Life on Paper

My GodFather gave me a Bible on the day of my Christening.  In the front of it he wrote his name and a dedication and a date.  In the back of it I have written the names and birthdates of myself and husband, the date we married, the names and birthdates of our children and the names and birthdates of their children.  When I die my oldest son will inherit it and I hope he will continue this little family tradition.  I think it is perhaps the smallest and most solid family record I possess.

I have many other records on paper –

  • About ten photo albums containing prints from my life, and my children’s lives too, and a big box of un-albummed (is that a word? it is now) photographs of friends, holiday snaps and places.  Plus a few large Kodak envelopes of Art photos I took in my photography days – nothing special, not worth bragging about but if I had stuck with it I might have got good at photography.   It’s a record.
  • Diaries, from the first I started at about 16 right up until very recently. I think I might burn those before I die, provided I get some notice of the event… they were dedicated to my grandchildren but I am not sure now that I want them read by anyone, too personal, to full of angst.  Its a record though.
  • A couple of boxes of letters.  Not works of literary genius by any means but destroying them would be somehow unthinkable.  There are love letters in there, a record of the wonder of being loved and loving in return; letters from friends, family, people who mean/meant something special, whose regard I treasure.

These things are all on paper, not digital.  I have had many computers since I first owned a machine, and I have written and photographed and stored things on Hard Drives since those early days but sometimes Hard Drives break, and things are lost, or technology takes a stride and the old formats are not carried forward into the new.  I have very little archive on my latest machine, and when I die will my sons bother to look inside my old dusty files and keep my digital history? Will it be lost? Will it matter?

When my son had his first son, he wanted to see his baby pictures when I told him his child looked just like him as a child.  I got out the album and we looked at them and we scanned some and mailed them to his machine at home.  Will he print them?  Will his grandchildren be able to look at them and compare with their own children?  Will they care?

I think we are losing our memory streams in this digital age.  Archiving a family is becoming a lost art.  We dont write much by hand any more. This blog has been my diary since I began it and I have written nothing by hand since June.  I think I will return to Pen and Ink, in addition to this ephemeral ethereal fragile intangible medium.  I don’t think the Keyboard is mightier than the sword.

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Taking a razor to Picasso

The Absinth Drinker – Picasso… desecrated

Imagine you have been given a picture by Picasso, and you take it home and choose a place to hang it…but its just a bit too wide for the space… so you get out a razor and cut off a foot or so of canvas. Slice… Hack.. Desecration? Most certainly. Picasso weeps.

Imagine you are in a restaurant about to eat the famous signature dish of the renowned chef Escoffier… You scrape off the sauce and sprinkle the remainder of the dish with salt. The chef stares and explodes with wrath and throws you out of his restaurant.

Imagine you are in a concert hall, to hear a great work of Mozart… half way through the second movement you get up and leave before the beauty of the last movement has even begun.. Mozart turns in his unknown grave.

Imagine you are a member of an audio book club and search for your favourite author to hear his wonderful literary offerings …

you find that your favourite works have been abridged,….

Grrrrrrrrrr

Convalescence

Home from the hospital and having to severely talk to myself to be good, and not overdo things.  Why is it I get the urge to change my curtains, wash my rugs, clean out my cupboards, go on a trip, do a grocery shop (even though I did everything I needed to do before I went in for the op)? I must be on some psychological ‘kick’ because I had the urge to do all those things within a day.

I am being good, and taking my medications, (antibiotics and anti inflammatories) but I confess I havent needed pain killers except for a sore throat from the intubation, and that was only a discomfort rather than pain, and that only for a couple of days.

The one thing I was nervous about was being a wuss.. I seem to have got off lightly since the has been very small amounts of pain.  I am thankful.

I am sleeping at odd times, there is no sleep pattern, its all higgledy piggledy.  Overall I feel better than I expected to.  Perhaps the symptoms of the previous problem were more than I realised, or I had got used to them.  Perhaps I will feel significantly better having had the operation, and that is what I am experiencing now.

Its all good.

I am VERY grateful to my friends and family who have shown such interest in my recovery, and helped to promote it,.  Thank you.

Audacity

Like most people, I remember where I was on 9/11/2001. I was standing in the street outside a sports bar on the island of Corfu. I was on holiday. We stopped to stare at the big tv screen and watched the twin towers fall.

I remember thinking about the audacity of the act.

au·dac·i·ty [aw-das-i-tee]
noun, plural au·dac·i·ties.
1. boldness or daring, especially with confident or arrogant disregard for personal safety, conventional thought, or other restrictions.
2. effrontery or insolence; shameless boldness: His questioner’s audacity shocked the lecturer.
3. Usually, audacities. audacious acts or statements.

I didnt know the people in those buildings or the rescuers who had gone in to save them.
I remember thinking only of the audacity of those who did such a thing. How does one plan and envisage such an act?  How does one think its ok do such a thing? What sort of mind dreams that up and executes it?  I still wonder.

A hug to all America today.

Dividing the Spoils

I am going into Hospital on Friday for a relatively small procedure to fix a bit of me that is falling off. There are several bits that need a good mechanic, but this one is probably a bit more dangerous to be left alone, so I am going to have it fixed. People dont die of it, nor is it a dangerous procedure, but you know, one gets to thinking….

Anyway, I was wondering, since I havent made a will, perhaps this would do? Is a blog a ‘document’ and if I state my wishes here, would it count?

If it does, I want any money left over after expenses to be divided equally between my two sons. They can take any of my posessions that they want. Check the books carefully before you send them to the charity shops, as some of them are first editions. I want my wedding ring to go to my youngest son’s lady.

