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Reasons why Fran is playing more children's games these days
A month ago, to see my grandchildren, I had to go on one of these all the way from Leamington to Richmond in South-west London.
Now that they have moved to within ten minutes' walk of our house in Leamington, I just have to go on one of these.
Correction. Two of these.
Correction: The legs above were my dream legs, not my real legs.
Correction: These aren't my real legs either. They're someone else's. For my legs, think, 'Somewhere between Picture 2 and Picture 3.'
It's taking some getting used to, knowing that just by putting one leg in front of another (never my favourite activity) I can be at my son's house, playing Snap or Snakes and Ladders with a 3 year old and a 4 year old, or watching a Peppa Pig DVD, or answering a litany of questions from a curious Elijah, who's just started school and wants to know the answer to Every Awkward Question Ever.
I took them both to see their Great-Great-Granny in her care home. She's my mother's mother, is nearly ninety-five, and Elijah (nearly 5) was fascinated. He wanted to know
- what does nearly blind mean?
- what is a walking frame for?
- why does she need us to shout?
- why is she old?
- why can't she walk very well?
- what is quite deaf?
- why does she live here?
- where does she have her dinner?
- who else lives here?
- why don't her legs work very well?
Sometimes, he asked the same question two or three times, not because he hadn't heard the first time, but because he was so interested, and wanted to hear the information all over again.
It was ironically not unlike a conversation with my grandmother, the dear old lady in question, only with her it's because she forgets that we ever had that conversation, so we have it twice. Maybe thrice. And again the following day.
Some might lose patience with this, but I find it oddly calming, and it saves on thinking up new topics. Every time I visit her I can say 'Did I tell you so-and-so had died/is getting married/has moved away?' knowing that I did, but she'll deny all knowledge, and so we can do it all again. She's just as pleased with the news every subsequent time I tell it. I told her about Vera Lynn becoming a hundred years old at least five times, and she relished the information just as enthusiastically on each occasion.
My grandmother is 95 in July. I am 55 at the end of April. Elijah will be 5 in July.
Out of the three of us, Elijah's legs are definitely the ones with the most potential. My gran's legs are weak and unreliable. Mine are too plump and varicose-veiny. Elijah's got his dad's legs: like a young footballer's, with strong thighs and muscles.
I feel like breaking into 'The Circle of Life'. To save you the pain of that, here's Elton John singing it instead.
It's nearly a month since Christmas and I still have my pile of books and notebooks from friends and family on a chair by the sofa. I can't bring myself to put them all away. There's no reason why I should. No one's dared to move the pile so that they can sit sat on the chair for a while anyway. But these are lovely presents: novels, books of poetry, books about poetry, delicious notebooks .... what's not to like? I haven't always received such pleasing gifts. I was married in April 1982. At the end of that month, I turned 20. Yes, a young bride, and one who wasn't so delighted with her birthday present from her new husband. 'I've bought you an ironing board cover, too,' he said, looking pleased. 'It's the right size. I've checked.' And indeed he had. It was prettier than the plain blue one on this picture: flowery and cheerful. He had tried. Nevertheless, we had words. I was compassionate, don't worry. I was his first
My try-to-get-fitter walk in the fields today was a silent one. I usually listen to the radio through earphones but have lost one of the soft earbuds and nothing spoils a walk more than having hard plastic nudging up against your fragile tympanic membrane. The BBC's 'Woman's Hour' is a brilliant programme but loyalty has limits. It was disconcerting, walking in silence. Listening to radio distracts from the disturbing reality that my legs are propelling me in forward motion because, if I think too hard about this, I frighten myself. Today, while walking, I had to listen to my own thoughts. And now I've listened to my own thoughts, I remember why I like radio better. The inside of my head is like a wastepaper basket. Be grateful that I only offer you a brief excerpt. Oh, look, that bird is - / Where did I put that mark scheme. I'll need it for - / My shoes are getting muddier./ Maybe mash with the fish tonight / really muddy / The trees are definitely more
Ben Cottam (@TheCottam) posted this statement on Twitter today: 'When you're growing up, no one ever tells you how much of your adult life will be spent pushing tumbling Tupperware into cupboards.' I know, right? Why does no one say? And what else does no one tell you about adult life, particularly later adult life? I have made a list. 1. That one day you will say, 'They'll freeze, dressed like that,' and 'Let's go home. It's nearly 10pm,' and think nothing of it. 2. That a summer will come when you will start the days dressed in cardigan and socks and only take them off when it's warm enough to leave the kitchen door open. 3. That police officers, teachers and nurses, rather than getting older, get younger, birthday by birthday, and that one day you will be burgled and then visited by a seven year old with a notebook and a helmet. 4. That the music in pubs and clubs becomes louder, brasher and more sweary, year on year, so that