I joined a creative writing class last year.  Each week the facilitator gives us a topic.  Up until now I have written upbeat, amusing (I hope) pieces but this time we were asked to write on  CONFUSION and this is what I produced.

Look at me, I’m in a terrible state.  Big white lump of plaster on my leg. Don’t know how that got there.  Wait a minute, yes I do, my leg, all that blood, I suppose they’re fixing it.

I’m in a hospital but I don’t know which one.  They say I fell in the supermarket. If it was Tesco’s in Sandymount this would be St Vincent’s but if it was Lidl in Glasnevin it would be the Mater.  I know all the hospitals and I’m good at supermarkets too but they only asked me silly questions like what day it is and who is the President of Ireland, I don’t know, I told them, go and find out for yourself.  But the supermarkets well I know them all: H. Williams, Superquinn, Centra, Spar, Tesco, Aldi, Lidl and then there are the ones in England Sainsburys, Waitrose, oh I know them all but no-one seems interested in supermarkets.

Doesn’t matter, they are all very kind and tell me I can go home soon only I don’t know where home is.  I told them 17 Dagenham Road, Leyton, London E.10 but they said that can’t be right.  Why I don’t know.  Just as I was getting a bit angry with them, a nice man helped me fill in the forms and answer all their questions, he seemed to recognise me.  Maybe he works in Tesco.  Quite fancied him actually but he’d be too old for me.  Funny, the nurse said he was my husband.  Silly girl that can’t be right, he’s old enough to be my father.  But he isn’t.  I don’t know why they think he’s my husband.

They keep telling me I’m confused but I’m not.  It’s all very straighforward I fell over somewhere and cut myself and broke my leg in one of the supermarkets and now I am in one of the hospitals.  I don’t know which one but it doesn’t matter.  My mum will come and take me home soon.  I wonder where she’s got to.

Lovely girl came in with daffodils and asked me if I knew who she was.  Very sorry, I told her, give me a clue.  She started to cry so I asked her to leave, can’t be doing with that kind of thing.  She said she’d come back but I told her not to bother as I would be going soon.  I don’t know what’s keeping Mum.

I don’t know when I am going to get something to eat.  It’s 2 o’clock and I haven’t had anything since yesterday.  They must have forgotten me.  When I shouted they took no notice and that big one told me to be quiet and said I had my dinner half an hour ago, but that’s a lie.

They all have Irish accents here all except the black doctor.  I can’t understand him at all.  He asked me my name and I said everyone knows their name.  That’s easy. I know my name I told him.  I told the girl already, it’s Vera, named after Vera Lynn I am.  My mum loves her, she’s beautiful.  She sings that song – We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when, don’t know ….., don’t know …………, don’t know….……., don’t know …………….



The gods of electronic reading material (GERM) are not on my side.

My son in America asked me what I wanted for Christmas.  A Kindle, I said, or one of those Sony Readers.  Lovely boy bought me a Nook in a wonderful lime green suede cover.  Thing is the actual Nook device had been stolen in the airport on the way over so on Christmas Day when I opened it all I had was the cover.  He organised a replacement and it arrived very quickly.  I was overjoyed.

It is truly amazing.  It is in colour, it has a built-in dictionary, battery lasted for long enough to read a 800 page book and there was access to over 2,000,000 books.  Only there wasn’t at least not for me because you can only purchase ebooks for the Nook if you are in the US.  They wouldn’t even let me download the free ones.

The son was very upset and tried all ways to get around this but to no avail.  The Nook had to be returned.

On hearing my plight Brother Ron said I could have his Sony Reader ebook which he no longer used, having upgraded to the iPad.  It came in the post and I was mightily impressed.  It looks very neat and unobtrusive with its brown leather cover.  It is as light as a feather and fits into my handbag perfectly.

He had already purchased and downloaded over 100 books.  Unfortunately Ron’s reading tastes and mine are not the same.  You can have too much of John Grisham and Tom Clancy.

I went on the computer, selected Room by Emma Donoghue, paid my money and then went through the process of downloading the Reader Library and Adobe to make it all work.  The book landed on my desktop and all I had to do was download it to my Sony.  But I can’t because I am not the ‘authorised’ owner.

Maybe it’s a sign from the aforementioned gods to give up my fancy ideas and return to the Library.

Blemish, brown mark, teastain, whatever

I went to see my GP on Friday.  He smiled when I walked in the door and said he was glad I had come to see him.  I was surprised by such a welcome and asked him why.  Because, he said, I like to hear from my patients firsthand rather than read about them in The Irish Times.  She was only doing some research on behalf of my blemish as she calls it, I said.  Would I ever bypass you?  Besides it’s free with the medical card to see you and that clinic on Sandymount Green would probably charge an arm and a leg.

It’s only a smallish brown mark and if I use a concealer it hardly shows, but it does seem to be getting bigger.

It’s not that I’m vain or anything, well only a little bit, but people have been saying weird things to me lately.  Is that a bruise on your forehead or it’s a bit early for ashes or I’d get something done about that and one elderly lady said “they used to call them tea stains in my day”.

My  good GP  is referring me to a dermatologist.  It will probably take an age to get an appointment meanwhile I might have to grow a fringe.

That’s not me by the way, in case you’re wondering, just some beautiful model from Google images.

