…those perinativity blues

You always know when Christmas is coming because every price you can see goes up and there is nothing to watch on television. Never privy to a programming meeting, I imagine there is a sense of defeat in terrestrial television which just gets passed on to the poor licencees in the form of the same films and the same programmes, over and over, for some weeks, until The Big Day is in sight. Then they pull out the stops and give us Glenda Jackson in a one off drama which had better be good. Not that I have misgivings about Glenda: I have seen her on stage, interviewed her and met her as an MP and she is All Right. Which is more than you can say for all sorts of other people.

And incidentally in a severely underhyped three part series on BBC2 called Vienna Blood (not the finest script but mostly finely played by actors I have never heard of

“the wonderful Amelia Bullmore”

and a cabaret singer in Ep.1 to beat Deitrich, Lenya and Lemper into the proverbial cocked hat) there was the most chillingly effective evocation of anti-semitism. And I haven’t seen it mentioned anywhere. Does this mean people don’t notice or don’t care ? And hooray for the thoughtful and emancipated Muslims who offered their sympathy and said they too experienced reaction against them and nobody seemed to care.

When I enquire after Ginny’s health (real friend, fake name) she involves peri menopause. That’s the time of build up to the change of life. I’ve hijacked the prefix because however much I like Christmas and for all sorts of reasons, getting there ie the peri bit gets tougher and tougher in the sense of a mouthful of frankly stringy something (I would say meat but with vegan being one of those omnipresent invocations of the present time, maybe I should say palm hearts – which I only ate once and seemed to spend weeks removing from my dentistry.)

Perinativity means £20 for a bunch of rowan (“silly money, Anna” said the flowerseller, money he’ll take because he’ll get it.) Perinativity means you can’t get what you want to buy for anybody you care about except what the retailers want to sell you. A quiet day (a Tuesday) in Portobello offered a constructive step on the long road towards fulfilling a project for my son and “sales of work” (especially if they can find an appealing name) will flourish this year, because that’s where those of us who care will hope to find “smalls” – interesting individual gifts for a price we can afford.

The internet may have dented retail but retail hasn’t helped itself. You go into these enormous stores and they are full of too much for too much, much of it badly made, gimcrack and ugly. Everybody is fed up, the air is stale with entitlement and the gap between the sellers and the buyers, and you know well that whatever you’re looking at will be knocked down in the sales which inevitably follow, whether pre or post Christmas. Whole floors of stores are empty in London but the craft sale I went to yesterday (run by Selvedge, hooray for Polly Leonard and her elves) was busy and enthusiastic, in talk, look and sales.

Perinativity means that, unless I am very fortunate, I won’t find anybody in the NHS who can advise me on whether I have an infection or have just inherited tissue paper nails from my mother. Properly trained and interested dermatologists are provided privately – if you can scare up several hundred pounds. However the best shampoo I found this year (and ecologically acceptable in

composition and packing) costs £5 – Sheen – on line after the shop in which I found it closed after a couple of months. I haven’t tried any other shampoo bars – they’re all much pricier and I like this one -but I fear they may be a coming thing – which means the price will vault.

Last night I thought with renewed affection of the dermatologist I visited 35 years ago with a rash where I had abreacted to a range of cosmetics. It wasn’t a great matter but it was stubborn and wouldn’t clear. “Milk” he said “out of the fridge on clean cotton wool.” Still works.

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