victims on thorns, twigs and barbed wire. I don’t like butcher birds, cruel little buggers. I cannot abide cruelty. Saw that so close.

And I think of that Widow bird, swirling over my beloved country.  I know the bird was doing what came naturally to it, but right now, I don’t really know what natural or real is at the moment, and when I saw this picture, taken many years ago, I was drawn – the widow bird.  I am a widow right now, to a country that raised me, and sort of died last week.

It only takes a few to murder so many dreams.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tomorrow, tomorrow for sure.

Magnificent Watercolours by A Paris Breakfast.

 

Pretty … or more appropriately,  P…R…E…T…T…Y overwhelming have the last few months been.  Victor of them all, cherub named Procrastination.  I know I do it, blooming hell, I am the champion of the disease, and yet here it comes, and there it goes.  Tomorrow, tomorrow for sure.  It is the beginning of a new day, a new agenda, a whole new life for me.

To begin with the travel plans. Not so much.

To look for meaning full, financially viable work.  Not so much.

Sell up everything, tell no-one and find my little place I can ‘Escape to Chateau’ in, discovering hidden talent for flytraps and septic tanks amongst the reveal of antique tapestries that tell stories of conquerors and the fates.  Not so much.

Instead, of late, I watch them, dream about them, listen to men with gravelled British accents reading books by John Le Carre whilst calming the inner tantrum child that is still unable to get to my children, drop tales of english history in the cobbled streets of London and my destiny at the Italian lakes.  I have tempered my own rhythm and quelled my own storm.  And I am now officially a member of the Bennet family. Thank you Jane Austen.

I am embroidering.

The mind continues to unravel like the threads on my desk. The concentration on the physical doing helps though and the hours pass quickly, endless cups of tea, endless, endless cups of tea.

We all wait.  Make the most of it. My relationship with Boris is tenuous at this point. A fully vaccinated British citizen who must face the hell of hotel quarantine and watch in disbelief as the favoured escape restrictions to enjoy Wimbledon.

I am embroidering and dreaming of that French patisserie. Summer in London and cow parsley.

‘At the still point, there the dance is.’ T.S.Elliot

At the still point is where I find myself.  Am teaching myself that it is what is needed to be safe and wait for the world to heal.  At the still point I am flooded with memories of the past. It has been lovely, and it has been good and I wait for it.  There is much to be said for the calming of life, but then again, at my age, there is this little window of now and before I have no option but to sit in a ray of sunshine and not able to get out there and really do the things I put off for so long in life.  Am I the only one?

Tomorrow.  Tomorrow for sure to muster the energy and make the plans.

To all those who have suffered from Covid, or have friends and family who have, have succumbed to it, my heart goes out to you.  We have lost too many good people, so my little rant seems petty and small, I feel it, but it has also fostered in me, a desire to really live, fully, without procrastination or fear.

War is like that not so?  In the losing, in the chaos, we yearn to live. And thrive. To love and be loved.

Sending love xxx

Image:  Paris Breakfast

 

 

 

The Wild Geese

As May draws to a close, we still wait for the world to welcome us all to new ways of travelling.  We will have to wait a little longer, but the pandemic has been a great master, and we become a little more patient.

This poem touched my heartstrings.  I am to wait, and watch the Wild Geese fly.

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

The other day, I saw the swallows fly.  I was up high, high on a hill with a view spilled below.

Like them, I could not go. I could not be them in somewhere soon.

Like the smallest of them, on the earth, in the earth, of the earth

I knew my journey was undaunted.

Image: anythink.

 

Procrastinating is a passion killer. It doesn’t pay.

 

 

“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” – Julia Child

If you could have a peek at my CV, dear Lord, you would find that this writer has done just about everything. Literally. Somehow a real career, as some would like to refer to, was not amongst the titles. No lawyer, doctor, astrophysicist or marine biologist lurking.  Why?

Married young.  Helped my husband set up his practice.  Teaching locums. Raising children. Full diary of swimming galas, pottery classes, teachers meetings and dinner parties – and I regret not a moment of those years. The experience was like pages of a recipe book:  I could do something from every little part of life, if not an expert at one particular thing.

Memo lost.  What to do when the children leave home? Floated, feared and fell into an abject conviction that if I was not the perfect mother or consummate wife, I was fit for nothing, out there in the real world.  What was I to do?  And I know there are so many of us in the same situation.

