Here we go again – “Apologies For Absence”. I am sure you have been anxiously scanning your In-Boxes for signs of this Blog – only to be disappointed, day after day. I can explain. I have been having Christmas. And New Year – as have all of you. Other Things Have Been Happening, haven’t they? (Oh, get a life, why don’t you…?)
I hope the Festering Season went as well as can be expected – expectations usually being high – only to be defeated by reality.
But speaking selfishly I enjoyed myself; Christmas Day was spent at the Hobbit Cottage with a blazing fire, mulled wine and some hot sausage rolls and mince-pies brought in fresh from the oven by Jim’s next-door-neighbour all in her Christmas pinny. Pressies were unwrapped, coffee was made and Jim’s speciality egg-and-bacon sandwiches appeared and disappeared – as did the mulled wine – and suddenly it was time for Her Maj. After that we struggled into party-gear for evening dinner in our local smart (and expensive) hotel. £90-a-head. Oo-er, Missus. But we got Buck’s Fizzes included, plus a four-course meal and coffee. So we didn’t feel robbed, exactly.
Having decided to do no Christmas cooking (hence the visit to the Hotel) I had guests for Boxing Day – Jim and his son Quentin and my bezzie mate, Sandy. So I did some Christmas cooking after all. Ah well, the best-laid plans of thingy and wotsit gang aft pear-shaped.
For my Boxing-Day gathering I wore my new, velvet, green trousers, freshly-arrived by Mail Order from “The House of Bruar” (a Scottish company with excellent credentials.) Since I get too hot in trousers AND tights I tend to wear Pop-Sox underneath (you need to know this although you might think it Too Much Information) – meaning the top part of the trousers were in contact with my bare thighs. (Sorry…) By the evening I had a rash from knee to hip which itched like Hades, turned a bright shade of red and then kept me awake all night. I’m not stupid; I immediately identified the inside of the new trousers as the cause of the problem, took myself to the Pharmacy and returned, armed with E45, a Hydrocortisone cream and E45 Itch-Relief. In three days the crisis was over, and the trousers taken to the cleaners. Ah. but the tale does not end there. Since I never do anything by halves I had ordered THREE pairs of these trousers; one pair in a Christmassy red, which I wore on Christmas Day with no trouble at all, one pair in bottle-green and another pair in olive-green. The bottle-green pair were the offenders and at the cleaners, but, a few days later I could be seen sporting the olive-green pair – later going to bed to itch and scratch most of the night. Luckily I had plenty of unguents to spread all over. Three days later, and the problem had disappeared. Now I am left wondering what on earth this irritant was? I suppose it must be the green dye they used – since the red pair gave me no trouble. Any ideas? (Answers on a postcard please….)
Anyway – all the jollity is now over, the decorations put away in their boxes and the Christmas Cards waiting for me to go through them and answer those who wrote me a letter inside. (I mean a personal letter; not one of those PR sheets people send, advertising their families.) I am childish enough to hate it when all the pretties are down. I miss my tree, with the fairy on the top. That fairy is a piece of social history now; bought in Shepherd’s Bush Market, round the corner from TV Centre, in 1974 she was. That’s a lifetime ago. Wonder where it all went?
But although mourning the Death of Christmas, I had a bit of merriment at Epiphany, when, on a chilly January Sunday I joined a coachload of other old ladies going to Brighton to see “HOLIDAY ON ICE” with friend, Sandy (see Para 4 above).
This is a beautiful spectacle with no intellectual content AT ALL (so quite restful in that regard.) I love ice-dancing nearly as much as ballet-dancing – and there are similarities. This year’s theme was “TIME” – all choreographed by DAVID LIU (who also choreographs for the Ice Theatre in New York) and performed with expert grace and skill by a young team of skaters from all corners of the globe. It was a delight and sensibly formed of two hour-long halves with a nice lengthy interval in between so elderly bladders could get emptied. (Sorry, again, but a spade is a spade…) The whole afternoon was a completely joyous and stress-free experience. We loved it.
