Being Grown Up

Hello. You join us this evening at Martha Towers where HOH has retired to the balcony with a small glass of red and a good book to soothe away the cares of the day. Good luck with that sunshine.

These are times for grown-ups and no mistake mes braves. The next few days and weeks will see decisions that we are all making because, well, to be frank, we can’t really trust our government to make them one way or t’other so we have to do it for ourselves (Like Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox which was a rubbish song actually but you can’t have everything).

So tomorrow (1st June) the schools will all re-open – a bit. This will be happening without the consent of the teachers, the teaching unions and the parents, as far as I can see. I don’t have any children of school age anymore but I have asked a few teachers of my acquaintance and they seem to be very unhappy indeed. I think that anyone who has tried to separate a five-year-old trying to wrestle a Dora The Explorer toy from another five-year-old can tell you that social distancing – when neither of the small people involved fancy it – is, at the very least a challenge. Having said that, I’ve also spoken to a couple of parents, who have no intention of sending their children to school so, it may not end up being an issue.

And, suddenly, all shielded people can leave the house? What happened? Is there a vaccination? What changed? I have the utmost sympathy for those who are shielded. I got the letter and the phone call (it was a mistake – their records were 20 years out of date – encouraging I know). I remember thinking on the phone, how dispiriting it must be to receive that call and wonder what happens next. Still, this seems to be a bit of a shock – especially to the scientific community. Aged Parent, hasn’t seen it yet and I confidently predict a small, but perfectly formed riot.

As you know, she has been unhappy about the idea of a lockdown since day one. She is convinced that everyone else is secretly meeting their relatives. (One lady is talking to her son through the glass door of the retirement home and the owners are not exactly ecstatic about it). We did phone and ask if it was ok but the manager said – we have done so well – not one case, and we don’t want it to go wrong at this stage. They asked if we could leave it a bit longer and we were happy to do that. Can you think of the person in this story who isn’t happy with that? I bet you can.

This afternoon, I phoned her and it seems that she had been heavily hinting that she thought she had the virus. The carers were, understandably, quite upset and asked her to phone me which, initially, she refused to do. After ten minutes on the phone ruling out the symptoms she was relaying (I said it wasn’t a good idea to give her access to the telly), it seems that it there is nothing wrong. Now I understand that Dementia and Depression are a pretty hard rock combination but she is not winning any popularity contests in there at the moment. I’m never sure if it is my job to be endlessly understanding or to give her a stern warning and tell her to perhaps cheer up a little and perhaps try and think of others. Like I said. Lots of adult decisions. Mind you, when she was feeling particularly ratty this afternoon, she said that if I needed any money to just help myself to her bank account. So – it’s not all bad news. (Joking – don’t call the police. They have enough on trying to work out who is and isn’t allowed out of the house)

On top of all this, racism is alive and well and we are rubbish at stopping it. It probably shouldn’t need stating that Black Lives Matter but – well Black Lives Matter. I saw a clip of a sermon where a white pastor was saying that whenever he says “Black Lives Matter”, well-meaning white Christians come up and say him – “Well, yes pastor and all lives matter” But as he says, Black Lives Matter. These are the sort of people who, when Jesus said “Blessed are the Meek.” would come and find him afterwards and say “Well blessed are, everybody, really Jesus surely.” But that isn’t the issue at hand. Not everybody leaves the house every morning wondering if they are going to get to come back because of the colour of their skin. Not everyone has to teach their children the words to say to calm a mob or a police officer down when they are stopped on the street. Until that is a distant memory, we should concentrate on the issue at hand. (All said from a white, privileged, heterosexual woman who really has no right to be making any kind of pronouncements at all).

We are off tomorrow for a socially distanced picnic with FOW2 – all carefully and responsibly done. Really looking forward to that. I leave you this evening with a photo of FOW1 and his lovely girl’s “We had our wedding cancelled kitten,” They do have two other cats – this is not on a whim. She’s lovely, she’s called Cleo and at the moment we are just making do with photos. Does anyone know if Matt Hancock has made any announcements about kittens? Only a matter of time I suppose. Have a good week.

