Posted by: Valerie | January 17, 2010

A Shock from Long Ago


I suppose it is a reflection of the tedious nature of my life recently that I haven’t had a compelling subject for a blog post. Work has claimed my time for the most part and the horrifying images of what is happening in Haiti are constantly present on the media so it’s been hard to find much of great cheer to blather on about. I really hope that the Red Cross site I donated through was the real Red Cross and not some hideous scam site. I haven’t received a receipt from them. I cannot imagine the moral depravity of someone who would attempt to grab donations meant to alleviate the misery of Haiti.

I was washing dishes after dinner tonight when I had a sudden vivid flash of a memory from my childhood. It was not something I can remember ever having recalled before and it was just like being in the experience. And it wasn’t a pleasant memory either. When I was quite small – maybe four or so – I was thought to have diphtheria and was sent to the children’s fever ward in the Dundee Royal Infirmary (founded 1792). I know I was in there for a long time, weeks, I think. I have always had memories of how my parents were not allowed into the ward to see me. At visiting time my bed was wheeled to the window onto the corridor and they stood there and waved at me. I also remember there was a nasty girl in the ward who told scary stories after the lights were out. I had a stuffed koala bear called Matilda (!) with me in the hospital and the authorities were threatening to destroy it as it was deemed to be contaminated. That was terrible! In fact Matilda was decontaminated and did survive  in as much as a toy can be said to survive. 

 Tonight’s memory was strange though. It seemed to be a memory of having a memory. I was passing the infirmary on a wet, dreary night. It was a dire Victorian monstrosity with institutional green paint, clanking radiators and a horrible smell. Suddenly I was swamped with terror of being back in there with no hope of getting out for a long, long time. It made me feel quite sick and still does as I write this. Oh, our brains are such fascinating things. What else is lurking in there ready to jump out into consciousness? I’d prefer a happier surprise next time.

So how can I break this dismal mood? I know, I’ll phone Anna – no answer – so I’ll phone my sister Sue – no answer. Bah! Play games on the computer – what a waste of time. Phone rings – it’s Anna calling back! How is Anna? Well, not too glum although she was disappointed not to get in to see Avatar last night, or to see the Sherlock Holmes, or see The Lovely Bones. Apparently Calgary goes to the movies on Saturday night. Sister Sue and her Doug, it seems, are taking it easy in Palm Springs or Phoenix or somewhere they’ve got golf, snow golf not really being their thing. I keep waiting for them to buy a shack down there so that we can borrow it when the cabin fever really sets in.

Will it snow soon? We are not getting our usual exercise, shovelling the white stuff. It seems as if it’s been weeks since it snowed. In fact we need a fall to cover up the grimy bits and freshen up the lawn.

As I have been writing this the Golden Globe awards are on the telly. I have been only half watching – heaven knows, these shows don’t need more than a glance every so often – but I was stopped mid-sentence by the appearance of Sophia Loren.  Dammit the woman is 75 and looks about 35. How is it possible? I did a quick mental inventory: the hair could be either a wig or an incredibly good “do”; the face is perfect but I guess that could be surgically achieved – she did have a choker around her neck; the body looks every bit the way it always did but I suppose the undergarments could reshape most of it. So, you see, we could all look like Sophia if we had enough time and cash for the artifice. Or the vanity. Hell, Sophia has to look like Sophia, I don’t! And I have to say that however she did it, she looked absolutely fabulous!

Enough for now. Wolf Hall and Thomas Cromwell are waiting for me in bed, the electric blankie is on warming the sheets and it all seems very inviting.

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