People living in glass houses should consider drawing the curtains.

   If you dream you’ve found a toilet, don’t use it.   What a great piece of advice.   It hasn’t happened to me so far, but with age and the necessity of getting up in the middle of the night it can only be a question of time!   Sir Thomas Beecham famously said that you should try everything once except incest and Morris dancing which still strikes me as pretty sound advice.   However, many old sayings are not relevant today.   I was brought up on things like –  A stitch in time saves nine, but I can scarcely thread a needle and most people today would rather throw things away than mend then – although that is probably changing back now, but perhaps the modern version of it might be A stitch in time tells me I’m not ready to run a marathon.  Don’t cut off your nose to…..No!  Just don’t cut off your nose, never, under any circumstances.  

Advice is always readily available.   Most people are flattered if you ask them for advice and only too happy to give it (frequently unsolicited).   For every problem there will be several, probably conflicting, pieces of advice.

Asking for advice can be a good way of clarifying your thoughts.   Depending on your reaction to the advice you can often work out what to do.   For example, if you were thinking of having a face lift and your friend said that you should definitely do it and your reaction to this advice is that you now have a good reason to go ahead, then you must have been leaning in this direction.  On the other hand if you feel even more hesitant then it probably means that you aren’t really keen. Although you could question what sort of friend it is who tells you that you need a face lift!   Go with your instinct, but try to ask people you respect for advice.   And be very wary of gratuitous advice.  It depends not only on who is giving the advice but why!   If you ask your ‘best friend’ if you should go on a diet you have to think of it from her point of view as well.   Has she got your best interests at heart or hers?   If she really loves you she might not want to hurt your feelings by suggesting you are too fat but equally if she fancies your boyfriend she might not want you to lose weight so that she would have more of a chance with your boyfriend.  A bit convoluted but hopefully you can follow that!

Some general advice that is good and to the point, for example: No matter how nice the hand soap smells, don’t leave the bathroom smelling your fingers.

My parents gave some quite reasonable bits of advice.   My father’s were:  Always keep a bottle of champagne in the fridge as you never know when you might need it.   I still do that to this day.  Secondly – Never put your hand in front of your mouth when laughing because people will think you have badly fitting false teeth!   Have to say that has never been a consideration of mine, although I don’t put my hand in front of my mouth when laughing so maybe…!

My, much married, mother gave me two pieces of advice, the first was: Never learn to change a tyre or you may have to.  I have changed a tyre in my time although not sure I could do it now.   In the days before mobiles if you were stuck on a lonely road, you didn’t have much option.   Her second piece of advice was:  Always be on with the new love before you are off with the old.   I didn’t actually stick to that one – quite a tricky game to play unless you are naturally fairly devious.

My grandfather had two remarkably sound pieces of advice and they were – Always turn you car round on arrival and Never drink anything out of a jug (by which he meant a punch or mixed drink).

Other general pieces of advice are: If you want to look Young and Thin hang around with Old, Fat people. And You don’t need a parachute to go skydiving, you only need one to go skydiving twice.


What advice do I gave – I like to think that it is sage and worth listening to but the only thing I ever seem to do is to tell people to ‘Drive Carefully’ and as my son invariably replies “Thank goodness you said that I had been intending to drive like a maniac.”


I put the pro in procrastinating!

Procrastination is an excellent word. The dictionary definition is:  To put off intentionally and intentionally the doing of something that should be done.   Should be done – that’s the key.   I prefer to call it displacement activity – after all I should clear out that drawer but on the other hand I probably don’t need to do it today just when I’ve made the decision to write another book.   I’m definitely going to start actually writing any time now.   I’ve worked out the plot and the characters – that’s the hard part, now all I’ve got to do is write it.  I even typed the opening sentence.   That was  when I noticed that my computer screen was a bit dusty. I had a nice little kit for this with a special cloth which was in the cupboard in the utility room.   I did find it eventually, but that cupboard was a frightful mess and it took quite a long time to sort out.  However, on the plus side, all the glue is in one place now and I checked to make sure it is still working.   I have no idea how protesters manage to stick themselves to building – I wonder what glue they use?   I can never manage to stick anything except my fingers.   I’ve just Googled it and it appears that the strongest glues need heat to make them work really properly but Gorilla glue is highly recommended.   I have got some but don’t think I’ll try sticking myself to the kitchen wall – I’ve just had it painted.  While I was at it I thought I would look for that air spray I bought years ago to clean my keyboard – it has definitely disappeared but I did find several keys.   I have no idea what doors they work on – I tried every door in the house, but they are now in a tin marked ‘unknown keys’.   By the time I’d done all that it was time for a cup of coffee.  

