Monthly Archives: October 2012

I must not covert my neighbours goods

I  must stop  coverting my neighbours goods.  The bible tells us not to covert  her  ox, her ass ,  ( as in donkey) , her husband, or any thing else, but  I did covert her wonderful apples.  I look out of my kitchen window  into my neighbour’s garden, there is a high wall between us and against the far wall is a beautiful old apple tree.  This spring was very wet and most of the apple blossom in the area  rotted and died but not the flowers  on that particular tree, they were just wonderful, the bees thought so too and pollinated a huge crop of apples.

All spring and early summer I watched the apples swell and grow, they were a lovely green colour  tinged with  red.  I could see by the size of them that they were most likely to be cooking apples.   As I stood  at the sink  day after day doing the washing up, I dreamed about the dishes I could make with those gorgeous apples, apple crumbles ,apple tarts, apple tarte tatin,  chutney ,even good old plain apple sauce to go with pork chops.

I had ben told by other  neighbours  who fancied me making some apple dishes for them, that last year  the apples had fallen to the ground ,rotted, and had  all been wasted.  They also  said that the owner of the property was not very approachable and did not like talking to strangers.  I did try but I got nowhere.   She did not seem to want to be friendly so I did not push it, next year I must try harder to be a good neighbour, but not for the sake of a few apples.   I did consider ( just for a moment) sending my young grandson over the wall to scrump  (steal ) some.  This was not a good example for a grandmother to set,  so I immediately dismissed the thought.

One day, before my very eyes, an extremely elderly Indian lady arrived at the foot of the apple tree with a long stick and dozens of bags.  She attacked the branches with the stick beating the apples to the ground.  All the lovely apples that I had lusted after were being bruised and carried away.  Though disappointed, I was pleased that they were going to be used, probably in some red hot curry.

I now look out of my window at just one large  red gold  apple near the top of the tree (it was out of reach of the stick).  This apple is there to remind me not to covert  any of my neighbours  goods in future,   particularly apples.

Preparing to host the Book Club

The  book club meeting is being held at my flat this month.   We are a mixed bunch of different ages who meet  once a month to discuss the book chosen by the host of the meeting, we do this in turn.   The group consists  of three youngish  Mums who often have to bring their children (no child minders available,we are  all at the meeting), two young Dads, one middle aged lady, and one very old bat.  There is a secondary purpose to this gathering, the host has to make  a cake or a  dessert.  other book groups drink wine during their discussions, our cake and dessert choice evolved over time not only because of the children but because most of the group have to drive home.

I have chosen the book,  The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga, winner of the Mann Booker prize in 2o09,which we are all reading.  It is about the seamier side of Indian commercial life told  with black humour.  I  wonder how the rest of the group will take it.  When you choose a  book you hope that the others will  enjoy it but the best discussions always follow the ones that some of us don’t like.  We  rarely all agree but always have an enjoyable evening.

I  now have to decide on what cake or dessert to make, do I play it safe or try a new recipe which might be a complete failure?   When I was looking after a family I was cooking all the time and cake making was routine, now that I live on my own and have to watch the calories, I only make cakes for special occasions.  I must confess that I have lost confidence due to the lack of practice.  I am going to try out a couple of  old favourites and see  which  is the best..

Setting up a book group is an enjoyable way of getting together with other people, age does not matter, neither does taste in books.  By joining in, you have to read everyone’s choice and often surprise yourself by enjoying books that you would never have  considered  reading.  Have a go, collect some friends together and try it!

Mending Fences with neglected friends.

Today I am getting a bit philosophical about old age ,the past and trying to put past mistakes right.   We  have all done things that we regret, said things that we should not have said, and left undone things that we should have completed.  Perhaps there are perfect people  out there, a few real angels, but not  the majority.  I am not referring to very bad things but  to such as losing friends as the result of a silly argument,  or neglecting to help people when I should have done.   I have decided that before it is too late I am going to try and do some thing about it.  I have never had a serious falling out with anyone but I have had silly tiffs and  allowed relationships and friendships to wither away after them.  Some while ago two of my best friends, sisters, had a serious fall out,  I had to distance myself from both of them so as not to show either favour.   Time  has past and we are all old ladies  now so  I am going to “mend some fences’ and try to rejuvenate  our old friendship . There are other good friends who just moved to other districts  and we have lost touch through neglect.

Christmas is just  a few weeks away so this gives me the opportunity to get on with my ‘fence mending’.  I am going to look through all my old diaries , address books containing the telephone numbers of all the friends that I have neglected and  I am going to call them, tell them how  much I have missed them and apologise for not getting in touch sooner.  They might  just put the phone down  but I hope that others will be pleased.  I will let you all know at a later date how successful  the “fence mending” turned out to be, wish me luck in my endeavours!

