Wednesday, February 17, 2021

In the Wrong... Again.

           It doesn't take much for me to slip backwards into the wrong.. I only have to feel that old familiar apprehension, a lurching of the stomach, and I know I've done it again. I've spoken out of turn. This time I can easily blame the bloody virus, our isolation, and the feeling that we are now cut off from the rest of the world, thanks to Brexit. I want to talk to my children, but I know that they are always busy with their own lives and work. Lucky them. But they are balancing everything,  keeping all the balls in the air, and it's so easy to drop one. With my beloved Daughter it's "Sorry Mum, I'm busy", and with the Spanish crew I just feel so far away in both distance and experience at the mo. I often don't phone them because I just don't know what to say: there is no real "News" only the latest statistics, numbers of infections and deaths and similar cheering facts. I can't even project to when I might be able to visit them again. And though I can visit Daughter and family (thank heavens) there is still not much to talk about. I know I'm far from alone in feeling isolated, and I'm actually more fortunate than many people. It just doesn't feel like it, and I can't really explain why. It's no wonder they feel irritated with me. I do too!

            Birthdays come and go, and we feel just that little bit older with every one. Mine has just gone, and I'm still leaving my cards up to add a little cheer and colour to every day. I had lovely presents, messages from many friends and beautiful flowers delivered to my door. Lucky me! Is it churlish of me to just want to go out for dinner? 

            Big Grandson and I had a very indulgent dinner at the weekend: we went to the big MnS, which is very close, and bought their Valentine's Dinner for Two - oh the joy! We chose Prawn Cocktails, Sirloin Steaks with Garlic Butter and French Fries, and a divine Chocolate Cheesecake for dessert. And we shared a bottle of pink Prosecco plus four heart-shaped chocolates. It couldn't have been nicer. Big Grandson, at sixteen, enjoyed the Prosecco, and I  enjoyed sharing it. Jolly good value and dericious,  as my fondly-remembered Japanese student would have said - she was the vegetarian who loved my roast chicken!! Say no more :)

            Little Grandson's Birthday is coming up, in Spain, and my hoped-for trip is looking less likely with every day. Not only is foreign travel prohibited, but we can't go away in this country either. My lovely Little Grandson will be 7 at the end of March, and we have been hoping that restrictions would be relaxed a bit by then. Doesn't look very hopeful though - sadly. 

            I'm going to stop moaning now and leave you in  peace. It's brightening up here and seems to have stopped raining so I'm going for a walk and I'll try not to annoy anyone. 

Sunday, January 31, 2021

The three R's

            The three R's I refer to above are three downstairs neighbors I had during my 13 years in Hove. I loved living there, and had the first and second floor maisonette with a balcony and front garden. My first R downstairs was Ruth, a very smart and accomplished young woman, who was working in London when I moved in, and was therefore not home much in the week. We got off to a very good start because the woman who had my flat before was apparently rather noisy, and I was quite the opposite.  I didn't go to the pub every evening and then bring back a group of friends after closing time! Poor Ruth, who had to get up early to catch her commuter train to London, had often been woken by loud partying immediately above her head (in what was my Dining Room) and was simply exhausted. Her relief when I arrived was very clear. She welcomed me on moving day with a lovely bottle of champagne. Over the next five years we became firm friends: Ruth decided to work locally, then met someone and fell in love; I was a guest at their gorgeous wedding, and they then proceeded to have two lovely children (a boy and a girl), Ruth set up her own business which was very successful, and  they eventually moved away, ending up in the Cotswolds. We are still firm friends and exchange cards and presents on Birthdays and at Christmas.

R number two followed Ruth into the Downstairs flat: this was Roz, who was then a single, smart businesswoman, living on her own but with a large extended family and loads of good friends. We became good friends too, and very soon considered ourselves to be family. Roz really wanted to have a child but there was no obvious choice of a father, so after much thought and questioning  she opted for a donor father, and did masses of research before deciding on the father she wanted for her child. I remember we  had long conversations on the pros and cons, and it took her a while to decide - quite properly.  Eventually though, she was pregnant and Bean was born: a delightful boy whose proper name was Gabriel, but who has always been called either Bean or Beanie by those who know him. In all we had 5 great and very eventful years when Rozzy was downstairs. Then she decided to buy an old house in the country near Lewes, and off she went with Beanie, selling her downstairs flat to my third R. And just like with Ruth, we remain great friends.  

Rachel was next, married to John.  They were childless when they moved in downstairs, but they were very soon pregnant and Finn was born. I did begin to wonder if I was the Fertility Fairy, waving my magic wand and helping to bring some lovely babies into the world? Whether or not, it was a rather wonderful thing that all three R's had their children downstairs while I lived upstairs.  Sadly, I moved away after 3 years with Rachel, but we have kept in touch too, so I feel my life has certainly been richer for having such lovely downstairs neighbours  and friends. 