Choosing

It is all a bit testing at the moment, isn’t it? A bit frustrating to watch politicians and the like just lie and laugh in your face. Normally, I would just cluck a bit and say “oh well, politics you know.” but it’s all in a very sharp focus now because these people are making life and death decisions and it’s a bit disconcerting, to say the least.

As well as this there’s the entirely avoidable death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, who died after apparently resisting arrest. This defence by the police would have been entirely plausible were it not for the fact that footage of the incident shows he was not resisting at all – unless you count his neck providing resistance to the police officer’s knee. The other key fact about this death is that George Floyd was black. That, by the way, is the keyest of all the key facts in this case. As key as the most keyest key fact in a shop window full of key facts in a shop in Key Fact Street.

I was a bit depressed by all this because, as I pointed out to long-suffering HOH, the one good thing about this carry on was that we were going to alter things. Things were going to be different. We would all use this thinking time to think about how we were going to change things and call those in power to account. Well, maybe not quite yet sunshine but it may be that we are beginning to choose sides. Are we going to work for same old same old – where the “powers that be” get to go on as normal or are some people beginning to mass around a different way of doing or seeing things? Where kindness and volunteering and helping support the lost and the lonely defines us. Where the disabled and elderly don’t feel like they are in our way or slowing us down. Witness this brilliant tribute by Rory Kinnear to his sister Karina – a woman who was not disposable.

Maybe we are splitting down different fault lines and maybe more people are moving to the side where people are valued for different reasons that how much they put into the economy. In Joshua, it says “Choose this day whom you will serve.” Maybe we are all beginning to do that.

There’s been a huge thread on Twitter this week from Nadia Bolz Weber – a Lutheran pastor from Colorado. As you can see from the photo above, she’s not your usual looking Lutheran pastor and it’s not really your usual Christian life. She has a colourful grip on the English language and er..lives life to the full. She also has an astonishing story of being saved from the very depths of life which she has documented in some fantastic books. If you struggle with the aforementioned colourful language they may not be for you. I was so in awe of her, it didn’t bother me at all. I think she’s a bit gorgeous. However, she doesn’t really care what you or I think of her anyway.

Anyway, she asked which lines from a song or a hymn broke you up. She had a couple of lines from The Grateful Dead and one from the Disney Movie Moana (I liked that one ) but most were hymns. Examples included

Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love

Perfect submission, all is at rest I in my Saviour am happy and blest Watching and waiting, looking above. Filled with his goodness, lost in His love”

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say It is well, it is well, with my soul

Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow

HOH and I had a chat/argument about this. He came up with

No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

I offered

‘Tis mercy all, immense and free. For oh my God it found out me!

(Mine’s better) But an honourable mention from both of us for

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

If you are struggling with stuff at the moment (puts hand up) have a go. The lyrics that tear you up. You’ll feel much better.

So what’s happening?

Nothing, That’s what. I have no news. And so begins half term. Who knew? It’s Bank Holiday tomorrow. Hurrah! I hope that you are all well. Judging by the number of people on the seafront here in Plymouth, there has been a complete Corona cure and we can all get on with it. Many of us are coming out blinking into the light – ever so slowly. I am slightly concerned that nothing much has changed but we are all making plans for a return to normality.

I did hear that when the initial plans to lockdown were announced (approximately three weeks after everyone else) that the government did not expect anywhere near the number of people to be furloughed that were and that whole thing of the British people actually understanding what was needed and going home and staying there, took them by surprise. I expect a lot of that goodwill has been eroded now because of the shall we say, slightly elitist behaviour of the people who are looking after us but there you are.

Our offspring are getting messages from their places of work – shops/restaurants – with tentative plans to re-open. Unfortunately, the university library has not been able to work out a way for students to collect and return books – it has been too much even for the finest minds in Exeter – so that is not available to students at the moment. However, it seems that full fees are payable. Hmm.

And while I am moaning – and yes I do see how much I am moaning. I have not been offered any kind of refund by BT Sport who are not showing anything remotely like Premier League football at the moment. I know there isn’t any Premier League Football to show but that is hardly my problem and a partial refund may be in order I would have thought.

