11 September 2011

Dear Sophisticated Ladies

Once again I find myself writing to you in the early evening and frankly I am utterly exhausted so please do forgive any grammatical errors! Spell checker still hasn’t quite adjusted to my somewhat inventive use of the English language – doubtless my mother would be horrified and my eccentric father accommodating as always. For accommodating you may read ‘too polite to criticise’!

I feel a little apprehensive as I write today given the 10th anniversary of 9/11 on which this day falls. In addition I wouldn’t want you to think I was showing off as I visited New York a matter of weeks after the planes flew into the Twin Towers. One doesn’t tend to think one’s life is anything other than ordinary until it is described to other people when it sometimes feels a little extraordinary. I confess I have a rather chequered history as you may have already realised!

Now the use of the word ‘extraordinary’ brings me to my first irritation of the week. The regular Radio 4 listener may have noticed the over use of the word extraordinary; one contributor must have used it 10 plus times in a matter of minutes thereby rendering it ordinary. What precisely does extraordinary mean? If you were reading this on your kindle a flick of the cursor swiftly followed by a jab of the (correct) button and the definition would be revealed! I just love this feature – along with the red leather case with built in light!

Back in 2001 Wales took part in the UK in New York Festival and I was working for the Arts Council of Wales. The then Chairman and I went out to represent Wales along with a cohort of Welsh artists. Scotland pulled out and the English presence was somewhat diminished; Wales decided we should still go. I confess looking back it never occurred to me not to go and now I would still make the same decision.

It wasn’t my first time in New York but it was the first time I had spent any time there. We were accompanied by the then Culture Minister who I recall slipping their shoes off at an event in a library and having a short nap! The civil servant responsible for the Minister was taking his daily run in Central Park and to be fair jet lag can hit you at anytime.

Back in 2001 I was blissfully unaware that I was about to be gifted with the diagnosis of an incurable illness. Years later the bizarre sensation of the nerve tingling response I had to the Male Voice Choir I saw peform in Carnegie Hall made sense! The average age of the Choir was circa 60 with some manfully holding up the top end of the age range! I swear one of the older gentlemen winked at me when he caught my eye!

The Chairman was accompanied by her partner who took a book of condolence from the Mid and West Wales Fire Service with whom he was associated. This added a particular tenderness to our visit; the thoughts of tough Welsh guys conveyed to equally tough New York fire fighters who had been so devastatingly affected by the events.

After the Festival I took a train south to Virginia to visit my American college friend whose son was celebrating his first birthday.  At that point the impact hadn’t been converted into the extreme caution around travelling any world tourist encounters today. Grand Central Station was a busy train station no different to Paddington.  That was before I had my spinal cord stimulator installed!

The disabled traveller is actually quite convenient once you personally get over the inconvenience of course. By this I mean that we are easy to handle rather like out sized luggage; think surf board, skis or golf clubs in a stylish bag! The airline prefers the package to be mobile but not under its own control – a wheelchair can be manoeuvred by a competent operative often at alarming speed! And once the desired location has been reached the package can be parked without the worry that they might not be there when the collection time is reached.

And then there are those of us who have ‘an implanted device’ and required careful handling. I cannot be scanned like a normal person anymore as the magnetic field reverses the charge in the stimulator and we wouldn’t want a flat battery now would we! So annoyingly I have to be hand scanned by a female security person – my advice is not to engage the lady in conversation as she gently puts her hands over your breasts and between your legs!

I want to share a cautionary tale with you; one that involves activity the sensible amongst you would of course never entertain. From my missives (and blog) you will be familiar with my signature photograph – the one with both the painkiller on a stick I refer to as my ‘lollies’ in my mouth and a cigarette in my hand. Well in an attempt to reduce the dosage I asked the attractive young GP for 1000 microgram rather than the 1200 microgram ones. The problem is the next dose down is 800; otherwise referred to as a step too far!

I don’t consider myself to be addicted to painkillers rather I am addicted to not being in pain; a subtle difference as I sure the sympathetic amongst you would agree. The solution was 800’s plus a small supply of 200’s when needed. This week has been a challenging one on the pain front for reasons too tedious to go into – I bore myself so there is no need to share this one! How ridiculous do you think I look with two sticks in my mouth? Put it this way I don’t go out in public on a two stick day! (I refer to two painkilling sticks not the attractive mobility aids I rely on.)

However I do drive with two sticks in my chops especially after a stressful meeting. Obviously I am usually driven to nicotine on these occasions. Juggles three things is frankly a little unmanageable and best avoided when negotiating a roundabout.

The cautionary tale relates to the wearing of chunky rings when trying to put a cigarette out of the window. A couple of weeks ago I manage to successful eject the butt however removing my hand was not quite so straightforward. I must have put my hand out as an angle as it got stuck! Fortunately Cowbridge Road East is a straight road so, although not recommended, one handed steering was not too much of a problem. I confess at one point I thought my hand might be jammed in the gap between the glass and the door until I got to traffic lights where I could lower the window. You have been warned!

Earlier this week when getting ready for bed I noticed a small vivid green grasshopper like insect in the bathroom. Of course I found myself engaging it in conversation as the encounter was a little unusual (for Barry). Thinking nothing else more I said goodnight and went off to my Camilla Lackberg (excellent Swedish crime writer) novel.

Next morning I was sitting at the sink (on my delightful ‘disabled person’s’ perching stool – I have ‘upholstered’ it with a purple bathmat in an attempt to improve the aesthetic). I tend not to put on my top garment until I’ve completed my (now extensive) cleansing routine followed by applying camouflage. Yes ladies the summer is over and the concealer has been retrieved – the price of Dermatologica products necessitates the cross seasonal use of the special grout!

So as I sit there my top half is on display aside from my gravity defying bra. It is only after a couple of odd sensations on my skin that it occurs to me that there is no breeze in the bathroom and besides I have short hair. I look down and see that the tickling is the grasshopper thing on my waistband. Sharp intake of breathe follows, a flick of the finger and the insect is temporarily airborne!   

And then I do something that I’m not proud of; I squish it in a used face wipe and pop it in the bin! In my defence it had surprised me; I’d just had a shower and it might have had dirty feet. OK pathetic indefensible female response for which I am utterly ashamed.

You will have received my invitation to the forthcoming September 26th Salon with Claire Curneen; thank you to those of you who commented on how amusing it was. At the beginning of the week I was wondering if I was going to have to cancel the event as the bookings were very slow. Given that I have never had to cancel a Salon yet I asked a number of you if you were planning to attend; most of you said you were thankfully!

I will be emailing you again this week as it will be a rather intimate affair based on the current responses! In order to get the ffresh restaurant staff out of bed the Salon needs a few more bookings so please do have a look in your diary and see if you have a window available.  Those of you who have attended a Salon know how much fun we have and to coin a phrase ‘you are SO worth it’!

As tomorrow I will be in Bristol with clients I had better conclude this week’s missive as I have yet to decide what to wear. The whole ensemble takes a degree of planning and I think I forgot to turn the washing machine on this morning so the drawing board will have to be returned to! This canvas takes some careful painting these days especially with the change of the seasons!

In sophistication


1 Comment

Filed under Musings of a Contemporary Spinster, Sophisticated Salons

One response to “11 September 2011

  1. Pilar

    I have forwarded invitation to some friends, hope some managed to make it, will let you know. Really looking forward to the September salon. One finds this to be about the only time one has been looking forward to a Monday.

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