Archive for the ‘That’s Life’ Category

Remembering Who You Are …. .

After a long ride, I have come to understand how important accent and dialect are and I’d like to tell you why.

Although I currently live in Spain, any UK native will tell me that I am a Geordie, though I am not.  Although I was brought up only twenty miles or so south of Geordieland (the Newcastle area in the north-east of England), I am a colliery girl and I therefore speak ‘pitmatic’ but, nevertheless, as regards to accent and dialect, my comments are not affected by this separation.

At the age of eleven, while playing in the schoolyard just outside the teachers’ staffroom, someone had shouted “haway man!”  For those who don’t understand the north-eastern accent, this means ‘come on (with me)’.  In the classroom some half an hour later, the teacher asked “Whooooo was that shouting ‘haway man outside the staffroom’?”  It was me, though I didn’t admit to it.

At the age of eighteen, and married, I made a conscious decision that I did not want to speak with the accent I had and, by the age of about twenty five, I was able to make sure that every word ending ‘ing’ did indeed sound like that, other than ‘un’ as it did in my accent.  ‘Gowun’ became ‘going’, ‘makun’ became ‘making’ and so on.  I never did realise that ‘I’m’ came out as ‘ahm (like ‘arm’) and still does to this day.

Forty years later, and living in Spain, in an area where very few English people live, a couple came into our regular bar.  He was from Durham, about fifteen miles from where I was brought up and, after speaking with him for about an hour, I left for home.  Upon arrival, I was disgusted with myself because, all of a sudden, I realised that I had indeed been copying his accent and I felt an urgent need to  hopefully bump into him again, so as to apologise.

But then I realised that I hadn’t been copying him.  My native pronunciation  seemed to have arrived out of the blue and, in truth, was a natural lapse into my own mother pronunciation.  It felt so wrong but, on later occasions when I have met with people from the north-east of England, or when I return to visit family, there it is again, just waiting to be oozed into existence.

A few years ago, and after this aforementioned event, I read about a UK journalist who had lived in the USA for many years.  He said that he found that, when visiting England, his native UK pronunciation always popped out to play and, more interestingly, when in England but talking about his life in the USA, he spoke with an American accent.

Language is an incredible thing and I have learnt that you can’t leave your real self behind.  Now, at the age of retirement, I do wish that I spoke with my native accent, though I am so pleased to know that it does return now and then, to remind me who I am.





Catering for All Sizes in the Fashion Market

I watched the telly the other day and got engrossed in a programme about the fuller figure. The programme wasn’t only about size 16 and size 18 but actually built itself on size 22 and larger and it revealed quite a lot about having ‘followers’. Now this information was quite new to me but I could get the general gist of what having blog sites and taking part in social media does for the population at large.

Yes, there are lot of large ladies and gentlemen out there and, yes, just like the more average sized population, they want to buy clothes which make them feel good. Okay, in the UK, Evans has been around for the size 16 + for many years but the programme spoke of Yours and of Milk, two companies who are now also seeing the profits to be found in catering for the much fuller figure.

What interested me was that, while these companies were trying to find suitable ‘large’ models to display their wears, they were also interested in what following these ladies had through their online presence. The companies wanted to tap into the prospective model’s world audience as, having such a following, they could only benefit through such advertising.

But the programme also addressed whether using such models would have a negative effect on healthy eating, whether being grossly overweight would no longer be seen as a problem and whether courting such fashion was sending a bad image to the world.

It’s arguable, isn’t it? But business is business and, if a target audience’s needs are to be met, surely that is simply business. And, underweight, within ‘acceptable’ limits, or overweight, we are all in search of looking and feeling good, aren’t we?

‘Walking the Walk’ …. but only for a moment!

