But don’t I need to put on my hat?

Whether she’s weak from not eating, or from sedatives administered by the ‘nurses’, I can’t tell. But once in the nursing home she became quite severely incoherent, drifting from what I think are past memories to sudden wide-eyed, horrified recognition of the present. When this happened, she would say, “I think this must all be an awful dream,” and “I wish I was dead”.

Yesterday I brought her dog to visit her. He curled up on the bed by her side, she stroked him and spoke lovingly for a moment or two, before nodding off again. Another moment as I was fixing her pillows and things, she said “Isn’t Annie marvelous. I don’t know what we’d do without you.”  The only two glimmers of some positive thought, tucked amongst anguished moans and fearful cries for help, or sudden, urgent requests that I couldn’t possibly answer. “Please can I get out of the car now?” “But don’t I need to put on my hat?” and “I want to just lie down on the lawn, lie flat out on the lawn. Is that all right?” I learnt to play along reassuringly.  I made her eat a few mouthfuls of dinner – some omelette, a tiny morsel of toast, a cherry tomato. Two tiny spoonfuls of cake and custard. As I demanded that she eat one last piece of cake, she retorted, “God, you’re a hard-hearted bitch.” I smiled inwardly.

This evening I visited again, arriving coincidentally at the same time as my aunt and uncle. Grandma was semi-asleep – it was hard to tell if it was real sleep or just extreme lethargy. Her breath rasping from open lips, my aunt and uncle worried that she was dehydrated, and should we get her to drink some water. But even when her eyes were open and she attempted to speak, grandma did not have the strength to purse her lips around a straw. My aunt suggested that we pour a little between her lips, but grandma was again asleep and I argued that she would just inhale the liquid. We looked on, helplessly. My aunt strokes her face and talks to her in a quiet, reassuring tone.

“Well, she’s a lot calmer today.”

Though well-meaning, my aunt sees what she wants to see. Practically deaf, grandma is only more agitated by soft voices that she can’t make out. She is calmer because she is weaker, and in the moments that she opens her eyes, they are fear-filled and her mouth gapes with unarticulated fear. Her mumbled sentences are in whimpers and groans.

You simply can’t sugar-coat this state of being. Knowing that death is nearby, and craving a release from its awful suspense, and yet to feel the debasement of these final days too keenly to reconcile it with a life well-lived. Knowing that your mind was as sharp as a knife, but feeling it stumble over and over itself. Too many people have died before you, people who died before their time, while you stayed on getting more feeble and more horrified with death and its inexplicableness.

My grandma has always avoided hard questions. Never wanting to reminisce on the past, or conjure up ghosts. Rarely talking about her dearly beloved husband, who died 40 years ago. The most she would say of him was “You never met my Bill. He was ever such a nice man.” Then the subject was changed.

***

Grandma

This is a post that I wrote on the 28th of August, from the living room of my Grandma’s house. I moved in to look after her dog, when it was finally decided that she needed specialised care. The following morning I left for the nursing home a little before 9am, but when I arrived at her room, the bed was neatly made and empty. She’d died at about 11pm that night.

I haven’t posted anything online on the time between August and now, because there is no internet connection at Grandma’s house – where I am now living. That’s my excuse, anyway, though I don’t know. Freud might disagree. Anyway, it turns out there’s free wifi available just down the road, so that excuse won’t fly anymore.

I haven’t revised what I wrote, or added anything to it. I don’t have a grand moral to sum it up with. I did start writing something awfully preachy about time, acceptance, etc, etc, but I don’t particularly want this to become some kind of parable. I’ll just say that I’m trying not to be like my Grandma, who would push these experiences down inside somewhere, unconfronted even until death. I come from a reticent family of the grand old Australian tradition of reticent families, so I think writing on the internet is about the best I can do.

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My Personal Tectonic Plates

I always feel dumb when I’m daydreaming about doing something cool, whilst whittling my time away on Twitter or Facebook.

That sentence even began life as a tweet. I began thinking, then, that maybe I just need some time-whittlin’ time to allow my brain to, like…um…think its thoughts. I have slow thoughts.

