Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Special friends

I have been lucky enough to have people come into my life in a support role, and then become very special friends.

Heather was a carer who came to me from an agency some years ago when I was temporarily bed-ridden. She came to cook me lunch, do my washing, tidy up the house, do shopping etc, and she would also help with baths, and wash and set my hair for me. At my request I had asked for the agency to send somebody very quiet, as I had had an uncomfortable experience with a loud, managing sort of person who insisted she was treating me as she would treat her own mother, while arguing with me about everything I asked her to do.

So Heather slipped into my life in the most unobtrusive and soothing manner, and it wasn’t until I began to get better, get up, and have the energy to get to know her, that I discovered what a fun-loving sort of person she was. She had a great sense of humour and we began to have some very therapeutic laughs together. Later she would take me shopping and we would sometimes behave like schoolgirls, fooling around and giggling. I love her to this day, and occasionally we manage to meet up again, which gives me great pleasure.

Sarah-Jane (or S-J as she calls herself) is the young woman who does cleaning for me, but she is so much more. She came to me in 2001 when she was still at school, and she is now a young mother of 22, working her guts out in a variety of jobs, including cleaning, shop work and home caring. She is also attending university part-time, looking after a baby daughter, and generally trying to make good - "because" she says "I was a right little toerag when I was at school!" She is a tough and courageous young woman and I salute her.

She is like a grown-up granddaughter to me, and tells me that now she has a daughter I have become a great grandmother! We have some very intimate conversations as she doesn’t mind what she asks me, and as I am a "let-it-all-hang-out" kind of person myself, I don’t mind telling her. She is a joy, and my buddy in a way which, having had neither sister nor daughter, I feel a great thankfulness for. We hug a lot, and I believe we draw comfort and companionship from each other. She calls me ‘Babe’, and I delight in her.

There are of course other special people in my life, but these two, one from the past and one in my life now, make a good starting point.


Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Obsessive compulsive disorder?


If her doorbell isn’t answered and her phone is off the hook,
And you do not see her shopping in the mall;
If the work she should be doing doesn’t even get a look,
And she never goes a-partying at all;

If she hasn’t heard the headlines and the soaps have lost their pull,
And her Jake CD’s are never even played;
If she’s looking pretty scruffy, and her dustbin’s overfull,
And the growing pile of bills remains unpaid;

If she lives on crisps and chocolate but doesn’t want a drink,
And she keeps forgetting when she took her pills;
If the dirty pots and pans are lying festering in the sink;
And the dust is inches thick upon the sills;

If she doesn’t take the milk in, and the garden’s looking rough,
And her junk mail is left lying on the floor;
If her children think they’re orphans and her friends have had enough,
And the cat has gone around to live next door;

If her back is stiff and aching and her eyes are getting blurred,
And her bladder is so full it’s causing pain;
Then you do not have to wonder what disaster has occurred:
Judith Taylor’s gone a-googling again!


Monday, August 22, 2005

The Jake Thackray Project

I wrote yesterday about the Project, and I want to say something about the many good friends I have made there, all of them known personally to me now, but not when we began communicating on the JT Project message board in 2002.

David, the producer, whose heart I won by sending him a bottle of single malt when he was in the last crucifying stages of burning the Project CDs, and who consequently gave me a credit in the tray notes.

Keith, who won my heart by offering me lifts to the various Jakefests around the country, not always on his way, with a commitment to unlimited comfort stops en route.

Ian, whose desire to sing the songs of Georges Brassens in English involved me in translating them from the French, thereby enabling me to renew a skill I'd forgotten I had.

Malcy, who calls me 'Madam', says his legs are as good as mine, and is prepared to carry on playing and singing, no matter what tomfoolery is going on behind his back.

Terry, who sends me rude emails, giving me permission to reply to him in kind, a pleasant indulgence for an otherwise respectable old woman.

And not to have you think I only make friends with men, there is -

Sarah, a professional writer, who exchanged poems with me in the early days of the Project, and then told me I was a writer too.

Pam, whose sense of fun is equal to if not greater than mine, and who bought old postcards on eBay for me of my first home , without being asked, and without letting me pay for them.

Maggie, another funster, who with Pam and myself and other lively members of the Ladies' Magic Circle, enjoys dressing up and playing the fool at our Jakefests, to illustrate Jake's songs.

[The picture, by Fiona Macfarlane, shows Pam, myself and Maggie, left to right.]


Sunday, August 21, 2005

Jake Thackray

You will find two links here to Jake Thackray websites, and if you are a lover of his songs I strongly recommend you look at both of them. The UNofficial Jake Thackray Homepage was for a long time the first and only source on the web, and is a very comprehensive discography with track lists, lyrics and album covers, and also details of radio shows, concerts, and covers by other artists etc.