Puerta Banus. It was 3rd. January, 2015, and I was only fifteen minutes away by car, so I had to go, didn’t I? There’s always a lot of famous people swanning along the marina and, dressed in my best second-hand jeans (from my daughter-in-law), my eight-year-old autumn-coloured scarf and my Matalan (a cheap chain store in the UK) flat shoes – oh, and my fake Dolce and Gabbana black handbag – I walked the walk.
It seems that to ‘walk the walk’, you carry your handbag over the curve of your elbow and also wiggle your bottom a little (I tried this but my dog kept pulling on his lead, which gave me more of a drunken gait), while trying to show your importance.
Okay, yes, after ten seconds, I gave up. I remembered that I am me and I couldn’t give a hoot about what anyone else thinks. What you see is what you get and well, hmm., I was tempted to have my photograph taken against one of the boats tethered there but decided to buy an ice-cream instead.
As I walked along, a ‘go that extra mile’ dolly-bird stopped to stroke my (yes, he’s a mongrel) dog and she spoke at length about her umpteen dogs, Springers, King Charles and all). Oh! Was she famous, I wonder? She was walking along with a gentleman who may have been her minder. She had dark skin (Spanish or Caribbean maybe), talked of living on a farm and was walking the walk.  And she was nice.
And, do you know, I was so proud that she had stopped to talk to me, in my second-hand jeans and with my mixed breed dog. Dogs. That’s all we talked about. And it was a good feeling.
Even if I don’t walk the walk!
So what does this tell me about myself?
I have no idea!  It was five minutes of fun but not a world I would like to live in.

Puerta Banus

What My Dog has Taught Me!

One of the wonderful things about being retired is that you don’t have to get up early for that day job so now, instead of getting up at 7.30 a.m., Hubby and I get up whenever. It’s usually around 11.00 a.m. or even later and, as a result, we don’t go to bed till maybe 1.30 a.m.. And the strange thing about this slightly alternative clock is that we seem to come alive at 11.00 p.m.. That’s when we decide to do a little research on the internet, strum the guitar (we don’t have any immediate neighbours), or watch some backdated TV programme.
But everything changes on holiday – not by choice but by dog. And loyalty seems to change too. I put it down to the fact that, during the day, I am usually stowed away in my attic office, so I’m inaccessible to Jack, who spends his time with Hubby, either in the garden or near that strumming guitar.
So, on holiday, it’s me who Jack wants, which is rather unfortunate, as he seems to always want to get up between 8.00 a.m. and 8.30 a.m. and it’s therefore me who is sporting a jacket over my pyjamas, as we tread the streets of the holiday resort.
And, in December, I may be torch in hand, as Jack and I investigate the new routes at our disposal …. any we’ve found some pretty interesting shortcuts as a result!
He he.

2014-09-15 21.10.23

And, you know, I quite like this hour of the day ….. .

Do Clothes Maketh a Man / Woman?

I am sure you will have heard the phrase the ‘clothes do not maketh a man’, implying that you can’t make yourself important simply by dressing so. Then there’s ‘you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear’ and ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ etc. etc.. So, we are who we are and I can live with that. Yet, I’ve just had the strangest of experiences over the last week, which remind me of a similar experience I had around 1990 and, in both of these, it was the clothes that made the memory important.

In 1990, my partner was a man who proved to be incredibly jealous and, in my job as a supervisor in a civil service office, I had responsibility for both men and women. Now, this didn’t go down well with (let’s call him) Chump, for want of a better name. As time passed, jealousy raised its head and I realised that, if I wanted to talk abut my day, Chris(topher) was going to have to be Chris(tine) and so on. I hate anything close to my neck (I always say that I must have been hanged in an earlier life ….) but ‘v’ necks were ruled out in favour of round necks, while skirts became about ten inches longer (knee-length to maxi).

When I eventually saw sense, and called a halt to that stressful and, indeed, dangerous, relationship, it dawned on me that I had indeed changed my wardrobe for clothes that I didn’t feel good in. Needless to say, when I realised this, I went back to wearing what made me feel good about myself.

Well, last week, something happened. After almost nine years of living in Spain, I now realise that I need to live in England again. When we came here in February 2006 to live in the countryside of Spain, Hubby and I said that we hoped we would never find ourselves dressing the same. Our neighbours work in the fields, old women push wheelbarrows and herd cows and, naturally, they wear old clothes day in and day out.

Well, somewhere along the line of time, I think Hubby and I both lost the plot. We stopped dressing up, my trusty high-heel steeds were laid to rest and flat shoes and baggy trousers became the norm for us both.