Now I feel I have had a very productive morning.   Granted I haven’t actually written anything but I have certainly been busy and done several things that I have been putting off for ages.   Procrastinating about them in fact.   Of course, nothing inspires you (or perhaps it is just me) to tackle boring tasks more than the necessity of doing my accounts.   Trying to find receipts that I know I saw last week but have now disappeared or to remember where that mysterious deposit of £159.76 on my bank statement came from.   Or ringing the insurance company to find out why my premium has increased so much when I haven’t claimed for anything in years.   I am sure there are people – very successful and organised people who get up bright eyed and bushy tailed every morning with a list of things to do that day and work their way methodically through that list, crossing off things as they go.   I’ve got a list – several lists – and there are items on these lists that get transferred with monotonous regularity to every subsequent list.   ‘Sort out attic’ has been on my list for nearly thirty years now!   Sometimes, in order to have a sense of achievement I write things down after I have done them so that I can cross them off.   And the basic items that go on my list to bulk it up a bit such as ‘post letter’ – however I do draw the line at every day activities such as ‘clean teeth’ – it would have to be a pretty empty, desperate day before I added that to a blank sheet of paper and I think might be followed by ‘put head into oven’ – although that would be pretty useless as a) my oven is electric and b) I have a feeling that you can’t poison yourself with gas now.

There are two nice quotes about procrastination and the first is: ‘Procrastination gives you something to look forward to tomorrow’.    And the other is attributed, as so many sayings are, to Oscar Wilde – ‘I never put off till tomorrow what I can possibly do the day after’.

Well, at least I have a beautifully organised cupboard and I have written this so that is a start.   Now to actually write the novel and I think I’m going to start by putting it on my list.

UMBRAGE!   I’d rather go to Ambridge*

Umbrage – it’s a good word, it could be a town in Italy or a herb, one might ask ‘How is the sauce?’ and hear the reply ‘Very good, but it could do with a little more umbrage’.  However, taking umbrage is a common reaction today but it is difficult to know when one is offending someone.   Oscar Wilde famously said that “A gentleman is never unintentionally rude” which is all very well but how do we know if we are being rude or not?  I could have made up some ridiculous examples of things that one is no longer permitted to say but they wouldn’t be as unbelievable as the things that are actually out there.   For instance, I read yesterday (and it isn’t April Fool’s day yet!) that rowers are being asked not to use the expression ‘catching a crab’ as this could be upset vegetarians.   And Afro wigs are frowned on – for heaven’s sake they are supposed to be a bit of fun – because they are ethnically insensitive.   I am a Scot and there are hideous ginger wigs attached to tartan tam o’shanters on sale in every tourist shop north of the border – and if that isn’t offensive I don’t know what is – so why don’t Scots make a fuss?   I’ll tell you why – because we still have a sense of humour!    

So much of it is just absurd and doing its best to take the joy out of life.   I’m quite surprised that Mother’s Day survives as the very word Mother has been called into question – soon we will have cards for ‘Person who has given Birth Day’.   I heard this week of a girl who had recently had a baby being asked by the midwife if she was ‘chest’ feeding!

I hate the expression ‘stand with’ as in appeals asking people to ‘stand with’ victims of a disaster – what is wrong with support – however no sooner do I get my head round something than it has gone – apparently asking someone to ‘stand with’ you discriminates against those in wheelchairs!   No, I’m not kidding, it was in the Daily Mail, so it must be true.!

Now Oxfam has come under fire for issuing a bizarre ‘inclusive’ language guide to staff which is peppered with suggested Do’s, Don’ts and the potential pitfalls of any faux pas. Here are some examples that Oxfam says should not be used, the reasons why, and what should be used instead:

Avoid: Mother or father because in patriarchal culture, social norms around gender result in designated roles for parents so use parent instead.

Avoid: Sanitary products, feminine hygiene because the words imply that periods are in themselves unclean, so use menstrual products or period products instead.

Avoid: Women and children, because ‘Women and children’ reaffirms the patriarchal view that women are as helpless as children so use women, men, girls, boys instead.

There are 92 pages of this rubbish and you can look it up on line if you are bored out of your mind and don’t have a life but personally I almost lost the will to live after reading the first few.

