Blog 143 – 16.10.21. Consider this….

Today I went into the local Turkish grocery shop to pick up some garlic, chillies, and maybe a pomegranate. Found all of those then wandered over to the pastry counter and found my husband’s favourite greek baklavas and also a feta pie – (these were of course turkish and not greek). Suddenly I was on the verge of tears…almost..cos I really miss Greece. And then I was reminded of the similarities between greek and turkish cuisine…not the same of course…but, you know, similar. And then I was struck by the fact that although many nations are very similar to their neighbours, they often hate each other. And they often love each other (Brits absolutely love France and the French (art/culture/cuisine/wine)…and they also hate them). Why is it like this? Is it like siblings’ love/hate relationship? What? I mean why. And does it matter anyway?

Who else hates their neighbour? Well…I guess many Scots hate the English enough to keep asking for a legal separation. Do the Canadians hate the Americans? The New Zealanders the Aussies? The Venezuelans hate the Guyanese? The Nigerians hate the Ghanaians? I don’t know for sure….but I’d be willing to bet they do.

Right now, right this very minute (midnight), our neighbours, R&N, are blasting out party music in aid of R’s 50th Birthday. They politely warned of their plan last week and I watched yesterday with trepidation as they erected a ‘Great British Bake-off’ -sized tent in their back garden. Their parties had a certain notoriety before the pandemic and was definitely a sore point for their immediate neighbours when large speakers boomed out into the garden well into the night.

We could hate R&N. But we know that it is never worth hating your neighbours. At the height of lock down, another neighbour blasted music out of his flat, in the middle of the day, and both houses in the terrace either side shook. The ensuing exchange on our local street Whatsapp group resulted in a polite note to him asking him to consider people working from home/babies trying to sleep etc…and this seemed to work. We have heard no loud music from him despite this having been a regular problem for his immediate neighbour before (he had actually greeted one of his newly arrived neighbours with something like ‘Hi!…looking forward to doing musical battle with you’).

I’m no expert (I’m not expert about sooo many things)….but I remember one piece of advice from a famous TV traveller whose name escapes me…’wherever you go, wherever you travel, you will go far just by being polite’. And I thinks it’s similar with neighbours…state your complaint in the politest way possible. To their credit, I guess, R&N have accepted they will be causing problems for those in their immediate vicinity, and unlike their pre-pandemic parties, had warned everyone and promised no outside noise after midnight. They’ve tried, I guess, but (she checks watch) haven’t quite kept to that timeline. So wish me luck as I try to be heard knocking at their front door above a deep and pounding drum base. The last time I did that, I had to give up, climb up a ladder and wave a flag over the back garden fence to draw their somewhat inebriated attention. (Incidentally, if you ever decide to take this kind of action, always send the woman, never the man).

In the UK ‘an Englishman’s home is his castle’ which can mean ‘I can do what I like on my patch of land’. This pretty much works…if you live in a field…all of which leads me to believe that what neighbours do can be either wittingly or unwittingly inconsiderate….and that being considerate, politely just talking/listening to each other, can go a long way to reduce irritation, retaliation and even all out war. Nations take note. Now please excuse me while I grab my cricket bat and pop next door.

jx

Posted in Everyday Life in London, Fun/Humour, Life Lessons, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Blog 142 – 2.10.21…. get out there and grow bolder

Wooo…although about 35,000 people a day are catching covid in these parts (apparently the highest rate in Europe)…many are returning to some kind of post-pandemic normal. We are short of van/lorry/tanker drivers and the brexiters are probably biting their lips as we invite ‘jonny foreigner’ in to drive long-distance lorries and pick crops. It feels like we are slowly getting off our (sore) butts and starting to do stuff again…adverts are appearing in shop windows showing 3 things – the economy is picking up, businesses need staff, and are consigning cash to history….all the pics below are from the same high street….

