Is nowhere sacred?  There was evidence of daylight as I woke this morning.  Was that blue sky?  Sunshine?  Help!  The West Sands were calling and, as Becca, chose a spin class at the gym ‘cycling’ alongside other sweaty people to the accompaniment of some hideous techno beat, I relished the idea of fresh air and the sound of the waves crashing on the beach.  My beach.

Driving along to the very end – a lifelong habit – I was acutely aware of the public but convinced myself that the sheep syndrome would ensure few would venture beyond the crowd.  In part, I was right and, leaving my car at a suitable distance from any other, I proceeded to walk down through the dunes onto … Blackpool beach!  People!  Lots of them … on my beach!  Like hordes of ants in the distance, they were everywhere.  Then it dawned on me.  It was Sunday.  Future note to self: I don’t do Sundays.  Yes, Sir Bob, you may not like Mondays but Sundays on the West Sands … let’s just say, the years have not been kind.

I did my best to pretend I was alone but poos everywhere precluded any success on that score.  Poos, I hear one ask?  Cockapoos, cavapoos, not to mention doodles!  Whatever happened to proper dogs as opposed to ‘toys’ produced for, let’s face it, human convenience?  These manufactured breeds may not moult and be of manageable size but, for me, the majesty, dignity of a real dog is lost.  Granted, I have never been one for toy dogs, with a particular aversion to poodles, but the poos and the doodles are everywhere, a metaphor for the different world I struggle to accept.  Once upon a time, my beautiful beach played host to a magnificent Old English Mastiff and the aristocrat of spaniels, a proud Clumber.    Locked in my memory, I shall take solace by forever picturing them instead.

Weaving in and out of ‘the crowd’, I walked down to the shore and endeavoured to retreat into my own world, stopping every now and then to marvel at the iconic view.  Walking back towards the town, I turned as the throngs thickened convinced that, in all my years, I cannot remember the beach so busy.  Wouldn’t they all prefer to be in a sweaty gym – please?!  In all honesty, I concede that the problem is mine.  I was supposed to live in a country pile on my own private estate with its daffodil-lined driveway far from the madding crowd.  I was supposed to travel by private jet – in the days before climate change, of course – never having to venture anywhere near public transport.  I was supposed  to …  Sadly, in my dreams – or another life.  Meanwhile, as Joe Public proves increasingly difficult to avoid, so, too, does my desperation to do so.  My odds are not good.  The final straw?  I returned to my car to find another parked – in a vast expanse of grass – right next to it!  Why?

Therapy.  That’s what I need.  Yes, I can hear the mutterings of agreement but no need to dwell.  I have found the best respite from everyday life and a substitute for the proverbial punch bag – drumming!  I had my first drumming lesson on Wednesday and the smile never left my face!  Fun?  It is such fun!  I am only sorry that it has taken until now to have a go at something I have known all my life that I wanted to do.  Suffice to say, my years spent drumming to my favourite songs in the car, kids hostage in the back, left an indelible imprint such that, in Rome for my Birthday in October 2018, Manny bought me my very own sticks!  The first lesson was a long time coming but, oh, so worth the wait.  Sitting behind that drum kit, foot on the base pedal and sticks in hand, it was liberating!  However, it is a skill and a complex one at that.  I liken it to rubbing one’s head and tummy at the same time, co-ordination being paramount but the real key is to let it flow naturally without thinking.  As soon as you break that flow or over-think it, the rhythm is gone.  Requiring one’s undivided concentration, I could almost feel the cogs of my brain struggling to re-engage.  It would be brilliant therapy for those suffering from dementia or early alzheimer’s.  Totally absorbing and pure, unadulterated fun!  Jamie, my teacher, and I chatted about our music taste and her all-time favourite is a band called Rush.  Familiar with them in name only, I vowed to listen to some of their stuff.  Yesterday, it was reported that the drummer had died, aged 67 …  Life is full of strange – and sad – co-incidences.