I think that, for me, realisation that I am in the wrong place has been happening for some time, maybe three years or so. Anything that used to seem good about living here is now cast as a negative, things I want can’t be got her in the backwater of Spain and I miss people.

We were in England last week. We bought twenty kilos of goodies to bring back to Spain, I got myself into any conversation I could possibly find, just for the pleasure and, I am pleased to say, Hubby and I started singing from the same hymn sheet as to where our future should be.

Since getting back to our home in Spain, I’ve started dressing differently, I’ve started fastening my hair up and I sought out and polished up (I chore I hate) my trusty steeds. Then, and only then, it dawned on me that my change of dress sense made me feel much more positive about the future.

So clothes might not maketh a man or woman but the right ones can definitely make you feel good about yourself.

Come Dine with Me? Would I Dare?

Do you watch Come Dine with Me? I don’t set out to watch it but, if it appears when I am flicking through the channels, I might just leave the programme on. Like I said in an earlier post, why do the, shall we say ‘contestants’ bitch so much? I have several questions for consideration:-

• Is this what the British people like to view (a Come Dine with Me mingled with a little bit of bitching)?

• Is the show about learning new recipes, or about watching how people can rip each other to shreds for as little as one thousand pounds?

• Does the bitchy contestant, who awards only three points or so for what seemed a perfect evening and a one with good scores from the other people present, not realise that they will be found out when the show is viewed by the other contestants and, no doubt, the contestant who would have won if everyone had marked fairly?

• Are the contestants asked to show shameful behaviour by the camera crew, so as to keep viewing numbers up? I suppose this reason could be put into by the contestants, when they watch themselves on television and realise what damage they have done to themselves.

And still I watch.

So maybe it’s about the pleasure of being able to grumble safely in your own home, releasing all of that pent-up stress that built up during the working day (several gentlemen have told me that this is one of the benefits of watching football) and allowing you to remain ‘sane’ to all those outside your sitting room …. .

Hmm ….

The Future is Ours to Change!

For those of you who don’t already know, I am a UK lady of sixty one now living in the north-west part of Spain. I always refer to this area as the outback because, unlike most people’s ideas of Spain, which is usually of the southern tourist areas, Galicia in the north-west is countryside, it’s lakes and rivers and this area is indeed known as ‘the land of a thousand rivers’. For population and for services, I would liken this area to the Lake District. In a triangle of three villages very close to each other (Hubby and I live in one of them), so close that we can shout to each other, the population is ten. If it wasn’t for the fact that our postman’s mother lives in one of these villages, we wouldn’t necessarily get our post the day it was due to be delivered. There is no post box, no public telephone, no shop and no bar and anything I haven’t mentioned which you think we might have, we haven’t.

Public water? No. Ours comes from the hills, via a hosepipe, after having first been cleaned via a plastic pop bottle which has holes in it>

Gas? No.

Electricity. Yes but a very low potential, so we can’t do the washing and boil the kettle at the same time.

Public telephone lines? No. We would have to drive eight miles to find the nearest public telephone box.

Well, after eight years into my change feom England to Spain, I can officially confirm that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. While I was busy in the first four years, I didn’t really notice anything but, in the last four, I have.

I’ve been writing a monthly column for my local newspaper in England and, today, it dawned on me. After thirty two columns, in which I give a point to either Spain or my home town in England based on the content of my article, the score is currently at ten for Spain and twenty two for where my heart obviously still lies.

Need I say more?

It’s a strange feeling and, I suppose (and I speak through experience), rather like divorce. You put your heart and soul into it, it starts off feeling very good indeed and then, after time, that good feeling goes but without your realising that things have changed.

After a (longer) while, you start to notice things that don’t suit you. Maybe, blinded by the pleasure, they never did suit you but, after a long enough period of experience, yes, there it is, staring you in the eye.

Now, you either ignore it and hope that it will go away (that was my first reaction in the divorce), or you start to analyse what is going on (my reaction, this time). I can now liken the feeling of discomfort to what it must feel like to have a near death experience; you’re looking down on yourself and you can see what is happening but the choice for what happens next doesn’t seem to be yours. You fear an unhappy end.

Well, we’re off to England next week and, who knows, we might just look at some houses ….. .

That’s life!