Then I decided that this idea was bullshit, a half-baked way of pretending that I have a justification for being addicted to social media sites.  I think Twitter can end up as a convenient way of avoiding the mental digestive process that involves both beginning an idea AND following it to a conclusion. I can sow little bits of stuff into the world and it reads like I’m having a good old-fashioned ponder, but really it just empties the kernel out of my mind before it has a chance to mature. Not always, I know. Grey areas are in everything.  Sometimes making a throwaway 140-character comment about something is exactly what I need to get it going, and the thrown-away kernel produces some more kernels. But I think it’s safe to say that the amount of time I patiently whittle down with Twitter and Facebook is proportionately inconsistent with this occurrence.

I’ve just returned from the most amazing experience – a five-day interstate tour with seven friends, each of us playing a part in coordinating, performing or engineering music. Hectic schedule. Most free moments I had were spent “keeping tabs” on Twitter and Facebook. Here, maybe, it’s warranted: being in a strange place, either hungover or jet-lagged, creates a craving for familiarity – and nothing is so familiar or attainable these days as the text-based patois of our Online Friends.  But what is familiar and attainable is usually the opposite of what is useful, and the moment I realise that I’m securely within a comfort zone is the moment that I start to question what it is, exactly, that is so comfortable.  Acknowledging an avoidance of change is a good way to initiate change, I guess, though grinding my personal tectonic plates into motion still requires a truly epic seismic event.  [edit: innuendo unintended, but retrospectively approved.]

So what is a good way to get positive changes going, once stagnant comfort zones are identified?  Is deleting Twitter or Facebook a way to combat their mystic spirals of pointlessness, or is that simply treating a symptom rather than a cause? Maybe deleting them is too obvious a response.  Besides, social media sites are never really gone. They’re like having an endless supply of corn-chips in the pantry, easily accessed when the mood strikes again.  Many people (including myself) have been seen to delete their accounts for a time, only to appear again later with very little to show for it.  No great insights into Real Life.  At the very best, an assignment or two that were miraculously handed in on time.

Perhaps a more productive way to approach social media dependence, for social media dependants,  is to practice recognising the urge, analysing it, and then diverting it to a different channel.  Don’t reforming smokers do something like this? When they find themselves reaching for a cigarette, they replace it with something else, like a carrot stick. OK, that felt stupid even just typing it.  Perhaps it’s better to think in terms of Merlin Mann’s definition of procrastination – not merely a cause of certain behaviour, but a symptom of a state of temporarily forgetting who you are, what your goals are, and how they are achievable.  In my case, checking out what’s happening on Facebook or Twitter (spoiler alert: nothing is happening) is an activity that can occur on the way to my pile of unread books, on the way to an important email, on the way to this blog.  Staring vacantly at a “loading” screen is at least a dozen times more useless than watching, say, Cake Boss, but all of a sudden I’m happy to let that time pass, rather than do – what was it I meant to do? Too late now.

At the risk of starting to sound like an advertising platform for everything Mann, I realised after googling a reference for the above hyperlink that what I am getting at is his suggestion of running a dash. If I divert my mind- even just briefly – from the urge to procrastinate, suddenly I realise that I’ve jumped the biggest hurdle,  broken the seal, made an apparent mountain back into a molehill – these idioms and more! – with that one choice.  This blog post, in fact, is the perfect example of deciding to quickly begin something.  I had only the vaguest idea of what to write about when I started it (isn’t it obvious?) so I just wrote down any old thing, and now a few hours later I feel like I’ve managed to go somewhere with an idea.  Not with much innovation, or usefulness, maybe, but somewhere.  I started in one place, and came out somewhere else.  That’s the point of thinking, right?

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July 23, 2012 · 6:13 pm

Roger the Lodger

On Saturday, Grandma was cursing the Almighty. Not a particularly unusual occurrence, of course. But this time she was reminded of some poetry, and her “God Almighty” turned into a mulling over of the phrase, “but it wasn’t the Almighty, who lifted her nighty…”

We spent some time trying to jog her memory for the rest of it, but to no avail.

On Sunday, Grandma was cursing the Almighty.  And this time, the half-remembered adage came more clearly: “…but it wasn’t the Almighty, who lifted her nightie – it was Roger the Lodger, the sod!”