Other than that, I have just been working from home and HOH has been working in the hospital. We are both quite pleased with ourselves because we had to send in his form to ask for retirement from the NHS in August. (He intends to go back part-time). I don’t know about you but lock-down has resulted in a bit of a brain freeze and we filled the form in (well had a bit of a stab at it is probably a better way of putting it) and slammed it off, waiting for the inevitable return of the form with a list of everything that was wrong. But, they didn’t return it. They said, it was fine and thank you. My theory is that standards may have lowered with the old Covid. I don’t think I have ever submitted a government form at the first attempt before.

We are still struggling a bit with the loss of our dog. It’s no good – we can’t have another one, we are out of the house too much at the moment. HOH is having it worse than me and is making friends with every dog we pass on our daily walk. This morning, a young couple were jogging past us with the cutest Jack Russell bitch. We both stared longingly after her and it was only a couple of seconds after HOH has said “She’s pretty isn’t she?” to me, that we realised they may have thought he was talking about the lady. Did they speed up jogging away from us? Probably our imagination.

We went to church/our settee – this morning and the speaker was talking on patience. He was very good but I hope he wouldn’t mind that one of the main things I took from it was a quote from Nicky Gumble. He said that God never forgets any of your prayers, never loses them so keep stacking them up. He is always listening. HOH then reminded me about a boat trip we took to the seafront many years ago – before we moved to Plymouth and we said how lovely it would be to live here. And, many years later, here we are. I have to admit, it’s a good job that God remembered this because I have no recollection of the trip or the conversation. I’m not even sure it was me that he was with. HOH is apparently offended by this. Men are softer than they look sometimes.

Have a good week.

Whatcha watching?

I am seriously considering having a glug of whatever is in the water these peonies are in. They are bonkers!

Anyway, what are you watching? Or reading? Or listening to? I’m going to forego the usual reminders about extra free time and people (i.e. me) who are working just as much as they were before because everyone’s working hours seem to be increasing now. This may explain the mad rush to the beaches of Britain like the last days of a holiday. There’s a lot of warnings around about second waves of Corona etc. If that happens – Devon and Cornwall will be at the forefront of the spike judging by how many millions of people are trying to get onto the beaches. Go Home! It’s not as if any of the shops are open so the traders can benefit from the extra sales. I live round here and I can get to a beach in about five minutes but these people are in the car for hours. Keep your nasty virus round your way if you don’t mind.

I have just finished reading One, Two Three, Four by Craig Brown which is a book about the Beatles. Usually, I wouldn’t bother about a book about the Beatles – not because they weren’t jolly good – because obviously they were but because I kind of think I may have seen it all before. I used to live in a house with FOW2 who is a Beatles nerd so much of it is known to me. But, this is excellent. There’s lots of stuff I didn’t know, lots of different angles on the commonly known things and brilliant descriptions of the current Beatles business. It’s also really funny. A couple of caveats. It’s a hardback and new so it’s quite expensive at the moment. I have nineteen people on the waiting list to read it. Also, if you are a big fan of Yoko Ono and her contribution to both “World Peace” and art, it may be best to give it a miss. The author isn’t her biggest fan. The passages about her poetry are some of the funniest in the book.

I am actually watching very little on the Telly. HOH is very taken with The A Word (although it makes him cry) and State of Happiness (set in Norway) but I can’t be bothered with all the angst. The most I can deal with at the moment is repeats of Lucy Worsley documentaries on BBC4. Speaking of which, there was a rumour going around that the BBC were thinking of ditching BBC4. This means that – apart from Match of the Day – I would formally have no reason to pay my TV Licence. Along with many others, I signed a petition about it and apparently the BBC are now saying that it was all a misunderstanding. It better be!

We did watch the Michelle Obama documentary on Netflix. She seems lovely and properly aware of the impact of having a woman descended from slaves in the White House. It was all very inspiring although I could probably do without the people weeping hysterically in front of her while she was signing their books. She’s a very, very interesting and inspiring lady but, I wouldn’t have thought she could actually cure your diseases. To be fair to her, she looked quite horrified at people’s reactions. It’s easy to get carried away at these things I know. Aged Parent met Alvin Stardust at Blighty’s nightclub once and she said that was very nice.