The Jake Thackray Website is the home of the Jake Thackray Project, which was set up in 2002 to reissue some of Jake's work, most of which had become virtually unobtainable. A limited edition 2CD set was produced, but is now sold out. The Project continues to promote Jake's work in every way possible, and to hold 'Jakefests' once or twice a year at which the members get together to play and sing his songs and to have a fun time generally. This website has a forum for discussion of Jake's work, and for the Project members to communicate with each other off-topic as well. You will also find news of plans for further releases of Jake's work, and of other forthcoming events. Do check us out and come and join us.


Saturday, August 20, 2005


"Something for the weekend, Sir?"

Hanging on the wall of my study I have a small poster advertising condoms. Now you may wonder why even the most enlightened and conscientious parent would be concerned with such matters when her sons are in their 40s, and are already parents themselves. It was like this:

I was attending a clinic in a local health centre and as I waited my turn I noticed on the back of a door a cartoon-strip-type poster illustrating the history of the condom. The humorous pictures were a joy in themselves, and I can’t think of a better way of spreading the good word among the youth of the nation than with a comedy approach. I would like to think that these posters are finding their way into all our secondary schools.

Anyway, I made a note of the website address before leaving the clinic, and as soon as I got home I contacted them to see if I could get half a dozen copies - for my sons, notwithstanding their age - and a few like-minded friends. They were delighted to supply them, but sent me no less than 32 posters! I have had a job to get rid of them all.

The poster was distributed (some years ago now) by Condomi Health UK Ltd, but it originated with a European firm of condom makers, who still run a website at www.condomi.com, in both English and German, offering various romantic and practical delights under the heading of Erotic Lifestyle. If you want to get 32 posters, you could try contacting condomi@dircon.co.uk.


Friday, August 19, 2005


"Keep young and beautiful if you want to be loved!"
Popular song of around the 1930s

I was struck a few years ago, while listening to a radio discussion on "romance and sex", when one of the speakers was described by the compere as "… 66, going on 25". This was because she had acknowledged her continuing sexuality and expressed herself as still open to offers! The well-meant cliché washed over me at first, and then I found irritation creeping in. Yet again, the needs and feelings that are natural to everyone, at any age, had been characterised as belonging to the young. The real message, underlying what the speaker said, had not been heard.

‘Old’ is an age with its own qualities and flavour and style, and should be appreciated for these, instead of being constantly devalued by comparison with ‘young’. What we need is recognition for the added values of old age - its special freedoms, its well-seasoned emotions, and its accumulated riches of experience and wisdom. If we are going to live active, creative and joyful lives in old age, this should follow naturally and inevitably from the long and eventful years we have already lived; it should not be a desperate harking back to youth.

Nowadays there are few things which irritate me more than being told I am "77 years young", or "young at heart", or any of the other rather coy and patronising expressions that come the way of the old. Nor do I like to hear myself and my contemporaries automatically classed as "grannies" - "A show you could take your granny to" one theatre reviewer said - thoughtlessly stereotyping the old - and grannies - yet again.

One of the nicest compliments I ever received was paid me by a man of about my own age, who said "My, I’ll bet you were a smasher 30 years ago!" What could be more honest, realistic and pleasing than that?

Why should I want to be young again, since that can never be?
What I really want to do is enjoy being old - and ME!


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Coming Out

I want to live to be an outrageous old woman who is never mistaken for an old lady.
I want to get leaner and meaner, sharp edged, the colour of dirt
Until I discorporate from sheer joy.
Author unknown

I am old, and I mean to get a whole lot older. When you get beyond your three score years and ten, it is sometimes easy to believe that 'old' is all you are, and that the person you used to be when you were younger is no longer there. This blog is about not letting that happen. It's about being who you are up to the very last moment - and just possibly beyond (though that's for another day). I want to let people see through the well-worn physical container to the lively, curious, adventurous, playful, sexy, loving inner 'me', and to reconcile the two and integrate them, so that I am just one person again. In the spirit of this declaration of intent, here is a jingle I wrote when I turned 70, the same year that the picture was taken ~


I’m 70, you wouldn’t know.
They tell me that it doesn’t show.
It’s HRT that makes me glow.
I’m 70!

I’m 70 and not so quick,
But on the whole I’m in good nick.
It’s exercise that does the trick.
I’m 70!

I’m 70, I’ve lived a lot:
Four bonny sons have I begot;
I’ve loved, and laughed, and learned, God wot!
I’m 70!

I’m 70 and still a flirt,
At heart I’m just a bit of skirt!
And you should hear me "dish the dirt".
I’m 70!

I’m 70 and must confess
I love to put on fancy dress.
In fishnet tights I am the best!
I’m 70!

I’m 70 and like a frolic
To keep from being melancholic.
It’s better than being alcoholic!
I’m 70!

I’m 70 and having fun.
There’s so much waiting to be done.
What’s more, I know I shan’t die young!
I’m 70!


"He wore age like an accomplishment, not like a disease to be avoided" Jay Brandon - Local rule