Friday, 27 April 2012

"On Old Age"

Here are encouraging words for us in an agist society, which punishes the non-beautiful, excludes the physically frail, the physically imperfect.  These words were written more than 2,000 years ago.

"Great deeds are not done by strength or speed or physique: they are the products of thought, and character, and judgement.  And far from diminishing, such qualities actually increase with age."

"Some people never stop learning, however old they are."

"Age has to be fought against; its faults need vigilant resistance.  We must combat them as we should fight a disease - following a fixed regime, taking exercise in moderation, and enough food and drink to strengthen yet not enough to overburden." 

Cicero had a regime of study, which he called  "my intellectual exercise, my running-track for the brain", on a higher level than my modest reading programme.  (He was writing a treatise on Roman law, and studying Greek literature). 

At the end of the day, however, we agree on much - the need to:

"avoid drunkenness, and indigestion, and sleepless nights!": ...and to

"always find satisfaction in my reading couch..."

Thanks, Marcus Tullius Cicero, for telling me that my activities are good and useful!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

...Who is tired of London is tired of Life

I'm at a loss for words to give a title to this post.  It really sums up my whole blog, life and philosophy.

Yesterday went to London.  Elder daughter had given husband two tickets for Ronnie Scott's (one for him, one for me) as a birthday present. 

Ronnie Scotts.  This is a dive in Soho with subdued red-shaded lighting, hostesses in low-cut tops moving around noiselessly serving meals on trays, and a lot of alcohol being consumed.  In fact, it is the only place I've been to where the queue for the gents' is longer than the queue for the ladies'.

A large percentage of the female audience have dyed blonde hair.  Call me a snob, I don't care.  This is SO NOT ME.

We  had a wait of about 15 minutes before the main act commenced.  I could feel myself becoming more and more depressed.  Was it the darkness, the lack of any reading matter, the lack of any intelligent conversation, or the lack of any POINT to the proceedings?

My mind was dwelling on subjects like Sodom and Gomorrah, (was that the red lights, the drinking, the mindlessness?)  And on the reading matter in my desk drawer at home, the works  of Cicero, specifically his advice on how to handle old age. 

Before long, I was actually thinking "Well, if things get too bad, suicide is always a way out."  I do not exaggerate.  If there was no element of thought in life, or reading, or history, I would be suicidal.

Fortunately, once the main act (Georgie Fame) commenced, these gloomy thoughts receded.  G Fame is an intelligent and witty man, as well as very musical.  I lasted out the evening without upsetting my husband by articulating any of my thoughts.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Holiday Snapshots

I gave up taking photos on holiday when I realised that, not only was no-one else interested in looking at them, but that I myself never did so and on the rare occasion when I framed a photo, it did not look as good as I remembered it.

In latter years, true to my rubric, I copy down inscriptions and quotations instead.  I am very fond of reading memorial tablets in churches and cathedrals, and also the list of abbots or priests of the same.

Here is the quotation I copied down this week:

"A patient man is more excellent than a strong one; he who governs his mind is better than he who conquers a city". 

Aelfric (955 - 1022)  Abbot of Cerne Abbey, Dorset.

This I will take forward as I return to the stressful work situation which has made me ill.

Obviously my negativity was due to my illness

Just back from a short, reviving break in a holiday cottage, and watched the  last episode of "White Heat" last night.

I was moved, and the long silences seemed now to reflect thought going on behind the forehead, and words about to escape from the mouth, but then swallowed.  I enjoyed the last episode, and it made me reflect on my past 35 years, just as the characters did.

Friday, 6 April 2012

"White Heat" BBC Drama Series

Unable to read much, and feeling completely under the weather, I have watched more TV in the last week than probably since before I had children, 28 years ago.

I've watched some films, recorded episodes of "Upstairs Downstairs" and "Homeland."

Plus "White Heat".  This series is so boring that it is only tolerable if watching recorded episodes, so that one can fast forward frequently.  In fact, one could run the whole thing at double speed and miss nothing except the dialogue, what there is of it.  Long silences, people moving in slow motion, and people just standing or sitting doing and saying nothing, are the norm.

So why  am I watching it?  Oh, it's the settings, of course.  Starting in 1966, and moving through the 70's, which is the era when I was young.  It's about a group of flat-sharers moving through their, and British, history together.  Like the main characters, I left home to share flats with various people, in my case a little later, 1971.

How I remember those orange and brown colour schemes, the hideous kitchens, the mustard-coloured tea-cups, the dingy lighting and painted anaglypta wall-paper.  One of the really well-researched items of background is the use of the large brown earthenware teapot, slammed down direct onto a kitchen table, the centrepiece.  Yes, that is indeed typical of the period.  "Coffee", as in filter, followed by the discovery of the miraculous cafetiere, and later the capuchino machine, is not yet on the horizon.

I still have a blouse almost identical to the one worn by Lilli in last night's episode, white cotton with a frilled colour and pintucks down the front.  Mine has long sleeves, though.

The abortions, almost fatal drug addictions, kipper ties and early computers are also familiar territory.

If only it didn't move so slowly and painfully, and if only the characters were more likeable, instead of being handpicked archetypes.

I will persist, though, if only to revisit the decorating schemes of my own past.