I am so late in sitting down to write today. Stupidly, I found myself pondering what was in that bag on top of that tub on one of the shelves in the cupboard in my bedroom. Big mistake! I mean, where to start? As though finding an old ciné film of one’s childhood and formative years, it took me from teenager to 21st and the time machine proved hard to resist. My complete collection of Donny singles were there but then I discovered an old hand-typed ‘programme’ for a school carol service in 1976 – don’t worry, I shall resist, although it does contain my favourite carol, Three Kings from Persian Lands Afar!
There were letters of reply to invitations to the party of December ‘76 (Oh, what a night!) which my friend, Philippa and myself, threw (such a strange term) in Lyndhurst. Infamous for the arrival of the police, there were cars parked from one end of the road to the other preventing any through-traffic. Reminiscent of an old episode of Butterflies with my beloved Geoffrey Palmer who played the part of the constantly bemused, hopelessly resigned, wonderfully sarcastic father of two teenage sons. Talking of Pop, he was in charge of the bar, located in the Study, saying much for the non-existent drink/driving laws when one considers the number of cars outside! As for Mummy, her main bugbear had been the prevention of gatecrashers. What fun we had, therefore, when, the next morning, she told us of the ‘delightful young men’ she had been talking to in the kitchen – none of whom had been invited! She was always susceptible to ‘the charms’ of these ‘delightful young men’, regardless of motive but, to be fair, they, too, delighted in her sense of fun.
Strewn all over the floor, still, is an abundance of cards and letters. Good Luck cards for my Driving Test of March 1977! All so gentle, then. No roundabouts, very little traffic; just a little country town. I laugh when I remember my brother telling me that all I had to do was wear a t-shirt with no bra! You know, I, honestly, cannot remember if I took his advice. I did pass my test, first time, though, despite stopping over someone’s driveway and completing my 3-point turn in 5! Maybe that answers the question … So, that was me let loose on the roads. I used to drive Mummy’s turquoise blue Austin everywhere, no mobile phone, not a care in the world. More often than not, my wingman was Tarquin, my dog, whose nickname was ‘Poubelle’, French for ‘dustbin’. No explanation required. The places we went. The fun we had. Moreover, the freedom we enjoyed. None of it would be permitted today – and for good reason – but that was another lifetime. Sadly, I, finally, had to forego my paper licence for a photographic one last year …
Photographs and memories. What else lay fading in that bag? Twenty-first Birthday cards and lots of letters from my sister which, actually, constitute a diary of these days – university and boys! ‘Can it be that it was all so simple, then, or has time re-written every line?’ (The Way We Were). Does make me wonder about those who choose to keep nothing from the past? Perhaps it is just too painful.
I have an all but finished G&T sitting on the table beside me, courtesy of Becca, as I write. I’m ashamed to say I haven’t been beyond the door, today. The weather is rather more unsettled than of late and I can see the silver birch tree, from my window, blowing in the wind beneath a uniformly grey sky. Not like me not to go for my daily walk on my beach but time has proved prohibitive following too long immersed in the spoils of that cupboard. On the subject of my beach, though, I have a matter of some urgency to discuss: namely, a dress code!
Admittedly, I have changed the time of my perambulation, on the last two occasions, and, thankfully, still found the virtual solitude I crave. However, the almost perfect vista has been spoilt, of late, by a bright yellow jacket! Who would choose to wear a bright yellow jacket on the beach/my beach? Suitable for digging roads, on a building site, riding a bike at night or a lollipop person, it is far from suitable as beach attire. One’s eye delights in the natural colours of the sand, sea and sky, at one with nature, and then, suddenly, an epiphany of yellow! Surely etiquette advises, if not requires that one wear tonal colours, of a more demure nature which do not scream one’s presence? Just a thought; well, an opinion, really.
Yes, yes. I, myself, can hear Mark Francis of Made in Chelsea fame in my head! The best character in that programme, he is so over the top and sarcastic, his utterances, hysterical – so not PC and so much fun for that very reason. Marmite, granted.
Right, perhaps I should sign off for today? I do have a note about shells – and my collection of – but that may get out of hand, as is my wont, so it will keep for another day. Being Thursday, it is Clapping for Carers night, once again, for the sixth week running. If honest, I feel saturated, now, by the constant media referral to the NHS and frontline workers, both synonymous with fear; a constant reminder of that which may await oneself or one’s loved ones. Whilst doing a magnificent job, of course, one must not forget that it is a job; something for which they have trained and are being paid – unlike the endless dance routines which are now flooding the internet! A friend sent me a link to YouTube, the subject matter of which was exactly this, and some of the criticism was extremely relevant. In these times when the NHS is, understandably, focused on combatting COVID-19, ‘routine’ appointments are being cancelled; scans and operations are being delayed and people with genuine concerns are wary of seeking medical advice fearing it trivial in comparison. Somehow, however, there is time to rehearse dance routines in the corridors with the sole purpose of uploading a jolly video onto social media, intent on that moment of fame. Yes, one can argue that it lifts morale but whose exactly? For those who have just lost loved ones, such triviality must be a bitter pill to swallow.
Perhaps I should have stuck with shells …
‘If all the world hated you, and believed you wicked, while your own conscience approved you, and absolved you from guilt, you would not be without friends.’
Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre.
This is Trish, signing off.