Thursday, 17 November 2011

Hi Guys

I have changed my blog provider & in the process have 'lost' all my listed followers please could you join me again on the same address below ? THANKS

Saturday, 22 October 2011


This new obsession of mine, the one that has me checking out the sky as I do my Tweeting and my Facebook seems pretty  safe to me compared with some of my more toxic obsessions of the past and it is free. It takes a little time but I do get great pleasure from this new observatory role.

It began with my looking at the sky in the mornings but now has given me a whole new appreciation of the wonders of nature – I do hope it’s not too late what with the climate and change and all that. So far my main obsession is with the colours of the sky which are amazing. Nobody ever told me that the sky can be lemon and turquoise at the same time then produce exquisite cloud of sharp shape or billowy consistency all in the space of minutes.

A lot of my skywatching is from the 53 bus as I travel from Greenwich to Horse Guards Parade in the early evening. My bus pass saves me money not time but as the bus goes from outside the door it is not only convenient but a fascinating look   into other people’s lives. This is the only downside of my skywatching it collides with my ear wigging facility. I am inveterately nosy and I love the scraps of conversation that hit my ears as we trundle along. A lot of  them are in languages I don’t understand but enough are in English to make it worthwhile. I also like to look at the Old Kent road and imagine how it was a hundred years ago or fifty even. I am fascinated by the number of religious establishments with marvellous names that are in this one thoroughfare

But back to the sky that is now darkening quietly. And all I can see out of the window is lights – lights of houses lights of streets and dark grey trees, during the day that began with clouds and sun battling it out for supremacy, we have had grand mottled cloud formations followed by a kind of text book blue sky with flat bottomed clouds that looked like a sky in some old masters painting. Then dramatic dark grey banks of threatening clouds with silver linings (like what they are supposed to have!) Then back to blue skies and finally a less than sensational sunset. This show is all free and legal and lovely and as yet it is not taxed or co-opted into some vast advertising empire so I shall continue to skywatch to my hearts content  and to marvel.


Monday, 3 October 2011


At last we have weather worth talking about, we British love to talk about the weather and we have given ourselves full reign to witter and chatter on the radio in the street or the pub or anywhere we are we discuss our remarkable good fortune in a few days of glorious sunshine. The fact that we walk among cornflake leaves and kick aside chestnut sheaths makes it all the more delicious. We had stowed the sun cream and put the barbecues away and looked forward to months of rain and cold. And now! To stymie us all the weather has played a marvellous trick on us and we swelter happily under blue skies, we denude ourselves to varying degrees and lay back and enjoy it.

The fact of the surprise nature is the crucial element in all this, I have been in Italy or the south of France and got thoroughly jaded with the regular sunshine, it is unremarkable and tiresome unless you want to lie on a beach. Here I dash out into the sunshine with silent squeals of joy and arrange my body to catch as much of the magic beams as possible. And that’s the thing the surprise nature of it and the knowing than any day now the skies will assume their usual grey and the rain will teem or drizzle and it will be cold and drear and time for thermals and Long johns (not compulsory) to huddle indoors to rush from place to place carrying pounds more weight in clothes and to grump full throttle about the weather and the warming planet, the price of fuel and how horrible it all is – the weather but for now rejoice at our great good fortune to live in a place where nature still has the capacity to spring surprises  on us in Autumn.

And I like to talk about the weather!

Friday, 16 September 2011

Last Saturday I went to a party in Highgate. A long way from Greenwich but well worth the journey. We met fascinating people and I got to show off my ancient knowledge of Istanbul in the seventies  the Pudding shop in particular and my new friend, from Istanbul, spoke of using the place to pick up foreign women and that one of his friends had married an Englishwoman who he met there. We are hoping to go to Istanbul in November so we were delighted to meet him and asked him to try to find us a flat to hire when he goes in October.

These parties of my partner’s friends are usually quite boring with them all talking about art and photography  which I find a bit dull – probably because I can’t join in – but on Saturday we had a nice debate with an economist about capitalism and how it does or doesn’t work. Then we went on to speak of the resurgence of Stalin as popular figure in Russia and I got on to my usual shtick of the Soviet Union not being a fair representation of Communism so it got nice and lively and I guzzled and ate everything in sight (according to my love!) so when she dragged me to the tube I was nicely inebriated and in the best of form.

Something wrong with the Northern Line as usual at weekends but we got a seat and I was still rattling on about the Cuban health service when a crowd of young guys got on and distributed themselves in small posses all over the carriage. Next to me was a young woman who was reading her book and trying to ignore the two guys who were trying to get her attention. The rest of the guys watched and laughed as the two teased her, I would have told them to pee off if it had been me but the poor woman became increasingly purple in the face and looked as if she might cry.

I heard my voice yell at the men in the terms of a Billingsgate porter to leave the woman alone and they all stopped what they were doing including the two teasers who slunk away, one of these told me I was quite right and they retreated to the other end of the carriage. ‘Are you English?’ one of them shouted. ‘Of course I expletive am!!’ I yelled back and now I felt elated and scared in equal measure. ‘I shouldn’t have done that’ I said to my love. ‘Well it stopped them didn’t it!’ she said. The woman in question got off at the next station. The men got off shortly afterwards calling us obscene names almost under their breath as they went and we giggled our relief. My love said they thought I was Russian but I don’t know many Russians who are quite so lucid in the vernacular but who knows. I reckon it was my advanced age that shocked them so much. There seems to be a common belief that after a certain age swearing stops. Not true but at a recent poetry reading the compere came over to me and warned me that the next reader was a ‘bit sweary’ I retorted in the vernacular and he left.

Now I feel very proud indeed of my performance it was almost worth the hideous hangover I had on Sunday. But I don’t really recommend this method especially if you are male or under seventy!!
At last I have found an advantage in age -along with the bus pass.

