© Carol E Wyer
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CHAPTER 1 - JULY
Welcome to Facing 50 with humour the blog that gives you laughter lines. And, clearly, very bad tag lines. I was going to call it Facing 50 with fear, intrepidation and a bottle of Chardonnay but I think that title was already taken. I suppose it’s like a diary only anyone with internet facilities can read it. For me it’s more than a diary. This is the only way I’ll stop myself from going insane, or indeed committing murder. I hope you enjoy it. Please feel free to leave me a comment.
My name is Amanda Wilson. I like chick flicks, wine, romantic novels, wine, 1970’s and 80’s music, chocolate and wine. I am a very desperate housewife. I live in a village in rural Staffordshire, populated almost entirely by elderly people. Even the local window cleaner is in his seventies. I used to have a life and a job. Nowadays, I seem to spend most of my time acting as a referee between my husband, Phil, who since he retired, has become the grumpiest of grumpy old men, and my son. We waved him off with a fanfare to university a couple of years ago but he returned to the nest almost immediately, having turned into a complete drop out. Life is a tad on the dull side at the moment. However, there are changes afoot, very significant changes and that is why I am writing this blog. By the way did I mention I like wine?
My very first blogging entry and I for one, am rather proud of myself. It’s taken five days to work out how to do it, but here I am at last. Where shall I begin? How about with the subject of birthdays? My life has been turned completely upside down this last year for a variety of reasons. To cap it all I have reached a serious crisis point this month because I am going to turn fifty. How depressing is that? The big five oh. No one prepares you for this. You trundle along merrily with your daily business, striking off birthdays as if they were cricket scores, thinking nothing of it and then one day you look in the mirror and see your mother staring back at you. You wonder how this can have happened without you noticing before. Your expiry date is just about up. You are going to be half a century. In cricket terms you are going to be fifty but hopefully, not out, not just yet.
When it was Phil’s fiftieth, nine years ago, I pulled out all the stops in an attempt to celebrate the event. Part of me believes you should embrace these occasions and be spoilt by those who love you. In those days I hadn’t quite realised how depressing it was to actually be facing fifty. I arranged a surprise trip to Dubai. I cajoled a free upgrade from economy class to business class on the flight by playing the It’s his Big Birthday card at the check in desk. Actually, I think the woman checking us in took pity on him as he stood in red faced silent embarrassment while his noisy wife divulged his age to the world. I did the best I could to make it special. So, when Phil announced a few months ago that he would help me celebrate my birthday by arranging a surprise trip I initially got very excited in spite of the usual anxiety that one feels at hitting a milestone birthday.
Last year it poured down in torrents on my birthday. It rained, non-stop, from the moment I woke up to moment I sank back into my bed. As usual, nothing special was planned for the day. Phil is just no good at planning birthday surprises, and as he hates parties, I can’t even plan one for myself. It was too wet to go out anywhere. It was such a shame because I used to love my birthdays and the excitement that surrounds them. Unfortunately, it’s been some time since I’ve felt excitement about anything.
The novelty of going away and being spoiled rotten for a few days is beginning to wane slightly as the big day creeps nearer, and I consider just how old I actually am. I am as old as ‘Coronation Street’. I can remember miniskirts the first time they became fashionable. The problem is that I don’t really believe I am all that old. I still consider myself to be fairly young. Last month though, the realization hit me, well more thumped me squarely on the nose. Almost immediately, I began to feel old. I don’t suppose my newly discovered depression is due entirely to my forthcoming birthday. I have suddenly realised how unimportant I have become and how dreary my life is. Still, there is no point in being too depressed about it and going away will be such a treat.
I’ve been in preparation for four months, cutting down on food and cutting out chocolate. I tried cutting out the odd glass of wine too but that made me fractious. I have been a slave to sit-ups every night in an attempt to look good in my newly purchased Karen Millen shorts. I know it may seem as if I am making an enormous deal about it but it is such a novelty to be going away let alone making a trip abroad.