Oh ho, Roger the Lodger! The sod! A google search came up with the rest of the dear limerick.

There was a young girl of Cape Cod 
Who thought all babies came from God, 
But ’twas not The Almighty 
Who lifted her nightie, 
But Roger the lodger, the sod!

Dementia wreaks havoc on the lives of those who suffer from it and those who try to manage it, but it has these moments of loveliness.  These scraps of a person’s history, that may otherwise be left in the recesses of memory as pointless information, float to the surface, clear and suddenly relevant.  Grandma detests looking at old photographs, or talking about “ancient history,” – partly because so many of the people in those memories are already gone, but also I think because she cannot recall things when she wants to.  But through her bawdy and sometimes poignant poetry I can see glimmers of her younger, cheekier self.  I have learnt to hang on to these bits and pieces, understanding them as precious mementos that perhaps I myself will begin muttering, when my capacity to make sense of the present is removed from me.  They are little spoken portraits that capture moments of humour and humanity.  Grandma’s ability to live life with independence and her idea of dignity is all but gone, but we were both reminded that her mind and spirit are still there – clouded and cobwebbed, but there.  And all thanks to Roger the lodger, the sod!

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I really just want to eat hazelnut wafers.

I’m afraid I spend an unholy amount of time reading about food that falls into pseudo-categories such as Green, Whole, Raw, Super, Macro, Pro and/or Biotic. I dunno what the deal is there, really. I just like investigating food that feels real, like if I could be arsed, I could have pulled it out of the ground myself, dried it in the sun, bashed it between two rocks and so forth. Maybe because I’ve always had an fascination for a kind of primitive self-sufficiency – my childhood drawings were frequently of treehouse cross-sections which specified food storage areas, the flow of heat and light, and other super nerdy things.

But despite what this sounds like, I’m not anti-junkfood. My many vices include these amazing hazelnut cream wafers that you can buy at Kakulas Sister, plus a variety of their other gorgeous Italian style pastry things. Check out the ingredients labels of those beauties and they are both vegan AND completely unidentifiable AND as long as your arm. Hydrogenated this and that. Modified starch powder-syrup. Mmm.

They are not exactly food that I could create with two rocks, in fact they are barely food at all, but my god they are tasty. Plus they are German or something, and buying them from the spicy-smelling Kakulas  makes me feel smugly cosmopolitan.

So you see, I am not a complete rawie, or wholey, or whatever these foodies are called. But I do have a particular axe to grind, grind, grind between my beloved bashing rocks.

I’ve just come back from a gorgeous charity event, raising money for the Heart Foundation. All the guests received a huge and generous sample bag. I know it’s poor form to take a dig at a company that’s sponsoring the Heart Foundation, but that there’s a big part of the issue. They promote themselves as a health food company, and their products are marketed and packaged to appear unbelievably healthy. So healthy, in fact, that you’d no doubt be better off eating this snack bar than a piece of broccoli, especially if you’ve already got heart disease. Words such as ‘wellbeing’, ‘wise’, ‘nutritious’ and ‘Beta-glucan’ (lowers cholesterol re-absorption!) are bandied about, not to mention the mighty Heart Foundation tick emblazoned on the packet.

The past five weeks I’ve been participating in an awareness campaign run by the Heart Foundation, called the Healthy Heart Challenge. It’s great, I’ve gone from feeling unfit and physically weak to being able to jog between 4 – 7km (depending on the time of day). I’ve also attempted to cut out almost all sugars for the duration, going cold turkey on my indefatigable sweet tooth (oh, those wafers…). But I got given this sample snack bar and it LOOKED healthy, and it assured me that it was healthy, and it said it would lower my cholesterol re-absorption with its Beta-Glucan (from OATS!). So I ate it on the drive home, thinking that it would be a nice sweet treat to round off a sweet evening.

Boy, was it sweet. Cranberry and raspberry flavour, apparently. That’s what the packet says so I suppose it was cranberry and raspberry flavour.

