My father died when he was 87.

I’d thought he might live until he was 90!  I told him so, but he said – no.

He just knew.  They say that ‘they’ know.

There had been nothing much wrong with him all his life.  He had scarlet fever or some such awful disease when he was a kid – ended up in hospital.

Him and this other lad – as he used to tell it – laughed like hell (that’s what he said) when a nurse came in and stuck a great big needle in a lass’s arse.

Sorry – I’m a Northerner, and this was as we used to talk – the grown up ones of us.

But then it was their turn – Dad never forgot it – this huge needle.

I think that put him off going to the doctor’s at all, once he was in charge of that himself, once no longer a kid.

He had illnesses, or he’d graze himself, or cut himself – it was nowt, he said (that was as we talked then).

It was never anything – whatever was wrong with him.

When he did see his doctor about something – he explained that his family had said he should get it checked out – really should – the doctor said he hadn’t been for – donkey’s years.

Dad said he knew that.

The doctor (being posher than we are) said it was nothing to be worried about.

And Dad said – I knew it was nowt.

There was not much wrong with Dad.  Some of the relatives were concerned that he was in his eighties and didn’t wear glasses.

But he said he could see the bees buzzing around that plant – most of the way up the garden – and that garden was long.

I couldn’t see them, and I had glasses on.

Not much wrong with my Dad.

There were a few things, though, in the last two years or so of his life, and he recognised those as being due to old age.  And he knew he had been lucky.

We had a party for him one day last week – when he would have been 90.  My nieces (his grand-daughters) did much of the baking for it.

We felt as though he was there – maybe sitting on a high shelf – just where we couldn’t reach.

And we talked as he did, all afternoon – remembering phrases he would use.

When one of my nieces drove me home – and the way out of the drive was mighty crowded, I said, “Can you get through?”

“You could get a bus through there,” she said, in a voice mimicking his.



I had a therapist once – ah, there she is, just round that corner, just where you can’t quite see her – who said if you don’t control your own life then someone else will control it for you.

Another time – it may have been a long time later, or maybe a long time before – she said it was more courageous to let go of control.

At the time (whatever time that was) I didn’t notice the discrepancy in what she had said.

She doesn’t make mistakes, this therapist – mark my words; she does not.

And so I am left, with these two oddities, trying to make sense of them.

Today, I thought I knew what she meant.

My circumstances are such that I go into the town – anything from ‘many’ times a week to . . .

Circumstances change, don’t they?

Do I change more than other people change?  Do I have that capacity?

With exciting things in the news, I have taken to buying a particular newspaper (print) nearly every day.

There is one side of an apparent divide – for years, I read an – opposite – newspaper – a –

I used to read a socialist newspaper because that seemed to be the done thing with people I met in the local university when I did my degree there as a mature student.

And I have got tired of that paper.  I was not brought up a socialist.

That sounds so awful, because yes, I do care.

I’m British.  We’ll get this said.  With splinter groups all over – the Scots want to rule themselves (some of them) – and Wales wants more power, as far as I can gather – and we’re in a mess with Brexit in part because we need to look after the Irish – those that are not completely with us, but will remain with the EU when we have left it – when we do . . .

I’m not going to get into all that.

What I was going to state, with those splinter groups going off all over the place – there are two of them now in our parliamentary system . . .

know – isn’t it a row in the House of Commons?  Who would have thought the people who look out for our interests would carry on like that?  Who would have known – before we got television in there, and they screened it?

Anyway, I suppose I’d better say that I’m English, in particular.  (And very sorry indeed that so many of the Sc . . .)

I don’t want to get into all this political stuff – I’m a babe in the woods as far as that is concerned.

But I’ve got interested – and I’ve stopped (mainly) reading this paper that is basically a – it is one that is more interested in the Labour party, it seems to me – and the one that I’m buying now is very much a Conservative paper (Dad used to be a Conservative) – and I am interested in what is being said there.

How to sit on the fence.

No – that’s me, not the paper.

I go out earlier in the morning than I used to, so I can buy this newspaper.

I waited half an hour or more for the bus – it’s usually only about ten minutes.  I was fretting.  If you don’t get to a shop quickly enough, they sell out.  Who would have thought?

