A Simple bit of Nostalgia

Still struggling with time management here, not least because I spend half of it procrastinating, but hey ho.  It’s made much worse this week because we are having a new kitchen fitted very soon.  In fact they are coming to gut the current one on Friday, so I’ve had to start emptying it out and packing up.

I find it quite incredible how much kitchen related stuff we have accumulated over the years.  Like everyone else, we have umpteen used-just-the-once gadgets tucked at the back of cupboards – a potato peeler, a spiralizer, a waffle maker… you know the sort of thing, the sort that seemed a good idea at the time.  I’ve also got bowls and pots my mother gave me when she was clearing out, and which I can’t believe I have some sort of sentimental feelings over – for goodness sake, they’re just stuff!  But I did find a glass dishy type thing (I have no idea what to call it) which was used to display cucumber slices at Sunday tea-time when I was a kid.  Gosh it did bring back some memories!

Our Sunday teas were sit down at the table affairs, and most weeks would consist of sea food and salad.  Dad would have picked up the sea food from the stall outside the pub when he went for his Sunday lunchtime beer(s). There were always prawns, winkles, cockles and sometimes fresh scampi, which I have never seen since those days. The salads were different then too. Not the mixed up colourful affairs of today, oh nooo.  The cucumber had its own dish, the celery would be standing sentry like in a vase, the lettuce would be in one bowl, the tomatoes in another, and we’d pile our plates with the individual bits and pieces, and no, of course there was no fancy dressings just a splosh of salad cream if we were feeling fancy.

While we were eating ‘Sing Something Simple’ would be on the radio (I should point out this was the year of the Beatles White Album which my sister and I would have much preferred to have been listening to (actually I lie, I would have preferred to be listening to the Monkees :/))Of course, when I recalled that I just had to look it up on youtube (what can’t you find on youtube??)  So now you can grab yourself a boring salad, find a pin to winkle out your winkles (if you don’t know what I mean I expect you can find that on youtube too) settle down, relax, and join me listening to some old tunes from 1968!  There’s no meaningless chatting, no ads, no callers, just a bit of harmonising… quite soothing in the current mad climate!  Enjoy 🙂

Teeunes on Teeuesday

Yes, I’m in a music mood today. Although not sure this entirely counts as music.  They were talking about this record on the radio this morning and I hadn’t heard it for absolutely ages. So I gave it a listen on youtube and found it to be still completely relevant. Ok, I’m not in the class of ’97 but most of this advice is spot-on.

Actually, we have an unexpected scorcher of a day here today, so it’s even more apt!  Have a listen and you’ll see… oh, and always wear sunscreen…  Have a lovely day x 🙂

The age gap?

We had my brother-in-law and his family over on Sunday.  They don’t come very often, and it is lovely to see them, but we do have to brace ourselves a bit for our big, boisterous, and loud eight year old nephew’s visits.

His sister, who turned twelve on Saturday (happy birthday to the fabulous Miss V) tends to sit and stare at her laptop with her earphones on for most of the time.  Goodness knows how addicted she’ll be in a couple of years time, but as my brother-in-law once commented ‘you shouldn’t poke a sleeping tiger.’

Anyhoo, my nephew’s energy levels are something to behold, in fact, I think he got Miss V’s share. He bounces around begging us to play with him.  Anything physical, it doesn’t matter what, as long as it’s by his rules. He is in the school rugby team and likes nothing better than a ‘bundle’.  Sunday was a hot ‘un and really not conducive to running around much, but despite his endless complaints about the heat, it didn’t stop him.

By tea time we’d all had a go at tennis, or cricket, or throwing balls, or chasing, tickling, whatev’s and were fairly tired of it. The dog had hidden.

Bored by our needing to replenish with tea and cake, he begged his dad to play with him.

‘I’m tired, I’m too old.’ Said my brother-in-law.

Now, I was the oldest adult there, by several years. I am positively ancient, but one thing I will not tolerate myself saying is ‘I’m too old’. I absolutely and completely refuse to be too old to do anything. I believe once you get in that mind set you can never crawl your sad old way out of it.

My body might not be quite what it used to be (actually it’s considerably more than it used to be, but that’s another matter…) but I still can’t quite get to grips in my head that I’m supposed to be grown up… a pensioner even, a senior citizen, a twirly (we had a bus driver friend who called all pensioners ‘twirly’s because they were always turning up with their bus passes before they were allowed to use them and asking ‘am I tooearly’ (twirly). It’s stuck!)

