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I Prescribe TV

tv

I Prescribe TV

If you want to see a doctor – simply turn on the TV

For every other programme’s medical, I guarantee.

We’ve Doctors, Medics, House, ER and also Holby City,

Embarassing Bodies, A & E, and also Casualty.

There’s Doctor Hilary, Doctor Chris, and Doctor Pixie too,

Steer clear of Gillian McKeith – obsessed with number two!

There’s Doctor Phibes, who loved his spouse, and Docs Evil, and No,

The soaps have medicine in them too, though not in every show.

Sherlock had Doctor Watson, who was always at his side,

And Doctor Henry Jekyll, who turned into Edward Hyde.

A TV diagnosis is the fastest you can get,

Even on a Zoo Visit, you are sure to see a Vet.

Of course my favourite medic has a surgery that’s blue.

I wish he was my GP – well – who else but Doctor Who!

© Pandora Varrakalion

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The World Is My Oyster by Francis (Tut) Florent

The world is your oyster still life

Today we are very happy to share this lovely patriotic poem written by one of our creative writing members at Open Age. Francis Florent has written many wonderful stories and poems over the past 90 years: from children’s stories for his grandchildren to crime, mystery and adventure stories…

“The world is my oyster” ’tis often said

Our beloved country is its precious pearl.

Where Queen Elizabeth reigns supreme

Her loyal subjects all agree

This pearl is priceless no flaw to see

Great Britain is great and I love thee.

© Francis (Tut) Florent

Food by Kate Simpson

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Today’s member contribution is entitled ‘Food’. Thanks Kate – your descriptive writing and culinary imagination conjured up vivid images of American delicacies and certainly tickled our taste buds here at Open Age!

‘Food food glorious food’ since returning from the USA I roll the words around my tongue with salubrious salaciousness.

The enormity of platefuls to feast my eyes upon, the graciousness of the waiting staff who quietly ignored my lack of gluttony and gave me ‘doggy bags’ to feast on later and who never witnessed my throwing them away.

Breakfast time for myself was a ‘watching time’. I’d try to assess those around me where they came from. Their breakfast orders, who ordered what, and whose plate would be finished. Normally I would be correct the size of their stomachs a good judgement!

The menu was tempting but not necessarily to my taste. ‘The American Breakfast’ a poor relation to the English ‘fry up’. The pancakes the size of plates. The ever present maple syrup poured in vast amounts on and in all food!

Lunchtime my time to be gleefully gluttonous as I happily devoured sizeable salads so enormous I gladly shared with my friend. Accompanied by cappuccinos with cinnamon on top. Cocktails, with or without alcohol, cool and colourful. Milkshakes the proportion to make my eyes pop topped by cream. And hamburgers with sweet potato fries. All treats my taste buds tried.

The lobster large enough to leap from one’s plate as though in one last bid for freedom.

Creamy clam chowder I supped happily, however, found the very same mollusc too slimy in its shell reminding me of oysters, something I have never been known to relish.

On my return I gladly ate an English breakfast the size of which no ‘doggy bag’ was needed. However my memories will remain of salads, hamburgers, grape jelly, the endless hospitality, the enormous variety to tempt my taste buds and the colourful cocktails.

Thank you magnificent Miami for opening the door to a new gastronomic greed!

© Kate Simpson

Three Embraces by Any Rake

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Thank you to Any Rake for sharing her eloquently written piece Three Embraces. The piece was featured in “The Return of the Thursday Travellers – A Second Anthology of Life Stories” by the Thursday morning Life Stories group at the New Horizons Centre, Chelsea, London, September – December 2014

“Members of New Horizons have come from all parts of the globe and travelled widely through the course of their lives. This term we listened to stories set in South America, Japan, South Africa, India, Ireland and the UK. It makes for a rich mix of histories.” – Mike Loveday, Open Age tutor.

Three Embraces by Any Rake

In May of 1961 I was chosen to deliver a poem at a Mother’s Day celebration at school. I was selected not for my particular eloquent way of reciting poems or because my diction was better than most eleven year olds. The Nun in charge of arts had been best friends with my grandmother while in school so she chose me and my sister for all the public appearances where we fitted in.

That Saturday morning was warm, sunny and we the students were all wearing the white school uniforms used for special occasions. Our parents were sitting in the auditorium while we got ready for our presentations.

My turn came.  My passionate performance of the sugary poem brought an enthusiastic response from the audience. Some were even standing up applauding.  I must be very good at this -I thought – for how else could these people be so responsive?  And who the hell was that mother in the poem? That saintly person who with a benign smile takes patient and loving care of her children? Do mothers like those really exist?  -I wondered. Following the script I had my eyes fixated on Isabel, my mother, who being in the second row, was easily recognizable among the four hundred parents present.