Thursday, 15 September 2011


Suddenly I am awake. I look at my watch, it is five am. I feel very ill. I lurch from bed, stand, make a small tight circle and fall to the ground. I must get an ambulance. Down the stairs on my backside I grab the phone sit on the floor, talk. A woman asks if I can open the front door. I can and do, she stays talking to me until two men arrive with a stretcher and cart me off. They mutter ‘stroke’ I mutter ‘brain tumour’. I am in among the blankets when I vomit. I hear myself cursing and weeping about how ill I am. Me, the stoic. They put a plastic mask on my face. The mask scratches along my face as I am removed from the ambulance. I protest, the guys say they didn’t do it on purpose. I am vomiting again and face down on a trolley, and then I am in a neurological ward covered in bits of elastoplast and wires. Now I am required to perform tricks with nose touching and leg pricking then more nose touching and cross eyed fumbling. I must eat they say, nice bright nurses, an assortment of doctors all interested in my welfare. I am told that I will have a scan within 48 hours to find out whether I have a tumour.
All change now, I am in another ward and nil by mouth. I want to contact friends. My dog is in the house alone. Too busy, says the nurse. I try to text but am cross eyed, I get a cleaner to find the number for me on my mobile, I speak to my friends, they are with me within the hour. I give them the house keys. I sleep. I am awake, I ask for food, I am nil by mouth. I ask the nurses to contact my partner. They are too busy but will do it later. I sleep and it is morning now – too early to phone people the nurses say. Nurses enter and leave my field of vision. An old lady rings for a commode, calls out, a desperate voice. It is too late, the nurses change her bed. I ask if I can wash, I dip my right hand in the bowl of water, it is tepid, I put both hands in, the water is warm. My right hand no longer feels heat. I sleep and when I wake there is a woman in white at the end of my bed. (She  is a pharmacist, but I neither know nor care who or what she is.) I tell her I am starving and that my next of kin has not been contacted. Within a few minutes contact has been established with the outside world and I have a cup of tea. In this ward all urgency for a scan is on hold as nurses fleet foot past. I fell off my perch on Thursday and clearly I should have chosen another day. Weekends, all therapies stop. I am on no medication. A wonderful nurse hoists me into a bath, I realise the lack of sensation involves my entire right side.
Monday, my fifth day here, visitors and doctors arrive at roughly the same time as a porter with trolley. Scan now. I am delighted. I will know what is wrong with me. I chat to a friendly porter. We arrive at scan. A jug of beige gloop is presented, in the hand of nurse. ‘So we can see your bowel clearly.’ She says brightly. 'I’m for a brain scan.’ Her face goes through doubt to belief. She withdraws gloop. Back to ward. Doctor and acolytes talk about me, nobody addresses me.
‘Atrophy of the brain.’ He mentions en passant. He hasn’t looked at me. ‘Do what?’ I say. ’Yes?’ He says coolly – all acolyte heads turn to me then back to him. ‘Did you say I have atrophy of the brain.’ ‘No, I didn’t  mention atrophy of the brain.’ I am speechless. My friend, who is visiting, mouths to me: ‘He did.’ We nod to each other, we are not mad. ‘Why is she not on aspirin?’  says the big man. He sweeps into the distance with entourage. I invest in the tiny TV and telephone that is attached to my bed. I am given aspirin. I am moved to another ward.
In the new ward, where there are no plugs for TV an elderly lady, surrounded by plastic bags, sits on a chair. She sighs and smiles at me. ‘Been waiting since ten this morning.’ It is four fifteen. ‘What for?’ ‘I’m going to the rehab ward.’ She tells me this is the acute stroke ward. So, I had a stroke did I?  Second day in this ward I am spotted by a consultant from the neuro ward. He will hurry my scan. I am moved to a single room.
Next day, the eighth. I am wheeled down to have a scan. I have missed my turn. Porters take an hour to fetch me. I ask how long. I am told that I am lucky to get a scan at all, most stroke patients don’t. I ask why. The young nurse tells, breathlessly, that only yesterday the scan was in use for a nineteen year old boy involved in a traffic accident. I tell her that in my opinion all 19 year old boy racers should be culled summarily thus freeing up the scan for the old, who by their nature don’t have time to wait. A joke? Her face is delicious. I have a terrifying scan.
My third consultant  tells me I have no tumour. Relief is brief. I can’t walk and see no prospect of doing so, ever again. I try to walk, fall. I make friends with the tea lady
I’ve been here two weeks and the bed manager sweeps in to tell me I am off today to rehab hospital. ‘Get your stuff together!’ she marks me off on her clip board. ‘They’ve a bed for you and they won’t keep it.’ ‘I shan’t be taking it.’ I want to be consulted before they shift me like an errant Zimmer frame. Punishment? I am left alone all day in my room. The tea lady remembers me. My friend arrives with my washing. Verbose nurse leaps into action. Addresses him as my son. In words of few syllables very clearly. I am neither his mother nor an idiot he says. Next day the registrar asks me if I will go to the rehab hospital. Of course I will. Once more, left to my own devices I practise falling over.
Space, air, an internet connection, African nurses, some of the advantages of rehab. I am wheeled to the breakfast table. I join five patients at the table. Twenty minutes later no sign of food. I am told this is usual. After we eat we wait a further ten minutes to be wheeled back. Day 2 I discover capacity to wheel self. Day 3 I find I am able to walk if I hold on to a wheelchair. I appropriate one for my use. Day 4 I am sent to physiotherapy and given a ‘walker’. I had a Horner Pica stroke, says the Physio woman. Oh! I look it up on the net. Not helpful. But I am glad to have a name for it.
At evening meal we are accompanied by a Max Bygraves tape of  WW1 songs. Chomp to Roll out the Barrel, chew to Tipperary. I complain and the music stops, my fellow patients express relief. I enquire why they had said nothing. ‘Mustn’t grumble!’ but they do. They complain to each other continually, a low key, undirected whinge. 
My love of pints of tea in the morning is directly responsible for some of the speed of my recovery, and anger of course. How dare my body do this to me? I loathe the dependency on other people for the most trivial of my needs. My first long haul walk is to the kitchen; my second is to the shower. I am tested by the occupational therapist. Can I make a cup of tea? I can and I qualify to be sent home. I am amazed to discover that many of the nurses appreciated my input and hug me goodbye affectionately, I am touched. Off I go in a hospital car with an unnecessarily cheerful boy who sings along to radio 1 all the way home.

Thursday, 18 August 2011


BELFAST 2011-08-17
The last time I went to Belfast was just after my partner died when I stayed with his mother and we spent most of the time weeping & protesting at the death of our hero. I remember sitting in her house in Carrigart Avenue looking at the hills and feeling angry, sad  cheated ,and thinking I would never get over the loss. I did of course and now fifteen years later I decided it was time to go over there and put some flowers on his grave.  My visit was prompted by the fact that I dreamed about him nearly every night for weeks.
The mother, a stern woman who smoked forty fags a day, never let alcohol pass her lips and made astounding moral judgements on her daughters  and none on her sons I had liked instantly. This seems perverse but she was easy to be with and when came over to stay we would do all the charity shops in Lymington where she insisted on haggling and announcing that she could have got it for a quarter the price in Belfast. She had a great sense of humour and we could just sit and laugh together, talk about nothing in particular for hours at a time.  She died a year or so after Micky, and the family didn’t tell me, though I heard the day of her funeral.