In my head I’m still silly me. I’m still up for adventure, having fun, adrenaline rushes, and yes, just running about and being daft and having water fights. I still want to dance wildly and sing loudly and out of tune. I want to wear clothes from young folk shops, and laugh…. laugh lots and lots.

To this end I try and keep myself a bit fit, the dancing around the kitchen helps, as does my daily walk with the dog, and of course, yoga. I also try to eat well, and enjoy food and drink without pickiness or guilt. Do you know, despite being the elder by some years, I was the only adult there on Sunday not on medication for anything, so something’s working. Maybe I’m just lucky and have good genes. 

So I advised my young nephew never to accept ‘I’m too old’ as an excuse from anybody, he’d be doing them a favour. Neither my brother-in-law, or his wife (who is some eighteen years younger than me) agreed, so aaarrgghhh…. Of course, it was me who had to get up and go run about again.

It took me most of Monday to recover 😊

Child – flash fiction

It felt incongruous sitting there on the bandstand steps in the sunny park, half a dozen of their friends messing about around them, oblivious.   Drew was holding her hand the big faux gold chain on his wrist digging into her arm, replicating the pain.  He was sucking on a roll-up and the smoke blew towards her making her cough.

‘For god’s sake Mel, stop makin’ a fuss. I ain’t gonna stop spliffin’ just fer you, so yer can give that up right now.’

He liked to think of himself as an alpha male, but she’d still been surprised by his eruption of anger when she first told him.  She thought he’d be as delighted as she was.  But no, he just told her to ‘get rid’ and that was that.  Here she was two days later feeling bruised and distraught and all he could do was complain about her coughing.

He stood up and stretched his lanky 17 year old body to full height, his jeans slipping down revealing the top of his grubby pants as he did so

‘I’m gonna ride for a bit.’ He said, and he joined the other lads doing wheelies on their bikes and frightening the old ladies.

She leaned against the upright of the bandstand, watching him whooping and laughing, the stub still hanging from the corner of his mouth. 

‘Big kid’ she thought. He was just a boy. Though she was only a year younger she felt almost motherly towards him.  His stupid, filthy falling down jeans, his ridiculous oversized trainers, the ripped t-shirt, all just armour against the world, that she had once or twice managed to pierce. 

She tried to hold back the sobs, but once again, they forced their way to the surface, in big noisy gulps.  One of the girls yelled at him to go to her and he threw his bike down onto the grass.

‘wha’s up now?’ He asked brutely as he approached. ‘Honestly Mel, yer no fun these days, yer need to get over yerself.’   

He put his foot on the step next to where she sat and puffed on the last of the roll-up. Leaning down and whispering

‘yer embarrassing me Mel. Get yerself sorted.’ 

She could feel the warmth of his big face almost touching hers.  She could inhale his breath he was so close.  He moved in to kiss her.  He liked to kiss her long and passionately in public, showing off to his friends his unfailing technique.  But this time she pulled away.  He was surprised and nearly fell forward onto her, though not as surprised as when he felt the flat of her hand stinging his cheek with all the force of three months pent up anger behind it.

He raised his hand to hit her back, but the others were there now and one of them grabbed his arm before it landed.

‘Leave it mate. She ‘ain’t worth it.’  Wall all she heard as she ran off towards home.

The Craftswoman – for Peggy

I wrote this poem after the death of my mother-in-law on 16th October 2018.  I was really pleased that the family liked it enough for my brother-in-law to read it out at her funeral this week.

In her youth she learned to make things,
Oh yes, her boys were testament to that.
Her needles clicked to keep us warm,
and her machine trundled stitches,
turning tailored suits for working life
and childhood clothes for grandchildren.

With painted nails and silk threads she wove
bright flowers, embroidering colour
into all the corners of her home,
where friends and family shared the yarns,
those times that knit a life
worth wearing.

And all the while her garden grew.
Every plant, she knew, by name,
their differing hues and habits,
like children sown with confidence and skill
the clematis, fuchsias and scented stock
all flourished in her daily care.

Her nimble fingers now lie still,
the crafts she loved abandoned,
and in that belovéd garden
the last roses sadly droop their heads.
Yet her flowers will still bloom in spring
and fond memories will forever warm us.