Having walked through a million one hit wonders, this Jill was a skater of many trades but a master of nothing hugely employable.  The Platinum card and Business class sector was not something I ever aspired too (did the nose grow a little?) though the past few years have seen a major shift in the pattern of my life, and forced to confront not only my demons, but my place in a work environment was going to be up to me.

Doodled the months away.  What shall I do?  Who shall I be?  One day I would imagine myself this … and the next day that.  Bake some cheese scones and think about opening up a coffee shop or arrange some flowers and fancy myself beyond gifted.  The truth is that being able to do these things, may be fair and well, but the realistic aspect of actually setting up a business was so daunting, the day would end, and the only true activity indulged, was procrastinating. Absolutely no-one to blame but myself, and that lethargic, numbing, depressing lack of conviction, was depressing.

We have all been there, no matter what the age.  Some say, procrastinating is good. I disagree. I don’t have the time, or willpower. In a matter of years I will see my life controlled by those who think they know best.  Not today.  Today is a lesson to self.  Procrastinating is a passion killer.

No doubt, the pile of self guide, self help, self determination books lie like volcanoes on my desk.  You read them too, don’t you?

Honing in.  Not too late, we are not too old.  Honing into what is truly passionate in your life, and if you should want to turn it into a profit making business, hesitating for even a second is not an option.  Love doing lots of things, but what am I really passionate about – what drives me with curiosity and wonder? Does not matter what it is, could be a passion for removing barnacles, but if it floats your boat – than everyday, every working hour, everything you plan, should drive you to resolve, to develop, create, establish and know that the hard work, which will be there for sure, will give you a single focus, oblivious of critics and fear mongers.

Have you ever walked past the many small businesses you see?  Florists, artisan bakeries, florists, wine merchants for example and think about how much courage is required to put your dagger to the sticking place and commit to a business plan, a loan, signing of contracts and all the expenses involved before you even begin to break even?  The passion is the straight arrow.  During the pandemic, many have lost their incomes and opportunities but have they lost their passion? I doubt it.

Take courage from so many wonderful entrepreneurs who have accomplished so much.

Without too much analysis, the pandemic has made me realise how much I miss travel, engaging with others.  Doing the walking tours in London, planning trips that I stopped doing for a while.  Doing research on history, new restaurants, different kinds of tourism and how much I want to do it again. That is my passion, my family and the sharing my experience and knowledge with others. Seeing people take that trip of a lifetime, light up at new knowledge, feel the pulse of the place.

Perhaps the lull in the lockdown has rightly led to procrastinating. Not anymore. Life is opening up.

We work with suppliers, friends and colleagues, all equally passionate. Sometimes I will bring the cheese scones.

We are, each and everyone of us, great at so many things, passionate too, but finding the path that will bring you absolute joy, and an income, is waiting to happen.

Anything.  And I repeat, anything if possible.  Driven by passion, the shadowed gremlins of ye god of procrastination, will disappear.

 

 

 

Disinvited, disengaged, dismissed and disgifted … all just another form of rejection.

Disgifted is not actually a word, more like the undoing of giving a gift, and if that is so, I was thoroughly disgifted yesterday.  Massively upsetting really, for no matter which way you peruse the situation, I was promptly dismissed, which in turn means, rejected.

And I am still mad about it.

My decision to come to sunnier climes, as I live happily between South Africa and the United Kingdom, was both frugal and medicinal.  Post Christmas in London, with only the local co-op for daily visitation,  me turning a whiter shade of pale, faster than the covid, post Christmas tree stripathon – it’s ok, it’s expected.  We did put up the Christmas decorations in September, and the day after, nah, didn’t work this Christmas, so tore them down again. I can’t even remember which Christmas ad won this year, was there a Christmas ad?  Oh where is John Lewis!

Southwards I go, I mean, few restrictions  apart from a curfew only the ghosts would have to adhere to, and the beaches re-opened.  I am lying on the beach, with a face mask. I digress.

With no work coming in, it also seemed financially viable to return to our little home here until London opened up again.  Things to be done, DIY plans, including new paving in the back garden.  Everyone is in to DIY as we know, and so she goes.

Dilligent I am, informing my neighbour.  There shall be builders, there shall be noise, there shall be dust and then it shall be done.

There was more noise than I expected, more dust like dust storm dust, and dust covered builders knocked off for the day.

Attack over the fence had me verbally pinned against the wall. You la la this and my tee tee that and oh my gosh, I could not escape.  The guilt.  I could not escape the guilt of maybe having irritated my neighbour, for one, silly day. It was official, my neighbour is not nice.