So really I never knew Belfast at all, just parts of the Falls road and one intrepid visit with my friend to a Shankhill pub (and that’s a different story.)
We booked in at the Ibis to an excellent room which suited us admirably. We needed to eat and the first pub we went into had stopped serving food so we had a half of excellent Guinness then another half and listened to men barking at each other and rushing in and out of the door with betting slips.  Two televisions showed horses galloping and the table was full of beaten dockets. Nobody took any notice of us at all while we took a keen interest in everybody and even began to make our own bets. I took some photos of a line of backs at the bar which my friend will transform into a painting (rejection?)
An extremely effective barman brought out the second half and seemed keen about our welfare; he got us a taxi and told us about a good restaurant and a nice pub with Irish music. We ate and found our way to Kelly’s bar where we chatted to people who were interested in us and apparently liked strangers. We both find people fascinating and are happy to speculate and talk to anybody willing to hear.
The whole point of going to Belfast was to put flowers on Micky’s grave and I got the plot number from a very helpful guy at Milltown cemetery who actually knew Micky.(some coincidence!) We got sunflowers because I love them and they remind me of him.  So, Sunday morning we spent and hour or two searching for the grave and finally left the flowers outside the office with a note giving the plot number and  saying we couldn’t find it. The flowers had suffered from being in the room since Saturday and I thought it was pointless taking them back again. We went to the first pub again where a man with a purple nose declared his admiration for me and got me a half of Guinness and I’m not sure if Micky would be ashamed of me drinking halves or glad that I had come to see that women should drink halves – the first I expect.

On Monday we phoned and went up to Milltown again and got instructions to speak to Jim on the strimmer and he guided us to the grave where the flowers lay on the grave already. I was amazed and moved that somebody took the trouble to put them there and am glad that we looked in the wrong part of the vast cemetery. Micky would have laughed his socks off if he knew about us searching in vain and I found this gesture amazing but typical of the Belfast people, a kindness and warmth that I don’t find anywhere else. So thanks again Micky for bringing me over to see your grave, for all the laughter and joy you brought me and I feel close to you again now.
PS  I feel as if I have done the right thing at last and it was not a sad occasion rather a reclamation of those many years we spent and all the laughter we enjoyed together. Now I am back I miss him again but it is not the savage pain, now I remember how great we were together and am grateful. Not everybody gets to have a Micky in their life! 

Wednesday, 3 August 2011


The only thing I had in common with Amy Winehouse was the fact of our addiction.  She was terribly young and I am old, she was talented beyond description, I am not. She is dead and I am alive. Being part of the so-called 27 club trivialises and glamorises her death. As if it is some kind of an achievement to die so young. It is not it is sad beyond belief.
Amy was pursued by the media relentlessly, every mishap was recorded with glee and reproduced on Facebook and peered at on Smart phones, relished by Joe public. We all played a part by watching in fascination the downfall of this vibrant highly talented young woman and it was compulsive. How low could she go? Yet we loved her didn’t we? Or did we? Or was it just a vicarious pleasure in her outrageous behaviour? Who knows? But if the media would have  let up just a little, have had  some compassion and not gone for the jugular with pictures of her humiliations she might be alive now. The Red tops pilloried her and we all watched knowing the end of her story.
She was also hounded by dealers who fed off her in the same way as the media. Everybody consumed her with relish and left her empty except for talent. I am not sure how we can scupper the media lust for sensation – except by refusing to buy the papers that frenzy feed off such sadness, and I am not sure how likely that is. About dealers? We can lock them up but they proliferate at an alarming rate.
I took drugs in the early sixties for fifteen or more years I was a registered addict and got my drugs legally via prescription. The advantages of this method were manifold: clean drugs of a consistent quality, clean syringes and needles, a kind of stability in my life and best of all no big time dealers. There were of course bent doctors who would virtually sell prescriptions and ones that were on a power trip and expected deference as part of the deal. There were also some remarkably dedicated doctors who cared about their addicts and devoted a massive amount of time and energy to a thankless lot of people. There were small time dealers among us who sold on anything they didn’t need, almost always to fellow addicts.
Nobody led me astray I was a willing participant and it should be made clear that addiction to heroin is very pleasant to begin with for the participants. It is and always has been hell for friends and family. There was little incentive to recruit new addicts and I was not rich enough to indulge in the way that Amy did, I didn’t have access or I might have died forty years ago.
There were some famous addicts then too but the newspapers were not so avid then. We did not have to associate with dealers so we didn’t up the ante. I also knew a lot of addicts who led useful lives while maintaining a habit. The fact that these people paid taxes and did not fill our A&E departments with noisome smells and strident voices should be a factor next time we consider making drugs legal.
The idea of registering addicts raises itself to the top of the ideas box every now and again and ritually gets rejected mainly because it is seen to be deeply unpopular with the moral majority, exactly the same people who enjoy being appalled by the Amy Winehouse dramas.I believe even some of the more liberal sections of the police are in favour of a system of legalisation so when will it begin? Portugal began to treat addicts as sick human beings rather than as criminals ten years ago and it has been a success so why not Britain?
When I worked as a volunteer on a local working women project the fragility of the average addict was dreadful and bore no comparison to the condition of the registered addicts I knew. Also they were subject to appalling violence and abuse from dealers.
I believe that the death of Amy Winehouse was tragic and while it is by no means certain that if drugs had been supplied legally she would be alive now. I am positive that legalisation would not only cut down on young deaths but also cut down radically on crime
I stopped taking drugs not in rehab but in my own home because I wanted to. I had become thoroughly bored with the entire process. I had support from my partner and a doctor. I had already cut off all connections with other addicts. A deciding factor in my case was the fact that the local clinic had said I was a hopeless case. I am still an addict and like Amy will be one until the day I die. The fact that I have not touched any hard drugs for nearly forty years notwithstanding.
 I was lucky Amy was not.

Saturday, 23 July 2011


The poor old chariot has given up the ghost. She has died and is beyond redemption. Her starting motor has stopped. The cost of repair is beyond the value of her body. But not her indomitable spirit - that remained as we zoomed into and out of the bus lane overtaking far younger and infinitely more glamorous vehicles who were appalled at her impertinence.  Who gave us the finger (returned with interest) as we shot past.

I reckon she should be given an appropriate send-off, a sign of our gratitude at her bravery in the face of diminishing power. She always started even after weeks of neglect one turn of the key and she was away – reversing up the hill with vigour, getting me to Waterloo pronto, shooting to supermarkets for food. Brave chariot never let us down. South London was her playpen and she cavorted like a teenager. Having bits missing on the bodywork is no bad thing – other cars tend not to mess with the likes of the chariot. Especially with a couple of irate females on board. One impertinent neighbour asked if she was abandoned some months ago, the cheek! I think she felt that the chariot was bringing down the status of the area.  

