I, for one, will not be sorry to see the back of 2018. A relentless year with no end of struggles, there has been little time for a break of any sort and we all need one of those! The summer has been compared to that of 1976 but is not deserving of such heights. The world was a much happier place forty-two years ago. We had time to appreciate the sun in our cheesecloth and flares. It was the summer of Lyin’ Eyes and I remember it well ….
Fast forward to a world of Donald Trump, terror alerts and global warming producing temperatures of 40 degrees, in this country, and unbelievable humidity; a heat which felt completely unnatural with an ominous foreboding of what the future may bring. Nature is all-powerful and, in this now topsy-turvy world, who knows what winter has in store. Personally, it is the strength of the wind which scares me – probably since that night in November, several years ago, when we were woken by the noise of tiles crashing onto the glass roof of the kitchen! Thankfully, safety glass proved its worth.
The weather has changed now and the Festival atmosphere has been dampened by the darker days, the familiar rain and even a chilliness heralding the autumn to come – my favourite season; always has been and always will. I’m not sure whether that has anything to do with being born in late October but I relish the cosiness of autumn: shutting the curtains – the outside world away – and putting the fire on; wrapping up in jumpers, coats and scarves successfully disguising one’s lack of exercise and the onset of the years; crisp, sunny days enhancing the palette of autumnal colours; the sound – and sight – of the wild geese as they fly, in wonderful formation, to warmer climes … nothing wrong with my memory, then! This year, however, will be slightly different as, after twenty-five years, I join the ranks of the homeless. Perhaps a static caravan will do the trick; tide me over? Then, again, perhaps not. Standards, Timothy! To be maintained at all costs.
Speaking of standards … Waiting in the car for Becca the other day, I saw the neighbours’ thirteen year-old daughter arrive back from school. No words. Had she really gone out dressed like that? Did she not realize she had forgotten to put on her skirt?! Dressed head to toe in black, it was hard to see the ‘pelmet’ which struggled to cover her behind. Appalled. Disgusted. Despairing of parents who would let their daughter leave the house like that. I question the reasoning behind the lack of attire? Fashion or just purely provocative? One is not allowed to suggest these young girls are dressing provocatively but they are! The message is blatent. Naive is a word consigned to the dictionary, that book consigned to the past. Oh, that it were not so. Seemingly, too, the concept of learning from one’s parents. Too busy polishing their cars and numbering their bins! Something Glenalmond has got right, though – the uniform for the girls is navy blue pleated skirts to the ankles and jackets of their choice. No ‘pelmets’ permitted; no scope for the overtly provocative. No complaints either. Instead, a little self-respect.
Too scathing? I don’t think so. Sadly, it only takes one house to infiltrate one’s life for the worse and the rest follow like bees to honey. There is nothing one can do other than move onwards – and upwards! In the words of Buzz, ‘To infinity and beyond!’
That was a lifetime ago, the Christmas of the coveted Buzz Lightyear. Thankfully, I was ahead of the game and had secured one for Manny in October. However, spending Christmas with my parents in Cupar, as we always did, I realized that I had left Buzz in Edinburgh. Nothing for it but to ask my brother to stop in at the house on his way through. A bit like suggesting Arthur Daley transport the Crown Jewels as the scarcity of Buzz now meant that he was changing hands for £500! Thankfully, he reached his destination and Buzz is safe in a tub in the attic as I write. I know! Did I learn nothing from Toy Story? They’re not just toys; they’re real. Well, hopefully, Buzz has not suffocated along with Eeyore and the seven dwarfs!
On the subject of childhood – as ever – I did go to see the Blue Peter show in the Assembly Rooms last week. Several of the former presenters, including the wonderful Peter Purves, I thought it would be an hour of reminiscing and behind the scenes revelations. Not so. It was a scripted play, as it were, which could have passed for one of Ernie Wise’s ‘The Play What I Wrote’! So contrived and a little embarrassing, Becca was shocked when she turned to me for my verdict: ‘One of the worst things I have ever had to sit through!’. It was, nevertheless, a privilege to meet Peter Purvis in the foyer afterwards. In his late seventies – still with a full head of grey hair – he was lovely and the gentleman one would expect. A dying breed. Would that one could clone Geoffrey Palmer …
As for the vintage clips shown, of course there was the one of Lulu the baby elephant who careered, uncontrollably, round the studio ‘performing’ as she went, terrified out of her wits! The audience laughed hysterically. Have we learnt nothing? Clearly the little elephant was in distress and one could hear her plaintive cries throughout. Anything but funny, it was downright cruel. Almost fifty years ago, elephants were kept in captivity without a thought. Taken from the wild, stolen from their mothers, Lulu’s fate was not only to end up behind bars but, seemingly, to be remembered, forever, as an object of ridicule; the little elephant who appeared on Blue Peter when we human beings should have known better. The reaction from the audience last week suggests fifty years have made little difference.
All a little bit depressing. However, Manny was up from London, briefly, this week and, on Wednesday evening, I met he and two of his friends for a drink: Tofu – a major player in my infamous Birthday a couple of years ago featuring several Jager Bombs and refused entry to more than one West End establishment – and Tom, an old friend from school whom I hadn’t seen for too long. They were an absolute tonic and a reminder that there is enough good in this world to blot out the bad! Polite, respectful, intelligent and funny, I felt strangely proud; proud to have watched these boys grow up into life’s good guys. We spent some time discussing said blog – perhaps, more accurately, I discussed and, being too polite, they feigned interest – but, regardless, to think that they even read it is compliment itself. Thank you, both. You made ‘a woman in her fifties with no skills’ very happy!
I cannot end without discussing taxi drivers. Why? Well, I have just returned from an evening in the Cambridge Bar with my forever friend, Shona, and her husband, Walter, to name but two. On arrival, Walter was bemoaning the loss of his phone which he realized he had left in the taxi. Fast forward several minutes and said taxi driver appeared with his phone – and we were sitting upstairs, too – refusing any form of remuneration. He had back-tracked and gone out of his way to search for Walter … unbelievable! Seriously. In ‘this cynical world’, such acts of kindness are a rarity. Perhaps, though, serving as a reminder that one must never shut down; where there are cracks, the light will always shine through. Told you I had missed my calling!
As for the other taxi driver of note – and he knows who he is – he drove Becca and I (no, ‘me’ does not sound right irrespective of the fact that it is grammatically correct!) into town when we went to see the Blue Peter play at the Assembly Rooms last week. Driving very slowly, he seemed happy that we were a captive audience as he ran through his comedic repertoire; well, at least he thought it was funny! His opening comment was that Becca was dressed for a wedding while I was obviously going somewhere on the way … There was more and he was nothing if not entertaining for his sheer audacity. A little bit of colour in a grey world. I like that!
Anyone still with me? Asking Pop for feedback last week, he proceeded to tell me that I was disorientated. Help! Had the Consultant Psychiatrist in him diagnosed some condition as a result of my ramblings? Apparently, I had merely dated said piece July as opposed to August! I told him that nobody else had noticed and his reply: ‘That’s because nobody else reads it!’ Thanks, Pop! I can but live in hope …
‘One thing I know – why we tell stories the most important of all … That’s how you keep them people belonging. Always.’
Nullah, the little aboriginal boy in the superb film, Australia. (Yes, Hugh Jackman may have been in it but … )
This is Trish, signing off.
p.s. Actually completed at 3am this morning!