Edna (I think she was an Edna) stood pleading with a guard at London’s Waterloo station. I need help getting down the escalator, she said (pointing to it with her walking stick), I just can’t get down on my own. But I can’t leave my post, the guard insists. They tussle over the issue but eventually, persuasive Edna secures the arm of the rather unhappy station guard. Can I help? I ask, (having arrived at the station too early for my nearby sewing class)…Ooo..says Edna – yes please…I just need to hold on to someone’s arm going down the escalator. The relieved guard hands Edna over and we make our way down the moving stairway arm in arm (she instructs me that I must crook my arm on my hip and she will loop her arm through). Will you need help walking across the concourse I ask as we approach the bottom of the escalator. Oh yes please, says Edna, I need platform 24 and that’s right at the very end. I’m 90 says Edna (she looks but does not act 90) and I’m going to Richmond to do some ironing. Oh, I say, completely stunned that she’s 90 and apparently still working. Work keeps you going she says. I work for 2 doctors and I iron their shirts for them every week but it’s every few weeks at the moment because of the pandemic. They’re German, you know…and I’m English…but they are very nice. Edna knows an easy cut-through that involves putting her Freedom (travel) pass through a barrier and she waves away a second station guard who is indicating that she should not do that….but she’s clearly done it many times before. I’m sorry I’m so bossy she says, dragging me through. She leads me towards the 10.22 to Richmond (I must catch that train she says), then let’s go of my arm and thanks me profusely. Edna is a lady who knows exactly what she’s doing and where she is going… and age and escalators are not going to stop her.

Dealing now with my own aged mother, I know age is nothing but a time to grow bolder (https://growingbolder.com). And motion is lotion….I’d better remember that.

jx

Posted in Changing World, Everyday Life in London, Fun/Humour, Looking for the Good, talking to strangers, Uncategorized, Work | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Blog 141 – 1.8.21. Get out the sunscreen, it’s time for a really sore butt.

OK. I get it. It’s my time for some serious butt-kicking… i.e. being on the end of it. OK Miss Pollyanna….can you cope now? Can you cope with family members with spinal tumours, or hanging from the end of a rope, or your business slowly sinking as people move out of London? Or siblings deciding that it’s too difficult to spend time with each other? Can you? I, Universe, dare you to cope. What?…are you holding back tears, are you? I dare you to crumble. Trouble sleeping?…there, there. Biff. And biff again. Stop whingeing…do you have a home? Do you have food? You do? Then you can take it. Bam.

Undeniably, there has been massive, massive change for the better. Things are massively better for me than they were for my ancestors. But…the world (the people and the planet) has a sore butt. Actually the world has always had a sore butt. It was born with a sore butt and it looks like the sore is in dire need of antibiotics. And there is no way we can say that anything has really changed, at least on the negative side of things. There have always been psychopathic leaders, wars, greed, murder, rape, torture, floods, fires, plagues. Always. This is the regular backdrop of the movie. But…. this not what I see outside my window….right here and now. I remember a clip from a film where I think an aboriginal man stands observing war/chaos all around, but is not part of it..- can’t remember which film. Finding an internal balance has to be the way for me…a still, unchanging, worry-free place where, in truth, my Father and I reside…and watch the wild movie with silent compassion, from a place of knowing. I see my mother laughing and taking immense care and joy picking out and then eating a scrummy watermelon. I see my husband being the beautiful, caring, loving, empathic, compassionate person that he is. I see the stunning fox who comes to our back door for breakfast (the cat’s leftovers) every morning. Everything, but everything I need, is right on my doorstep. Here and now, all is well.

Learning. Learning to trust. Learning that all lessons push me in one direction only – the one and only inevitable direction of safety and peace in God. I’m learning to be a better pupil. C minus…could do a lot better.

