16 January 2011

Dear Sophisticated Ladies

It is a curiously grey Spring; somehow it seems reflective of so many other aspects of life at the moment; the economy, the quiet lull on the gainful employment front and inclement weather. A drop of melancholia has been put into the water perhaps. But we cannot and must not let it get the better of us no matter how hard this might be now. Ladies we can, and will, survive; we have before and we will again!

Such optimism was not a feeling I was imbued with on Wednesday. I went to visit a friend recovering from an operation in Brecon. I don’t actually go to the house very often and I seem to have a mental block about how to get there. So I resorted to my usual safety net the RAC Route Finder. Mmm this time the directions took me over the Heads of the Valleys and terror gripped my heart as the mist surrounded me at 3 pm. The driving rain whipped round the car as the wind got stronger, the light ever more absent and visibility poorer.

Did I turn back allowing the feeling of being lost entered my head? Of course not! The instruction must be right; the RAC is after all a trusted institution, so if I simply read them and follow them I will surely arrive at my destination alive! This I did, and after a few moments of doubt where the directions were a little light on detail, I duly saw the cottage rise out of the mist. It did take me two goes to find the right door into the house but this can hardly be a character flaw!

I had a lovely afternoon catching up and giving late Christmas presents to her son. He is a delight and remarkably polite for a child of his age. He is just lovely company and a talented creator of stories which he always shows me. It is a pleasure watching a child open presents that are the right ones – I had bought him books including, War Horse (Michael Murpugo) that is one of his favourites. He asked me to write in it given the significance to him.

These simple moments are ones to be treasured. Life seems so complicated and sometimes viewing it through the eyes of a child is salutary. My godson visited as usual this week and despite his over tired grumpiness we still had fun. At home his life is surrounded by technology whilst at my house we race cars over up turned trays and giggle triumphantly when they topple over the edge. At the age of two my godson is already showing signs of macho behaviour sparked by both his grandfathers fighting with him. For some reason these adult men take great pleasure in play fighting with a tiny human being who doesn’t know his own strength. Believe me he can pack a punch despite his diminutive stature! His fatigue fuel frustration led him to launch himself at me. I surprised him by catching him and tightly hugging him until he stopped wriggling.

His Mamgi was not impressed by such behaviour and we had time out. I confess to being a little taken aback and had to hide a smirk. Godson sat with his head bowed on the pouffe. He was familiar with such punishment and as predicted started to weep after a few minutes. Once he said sorry he was allowed to resume his time with me and the cars. Godson’s mother was at home having woken at 5 am to go to work only to start throwing up. So Mamgi had godson all day. It struck me how hard this is for a grandparent to look after a child wary of over stepping the mark when behave falls short of expected standards. This particular woman is one of my swimming companions and has a life comprised of looking after her family with little time for herself. She is one of my hero’s as she seldom complains and always has time for others.

The weekend’s post brought a response to the letter of complaint I had written, on behalf of the family, regarding the poor care my father had received during his recent incarceration in an NHS hospital. It was a glorified acknowledgement expressing regret that we had been disappointed at the quality of care. I had clearly stated that we did not wish to make a formal complaint but the Trust (Chief Executive) offered us the opportunity to receive feedback following their internal investigation. We declined the offer of further engagement as the damage has been done; my father will never be quite the same again and nothing the Trust does will change this.

Whilst at my parents over Christmas my brother and I took turns to do ‘dad walking’ to ensure that he gets the exercise he needs. Who needs a pet when you’ve got parents!

In the quiet period I have decided to tidy my office and the house. It is awfully difficult to motivate oneself sometimes as my freelance colleagues will know. I opened several cupboards to find oodles of old lever arch files. Quite why I had kept so many I can’t imagine ~ I filled the entire boot of the car with tatty used files and a defunct printer. Off I went to the municipal dump. There is something very satisfying clearing things out, creating space and leaving yawning gaps desperate to be filled with new stuff! On arrival at the tip I was ‘greeted’ by a stocky man tightly wrapped in fluorescent work wear. To be honest I was surprised he could move as he appeared to be sewn into his garb ~ thankfully the two piece he sported was waterproof as it was raining rather fiercely!