What is Oxfam doing?   Oxfam was started to support families in dire need all over the world not to employ people to write this drivel.   Many people will, I am sure, disagree with me and think that there is a need for everything to be spelled out, but a bit of common sense, a sense of compassion and a sense of humour would surely do the job just as efficiently and far more cheaply.    We have to take our pleasures where we can and as I get older I take a lot of my pleasure from being a grumpy old woman although I’m a bit of a wimp and tend to curse at people from the safety of my car.   But it seems that I am not alone.   The other day I had a confrontation with a woman when we came bonnet to bonnet in a narrow lane.   She had a passing place a few feet behind her and I had one down hill and round the corner from me so it was logical that she should reverse.   After a lot of gesturing from us both she finally and very reluctantly went back – straight into a hedge!   She got out of the car and stomped towards me in a fury shouting, rather unreasonably,  ‘Look what you made me do!’   I replied calmly, and very irritatingly, ‘I don’t see how it can be my fault if you don’t know how to drive’.   I had my finger on the window button as I could see that her fists were clenched and I have no doubt that she was dying to punch me in the face.   In the event she satisfied herself by shouting ‘You a***hole!’ in my face before storming off.   I have to confess that I got the giggles but I do hope that it made her feel better.

We really have to get a grip and stop taking umbrage at absolutely everything or eventually all communication will be impossible, no one will dare speak to anyone else, AI will write sanitised emails and the logical conclusion is that we will eventually lose the power of speech and revert to grunts like the cavemen of old or the teenager of today!  

*Ambridge – Just in case there is anyone out there who doesn’t know this is the home of The Archers!!!


It can become more and more difficult to find things to laugh about as we get older – unless we discount accidentally seeing our reflection in a mirror!   We have to take our pleasures where we find them.  One of my favourite pastimes used to be eavesdropping – unfortunately even with my hearing aids in I find it more difficult today.   I contend that people mumble but they would disagree.  The best overheard remark ever was one that a friend of mine swore was true (not entirely sure I believed her but it is too good not to pass on).   She said that she heard this remark in a restaurant in America:  ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do.   She’s the only maid in New York who knows how to get creme de menthe stains out of chinchilla.’   Of course she may have misheard.   I frequently mishear things now – particularly song lyrics.  

There is a song by Paul Young, entitled ‘Every time you go away,’  that contains the line ‘Every time you go away, you take a piece of me with you’ and I have always heard it as ‘Every time you go away you take a piece of meat with you’.  Apart from the possibly slightly cannibalistic undertones that seemed very sensible – a pork pie is always welcome on a journey.

Without wishing to sound like Pollyanna I have always been a glass half full person.   Old age means that you sprout unsightly hairs that grow at the speed of light on your chin but on the plus side you hardly ever have to shave your legs.   You can be sad that all those beautiful high heeled shoes sit in the cupboard looking at you but the joy of being able to wear comfy, flat shoes when you go out is undeniable.   No one will ever fancy you again, and that is sad, but no one will ever fancy you again and that is very liberating.  You become invisible which might seem like a sad thing but it is actually a good thing – you could become a spy or a first class shop lifter!   I lead a rich fantasy life and whilst shinning over rooftops in pursuit of a burglar is probably not on the agenda any longer following someone in a crowd is a doddle.   I have actually practiced this when getting off a train or bus and whilst I don’t actually follow anyone home I’m pretty sure I could if I wanted to do it.

Another thing to be extremely grateful for is that we don’t have to do internet dating.   When I was young we met new people at parties and there were a lot of them.   I seem to remember that was the main point of a party – to meet the love of your life.   Today I am just thrilled if I manage to talk to someone at a party and we can both hear each other.   Today girls have to go on-line and navigate those choppy waters.   I hope that I would be savvy enough not to allow myself to be catfished, but as they say hope springs eternal and I can imagine that if you had been alone for a while it would be only to easy to believe that this gorgeous, solvent, charming man was real and not some scammer from overseas trying to part you from your money.

Sex education for children – it would now be considered terrible but we learnt by trial and error – We scoured The National Geographic Magazine and I seem to remember a Naturist Magazine called something like Health and Efficiency – where you could see naked bodies.  I had a brother so had a good idea of what boys looked like but many girls did not and our sex education was mainly about rabbits which didn’t help very much.   It is so much more complicated today – I find it very difficult to understand most of it but if it is on a need to know basis I can happily remain in blissful ignorance.

Another great reason to be cheerful is the time to read.   In my youth I would have felt guilty if I had sat down to read in the middle of the day but not any more and there is nothing like the pleasure of re-reading old favourites such as P G Wodehouse and how lucky we are to have been able to read everything in the original before it has been sanitised and prefaced with dire warnings by the sensitivity police warning of sexism, ageism, racism and sizeism!    How long will two of my favourite PG Wodehouse quotes survive.  

“He was a tubby little chap who looked as if he had been poured into his clothes and had forgotten to say ‘when! …”


“At the age of eleven or thereabouts women acquire a poise and an ability to handle difficult situations which a man, if he is lucky, manages to achieve somewhere in the later seventies.”

I would strongly object to a written warning in a book by Charles Dickens telling me that some of the views expressed by the author may be upsetting to the modern reader.   Quite frankly if you aren’t able to work that out for yourself you’re very unlikely to be reading Dickens.