My mother was five feet nine, highly unusual for women of her generation. Curly auburn hair which she kept fashionably short, well defined brows and long nicely kept hands. In her wedding picture in 1945 her high cheeks stand out as well as the firmly outlined contour of her face.  The small brown eyes look at the photographer and the joy of that moment was perpetuated in the picture.  Friends from her youth remember her as a happy going, flirtatious young lady, the soul of the party.  Mother taught me to read while making the process so entertaining that at three and a half I was reading without realizing it was not just a game. A rich cousin from my father’s side would send glamorous dresses from last season. Some nights before going out she would go to my bedroom and do a little run away walk with these dresses. I was so proud of her looks and believed that among those of my friends, she was the best looking mother.  From her I learned to love the sea, the sun, the ballet and to search for creative ways to solve a situation. Isabel was a lot of good things to me but never the sweet tender mother of the poem I recited as a young girl of eleven. I remember wishing for that mother. And hating the one I had when her demons took hold of her and extended to me.

One could not anticipate the breaking of those fragile gates containing the dark powerful shadows that got the best of her. When the dam broke it was so sudden and fierce there was no way of avoiding the tsunami that would involve us in seconds.  If an answer of mine was not of her liking, she fiercely slapped me on the face. Or it could be that I did not act or react as she expected. If she was on those explosive days I would find myself at the receiving end of a glass, a metal spoon or a shoe viciously thrown at me.  At seven I started to devise ways to disappear from the situation while enervating her. If she got hold of me and pulled my hair until whole locks were in her fist, I did not cry or scream or try to run.  I started singing silly little songs that kept my mind distracted from what was happening. I did not understand at that time that I really had two mothers.  One who nurtured me and helped me grow into a curious and resourceful person. Another who believed her enemy lived inside me and had to be destroyed. I was always listening, looking, feeling, smelling for potential signs while wondering which one of my mothers would be around.

She graduated from Art History when I was about eight.  She later went on to study Home Economics and Family Education.  Afterwards she got a degree in Interior Design and explained us why she could never work in decoration. Her logic was that if people needed help in decorating they must have very bad taste and probably be very difficult to deal with. My mother was very interested in current affairs and politics, a splendid story teller with the ability to keep a mixed audience entertained for hours with her wit and love of detail.  An avid reader of all genres particularly philosophy and historical fiction, she neither guided me nor censored my reading. I placidly mixed Bouvier, Stendhal, Swain with pink novels, juvenile adventures and the study of the catholic saints.

My mother liked to sleep until very late, at times forty eight hours could go by without her getting up from bed.  On those days, I could barely touch the floor or talk out loud for fear of the mood she would wake up in. My heart would throb and my throat close at her violent change of moods, but I was adamant not to show my real feelings.   Being deaf and blind to her demons, or making her believe I was, made me feel strong.

She liked to remind me what an affectionate little girl I had been and blank at why I had changed so much. I could not embrace her or kiss her nor get myself to be close to her even in her good days. We did kiss of course at hellos, goodbyes, birthdays, Christmas or New Year’s. I am thinking of the absence of those lovingly embraces I had seen exchanged between mother and daughter just because they liked to touch each other. No, I could not have physical contact with her spontaneously, though I clearly remember the three embraces I gave her throughout her life.

The first was a fake, selfish and well produced and successful affair when I was thirteen.  The wire holding together the braces on my upper teeth had broken.  I tried to put it back together with scotch tape. No luck. To avoid a furious reaction on her side I tried a different approach. My mother was sitting on my brother’s bed sorting out the boys’ laundry. I stood at her side and looked at her with the sweet insecurity of a docile puppy.  She turned her head surprised at my presence. I threw my arms around her neck, starting to sob uncontrollably. Between tears and snot I managed to explain my ordeal and fear. She comforted me kissing my forehead lovingly while telling me I should not worry at all.  -This things happen -she said softly – I will talk to your father about it.

Occasionally in my teens and early youth I wished my mother was dead. I wanted her gone to stop the abuse, the drama, the shouting, the chaos, the unpredictability.  Growing up very confused by her volatility I created mechanisms to confuse her. Once for example, I threw away a pair of her favourite shoes which she was looking forward to use at a coming event. Another time I quit ballet lessons. Even though we both loved ballet I knew she would be very disappointed. At last I turned sixteen and was almost as tall as her. For some unimportant reason she started going crazy at me like many other times.  This was not any other time.  I was her size now and I could stop her.  When she threw herself at me I held her wrists very hard and looked her fiercely at the eyes. I could almost feel my brown eyes turning black.  -Next time you hit me I will hit you back – I said. Holy remedy.