INGREDIENTS:

  1. Oat crisp (Oat bran, maize starch, sugar, barley malt extract, salt, flavour).
  2. Glucose (Wheat, sulphites)
  3. Oats
  4. Cranberry fruit pieces (Sugar, Dried cranberries (2.5%), Food acid (citric), Concentrated Elderberry Juice, Sunflower oil)
  5. Honey
  6. Sugar
  7. Humectant (Glycerine)
  8. Vegetable oil
  9. Wheat puffs (Wholemeal wheat flour, sugar, emulsifier, vitamin E, colour)
  10. Tapioca starch
  11. Coconut
  12. Emulsifier (soy lecithin)
  13. Flavour
  14. Food acid (Malic)

That’s 14 ingredients, though some of those things are made up of other things – if you count EVERY thing, it’s 28 ingredients. Six of the 14 main ingredients are sugars, or include sugars.

I just…don’t…understand… I mean, I would expect that pile of rubbish from a packet of hazelnut cream wafers, but this is supposed to be a health food. And if it’s going to have that much stuff in it, you can at least expect it to taste good. But it didn’t. Even being 25% sugar, it still tasted like a used Styrofoam cup. And don’t tell me that’s because of the wholegrains, because I eat wholegrains for breakfast, literally and figuratively, and they are delicious.

I don’t actually know many people who fall for this “health bar” crapola, but they must exist because the supermarket is FULL of these things. It’s not food. It’s just a device to make people feel like they’re eating smart, whilst they’re having a totally dismal eating experience. It makes me sad. Food, especially the kind that is good for you, should be exciting and delicious and REAL, not a guilt trip down Dreary Lane. If you’re going to eat a pile of weird food-like compounds, at least make it a packet of gloriously cosmopolitan pretend-Italian pastries, you know?

Proclaims the packaging, “this snack contains Beta-Glucan from oats to help support heart wellbeing.” But off to the left in a smaller font, it mumbles that you’d need to eat three of these bars to get your suggested daily amount of Beta-Glucan.  By which stage you would have also eaten 75% of the recommended daily sugars. And it wasn’t a filling bar, people. It was mostly assorted “puffs” stuck together with a viscid, sugary adhesive. Not that I even put much store by the nutritional index, but golly, why not try eating some OATS! According to WHFoods, you can get all of your beloved daily Beta-Glucan from one bowl of oats.  But who cares about the Beta-bloody-Glucan – just eat oats because they are delicious and oaty. You can do all sorts of fun things with oats! You can flavour oats with ACTUAL cranberries – yes, not just confined to the mysterious realm of flavour, cranberries also possess the power to take on a corporeal form!

I’m sorry, I don’t really have a point to make here. I just love food so much, and it seems like people are happy to believe that expensive and puny packets of anti-taste are the essence of nourishment.  I do not think there is a diet that is optimal for everyone – and God forbid we all eat the same – but I really hate that food corporations have obscured culinary traditions, common sense and the value of food that doesn’t come with a Table of Nutrients.  And I really, really hate that they manage to infiltrate everywhere, not just supermarket aisles but even the Heart Foundation, which tries to promote positive health but remains in the grip of pseudo-food.

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How do you know if someone is vegan…

…i hate that joke.  This outpouring of stuff just got longer and more abstract, as 2am drew closer. I may edit it in the morning, for accuracy and who-gives-a-shit-atiousness. Only read if you are interested in reading the word ‘vegan’ 51 times.

It’s coming up to my 6-month Veganniversary! Time to reflect, I suppose, and buy myself a metaphorical bunch of roadside carnations.

Many vegans and pro-vegan websites are keen to emphasise that it’s an easy and not-at-all-radical “lifestyle choice” – hey, it simply prioritises ethics over fast-food convenience. No can of worms there, not even mock-meat worms. But adopting the Vegan label is a commitment nonetheless, and if there’s one thing that we all hate, it’s commitment. Naturally I don’t want to hurt animals. But unconditionally refusing to eat Tim-Tams for the rest of my days? As a person from urban Australia with almost unlimited access to Tim-Tams, this commitment poses an issue. Because Tim-Tams call to you when you are most vulnerable – the moments when frankly, you couldn’t give a shit about where milk came from, because you’ve spent the past hour trying to stop Grandma from having a nervous breakdown, and you’re tired and there are Tim-Tams on her kitchen counter, and you just want something sweet and chocolatey and the Tim-Tams are the only option in the house, and besides, someone else bought them, and nobody’s watching, and you spend your own time comforting grandma but who’s there to comfort you? Tim-Tams. That’s who. That’s what they’re for.

