A Random Act of Kindness

Who won the week for me this week is a 60 year old relative stranger called Rod.

We actually only met him for the first time this morning, when he came round to help a friend of his pick up a heavy old terracotta planter from our front garden. We had inherited the home-made garden planter when we moved in to our new house but it’s really not to our taste, so we offered it to the youngest daughter of the family we bought the house from, incase she wanted to keep it for sentimental reasons as a memory of her dad. She decided she did indeed want it, and we arranged for her partner to come round this morning with his friend Rod to take it away.

We had a couple of large broken tree branches (taken down by a recent storm) stacked up in the back garden, topped up with a few more smaller cut down branches and other similar prunings, and as they were leaving with the planter Rod asked if we needed the branches taken to the local recycling centre. I told him we had intended to take them ourselves but hadn’t got round to organising transport yet, and amazingly he offered to come back later and take them for us.

We thanked him very much, and sure enough only an hour or so later he was back with his empty trailer and a large-toothed saw and giant loppers to cut the broken branches to a more manageable length for his trailer. We chatted easily together while we all helped load up the trailer, about the local area and the garden and the house, and before Rod left for the recycling centre we thanked him very much again. He drove off with a friendly ‘beep-beep’ and a wave, and we closed the gate behind him, amazed at experiencing such friendly helpfulness from someone we didn’t even know before today.

Such a random act of kindness from a relative stranger, and one for which we are so thankful. Right now we don’t even know his surname, but for us Rod definitely wins the week, with a huge smile of gratitude from both of us 🙂

Such Egregious Condescension

‘Egregious’ is one of those old words that has had an apparent shift in meaning over the centuries, nowadays taking on a decidedly negative connotation in place of its more positive beginnings. Whereas it used to mean extraordinary in a good way, it is now used to mean extraordinarily bad. Very confusing. Another word that always flummoxed me when it came to understanding the correct connotation for the time is ‘condescension’.

In Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’, the obsequious clergyman Mr Collins revels in the condescension he receives from Lady Catherine de Bourgh – he considers it a great honour that she condescends to favour him with any particular attention at all. I suppose in such a world where strict social class and hierarchy and knowing your place meant everything, it would presumably have been considered a real feather in your cap (which you would definitely remember to doff graciously) to be patronised in such a way by someone of such high social status?

Nowadays, in a world where we like to think we espouse social equality, lording such a blatant sense of superiority over someone is considered to be an egregious mistake, in very poor taste. And so today’s negative connotation of being shown a patronising condescension by someone as something to be aggrieved over rather than pleased about has slowly developed over time, replacing Mr Collins’ attitude of grateful simpering servitude.

It would seem that ‘egregious’ has followed the same fate, and perhaps for very similar reasons, namely the demise and derision of such strict social status and previously revered hierarchy throughout the whole population 🙂

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Egregious

Share Your World: 20 January 2020

Where do you get your news?

Mainly TV news channels, occasionally online (proper news channel websites, never social media)

What ‘old person’ thing do you do?

I often moan and groan a bit when getting up off the sofa, due to stiffening joints 😦

When was the coldest you’ve ever been? The warmest?

Where at all possible I don’t do extremes of temperature, either way – I’m definitely a temperate climate kind of girl. But if push comes to shove I prefer dry heat and crisp, fresh coldness to high humidity and miserable wet coldness.

Do you eat food that’s past its expiration date if it still smells and looks fine?

Yep, I’ll generally make my own judgement on the safety or otherwise of stuff I’ll put in my mouth – but I won’t be stupid about it.

What are you grateful for this week?

My new reading glasses – I was struggling to colour in the smallest of shapes with my old ones so realised it was time they were replaced. The very middle of this design was far too small for me to focus on clearly before, but now it’s finally done – hooray! 🙂

Share Your World

Melancholic, that's Me!

Several thousand years ago Hippocrates, who is considered today to be the father of modern medicine, first developed the theory of each of us having four humours that were required to be equally balanced in our bodies for continuing good health. His four humours were blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm – lovely! These corresponded with the four elements – air, fire, earth, and water – or the seasons – spring, summer, autumn, and winter.

