Wednesday, 5 August 2009


Being the Third of 103 Good Things

Brother-who-blogs and I agree about a great many things. One of them is how fortunate we were in having the parents we did. They were very hard-working, caring, and considerate – of us, of each other and of all those with whom they came into contact – and each was skilled in their own fields. Among other things, Dad could turn a couple of pieces of useless metal into a handy tool, strip an engine to bits, and turn a wooden table-lamp. Mum could cook, write, paint, play the piano and discourse at length on the subject of philosophy.

Now, in turn, I have the good fortune to be proud of my children.

Food-loving-Daughter is currently off work with flu (type undetermined). In her role as a hospital doctor she saw a 20+ year old who was really ill with suspected swine flu on the Friday before last. Then she worked nights all weekend and by Monday was ill. While most of us run a mile at the rumour of swine flu those whose job it is to care for them have no alternative but to take the associated risks. I have always thought the medical profession deserve the highest regard for this and am proud to have a Doctor in the family. Son-in-law-who-cooks is a computer expert and, as his name implies, no mean cook.

Equally caring in her own way (and certainly caring of this doddering old Dad) is Daughter-who-takes-photos. I know of no people more practical in their caring for the environment than she and her partner, Friend-who-loves-Otters. She is even applying her doctorate to working in the environmental sciences. Her love of Nature is both artistically and practically applied. Her skills in the garden, at strange mathematical and computer tasks and around the house are also things of which she can be proud.

Son-who-watches-films is currently doing a degree in Media Studies and whilst he may not go on to the educational heights his sisters have achieved his efforts are no less praiseworthy. He abhors the whole educational set-up and gets no joy at all from studying. That he has nevertheless always got good results at what he does makes me proud indeed. Of late he has started to become more caring around the house as well. If he carries on at this rate I’ll have nothing to moan about on Mad Manic Mamas.

I have extolled the virtues of Partner-who-loves-tea in a previous posting on Rambles from my Chair but should mention here her work. She is a psychotherapist, counsellor and lecturer in counselling. Her whole working life revolves around caring for others and helping them to help themselves.

And Brother-who-blogs constantly demonstrates his caring nature – for me and for others - despite being under the weather and a under the cloud that is cancer. Although he constantly denies it he has many skills. Not least of these is his recently acquired ability to hit a ball with a mallet and make it do wonderful things on the croquet lawn.

This week-end he won the Scottish Open Golf Croquet Championship. Well done, GB.

It’s a great and fortunate thing to be proud of one’s family. My Family is probably the most important of life's Good Things.


Saturday, 1 August 2009


Being the Second of 103 Good Things

When I set out to blog about 103 Good Things in my life Time was certainly not one of the ideas I had. And yet without it, all the other Good Things are as naught.

Money is often maligned by being described as the root of all evil. The original quote is from the Bible and reads “For the love of money is the root of all evil:”. Similarly Time is also frequently maligned as being the cause of many of our problems but nearly always it is the lack of time or the mismanagement of time that is the evil.

I think that nowadays we tend to try too hard to get £1 and sixpenceworth of spending out of our £1. Similarly we try too hard to get an hour and five minutes worth of things done in every hour. We never seem to have enough time.

Having been on holiday for three months I was amazed at how quickly the days went despite not having to do a lot of the things I am obliged to do at home. Now I’m back in the whirl of ‘real’ life I am equally amazed at how many jobs there are to do and, apparently, how little time. And yet, in the vast majority of cases the deadlines are of my own making.

Now that the hedge has been cut back from the public pavement it makes no difference to anyone else at what speed I get the garden back in order. Gardening is supposed to be fun and not a chore. So I shall do the weeding and the cutting back at my own pace. Each little job will be treated as the triumph that it is rather than as only being a small percentage of the whole.

Most of the paperwork that requires my attention has managed three months without it. So I don’t need to sort it today. Tomorrow will do, or the next day....

Housework is a never-ending cycle and living with others means that however much I do there will always be more to do when I wake up the next morning. So why rush it?

I have yet to blog my Hebridean adventures from 23rd June onwards on my Hebridean blog. There’s no need to try to do them all in one go. I shall do them bit by bit and anyone who follows that blog can continue to enjoy them for some time to come.

And all the other things on my lists – they too can wait.

Time, like fire, telephones and computers can be a good friend but a bad master. I shall endeavour in future to use what time I have left to good effect and not spend it worrying about things not done.

We may debate at length what happens when you finally run out of time. Suffice it to say that whatever religion or philosophy you espouse you can be assured your physical body is not going to carry on doing things. So, treated properly, time is definitely a Good Thing.

Monday, 1 June 2009


From Project 355

The other night some friends got around to discussing early memories. One of my earliest memories is undoubtedly being taken into Childwall Library in Liverpool. It was a long walk from home for a three year old - about two miles, there and back. But well worth it.

The library was in a little shop and at that time pre-school children were not allowed to borrow books. Adults could borrow books on their behalf but since each adult was restricted to three books it meant a sacrifice on Mum's part if I had one on her ticket. Breaking the rules, Miss Skelland, the librarian, let Mum have two tickets for me. What a wonderful treat that was. I remember one of the first books I borrowed was about a family of wee animals called he Smalltails (probably mice or rats but for some reason weevils come to mind). Then there were stories about Brer Fox and Brer Rabbit. And so much more. I loved reading those books and partly as a result of Miss Skelland's kindness I was able to jump a class when I started school because I could already read whilst most of the children were still struggling with their alphabets.

My love affair with books has never ceased for a moment and one of the books which has remained high on my all time list of favourites since I was a child is "1066 and All That" which inspired the title of this blog. My brother and I still refer to some things as "A Good Thing, capital GT'.

After a brief spell of working in a hospital I worked in libraries - beginning, by coincidence, in that little shop in Childwall which was soon replaced by a big purpose built branch. I went to college to study librarianship and during one of my summer vacations worked at a different branch under Miss Skelland who was still going strong (and still breaking rules and - I was now to discover - swearing like a trooper when there were no readers around! A wonderful woman.)

I came back from college to rise to the dizzy heights of a branch librarian before going on to a career in local government Housing then Chief Exec's. Like most librarians I entered the profession because 'I like books and I like people'. It was funny when I - as a third year student - was involved with the Head of the Department in interviewing prospective new students that almost every youngster interviewed gave the same reason. (After a few years of dealing with some of life's more cantankerous public this often gets amended to 'I like books'.)

Nowadays I have the leisure to enjoy my reading even more. As Good Things go, books are very high on my list.