Friday, 23 March 2012

Dancers at the Stretch Class


Whilst I am still basking in the general bonhomie of last week's encounters, I must confess with some pride that I was able to admire the trim, toned and supple bodies of two young dancers who joined our (mostly geriatric) stretch class at the gym one day - without the least shred of envy. Well, perhaps just a teensy one. They happened to be next to me, you see, so I couldn't really help stealing the odd glance from under my armpit, blatantly ignoring our instructor's voice reminding us that 'stretch' is not a competition and we must on no account compare ourselves with others.  Indeed, to do so is fraught with physical danger as I have discovered to my cost on those occasions when I have strained some muscles when trying to emulate the perfection of others. This time though, I could just admire when we were told to sit up straight and spread our legs as far as "is comfortable for you": most of us were at a comfy 90 degrees and then there were these two nymphs - 180 - I kid you not, apparently with the greatest of ease.  Then we had to "lean over to the left, hold your foot and try to bring your face down to your calf".  This manoeuvre is clearly impossible for most of us, who are hard put to it to persuade our creaking backs to deviate even slightly from the vertical but what a joy to behold these two young marvels of physical perfection. It does make me think of a remark I've heard often before:  "We've all had our turn" at youth.  Mine was pretty good, come to think, except that I never made it in ballet.  While most of my friends passed their ballet exams with Distinction or HIghly Commended, my results were always just "Pass". Once the examiner read out her comments:  "M must learn to co-ordinate her arms with her legs".  I was so mortified at the image I conjured up for myself (that of a stick insect on its back, limbs flailing in the air), I gave up ballet for good.  Funny what remarks remain crystal clear in your mind 48 years later.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

People Who Need People


I met the most delightful couple last week-end at my granddaughter's 1st birthday party. They are only my daughter's neighbours, but they are so open-hearted and generous, they have taken my daughter's family under their wing - they love her children and always bring lovely thoughtful gifts for their birthdays and Christmas. They often have the family over for a Bar-B-Q and just can't seem to do enough for anyone that comes into their lives. They have their own teenage daughter and son (delightful as well, charming and well-behaved) and needless to say, the family dog is just a sweetheart.  Life was not always so good for them, but it happens that both husband and wife have worked hard, started their own business and it has been doing very well for them for the past few years. This week-end they were looking forward to spoiling his parents, who are celebrating their 50th Wedding anniversary, by re-taking their vows - flowers will festoon the house for the occasion.  As a surprise they are being taken to a smart restaurant and then on a four-day boat cruise, with some other members of the family.  I have rarely come across two people who exude such love and affection for themselves and others.  It gave the whole joyful afternoon added radiance: I came home with a special grin on my face.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Just Cruisin' Along


In two respects: firstly,  I am marking time in my life during these hot months of Jan/Feb in Cape Town, not helped by the fact that the air conditioner in our bedroom seems to not work, despite having installed a Slow Trip (I am so knowledgeable, aren't I?)  Needless to say, the youngsters in our hardware stores have no clue what I needed - "Do you want a Dimmer Switch? asked one.  Eventually, I was directed to 'Blue Current' - a small, family run shop in a back street.  What a pleasure to find what I wanted and to be treated to personal service. Of course, my puzzle is largely demanding my time, the biggest challenge of that seems to be not to lose any of the 5,000 pieces before I get it finished - anticipated completion date at the current rate - maybe Jan 2013. And then there are the grandchildren.... 
Secondly, my husband has been scouring the holiday ads in the Sunday papers since the beginning of the year, anxious to plan something for his available leave for 2012. Last week, he spied a cruise with Royal Caribbean, starting in Amsterdam and going up to the Norwegian fiords.  He has always wanted to show me Amsterdam, since he went with work colleagues and we both fancy another cruise. We just love them. As fate would have it, the total amount was exactly what we had saved since the last time. Voila! We are paid and booked. going in May. How to tell the kids? "I'm pregnant!", I announced with a straight face, "Did you know they can completely reverse the menopause process?"  I had them fooled for about 5 seconds.  They greeted our real news rather low-key: could the word be 'envy'?  We had to remind them of our age, circumstances and of all the years when we went nowhere but the nearest beach for many years when they were small, with the cheapest caravan/self-catering accommodation. Actually, small son was the only one really delighted for us: of course, our absence doesn't affect him  (no baby-sitters required) and besides, he thinks cruises are for old guys. Ignorance is bliss.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Uncharitable but Healthier


One of the hard things in life is recognizing one's own faults so it is with a sense of shame that I report a nasty side of my character.  It's about waiting for a lift.  When the doors open, I step back politely to let people get out: I don't mind that - but once I am in and have pressed the button for my desired floor... I want to get there fast. Always. As if it were a matter of life and death (which it never is). Just as the doors are closing someone always comes running and either they catch the door with their hand or ram their foot in it.  Manners obliges me to press the Open Button to let them get in, which I do through gritted teeth and a false smile. If we are extremely lucky that will be the end of it, but no, more often than not more and more shoppers arrive and we only get to depart when the lift is suffocatingly full. So now I take the stairs and life is much better.  Of course, I have many times run for the lift myself, squeezing in with abject, apologetic murmurings, which come to think is what others do too.  So maybe everyone feels the way I do?  One good thing has come of it: I now do a lot of running up and down stairs.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Trying to Beat the System


Sorry for the gap between posts - been to the UK and back now.  Dad - still the same - mentally OK, totally bored, fed up in the hospital, wants to go home, where he can still imagine his surroundings.  It's a waiting game at the moment... meanwhile, I am back and its been Oscar season!  I had to see a lot of movies in the last three weeks - to whit:  my Oscar favourites were: Warhorse and Hugo.  Both of them - absolutely marvellous.  Without going into detail: I thought 'The Artist' to be very good and enjoyable - but not really original?  It didn't engage the emotions. "The Descendants" - I thought very average - the older teenage girl was great, Clooney was 'himself' and didn't move me at all.  I didn't even shed a tear in this film - I think because the wife was always comatose - we didn't have a chance to relate to her.  The scene in which he bid goodbye to her - left me cold - he doesn't have it in him to act this well.  However, Clooney in comedy or as a villain (he was brilliant in The Ides of March) - superb. Hugo and Warhorse - moved me, and my friends to tears.  How could Ben Kingsley not be nominated for an Oscar???  The ways of Hollywood are strange. ... I digress - the point of the title of this post is to mention that my friend and I try to defeat the rip-off prices of the refreshments at our local movie house (we don't like poporn and sweets anyway) - by taking in our own take-away coffee concealed in our handbags. It backfired this time:  in the dark, when we attempted to retrieve our take-away polystyrene cups from the depth of our purses, both of us found that the lids had come off, our handbags were stained with spilled coffee and my friend burnt her finger, sticking it into the cup. The following week, having changed purses, (mine was in the wash), I did a big supermarket shop,only to find I had left my wallet at home.  Will we change our habits? Not a damn.  At the next movie (Warhorse), my friend had brought her stainles steel coffee mugs from home and asked the cafeteria to decant our take-aways into these . That worked perfectly, thank you.