I got out of the car and opened the boot trying not to break my arm as the crutch I use lacks flexibility! The weeble wobbled but on this occasion (thankfully) did not fall over! I asked the luminous yellow man where I should put the printer and without speaking he gestured asking how large it was. Wordlessly I pointed to the broken machine in the boot having moved a dozen cardboard files out of the way to reveal it. He waddled stiffly towards the car and took it out. When I turned round, having deposited the first pile of files into ‘general waste’, the man was behind me with the rest of the contents of the boot. As I was leaving I thanked him profusely and he responded, this time audibly, ‘see you again soon’. Human kindness can be found in the most unexpected places and you don’t need to shout about it apparently. Bless him.

What was less kind was the picture I encountered on the way home from the dump. The fields between Barry, Sully and Dinas Powys are low lying and prone to flooding. One of these fields is usually where random horses and ponies can be found mournfully looking over the fence. I have always assumed they are gipsy horses although why I think this I couldn’t tell you. Last week the horses were standing up to their knees in water. Behind them three were stranded on a raised mound in the same field. I was outraged and ready to contact the RSPCA to report this blatant display of cruelty. But thankfully before I could do this the animals had been moved or at least they had disappeared. Where did they go I wonder?

Finally ladies I was touched by your response to my last missive where I mention my appointment at the optician. I had three offers of lifts and one advice on how to keep lime juice fresh! Unfortunately I don’t own a freezer so I have had to dress everything in lime juice this week; not all applications yielding a tasty meal. Teach me to over purchase. The optician encounter came and went without incident. Dilated pupils (as a result of the drops) are less of a problem in the dark as ones pupils dilate anyway. So I drove both ways safely although the street lights on the way back did resemble Christmas trees.

What was more curious was the outcome of the optical observation. The drops make the contact lenses ‘shine’ or effervesce or should I say fluoresce enabling the fit to be assessed. Last year one of my lenses had broken and had to be replaced. Now one assumes that the professionals know what they are doing, after all that is what one pays for isn’t it? Wrong (in this case) as only one lens did what it was supposed to do as the other had UV inhibitors in it and remained resolutely clear! So the lesson is perhaps the independent practice is preferable to a franchise operation where less emphasis is placed on good customer service. Having received a full debrief on the situation at ‘the franchise’, where I had previously been a customer, I decided that I would have to swallow my irritation with the small man optician and transfer my business to line his tiny pockets!

Some of you have checked out the ‘blog’ site I have set up at https://victoriousendeavours.wordpress.com/ and this is where the missives will be posted along with other mid week musings from this contemporary spinster! Do have a look and let me know what you think.

Tomorrow I will be sending out more a detailed invitation to the next two Salons: February 28 2011 – A writer and a publisher will be our guests for the evening. Penny Simpson will talk about writing her two novels including the extensive research process that she undertakes. Ms Simpson has an incredible eye for detail and Gwen Davies will reveal what it is she looks for in a writer. Gwen is due to take up her new editorial position at the New Welsh Review in March.

March 21 2011 – A Celebration of an Artistic Director – Fiona Allan is our guest and we will be combining the salon with a leaving party as she is off to England in March. No sooner had she got British Citizenship and she’s off to take up the helm at the Curve in Leicester. Perhaps we should buy her a nice leather cover for her new passport…

I had intended to complete the invitations this evening but quite frankly I am a little tired after an afternoon of shameful over indulgence with a friend. How do I know it’s time to call it a day you ask? Perhaps the clue was when I went to put the washing in the dishwasher having suddenly twigged that the flashing red light indicated the towels were ready to be removed from the machine! Curious how the laundry needs to be hung out to dry…

Yours in fatigued sophistication

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