We haven’t been away since Tom dropped out of university a year ago. One minute we were looking forward to Phil’s early retirement, doing some travelling and having ‘us’ time and the next Tom had returned from university with a hillock of debt (thank goodness he didn’t stay the full four years or it would have been an Everest sized mountain of debt), and a huge attitude problem.
He has transformed from a nice young man into a hideous selfish oaf. He spends most of the time lazing about in bed, down at the pub or on his mobile phone. I almost don’t recognise him as the dear boy he used to be. Whatever he learned at university in that year will certainly be of no use in today’s job market, unless there are vacancies for young men to test out free beer and cigarettes. I’ll certainly be glad to abandon him for a few days.
Phil won’t tell me where we are going but he looks very pleased with himself and keeps whistling, ‘Oh we’re going to Jamaica.’ He also whistles, ‘Tie Me Kangaroo down Sport’ so maybe I’m reading too much into that especially as we are only going away for six nights. However, he knows I do not want to get rained off this year and that I love the sea, so he’ll surely have booked a trip to the South of France or Spain. In fact, anywhere sunny would be acceptable.
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Yesterday, I received a card and a cheque for twenty pounds ‘to indulge myself’ from my mother. She is a widow and struggling on a pension. She grows her own vegetables, brews her own repulsively strong wine which she insists on glugging straight from the demijohn before it is ready, and only spends money on cigarettes which she absolutely refuses to give up.
I’ve noticed that of late she has become increasingly like one of Marge Simpson’s sisters: Patty or Selma. She’s always got a drink in her hand, a cigarette in her mouth and growls rather than talks. Actually, to look at her, she looks more like Grandpa Simpson or one of those wrinkly dogs - a Shar Pei. Still, she is my mother and I remember her when she was very beautiful and looked like a glamorous Joan Collins
Feeling very fond of her at that precise moment I decided to spontaneously telephone her instead of waiting for the usual Sunday call.
The telephone emitted a sickening screeching noise. I almost dropped it trying to cover my ears.
“It’s you,” replied a rather disappointed gravelly voice. “I thought you were one of those nuisance calls. I’ve had nine in the last forty-eight hours so I nipped next door this morning and borrowed an old chalk board from Bernard who teaches Art. I’ve been waiting all day for them to ring again. When I answer the phone I drag my nails down the board to put them off. I’ve been dying to know if it works.
She demonstrated again and I experienced another ear deafening screech.
“I can assure you if I were a salesman, I definitely wouldn’t phone you again after that row.”
I waited for a response. There was a lengthy pause while she dragged on her cigarette.
“They always seem to ring when I’m upstairs in the bathroom. I have to rush down the stairs only to be greeted with: ‘Congratulations, you have won a prize,’” she drawled in a gravelly American voice which brought on a fit of coughing. “I’m sick of them. I thought I’d managed to get them stopped by using that telephone service but these calls are coming from abroad.”
There was another pause while she coughed, not just a cough; a revolting hacking stomach turning cough. She starts every day like that. It’s like an old engine coughing into life each morning. It’s horrible.
“Anyway, why are you phoning? Did you get my card and money? I sent it yesterday so it should have reached you today. I hope it hasn’t got lost in the post. I sent it early so you would get it in plenty of time and be able to take it away with you. I put a first class stamp on it too so it would get there in time. What a price they are as well I remember when it only cost six old pence!”
That was that. She was in full flow. You can’t get a word in sometimes with her. She barely pauses for breath. Sometimes I wonder if I could put the phone down, make a cup of tea, come back and she would still be banging on about something, oblivious to the fact that she had lost her audience. I seized the opportunity when she stopped to take another drag to break into her monologue.
“That’s why I’m phoning. I thought you’d like to know I’d received it. Thank you for the money too.”