It doesn’t have to be that complicated

Neatly, tidily tuck away the treasures
Fold and press out the creases
Polish those brass memories
as though they were gold

pick up the broken pieces
close the curtains, shut the doors
and turn the key in the rusty lock
trip down the fusty garden path

Move on to clear spaces
open roads and green fields
where soft breezes cleanse the air
to give an oxygen high

The cottage by the sea
barefoot on the sand
dancing in the dark, simple,
grow your own life

 

 

 

Learning to Breath – a short story

Meg was feeling slightly sick as the little dinghy bobbed about on the swell. She and six others were all crowded on to the little rubber boat, tanks between their knees, pressed up against each other, sleek in their wetsuits.

She had got most of her kit on on-shore, struggling into her skin-tight wetsuit, heaving the heavy weight belt on with fingers numb from the cold Atlantic breeze, and strapping the big bladed knife to her thigh in case of trouble. Then, pleased to be feeling like ‘one of the boys’, she’d helped carry the rubber dinghy from the car park, down the pebbled beach, to where they launched it on to the choppy grey ocean.

This was her first ever open water dive. A virgin diver, the lads called her. She was the only woman on the trip, although there were one or two others who came to the weekly meetings at the echoey old Victorian pool back in London. That was where she’d trained and suffered, and where she’d very nearly drowned on many occasions in the five months or so since she’d joined the club.

She remembered the first lesson, when she was told she would have to swim 10 lengths with the weight belt on before they’d even consider teaching her anything else. Grim determination got her there, her arms pulling the water out of the way and legs kicking frantically, just managing to keep her slight frame afloat. It had taken four attempts, but she finally succeeded and progressed on to the next stage.

Clearing your mask.

Doesn’t sound very difficult she had thought at the time, but it proved to be another stumbling block, that, in truth, she still struggled with a bit. The trick, they told her, was to grasp the bottom of the mask and lift it up at the same time as blowing through your nose. Theoretically that should empty any accumulated water from it. But usually Meg ended up with her eyes stinging and feeling more like a goldfish peering through its bowl at the world beyond.

Nevertheless, as the weeks passed, she became more confident and was eventually able to attempt the final hurdle, which was to put all the equipment on at the bottom of the pool. Again, it took several attempts. Just diving down there was difficult enough, and then to position the weights across her legs before gasping at the air was well, challenging. On several occasions she just didn’t have enough air left in her lungs to blow the water from the mouthpiece before taking a breath, and resurfaced gasping and floundering. In the pub afterwards, the men would tease her mercilessly, but she’d stuck at it, and eventually built up the strength to get through it.

She had seen the advert for the diving club in the local paper. She’d tried one or two other types of clubs in the past, even the WI, but found, as the ‘new girl’ the small talk and false camaraderie made her feel like a fish out of water so she hadn’t stayed for long. She had never even dreamt about doing such a potentially dangerous thing before, but now she was alone, she felt that she needed something, a distraction, just to feel alive – to do something extraordinary to get away from the daily grind of surviving. Sod the danger.

Working as a receptionist at the surgery she’d always felt like piggy in the middle, with both the patients and the Doctors harassing her. She tried to be professional, really she did, but recently she’d found herself not only making uncharacteristic silly mistakes, but snapping at patients and colleagues alike, and to make things worse, she’d been called in for ‘a chat’ with Di, the Practice Manager who had even suggested she might benefit from medication. Bloody cheek!

Although she was slowly coming to terms with being on her own, the split had left her feeling bewildered, lost, hurt and angry. She knew very well that she’d been prickly and often said things she regretted later. She suspected, that that was probably why Dan had decided to leave her and go and live with his dad instead. A 15 year old boy only has so much understanding to give his mum.

Anyway, he had been very interested in her new hobby, and she was hoping that he might even start to join her at the pool every week. At least it would be regular contact. Not like now, when he often seemed too busy to even talk to her on the phone. She’d tried texting too, but her texts were clearly not so urgent as the saucy ones from his fan club of girls.

Now, though, now was her time. The virgin diver. She sat on the edge of the dinghy confidently adjusting the straps of the tank, pulling on the big black flippers, and tightening the mask that she knew would leave those unattractive ridges on her face when she took it off. Someone turned on her air supply and she put the mouthpiece in and immediately blew out, as had become natural now.

She tipped backwards over the edge of the dinghy, and briefly glimpsed her flippers against the sky before sinking. The shock of the cold water made her entire body contract as though the pressure on the outside had purged everything inside. She heard the comforting, and now familiar, mechanical sound of her breathing, and smiled to herself, before sending a quick ok signal to her companion. Then feeling strong and free she headed off into unknown waters.