Fearful as the job still needs completing, I found my way to her garden wall carrying a bunch of roses and a box of chocolates.  She would not step away from the door. And told me to take my flowers with me. Confused, I laid them, like a wreath of humility on the grass and left with promises of being a better human being for having irritated her, for one, silly day.

Turned into a spy fest. The flowers lay there, with the chocolates, in the late afternoon, on the grass.  Still later, I look furtively through the window to check the defiance and watch the pale, white roses wilt. It was in darkness that the gifts, no the disgifted, returned to my door.  I don’t know how to describe it really?

Later than evening, my gifts are returned to my door.  I have been disgifted.  They look lovely in my house.

A small incident, soon forgotten, but never forgotten. No damage done, yet damage done.

I wait to hear when the world will allow me to fly.

Why are some people so mean, so intolerant?

Image Northern Star, Clifton packaging

 

 

Quite content in my solitude.

‘I find that I can bear the solitude very cheerfully, I find myself quite content with my situation Lizzie.’

Charlotte Lucas – Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’, 1997.

A person I don’t know very well asked me to join them for a cup of coffee.  Seemed simple enough, friendly enough, an activity done without much thought. Ordinarily.  Only I declined, and they did not take it well.

To explain that I have become so used to my own company, in semi-isolation, and only venturing into the midst of others in my ‘bubble’ where comfort and knowledge of the familiar, seems safer, did not appear to be believable.  But this is how it is.  Been months of it, either cosseted within my own walls, or an intimate téte -á-téte of no more than three for a few brief hours.  Solitary habits have formed, and I too, am quite content with the situation.

It was not always so. I am a city dweller, a curious craver of action and art.  A must have the packed diary and dates to validate that my life is a full one.  The Pandemic has changed all that; initial fear, still fearful and waiting for my turn for the vaccine.  Travel is something I miss greatly and fear most of all that I will be prevented from seeing my children over the coming months.  But I bide my time.  Find things to do, wistful things that takes a little longer than a date at the top of the tube elevator.

Life has, for all, turned inwards.  Zoom fatigued and now selective about the conversations that seem to dwell on one subject, little else to tell.  Pray harder for the safety of my family and friends and those who have suffered so greatly from the virus.  Turn to music rather than the news … and yes, have little to say, but lots to say about just being quiet for a while …

Am I lonely?  I am alone, but never lonely.  Have I fallen into a form of depression and procrastination as a result of a halted life, and world; not at all.  Plans continue, hope prevails.

High heels and smart clothes hang in the cupboard.  I smooth the sheets upon the bed, gentleness in the making of it. Caress the new rose buds in the evening light.  Savour meals I make from old recipe books, and turn to poetry when the day is over.  Rise with the dawn, with no intentions and sleep with dreams of my childhood belonging.

Is it good?  Not so much – it will not last, this solitary life for I am a creature of doing.  Content now, to wait until the hands of those I love are slipped into mine.

I am Charlotte.  I shall return to Elizabeth soon.

And it is perfect, for now.

 

Image – Pintrest

 

Why am I avoiding being the new Samuel Pepys?

 

‘But, Lord! how sad a sight it is to see the streets empty of people, and very few upon the ‘Change. Jealous of every door that one sees shut up, lest it should be the plague; and about us two shops in three, if not more, generally shut up.’