Too many people today appear to have had their sense of humour surgically extracted and are unable to laugh at anything.   According to my old friend Mr Google Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain. That activates and relieves your stress response.  So there you have it – the importance of laughter.   It turns out it actually is the best medicine.  


Is it just me or do other people have fantasies of being in a position of power over someone who has somehow belittled them in the past?   The man you fancied who didn’t fancy you back or the sales assistant who looked down her nose as she said she didn’t think they would have anything in your size!   Something miraculous would happen and the object of my unrequited love would fall under my spell or I would lose several stone and go back to the snooty boutique only to find all their clothes too big!!!  Those sort of dreams rarely come true and bearing a grudge or allowing something to ruin your life is a waste of time.   The Chinese, who have proverbs for almost every occasion, have two ones that I really like:  the first says  that before you seek revenge you should make sure you dig two graves and the other is that holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. 

If someone pinches your bottom – and believe me in the ’good old days’ that was a common occurrence – it would be far more satisfying to fail to recognise them next time you saw them (preferably selling a copy of the Big Issue as you sail past in your Rolls Royce – well we still have to fantasise a bit!) than to have been in therapy for the last twenty years.  Nothing could more satisfactory than bumping into the gorgeous, popular girl who bullied you at school fifty years ago and seeing that she is grey haired, fat and living a very boring life while you have just climbed Kilimanjaro.   School reunions must be purgatory – I have only ever been to one when I went with a friend whose daughter was there – but I failed to remember any of the people there.   Even the names were lost in the mists of time.   ‘I’m Piffy, or Puffy or Biffy or Buffy’ they screeched at me as I tried to fix a pleasant smile on my face while I desperately tried to work out if this person had been my best friend or my arch enemy.   So I suppose that was a triumph of a sort.

We did of course have some more safety in our youth.  Presumably terrible things happened but we weren’t so aware of them.   People kept things to themselves.   An unmarried girl who ‘fell’ pregnant (such a strange way to describe conception) would be deeply ashamed, as would her parents and it would be kept hidden from the world.   Sometimes the child would be passed off as the girl’s sister with her parents bringing it up and others were adopted.  There must have been many horrible assaults and rapes – probably just as many as today – but everything was brushed under the carpet and people were expected to get on with life.   And that may or may not have been a bad thing.   Nice, middle class girls were a bit safer.   They wouldn’t go out after dark on their own.   We were brought up to be hyper vigilant because men only wanted one thing!    I wasn’t at all clear what that one thing was for several years.   When I was caught kissing a boy in the garden of my boarding school the headmistress had me into her study and gave me the dire warning that ‘No one wants to buy a cake after a slice has been taken’ – something that I subsequently discovered to be a big fat lie.  But had a boy attempted to go further than a kiss I would have stopped him with the greatest vigour.   As breast implants weren’t an option I had to make do with my brother’s football socks and I’m not sure I would have survived the mortification of anyone seeing these as they popped out of my bra.   Added to which we were forced to wear the misnamed ‘roll on’ – it was more like a heave on requiring huge physical strength and danger of dislocating a digit.   The idea that that any man would have the strength to have his way with you after he had succeeded in releasing you from this tortuous garment was inconceivable.   Obviously, an assault is a nasty and possibly traumatic thing although I’m not certain that it often results in the much bandied about PTSD.  I talked to a girl recently who told me she had PTSD because her neighbour was playing loud music.   This just belittles the suffering of soldiers coming back from facing the terrible atrocities of war who often bear mental as well as physical scars.   But as we can see from the Invictus games if you can create a triumph over tragedy your life will be so much better.   Anyone who has been subject to a violent assault will have their life changed forever, but how people deal with that change makes a difference.   Katie Piper is an extraordinary young woman who was the victim of a brutal acid attack by a spurned boyfriend.   She was an extremely pretty girl and she (after many, many surgeries) is a beautiful woman who has become an author, activist and television presenter amongst other things.   She has undoubtedly had some very black moments during this time but she has gone on to lead her very best life.  Everyone can remember her but who even knows the name of the pathetic apology of a human being who threw acid in her face.   She is the epitome of living well being the best revenge

Sometimes I feel like an escapee from a home for the permanently bewildered.