This theory was later expanded further to conclude that if someone naturally has an excess of one of these humours in their bodies, it sets their temperament. These four temperaments were Sanguine (too much blood), Choleric (too much yellow bile), Melancholic (too much black bile), and Phlegmatic (too much phlegm). And this basic categorisation continued to underpin medical understanding for centuries.

So for example when we watch period dramas on TV and someone has a fever and is bled from a cut in their arm into a bowl, or leeches are applied, this was done in the belief that their high temperature was linked to an excess of ‘hot’ blood, and reducing the amount of blood was the prescribed method used to recreate a balance in the humours within the body.

Drastic by today’s standards it may be, and these very non-scientific categories may well have no recognised place in today’s theories of physiological and psychological health, but to be honest I find the idea behind their holistic approach to treating the whole body/ mind continuum together as one entity refreshingly modern in thought.

And I would be the first to recognise myself as being a Melancholic person – I’m sensitive and creative and very much grounded temperamentally in the cold autumnal earth – even though I recognise my normal psychological state has absolutely nothing to do with my internal levels of bodily fluids and so a purgative of any kind is most definitely not a cure for my decidedly melancholic nature! 🙂

JusJoJan 20: Humour

Gobbledygook Take II

I just remembered a funny conversation that took place years ago, while I worked as a Floor Manager at McDonald’s – I was going round the customer seating area with the Lobby Hostess, and we were discussing toilet checks. She said she’d swept the floors and wiped down the hand dryers, and I reminded her (trying to be tactful in a public area where people were eating and we were going to be overheard) not to forget to check the porcelain was clean too. She stopped in her tracks, a lovely Glaswegian lass with a strong voice that belied her petite constitution and said ‘Whit? Aw aye, right – yous want me tae check the chanty’s nae boggin’!’ I guess from her perspective, my attempt at being discreet about a clean toilet bowl was nothing short of gobbledygook! 🙂

Remnants of the Past

My youngest daughter returned my old sewing box to me yesterday – no pressure, she said, but I’m re-organising and need it gone. It’s been sitting unused but very much loved in her house for the last 18 years, and inside it I found random buttons and threads and zips and fasteners just as I’d left them, and a small bundle of bright fabric remnants that brought me up short. Each remnant is a ghost of a memory of something long gone, kept by me at the time for sentimental reasons, kept intact all these years by my daughter for the same reason, and so my old sewing box is an impromptu time-capsule of sorts.

The sudden reappearance of my old sewing box into my life symbolises – encapsulates, perhaps – how strange I’m feeling about a lot of things at the moment. Remnants and snippets of the past keep catching me unawares, an odd kind of double-exposure deja-vu image of the vibrant present superimposed on old faded memories of almost 20 years ago, or sometimes even longer. I pass someone in the street and think – oh, I’m sure I know them from somewhere – and realise afterwards we knew each other decades ago, in what feels like another lifetime.

I was in a busy shop the other day, and overheard an older woman talking animatedly to another two older women about retiring from work, and booking cruises, and general chit-chat of that ilk. I recognised her voice, and looking more closely saw she was one of my lecturers from college 22 years ago, but much older and greyer. Had I not heard her voice, I might not have recognised her straight away. And in another shop I was served by someone I used to work with over 40 years ago – in my first job as a Saturday girl while I was still at school.

What takes me aback is that I see elderly people I remember as being middle-aged, and middle-aged people I remember as being young – everyone looks so much older these days, and with a shock I realise so do I. Moving back home to where I grew up and spent my younger adult life after nigh on two decades is such an odd feeling – I feel like me but not-me, the same but different, young and old all at the same time, and it’s quite disconcerting.

So as I was looking through all the saved remnants in my sewing box, I realised that I want to make myself a patchwork cushion with all these random fabric memories interspersed with more up-to-date scraps of bits and pieces collected more recently, create for myself one cohesive piece, a mosaic of myriad memories, an eminently practical use of the past and the present to then carry on forward into my future.

And I realise too that perhaps I need to do that with my whole life, remove the closed-off compartments in my mind that make it so decidedly ‘then and now’ inside my head, and create one cohesive ‘me’ that transverses all mental barriers…

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Pressure

Gobbledygook

When people talk about stuff you don’t know about, and are not in the least bit interested in finding out about, it can sound like complete gobbledygook. Jargon words and acronyms and buzz-words can even make your own language sound like speaking in a foreign tongue 🙂