So the days have flashed by bringing us to mid-January, the prospect of a cold snap and snow – and Jude’s lumbago week. I know how much you enjoy reading about my various ailments and that you are going to miss my dilating upon ACID-REFLUX (because it’s better), so here is Something Completely Different. My osteopath suggested, 6 weeks ago, that I should WALK from the basement of my block of flats to Floor 2 after parking my car, thus getting some exercise and increasimg my “core strength” I took her advice, but I think with too much enthusiasm because i managed to pull a muscle in my groin. Over the weeks, this has morphed into tremendous discomfort in my left buttock (sorry, once more – I seem to have become a real pain-in-the-bum) which now presents itself like a red-hot poker going round and round in that area, affecting my left thigh (there I go again) and giving me a stiff and elderly walk and difficult nights – as it’s uncomfortable. I believe the hot-poker effect is probably caused by a trapped nerve and all I can say is, let’s none of us get old. Because things happen. On the other hand – I’m still here! Which leads me to
THE ONGOING SAGA OF JUDE ET JIM – GERIATRIC LOVE-BIRDS;
After their jolly Christmas, Jude et Jim stayed up to see the New Year in – eating Jude’s End-Of-Christmas-Risotto (ham, turkey, sausage, stuffing…. anything left over, really) and drinking a tiny bottle of Prosecco between them. They watched the national fireworks on telly and the local fireworks through the sitting-room windows, fell into bed around 1.00.a.m., and, at 11.00.a.m. watched the lovely New Year’s Day concert from Vienna. So, their Festive Season has, as John Le Mesurier said on his deathbed about his life “all been rather lovely..”
But the insanity of the Awards Season is now upon us, so Jude’s DVD-Player decided to celebrate by going U/S. Jude suspected this was due to the heavy-gang from Sky installing a new Sky player in April, at the same time disconnecting other hardware with gay abandon. Jude did not feel like a lengthy telephone conversation with the Believe-In-Better people themselves – which would inevitably involve her doing gymnastic manoeuvres behind her telly – pressing buttons with her big toe while holding down another button at the front of the set with her elbow….. (you-ve been there too, have you?) so decided to escape to the Hobbit Cottage (where all electronic devices were working normally) with a copy of her BAFTA screener for “DARKEST HOUR” in her bandbag.
OMG – what a good film – and what a brilliant history lesson too (unlike “DUNKIRK” which missed several tricks on that score).
Jude was there at the time, in fact (well – only just; she was extremely young, natch) and, in 1940, the period upon which the action is focused, her only memory is that “we” were going to win and that Good Old Churchill would get us through. Apparently this was by no means a certainty in anybody’s mind at that time – in particular HM Government which had managed to weld itself into some sort of emergency coalition, and installed Winston as Prime Minister, much against the better judgement of most of its members.
GARY OLDMAN plays CHURCHILL in a tour-de-force performance which will undoubtedly win him “Best Actor”, and KRISTIN SCOTT-THOMAS is his redoubtable wife, CLEMMIE in another performance which will probably bring her awards; although (as Jude was there at the time – see above!) Jude’s memory of Clemmie was of a much more heavyweight personality than Scott-Thomas’s mildly ditzy and flirtatious offering. That the Churchill’s were deeply in love and that their relationship was full of both tenderness and humour is not in dispute, however, and is sensitively shown in the film. But, it would appear, we nearly lost the war due to the Cabinet’s insistence on peace-negotiations with Hitler. Churchill’s reply, “When will the lesson be learned? You cannot negotiate with the tiger when your head is in its mouth…” went some way to persuading them that confrontation was the only option. ‘His thunderous prose is accurately represented – I believe it has been said by someone somewhere that “Churchall mobilised the English language and took it to war” and as a tiny child I remember his voice booming through the speakers of our small radio “Hitler says we are like a chicken whose neck is being wrung; some chicken, some neck…” and the awed and positive response from my parents. “Good old Churchill – he’ll get us through..”
Jude et Jim hugely admired the historical accuracy of this film (with the exception of one scene on the Underground where Churchill gathers the opinion of the British public as to whether they wished for conflict or appeasement) but perhaps it can be excused on the grounds of “Artistic Licence”. They both learned many things they did not know about those days in early summer, 1940 when the freedom of the world was in the balance. Jude had no idea how fine that balance was – but she was very, very, young at the time…..
The writer, ANTHONY MCCARTEN should get an award for his brilliant script and deserves special mention. The excellent Direction is by JOE WRIGHT.
Other members of the cast include BEN MENDELSOHN as GEORGE VI, SAMUEL WEST as ANTHONY EDEN, DAVID SCHOFIELD as CLEMENT ATTLEE and RONALD PICKUP as NEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN.
Jude’s problems with her DVD Player were later solved by the excellent Don Foster, who happened to have a few hours free and managed to untangle the entrails of her “Home Cinema” system – discarding a large part of the small bowel, which appeared to be redundant to its successful function. (Don Foster – the electrician – remember him? Find him in earlier posts! – if you can be bothered to trawl through.)
And talking about entrails, is anybody watching BBC 2’s programme “SURGEONS; THE EDGE OF LIFE”? Quite staggering – but not for the squeamish.
TIPS FOR OVER-SEVENTIES;
Be extremely careful about what you allow to touch your naked thighs……