I’ll keep you posted.

Childhood memories

I was watching something on the television recently which made me recall my brief experience of war time.  I was born ten days before the war started and was six when it ended but even though I was so young some things I will never forget.

I suppose it was one of the first disappointments of my life.  I thought it was a special present.  Opening boxes was supposed to be fun, even if they were brown cardboard ones.  Daddy had bought me a red and blue Mickey Mouse version; nothing was ever too good for Baby Ann.  Everybody else’s was black.  But I hated it nevertheless.

I don’t know if it was once a week or once a month we had to do the gas mask drill in school and I dreaded it.  The smell of the mask made me sick.  It was so hot and stuffy that I felt I was suffocating. The feel of the rubber against my skin made me itch.  My breathing was not that great then as it was a few years later that I had to have my adenoids and tonsils removed so I constantly thought that every breath inside that mask was my last.

The boys in the class seemed to like the drill because they found a way of blowing out through the rubber to make rude noises.  Looking around at my classmates was frightening too.  We all looked like aliens.

I learned years later that it was an unnecessary exercise anyway because the enemy never used gas warfare.  They just bombed the place.

I  could have been scarred for life.  In fact I never thought about it for years until I was diagnosed with sleep apnea.  Now every night I have to wear a mask and whilst it doesn’t make me look like Mickey Mouse and it isn’t black or rubbery I still can’t warm to it.

Thinking about gas masks reminded me of the air raid shelter.  My father, like many other people in East London, had an Anderson air raid shelter constructed in the garden.  It was dug into the ground and was made of corrugated iron which was then covered in clay.  It felt like going into a grave.  Earwigs were all over it and the smell of the damp earth all pervasive.

I can’t remember using it that much because my mother tried to get away from London as much as she could to visit my Great Aunt in Devon where she lived at the time.

We were in Torquay where Great Aunt Em lived and on my birthday  I was asked to carry a piece of  the cake to a neighbour and being me nibbled a bit of the icing on the way.  Unfortunately, it was the same piece of icing on which a bee had just alighted.

But that’s another story …….

Seville oranges sweetened with love

It’s been a sad week in The Windmill.  Too sad really to talk about.

The only thing that has kept me going is the marmalade.  It has to be made in January or early February when the Seville oranges are available.  My son Michael kindly bought me some oranges and daughter Rachael gave me sugar so it has practically cost me nothing except time and energy.

It is therapeutic in its own way, all that squeezing, chopping and boiling but very time consuming.  It can only be made in batches of six jars so the whole process has to be repeated over and over.  I finally lost it at the very last batch as the molten marmalade boiled over.  The cooker was a sorry mess.

Marmalade making was just what I needed to cope with the situation.  Why is it always food that keeps me going and why on earth do I think it will help anybody else?  One of my daughters and her husband were made redundant the same week some years back and they came to tell me.   I fussed around and made them a splendid meal, everything that I knew they liked best.  All they really wanted was for me to sit down with them, talk it through, give them a kiss and a cuddle.

I think I do better now and with the pungent background odour of marmalade boiling I gave lots of much needed love and attention and received it back in abundance.

Lots of the marmalade will be given away.  It makes a good present for those who like it.  Here at home it will be a constant reminder of a sad time in our lives.  Nevertheless we will look to the future and January 2012 when the next batch will be made.

The mystery of the necklace

You know how annoying it is when you lose something that you love.  India Knight recently wrote on Twitter that she had found a pair of earrings which had been lost for six years.  She was so happy.  My predicament is different but no less upsetting than a loss.

Between 20th and 27th December I was given a lovely necklace.  Over the course of that period, in fact, I was given three necklaces and they were all assorted shades of green and blue.  But this particular necklace I am talking about is the one below.

I really like it and have been wearing it a lot over the past days.  One of the reasons I am wearing it, apart from the fact that I love it, is because I am hoping someone is going to say to me “I’m so glad you liked my gift”.  You see I have forgotten who gave it to me and it is really getting me down.

I don’t think it is the beginning of some senile dementia but whatever is happening to me I have a mental block.  It has now got to the stage where I am dreaming about it but still the generous donor does not appear.  Just me smiling and saying thank you so much.

I have checked my diary for clues but my social engagements were few around this time as because of  the snow and ice I couldn’t get out.  What difference does it make you might say and I suppose you’d be right but somehow in the back of my mind I don’t think I thanked the person properly.

I doubt if this is going to help, just wanted to share it with you.

Feast of free culture

On New Year’s Eve I attended an event (Sounding a Positive Note) in the National Gallery which was a collaboration between Poetry Ireland and the Gallery.

To a packed audience poets, gallery staff and others read poems and talked about paintings.  Kathleen Watkins’ wonderful voice filled the room when it was her turn to perform, Duncan Stewart took the opportunity not to read a poem but to talk about what we can do for the environment and Marie Bourke gave us an illuminating talk on Jack B. Yeats, brother of William Butler Yeats.

The highlight for me was listening to Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill who as well as conveying her excitement at the recent news of the return of bitterns to Ireland, sang and read her poetry in both English and Irish.

It was a great start to a year which I hope will include many more events like this.

Thanks to Poetry Ireland and the National Gallery for providing this free entertainment for all to attend.