Monday, 20 October 2014


I have been thinking a bit about what I can contribute to the lives of my grandchildren. So far, I am not a very useful grandmother. I find children very alarming – they are so uninhibited and concentrated. And by heck, do they move fast! Wild. I am more the sitting still and thinking type.

But it came to me as I considered it, that I might have hold of the wrong end of the stick in my ideas of what being a grandparent should be. Born to a pragmatic mother who in turn descended from a whole dynasty of hard-headed Yorkshire pragmatists, I am accustomed to defining life in terms of output, result and usefulness. Work. By which standards I am a perennial disappointment in any sphere. Wandering off has been my primary skill. Bewilderment is my habitual state.

Maybe, though, there is another route through this thing (life). Perhaps what I could offer, and what indeed might be of most value to my grandchildren and their parents, is simply to delight in them. To be on their side. Unconditional positive regard. Unconditional love.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Health post about lymphatic drainage. Minor interest.

Gee, here’s weird. Okay, I’m sleeping on the floor with a big double duvet folded in two – on half and under half. If I have a self-inflating 7.5cm camping mat underneath (so not mega-padding), when I get up in the morning I have double bags of fluid under both eyes and a kind of dewlap that I thought was fat on the front of my throat. And some fluid retention to my ankles and abdomen.

If I take the camping mat away and have nothing but plain floor under the single-thickness duvet, in the morning I have no fluid retention to ankles and abdomen, nor on my throat (so it must have been fluid not fat – I guess the sinuses drain via there) and under my eyes is just wrinkly.

Floor sleeping affects lymphatic drainage that much! Who would have thought it?

Thursday, 16 October 2014

The frivolous

I should say we – in our household – are not abnormally flippant and shallow. Far from it. Intimidating, many think. We come across as kind of serious. People apologise for swearing when we’re around (hahaha – little do they know). Occasionally when we’re out and about, random strangers approach us in the street to observe, “You’re not from here, are you?” Or ask us “Where are you from?” And we say, “Hastings” and they say “Yes, but where are you really from?” They guess, bizarrely, Germany or South Africa (why?). I guess we should say “Narnia” and be done with it, but it seems facetious and impolite. The one I like best is when folk coming through from the chapel to the flower hall, after I’ve conducted a funeral, pause in the concrete covered way that looks out onto the fishpond, to shake my hand and ask, wonderingly, “What are you?” I’ve often wondered the same thing.

So anyway, you get the drift – we aren’t airheads.

And the world is by anyone’s measure in a serious condition. These are somber times. The UK government tearing up the statute book because they want to frack under our homes and soak the land with poison. Scientists calculating the human race has a hundred years left and when it comes to destruction and disaster we ain’t seen nothing yet. The United States deciding its war habit is going nowhere in a hurry – got the taste for it and sticking with it. The poles melting. The ebola virus on the loose. Genocide and misogyny and fundamentalism and climate change and leaking nuclear reactors and dead oceans and war, war, war. There’s surely enough going on to make even an unusually moronic zombie sit up and take notice.

So then, I wonder this. How does it come about that for such people in such a world, earrings and shoes, fluffy cardigans and pretty tops are still an attraction? They are a frequent focus of conversation. Our coffers do not overflow, but eBay and the 70% sales are of intense interest. And it’s not just us. I’ve heard it said, in disaster zones, where war has decimated the population, if they can see to it that traumatised orphans are given a teddy to snuggle and love, they do better than if they merely had shelter, food and meds.

There seems to be something in human nature that is soothed and rested by a dose of the frivolous – and this is healthy, and not to be despised.

Friday, 3 October 2014

So fragile

Porcelain teapots, spiders, difficult people, antiques – what do they have in common?

You have to be very, very careful with them all – that when you handle them their legs don’t alarmingly come off or their spouts get chipped or their surfaces scratched or their feelings wounded.

It’s what Lao Tsu said – ruling a great nation is like cooking a small fish. That thing.

Fragility. Timeless. Ubiquitous.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014


Here’s an odd thing. When I take the sleeping mat away and sleep on plain floor – I mean, I have my quilt wrapped round me, but it doesn’t make any significant padding – my body feels less comfortable, but more at peace. Not my mind, not a notion – my actual body. Now, what’s with that?