So you eat Tim-Tams, but you don’t feel better. Because what being a committed vegan has very, very slowly taught me is this: Deciding that you actually (for once!) agree with some premise (that treating animals as property to be exploited is unnecessary in our society, that prioritising one species such as cats over another such as cows is nonsensical) and then acting in a way that knowingly ignores this premise is about as close to an understanding of “sinning” as a non-religious person can get. When you agree with (n) on a fundamental level, for example if (n) = that stealing an old lady’s handbag is wrong, then pretending to yourself that you have an excuse to do (n) just feels shitty. And it’s not that you feel shitty about the lady losing her handbag (you gave it back straight away, all guilty-like), it’s that you’re clearly just another weak-willed human who can’t even live up to your own standards. Like a participant in the Milgram experiment,  a little psychological prodding is all that’s needed for you to ignore your own highly touted notions of right and wrong. How did you end up so weak-willed, as a person? I have experienced this disappointment in myself, even over something as trivial as a Tim-Tam – in fact the triviality of the transgression is probably what made it worse.  If I was going to ignore my vegan ideals, I could at least have the dignity to do it under pain of death, or extreme hunger, or a bikie gang initiation barbecue, or something.

Over these six months, my attitude towards vegans/non-vegans has been constantly changing. I began with an attitude of “keep moving and get out of the way” as nobody likes a pushy, in-your-face vegan, right? Ugh. So I kept it on the downlow, especially with my extended family. At this point I was still trying to figure out to what degree I wanted to be vegan. What about delicious, bio-dynamic locally-produced grass-fed small-batch emissions-offset yoghurt? Isn’t supporting progressive farming practices as good as – nay, better than – boycotting all dairy? What about a delightful orange and poppyseed cupcake, given to you by your students who made it to an old family recipe? Don’t you owe it to them to accept it gracefully and with appropriate deference to culinary traditions? What about when you’re at an expensive cafe, on a trip interstate, and the menu looks bloody amazing – isn’t it just self-flagellation to deny your tastebuds that experience? Isn’t it better to buy quality, long-lasting leather shoes than sweatshop-produced, cheap canvas shoes?

Thus, the commitment to veganism requires that you accept certain tenets as true. You must accept that the use of animals as products or property is unjustifiable. You must feel this unjustifiableness deeply, not just in the way that buying another pair of earrings or eating two serves of dessert is unjustifiable.  Maybe it’s my art-school brainwashing, but the idea of accepting ANYTHING as unequivocally true is tough. There are so many variables! Yes, pro-vegan info sources have a lot of good arguments that I could try to memorise and recite to myself. But many of these arguments could be overturned, as technology changes. What if, hypothetically speaking, it became more environmentally sustainable to continue using animal products? Truths are relative in time and space, should this be a factor? Just as a belief in God requires a fundamental acceptance of His infinite existence, a commitment to the ideals of veganism requires deep belief that it is not a sham, nor misguided pop-culture, and that following it will be undeniably beneficial in all aspects of my life. To the established vegan, the benefits are so blatantly obvious as to be a non-issue. To me – single, part-time, non-committal in all areas of my life – making a decision predominantly based on faith in The Holy Vegan Info Websites felt a little like that one time I went to church and everyone was singing with their hands in the air, and I thought it was nice and everything, but like, couldn’t they see how this looked to everyone else? It looked like crazy people.

And now here I am.   I am the crazy people.  It seems like vegans try to avoid comparisons to religion, but to me, it is the only analogy that makes sense. In order to follow a lifestyle that so pointedly deviates from the norm and refuses to make concessions, it must have a significance bordering on spirituality. The clincher can not be the environmental benefits of veganism (though this is important) or the health claims (though i’ve never looked better) – these will always be debatable.  For me to be vegan, and continue to be vegan, I think that there are two essential conditions that must be met.