Her husband, my father, was forty four when he died.  A few months later she was diagnosed with a vicious cancer that almost took her life one year after turning into a widow at forty one.  She told me of her fears of dying and leaving us five children by ourselves.  I was seventeen and being the only of my siblings in transition between high school and university, I was appointed to be with her at the hospital, talking to doctors, bringing her things from home and generally nursing her into good health again. She got well in a few months and in her crazy and determined way, never again returned to the doctor for a check-up. Some years later new medicines started to come out in the market that partially calmed some of her darkness and aggression.

Twenty two years went by from the first voluntary embrace I gave my mother until the second one.  She had not been seriously sick but suddenly a bad reaction to a blood transfusion was killing her. She was around sixty two. Her complexion was very pale, almost transparent.  Liquids came in and out of her body through tubes and plastic bags.  Looking at her so exhausted and fragile, all my love and need of her came bursting out and was expressed without restraint.  I embrace her softly, placed my chest over hers, kissed her eyes, her chin, her cheeks while saying to her:  You cannot go, you cannot go. I need you. This time I cried without thinking or trying.

At sixty nine she accepted an operation to correct a mitral valve defect. I reminded her about the advice she received a few years back to never have open heart surgery. She preferred to die in the operating room than continuing living as a disabled person –she insisted. I did not think she had such a bad life. Swimming in the cold sea of Lima was forbidden for her as were her long walks through the city. But she drove her car, visited friends, enjoyed her grandchildren, went out to dinner with us and had her daily whisky at home. It is true that sometimes she was out of breath and we had to stop and rest because of her gasping. What I believed did not matter, it was her life and her decision.

The surgeon in charge came out to see us when my mother was still in the operating room.  Looking at his face, I knew.  He was a friend of mine and could not hold back his tears.

My mother was already dead when I gave her the third embrace. After dressing her with my sisters, I brushed her hair and put some light make up on, making sure her eyebrows looked as she liked them.  She always placed great emphasis on the importance of eyebrows. This third embrace was a good bye and thank you one.  I kissed her cheek and her forehead while caressing her hair. I told her she looked very nice. Which she did. Her demons were nowhere around. I lit a cigarette from my brother’s packet and smoked it quickly. I remembered then I did not smoke.

And I asked myself –whom will I spent my Saturdays with?

© Any Rake

A Good Year by Cornelia J. Glynn

Thank you to Open Age member and writer Cornelia J. Glynn for sharing her heart-warming and uplifting piece of writing:

‘A Good Year’ on our blog today…

You can see more of Cornelia’s wonderful and inspirational work at :

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The Power of Love A Transformational Guide to Living from the Heart

A GOOD YEAR

2014 had been a difficult year to get through and didn’t rank high on my list of years to repeat in a hurry, if at all. Some years are just like that. They come to an end and all you want to say is “Good bye and good riddance!” That isn’t to say that it wasn’t interspersed with joyful interludes and light hearted conversations, because it was, but they had been a mere sprinkle by comparison with some of the traumatic events that presented themselves not just to me, but also to people I cherished. With sickness, mine and other people’s, and death reaching out with his cold bony hands snatching relatives of those dear to me, he hadn’t succeeded in snatching my seven year old great nephew, but did succeed in taking yet another close friend of mine and a neighbour to his kingdom. I was in mourning and couldn’t wait for the year to disappear.

Returning from Germany on New Year’s eve where I usually spend Christmas, my flat felt strangely empty and quiet. The previous owners of the cat that had been in my care for over two years and of which I had grown very fond, had been looking after her while I was away and decided they were going to keep her after all.

My mood was reflective and somewhat glum as I cast my mind back over 2014, and 2013 which hadn’t been much better either.  Tired and sad, I apprehensively wondered what 2015 would bring. I didn’t expect problems to magically disappear. They rarely do. But I did hope for fewer trials and tribulations and more jubilations and fun.

I had gone to bed at 11.00, switched on the radio and was dozing a bit, half awake and only dimly aware of the presenter at the radio station starting the count down to midnight before broadcasting the bell of Big Ben. Then something quite extraordinary happened. As Big Ben struck for the first time, my alarm clock started to beep in unison. It wasn’t turned on and even if it had been, it was set for 8.30 in the morning. When the bell had struck for the last time and my alarm clock had stopped beeping, fireworks went off in a garden nearby. I got out of bed, pushed open the curtain and watched the most spectacular display from my bedroom window, letting out several oohs and aahhs. Suddenly, there was a warm glow of elation inside me and I was at peace. I curled up under my duvet and had a smile on my face.  “It’s going to be good year” I thought. “It’s going to be a good year”.