Fun at the Pub Quiz even with a dodgy memory

Even oldbats like me like to have fun and join in some activity with  friends and neighbours.  The local pub quiz is the answer for me.  I  joined a team of young friends about four years ago.  At that time I was quite a useful member as I followed sport , came from the country, and had lived considerably longer than  the others.   At that time I could answer my type of questions after a few minutes of pondering, a  couple of years later I would remember the answer to a particular question just before the end of the quiz.  At the present time I am quite likely to wake up and remember it in the middle of the night, no good for scoring quiz points,  you can often forget facts that you learnt yesterday but  recall an incident that you have not thought about for fifty years .  Immediately you worry ‘dementia’ but comfort yourself saying ‘ it’s probably  just old age’.    However , it is great fun and having contact with people that you  might only see in the local corner shop is rewarding,  they become new friends.   I don’t drink much alcohol but feel that if you use the pub’s facilities you should have  something.  In fact this is where I ordered my first ever drink at a bar so I go really mad and have  half a pint of a certain shandy!  I  love the competitive atmosphere,  everyone takes it so seriously, you would think that there was  a big money prize not  just a  bottle of wine. There can be minor fall outs between team members when both  are absolutely sure that they have the correct answer.  There is always a lot of banter between certain teams,  light hearted of course , there are teams you  must try to beat, while there are others that are much too good,   beating them is the ultimate achievement.

A few times a year a team member sets the questions, these nights can be difficult for  the Quiz master and her home team because in order to make sure that there is no favouritism she  makes the questions far too hard, the home team usually  comes last.

To anyone who is a bit lonely and not looking forward to the long winter nights  ahead, why not  put  a team  together and have a go, it’s great fun.

.Why I carry on doing a little work after retirement.

In this country we have a good health service which is free. At this time of the year, autumn, the health centres start giving ‘flu vaccinations to all their vulnerable patients including the elderly.  I have been having them for the last ten years and they have been very successful, I have never had the ‘flu and rarely have a cold.  When I rang up for my appointment I told the receptionist that I could not come on Tuesday ,Wednesday or Thursday because I would be working.  She then asked for my date of birth which I gave her, she sounded concerned and said that she didn’t think that I should still be working, I felt a bit put out and defended myself by saying that I was not taking a job from anyone  else, I  just help a friend, I sit down, talk to waiting clients, answer the telephone and make appointments.   I do not think that is too difficult  for someone my age.  I had been a farmer and have worked very hard,, this little job  is easy, enjoyable and gives me something to do and think about.

I explained that doing this  suited me because it meant that I met other people, some not all , are both elderly and lonely.  I have always got on well with others  and usually find something to chat about . I don’t mind listening to their troubles, the stories of their aches and pains, I am interested  to hear about what they did in the past. After all many of them are my generation so we have a lot in common, I would really miss their  company if I stopped working , they have become my friends and I intend to keep going for as long as possible . The receptionist accepted that working was good for me but that she couldn’t wait to retire

One  of the few good things that happen when we get older, ladies like me can have elderly men as friends..  I was brought up in the country with boys so have always been interested in sport. I love talking about sport with anyone who is  interested, so last summer was a great time for those similarly minded.  I had great conversations at work  about Bradley Wiggins winning” The Tour de France.” the first time for a Briton. Then came the two Olympics  when we discussed how our favourite athletes would get on.  We delighted in the success of Jessica Ennis. Elie Simmons and Mo Farah in particular.

Now that we are getting towards winter I shall get them interested in my Fantasy Football team which plays against other such teams run by the rest of my family.  My team is usually at the bottom of the league so they can give me advice on which players to transfer.  We will also talk about rugby, football and my favourite sport,  horse racing.

The ladies prefer  to chat about their families, children and grandchildren, I try to remember their  histories, ask about exam results, weddings, births and their latest holidays which are quite often in exotic places on large cruise  ships. The other favourite subject is what is on T.V.  At the moment Downton Abbey and Strictly Come Dancing are the favourites.  I find that most of the ladies cope with getting older better than the men, they still have a purpose, their  domestic life just carries on while the men look back on better times..This is why I talk about sport and what interesting events are  happening now.  Let’s hope we can all continue chatting for some time to come..

Keeping an open mind

I  live in a city which is quite a multi-racial, multicultural one, once a busy port, Somali seamen settled here, then after the “Windrush”, many West Indians came and stayed.  The three junior schools nearest my flat are 50/50 multi-racial with Chinese, West Indian, Pakistani, Indian, Middle Eastern  as well as Eastern European children.  We also have many beautiful mixed race (dual  heritage) children who light up our lives.

