Monday, 26 December 2016

And it's only Boxing Day Morning

I've already upset my younger daughter's partner,  my older daughter, my husband, and my brother.  Also I snapped at my sister-in-law.  Last year and the year before, my strategy of keeping off the alcohol worked very well.  This year even that is not enough.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Poem by Edward Thomas, "The Owl"

The warmth of the hearth - and anxiety for those who are outside at night in winter ....

Beautifully summed up in this poem, by Edward Thomas (1878 - 1917) 

The Owl

DOWNHILL I came, hungry, and yet not starved,
Cold, yet had heat within me that was proof
Against the north wind; tired, yet so that rest
Had seemed the sweetest thing under a roof.

Then at the inn I had food, fire, and rest,
Knowing how hungry, cold, and tired was I.
All of the night was quite barred out except
An owl's cry, a most melancholy cry.

Shaken out long and clear upon the hill
No merry note, nor cause of merriment,
But one telling me plain what I escaped
And others could not, that night, as in I went.

And salted was my food, and my repose,
Salted and sobered too, by the bird's voice
Speaking for all who lay under the stars,
Soldiers and poor, unable to rejoice

Thursday, 8 December 2016

100 Good Things About Growing Old - Part Two - One Has Learned more about How to Handle Relationships

Husband - will be dealt with in a separate post

 Other relationships -  Good Things Which I Have Realised at Last, but only because of the passing of years   .....  Items 11 -20

11. It's not necessary to like my sister-in-law, merely to be polite and hide my true thoughts.

12. It's not necessary to clean the entire house to the point of exhaustion immediately prior to a visit from my mother-in-law.

13.  It's not necessary to like my mother-in-law, merely to be polite and hide my true thoughts.

14.  Although, actually, I have found, at this late stage, that I do in fact like my mother-in-law.  Or at least I respect her for her longevity, survival instincts, and exceptionally positive attitude to enjoying life. 

15. In fact I can learn from my mother-in-law on the subject of not apologising for my existence and actively seeking to enjoy life.

 With regard to the partners of adult children,

who may well become sons-in-law in the medium term, a set of different rules apply.  By this time, it is a good thing to have realised with age some things that caused problems in earlier days.

16.  I've learned - Never, ever criticise.  Anything.  Even when it is implicitly invited - eg "Mum, those curtains you've just bought are SO MUCH NICER than the ones we've just bought."

16.  I've learned - Never utter divisive comments about one sibling to another.

17. I've learned - Never offer any opinion at all on the subject of either the partner, his parents, siblings or family.

18.  Exactly as above in (17), but further, never offer such opinions to anyone, even my best friend, and only in very limited circumstances to my husband.  Because it becomes a habit, and one may say it in the wrong place or to the wrong person, or it may be repeated to the wrong person.

19.  I've learned  - never offer any opinion on the subject of money, how to handle it, or inter-personal relationships and money.

20.  I've invented a strategy - "The Clothes-Peg Rule". 
The clothes-peg rule came to me in an adult education class, when I realised that I normally said far too much, and that this was not a good thing.  In order to keep this habit under control, I must take a clothes-peg with me to class, and at awkward moments, grasp hold of it inside my pocket, and imagine it firmly clamping my top and bottom lips together. 

The clothes-peg rule also comes in handy in group social situations.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

100 Good Things About Growing Old (Part 1) Winter Aspects.

It's a marker.  After years of saying, "forty is the new thirty", and then "fifty is the new thirty", followed by "sixty is the new forty", one can no longer put it off any longer - the realisation that one is actually old.  It's the physical signs that one can't ignore - the knees which hurt, the not being able to read anything at all without a pair of reading glasses, the having to ask people to repeat what they just said. 

However, there are many upsides.   After the introversion, the looking back at history and the prevailing gloom of my thinking since June 24th, I have turned a corner.  I am now going to focus on the positive.

One hundred good things about growing old - I'm starting today with seasonal aspects.
  1. Turning the heating up to 21.5 degrees no longer seems like an indulgence, but a necessity.
  2. I don't feel guilty about writing very little (or nothing) in Christmas cards to people I seldom see.
  3. I don't feel guilty about letting people "slip off the list" of Christmas cards if we haven't met for more than 30 years.
  4. I don't feel aggrieved if a sick child (now aged 29) keeps me occupied for a week.  Instead I feel grateful that she's under my roof and control, not out walking their dog or going to "gigs" whilst suffering from flu.
  5. I don't feel sad and heartbroken when said child leaves my premises after staying a week.  Instead I feel grateful to have my own time and sofa and footstool back.
  6. I take it as a badge of honour, instead of an insult, when said child tells me that the old "weird" couple on Gogglebox are the ones her dad and I have most in common with.
  7. It's easy to walk straight past the dresses, handbags and shoes in John Lewis without a second glance.
  8. Instead of drinking up that glass of wine, and then having another, the first thing I do is mentally step back, think, "What will I feel like in ten minutes' time, and what might I say which will cause terrible upset?" and refuse.
  9. Instead of worrying about what people will think of me if I decline an invitation I really dread, I simply apologise in simple terms and move on.
  10. On meeting people I've known for years while out doing Christmas shopping, I shut up after "How are you?" instead of going on to ask about everything they've done in the twenty or so years since I last spoke to them.
More soon.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

"The Tyranny of the Majority"

The phrase "The Tyranny of the Majority"  has a respectable pedigree, prior to the use of it last week by John Major.  Some of the problems outlined in the Wikipedia article (linked) include the election of a demagogue, and the abandonment of rationality.  Both seem particularly relevant this autumn.

In 1922, F Scott Fitzgerald wrote to his editor, Maxwell Perkins, "I think when I read Upton Sinclair's The Brass Check  I made my final decision about America - that freedom has produced the greatest tyranny under the sun.  I'm still a socialist, but sometimes I dread that things will grow worse and worse the more the people nominally rule. "

Significantly, the book to which he referred concerns the corruptive and corrosive power of the press.

Conceivably, the majority could use its democratically elected power to abolish democracy.  This, in fact, is how Hitler came to power.  Food for thought.