The bus came just when I was wondering if I ought to chance it, walk to the next stop, where there is more of a choice of buses.  Had there been a snap strike just as there might be a snap election?  There was a bus strike earlier in the year, and very awkward it made things.

Got on the bus.  Got off the bus two stops further on.  That takes you to the village.  Large supermarket there (large-ish).  Got the paper there – thought they would have one.  Paid with my card to save my change.  But they know me in there and don’t think I’m odd at all.

Ooh! It’s all coming out today.

This must be the ‘don’t control’ bit.

Anyway, I felt more soothed then – I’d got my daily fix of Conservative news in my bag – I could proceed at a normal pace (for me) – and went to the bus stop there in the village.

Got the number 12, which you don’t get from the bus stop I usually frequent – and it took a route I wasn’t expecting once we got close to the bus station (where I usually get off).

It might not be going to the bus station, I thought.  It seemed to be doing its best to become a splinter group all on its own.  I jumped off, along with quite a few other people, at the Centre, and waited.

I seem to find reasons to wait aplenty.  People, I am sure (I have such a robust inner life), must wonder what I am waiting for now.

But I was waiting to see where that bus would go next.  The lights had stopped it, and I was wondering if it would turn left (and therefore to the bus station) or right – I thought I might have got on that bus into the town before – I might have made this mistake before . . .

The bus turned right – and I was right (therefore) to have jumped off the bus with all those other people – I could walk towards the bus station from there – the shops, that is, that I wanted to go into over that way.

I know, I know – what has this got to do with anything?

It marks, anyway, just how important this newspaper has become in my life.

I can understand what this newspaper is saying.  They don’t all agree with each other, those journalists in this newspaper – and I might not agree either – but I can understand what is being said there.

The newspaper I used to read – over years, this section in it was no longer speaking to me, nor this, nor that.  Gradually, it lost me, that newspaper.

This one that I’m buying now – well, it is one that my literature teacher at school used to like.

And that takes me into my past again.

This literature teacher used to like this newspaper at a time (I was 16) when I could not understand what it was on about.  I was too young (there are some savvy 16-year-olds, I am told).

But I wasn’t politically-minded then – didn’t have a clue.

I’m doing homework now, probably – I wouldn’t at all be surprised at myself – that I couldn’t do then.

Where all this is leading – I controlled my own life this morning.  I thought I was, as I stood (albeit pretending I wasn’t – walk a bit, stop and turn for a while – no, I’m not really doing something that – seems – so odd – as to watch where a bus might be going – what would be odd about that? – but I might be watching out for someone I said I’d meet – that person is late, look – oh, I bet she is already in the restaurant we said we’d go to -)

What does it matter?

On the one hand, I was controlling what was happening with me and the bus – in case I needed to get it again – and all this to do with a newspaper.

On the other hand, I had all this (uncontrolled) reasoning going on in my head as to why I was in a place that was unusual for me, these days.

Ah – maybe I have left that sunny lane I walked along before.  Maybe I found a turn-off, and was drawn into it.

I thought – you control what you can or other people will control it for you.  But you can’t control everything.



It’s difficult for me this time of year.  I tire easily as the light nights start to swing in.  That is something to say, anyway, about why I find ‘early in the year’ so difficult.  It is tiring.

However, this year, I have eased my situation by getting out into the garden.  The weather has been spring-like the past week, and I have taken advantage of that to begin digging out last year’s – sprigs – of Michaelmas Daisy and Valerian.

My removal is careful.

I dig out a square foot to begin with.  I ache.  I go back into the house.

know.  How do I work in something about – ‘yes, I am tired; I exercise’?

I’m not a fitness-nut as such.

I have always been interested in good diet, and I do like to get out for a walk each day, even if just up the road to the shop.

I have a contradictory nature, sometimes, but I have always liked nature.  It was always me at the nature-table when I got a chance as a kid at school.  And I grew up in a small house with a big garden.

I’m old-fashioned in my choice of plants.  I am always trying to reproduce, in one way or another, I think, that garden of my youth.

I am becoming more like my father.  He would take cuttings from people’s gardens as he passed, and seeds.