“Well, it’s not enough for a toy boy or a yacht,” she chuckled throatily. “Mind you, you’re too old to know what to do with a toy boy now. You’d probably just sit him down with a cup of tea.”
There was more raucous chuckling followed by a coughing fit.
“Looking at your last photograph you sent of yourself I thought you could probably use it to get some of that’ buttocks’ stuff to stop your wrinkles. After all, you’re not getting any younger are you?”
She then immediately launched into a further monologue about the past.
“Do you remember that time when you broke the door handle and we couldn’t get out of the lounge for hours?”
“Oh and what about that time you fell down the stairs and landed on the vicar who had just popped around.”
“I’ll never forget the time, you’d have been about fourteen, you got stuck attempting to climb though the tiny open kitchen window because you had lost your house keys and couldn’t let yourself in. When we came home from work, there you were, bottom in the air. Ha, ha, ha!”
I just added the odd ‘yes’ and listened to her reminisces. Her ability to recall events from thirty and forty years ago astounds me. I even had to endure being criticised for a rude comment I allegedly made at the Christmas Dinner table in 1974. She really does live in the past. I hope I don’t get like that. Mind you, I can barely remember what I did last week. All the days seem to blend into one dull and pointless one.
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Goaded by my mother, anxious about my waning looks and depressed about getting older I spent this morning staring gloomily into the magnifying mirror while wearing my reading glasses to get a better look at myself. I guess she had a point about the ‘buttocks’. My frown lines are etched into my forehead through years of squinting because I refused to wear my glasses. ‘Ah, vanity thy name is woman.’
I also appear to be sprouting hair all over my chin and sides of my face. I’m going to turn into one of those hirsute old women that I used to laugh at when I was young and hair free. What do you do about this problem? Do you pluck the hairs? No, I read somewhere that makes it worse. I’ll have to look it up on the internet. In the meantime, I’ll leave it alone because Phil’s eyes aren’t so good anymore and he might not notice. Crikey what’s happened to my eyebrows? I know I had an unfortunate experience with a threading session last year but there seem to be hairs all over the place and I look like Sam the Eagle from The Muppets.
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This morning, after a depressing sleepless night trying to come to terms with the fact that, although I feel thirty, my body has other ideas, I got fabulous news. For the first time in a year I was going to be able to go to the shops alone. On my own. By myself. Just me. Since Phil retired I feel like we’re co- joined (not in all matters of course. We do go to the bathroom separately). Ordinarily I can’t leave the house without him.
“Just off to the supermarket dear.”
“Oh wait for me I’ll come along and carry the bags.
“I’m going to get my hair done. I’ll be about three hours.”
“Wait for me I’ll come and wait on the bench outside the hairdressers’ and read my paper.”
I don’t really mind him coming with me, but I hate the comments about my driving:
“So you didn’t see that pothole then?”
“You’re too close to that car. Slow down.”
“Don’t forget that the indicator stick in on the left. Feel free to use it any time you overtake.”
“You might want to pull over here to let that ambulance that has been trying to get by you for two miles go past.”
“Turn right here, no, the other right.”
And, most of all, I hate the fact that he sees everything I buy. There are no more ‘secret’ purchases. No more “This old thing – I’ve had it in my wardrobe for years.” At first I tried hiding new clothes in an old supermarket plastic bag, but he rifled through it one day in the hope of finding a cake for afternoon tea, and nearly choked when he saw what I’d paid for a jumper. I even tried getting shop assistants to fold the article up in tissue paper so small that it would fit in my handbag, but they would protest in horror about how creased I was making their precious garment and glared at me as if I were committing a heinous crime.
The assistants in my favourite boutique took to calling me The Bag Lady because I‘d buy a beautiful item and get them to shove it in an ordinary plastic bag so Phil won’t be curious enough to look inside it, refusing to carry one of their expensive bags with the name of the shop emblazoned upon it. I’ve resorted now more deviously to taking one of those large recycle bags with me and then piling ordinary stuff like magazines on top of the purchase which lies hidden neatly at the bottom of the bag.