Now I am resigned to her ultimate demise I suggested we set her alight and push her down a hill into the river – blazing like a Viking proud as ever! I even thought of pushing her down Point Hill in Greenwich alight and alarming – destroying as she went. My friend was not impressed. Think of the repercussions! She will go and buy a new vehicle much as I would buy a loaf, I am sad and realise how sentimental I am, a bloody romantic but I am grateful to the chariot for her brave Fiat heart (engine?)

By coincidence my own less glamorous but solid Polo has, for the first time failed to start. Is this a case of car solidarity? Afraid not, I left the side lights on overnight and by morning rigor mortis had set into the battery. I do this sometimes and one of the guys from the mosque opposite knocks on my door to tell me but I parked round the corner this night. The AA sorted it but by next day she was flat again. Yesterday the AA returned and told me there is a leak of power from some unidentified source. So it may be cosmic retribution from the goddess of the motor for our failure to give the chariot a decent send off but probably not and Ms Polo is off for a service today.

A  penance?  Transference of guilt? Keeping her sweet? I shall grin and bear the price. I realise just how long everything takes without a car & will cherish Ms Polo she is not the Chariot (and I am not the driver that my love is!) but she improves my life immeasurably.       

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Summer Time

When I was a young girl my main ambition was to be brown - all over within the limits of our fairly modest elasticated swim suits. To this end my best friend Joan and myself spent every moment we could covered in Olive oil and vinegar ( nobody did salad dressing then it was always Heinz salad cream so we bought the olive oil at the chemist and nicked the vinegar from our mums) Danson Park Lido was our chosen venue and turning ritually from back to front over and over ten minutes at a time was our method. We never got bored we always had plenty to talk about and there was a group of body builders flexing parts of themselves to giggle at. I was not especially  interested in boys though in the evening I would stand in the 'rec' talking to boys, flirting and watching it get dark. Knowing there would be trouble when I got home  I succumbed to the irresistible pull of flirting. All the others had bikes and would lean on them. I was a lot more interested in my friend Joan but since she had left school at fourteen ( sounds incredible now!) from the Modern while I was trapped at the Grammar she had begun to dress up and flirting seemed to have become a part of her repertoire.

I wanted a bicycle  enough to forsake the bronzing so that summer we got a job at a nursery de-budding chrysanthemum and worked in glasshouses with the lovely smell of ripening tomatoes and though the work was back breaking I liked it. I worked alone and went into a sort of trance dreaming of the bike that I was working for. I gave my mum the money religiously every week towards my bike and necessarily cut down on my mission to bronzing.  Joan would get us home on her bike -me on the saddle her pedalling, we wavered a bit but in the fifties there was such a lack of traffic that it was safe enough.

I was supposed to be doing a massive amount of homework during the holiday but I always left that to the very last days - by which time I had forgotten any ideas and all impetus was gone. The family went off to Camber Sands for a week and we took Joan which pleased us both -at fourteen nothing is more boring that adult talk. We stayed in a primitive cottage with a lavatory at the bottom of a garden that was overgrown which was fun in the day but spooky at night. we also had a water pump that delighted us, In fact Camber Sands had very little to offer in the way of entertainment and only a very few bungalows. we would go into Rye for cream teas but really we were happy enough to swim and work at our tan. We also discussed the world and its mysteries a lot.

I went straight back to work at the nursery and realised that I wouldn't be able to buy a sports bike with drop handles and would have to settle for a rather ordinary roadster  or even a second hand bike. By this time Joan had got a job in a drawing office so I walked home alone with nobody to giggle with but I didn't care, I had the dream of cycling everywhere no more foot-slogging for me!At the end of the holiday I got a bonus from the governor and knew I had enough for a reasonable roadster.I give the money to mum and she informed me that I needed a new school uniform more than a bike and she went ahead and spent my money.
she told me that promises are like pie-crust - made to be broken.  Ghastly bottle green gym slip cream flannelette blouses and horrid velour hat replaced my dream bike
Just writing this outrages nearly sixty years later me!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Signal Failure

On Thursday I went to my first meeting with SWWJ which was delightful, I met characters I have only known on Email or Tweeting ate some lovely scones and rather a lot of cake.Heard excellent poetry and found  myself with more than two hours to kill. (odd expression murdering time?)  I had a day return ticket so couldn't go back until after seven and we finished before five. I thought of Oxford street but rejected the idea. In fact I met a charming woman who I joined forces with to smoke a fag outside an exotic patisserie - probably the most expensive fag either of us ever smoked but enjoyable and we found a lot to talk about and finished up bussing it to Victoria where we  parted.
At Waterloo which appears to be undergoing a revamp to rival the original  battle, the bar seems to have disappeared altogether. I couldn't contemplate a jolly without a drink so went to the Hole in the Wall where I had the worst glass of white wine that I have encountered for many a year, I drank it among a cacophony of noise made up of two separate TVs some unidentifiable music and yelling voices making themselves heard. I remember enjoying this place for many a pint.
I retreated to the concourse where I debated with myself if I should buy the Guardian - thank god I did. I waited until just before seven when I got on a train where I was squeezed into a spot so small that I could actually feel people touching all around me, decided I couldn't stand all the way to Southampton so got off again.
I found a slower less packed train and found a seat. The rest is history.
At Byfleet we stopped, which I find ironic - we never went by fleet or otherwise. we stuck.  Trains passed us snug with passengers staring desperately out of their windows - we reciprocated.  The guard was magnificent he really came into his own. he became the ship's captain he always knew he was. He strode - within the limitations of the space - being CALM, and gave us no news in such a measured way that we accepted it, there was one chap who popped out from first class and got slightly stroppy and I mentioned  all the trains passing us on both sides but under his stern but firm eye we were pacified easily. So we sat , I mentioned compensation and suing the South Western but this was met with derisory though restrained laughter.  The guy opposite me was an old hand, he had been held up earlier in the week and he carried  on with mysterious paperwork discussing with a fellow worker.on his cell phone. He looked up on the web and announced that nothing was moving beyond Woking.
I read the Guardian from end to end - except the Sport section and the guy opposite read that. I read the Evening Standard and began to feel hungry and cold, the air conditioning still functioned.  The guard returned with the news that some passengers had broken out of their train so the power had to be turned off while they were  recaptured,( he didn't put it like that but the implication was there) We remained passive, we murmured among ourselves and I imagined what would have happened in foreign parts in these circumstances - in Italy say. My love who is Italian phoned around ten thirty, she sounded outraged-though whether at our passivity or our train service I am nor sure.