The other day, I pulled a piece of laurel from a bush at the edge of someone’s garden.  It was – you know – that one near the bus stop.  I had been eyeing that laurel bush for many months.

It seems an odd choice of plant – laurel – what is so exciting about laurel?

It is variegated, and that (pulling – I didn’t cut it – now in a pot, where it will root if I wait long enough), doesn’t seem reason enough to like it, especially since there is a hedging-laurel, I noticed, at a front-garden fence that I pass up the road, and which I have already decided I will take my secateurs for next time I’m that way – and that laurel is very much one colour, but a light green from whose leaves the sun sparkles, when it is out.

No.  The reason I am so keen on laurel is because, even though we didn’t have it at home, I liked it – when I was a kid.

I found it then, also, in other people’s gardens.

As I passed, I would rub its leaves between my fingers.  They were so soft and thick.

And evergreen.

Forever there.

To start my garden interests now, in the growing light, increasing my activity as I do, will help me get over this deep tiredness, I hope.







“What’s with the long hair? – I mean – I like it – ”

“I got sick of battling with hairdressers.”

He looked perplexed.

“They’re all alike.  I haven’t found one yet who is on the same wavelength . . . ha! ha!”

He didn’t seem to think that was funny.  Not much.  Only a little quiver of his lips.

“I should be able to deal with them,” she said.  “I know I should!  Do this!  Do that!”

He lifted an eyebrow – sardonically, she thought, but how was she supposed to know what he was thinking?

“Look,” she said.  “This is more than making your hairdresser your servant, getting him to do as you ask, as you describe . . . they have set procedures.  They are all taught at the same school.”

She sniffed.

“They say things like, ‘Shall we do something about this dry mess?’, and ‘Don’t try to grow it past your nostril at your age, dear!’  Intimidating, they are!  And so,” she said, sniffing again as though it really didn’t matter, “I gave them up, every-single-one-of-them.”

He was staring at her.

“It’s about your vanity, you see,” she went on.  “They get you through your vanity.  Not even that!  There is more to your vanity than meets the I you know – oh yes – ”

She wondered if he was still following her.

“Your vanity is your self-esteem, no less,” she said.  “You look in the mirror as you are about to go out – the mirror in the hall, you know – and you think – ah, yes, I look okay – or you think, ah, yes, I look stunning with all this make-up I have put on!  What artifice!  From a distance I look a sight – to behold, that is – as long as you don’t get too close or espy me side on . . . ”


How can you add a title (it says ‘add a title’ in the part you, dear reader, can’t see) when you don’t know what you are going to write?

Okay – I’ve been writing a whole load of blart here because I was using the new block system and it wasn’t behaving the way I expected it to.  I wrote a whole blog post on how the title slot didn’t seem to be large enough for the title I had in mind. What I wanted to say was what I have here, now, for a title; how can you add a title when you don’t know, yet, what you are going to write?

And then I put: I know, I know – you can go back and add it later.

And then: But why not have the title space at the end rather than at the beginning? In my paper-based writings, I used to put titles at the end, sometimes.

So what do I do now?  Leave this doubled-up blog post that has, for a theme, what many of my blog posts have?

That is, the difficulty I have with WordPress –

But that is the problem with these pre-prescribed spaces – in blog-platforms, anyway (I did set myself up with a Twitter account long ago but I never got round to doing my first tweet – that is still there, but maybe I need more space – more characters – to play around with) –

There is an assumption that everyone writes the same – that people would want to put the title first, having come up with an idea –

I don’t know what I wrote before (in this blog). I’m not going to look back on it. I keep a copy of this blog, as I did the last blog – it was when I started to go back to look (with that one), that the – what were they? – the lice-like creatures – began to bite – in my comment section.

I was infested!

But that wasn’t the only reason I stopped that blog – I don’t know – I was too – pursued in it.

Oh – I’d better say – I have the odd residual from when this used to be my last blog.  And there are things that ought to be here (so I am told) that are not.  I can’t do everything all at once.

Residuals may disappear in future-dated versions of this blog, and missings may appear.  And, therefore, later readers of this blog may not have an idea of what I am talking about.