 Thirteen years of serendipity - how lucky I was.   

Thursday, January 21, 2021

In the Bleak Midwinter.

            I  wish I could find something to be cheerful about. I don't mean to sound pathetic, but there is very little that's cheering or exciting here at the moment. At least in America they have something to celebrate - the bad-tempered departure of the orange POTUS at last. I have to admit that I watched it on TV yesterday and was cheered by the low key positivity of Joe Biden and his dignified, all-inclusive tone - such a refreshing change from his shouty, bullying predecessor. I watched as the Trump family hitched their last ride on Air Force 1 and thought that it was typical of Trump to cling on to his privilege until the very last moment. I think they must  have  all  disembarked from the plane in Florida just as Mr Biden arrived for his inauguration in Washington! Cutting it fine at the very least, and certainly bad manners. So what's new?

            We  have passed the shortest day at last, and that should be cheering - another year is moving on. Sadly we are still in the grip of the Virus, and there seems to be no end in sight. Both Daughter and her Fiance tested positive and had to self-isolate, but are now better and  back to work. They both had very mild symptoms, and none of the children were affected. I'm fine too (so far so good) and have my first vaccination booked for Saturday. In Spain, Son and family are fine too, thank heavens. Son took a test for the virus, and another to tell if he had had it earlier and they both came back negative. The pattern of infection seems to be completely random as far as I can see. Actually I think we as a family have been very lucky so far. 

            I have been watching loads of old movies which is a good way to pass dark winter afternoons and even darker evenings. I miss seeing my friends. And I'm longing for the chance to have a lovely dinner out somewhere - that's if any of my favourite restaurants will be able to survive this lockdown.  Somehow I'm sure we will survive, let's hope.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Another New Year

             The sun is shining on my Christmas tree, making the decorations sparkle, but I must admit that that is about the only thing that's sparkling about my life at the moment. I know I'm not alone in feeling this, but isn't it hard to force yourself to be more positive and cheerful just now?  On New Year's Eve we should all be  looking forward to something - maybe a new job, a new baby, a new relationship? But this year all of those possibilities are overshadowed in no small measure by the continued presence of the COVID virus. It has affected all of our futures and shows no sign of disappearing. 

And as of  this afternoon I'm sadly more involved than before! Big Grandson and Little Granddaughter, having spent Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with their Father and his  family, are now at home with Daughter and have had the news that their Father has just tested positive for COVID. (Although he feels fine and his only symptom seems to be that he couldn't taste his Brandy:) Anyway they haven't seen him since Christmas Day, so should be OK, and they are both feeling fine. However, Daughter's Fiance woke up this morning with chest pains -  not feeling at all well, and has gone for a test this afternoon. I was so looking forward to seeing them all, and to having Big Grandson here for New Year's Eve but it just wasn't to be it seems. 

I'm trying not to think too much about the other disaster, that of Brexit, which is about to hit us all. I will not be celebrating at 11pm, and have my fastest finger ready to turn off the television the minute there is any mention of it. Johnson's pathetic statements about leaving the EU behind (and Remainers) and all uniting to face a future without all the benefits and  advantages that union has brought us just make me very cross. I am, and will always remain, a European. And the sooner we get our senses back and rejoin the EU, the better.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Happy Christmas, with bells on!

            Well here it is, or nearly.  I'm sitting beside my overloaded table with a selection of presents, wrapped or not yet wrapped, cards to write and send, bills to pay, wrapping paper, candles, colouring pens,  gift tags, you name it, it has found a space on my (thankfully large), dining table. When my lovely cleaning ladies came yesterday  I simply asked them to ignore the table and not to touch anything on it. It truly is the elephant in the room.  And to cap it all,  I have a wonky Christmas tree which I rescued from B & Q yesterday - it is almost completely flat at the back so it had been left in its cubby hole and was looking rather sad.  It is very nice and bushy everywhere else, so I have put it in the bay, with its flat bit to the wall. This is all fine, but despite my best efforts I didn't manage to put it straight in the holder and so it leans rather drunkenly to one side. I've tried, but I can't straighten it without help - if I get down on the floor to fiddle with it, I might never get up again :)) I just have to wait for Big Grandson to come to the rescue.

             I must say that getting out all the Christmas decorations brings back many memories, mostly good ones, though it's hard to feel the same about Christmas this year. I have had to give Spain a miss, and so will be sending love to Son and family on Christmas Day by Facetime. which is I suppose the modern way to do it. I'll be going to Daughter and family (my support bubble) for Christmas Day Lunch, which will be lovely I'm sure. At least Big Grandson and Granddaughter will be there too. so it will seem  semi-normal. I'll be making Cranberry Sauce and Brandy Butter as usual, and Daughter has requested Stuffing for the Turkey-Lurkey (I'm going for a Jamie Oliver recipe) and maybe a Christmas Pudding. Normally I would make a couple of puddings and save one for next year, but I have to admit that I'm not really up for it this year. It may just have to be a Waitrose pudding.

