cold and bright

What’s with the bare ankles ? 

  I understood it last summer when what you were demonstrating was  perhaps that you could turn yourself inside out, redolent of feline, to get your fake tan round those tricky bones.  Or that you had been somewhere warm, in one of those hard to organise pauses in the pandemic agreed between heaven and Downing Street.   Or you have white ankles (or pink or grey) because you won’t tan/can’t tan/don’t care  – open to interpretation.  And of course the British are endlessly hopeful about spring – three green shoots, two warm days and it’s pink linen and summer time.  In this I am profoundly unBritish.   And of course I am old, so I feel the cold.

And in the cold snap, the bare ankles continued like a badge of honour at the bottom of the athletic gear which confirms the wearer as a runner/exerciser who won’t be giving in to the chill as the rest of us experience it.   It looked odd to see people wearing hats to keep their ears warm, muffled in fake fur, with two inches of bare ankles above trainers.

The prize goes to a woman I see often, in her unsmiling forties, glued to her mobile, swathed in sweaters and a thick coat and scarves but with her feet shoved into flip flops.    A gold star in ambivalence.    

Wal’s best ever advice may not be the most glamorous but it was warm – a small inexpensive (to purchase and run) radiator with wheels to take the chill off the long double room – one end sitting room, one end office.   And I am wearing sweaters, thick tights (successfully bought in sale when Tabio’s lease ran out) and corduroys.   I look 142 but then I feel 142.   I love the sunlight but the weather in itself is a mixed message

and the world is full of them.

I’d say I was a fortunate woman and the other night I stood and looked the books I cherish and the  things I have collected and been given and thought “Yes and one bomb through those double windows and it’s all gone.”   Life is fragile

and it always was.  The realities vary from how the leaders perceive them to how their military are instructed to respond to them, from the military through their armaments, from the armaments to the resistors, who is supplying them and how long can they resist.  While on every side is the detritus of war – the fallout, the fall down, the collateral damage – people caught in the crossfire, starving animals, contaminated land, blown up , destroyed and wounded, and the dead. 

A quiet man with an accent explained on a news programme that 40 per cent of the refugees were children and they were traumatised children,

enduring inexplicable noise and disruption, losing their pets and their friends and leaving fathers and other family members behind.  “They are going to need a lot of help” he said steadily.  And I thought of going to visit one of the first people I knew who had a flat rather than a room in one, five locks on the front door and asking “What … ?”   The woman who had lived there was a Holocaust survivor. 

And after several weeks in which I read newspaper articles and watched my allowance of broadcast news and for the first time I can remember, couldn’t read – I finally read history

John of Guant

which, as my mother always said, is very restful – because it is over.   And that got me to pick up a book about Rudyard Kipling and the writing of the Just So stories for which he won the Nobel.  And he too was a survivor, of the habit of sending the children of the establishment home to school in England from the outposts of the Empire, to the detriment of his relationship with his own parents and a lifelong pull between what he wanted life to be and what it was, how he wanted to be and who he was.  I  wonder if and what he learned from the contemplation of his past.    I wonder how much any of us learn – too darned little and too darned slow.

…but at least they never forget

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