Life becomes more and more of a mystery to me as the years go by – some days I can waste hours looking for the pen that I was writing with a minute ago and that has now, inexplicably, vanished or the loaf of bread that I bought yesterday is nowhere to be found!   And then on top of that I am left in a permanent state of confusion by practically every aspect of modern life.   I’m not a luddite – I can use a computer and I have apps to park my car and download train tickets – in fact I think I’m quite good on all of that but still there is scarcely a day goes past when I don’t read something that makes me think that, as PG Wodehouse would have said, it’s time I handed in my dinner pail.   There is just so much I don’t understand.   Take the Harry and Meghan – we can hardly avoid doing so at the moment – Rachel Johnson wrote that Meghan had a more exotic background than Harry.   I think that sounds glamorous and rather to be envied but apparently it is racist and she has now apologised for writing this and says she would never do such a thing again!   As for the speculation about the colour of their baby  I obviously don’t know the context but I can’t see why Harry and Meghan should be so offended by this.   Given the choice I imagine that most people would choose Meghan’s colouring over Harry’s!  It is only too easy to take offence – one of my favourite sayings is  ‘He who takes offence when no offence is intended is a fool’.   

When I was young and dinosaurs roamed the earth there were three classes of Englishman (and yes, if we’re going to be woke about it, this meant mankind and that was all encompassing and included women).   We had Upper Class, Middle Class and Working Class.    Social conversation was quite proscribed – you couldn’t discuss Politics, Religion, Money or Sex.   Men, presumably talked about cars, sport, travel, farming, or hunting, shooting and fishing (although maybe that was only in my life as a farmer’s daughter).   Women talked about children, fashion, cooking and gardening – known by my misogynistic family as ‘ribbon talk’.      I’m sure all the other subjects were discussed but behind closed doors and in those carefree days before the advent of social media most people kept their views to themselves and their nearest and dearest.    Today someone only has to have a passing thought before they post it somewhere and immediately someone else disagrees with them.     Many things are far better – we live in a much more fluid society.   All those years ago you were probably Protestant, although we did know a few Roman Catholics.  Today you can be anything from Pagan to Jedi Knight.  Living on a farm outside small market town I don’t remember there being any Jews in the neighbourhood as for anything more exotic we didn’t even have a Chinese or Indian restaurant.   As for black people – there weren’t any in rural England – the first time I actually spoke to someone with a black skin was when I was in my twenties.   I can’t believe that this would happen today.

Food was pretty limited as well – If you had asked for an avocado in the local town you would have been eyed with deep suspicion and no one would have known what you were talking about.  If you gave a party everyone just ate what was on offer or went hungry – there were no vegans, no lactose intolerant, gluten free, pescatarians.   It has to be said that we lived off a pretty boring diet. Presumably people did have food allergies but I never knew about them.    We didn’t have takeaways – Wimpey bars were the first to sell hamburgers in the UK and they opened in London in 1954 and I’m pretty sure they didn’t reach my neck of the woods for years.   Hamburgers were an exciting, foreign food.  

Our world was smaller with limited choices, but it was simpler.   There were men and there were women and not much in-between.   There were one or two famous cases of people changing sex, but this was headline news.   Today there is a mind numbing array of terms for sex and gender none of which I understand.   You were heterosexual or you kept quiet.  There were plenty same sex couples living together but it never occurred (to me at any rate) that they were anything other than friends.   This was just after the war and many women lost their chance to marry and most of us had a maiden aunt and if she decided to live with a same sex companion we took that at face value.   Today not only is everyone out and proud but they insist on telling you about their sexuality – they even ask on forms.   What possible interest can it be to anybody unless they want to have sex with you?  

Everybody on the BBC spoke with the same clipped and quite boring accent – but regional accents are very much the norm today.  Then it was the BBC way or the highway particularly as regards to pronunciation.   Who of my generation could forget Angela Ripon talking about Zimbawe.    I love regional accents – particularly northern ones and local dialect – round these parts a bumblebee is known as a dumbledore and at one point there was a fear of these dying out.   However, the pedant in me still finds ‘innit’, ‘like’ and ‘you know’ very irritating.

Fashion was quite prescribed too – women followed magazines that told them if skirts were up or down this season or if pink was the new navy.   Today anything goes.   My teenage granddaughter dresses really imaginatively and I am envious when I remember that I was forced into tweed skirts and scratchy Shetland wool jumpers.   I was only allowed to wear trousers for playing outside at home or jodhpurs for riding.   The freedom is lovely but it was difficult enough knowing what to wear then but somehow even more difficult when anything goes.

However I’m an optimist and I still believe that there are many things that are better today and unless we want to curl up and die we had better learn to live with them but I still found this headline confusing on so many levels – Trans Comedian Plays the Piano With Her Penis.

It’s a dog’s life.