There will be many, diarists of this time.  I have written some stuff, but nothing that will be discovered centuries later about life in the middle of this pandemic.  Perhaps I should have started a year ago, when the first smatterings of news of COVID19 had us at, what, when, how and now, almost a year later, more anxious than ever that this will ever end. I honestly cannot say what I think about it, believe about it, but that sadness has descended on the world is the truest thing I could say.
A friend lost her husband yesterday, on Christmas day, to the virus.  Forever to mark the day. The loss of life, the horror of it all, I don’t want to think about it, cannot even bring myself to read the statistics and wonder, and I do, if I will succumb to it. I fear more for my family, friends, and those I love and yes, I have prayed for release from this all.  Walking the empty streets of London, I am so reminded of Mr. Pepys and how history is a great lesson.
A little about the man.  Samuel Pepys kept diaries, particularly from 1660 to 1669 which covered the Great Plague, the Dutch War, the Restoration and the Great Fire of London.  His biography is riveting stuff, the diaries written in code, but this was more to mask all his numerous affairs and undesirable associations – the man married a girl of fourteen for goodness sake! Yet he is the one we look to for day to day recordings of what it was like back then – he witnessed the execution of Charles I and was on the ship bringing Charles II back to royal power.  A man of Naval office, walker of streets, observer of all.
I walk the streets now.  London is empty and filled with stories.  I love the mesh of lives past and present.  We have soared since then, technology, space, medicine and education.  Yet we fail with Cancer and COVID. But this is not why I walk the streets of London at this time.
I walk because I feel the passion for life.  Senses acute, eyes averted up and far, touching, reaching, immersed in life.  Lives lived and remnants of their being here, lives loving and birthing and painting and writing and creating lace, buildings, taming rivers, trading in coffee houses, putting on plays at the Globe, I am part of something bigger than just now.  And that is what gets me through.  I am watching the same view, tripping on the same cobbled streets, caressing the same pages.
Our pain is universal.  Our achievements too.  I could not imagine getting through this if I did not have the past to show me how. Perhaps it makes me feel small in some way, that I am but a little human at this time, and not so significant in the big scheme of things.  No Kingdom, no Papacy, no Master of Art or developer of the latest app – but I am part of something great. And as much as this time is a tragedy we, as modern day, solve it all, super achievers have been knee amputated and no real answer, we are still part of something magical. Life.
Part of our own story.  Like the millions that have been before, simple workers, homemakers, mothers and daughters, we have a right to be here.  To write our own story. Diarise it, paint it, print it … or just be in it.
Who would have thought I would ever get to be in the ‘high risk’ category?  The close up there to getting the vaccine because of my age, underlining conditions, and just plain on the other side of fifty? Does it scare me – you betcha it does, but I cannot just sit and wonder if living every day is going to be unfulfilled, without curiosity, without hope?  I do what is needed, isolate and follow the rules. When I go out, I am alone, choose the empty carriage, touch no-one and wear my mask.  I know how serious it is.  I know how much I need to cherish my children. But I do go where I am allowed, and in this city, I am allowed to wake up super early, be the only one on the bus, exit and begin the journey to the past, to validate my present.
I will not diarise this time, for this time is not what we are supposed to endure. Pepys wrote everyday, I appreciate everyday now. Follow amazing people writing blogs, filming on You Tube, being creative in a new normal.  I embrace every single person who still wants to act, write, sing, paint, build a building, fly a plane.  I embrace every midwife, nurse, teacher, lawyer, politician, fisherman, baker, barista, decorator, truck driver and everyone who is making the best of this time, without documenting their journey, but doing their journey regardless. One has to love the final recognition of true heroes at this time. It is time. It is long overdue.
In my fifth Lockdown, worried and afraid about the year that has been, and the year ahead, I will not diarise the darkness, but the light of being here, part of an amazing journey.
I will leave the light on. To music, love and just being human.
Suffering exists and my heart breaks all the time, but somehow, I don’t know how … she keeps pumping.

 

 

Staying strong. Stay strong.

My dear friends … it has been hard.  This whole year has been fractious, anxious, unknowing, and just plain difficult.

When I experienced my first lockdown, there was a sense of bravado, even fun, trying to get hold of wine, been told off for meeting someone across the road, waiting for the skies to open and then thinking … it will get better.

Tonight, I am in London, in Tier 4, and little is better.  This is my fifth lockdown, if anyone is counting, so effectively I have spent the entire year with some restriction or another.  Work has dried up, being in the tourism industry, and my walks around London are now not proudly showing off this amazing city, but walking alone. And now I cannot really do that either.

For some who do not know, I live between London and Cape Town.  A result of a change in relationships and a new chapter.  I love both equally, but my work is here, and having flown back in August, I have spent the past four months without an much of an income, like so many others.  For some who may know, it has been a change over the past few years of having to start again, re-define myself and build my future, firmly planted in my own two shoes.  My family are here and that is why I love being here, and then I go back to my roots to savour my heritage. Lockdown has brought some wild flurries of despair and heartache, but also a time of self growth, though I have not yet succumbed to the knitting or banana bread making.

Instead I have chosen to discover more of London, areas I had known little about and I suppose, determined to educate myself at this time.  Walked the streets that are dormant, listless, at times having coffee shops open, times looking around for the available loo stops (which are important) as I delve and photograph and research to a new level.  Looking up, looking down, into alleys and history and what fascinates me so about this city.