So, drumming.  Who would have thought?  I have my next lesson this coming Wednesday, already convinced that it will become an integral part of my life.  Mum & Son, Manny?  Keep it in the family!  Talking of drumming, I regaled my fellow lunch guests (at Roddie’s on Thursday) with my latest passion but their enthusiasm was not forthcoming, if a little questioning.  Personally, if one of them had announced he/she was learning the didgeridoo, I would have been delighted – despite the Rolf Harris connotations!  Something different; an escape from the norm.  Sadly, few, today, are willing to embrace, fearful of anything or anyone who does not conform.  Suffice to say, Roddie’s luncheon menu appeared delicious but lentil soup with ham followed by roast beef and all the trimmings was somewhat challenging for his two vegetarian guests.  Hurrah for the trimmings!

I am awash in a sea of papers, here, each brimming with commentary on the aftermath of Harry and Meghan’s announcement.  I was taken aback by its impact on me on Wednesday night: one of great sadness.  Why?  At the heart of it are two brothers whose bond was sealed as they supported each other through the tragic loss of their mother.  A closeness visible for all to see, Kate embraced it rather than pull William away.  Then came Meghan …  Never under-estimate the power of a solipsistic spouse.  (There, I got it in!  A new word to me, I read it in one of the newspaper reports, as I did primogeniture.  Sad to say, I googled both – rather than opening a dictionary – but, as Becca and I discussed, their meanings could clearly have been gleaned from their Latin origin proving, once more, the importance and value of an ancient language which is rapidly – and wrongly – being dismissed.)

Back to Harry and Meghan – or, more importantly, Harry.  My sadness derives from personal experience of a family for whom the seeds of destruction were sown by the introduction of a spouse who, like Meghan, chose to divide rather than embrace.  Childhood bonds are precious but the guile of one who recognises fractures/insecurities and then takes a hammer to them can cause irreparable damage with far-reaching destruction of the family as a whole.  Still scarred by his mother’s death, as William prepares for his future role, Harry was struggling with being side-lined.  Hurt by the choice of photographs beside the Queen as she delivered her Christmas message and by that of New Year’s Day depicting the four generations, it gives an insight into Harry’s mindset but how did it come to this?  Surely, both his father and brother should have realised that he was feeling invisible?  It would seem that their lack of empathy only served to give Meghan the opportunity to carve her path.

As one who has read, avidly, about the Windsors and Wallis Simpson, undoubtedly there are parallels but, more important, is the ending; the lesson to be gleaned.  Ultimately, they, both, lost everything.  He, his family, his birthright and any purpose.  She?  She didn’t want to divorce Ernest and marry Edward, aware that she would be vilified for all time.  She was right.  History, however, apportions a blame of which she is undeserving.

‘In the name of his needy love, Wallis paid the ultimate price – entrapment by a childish narcissist who threw the largest tantrum in history when he could not have the two things he wanted most in the world; her and the Crown.’

Commentary, Anna Pasternak.  The Daily Telegraph (10/1/20)

An American divorcee, the similarity stops there.  Meghan chose to marry Harry but, it would seem, ultimately, the sacrifices proved too great.  An actress, she covets celebrity and all the trappings.  She has a voice which will not be silenced and an ego which will be no slave to protocol or tradition.  She is also, now, the mother of Harry’s beloved son. Where does that leave him?  I suspect he has been given the choice; in reality, no choice.  I suspect, too, the family – his birth family – are, now, focused on creating the safety net which, sadly, must be in place to break his fall.

‘Did you think I would leave you crying
When there’s room on my horse for two?
Climb up here, Jack, and don’t be crying
I can go just as fast with two.
When we grow up, we’ll both be soldiers
And our horses will not be toys
And I wonder if we’ll remember
When we were two little boys?’

Two Little Boys, Rolf Harris.

A bond unbroken.  Let’s hope.

This is Trish, signing off.