Now that is becoming easier to choose your identity I would like to identify as a Labrador.    What’s not to like about that – plenty of love, nice warm bed, lots of exercise and most important of all masses of food – not just what’s given to you but whatever you can steal as well..   If you’re a doggy person, dogs are part of your family.   We dote on them and we are bereft when they die.   We also feel free to embarrass them by putting reindeer antlers on them  – viz the faces above full of patience and embarrassment.   They allow us to dress them up, carry them around in bags – not Labradors obviously but tiny little chihuahuas.    You can, if you so wish, buy your dog an extensive wardrobe.    In some ways dogs are better because they can’t object if you force them to wear a pink tutu – although I think you might be risking it with a Pitbull.    My son says that I treat dogs and children the same and expect the same results – I’m not sure that I actually command my grandchildren to ‘Sit’ on my word, but I do think there any many parallels.  In particular, too many (in my opinion) parents are frightened of disciplining both their dogs and their children in case they stop loving them.    I’m not suggesting that you more you beat them the more they’ll adore you, although dogs to have a tendency to love their masters however unkind they are.   Cats, who are arguably much more discriminating would just leave anyone who didn’t treat them with the respect they think they deserve, but dogs will wag their tails in what they imagine is an ingratiating manner when they suspect that you are cross with them. 

I think it was in Country Life magazine where they said that dogs are better than a partner because the later you come home the more excited they are to see you.   There are many other good things about your dog.  They never complain if you want to spend time with your friends.   They don’t care If you call them by the wrong name.   They don’t care if the house is untidy and they don’t mind if you don’t tell them you love them all the time. 

Dogs have no sense of anticipation – they don’t look forward to Christmas they just enjoy it when it arrives.   When they get old, smelly and incontinent and you have to make the awful decision to take them to the vet, they are blissfully unaware of what is about to happen unlike your old aunt who may also be old, smelly and incontinent but you can’t very well say ‘We thought we’d take you to the doctor on Thursday and have you put down’, although that solution might well suit everyone!

Dogs also have innate good taste (not necessarily about food – having just seen one of mine devour a cow pat) but regarding the people they like.   I remember a beater on a shoot some years ago being offered a well known brand of pasty.   He declined saying ‘My grandson gave me one of those recently, I tried it but it was so nasty that I gave it to the dog,.   He ate it but he had to lick his own a**e afterwards to take the taste away.

My dogs don’t watch television but if they did I’m quite certain they wouldn’t be watching Vardy v Rooney – what on earth is that about?   It wasn’t very interesting when it was actually happening I can’t think that it will be better now.  Dogs, on the other hand, will happily stare at a tree for hours after a squirrel has disappeared up it – but I can see the point in that.

Not everyone loves dogs but my life would be much emptier without my four legged friends.  

Here’s wishing everyone a Happy New Year and just to be going on with …..

What Goes Around Comes Around.

We took care of our children when they were young and needed us, but as soon as the table turns and we get old (at least in their eyes) they think we are incapable and want to interfere with our lives.   The is an ad on the radio where a man rings his mother ‘Hi Mum’ he says  ‘I don’t want to disturb your listening to  Simon and Garfunkel or whatever it is you’re listening to (bit patronising) but you ought to think about Equity release – you mustn’t worry about me, just take the money out and then you can do the things you want to do, like repair the car and visit Aunt Pat in Ireland’.   Poor old Mum must be living in a hovel if all the equity release from her house is going give her is a couple of thousand pounds.

As we get older our brains atrophy – well we don’t necessarily think they do but the younger generation do.   We obviously don’t know anything – particularly about babies – even though many of us have succeeded in raising our own children to adulthood we did it all wrong.   We put them to sleep on their front, their sides, their back – don’t we know how dangerous these positions are – they have to be hung up by their heels – that is the only safe way!   We ate cheese and liver while we were pregnant – didn’t we realise how dangerous that was?   And some of us drank!   How irresponsible we were.   We still think that we can drive and live in fear of our children confiscating our car keys.   Our children think our houses are unhygienic.   Is it because we aren’t obsessed with germs or that our failing eyesight doesn’t see the dirt!   My mother’s house was filthy from the smeary glasses and sticky surfaces to the balls of dust visible to me (though presumably not to her) under the sofa.   My house may not be pristine – I doubt that anyone other than a Labrador would want to eat off my kitchen floor but it is hardly Ptomaine Towers.   My digestion is fine but this may be because I regularly eat food that is past it’s sell by date.   After the family have been to stay I often have to delve into the bin to rescue perfectly good tins that have been discarded because they are a couple of years beyond their allotted time.  

Much of our knowledge is considered worthless – and probably rather boring – we are living history.    We remember when there weren’t any seat belts.   We’re not too worried (at least I’m not ) about having to turn down the heating after a childhood spent in a freezing house where I had to put on dressing gown and slippers over pyjamas to run down an icy passage to the bathroom where the floor was covered in cold unwelcoming lino.   We wore jumpers indoors in the winter.   The idea of wearing a t-shirt in the house during the cold months would have been unthinkable.

