IF YOU CAN REMEMBER THE 60S, YOU WEREN’T THERE!

At least, that’s what they say!

This quote has been attributed to a number of people including Robin Williams, Pete Townshend (The Who) and Timothy Leary.  It implies that the drugs/alcohol/sex/love-ins and general insanity of the period permanently impaired the memory of those who actually experienced the 1960s!

I remember the 60s all too well. 

I worked in London and hated the daily commute from my home in the suburbs where I still lived with my parents.

One day I spotted a notice in a shop window advertising a room to let in a road called Kinnerton Street. I asked around at work and a colleague said it was a fabulous posh turning behind Harrods and that I should definitely take a look. Today it is better known as the road where Ghislaine Maxwell lived and where, it is said, she entertained many high profile celebrities including you know who.

The street, in the heart of Belgravia, was charming. It was lined with mews houses and even a tiny pub.  As I arrived at the house, four good looking young men carrying guitars were coming out of the front door. A band. Wow! Without even seeing the room I knew that this was where I wanted to live! 

The room to let was a bedsit just a few steps up from the front door. It was smaller than my room at home and barely furnished. Hidden behind a sliding door was a small sink. Upstairs there was a shared bathroom and kitchen. The cost would be almost what I was earning every month.  But I was so smitten with the idea of living there that I decided to take it.

My father helped me move in. When I had told my parents I wanted to move out they had seemed disappointed but had not tried to dissuade me.  It’s not home, was all my father said when he saw it.

I met my neighbours.  On the ground floor lived a balding bachelor, whose room smelt of damp washing and socks. On the first floor there was a chef who worked in a London restaurant. I salivated to the smell of his steak cooking as I tucked into my nightly meal of yoghurt and grated apple – all I could afford after I had paid my rent. Nothing would persuade me to enter the kitchen after I had seen a mouse feasting on cheese in the fridge. The bathroom wasn’t much better. Years of grime had stained the bath and no amount of elbow grease would remove it.

On a sunny day, if one felt inclined, it was possible to climb into the bath tub and then out of the bathroom window in order to sit on the roof and sunbathe.

On the other floors lived a gay couple and a spinster – which is what single women were called then. I envied the other residents their large rooms – mine was a closet in comparison. I was on the same floor as the telephone which meant I was always answering phone calls for others.

Where was the band? Where were the four young men I had seen on my first visit?  Gone. Kicked out for loud and lewd behaviour. I was devastated. Also, where had they lived? Surely not in the cubby hole that had become my home.

Living in a bedsit did not live up to my dreams. It was great to be able to walk home from work along Piccadilly and around Hyde Park Corner to Knightsbridge. But there was no one to enjoy it with me. I was alone and lonely.

In the end, I could bear it no longer and phoned home. My dad came to collect me. You were right, I said to him. It’s not home.

Now here we are in 2021 when so many young people – and the not so young – have moved back home to live with their parents. Some of it as a result of the pandemic but also because it is so hard to get onto the property ladder. The money required for a deposit on a home today would have bought a detached house back in the day!

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

DAY 60. WHATEVER HAPPENED TO JOINED UP THINKING?

“Where is the life that late I led?
Where is it now? Totally dead.”
Kiss Me Kate

Whatever happened to joined up thinking?

Well, what do you know? As a response to public demand (I joke) cleaners are now allowed to go into people’s homes, which is great if you’re not able to cope with the work yourself.  But many people who work as cleaners – ours included – don’t drive.  They travel on the tube and buses to get to their destinations. They may come from homes where they are living with a large number of others. So, much as I would like not to have to clean our home any more, I will pass on that one.  Yet, I cannot enter our children’s homes unless of course I decide to become their cleaner!

People can now meet up with a friend or a member of their family but only one person at a time and only as long as they practise social distancing – did that word ever exist in our language before this? So, I could meet up with one of our children – at a safe distance – and then OH (other half) could meet up with them. All of us have been in lockdown. None of us have gone anywhere except for walks. But we can only meet up with our children one at a time. What is the thinking behind that?

Yet, when we walk on the field near our home we see all the dog walkers gathering in groups together chatting away – a few feet apart from one another but certainly far more than one to one.

Our children cannot come inside our home and we cannot go into theirs. However, we are allowed to put our house on the market. Complete strangers can come and view it as long as they keep their distance.  So, does that mean that if our children wanted to view our home that they could come inside it? And vice versa?

At very little notice for the teachers, small children are going to be allowed to return to school. How are young children going to practise social distancing? How are the children going to be kept apart at playtime?

Will the teachers and other workers at the school wear masks?  Won’t the children find this a little scary and intimidating?

We are told that parents can choose whether or not to send their children to school. Won’t this create two different classes of school kids?

And what about the staff, the dinner ladies, the cleaners, the caretaker, the teaching assistants – are they all going to get PPE?

How are the parents going to return to work if they can’t turn to their parents (the children’s grandparents) for childcare as many of them did before?

Where is the joined up thinking in all this?

What’s the hurry? Why not wait till September for children to return to school? Or even January if necessary?  And if children are to go back to school, why not start with the older children who will understand the need for social distancing?  They are the ones who have been more affected by the lockdown. Many of them have exams. Surely it would make far more sense to start with them? And even if they were allowed to return to school, someone would need to still be at home to care for their younger siblings. So how can their parents return to work?

Maybe if there were a few more women in the Cabinet we would see a little more insight and understanding of what it means to be a parent.

I can cope with missing all the things we used to do. I don’t mind not having holidays, going out for meals, seeing friends, going to the theatre, the cinema, travelling on public transport and so on.  But, like so many of our friends, I am missing spending time with our grandchildren. Touching them. Cuddling them. Holding them. Kissing them. No amount of telephone calls, Zoom, Face Time, WhatsApp or other screen time can replace this.

What do you think?

I’ll be back on Monday. Have a good weekend.

 

 

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

Waiting

Waiting

We are all expectant!

Waiting for news of the latest Royal birth. Kate Middleton – the Duchess of Cambridge – went into labour today!

Here’s a  poem I have posted before. I wrote it in 2011 when our daughter was in labour and we were expecting our first grandchild.

Maybe this is how Kate Middleton’s mother is feeling right now …

Waiting

I have never waited like this before

Not for me

Pacing the floor

Instead I find small things to do

Mindless silly things

Anything to keep me from thinking

I walk round and round the garden

Round and round the house

The hours stretch out interminably

I wish I could somehow

Move things along

My thoughts say hurry hurry

I go to the florist

And buy a bouquet

The biggest, bluest, most beautiful bouquet

Now it will happen I think

Now I will get the call

The phone rings

It is my husband

He is also waiting

But while he waits

He has meetings, lunches

discussions, phone calls

He is not waiting

Like I am waiting

He is not thinking

as I am thinking

I am remembering

My first time

How time was telescoped

And what – for those waiting

Was so many hours

For me sped past so swiftly

So amazingly fast

I was surprised when

they said how long it had been

how long long long

I long to get that call

I long to know that all is well

And that my girl has had her boy

8 September 2011

worth waiting for

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

Remembering my mother

 I wrote this next poem in 1995, about six months before my mother died.

 Role Reversal

Today, I held my mother

sobbing in my arms

Stroking her soft,  fine hair

Her chin nuzzled on my chest

And I could smell

the unforgotten fragrance

of her skin

I held her close

as I have held my children

and felt the frailty of her age

How odd and imperceptibly

the tables turn

And those that you have leaned on

lean on you

Those that you had turned to

turn to you

Now she is the child

And I am the mother

MUM AND DAD BEFORE THEY WERE ENGAGED. LATE 1920S? THEY WERE MARRIED IN 1936.SONY DSCmum

In memory of Freda Hetty Finn.  Born London, December 13 1910. Died 6 March 1996.

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

Waiting for a Royal birth

We are all expectant!

Waiting for news of the royal birth.

Here’s a  poem I wrote nearly two years ago when our daughter was in labour.

I wonder if this is how Kate Middleton’s mother might be feeling right now …

Waiting

I have never waited like this before

Not for me

Pacing the floor

Instead I find small things to do

Mindless silly things

Anything to keep me from thinking

I walk round and round the garden

Round and round the house

The hours stretch out interminably

I wish I could somehow

Move things along

My thoughts say hurry hurry

I go to the florist

And buy a bouquet

The biggest, bluest, most beautiful bouquet

Now it will happen I think

Now I will get the call

The phone rings

It is my husband

He is also waiting

But while he waits

He has meetings, lunches

discussions, phone calls

He is not waiting

Like I am waiting

He is not thinking

as I am thinking

I am remembering

My first time

How time was telescoped

And what – for those waiting

Was so many hours

For me sped past so swiftly

So amazingly fast

I was surprised when

they said how long it had been

how long long long

I long to get that call

I long to know that all is well

And that my girl has had her boy

8 September 2011

worth waiting for

Maybe – by the time you read this – we shall all know a little bit more about the Royal birth!

PS  Just heard it was a boy! 8lb 6oz!

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

Waiting

Waiting

I have never waited like this before

Not for me

Pacing the floor

Instead I find small things to do

Mindless silly things

Anything to keep me from thinking

I walk round and round the garden

Round and round the house

The hours stretch out interminably

I wish I could somehow

Move things along

My thoughts say hurry hurry

I go to the florist

And buy a bouquet

The biggest, bluest, most beautiful bouquet

Now it will happen I think

Now I will get the call

The phone rings

It is my husband

He is also waiting

But while he waits

He has meetings, lunches

discussions, phone calls

He is not waiting

Like I am waiting

He is not thinking

as I am thinking

I am remembering

My first time

How time was telescoped

And what – for those waiting

Was so many hours

For me sped past so swiftly

So amazingly fast

I was surprised when

they said how long it had been

how long long long

I long to get that call

I long to know that all is well

And that my girl has had her boy

8 September 2011

worth waiting for

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems