The Sky’s the Limit

I’m not really a ‘sky’s the limit’ kind of girl. A ‘world’s your oyster’ believer in never-ending freedom or pushing yourself to do stuff just because it’s possible, whether its really in your long-term interests or not, whether you even want to do it or not.

Even Clint Eastwood as Harry Callahan in Magnum Force tells us that ‘A man’s gotta know his limitations’ and he’s right, we all need to know what we can and cannot do, should and should not do. We should not as a human race have been doing all the stuff to the natural environment that allowed Covid to produce and reproduce and mutate and maim and kill so indiscriminately across the world.

And the people in power in America should have known better than to allow that narcissistic nut-job in the White House to get away with deliberately pushing the boundaries of common sense and civility in order to create a call-to-arms with a hand-picked angry mob whipped into a frenzy by blatant lies and empty promises just because he’s a sore loser.

We watched them all being worked on, worked up, wound up tight en masse like clapping-monkey clockwork henchmen, watched Trump push them all in the direction he wanted them to go, then run away to hide in the safety of his Presidential bunker as he set them loose to run amok in self-righteous indignation and carry out his seditious insurrection on Capitol Hill.

So now it seems the sky’s the limit when it comes to political backtracking, too, the deafening sound of backwards-shuffling feet, denials and distancing and the holier-than-thou re-framing of fundamental facts amongst the Republican rabble-rousers. Even those whose silence condoned such behaviour are just as complicit as those who actively sought to undermine democracy with spurious objections to the electoral college votes based on illegal falsehoods not facts.

OK, so this wasn’t exactly where I intended to go with this post, but it’s where my Stream of Consciousness has taken me today so perhaps this is as good a place as any to stop…

Starsky and Hutch in 2021? Nope…!

Oooh, when I was growing up I just loved watching Starsky and Hutch every week, my sister and I never missed an episode and we never ceased discussing it in great detail with all our friends at school the next day… So when I saw the original pilot episode from 1975 was showing on TV today, I thought – yes, result! Blast from my teenage past to indulge in – woo-hoo!

Except… Nope… Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul looked as sexy as ever, Captain Dobey was shouting just as loudly as I remember, and Huggy Bear was… well… still the same old chilled-out denim-clad Huggy Bear. But seriously guys, how totally dated can a TV show be? It’s a bit like watching the old re-runs of ‘The Professionals’ starring Lewis Collins and Martin Shaw from a few years later – swoon!

Except… Nope… I can’t seem to get beyond the blatant sexism, the out-moded, out-dated smart-ass male-privilege attitudes, and it’s seriously spoiled the storylines for me. For both Starsky and Hutch and The Professionals, sadly neither translate well into the 21st Century. Why did I never notice it at the time? Why did it not stick out like a cartoon sore thumb after being hit with a giant hammer?

I guess because at the time it was all entirely normal for men – and women – to behave that way… Somewhere in the deepest darkest recesses of the farthest corners of my mind I still feel drawn to the magical memory of both shows, in spite of the main protagonists so clearly examplifying such sexist views about their female co-stars.

And somehow that sad realisation makes me feel very, very old… 😦

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: In the Corner

Five Fave Movies of 2020

I’ve watched so many old movies this year, re-run upon re-run upen re-run, and I’d love to say I’ve loved them all but… well…OK, maybe not all. Not all have survived my continued enjoyment, some have fallen by the wayside and some have simply become lost in translation across the years. But some have definitely stood the test of time and certainly deserve a special mention, so here is a very non-comprehensive list of five British-made oldies-but-goodies from my past I’ve watched on TV in the last few weeks…

This Happy Breed (1944) starring Celia Johnson. It’s based on an ordinary terraced house, on a working class family living in the house in the years between the two wars. It follows their fortunes and misfortunes, their lives and loves and the history that happened during those years. The story starts when they first move in, and ends when they leave. There is no huge plot, no amazing denuement, just family life in one house. I was ill a lot as a child, and watched a lot of old movies, and this one is just lovely.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969) starring Maggie Smith and Gordon Jackson, set in an Edinburgh girls school in the 1930s. Actually, come to think of it Celia Johnson is in this movie too. I’ve loved this movie since childhood – well, teenagehood, anyway – and I watch it every time it’s on TV. It’s about… well amongst other things, it’s about the dangers of impressionable childhood and burgeoning womanhood and sex and love… And schooldays, it’s about schooldays. Did I mention I love this movie?

The Italian Job (1969) starring Michale Caine and the good old British Mini, is about the planning and execution of a robbery in Italy by a two-bit crook trying to make it big. And after a spectacular extended car chase sequence it has the perfect ending where they neither quite get away with it, nor quite get caught… You could say it ends on a complete cliffhanger… 🙂

Restless Natives (1985) starring Vincent Friell, Joe Mulaney and Terri Lally, is set in Edinburgh, but also in the beautiful landscape of the Scottish Highlands, telling the tale of the Clown and the Wolfman, two young men with no real future to look forward to who take to robbing tourist coaches on their motorbike… Then becoming temporary modern-day Robin Hoods before disappearing off a cliff… Hmmm, my description really doesn’t do it justice!

Shirley Valentine (1989) starring Pauline Collins and Tom Conti, is about a bored middle-aged housewife who on the spur of the moment agrees to go on holiday to Greece with a girlfriend, leaving her taking-her-for-granted husband Joe at home alone. She has a little holiday romance, decides to stay for a while and ultimately she finds herself, becomes Shirley Valentine again… And in the end, when her husband Joe comes out to Greece to find her too, initially he doesn’t even recognise her…

So there we go, five old movies I’ve watched and enjoyed over the last few weeks, written in response to a ‘Five Things‘ prompt by Salted Caramel 🙂

Back to Normal

Fandango’s Provocative Question this week asks, in anticipation of the new year ahead, ‘What do you fear most?’

The immediate answer that comes to mind is that I fear that the population of the world will get their wish and everything will go ‘back to normal’, as in exactly as it was before this global pandemic hit. Because in my opinion too much of what we considered to be ‘normal’ is what helped get us here into this Godawful mess in the first place.

I know there are conspiracy theories that want us to believe Covid 19 was developed in a lab somewhere in China then let loose on the Chinese, and then let loose elsewhere – this belief is especially prevalent in the USA, it seems. To my mind those kind of elaborately constructed theories tend to come from people who want the blame to fall anywhere but on their shoulders. People who can accept anything other than the simple truth that if we insist on messing with the natural environment too much, eventually nature will start to bite back.

We fly back and forth across the world with no more thought than if we were visiting our next door neighbours, effectively shedding and spreading invisible virus as we go. Our cumlative carbon footprint blackens the scorched earth and kicks huge holes in the ozone layer and melts ancient glaciers and creates giant pot-hole undulations in the permafrost as we bury our blinkered heads in the ever-warming sands of time and hope someone else somewhere else will eventually find a solution that absolves us from all cuplability. We know the cost of everything yet the value of nothing.

A selfish culture of ‘Me me me’ and ‘Now now now’ have seemingly made shallow spoiled brats of far too many of us – we demand our individual human rights with no thought of the effect that may have on others. We have forgotten that with rights come responsibilities. We need to be collective custodians of the planet, not conquerors. We need to learn the lessons Covid 19 brings us, understand that a little humility in the face of the power of nature is not a sign of weakness but of strength and wisdom.

So there we are – ‘back to normal’ is what I fear most for 2021. Let’s hope my fears are unfounded and life post-Covid will turn out to be wonderfully perfect instead… 🙂

The Flakiness Factor

Amazingly, considering the complete shit-show that has been 2020, I’m exiting the year in a much better place emotionally than I entered it. I mean obviously it’s been stressful and fearful, with month after month of how-long-is-a-piece-of-string extended rules and restrictions ebbing and flowing and effectively keeping us isolated and apart, especially from those we love. And yet somehow I feel that now I’ve got used to this insecure, narrowed, smaller way of living, I find overall it suits me more than it grates on me.

In many ways, internally, life has continued as normal for me. Granted, the external stuff has altered beyond all recognition but the way I feel about it all has not. I’ve struggled for years with ongoing depression, but to be honest that feels much the same to go through whatever the trigger for each difficult episode. Anxiety always gnaws away at me anyway, with or without Covid raising its ugly protein-spiked head, leaving me feeling flaky and fragile more often than not. A lot of the time I just pretend to be OK until eventually I am OK – basically I fake it until I make it.

But this year I’m finding I don’t have to pretend so much any more. External life has slowed down enough, has shrunk enough to fit my personal skin far more comfortably these days. I’m able to truly belong in life in a way I have never felt before. Expectations of excessive extraversion have evaporated, quiet contemplation close to home is the new order, and all is turned on its head as I find my previous weaknesses have become my new strengths. In this topsy-turvy life of lockdowns and limitations, to my surprise I no longer feel quite so flaky.

Of course I’d love to be able to see my family as I choose, and yes it would be nice to be able to go out for dinner now and again, but in 2020 it seems it’s the quiet home birds rather than the usual go-getter party animals who have at last come into their own during this pandemic year. Rather than me always running to try to catch up with the rest of the world, everyone has necessarily slowed down to my pace, and that feels amazingly liberating. My internal reality now rubs along in perfect tandem to my external reality to the extent that those feelings of flakiness have finally fallen away.

I know things won’t stay the same into the future, that as a society we do need to return to some kind of capitalist normality in order to continue to survive as before, but nevertheless there are some things I won’t forget about this year – what is known cannot be unknown, and that experiential knowledge gives me a personal power and a deep-rooted belief in myself that for me willl hopefully over-ride the flakiness factor forever…

Share Your World: 28 December 2020

Pick three words to describe this past year…

Unsettled, uncertain, unknown

What were the best books you read this year? Or the best movie you saw?

Sadly books have been taking a backseat for me for a while, not just for 2020, but I’ve certainly watched a lot of TV movies over the past few months. Old movies, modern movies, old favourites, new favourites, family movies, chick-flicks, murder mysteries, thrillers, science fiction, superhero movies, coming-of-age movies… You name it, I’ve probably watched it at some point during 2020.

Because there was lots of time for looking inwards, what is one big personal lesson you learned this year?

This year I’ve learned that I’m a lot stronger emotionally than I think. In spite of this global pandemic in all honesty my overall mental health this year has been not much different than usual – in general being at home a lot is not a problem for me, not socialising a lot is not a problem for me, so in some ways this has actually all been relatively easy for me compared to some. It seems that being a depressive means I’m pretty much made for pandemics – insular, introverted, insignificant. Blending quietly into the background and sitting tight for the duration surprisingly suits my DNA.

Do you think Covid has strengthened or weakened societal bonds?

Strengthened, here in the UK anyway. On the whole we’ve followed more than fought what is asked of us restriction-wise, most of us have sacrificed and suffered and shared what we have and social distanced as best we can. There are always going to be doubters and nay-sayers amongst a population, but we haven’t quite had the extreme political bifurcation of believers vs deriders that seems to be so prevalent in the USA. Having said that, our infection rates and death rates are still sky-high, but we still keep on doing whatever we’re supposed to, trying to do our bit.

What is a New Year’s wish you would like to share with the world?

What I’d like for 2021 is for a new world order where humanity as a species remembers that the planet does not belong to us – we belong to the planet. We have to look after our environment, stop destroying the climate, the oceans, the atmosphere. We are not supreme beings, nature is still in charge. We destroy nature through our grasping greed, and ultimately we destroy ourselves. Learn the long-term lesson Covid is teaching us. Be grateful we still have time to repair what we have broken, before it’s too late.

Share Your World

Boxing Day Sales

I should have been out at work from 10am today, facing the flurry that is the Boxing Day Sales in the department store where I work. Not that there’s often much selling going on, more a mass returning all of the unwanted gifts that other people have been busily buying for them all month. But instead of being rushed off my feet at work as expected today I’m sitting here on the sofa alone as new Scottish Government Covid restrictions have closed all non-essential retail businesses from one minute past midnight last night for the next three weeks at least. My husband is still out at work, a key-worker in a supermarket, but I’m kicking my heels at home.

And to be honest this morning all I feel is overwhelmingly relieved that I’m not actually out there today. I’m emotionally exhausted, it’s been an awful month with all of us working loads of extra hours in a business currently in liquidation with no fixed date for closing, made even worse by the last-minute panic of pre-lockdown purchases mixed with the usual vociferus vultures thinking we were shutting up shop for good on Christmas Eve, complaining loudly and none too politely that our pre-Christmas sale prices weren’t reflecting the last-chance-to-buy rock-bottom levels they were looking for.

So I have three weeks of staying at home quietly to look forward to and then… what? Well to be honest we’re not sure. Will the store open again to clear the last of the liquidation stock, or will the administrators give up the ghost and call it quits? Will there be a last minute reprieve in the form of a new buyer, or will the hundreds of redundacies go ahead in the new year as previously planned? The future for us employees doesn’t look good, but it is what it is. We are where we are across the globe, not just in retail but in hospitality, in travel, in countless other business sectors.

It’s wonderful news that we now have a Covid vaccination programme rolling out – well, several viable vaccines in fact – and hopefully internationally we will all soon have the herd immunity protection we need to stop this deadly virus. But logistically it will inevitably take time and effort to innoculate entire populations of nations – long months not short weeks – and in the meantime businesses are going to the wall the world over. People continue to lose their livelihoods, other people continue to lose their lives. We will get there eventually, but not without cost.

So on this uncertain, sale-free, Boxing Day with a difference I’m sending love and peace to everyone across the world from the cosy comfort of my sofa, with the hope for a more positive 2021 for all of humanity ❤

Stream of Consciousness: Box

Share Your World: 14 December 2020

What news event do you vividly remember hearing about as a child, and where were you?

‘That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’

Neil Armstrong, July 1969

I was five and a half when man first walked on the moon, and I remember mum calling me through to the living room to watch the live footage on our standard black and white TV. The thing is, I had absolutely no idea of the enormity of what was going on, or that it was reality not just fantasy – it was just a grown-up TV programme that didn’t interest me at all. The picture was too fuzzy and I thought it was a really rubbish-looking spaceman, not nearly as good as some others I’d seen on TV. So I remember it most clearly from a perspective of childhood bewilderment – it’s only in retrospect I can truly appreciate exactly what I saw happening in front of my eyes 🙂

What is a Christmas song that makes you cringe?

When it comes to modern popular songs, all of them and none of them – at any other time of year they all sound naff, but there’s something about listening to them all at Chistmas time that makes them sound OK, giving me the warm and fuzzies. Traditionally, even though I’m not religious at all, I love hearing all the old Christmas carols and can happily sing along with the best of them – and yes, I can still remember the words 🙂

What is one place you shop(ped) prior to Covid that might have surprised people?

Um… not sure… can’t really think of anywhere… But as a non-religious person I really love spending time in old churches, which some people may find odd. I love the impressive architecture, and the hushed feeling of height and space and peace and calm. And I love the amazing accoustics when hearing all those old hymns sung a cappella – see above answer 🙂

What is your least favourite holiday side dish?

Brussels sprouts… Yuk! 😦

Share Your World