Eventually our hero the  guard came to tell us we would be moving shortly  but slowly we growled our gratitude.  We reached Woking where many passengers got off and the guard announced several times how grateful he was to us passengers who had shown him many kindnesses and been so forbearing. At one station it was stiff with police and we were invaded by more malcontent passenger but they had seen nothing compared with us. I sneered when they spoke of two hour waits.

Later a couple of Welsh boys got on, intent on a night of debauchery in Southampton, I wished them well but after midnight and one of them in flip flops I had my doubts. Imagine coming all the way from  Wales for a night out -in Southampton! I heard a young girl direct them to a likely spot and warn them not to argue with the bouncers. I do hope they found what they were looking for. 
Me? I am contemplating coach travel.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Lisbon's Finest

Alfama was built by the Moors and shows it. A lot like Tangier a fully fledged labyrinth. It is the inner city of Lisbon has many of the best restaurants and most of the fado. It took our cab driver, who didn’t favour Sat Nav, a very long time to find the apartment booked online. We drove down alleys where the car was within millimetres of both walls, past bemused locals who peered into the cab at us, we looked back, my friend with ferocity myself with an ingratiating grin,I began to wonder if Alfama was an entirely good idea.
We had looked up guest houses in the area and on one list of recommendations somebody had described the area as ‘ Smelly dirty red light area where it is dangerous to walk after dark.’  Clearly the guest book owner hadn’t translated this – but it is the sort of remark that I would take as a challenge anyway. But now, driving round and round talking frequently on the mobile to our landlady I wondered.

One thing that occurred to me many times during our visit is the fact that you are in effect walking or driving in somebody’s front room. The Alfamans eat and just sit outside and probably get peeved at crews of nosey tourists meandering around  Thus a gaggle of young boys looked up when we got out of the cab and watched us get back in as the driver told us we were in the wrong place. When we finally found the apartment immediately next to a church –handy for locating from the distance – there were several rather dour old women sitting on a wall, they stared at us blankly. The view from this open area was stunning though marred by the sight of an enormous cruise ship that looked like a block of council flats in Hackney with nothing ship-like remaining. (Yes, I do know there are no council flats left they have all been bought up but the image is accurate)
Our landlady spoke excellent English and we settled in, I realised we needed the basics (I crack up if I have no food handy) we trotted out together to find a shop. Two young girls helped us to locate the main street, through what looked like a cul de sac with six people enjoying their evening meal. They looked up and pointed us to a corner where narrow steps led down ever downward until we arrived at a narrow street where every second shop seemed to be a café and most offered Fado as a side order. We dithered a bit then decided on a café where youngsters were smoking and eating, I hardly smoke any more but I like smoky places they make me feel at home. The octopus and all kinds of other fishy things along with broad beans and unspecified vegetables were very good indeed.
The next morning the church bell was deafening and I could hear the responses of the congregation, a mumble but audible.

By the church there is a nice big area and the dour old bints were replaced by kids playing football, mostly against our wall. This area is clearly a valued asset of the neighbourhood; daytime kids play and people sit. Early evening  it becomes a snogging area with various impassioned  couples totally engrossed with each other. Late at night, when the snoggers are gone it is an adult playpen where cavorting takes place until early morning. One teeming night a crowd seemed to celebrate this with rain dances at five am. We could hear these activities but couldn’t see because our window faced the courtyard. This brought a nice tension to our nights.

After a day or two everybody ignored us as we walked through the area or sat on a bench at night for hours. Fado drifted into our ears as we lay in bed and we got lost many times in the streets but always found our way home. Nobody attacked us or bothered us.  The Lisbonites like their dogs and haven’t yet discovered the merits of the poop scoop so care needs to be taken when walking. We met a very nice puppy called Bob Marley and only one breed specific dog – a Yorkie so I speculate that birth control for mutts has not become widespread in Lisbon, which has a wonderful variety of canines who look very happy.
One of the main points of going to Lisbon was to see an exhibition of Paula Rego’s work We saw her Proles Wall on the first day, a Sunday when most of Lisbon appeared to be going to the beach. Paula lived up to expectations, funny, profound, enchanting as ever we bought cards for friends and wandered among parks in hot sun Bliss to have to find a shady place to drink beer .And the trees impressed me There are a great variety of trees and some appear to grow from the tiniest piece of earth, they give shade and light up the grottiest street. Lisbon seemed to me a place where there is a tolerance of people, dogs and trees, no sign of the ruthless pollarding of London trees. And people mostly left us alone but one time in a restaurant the entire company advised me of the best fish to choose.  I ate fish every day at least once, sampled lovely cakes and gained ten pounds in weight – worth every ounce of joyful eating. I did come unstuck with cuttlefish with ink which even I couldn’t eat, a learning experience. In fact my love took a picture of me resembling  a vampire on her tea break with ink from nose to chin. I have ‘lost’ it. We also witnessed a large demo that looked exactly like a London demo with bright red flags and coaches parked nearby but no police were in evidence and it was all good natured stuff.
I recommend Lisbon with its lovely Miradors and Alfama in spite of vertiginous hills and steps. Bairro Alto has some of the best clubs ever that don’t even get started until after midnight I didn’t make the effort – too busy digesting fish!
I shall definitely return to Alfama and have made a deal with Marisa the apartment owner for a special I shall return for the cod in cream if for nothing else and the flan!



Monday, 6 June 2011


an exhibition of the work of Tracey Emin
This is a very personal view of  the present exhibition which I found   polarising. I always admired Tracey Emin for her courage, honesty and apparent invulnerability. I was also impressed when she went on TV exceedingly drunk (always a good thing in a woman) but I was wrong she is as vulnerable as us all. The difference is that she looks her vulnerability straight in the eye and transforms it into art, a magician.   I wrote this morning on Twitter how wonderful I think she is and a friend responded that she wishes she could ‘get’ Tracey.   I have many friends who don’t ‘get’ her and if they are happy with this very sad state of affairs that’s fine, if not, then this is the exhibition to do it. It is large and comprehensive and all her many skills are utilised. Also her great wit.
She ‘speaks’ of love in its many forms fraudulent and real. Of double standards, under age sex, of love for her nan, her mum and her dad. She engages with her first experience of death and abortion in such a variety of ways it is stunning. The film ‘Why I Didn’t Become a Dancer’ is where I would start if you are not a fan. In this she tells of dancing in a competition the audience clapping her, feeling jubilant when several guys – all of whom have enjoyed sex with her – begin shouting ‘slag slag slag’ she is defeated cannot hear the music. A defeat turned into triumph with her work.

The most important thing about Tracey for me is the fact that though she is a self obsessed narcissist, all her lessons apply to me. We all have failures in love and life is unfair in particular to the female gender but hey we can get up and use these experiences fruitfully. We don’t have to be an artist, we don’t even have to ‘share’ our grief but we are all the result of our experiences for good or ill. She made me think creatively and realise that shame is a waste of time, put all your ‘stuff’ to good use. She also says that writing is the backbone of all her work and I can relate to that.