Of late though, there hasn’t been any money for special purchases and I spend more time looking in the shop windows than buying clothes. Today, I felt liberated. Today, I was going to treat myself. I am going to be fifty after all. Today, I granted myself the freedom to buy whatever I wanted, within reason, and walk around town swinging my favourite shop’s bag displaying its name and the fact that I have spent far too much money.
Euphoric, I accompanied Freddie Mercury on Queen’s ‘I Want to Break Free’, which blared from the car radio as I drove to town. I giggled ridiculously when I drove down the potholes, delighting in the fact that Phil could not chastise me for it. I positively skipped around the shops, and indulged my shopper’s appetite, by buying myself a birthday present from my favourite dress shop and using the joint credit card. Well, Phil had expressed concern over what to buy me for my birthday and now I’ve saved him the trouble of having to agonise over choosing a suitable present. On the way back to the car I was inexplicably drawn to a new shop offering Cosmetic Services.
I’m ashamed to say that in that one moment of weakness I succumbed to vanity and the ‘buttocks’ deed was performed. My mother’s words “You’re not getting any younger are you?” had echoed in my head all morning. I’ve recently been lacking in confidence anyway. Phil never looks at me anymore. He’s certainly not interested in me physically any more, probably because I’m turning into an old crone. I am undeniably getting old and let’s face it regardless of what magazines may say: that you are still beautiful at fifty or fifty is the new thirty, if you don’t feel good about yourself then you are going to be unhappy.
I’m not completely convinced that I’ve done the right thing but if it helps to eliminate those hideous lines between my eyes and makes me look a little younger then...I also had my eyebrows shaped and tinted. The gorgeous young beautician, who was presumably put off by my continuous anxious babbling, has arched them a little too much, giving me a permanent look of surprise (which could be useful when I open my birthday gifts).
I was advised to frown a lot for the first few hours. That isn’t a problem as I constantly frown, usually because even to this day I refuse to wear my glasses unless I absolutely need to read. The last time I went to the optician’s he warned me that if I didn’t put them on for driving I would be driving illegally. He looked so sternly at me that I thought for one moment he was going to report me to the police, so I promised I would wear them more and then spent the next hour walking backwards and forwards past his shop in them so he could see me wearing them. Well, in summary, the ‘buttocks’ injections didn’t hurt (only my wallet). Still, hopefully I’ll look good for the big day.
Phil was distracted this evening and didn’t notice me frowning all the time at him. He seems to be distracted more and more these days. Some days I feel I should try and get his attention by striding about wearing nothing but a thong and thigh length boots. I’m sure that would backfire though and he’d just look through me. Besides, I don’t think even I would want to see me in just a thong and boots these days, not with this cellulite and these flabby bits.
I pointed out the tinted eyebrows so he won’t wonder why I look different when the ‘buttocks’ works. I told him about the present he’s bought me which seemed to cheer him up. Maybe he’s simply relieved that he doesn’t have to think about it anymore or maybe he’s just pleased that I didn’t spend too much on it. I checked in the mirror before bed but the lines are still there and I can still frown deeply. As it’s been quite a significant day and experience I thought I’d better blog my day, who knows, one day someone else like me might read it and know they are not alone.
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This morning brought disaster. Okay, I admit, that is an exaggeration. It was not quite disaster. One of my eyebrows lost its tint overnight leaving me with a comically quizzical look. I tried using my eyeliner to fill in the gaps but it was too coppery and now I have one slightly ginger eyebrow and one dark brown, and I can still frown deeply.