               My usual Christmas Eve would be spent getting last minute shopping and feverishly wrapping presents and filling stockings behind the sofa, while watching "It's a Wonderful Life" and eating sausage rolls and mince pies - and actually I can't imagine a more perfect way to spend the day before Christmas. The year Daughter was born (1981) there was thick snow for six weeks and we had a very traditional, picture postcard Christmas, though it was somewhat marred by the fact that her Father left us on New Year's Eve, when she was only two weeks old and Son was two years old! In spite of that I somehow only remember the good bits and anyway we obviously survived and went on to have many happy Christmases after that. 

                After that short stroll down Memory Lane it only remains for me to wish you all as good a Christmas as you can muster. It won't be like any other I'm sure, but hopefully we can all find something to celebrate with our nearest and dearest. Goodbye and Happy Christmas - with Bells on!

Monday, November 30, 2020

Time Flies...

           I can hardly believe it, but we are at the end of  November already. And what a cold dreary day it is to wave goodbye to the month. I have been sitting here trawling through old photographs, more or less by accident, and I have to say that the combination of cold foggy weather outside and reflections on family past inside has not been terribly cheerful. I must get out more - but I'm not sure that's going to be allowed any time soon either. 

            As I am elderly (81) and have allergic asthma, I am pretty sure I'm not going to be allowed out at all. Thankfully Daughter and family are my "bubble"  and so I do have one escape route available. And I have Big Grandson staying with me very occasionally - we are all in the same bubble, so I hope and pray that I'm not breaking the law.  Don't mention Christmas though, I was hoping to flit off to Spain and stay a couple of months, but that is looking extremely doubtful - and even if I could muster up the courage to fly to Barcelona I could not be sure what might happen there: let's face it, being locked down in Sitges would be better  than here, certainly weather-wise and of course there would be Son and family  to socialize with, and as I haven't seen them since last Christmas it would be so lovely. I do miss them terribly.

 Oh I just don't know what's best to do. And when I checked on the Gov. website it advised only essential travel, and you have to have a private COVID test, with paperwork, 72 hours before travelling. Oh and that costs anything from £100 - £150 (apparently the free NHS test is not acceptable - why?). The whole business  makes me feel sick, even though I'm perfectly fit!  I can see why a lot of people are deciding to give it all a miss this year, and don't get me wrong,  I love Christmas and everything that goes with it:  Christmas trees, tinsel, sparkly lights, Christmas carols, presents, stockings, beloved family all together and all the lovely food, but this year just won't be the same for so many people. 

Ah well, let's all look forward to next year and hope that 2021 is better in every respect. I'm not wishing my life away, let's face it I'm too old to be tempting providence right now. 

This Nana is probably going to opt for the safest Christmas so that we can all enjoy the New Year. It doesn't have quite the same ring to it, but needs must!!

Monday, November 16, 2020

Single Parenting.

             I haven't really written about this for a while - mostly because when your children are grown up with children of their own, it seems rather pointless. However, having  had BG here for the weekend, I was reminded of some of the experiences I had as a single parent. BG reminded  me, somewhat obliquely, because when I asked him what he had bought with his fiver last week he said he had actually given it to a friend at College because she didn't have the necessary money to get the bus home. Now BG doesn't have a lot of money, neither does Daughter. There are six of them, and the dog, living on a limited income which is enough for food, clothes and the rent, but not a lot more. I know that means that they are very fortunate, in these troubled times but nevertheless they are not exactly rolling in it. I was moved by BG's generous and kind gesture; when he could  have easily spent his fiver on some cheesy chips, or something similar, he gave it to a friend. He has a generous heart and without being sloppy about it, I was very proud of him -  He  has been brought up by a Single Mother (and a single grandmother :) and is a credit to us both. 

            This thread led me to remember a time when we lived in Cambridge and Son, aged 8 or thereabouts, came home in tears from Primary School and asked me if we were a real family? His Teacher had said that a family consisted only of two parents with children. Son was really upset, and I was really angry. I reassured him that we three (me, Son & Daughter) were absolutely a family, and a happy one, and then I stormed off to the (Church!) School to remonstrate with the Head Teacher. He was fairly apologetic, and promised it wouldn't happen again. At that time Son was the only one in his class who was living with a Single Parent, and Daughter had only one friend in her class who was similarly afflicted. By the time they left Primary School and moved on to Secondary I think there were only a couple of children still living with two parents.  But I clearly recall that I was considered an outsider: there were plenty of what Bridget Jones would call "Smug Marrieds". Looking back, it was an interesting piece of Social History, and it didn't bother me too much because I had an interesting life of my own and some very good friends. 

And as a Post Script, my two turned out pretty well.