I love her blankets and the wooden shed on stilts, her fondness for wood and her materials. She is a skilful painter and maker of objects of all kinds. This exhibition shows her tenderness and sensitivity clearly and is worth taking the time to look at and to digest thoroughly. As it costs £12 to get in take it slowly and it’s worth every penny. If at the end you still don’t ‘get’ Tracey Emin I will  be surprised and very sorry for you.  

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Vintage Babe Travels

The Vintage Babe Travels
Going away for a few days is hard work for me. I wash clothes that haven’t seen the light of day for years but I just might wear, I iron which is a chore I avoid all year. Like I want the immigration guys to be impressed when they root around in my case. They haven’t done so for a while now but on the ferry from Tangier to Spain they picked on me out of all the dodgy looking characters – guys & gals from the antipodes with rucksacks weighing in at six stone or more, men with ravaged faces every inch the malefactor, women who I reckoned were dead dodgy. But no. They stopped me, insisted I was my best friend’s mother and gave me the once over anyway. I must have that kind of face. People come up to me in bars and ask me where they can score dope, I quite like this I think it means I have the face of a sophisticate – I fool myself a lot like this, it probably means I look scruffy. I went to Amsterdam with four other women and the buggers stopped me on the way in – I do wonder what they thought I would be importing into Amsterdam! Perhaps I have a criminal mien or it’s the shape of my head? Who knows? But it brings a little extra aggro to customs.

But back to the preparations: I have to water my plants extensively & desnail the area – with my crocs. I used to chuck them over the wall but I heard on Gardeners Question time that they get back surprisingly speedily so now I crunch em and refuse to think of Brian. I haven’t seen any slugs yet this year – no doubt there will be a plague of them as soon as I leave. The mice seem to have disappeared for several days now, I plugged all the holes I could find with foil and foiled them but they get in anywhere.  A mate reckons they are packing to come with me to Lisbon and if this is true I wonder is mouse is a universal language like Esperanto? Will they encounter racism? But no I am afraid they will re – establish themselves and build a colony in my house and be resentful when I make a comeback.  There are gaps in the floorboards for ease of passage from both sides of my terraced house and next door is being tarted up with ‘wooden’ floors to facilitate skating for mice or alternatively moving one house down where my grotty carpets are more mouse friendly. Who can read the mind of a mouse?

I have washed all my knickers and packed them as if I expect incontinence to strike at the border or I won’t have water to wash them in Portugal. My mother’s voice rings in my ears ‘You can never have too many knickers!’  Also Immodium and tissues and teabags I might take powdered milk too. My love, who is a world class traveller looks askance at all my precautions and idiosyncrasies. Berets for bad hair days and a big jumper just in case the Atlantic coast freezes over unexpectedly. A raincoat and several scarves. I remember in the very distant past travelling a la stop with just one pair of spare knickers but I have become cautious with age, and more wise?
No more obsessive.
And now I am exhausted and must have a liedown to recover!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011


My interest in gardening is minimal but I like to look at nice bright plants from my window as I wash up this involves putting them on stands or tables  – I enjoy washing up it is the nearest I get to bringing order from chaos – let the piles of paper grow as long as the dishes are clean. I also find the mindlessness of it to be stimulating with new ideas popping into my mind – some of them remain long enough to write down when I have dried my hands – a lot of them are gone in an instant. My mind becomes an open thoroughfare at these times – something about the alpha state I believe enjoyable to watch the new wheezes come - and go.

I also love going to an out of town garden nursery that is a magical place of greenhouses and grumpy old gardeners filling their barrows with plants of all kinds, ancient couples and a few younger family types but mainly middle aged blokes with the wife along, I expect we all find this place a treat after the ones in town which are twice the price and tarted up with bookshops, gross fancy goods and  foul cafes. Here  deep(ish) in the coutry you can pretend you are a horny handed son – or daughter – of the soil for a little while and grub around in the earth while you choose your plants. You can pretend to yourself that you have an acre of two( terrifying thought) I even adopt a Hampshire Hog accent briefly and they do of course take Visa!

So this week I spent an hour or two getting in touch with my rural side And bought rather a lot of plants. Then we saw a guy with a barrow outside his house so we bought more. Then yesterday I went to the Co-operative and discovered they had far cheaper petunias in particular  buy two trays get the third one free. Not one to miss a bargain I bought them. What a saving! My kitchen s now filled with trays of Lobelia, petunia, and tomato plants and I must go and buy growbags, pots, plant food and compost. I must acquire an old table from somewhere to put said pots etc on and  arrange for somebody to water the buggers while I am away at the weekend on my –‘escape the royal wedding’ mission!

I am off to the tip and expect to do some skip diving and pillaging of friend’s gardens – I think I saw a stray table somewhere local – now where?
I am so delighted to have got a bargain!

Friday, 22 April 2011


The Scents of Spring
I took my Polo in today for a new dashboard. The old one had given up the ghost weeks ago and in spite of an ultra helpful mechanic stuffing the fuse back it collapsed and died again almost instantly many times. So no speedometer or petrol gauge and every day I forgot until I was on a road where speed matters as I know to my cost. I was recently given the opportunity to relearn my driving techniques and somehow it cost me over £100 plus an afternoon of extraordinary, mind shredding boredom while two nice old boys revamped bits of the Highway Code. I was only doing 34 MPH. but didn’t want points on my licence.

So I walked back from the garage and among the delightful diesel and petrol I was hit by the scent of flowers all the way home. The lilac was wonderful as were some shrubs and there was an overall perfume of cut grass. Normally I am in my car still redolent of dog. Though she died six months ago I can’t bear to have it cleaned. I was going to give her basket away too but it is languishing in the boot a sort of moving memorial to Saffie. There is also a smidgen of fox in there somewhere she loved rolling in essence of fox. I quite like the general odour of my car – gawd know what the nice mechanic will make of it.

The grass scent got me thinking about scents of all kinds firstly of New Mown Hay perfume by Floris  a nice subtle one this and they would create an individual scent just for you at one stage. Then on to a perfume called Poison so pungent as to make you recoil. I have been put off my pint by intrusive perfume, it has invaded my nose and made its way into my taste buds I think it was ‘Youth Dew’ and seemed to be the pong of choice for every middle aged woman in my local. It was fine in moderation but I think the publicity and name encouraged women to believe that instant youth would result and the more they splashed on the more youthful they would become. It actually inserted itself into my Guinness and made it unpalatable although I think I remember making the effort and drinking up.