Phil, being grumpy, didn’t notice. He’s always grumpy, but today it really was my fault he was morose. Last night, in a moment of madness, probably due to post buttocks hysteria, I insisted on starting my birthday celebrations early and opened last year’s birthday present – a bottle of ‘Lanson’ Rose Champagne. Unfortunately, I should have drunk this sooner as it had lost its pink tinge and looked more like ‘Lucozade’. Having been off the drink for a while, Phil was soon the worse for wear. He dozed off in the chair and had to go to bed at 8.30 pm leaving me to attempt tipsy sit-ups in front of the television which swam in and out of focus. Well, I do want to look good for this birthday trip.
He was also grumpy today because it is Friday and we do not go out on a Friday. He just can’t face the traffic. For some reason the road that goes past our house is absolutely jam-packed on a Friday with heavy goods vehicles, caravans, motor-bikes, tractors, vans, and cars. In addition, this morning at 7.30am, a procession of Vintage Steam Engines puffed past, followed by about six miles of traffic stuck behind them. Tomorrow, there’s a Vintage Steam Fair in the next village which is three miles away. The speed they were going, they might just make it there in time if they don’t stop for lunch.
Fridays are also a drag because Tom doesn’t normally work on a Friday. This means we have to put up with him lying in bed, or as Phil calls his room, the Pit, until midday and then stinking out the bathroom before disappearing to the pub. At least when he’s at work we have some respite. Whatever happened to him? Before university he was a normal teenager. I thought we’d grown through the difficult period but apparently not. Since he’s come back, it’s just been one unending nightmare.
I had a really bad night’s sleep, and not just because of the champagne. Phil likes to go to sleep with the radio on and I hate it on. A creature of habit, he goes to bed at 9pm on the dot and puts the radio on a timer to turn off at about 10.30pm, which is roughly when I go to bed. Last night, not only had he mistakenly set it to turn off at 11.30pm, but it was playing dance music. Dance music is fine when you want to dance, not when you are trying to get your beauty sleep. I had just listened to the extended version of Donna Summer’s ‘Love to Love You Baby’ with accompanying panting and was about to get up and pull the plug out of the radio because I couldn’t find the remote control to silence it when it went off with a loud ‘phut!’ I eased back into the pillow, breathed a sigh of relief, and then Phil started snoring, gently at first but then louder and louder. He sounded like a pneumatic drill. The walls reverberated with each snore. I kicked him, of course, but that only stopped him for a moment or two and each time he restarted he was louder.
My brain began to whir in time to the cacophony of snorts coming from next to me. In the darkness anxieties assaulted my tired mind. As the minutes turned into hours I started to worry about Tom and wonder when, or if, he was going to come home. It was now very late and all the pubs would be shut. He had only gone into the local town. There were no nightclubs there or all night bars. He was hardly likely to be hanging out at the all night supermarket. I worried about his safety. Maybe he had had his phone and money stolen. He might have been involved in a brawl and was now sitting in Casualty. Worse still, he could have had an accident. Was he sitting on a pavement in town in the cold too drunk to remember where he lived? Those ridiculous fears, that mothers all over the world experience when their children are out at night, gnawed at me relentlessly. The stupid thing is that while he was at university, no doubt drinking his body weight in alcohol, and hanging out in the most frightening places in Manchester, I didn’t worry. Now that he’s back in the nest, I fret every time he goes out, even if it’s to the shops.
I thrashed about for a further hour before eventually dozing off. A stomach ache caused me to sit bolt upright in bed shortly after. It was probably due to all the anxiety. Many illnesses are caused by worry. I agonised that I could even have something serious like appendicitis. Those thoughts and fears always sound ludicrous in the daylight hours, but at 4am, everything is out of proportion. I cursed Tom. I wished he’d behave normally, and at least let us know he was okay. I couldn’t stay in bed any longer and got out to get a glass of water. My mobile phone was flashing on the bedside locker. Tom had mistakenly sent us a text intended for his girlfriend:
‘Hi SexyBum. Soz. At Dave’s. Bit pi**ed. C u SatSun? Miss U xx’
So, the inconsiderate ‘so and so’ was at a friend’s house, and he hadn’t even thought to let us know that he was safe.