© Cornelia J. Glynn

http://www.thepoweroflove.co.uk/main.htm

‘It had been years since I’d felt so excited’ by Dorothy Adibi

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Many thanks to Open Age member and writer Dorothy Adibi for contributing her wonderful, inspiring story to Wordwise – about the meeting of an old love:

“It had been years since I’d felt so excited”

It had been years since I’d felt so excited. I was going to see him again. We were now old people, and then, then we’d been misty young lovers. I suddenly felt anxious – would he even recognize me? Now I wished I had given him my address, and he’d have come to the flat and there wouldn’t have been any possibility of error. But sitting here in a café? But then I thought, “No, it’s all right, I’m the only elderly woman here.” But again I wondered anxiously if his memory of me would lead him to expect the same pretty girl he’d known? But surely I’d remember him and recognize him immediately, even though he’d grown just as old as I had.

I looked around, wondering if he’d arrived before me, but there was thank goodness nobody who could have possibly been him.

The café door opened, but it was only a stout woman carrying a bunch of flowers. Would he bring me flowers? I hoped not, because there’d be all that fuss about getting them into water, and I wanted us just to sit there over a cup of tea and talk. Talk about what? Well, of course, about what each of us have been doing since we parted. “Parted” – that’s a semi-poetic word. But it fits the situation. I remembered it so well. “Tell your parents,” he had said. Or would we talk about the old days, our time together, when we were in love? At least I had been, I know that for a solid-gold fact. I remember how for a long time my every thought ended with him. I likened it to a tram that runs along its lines and always ends up at the same spot.

The door opened again and this time, this time an elderly man came in. He wasn’t carrying any flowers, but there no doubt in my mind. I was sure I’d have known him even if we were rushing past each other at a station or something. The man looked round and I half-stood up. He looked at me and began slowly walking towards me. I was suddenly acutely aware of my clothes. A very ordinary blue trouser-suit, but obviously chosen with great care from the wardrobe. I was even wearing matching shoes and gloves, bought specially for the occasion the day before.

He reached my table and smiled in a sort of perfunctory way, and said with a question-mark “Laura?” I have what I hoped was a dazzling smile back and said “Oh, Jean, how lovely to see you again after all these years.”

He sat down at the table and immediately looked round for a waitress. I felt a bit put out, that his first through would be about getting some tea, and not about drowning in my eyes or something. He ordered coffee and brought his attention back. “I wasn’t sure I’d recognize you, it’s good that you recognized me when I came in.” That wasn’t quite right, somehow, but his voice hadn’t changed, although his accent was less pronounced than I remembered. “But of course, I’d have known you anywhere,” I gushed, at the same time feeling even more put out.

“Anyway, how are you? How’s your family?” because in the last letter I’d had from him all those years ago he’d informed me that he was married and had a child.

“Everyone’s fine, look, I’ve got some photographs.” This was dreadful, two old buddies now. I glanced at the photos, two little girls who should have been mine, and a fair-haired woman who was, I had to concede, quite good-looking, although she didn’t look a bit like me.

“Oh, they’re lovely, I didn’t have any children.” I didn’t explain that the abortion had left me unable to have children.

© Dorothy Adibi

Silent Night by Kate Simpson

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Thank you to Kate Simpson – one of our Open Age Creative Writing members – for sharing this delightful piece of writing about a fond memory. It conjures up all the senses so beautifully: touch, smell, taste, sight and sound. What an inspiring piece!

We hope it will incite you to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboards, to write about a precious memory of your own!

Silent Night

One of the sights I most liked looking at in the world was watching babies asleep in their cots,  fingers curled. Whilst a certain scent of baby powder wrapped round their tiny bodies seemed to be the sweetest smell.

What were their dreams I wondered. Their breathing quiet – innocent of the worries of adulthood. Insomnia only came when colic or hunger struck.

Then I would pick them up and cuddle their warm bodies stroking away their pain lulling back to sleep.  With reluctance laying them gently back in their cot. I would stay and once again marvel at their innocence.

This breath-taking sight has never left me and is etched on my memory forever. It is more precious than pearls, more gorgeous than gold, more sensuous than silver.

© Kate Simpson

 

 

 

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