But all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well. And both the highs and the lows are imposters, to be treated just the same. Must remember to wear sunscreen.

jx

Posted in Difficult times, Everyday Life in London, Family, God, Life Lessons, Looking for the Good | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Blog 140 – 13.3.21…is that really you?…

My cousin, who I know well because she lived with my family when I was young, phoned me up out of the blue from the US a few days ago. I missed her call because I was out. She phoned twice more over the next day or so, and again, very unusually, I was out. But it seemed a little panicked/urgent (given that she seldom calls), so I made sure I called her back when I got in. We had a somewhat strange ranting conversation…she was going to have a knee operation but her company’s insurance wouldn’t be paying for it because they’d laid her off her airport job because the airport was all but closed. Her private insurance would cover most of it, but, in further ranting tone, she complained that Biden was reversing all the Trump policies; taxing her and other better-off folks so that people who never worked a day in their lives could get free healthcare; handing out thousands of dollars of tax-payers money to everyone in a stimulus package she would have to pay for…. and hadn’t I seen on the telly that there were billions of immigrants at the border with their pregnant wives being ushered in and given free healthcare and housing. It was so bad, she was thinking of coming back to the UK to live because Biden was bringing in socialism.The ranting tone made it feel like I wasn’t actually talking to her at all. And I had to tell her that Europe invented socialism..so she wasn’t going to get much of a break here….

I also suggested that perhaps these ‘immigrants’ that Biden was ‘letting in for free’ were perhaps legitimate refugees, maybe? (I have no idea). And that perhaps it might benefit her to stop watching the news. I also jokingly mentioned to her that most immigrants would hesitate at putting themselves through US customs….which, in my experience, is mightily hostile to all ‘aliens’. I suggested she remember that she lives in the richest country in the world, has access to arguably the best healthcare in the world, as well as covid jabs and all the food she could possibly need. I don’t know exactly what her job is at the airport, but she looks after international passengers so she hears directly what it’s like to go through US customs….she remembers how grateful international passengers feel when they see a friendly face like hers…how she enjoys helping them feel comfortable….she misses her job…she is such a people person. At this point I hear her voice change and my real cousin returns…

I trust the superb surgeons who will have operated on her will have done a great job and that she will be up and running once she has completed her physio…I pray also that she focuses steadfastly on the vast positives that come from living in a rich western country, that she reduces and monitors her news intake judiciously, and looks forward to a future where she has a healthier body and a life where she does what she really likes doing…which is serving others. She’s in control of that.

jx

Posted in Gratitude, Looking for the Good, Politics | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Blog 139 – 5.3.21. I’m not anti-anybody…

You know me….I like to be positive. I still have plenty of food, a lovely house, a job, a great husband and a beautiful cat called Millie. There is a plentiful supply of vaccines and no doubt I will rise to the top of the list soon…the government is doing well on that front. But the (no socialising/no going out unless essential) full lock down in the UK is getting to me. Husband, who hates MacDonald’s, found it ‘essential’ to go for a ‘picnic’ at a drive-in….ordering something called a MacTasty(?). So we ate with a view of a concrete boundary wall and artificial grass. Like everyone, we are having zoom meetings with friends/zoom quizzes etc…but I feel so restricted. Outside exercise under cold tupperware skies do not appeal. At least husband has started a new job…with a one flight of stairs commute. Excitement around here is when a dying smoke detector wakes us up at 3 am and we have to fumble for the rcd on the consumer unit to shut it up….

An antibody test shows I have antibodies to covid-19. I have had no symptoms…unless a cold I had over a year ago was it…. but this would have been about 5 weeks before the first lockdown…when coronavirus was mostly something going on in Spain and Italy…when the approaching covid tsunami had not massively hit our shores…

Something is up. There is mental turmoil going on….a tenant is erupting with repeated angry, sarcastic, bullying messages…and there really is no explanation for it. A cousin, in lock down abroad, has been involved in an unspeakable tragedy. Lack of cash/not having a job is driving some to be inventive…but perhaps not in the best way. My delightful youngest sister had an explanation as to why I might be exposed to these challenging situations: she has faith in me and thinks I can deal with it. There is negativity ramping up like a lion with a thorn in its paw and, although I’m a pretty useless nurse, maybe the reserves are within me to respond with compassion, and contribute to making things better. Fingers crossed.