Wide awake by now, I went online and checked my symptoms on the internet at one of those very useful health clinic sites. Rather embarrassingly my symptoms seemed to indicate I had trapped wind. Great, I’m apparently turning into a flatulent hairy old woman. Had a glass of red wine to settle my stomach and went back to bed.
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Finally I’ve managed to produce a header for this blog. It’s taken ages. Tom told me about a program called paint and after many attempts I’ve succeeded in producing a picture for the blog. I chose a champagne bottle with a cork flying out of it, and painted ‘50’ on the cork. I’m rather proud of it. It is a minor achievement in my otherwise dreary life. I emerged from my room bursting with enthusiasm shouting “ta dah!” Phil looked blankly at me as I bragged about my new found skill and asked why I would want to write a log. I attempted to explain what I was doing but he had resumed reading the business section in ‘The Telegraph’ in a dismissive manner. I finished the bottle of wine from last night in celebration. Well, one or two won’t hurt after all.
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Over the weekend the rest of Europe sweltered under the hottest conditions for decades and we stared gloomily out of the window again. We even considered lighting the fire to cheer ourselves up. Roll on Birthday trip and, dare I say it, roll on sunshine. I endured the weekly phone call from my mother. The phone rang at 4pm on the dot and I was greeted by the sound of the usual drag on a cigarette and...
It was going to be one of those difficult conversations where I don't know what to say and there are horrible long pauses. I only spoke to her a few days ago. What on Earth will I manage to say today?
My mother is one of those people who believe that life for me stopped the moment I left home. She steadfastly refuses to acknowledge anything I have done since then and, strangely, loathes Phil who to my knowledge has actually done nothing to earn this hatred. As a consequence, conversation is limited to things that happened between 1960 and 1979. It's been difficult between us for years. We haven’t seen each other for years and only dare communicate on the telephone. It’s better that way for both of us. Either we are too similar or too different. I can't work it out, but we still manage to rub each other up very easily.
It was the same for Phil and Tom when Tom reached the age of sixteen. He only had to walk into the room and Phil would start bristling with annoyance. It seems to happen at about the time when the child gets taller than the adult. I remember my mother got twitchy when I zoomed past her tiny five foot nought inches. She took to wearing the most enormous platform shoes. They were like the ones Elton John wore in the film ‘Tommy’ or Noddy Holder out of the group ‘Slade’. They were so huge that one day I tried them on in her bedroom, while she was out of course, and hit my head on the ceiling. Goodness knows how she managed to stagger around in them, but she did, and thereafter, when they were no longer fashionable she would wear ginormous heels instead.
A similar thing happened with Tom and Phil. Luckily, Phil didn’t take to wearing platform shoes, but he suddenly got prickly and starting pulling himself up to his full height when Tom was around. They are very different. Phil is the tidiest man I know: he puts his socks in colour-coded order in the drawer. Tom throws his in a smelly pile on the floor and under the bed. Phil gets up at 6am, whereas Tom goes to bed about then, after a night out, and tries to stay in bed all day. Phil is very careful with money, having worked so hard for it, and having built up his business from scratch. Tom seems to think it’s to be spent as soon as he can get his hands on it, earned, and borrowed or whatever. Phil has a very strong work ethic whereas Tom...well you get the idea.
My mother was particularly irritable today. She had little to say and launched almost immediately into an extremely lengthy complaint about her garden. It was downhill from then and we ended with her saying a begrudging
“Well, have a nice birthday. I don't suppose I'll get to talk to you next week.”
... As I'll hopefully be hundreds of miles away, and she probably won’t phone me while I’m abroad, I guess not. 'Happy Birthday to me.'
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Good news - I can’t frown as much. The bad news is that I’ve started to screw my eyes up from the bottom instead. So that’s how it works. You get your wrinkled area treated, which in turn makes you overuse the muscles in another area, which means you have to get them treated and so on until you have a face full of the stuff and can’t employ any facial muscles. I think I’ll leave well alone in the future. As they always write on Facebook ‘Six more sleeps until we go away’. Opened a bottle of Chablis to celebrate and drank the lot after Phil went to bed grumbling about the mole.
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Phil is miserably staring at the computer screen in his office where he hides most days. Since he sold his business earlier this year and invested all the money into shares, he has become the most morose man you can imagine. Not only does he miss the cut and thrust of the business world but the shares are performing appallingly. He made the mistake of investing in BP and then of course there was that dreadful Deepwater Horizon disaster in April. Eleven men were killed, oil spilled out into the Gulf of Mexico causing a natural disaster, and BP shares tumbled. They’ve been tumbling ever since. Phil bought them on his stock brokers’ recommendation as they provided a good income, but apparently that is being cut, and there will be no more income from them. The share price has dropped so low that Phil dare not sell them. He keeps hoping they’ll recover. It’s knocked him badly. His Lloyds’ banking shares are also no longer yielding and I think Phil is worried that we’ll soon run out of money.
The continued malaise of the Global economy is also doing nothing to improve the picture and, like many other people facing retirement, we simply do not have the income that we thought we would have. Tom returning home has further impinged our expenditure as we have to keep supporting him because he only works three days a week on minimum wage. He can’t afford to run his car or to buy food. Mind you, he’d afford quite a lot more if he stopped spending his cash down at the pub or on cigarettes.
This is not how I had envisaged the future. I had hoped that we would finally be able travel all over the world. I’d looked forward to spending time together doing fun things, taking up hobbies, have adventures and enjoy ourselves. Phil has worked so hard and had so little time to enjoy himself but now all we do is sit at home, surf the internet and go out once a week to the shops, where we might have a piece of cake between us and a coffee each. Retirement is not for sissies.
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I spent all morning on the internet and discovered there were approximately 297 021 321 arc second minutes (I’m not sure what an arc second actually is though) remaining until the trip. I really should have done some housework, or something useful, but I was looking for remedies for facial hair and got sidetracked.
That’s how it often happens. I’ll pop on to check my emails and then just take a quick look at Facebook where I’ll get carried away playing some stupid pointless game. Time flies when you have to milk your virtual cows, tend to your virtual vegetable patch and collect your virtual crops. I’m avoiding Facebook at the moment. That is to say, I’m desperately trying to not log onto it. I’m tempted to log on but there’s something there that I’m not sure I can face at present. I’ll wait until I get beck from my trip. Normally, after checking my virtual farm, my virtual coffee shop and my virtual tropical island I’ll tweet about what I’ve been doing so my five followers are up to speed with my life. Oh no, I only have four now. Sellingyougarbage is no longer following me. After being a virtual farmer and a virtual waitress I’ll mess about with my blog for a while trying to get the layout right and before I know it, it’s time for lunch and I’ve done nothing in the house.
It’s particularly bad if you make a bid on eBay. You can’t leave the computer alone and keep checking to see if anyone has outbid you. I spent two entire days on it not so long ago trying to buy a Concorde clock for Phil. He kept wondering why I shiftily disappeared into the office every ten minutes, and in the end got annoyed with me and told me to sit still at which point some person outbid me and the clock sold.
I couldn’t find a remedy for the hair problem. I don’t fancy laser treatment and, quite honestly, after this month’s cosmetic procedure it’s probably better if I stay away from that sort of thing. Seems bleach is what people use, but mine is already blonde. I suppose it’ll look better with a suntan.
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Believe it or not my mother phoned again. I don’t know what’s got into her. She was chuffed to bits with the DVDs I sent yesterday. During Sunday's phone call at some point between the silences I had managed to get her to talk a little about TV programmes she had been watching. When 'Strictly Come Dancing' is on she can talk for an entire hour about how awful the dancers are as she used to dance very well, almost professional level. On Sunday she mentioned that she had loved the film 'Gremlins'.
“I really liked the gremlin that was wearing a Macintosh and 'flashing' and ...”
There was a pause for a choking cough whilst I held the phone away from my ear and grimaced.
“...the one with the ten cigarettes hanging out of its mouth,” she wheezed.
I refrained from making any comment.
Yesterday, I was familiarising myself with the latest music releases, in my continued quest to stay on Tom’s wavelength. I was browsing through the ‘M’ section and had got to ‘Muse’ when my eye was drawn to the stack of reduced DVDs on a shelf nearby. 'Gremlins' was one of them, so I bought it and sent it straight away to my mother.
Since Dad died, she's been amazing with her ability to become technologically literate. She got herself a mobile phone and can text faster than I can. She bought a GPS so she wouldn't get lost going to the shops, as she hadn't driven for a long while. Last year, she purchased a small DVD player for travelling. When she goes to Cyprus, which she does regularly, she takes it with her to watch a film. It helps take her mind off the fact that she has to sit on the plane for four or five hours without a cigarette. It’s lucky they serve alcohol on the flights or she'd be really stuck. So I thought 'Gremlins' would amuse her on her next trip and no doubt all her fellow passengers who'll be able to listen to her noisy laughter followed by a hacking cough for ten minutes. To them I apologise in advance.
Mum was in fine form, having been put in a good mood by my thoughtful action.
“I've just got off the phone to the insurance company. They sent me a renewal and they've put my insurance up from £180 to £350 per annum with a £350 excess.”
If anyone from the insurance company saw my mother driving they would probably refuse point blank to insure her.
She continued, “...so I phoned around a few companies and got a cheaper price, £258 with £200 excess. Then I phoned my company back and told them if they didn't match the price I'd been given, I'd take my business away. I've been with them ten years and I've never had an accident.”
She stopped talking to take a sip from a glass. I could hear ice cubes tinkling in it. There was a further pause as she lit a fresh cigarette.
“So, you got it knocked down to £258?” I asked admiring of the fact she was so feisty even at seventy-six years old.
“No, I told them I’d been quoted £169 and they believed me. After all I'm only an old lady. Who wouldn't believe me?” she chuckled wickedly. “Old age has its perks you know.”
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At last it is almost time to go. My case is bulging. Maybe it is a little overfull for such a short trip but I’ve squeezed in the lovely new dress that I/Phil bought for me, along with my shorts which now fit after all those sit ups. I still don’t know how they managed to get a black spot on them just through trying them on. Why does that always happen with white clothes?
My face doesn’t look younger, but there is a certain cheery youthful element in there somewhere and, after I used a proper eyebrow pencil my eyebrows looked quite good. I think I’m ready to face fifty. I wonder if we’ll celebrate it on the beach under the stars with the ocean romantically sighing in the background. I set the alarm for 5am but I bet I don’t sleep. I’ll be far too excited.
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PhillyFilly said... Hi I’m your new follower. I love the way you write about facing up to getting older. I had some work done on my face last year and didn’t regret it. Not sure what ‘crikey’ means. Is it an English expression? I’m from Florida myself. I hope you have a great time and keep posting. Can’t wait to hear where you are going.
I’ve had to log on and blog this as I got up at 1am to repack the wretched suitcase, and now I can’t go back to sleep. Just as he was about to go to sleep, Phil told me our holiday destination because he couldn’t keep it a secret anymore. No, it’s not Monte Carlo or one of the Balearic Islands. We’re off to the land of efficiency and nice motor cars. We’re going to the city of sausages, pumpernickel bread, large beers and the BMW factory. No wonder he was pleased with himself. It’s his perfect holiday. We’re going to Munich. Now, I’ll have to hunt out my umbrella as the forecast is somewhat grim there. I wonder if I’ll look good in Lederhosen?
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PhillyFilly said...“Hahaha! You make me laugh.