Now, and this is new, I am assailed by the cologne of young males early evening as they approach me surrounded by an almost solid miasma of pungent pong that remains in the air long after they have gone. At such times I tend to say that I prefer an armpit aroma but I am not serious. I do wonder about differentiation of smells in the case of these chaps, I do still believe that we humans are attracted to one another by our natural scent and this must be very confusing for their potential mates. Could this have an effect on the high breakdown or relationships? Inaccurate identification of natural mates? Probably not.

There is an astounding difference in public hygiene in these last many years. I travel a lot on buses stuffed full of people and it is rare that BO offends and even on the tube with strap hanging arms fully extended just  at nose level it is usually pretty OK. In the old days (!) before everybody used deodorant (yes, there was such a time!) travel by tube, particularly in the evening after a day of festering in the heat; liberation and an outstretched arm would cause foetid and obnoxious odours to make their way into nasal passages and remain there immovable  for hours and it would interfere with natural consumption of anything liquid or solid.

 I reckon that it is probably healthier to sniff the perfume but I so wish that people would desist from using quite such liberal doses of the stuff.

Friday, 18 March 2011

MY brain is in down mode

My brain is in down mode.

Been racking it which it doesn’t appreciate. So what do you do when your brain is   taking industrial action? You negotiate. You let it play around a bit, in my case I read ‘social networking according to ‘The Wire’’ which I hardly understood at all on Flowtown blog. It appalled and fascinated me in much the same way as the programme, that I loved, did. A lot of the language was a mystery but the essence was the truth. I am not sure about Social networking according to the laws of Baltimore gangsters; we live according to Whitehall gangsters here in Britain. And now it looks as if we may be going to war – again.

And we watch, some of us compulsively, as the Japanese suffer one disaster after another, ‘bring it on god’ if you believe in deities but what ever have the Japanese done to deserve this? And what is the point of us being served up photographs of this disaster on every channel at every hour of the day and night – do they think we will forget the sight of this hideous series of events? I feel like some kind of vulture woman picking at the bones, like when there is an accident on the motorway and I slow down to see the gory details but one look is enough, I don’t stop and rubberneck, I drive more carefully for the next couple of hours. I guess this is a learning experience.

So what have we learned about nuclear energy from this? That it is dangerous? That although we don’t have earthquakes of tsunamis here(yet) it is never completely safe and when it goes wrong it is tragic, we are all subject to human fallibility – that’s what makes us human. No! It would seem we have  not learned a thing. Nuclear power it is still vaunted as the cleanest option of energy production. I reckon that this is dubious at least. Could be we should cut down on our energy consumption?

And as for us engaging in yet another war in yet another Middle Eastern country – I despair. And no I have no solutions in my sterile mind. I just have visions of us romping through territories engaging with other violent thugs, all using weapons that were made in England and killing. And who is going to do this? Not the politicians you can be sure! And who is going to be killed? Young guys who just needed a job (and women and children of course.)  I can’t help thinking that there has to be a better way. 

Wednesday, 9 March 2011


‘So we’ll go to the South Bank early.’ Were her last words to me on Saturday night. This from a woman who can happily stay in her pit until midday, yeah yeah I thought. Went about my business up at 6.30, having a Twitter shufti for five then email & Facebook for 2 then settle in to write while radio 4 talks of crises in the world – I will wait to get my reality check later with Aljazeera – I reckon to get the BBC and Aljazeera plus a little Russia Today and then believe none of it but with a definite bias toward Aljazeera. Mainly because the journalists question more and appear to take less bullshit and most of them are women. It’s a method!

When at 7.20 she appeared, and vertical I was stunned. She whacked the cereal bowls too close to my laptop for comfort, I stopped writing and took up eating stance and within fifteen minutes we were flying through a near deserted Greenwich, Deptford, Bermondsey and all the other beauty spots of South London – when I say ‘flying’ I mean it as a comparative term the chariot no longer flies but it goes well and looks terrifying so people don’t usually mess with us and she is an Italian driver with all the verve and nerve that this implies.

The South Bank was near deserted and the cinema fairly empty. I knew the project was called The Clock and that it involved film. She tells me I am culturally unadventurous – because she once took to some show where we were shepherded round a building and expected to be scared, excited, interested, on command. I just wanted to sit down and get a pint   - I don’t do audience participation. Also she is not a great explainer – in fact I had thought we would dive in and out of this clock thing in a half hour but no – this was a twenty four hour gig that still had hours to run. The project is in real time and the time is always on the screen in various forms. Station clocks, alarm clocks watches; with people responding - they are late; they are waiting, rushing, getting fractious. Every response to time is represented.
The artist who created this is called Christian Marclay and he is a genius. The entire show is made up of thousands of clips of films .This sounds dull but it is riveting, funny, fascinating and totally absorbing, we stayed for three hours and if we hadn’t had a lunch date I think I would have stayed all through until 6.30 when it ended.

I am explaining badly. The clips of films came from all over the world, as far back as the twenties and the juxtaposition of clips was marvellous. Some clips lasted long enough to get engrossed in the story – a door would open and an explosion came that tore at your mind – which hadn’t had time to jettison the last image. There was one intriguing clip of Marlon Brando and Sophia Loren that we felt we should have heard about and there was Tony Hancock – gloom personified pulling a lever over and over and then… so it went on with no moment of boredom, no ennui just total engagement and then the market on the South bank for great cheese and ginger and fig cake.

On to lunch with some mates at their house – and me in me track suit bottoms and hair stuffed into a beret, no time to change. Brilliant conversation and a decision to all go to Sicily together, and lots of good wine and fabulous nosh.
I tell you I get a better class of Sunday since I took up with my bird!       

Monday, 28 February 2011


I begin to wonder about my life before mice. They have become a fascinating part of my life. I could do without them very easily but the sheer volume of material they have supplied makes me feel I owe them one. I also reckon that mine are exceptional mice. We seem to be running a kind of hotbed scheme with either myself or the mice in residence at any one time. Not exclusively of course, there is the case of the stock cube orgy. I had been making some soup that day and whacked a stock cube in – along with the herbs I get in jars from my love’s sister near Turin and ancient veggies, new veggies and a bit of this and that. I am rather good at soup I’m told but that might be to keep me cooking. Anyway I enjoy it, it makes me feel I am taking part in a rural idyll  - odd because my raw materials come from Aldi ( We all need our illusions!) anyway I must have left the top off the glass jar that I keep stock cubes in (because the thought that the mice got together in a  team and removed the top is far too  worrying) I was putting the washing on when I noticed nasty brown marks on the counter.