I have re-discovered my love of Art. In particular Art History, for I am afraid a master of the paintbrush I am not ever going to be, but the details and stories in every masterpiece has me at, just standing and so aware that I am in the midst of greatness, in every century.  More importantly, with all the submersion into history, culture and art, I have become acutely aware of how life has always been fragile, tenuous and fleeting.  Passengers all.  My life, till now, has been easy, no World Wars and endless days of bombing over my head, technologically advanced, and I think this pandemic has swooped me right back to thinking that it is all just about, taking every day at a time and appreciating a life I have been given.

And she says this, not in the free falling of … it is what it is … I don’t like that phrase, but in the flipping, I am part of an existence that has been a long time past and a long time coming and I am going to just be strong and weather this storm and leave a little mark, somehow, somewhere … who knows?

Can joke about this year, about to end with more restrictions and Dear Lord, Brexit.  Oh please, can we cancel Brexit under the circumstances and realise we really do need each other? Can we just go back to being friends and allies and fellow countrymen and file Brexit away? Guess not, not that it will deter me from travelling to Europe at the very first chance I can get.

Which is the plan. Must plan when everything seems without plans and without planes in the sky.

So thank you Charlie Mackesy for your words of wisdom, you are, with copious amounts of wine, getting me through this. I am strong, London stands magnificent and Table Mountain will still be there for me. I will not be defeated, she says hopefully, will be careful but now more than ever, rely on the lovely bloggers, mainly my age, who are strong, positive and feeding my soul.

Can you imagine how isolated and lonely people once were when no news arrived, you feared a letter and life was reduced to your own little corner? Some say it was better.  We have social media, bloggers, influencers and like minded people sharing, caring and drip feeding me everyday.

Truth, like blood, is here.  The times are coursing through our veins and we can choose to poison our blood, our lives or our dreams because of it, but I am holding out, staying strong and determined to find the positive, feel for those who have suffered greatly through this, and hope that I may be blessed to chat, discover, travel and grow, after this lockdown.

Some of us are alone, or feel alone at this time.  We may not know each other, but we are there for each other. Keep blogging, texting, Instagramming, Face booking or whatever you want to do … I am on the other side, feeling less lonely, less old, less hopeless, because of you. Staying strong. Stay strong.

Credit Image. Charlie Mackesy

 

Comforts in a time of Not yet the Christmas Spirit and Covid.

 

If I cannot travel now, I find the memories and momentous of my travelling times, the greatest comfort. Rooibos and Honey Tea and the honey I bought last year at Le Potager du Roi, in Versailles.  When I do find the perfect French/Sourdough loaf, there is little better than crispy toast, lashings of butter and this honey, along with a cup of the Red Bush, as the English like to call it.  I say Rooibos, with the extra touch of the rrrrr.

The Autumn leaves are almost down (Halloween style), whipped by the wind,  the world getting a little anxious, all over again, it is to the small things we return.  Not the initial lockdown of ‘survivor mode’, endless puzzles and illegal wine gathering.  Having said that, even here in England, should I be stockpiling the wine, or Merde!, perhaps the Christmas party food? If we are still having a Christmas n’est pas?  I do see some lovely Christmas decorations already …

Did I tell you about John Lewis and their Christmas decoration department?  A knock my socks off sort of shiny heaven.  Not just for the traditional green to gold to red, there must have been about six different themes, right down to a London themed tree, shiny cabs and glistening red buses.  Deeper than Prussian blue peacocks meshed with gold and aaah…  you had to be there. Thinking about it now, the staff then were just wonderful, so what happened to the goblins of yesterday?

This little home from home from home … as this little gypsy lives, is getting into a very early Christmas Spirit. We all know there is not much else going on.  Since my return to London, the café chapter has closed, there are no tourists and thus no tours, the travel and event industry lies beneath the spell, and so, why not get into the Christmas Spirit (and a little Halloween too).

For those of us with Children, you remember those early years when they made Christmas decorations in October?  Those delightful creations we gushed over and tried to identify?  Right along with the Nativity plays in November.

On the slightly melancholy side of things, my attempt yesterday at getting ‘Christmassy’ for stocking fillers and the like, was not the greatest experience.  Somehow felt like the pretend thing was going on:  we know Christmas is coming so we will put out a few decorations, churn out some jingles and patrol anyone without a mask, thorough washing of hands or cautious about a close up of the goodies on display.

‘Step back from that counter’ – was one ‘Hello’ and ‘How can I help you’, in disguise.

