Well, that was the summer, that was! Today is the longest day and … no, I shall resist from saying/writing it. Look at it this way, no need to put the winter clothes away or spend money on Factor 50. Win, win? There is, however, the inevitable deprivation of Vitamin D gleaned from the skin’s exposure to sunlight … keep taking the pills! As one who has never tanned, growing up I relied on my freckles joining up for a similar effect and I was rarely disappointed. Returning year after year, they were a fashion accessory with a difference requiring of no cost but that was then and this is now. Victims of climate change, said freckles long ago lost the will to live forcing the frightening exposure of the body’s largest organ – peely-wally skin resulting from life’s daily torment beneath a sun-less sky! That was a Trivial Pursuit question, by the way: what is the body’s largest organ? No prizes for guessing one’s first thought.
Summer. What summer? Thank God for Wimbledon heralding tradition in all its glory. Starting next week, that’s summer for me. I did think Andy Murray would be making his farewell appearance, bowing out on sacred ground. However, thrilled to say, I watched his eagerly awaited return in the doubles at Queens yesterday, and, loving every minute of it, he’s going nowhere! Strange to think that he is 33, which seems ridiculously young, and yet my tennis hero, Borg, retired aged 26 … I remember it like yesterday. Now, there’s a man who knows how to age! Suffice to say, we did receive last minute tickets this year – courtesy of the ballot – for Court 1 on the second Friday. Superb? Well, maybe not so great as that is Men’s Semi-Final Day and both matches are played on Centre. Not to worry, it is a joy just to be able to walk through the gates rather than negotiate the marathon that is the queue route and it is also a chance to sample the new roof. In addition, one never knows what twist of fate may occur and as long as I have not paid to watch Serena Williams, I am happy!
I have had the most hectic two days involving no packing whatsoever! Instead, taking the ‘germ mobile’ into town, yesterday, I seemed to traipse the entire city centre. That’s when one realizes how truly unfit one is. Having said that, the obesity which faced me, on a grand scale, is a disgrace! Is it a predominantly Scottish problem? Walking everywhere, I couldn’t help but notice grossly overweight couples, grossly overweight parents and their grossly overweight children … what has gone wrong? Lack of education, self-esteem, time and a reliance on fast food? How sad; sad that the desire and abilility to cook fresh, healthy food has been superseded by the costly, quick fix of a carryout loaded with calories and additives. The thing is, it’s not rocket science. It’s just easier. The word ‘discipline’ is key in a nation now geared to self.
Discipline. What the hell happened to that?! I drove down the road this morning and waved at a neighour walking his young dog on one of these extendable leads. Why? I suppose – again – the answer is the owner cannot be bothered! It takes time and effort to train a dog to walk to heal, sit down at junctions and learn to work together but the rewards far outweigh the hard slog. Ultimately, one gains the respect of one’s four-legged friend and deepens the bond. The extendable lead – sadly, prolific in this easy-option world – however, enables the dog to do exactly as he pleases as the owner hangs on for dear life with absolutely no control should anything go wrong. In the short-term, it is just easier but life’s not like that. Nothing worth having comes for free.
Discipline bows to money … even in school. Working in a renowned Scottish boarding school – whose name commanded great respect in my day – Becca frequently recounts classroom scenarios which, to me, are utterly alien. Respect is a thing of the past; a past when being sent to the Headmistress or Headmaster was the ultimate threat. Today, anything goes. Forgive me but the propensity for the rapid increase in dog walking is a reflection on society in general; a society for whom offspring are accessories whose sole purpose is to reflect favourably on their parents, regardless. As such, the teacher is rendered powerless. Hands tied, there are no grounds for punishement or reprimand. A pupil who, as part of an Ancient History exam, makes reference to ‘banging his mother’ faces no fitting reprisal today. On an extendable lead – metaphorically speaking – his parents need only phone to complain and the incident never happened. There is too much to lose. Sadly, the reference is to money not reputation. More’s the pity.
I am really fed up this week. Tired and subject to a humour bypass, my default is to bemoan everything around me … and little wonder. I made some notes on my travels, yesterday, visiting, first, the conveyancing lawyer: power suits and trainers. Trainers? Yes, trainers. Sitting in the waiting room, visiting name tag in hand – not round my neck – I couldn’t help but observe those around me. Actually made me feel quite nauseous as I glimpsed a snippet of the dreaded corporate world through the window of time. A uniform of black and grey suggesting an over-riding bid to conform, most seemed programmed to perform. The incongruity of trainers as footwear, however … I must have missed the memo!
Next stop, the dentist’s waiting room as I relished the prospect of the hygienist and that water-spouting device designed to choke! Who invented the hygienist? Perhaps one should substitute ‘hygenius’! A lucrative profession built on one’s supposed inability to clean one’s own teeth sufficiently, I don’t remember my parents ever visiting one such person. I, too, managed at least 40 odd years without one. My point? None really. I just made a note in my phone apropos the bland waiting room abound with stainless steel, grey and black. Nothing if not cheering!
The pavements, meantime, were littered with people walking – in self-obligatory uniform and trainers – and talking to themselves. How disconcerting is it to be walking towards somebody talking to nobody only to breathe a sigh of relief as one spies the headphones? Why? Totally disconnected from life, ironically it would seem the sound of silence is tantamount to a panic attack!
Coming full circle, climate change was at the source of another news item this week apropos the sighting of a polar bear, hundreds of miles from its Arctic habitat, in the industrial city of Norilsk in Northern Siberia. Starving and exhausted, the young female was seen searching for food in a garbage dump. (Funnily enough, she’d have had more luck amongst the debris in Boris Johnson’s car!) Her fate? The prospect of a life behind bars in a zoo. Starvation would have been more humane …
My blanket is beckoning on this the 21st June! Not good. Beside my bed, however, is a postcard I received on Wednesday and which I shall treasure. Sent all the way from Stratford courtesy of a certain Mr Hathaway, it was a reminder of the fun we had on the same school trip this time last year. No more wonderful backdrop to share a gin and tonic! Happy days. Never forget, it’s the little things which mean the most and, in a difficult week, that postcard put everything else into perspective. For that, I am very grateful.
‘For we are very lucky, with a lamp before the door
And Leerie stops to light it as he lights so many more.
And O! before you hurry by with ladder and with light,
O Leerie, see a little child and nod to him tonight!’
Third stanza, The Lamplighter by Robert Louis Stevenson.
My favourite poem as a little girl. I have it framed on the wall.
This is Trish, signing off.