I investigated further and found eight cubes chewed at the corners and evidence of the little mothers in the jar. I emptied it out and saved the damaged cubes with a view to putting them in mouse traps. That was the day I bought ‘humane’ traps. I tried to set the wretched thing, caught my finger and it didn’t feel even remotely humane to me. They are now empty on the window ledge, I had hoped that my cleaner may care to take responsibility for mouse murder and I think she would but she had caught her finger before and refused. Then I saw no evidence of them for a few days, though the guy next door swears he hears them in the wall (his paranoia or my loss of hearing?) I know they make their way from house to house under the floorboards so I endeavour to keep a food free kitchen, the stock cube slip up was an aberration.  But I know they are around. In fact they have a taste for plastic which might mean they are building nests or they are rather dim mice with eclectic tastes.

I spend up to four days at a time in London and when I go home I am greeted with a powerful essence of mouse, pungent and unmistakable. The little varmints have been in occupation in my absence. As I enter the kitchen I sometimes see a mouse in fast motion tiny and fleet of feet, it scuttles away in the direction of the back door though I have blocked all holes – I think. I am convinced that decamp when I am home but they have frequent recces  
to suss out if I have made a slip up of the stock cube variety. I imagine them alarmed at this large creature invading their territory and making it her own. I expect mice have different time scale to human beings and four days allows them to settle in nicely then along I come to disrupt them. I will get some of the traps that they walk into next and take them walkies to the river – but the river has big rats to imperil their safety. A cat seems to be the answer but the Cameron cat turned to be  a non combatant cat so there are no guarantees. I shall report back.

Saturday, 19 February 2011


The train was not running from my local  station so we were bussed to the next station. This involved humping my heavy wheelie bag and far from light self up into  and out of different vehicles all stuffed full of discombobulated travellers in filthy moods. There were a few plucky wartime spirit characters, I was not one of these. Most of  us were grumpy sour faced buggers. It brings out the worst in people to have our plans disrupted.

The driver was unnecessarily jolly particularly with any young females  who got within his vicinity – clearly his flirt opportunity for the week. This notwithstanding he dumped us all on a nice fast secondary road so we could run the gauntlet of traffic speeding on their way to the Saturday shopping orgy that takes over Southampton each weekend. We galloped across to the sound of squealing brakes, I brought up the rear because I‘m not great at galloping so I caught the curses of drivers – and I enjoyed retaliative action. It seemed essential that we rushed to the train that was waiting in the station. In fact we all pushed and shoved our way on and sat for at least fifteen minutes, time for me to fillet my newspaper of its dross and establish myself (I am very territorial) we muttered about being late but softly – we are British after all.

My love was away and I was off to warm the flat up for her return so I had to get on two buses the first to the Elephant then another to Watt Tyler road, I love the name but the journey was hell with more and more people clambering aboard at every stop until the bus was crammed to bursting and my large cumbersome trolley taking up valuable foot room. I apologised  profusely shoved it hither and yon out of one lot of feet into the next persons ankles gathering glares along the way.  When it came to getting off the bus I had to fight my way through a phalanx of backs and a few resentful fronts to the door that was being held open by a kindly couple who must have heard my panicky squeals of distress. I shoved the case out in front of me and followed it unsteadily, thanked them and, restored to sanity marched over the lawn speedily.

The thing that had sustained me on this entire trip had been the fact that I knew I had a  half -full bottle of gin waiting for me and I was nearly sure that I even had a bottle of tonic. I could almost taste the fresh zing of a stiff gin. I thumped up the stairs with no regard for the noise factor or computer safety and practically fell in the front door. I collapsed in a chair to catch my breath and went for the gin. It was gone. I did a futile search in which I looked in the same places again and again until eventually I was convinced that it was gone. I was furious. I telephoned Turin to quiz my love who said she ‘must have drunk it’ but I  had asked her the week before if it was still there and now it occurs to me that my enquiry had alerted her to the fact that it was hidden beneath the kitchen table. I slammed the phone down and opened a bottle of Chablis and guzzled a fast glass – not the same thing at all.

My disappointment was profound, my apoplectic rage probably out of proportion. it  was just as well that  I had a day  or two to recover a semblance of good humour before she got back. Forgiveness? 
Forget it!

Monday, 14 February 2011


Last week I went home to Southampton for a day or two, see how the mice are doing( not a lot ) get my parking permits pick up letters, see friends. Meanwhile my love went to yet another opening where she met a charming actress who was reading some poetry. She talked to her, said I might need a reader in the future,’ I am reading some poems at the Royal Court on Saturday  evening come along if you like!’ said Rebecca, the actress( no bishop figures in this tale!) So it came to pass that we trolled up to Sloane square and I wasn’t keen, I like poetry but..and I was quite certain that it wouldn’t be main stage and when the guy in the box office knew nothing about it I was all for finding the nearest boozer and my mind was focussed upon the inflated prices of beer and other mundanities so I didn’t hear the very lovely very young girl ask the guy about poetry, my love is a far better focussed woman and talked to her. She knew a director and telephoned  her telling her that she had TWO OLD LADIES who had also come to see the poetry.

This was a pivotal moment in my life. I have never knowingly been called an ‘Old Lady’ before, at least not in my hearing. I was shocked. I have been called old bag and various other terms of abuse mostly in anger but never LADY. There is something incredibly ancient in that term, irretrievably old. I think I may have a secret belief that there is a switch somewhere that I will hit one day a become forty again( one of my finest years) and I know now that I am .in the eyes of the world, indeed an old lady I dislike the word ‘lady’ but it is the conjunction that really got me.

When we got to the bar I told Rosanna ( the beautiful girl)  that I had never been called an old lady before she told me that she was describing us in case somebody was looking for us. And that’s another thing, my love is my love not a bloody old lady! My irate mind churned over my G&T an old lady’s drink and I explained that I Ioath the word lady, and I do. Then I bought her a drink because I realised that it is not her fault that I am an old lady.

We found the director Sophie Ivatts and went into the back room, filled with chairs all full and we were witness of  An eye for Cupid… in two acts of fifteen pieces of poetry all written by Simon David that was marvellous in its variety, had me moved in all directions from ‘To see me wee’ hilarity and the most witty trumpet I have ever encountered played by Caleb Frederick in Why eye my thigh. To the most moving depiction of the result of rape that had  me near to tears through to two men getting in and out of touch with their very feminine side,. Simon David also acted and I counted twenty three actresses on stage for the finale. (I prefer ‘actors’ but everybody I spoke to said actress so I am clearly out of date with my daft feminist attitudes – my age you know!)

It was the most enjoyable evening in a theatre ( kind of) I have spent for years and so many gifted professional actors knocked me sideways with their talent the writing and direction was superb and – it was, sadly, a one off!
 Such a very lucky privilege and as I say – only in London!