Tuesday, 22 March 2022

Fine weather. Birthdays. Nostalgia. Going to Ukraine - via instagram but probably not in person.

In a reversal of what often happens, today began rather cloudy and dull and then improved into another fine and sunny day. I hope it continues so as I am going put later to help a friend celebrate her birthday. The washing is on the line. It might stay there overnight, depending on what time I return later and whether or not I remember to remind Phil to bring it all in. 

Yesterday in the Italian conversation class we had a nostalgia session, remembering the 1960s. We’ve been reading and discussing stuff about Italy’s “boom economico” and our teacher / coordinator asked us to dredge up memories of that time in our own country. Of course, most of us are post war babies, old enough to have been been teenagers through the sixties. Things have changed a good deal since then, when my family had no phone, no car, and had only just acquired a television, a fridge and a washing machine - a twin tub, of course, not an automatic! And now you can get Alexa to control them all, if you so desire! 

Our teacher was a very small child during that time. Her family moved from inland Sicily to Gela on the coast where industrial development was going on apace. One of her memories - as well as that of her mother’s cultural shock of moving from the mountains to the seaside and having to learn to cook fish - was of her mother putting a tin bathtub full of water on the balcony to warm up in the sunshine. Once it was warm enough the small girl would be given a bath. This morning, to celebrate our older sister’s birthday, my younger sister posted a photo of our older sister, as a small girl, I hasten to add, not as the grown up lady she is now,  sitting in an identical tin bathtub in the garden, in the 1950s, not the 196s. Those were the days when summers were hot enough to need to cool down in a tub of cool water in the garden! 

When I go out later, I will don ordinary shoes, fashion shoes, for what is probably only the third or fourth time in two years. All those smart shoes I once wore to work sitting in the bottom of the wardrobe, have been neglected in favour of trainers and walking boots. Now, according to this article the days of wearing high heels to work are over and done with. No more sexist demands that women should wear stilettos to the office! Not that I ever wore killer heels. They are definitely not to be recommended for the classroom but I did know one or two who insisted that they enjoyed being taller and that they really could not imagine wearing flat shoes. I wonder how they fared during lockdown. Did they team their tracksuits or even pyjamas with stilettos for working from home?

During our nostalgia fest yesterday one of the gentlemen in the group told how he shocked his colleagues in the law firm where he worked by turning up in a pink shirt! He was quietly told that it was really not appropriate, even when teamed with a conventional suit! The men had to conform as well. Those were the days! I can remember fighting for the right to wear trousers to work in the 1970s!

Out in the wider world, I read that David Beckham gave his instagram account to a Ukrainian doctor so that she could broadcast to the world what her day is like. I have no idea how that works but it seems like a good gesture on Beckham’s part as no doubt masses of his followers will now have seen almost first hand what life is like for the hardworking medics. 

According to Oliver Dowden, Boris Johnson is “desperate” to go to Ukraine in person. Apparently Oliver Dowden, who is also a minister without portfolio in the government, told Andrew Marr on LBC Radio on Monday evening: “Well, I think the prime minister is desperate to go to Ukraine and has throughout this conflict felt a real – as the British people have done – a real emotional connection with the suffering of the Ukrainian people and a need for the west to unite in standing up to this threat from Russia which has been exposed to Ukraine. And actually, for example, with the bazookas that are currently being fired in Ukraine, people are saying ‘God Save the Queen’, because they know that it was the British that were leading that effort.”

Hmm! Do the people firing bazookas really ask themselves where the bazookas came from? I doubt it. Cynics are saying that what the PM really wants is a photo opportunity. It could well be so! 

Meanwhile The London Economic reports that “Boris Johnson has not been invited to a summit of EU leaders to address the Ukraine crisis amid fury at “cynical” remarks comparing Russia’s invasion with Brexit.” This despite his wanting to go. Could it be because he is no longer an EU leader? I wonder. 

And some are saying that Mr Johnson is in for another partygate because he is rumoured to have cut short his visit to Saudi Arabia in order to return to London in time for his wife’s birthday party. As with so many government-related things, it is unlikely we’ll ever know the truth of that. 

That’s enough about Mr Johnson to last us for a good while. 

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone! 

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