“I like ticks” said My Young Friend and no, she wasn’t speaking of bugs or Lyme Disease. She meant getting things right at school. “ But sometimes” she went on “they tick your work when it’s wrong. “ What ? She explained “They tick it to show you’ve done it – but it isn’t right. Like in maths (one of her favourites).” How can that be ? “They say – the programme can’t be wrong – “ she shrugged. Do you still wonder why significant numbers of kids can’t spell or do basic maths ?
I like ticks too and I was trying to work out a way to write this week’s offering in columns – ticks on one side, crosses on the other – but being very nearly technophobe has its advantages. I’m not going to try. And anyway I don’t want to talk about crosses. We have more than enough crosses to bear.
The first thing for which I want a tick is giving in to the heat. I am no longer as heat resistant I used to be. Once, I was out there, methodically toasting from every angle. Now I can’t do it. I move slower. I am fascinated by all these people in tight clothes made of synthetic fibre when all I want is loose cotton. Heat knocks me out. I do what I have to do – admittedly minimal – and conk out. I hope I don’t sleep with my mouth open but nobody is there to see. The other afternoon I closed all the blinds, opened all the windows, put the fan on and sat there in my nothings. So, a tick for giving in.
A tick for the Hokusai, a Japanese painter who took up a brush at six and remarked endearingly that he didn’t do anything really worthwhile till he was over 70, a man who HAD to paint, even when he couldn’t make a living from it and as is so often the case, the real colours were finer than even expensive reproduction.
A tick for the taxi driver who recalled a story he remembered me telling on air, 30 years before. And then with all of my watches in nervous breakdown, I stopped a man to ask the time. He answered and then looked at me carefully. “Why do you look familiar ?” he asked. He had some grey in his hair. So I said that if he recognised me, he’d probably never see 27 again. He smilingly agreed – so I gave him my hand and told him my name. He took my hand in both of his and kissed me on both cheeks. I think that’s worth two ticks.
Encountering people isn’t usually difficult for me. I grew up in the 60ies when encounter was expected but meeting people deliberately again is fraught with risk. You may sit there thinking “omigawd” but I didn’t with Loelia with whom I had tea for the first time properly, very bright, 40 years younger than me, and we didn’t run out of things to say. Tick.
On Friday – you can tell how exhausting my life is ! – I had a day off. I went to collect a fixed watch and with it tucked in my handbag, I went to look at the summer sale of a shop I used to like. Gevalt. (Look it up). And I decided that I would go and see the new Catherine Deneuve film, arriving to find a note on the door say the cinema opened at 1.00 so I went across the street for a glass of rose and a fine fish dish with nice people who deserve success. And then I went back to the smaller of the two auditoria at the Curzon (my favourite cinema) where I was the audience for the 1.35 showing of The Midwife – which I liked enormously. Two ticks.
And the likeable Aussies next door drank and talked from late morning till middle evening and I didn’t play grumpy old lady – this time. Tick.