That’s all really… I think I am of sound mind. You might question that after reading this post 🙂

Work

Work by Ford Madox Brown

Why do you work? Why do you do your job, that particular job you do?

Do you do it for the money? Do you do it because there is no better job available?

I do my job because it suits my life pretty well. I can manage the physical demands on my body (just), it’s close to where I live, it is mostly emotionally rewarding, the hours suit me and the things I want and need to do outside work.

Mostly the boss leaves me alone to get on with it, but comes down pretty heavy if I mess up. Fair enough.

If I do it well, the boss mostly doesnt tell me I did well. Achievement goes unnoticed, or unremarked. I think this is not a good way for a boss to be.

Bosses get rewards by being bosses. They have a higher level of esteem and self-esteem through their job, and tangible rewards in the form of better pay and better conditions. Those at the lower levels, like me, are not rewarded in these ways. My pay is about as low as you can get in this country, I have little or no status in the company, and only the comfort of the friendship I have for and from my colleagues and the expressed satisfaction of my clients to give me emotional rewards.

I think it is the duty of employers and bosses and managers to encourage and reward their staff at lower levels. The loyalty of their staff (without which their job would be a nightmare) should be acknowledged frequently.

Oops … wrong Mother.

I was born with one long-sighted eye and one short-sighted eye.  Also I was born with a squint, not surprisingly, since my brain tried very hard to see with both eyes but got confused.  For a long time I wore those horrible NHS specs which were in fact instruments of torture but some optician thought would help.

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The earpieces were bendy springy wire things which dug in the backs of your ears… it felt like two pencils being bored into your head.  To make matters worse I had to have one eye-glass covered with opaque stick-on paper, which nobody bothered to trim very well, and scratched my cheek painfully. Consequently I pushed the specs to the end of my little nose (I was about 4 or 5 at the time) to relieve the pressure on the backs of my ears and the scratch on my cheek and – Hey Presto – I could look over the top of the horrible cloudy glasses and carry on letting my brain decide what to do with my eyes and squint away merrily.

The glasses having failed to correct my squint (though nobody knew why, because nobody asked me), I went into hospital at the age of seven to have the squint corrected… both eyes.  I was the only child in the hospital with Two black felt-tip marks, one over each eye.  All the other children only had one.

I came out with two relatively straight facing eyes, but still short-sighted in one and long sighted in the other.  Opticians thereafter, tried to correct my vision in several useless ways, the main one was that they tried to correct the long sighted eye to be more short-sighted and the short-sighted eye to be more long sighted, with the hope of me seeing somewhere in the middle.  This didn’t work at all, the result was simply that I had appalling vision in both eyes, had to sit at the front in school to see the blackboard and used to follow strange women out of shops because they were wearing a red coat, because my mother was wearing a red coat that day.

I did find lots of tricks to get myself through life, like the red coat thing, even though it backfired occasionally and I got smacked a lot for not staying in the shop with my mother.   I remember on holidays, memorising the stains on the hallway carpets between bathroom and bedroom so I could find my way back, and recognising people by their shape and colouring because I couldn’t see the faces of most adults, being too far away down there near the ground.   I remember putting my hand out for every bus, because I couldn’t see the numbers until they were practically going past, and getting shouted at by the bus drivers when it wasnt my bus and I had made them stop for nothing.  I remember  never being able to catch a ball, because of my lack of stereo vision, and always ending up in goal at Lacrosse, netball, etc. When someone throws a ball at me, I put out my hand to catch it and it flies by about 18 inches to the right. It made me hate ball games, and hate being the one nobody wanted in their team.

Then, when I was about 22, I went to an optician who recognised the problem.  He told me that my brain had been forced to make a choice and had opted for the short-sighted eye, presumably when I was a young baby in a small world,  or because my favourite occupation was reading as soon as I could read.  This opting by my brain meant that, while I could see a fairly good distance with the long sighted eye, my brain had shut it down and made me look through the short-sighted one.  Therefore, he said, what we need to do is put a very good lens over the short-sighted eye, make you see better with that one, and forget about the long sighted one.

I stepped out of the opticians in St Anne’s Square, Manchester, and saw this.

Image

I stood and stared at it for about 15 minutes…. and stared…. and stared.  Then I stared some more, and some more…    I had passed it a thousand times, and never seen it.  Now I could see all the beautiful carvings, the windows, the towers and turrets and the total gothic splendour, where before there had been a big brown blurry blob.

I still wear glasses today, and I still tend to match people’s names to their shape and colouring,  I still see my fingerprints better than clouds, but when I need to see something, I can actually see it.

Some parts of this semi blindness for a third of my life have been advantageous, some not. My hearing is Very Good, to the point of painfully good sometimes, if too much noise is around me it can be unpleasant.  I am very aware of sound around me.  I can’t see 3D images, or those funny pictures where you have to put your eyes out of focus to see them.  I still can’t catch a ball if you throw it to me.  (Though I can juggle, but juggling isn’t actually about seeing the catch, but controlling the throw).

So, if you have a child with a squint, or who follows strangers out of shops, don’t smack them, or make them wear revolting and uncomfortable spectacles.  Find an enlightened optician.  Or open up the world some other way, like a pair of binoculars for Christmas.

My Pet Spider

Image

I have a spider in my wing mirror.  I call him Sidney.

I dont see him very often, but I know he is there because of his webs, which are not pretty organised webs, but rather tatty, haphazard webs as if he has been taking psychedelic substances. Perhaps its just the panic that must surely ensue each day when I start the engine and speed him along inside my mirror to work and back.

I dont particularly want to kill him to get him out, but I do rather wish he would find somewhere else to live. His webs tickle my hand when I adjust the mirror.