We are, of course watching Sewing Bee. This is a tonic for the nation. I know nothing about sewing and am continually astonished at the complete masterpieces people produce in ninety minutes. It’s all so kind and lovely and Patrick Grant looks like a WW2 fighter ace which seems weirdly appropriate – perhaps because he was closed his company to exclusively make PPE. And, I will take no criticism of Joe Lycett. I know not everyone likes him but his little chats with the models are the highlight of my life at the moment.

Aged Parent is a bit fed up but otherwise well. The Retirement Home manager sent a quiz round this afternoon. She had no hesitation in phoning me three times (when I was in the middle of a webinar) because she didn’t know one of the answers. When she couldn’t get me – she phoned her friend who went on Google. This is actually cheating I know but she is unrepentant. The fact that they got any kind of answer from her at all is a miracle anyway. It was beyond me.

AP…….Which King had the same name as an actor

ME…….(Completely nonplussed) No idea.

AP…….(Triumphantly) Jayne Seymour!

ME…….That’s not a king – that’s a queen!

AP…….(Unconcerned but quite snappish) Same thing. Anyway – it’s only a bit of fun.

Living and Learning

Captain’s Log – Stardate…Well, I really don’t have the faintest idea. Heaven knows how Captain Kirk et all kept track of everything while they were stuck on one spaceship indefinitely and zig-zagging in and out of time zones. I am losing track of time and life actually.

Speaking of Zigging and Zagging, it’s all getting a bit fraught out there now that it’s a bit busier. I have noticed that people of a certain age – i.e. me (also HOH) naturally step into the road to let people go past. If the people we are moving for are also of a certain age then usually they will say thank you and sometimes we exchange lockdown pleasantries. However, I have to be honest, a lot of the younger sort don’t even seem to notice that you have moved and, if they are running, you can forget it. (Good grief! I am turning into my Nana whose hobby was hating everything and everyone. She had an upbringing that resembled a Dickins novel. We gave her a lot of slack).

Anyway, behold some of the things that have been giving me jip this week…

I have been really busy sorting out stuff for the charity I work for this week. I saw a webinar about charity giving saying that it was down across the board. Obviously, lots of people have less disposable income but actually quite a few people have more because they are not going out and spending it. Unfortunately giving is down because people are so uncertain about the future. People are giving to NHS charities (although my thoughts about this are well documented elsewhere on this blog) and to national charities. A lot of those will be alright as well because the government is giving directly to them. (A charity person said to me this week that Covid 19 was the best thing that had happened to a certain big charity – they were struggling before and financially this was going to be a huge boost). If charity giving is part of your thinking, please consider giving locally to smaller schemes. A lot of them will fall through the cracks.

I also heard a sermon this week that annoyed me because it was true. The preacher questioned our relationship with money and asked what we could be doing for the poor that we are not doing. Could we help more than we do? Well, I certainly could.

I have apparently been quite controversial this week by posting this on Facebook. A few people got in touch because it appeared quite negative. It wasn’t meant to be particularly negative. Realistic maybe but not negative. Once I was in a situation where I believe God told me that the people/person I was talking to did not have my best interests at heart. (Actually, there was no “I believe” about it – he deffo did tell me). This was not a woo-woo voice in the sky. (Apologies if you are often in receipt of those – I am not). I saw a message – not written on a wall by a ghostly hand or anything. It was an email that I got to see by mistake. I wasn’t mad at the person who sent it (well I was a bit mad). However, I was more grateful that God hadn’t let me carry on making a fool of myself thinking that this person was being genuine with me.

I think I just posted it because I was thinking that Christianity is full of adulting. It requires doing things right like looking after the poor and the needy. It requires being open and loving to people and not just pretending to. I am guilty of having failed at all of the above with big, brass shiny knobs on but I’m not just supposed to leave it there. It’s not like learning to crochet or do a handstand – neither of which I will ever master so I have walked away with a dismissive wave of my hand. I am under no obligation to give them another go. Other people can do it much better than I can. This faith I profess does not give me that option. I am underpinned by love. and that makes it a bit weird really because I am secure as I am, yet despite or maybe because of that God-given security, I am still obliged to keep trying to do better.

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”

Jeremiah 31