Pandemic picnic

jx

PS. Since originally drafting this post, Mr. Johnson has announced a ‘roadmap’ out of lock down….but as far as I can see, things will remain pretty restricted until mid-May….I am however, buoyed up by the fact that I had my first AstraZeneca jab today – so my already resident antibodies will be multiplying and bouncing around the place….invaders (variants or not) don’t stand much of a chance I think…..incidently here’s a podcast between a fitness trainer and an immunologist, which I found pretty helpful:

The Immune System, COVID 19 and why the vaccine is a good idea

Posted in Coronavirus/Covid-19/pandemic, Everyday Life in London, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog 138 – 25.12.20 – Meal deal for 2…

I have a theory (actually it’s not my theory), that all pain and suffering and even slight irritations have a purpose…and that purpose is education. There is something to be learnt. My covid lessons have taught me, primarily, how to make face masks. Plus, how to teach others; how to bake banana bread, how to entertain myself; what I can live without; how important and useful and clever (and lovely) my husband is; why time with my mother is irreplaceable….and today it will teach me to make Christmas dinner.

I have never, ever made Christmas dinner…we’ve always managed to get out of it…mostly by virtue of 1. not having children and 2. not strictly being able to cook. So Christmas is either with his family or my mum…and I’m just required to bring a side dish or a dessert. I give my mum a lump of cash as my contribution, or buy an organic turkey for my ex-cook sister-in-law and her husband to deal with. Job done.

But of course coronavirus is turning everything on its head. We were prepared to not travel anywhere and have Christmas dinner at home with 1 other household – my god-daughter and her parents, who live 10 minutes away. But the latest variant of the virus (which has put us into a sudden tier 4 lock down here in London)…means no socialising outside of your own household whatsoever. So, like many well-prepared boy scout types, I am stuck with a pile of cranberry sauce, a large Christmas pudding, 2 tubs of brandy butter and enough turkey for 8. But….I’m mightily relieved that my first Christmas turkey will be just for me and Husband. Relieved, because we get to learn how to roast a turkey, cook crisp roast potatoes and parsnips, make bread sauce and most of the other side dishes, but have none of the stress of anyone else having to eat it. And we’ll have stacks of left-overs for turkey and ham pie…etc.

Thanks for the lesson covid!

Jx

Posted in Coronavirus/Covid-19/pandemic, Education/learning, Everyday Life in London, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Blog 137 – 4.11.20 … riding the covid bucking bronco…

brrrmmmm…..brrrmmm (presses sewing machine pedal)…whoooosh….snip. clip. damn needle..can’t see the hole…brrrmmm….brrrrmmmm

I have no time to write a blog….I’ve got on the face covering skateboard and I can’t get off. The charity I volunteer for needs the dosh…plus it feels like we’re helping keep people safe. We’ve made over 800 masks and raised around £3K. Now with a second national lockdown starting tomorrow, we have to get creative about how we sell them…

I’m avoiding the news as much as possible…so I’ve got little to say about the American presidential election…but I have to say that, with Mr. Trump, it looks like what you see is what you get…which is kind of refreshing…and terrifying. No idea about Mr. Biden. What do the leaders we choose say about us?

Back to the cutting table…

jx

Posted in Coronavirus/Covid-19/pandemic, Making things, Politics, Uncategorized, Volunteering | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Blog 136 – 9.8.20…working like a crazy mask lady…

via Blog 136 – 9.8.20…working like a crazy mask lady…

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Blog 136 – 9.8.20…working like a crazy mask lady…

Once, while at an exhibition at the Barbican of those superb American furniture designers Charles and Ray Eames, I saw that they were admirers of this quote: Continue reading

Posted in Everyday Life in London, Fun/Humour, Talking to God, Uncategorized, Volunteering, Work | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Blog 135 – 26.7.20…doing the hippy hippy make..

Nothing is normal of course, but husband and I had a relatively normal garden meet-up with an ex-neighbour and her twenty-something daughter, M, taking a break from her pure physics PhD up in Glasgow. M had just had a paper published, to a flurry of press interest, following her practical demonstration of a theory which said you can get energy from black holes…. Continue reading

Posted in Coronavirus/Covid-19/pandemic, DIY/Repairing/Up-cycling things, Making things, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment