Archive for February, 2013

Plagued by the Past.

It’s amazing how, even when said in jest, words can hurt and hurt for always. And even if you find out they were never meant, they still plague you.

My father always told me “you were never wanted, you were a mistake, you should have been a boy” and these words were topped on occasions with “we should have put her in a home”.

I’m sixty this week. I spent some time with two of my sons and their families today. I left after an hour, as I didn’t want to get in their way. They, as thirty and forty year olds, would have a much better time if I wasn’t there to get in the way.

The result? My youngest son asked me why I left everyone’s company and I explained that I felt they would have a much better time talking if I left them to it, rather than being present and spoiling their get-together. Not so, it seems. They thought I had left because I was bored and I was very welcome to stay, had I wanted to.

And what about the words my father said? My mother said he didn’t really mean them but I still haven’t got over them …. .

A Wake Up Call …..

In December, 2012, I decided that it would be a good idea if Hubby and I escaped the cold winter of the northern part of Spain and headed for the warmer part, that is, the south. Winter in Galicia is very wet, the yearly rainfall being twice that of London and all of this falling in only five months of the year! Imagine ….!

Five days before we were due to set off on 3rd. February, our Spanish neighbour died. He was sixty eight and had been retired only three years. After doing his national service, he spent the rest of his life working on the roads, laying that sticky black tarmac and, for most of that time, he probably didn’t realise that wearing a mask might one day save him from an early death.

So, the holiday which, right up to the time of our neighbour’s death, had not yet been booked, went ahead. I’m sixty this month and want to enjoy my semi-retirement while I can.


3 February – 10 February – Salamanca
10 February – 17 February – Sevilla.
17 February – 24 February – Granada.
24 February – 2 March – a surprise yet to be decided…… .

Photos may follow!

What do Manners Make?

I thought that everything about my world had sadly gone but, last week, I had need to do some research about manners and etiquette in Britain and that, in itself, cast me back into my childhood, when such codes of conduct were an integral part of life and society.

I sat and wondered if children’s plastic tea sets still existed and whether children continued to learn their ‘please’ and ‘thank-you’ skills from their pretend tea parties with mother, brothers, sisters and maybe the odd doll or teddy bear. Those plastic cups and saucers also helped children to practise their table manners, like not stretching across someone else’s food to reach for the salt, remembering to first offer a drink to those next to them before pouring one for themselves and, let’s not forget, tidying up after finishing that special meal.

My research didn’t leave me disappointed, as I found not only the tea set but one that spoke and played music as well! Okay, maybe a little bit of advanced technology has made that children’s game a little better and, because of those whizzes and bangs, more popular to its little users, so maybe the world of today is as good as my world of yesterday.

The code of conduct that came from practising and using manners in many everyday situations meant that everyone knew how they stood with others. The old stock community still wait until people have left a busy building or lift, before they themselves enter and those gentlemen still hold a door open for a woman to pass through before they do. However, this last point seems to be one of great wonder.
ce station, I noticed a gentleman hold open the door for the woman passing through. His polo sweater showed that he worked for a car hire company and he had probably gone there to fill up the petrol tank before making a delivery. For his manners, he received no thanks. A little later, a fireman went to enter the petrol station shop and, on holding open the door for a woman, he received a thanks and a smile. There was no fire or emergency situation.

That left me wondering. Was the first woman ill-mannered, or did the fireman deserve thanks more than the first gentleman did? The answer seemed to be that manners no longer play such an integral role in society. That old adage of ‘manners maketh a man’ seems to have flown out of the window yet, like in the Britain of only two centuries ago, a person could be measured on his or her manners and could lose his or her standing in society as a result.

Still, us old stock must have faith in the system and, indeed, during my research, I also found that manners and etiquette are today taught by professional societies and some professional hotels also offer the table manner side of things. So, if children haven’t got to grips with how to treat their peers, elders, or anyone else in society, before they themselves embark on adulthood and a search for meaningful work, maybe all is not lost. Enrolling on a training course in this powerful code of conduct might just be the right move, as such knowledge and behaviour really does make one stand out from the crowd.