We supervised our children’s every move when we were conscientious parents, and now they want to supervise ours.   My son would like me to wear one of those alarms round my neck in case I ‘have a fall’.   I have tried to explain to him that only old people ‘have a fall’ – I ‘fall over’ – that is quite different.   I regularly go flat on my face while out with the dogs when I trip over a tree root or put my foot down a rabbit hole, but so far I have managed to get up and carry on without any serious injury to anything apart from my dignity.   I confess that I don’t exactly spring to my feet as I might have done once, but this doesn’t mean that I am ready for the emergency services to turn up in force whenever I stumble.   He has however put a tracker on my ‘phone, so presumably if I have a heart attack while out and about someone will be able to locate my lifeless body.   I see advertisements for wonderful ‘retirement’ complexes and I think that they must be quite nice for old people, but then I realise the I am old – probably a lot older than the people in the ads who are seen ‘enjoying a joke’ with a member of staff – and it must be lovely if you are lonely or infirm but the most important thing is to avoid either of those things.  

Many years ago on a skiing holiday we bumped into John, at a restaurant on the top of the mountain.   He was looking worried.   He told us that he had just finished lunch when he was approached by a fellow guest from his hotel who had asked if she could borrow £100.   John imagined that she didn’t have enough money on her to pay for lunch (this was in the days before everyone had credit cards) so he lent her the money.   She then explained that she had just had her 80th birthday and that she wanted to try para-gliding.   Her children had thrown up their hands in horror and ‘forbidden’ her from doing any such thing, so now that they had all gone off to ski she had decided to launch herself from the top of the mountain.   She had set off in tandem with an experienced instructor.   John spent an anxious few hours until the old lady turned up for dinner that night none the worse for wear.   I assumed he was worried that if anything had happened her family would have held him responsible but my husband thought he was probably much more worried that he might not get his money back!   Her family were simply furious with her – on the rather unreasonable grounds that she had returned safely.    I thought it was completely splendid of her and rather hope that I might have the courage to do the same.    Most of us remember certain seminal moments in our lives – where we were when JFK was shot or Diana. Princess of Wales died and for the young it will doubtless be where they were when the heard the news about our late Queen.   I remember vividly the first time an attractive man offered me his seat and I realised to my horror that he wasn’t flirting with me but doing it out of respect for my advanced years!!!   So what can we do about anno domini?   Not much except keep moving, keep using our brains and most important of all keep laughing.


Are you an Endangered Species?

Does anyone else feel as though they belong to an endangered species?   I certainly do.   For a start I am over 75 (I know, I can’t believe it either!) and whenever I read an article about fashion or make up they give tips for the teens, 20s, 30s, 40, 50s and 60s but after that I presume we are supposed to put a paper bag over our heads or else stay at home wearing a baggy tweed skirt and an ancient cardigan sucking on a Werthers Original (jolly nice too!).   Some of my contemporaries still use frosted blue eyeshadow – goodness knows where they find it, it wasn’t very flattering in its day and it does no favours to the crepey old eyelid and as for the much beloved (by every celeb) smoky eye – at my age it makes me look as though I haven’t slept for a month.   Here we go with the information– I have spent this month looking up fascinating facts on my friend Mr Google and I now know that approximately 10% of the population of the UK is over 75.

I lived in the countryside and when I was young we were a much more rural economy.   Agriculture employed thousands of people and they knew where their food came from and what went on in the countryside.   Now most farm buildings have been turned into holiday lets.   My family has some tents in the woods for glamping – and one punter recently asked my daughter-in-law if there were any dangerous animals in the woods.   She said, as though expecting to impress with her general knowledge, that she knew there were no tigers or lions, but how about bears?   I presume she was thinking of the old song:
 “If you go down in the woods today, you’d better not go alone
It’s lovely down in the woods today, but safer to stay at home
For every bear that ever there was
Will gather there for certain because
Today’s the day the teddy bears have their picnic”  

I think she may have missed a key word there!

I heard a couple of other things recently that made me despair about the level of knowledge regarding the countryside.  One was asking about chickens being pregnant and the other was someone thinking that potatoes grew on bushes!   Mark you my brother was, like me, a farmer’s child, and he once drew my father a picture of a duck with four legs.   When I was at school we didn’t have Sex Ed but we learnt about reproduction in rabbits.   My grandchildren know far more about the sex lives of humans than I did, or probably do even now, but I’m probably way ahead of them on rabbits..   I’m still confused by binary and non-binary – and please don’t try to explain – I think this should be on a need to know basis and, and I have no need, or indeed needs in that direction.  Approximately 17% of us live in rural areas.   I have no idea why I have started looking up all these percentages – I think it may have something to do with my addiction to Google.   As a child the encyclopaedia Britannica played a very important role in our lives.   We constantly looked things up but the whole world ran at a slower pace then and facts remained the same for years.   Roger Bannister broke the 4 minute mile and that record stayed in place for 46 days!!  So,Mr Google has proved that things did change even then, but I’m pretty sure it would have remained in the encyclopaedia until the next edition came out.

Food is another area where I am rapidly becoming a minority.   I don’t have any allergies or intolerances – unfortunately I can (and do!) eat everything, much to the despair of my doctor, who patiently explains to me that in order to lose weight I have to eat less – who knew!   I am (obviously) an omnivore in a world increasingly full of vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians and flexitarians.  These statistics are fun!    I have just found out that 44% of people have allergies and about another 10% have intolerances.   And on top of that 10% are vegetarian and 4% are vegans.   Not sure what difference all that makes to my assertion that I belong to a minority group.
On top of all of this, I was privately educated at boarding schools – which means that my parents paid a fortune for me to receive a cursory education – but I did learn how to address a duchess, to curtsey and how to answer an invitation – and to live under the most appalling conditions with one bath a week and inedible food!   That was privilege in those days – presumably it was meant to toughen us up and in that it was pretty successful.   My peers and I don’t whinge (much).  I’ve managed to live a more comfortable life since then but if I had been sent to prison for any reason in the years immediately after leaving school it would have been a piece of cake!   Just for fun let’s see how many of us had the advantages (using the word loosely) of a private school. Apparently it is just over 5%.   Needless to say, I was expelled from school for reasons that I don’t need to go into here!
Moving on to tattoos – something I don’t really understand.   I’m a great believer in freedom of choice and it appears that an awful lot of people are enamoured of tattoos but I can’t understand why.   I can imagine that a percentage will get them after a drunken night out when it seems like a terrific idea.   I’m getting addicted to these statistics and I’ve found out that 42% of women in this country have tattoos versus only 29% of men and that seems surprising), but there don’t seem to be any figures about regretting the inking.   
And finally, I live alone – something that only 14% of us do in this country.   It is surprisingly restful living by oneself.   If my husband was still alive it would be wonderful but nobody could be a substitute for him and even if I could find someone I’m fairly confident that they wouldn’t fancy living with me!!  

Bucket List anybody?

I’ve never had a bucket list – I can’t think that I am alone in having the unrealistic and unlikely belief that I, uniquely among the human race, am immortal.   If I had a strong faith I would presumably believe that I was going on to a better (or maybe worse) place, but whilst I’d like to think that, I’m not entirely convinced and in the meantime I can’t believe that that I’m going to leave this life, particularly not while it is so much fun.   But back to bucket lists.  As is my wont I spotted a ridiculous story in the press the other day about a terminally ill man who mooned a police speed camera because it was on his bucket list!   That struck me as being so sad – if he had wanted to moon a bus full of ladies on a WI outing who might have been a bit shocked, I could have, sort of, understood that, but a police speed camera.   And, of course the police who nowadays seem to be singularly lacking in a sense in humour went in like gang busters in large numbers and wrestled the wretched man to the ground and probably tasered him too for good measure. 

Why is it called a bucket list?  Presumably because it is made up of things you want to do before you kick the bucket. But it has made me think about it for the first time and consider what, if anything, might be on mine.  

One thing might be to finish A La Recherche du Temps Perdu by Marcel Proust,   I  have it on audiobook and I believe that the entire thing is over 70 hours worth of listening,   He is the most brilliant but also verbose writer, he never used one word if he could cram in a hundred. I listen while I’m taking the dogs for a walk and have managed about four hours so far!   I have done quite a few of the things I wanted to do such as had a book published, learnt another language, won a prize for the biggest marrow in a local pub show, watched humpback whales off the coast of Nantucket and I also started, and continued to write this blog!   Obviously, some things are now out of time like winning Wimbledon, which I have never wanted to do or winning the Nobel Prize for Literature which I might have dreamed about.  Others like sky diving or running for Parliament I have never fancied even if they might in theory still be possible.   An old friend of mine went up in a hot air balloon for her 90th birthday, hopefully if I reach that age I will be drinking a glass of champagne with my feet firmly on the ground not sitting toothless in a care home surrounded by family telling me I’m marvellous because I can still manage to suck on a bit of cake!  

But Marcel Proust aside, what else might be on my bucket list?   The trouble is things like staying healthy and not falling over (or indeed having a fall – there’s a subtle difference there.   Everyone falls over, but only the old ‘have a fall’!) are on going!   See my grandchildren grow up and be happy is certainly my greatest wish, but not something I can control.   If I leave them some money when I die (if you’re reading this don’t get your hopes up) it might make them happy but would hardly be a bucket list item as I won’t be there to see them raise a glass to me.  

So there it is, (Marcel Proust aside) an empty bucket list – although maybe I should get another Labrador puppy!!!