‘Madam, there is now a no touch and smell policy in place.’  Okay, so I want to smell the difference between the bath bombs, even through the mask which is like smelling a rose through a dishtowel, but you didn’t need to be so hostile.  The harassment continued when I unknowingly stepped into a cute shop for a take away coffee and was … merde again, the third man and crossing the boundary. Step away from the door, onto the sidewalk until summoned. You can imagine by that time it was … this is frigging random, and not working for me.  The zombies that should be thankful to still have a job, would make Nurse Ratchet seem like a Lark in a willow tree.  Glum, short, nothing like the jolly, jolly, jolly, but then, it could just have been me with expectations too high, what do you think?

The day was nursed back into happiness with family, a pot of tea and Marks and Spencer’s shortbread biscuits. Bought the biscuits for Christmas somebody and decided, invasive action was required for cheering up.  Worked a charm. And of course, George.

Home comforts hey?  Not going to be flouncing around Paris in the next few weeks, or popping to see the gardens which are either time slotted or closing for the winter.  No dash up to Balthazars, to dinner with friends, or a last lie on the beach, so I say … bring on the Christmas spirit, pretend if you have to, hoard up on the little home comforts and stay positive.

If you had to surround yourself with a few home comforts to lift the spirits, what would they be?

 

The Birthday. How to feel thirty with thirty years ago.

The last of the Birthday roses, verlep as the Afrikaners would say –  such a lovely word that, verlep.  Like the floppy giving into the last showing before compost.  Limp, but still lovely, and I have held onto them for two weeks, a reminder of the birthday day.

Sitting here tonight, much has happened, but one of the main reasons I am now in the midst of one of those gloriously, gusty, frigging gales of an English storm, post repatriation, dodging Covid and all the other horrible scenes of this year, is that I really could not face my birthday, being far from my family.  How times have changed.  Me, the Birthday giving Queen of all that is performance and splendour of the birthday genre, simply had to be close to my family when I turned the big one after sixty.

Sixty was the game changer.  Part relieved that I had made it to the number, and part, here comes the sodding downward spiral – I can’t even really say it, that I am sixty, and now, it’s plus one and the verlepness is more prevalent than ever.  A bit like the roses, officially the extra cast member in the play of life, the one you find in the background, like the wife of the tavern or the midwife, all round and flushed, whilst romance, sex and driving ambition is left to the central characters. I was not going to self verlep on my own, an ocean away from my children.

Moments of self wallowing are so permitted in my life.  I am the queen of wallowing and thrusting my pitiful self to the gods, wailing and cursing the furies.  Quite love that about me.  The birthday was a perfect excuse to regress to Lady Macbethean norm – who wants to be sixty-one, divorced, sort of homeless and just a little bit bitter? My mother at sixty one, dare I say I cannot remember, must have been happy with a small, morning tea party (at that time I was being the egotistical doer of all and called her on her birthday) but some of us, oh we just go on teasing the world and trying to find our part to play, still determined to be a viable character, rather than the settled frau.

I digress. My birthday in London was lovely.  It was worth flying all those miles back to London.  I even got a balloon!

I had forgotten how loved I was.  The day was filled with messages, calls and hugs.  My family spoilt me with breakfast that lasted till dinner and I was in the midst of all my reason.  A day of lovely things and lovely people.

It was me feeling old.  Me, feeling chased by age and possibilities I had not explored, challenges I had not faced.  It was me feeling that time had gone, memories, like fossilised bones, were haunting. It was me being boring, and afraid.

Two weeks has passed and I keep the roses, the balloon is all ballooned out and the gifts linger for my ‘oh dear, when can I travel’, travel. London is quiet, the world is in limbo, but that doesn’t mean I have to fade away to age and doubts and wondering if the next ten years will be one of wine, weight and settling.

Two weeks hence, the fire is still burning, deep in the belly of hope, optimism and growth. Being so very Churchillian about it all, and while some want to pull the statue down, the man is a hero with the cigar. Like so many other amazing people I am discovering more about, starting with great things after the big 60.  We can all decide to settle, be comfortable and pace our little lives like the plodders, or rise to the occasion.

Flip, I felt so old the day before my birthday. Not so much anymore.  To lovely things, and you know, it was the people around me that dribbled the courage from the glass of life into me

PS – little gray covered by safely brown – banished to hectic blond, as it should be, and that is just the beginning…

Happy Birthday to moi – and to all of you.  This is not the settling time, but the kick ass time. To lovely things and strong, deliberate, convicted belief that My Silver Street is not the colour of our hair, but the mercury that lingers in our veins.