Our elderly population is well used to these  changes,  every day we see ladies dressed in burkhas following behind their husband doing the shopping,  many young  girls wear headscarfs to school . For a few years I helped in a class teaching Asian ladies to speak English.  Some had lived in the city for 20 years before being persuaded by daughters and granddaughters to learn  the language.

I   travel on the same  bus to work, three days a week.  Two other elderly ladies use the same route, I was surprised  to see the frightened look  on  the face one of them  when a Goth friend  came and sat next to me.  She was obviously upset and got off at the next stop.  This worried me, I felt that I had to put this right.  The next time we were on the bus without my Gothic friend , I told  her that if she was ever unfortunate enough to have to have radio therapy he might be the person helping to deliver the treatment.  He might look very different but he was a good person  who did a worthwhile job.  My other friend who travels with us piped up saying “You can’t judge people by how they look and dress these days, my granddaughter has a first class honours degree and now she is a “punk lawyer”

I  relayed this incident to my Gothic friend when next we met,  he said  that normally the older people take  no notice of him, it was  the young ones who didn’t like it.  He told me that  he had gone to the hospital Christmas party  in full  Gothic  make up, dead white face, kohl lined eyes, long  jet black hair and black lipstick.  One of the elderly patients taking a wrong turn on her zimmer frame  came right up to him,  looked up at his  face and said  “You look beautiful”.   Thank  goodness she didn’t think  he was a devilish ghost!

The downside of moving to the city from the country

As I said in my last piece , I moved to this smallish city from a rural area, actually I had always lived and worked on a farm.  I had never spent any time in a town, never mind a really bustling city.  It scared me to death, I could not get used to the pace of everything,  every one rushing around , the traffic  completely scared me.   I was terrified.   I was too  frightened to cross the road on my own .  I would only cross at the pedestrian crossing when the little green man told me.. If  there was no such crossing  I had to wait for other people to gather and cross with them.   My excuse was that I  wear spectacles of the varilux type so I  had difficulty in both judging the speed and distance of the oncoming traffic,  it took me a long time to come to terms with this.  I am not too good now after years of city living.

I  started helping as a volunteer worker in  a small charity shop which had a good second hand book section.  One day when I was left in charge, two middle aged, well dressed  gentlemen  came in,  they looked like successful business men.  One of them asked if  I  could help him chose a book for his mothers’ birthday.  Being eager to make a sale, I  left my position behind the counter and went to the far end of the shop to show him the most suitable books.  Having looked at a few he said that he would come back later.  He did not come back  but I thought no more about it until it was time to go home.  I looked for my hand bag which should have been under the counter but it was gone.  I realized quite quickly that the two well dressed men were thieves,  that they had worked together to distract me from the counter in order to steal whatever they could.  As it was impossible to get access to the till  the second man helped himself to my hand bag instead.  We called the police and notified my bank so that my credit card was stopped,  also told the driving licence authority .  I was in “lodgings” at the time and had the keys of the house in my bag, so had to pay for new locks to be fitted.   My bag was  never recovered .   I did not realize how much I had in it  until I needed  my keys, odd bits of paper with notes on , my address book with all my friends’ telephone numbers,  my lovely Parker pen,  the small bit of make up that I used etc.

A few weeks after this I moved into a top floor flat in a large Victorian house overlooking a lovely park.  It was a two bedroom flat so that I could have my family to stay.  In its heyday  it was the servants’ quarters.  The disadvantage was that there was no central heating,  that did not bother me because I had never lived with it.  The main disadvantage was that it was four flights up.  Not so good for carrying heavy bags of shopping.  On returning from work one day I opened the door with my key and  knew immediately  that someone had been into the flat,  they had ransacked it.  They must have had a duplicate  key, knew that I would be at work, and had taken everything they could sell without being caught..  I did not have many possessions but what I had were of great sentimental value.  My mother and Grandmothers’ jewellery, gold and silver bracelets, my rings,  a pearl (cultured) necklace and a Rolex watch that I had been  given many years before.  These  items could never be replaced.  The police came, dusted every thing with finger print powder,  gave me a crime scene number, were very sympathetic and left.   They did not recover any thing,  I didn’t expect them to.   I was upset but  I learnt a hard lesson.  No one was hurt, my possessions were only ‘things’ that I could live quite well without and  in future not to have anything of real value.  I  then tried to settle down  to my new life hoping that there were not more disasters to come, so far so good, but I’m still keeping my fingers crossed.  Not a good introduction to city living!!!!!!