Condition 1: I must hold beliefs such as (but not limited to) that intentionally causing suffering to others, and the injurious subjugation of one being to another, are both unjustifiable in the culture in which I live.

Condition 2: I must feel that to act in violation of my own beliefs is degrading and abhorrent to myself personally.

I figured this out in the incident with the Tim Tams, a few other cake-related deviations, and also another incident where I ordered a tempeh burger at Jus Burgers and it came with mayo.  Along with the vegan thing, I am a firm believer in not wasting food, so rather than complain like some self-righteous hipster and ask for a new one, I sucked it up and ate the burger.  In the aftermath, I was filled with a kind of undefined self-disgust, even though part of me was arguing heatedly that it was better than wasting a whole burger over a squirt of mayo. I guess this helped me to identify that my food-wasting sentiments could be overridden by my vegan sentiments. And it was the last time that I was content to be a “keep moving and get out of the way” vegan.  If I feel like my personal foundations of morality are being shat on, then that’s the time to order a new burger.

So ultimately, i think, veganism is not just about thinking that animals are cute and hurting them is mean.  It ends up being not really about the animals at all, though they are the starting point.  It is a determination to not shit on my own beliefs. Plenty of people will concede that exploiting animals in factory farms is awful and probably bad, but they’re still ok with eating that meat.   I tend to think that knowing something means acting accordingly, and if you do not act accordingly, then either you don’t actually know/believe it, or you’re oddly happy to shit on your own values – in which case, such people satisfy Essential Condition 1 but not Essential Condition 2, and thus are unlikely to become vegan ‘converts’.

The fact that many people seem unaffected by Essential Condition 2 explains why so many non-vegans and vegans seem to be at war. That joke that’s been floating around, for example – How do you know if someone is vegan. They’ll fucking tell you. This conveys to me a simple misunderstanding on the side of the non-vegans. It’s not just a way to be cool, like wearing an oversize jumper with a reindeer on it – people who follow it for these reasons will give it up when it’s boring again, or when their reindeer jumper shrinks in the wash to a banal, regular size.  Veganism is fundamental to a committed vegan’s sense of self. Railing against vegans, complaining that they make things difficult for the rest of us, sneering that a vegan’s occasional bouts of hypocrisy make them unworthy of having an opinion and somehow justify that BigMac – these people, I can only theorise, have an inability to conceptualise Essential Condition 2. They cannot comprehend that violating a fundamental belief can cause emotional and psychological trauma. Writing it that way sounds like a big self-pity festival that I’m holding for myself, but I’m just trying to put into writing the feeling of being told that you’re a pain-in-the-ass for simply not desiring the same food as everyone else.

Imagine you are a new mother, whose instinct is to protect, and you’re told to smack your peacefully sleeping baby.  You refuses angrily, not understanding why one would smack a sleeping baby, or for that matter, an awake one. You’re then scoffed at for ruining things for everyone – everyone else has been smacking up a storm, and the babies are all still alive, aren’t they? Smacking babies is fun and normal, why you gotta be difficult?  These people are unable to grasp that you are filled with guilt and horror at the mere suggestion of hurting a sleeping newborn.  They recognise that it hurts the baby a bit, but that doesn’t translate to it hurting you yourself.

Am I still making sense? What I’m trying to articulate is that the kind of people who tell that aforementioned joke do not recognise that veganism is personal.  Vegans FEEL the necessity of not exploiting other beings. They don’t just THINK it. They don’t just look at factory farmed animals and go “Hmm, that looks a bit iffy. Let’s give that a miss, if possible.” It’s not an objective choice. Committed vegans feel that the mistreatment of animals is a personal blight – personal because it is our own society that perpetuates it. When my belief is dismissed as being inconvenient or too-frequently referred to, I automatically assume that these people are the kind that cannot conceptualise the spiritual – or at the very least, psychological – value in having a conviction and bloody well standing by it.

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July 1, 2012 · 3:25 pm

Bloody plum jam.

As my nonagenarian grandmother navigates her way anxiously from armchair to living-room expanse, to bathroom doorway, sink, hand-rail, toilet, then back to the hand-rail,  sink, doorway, living-room, and finally armchair, she recites scraps of Vaudeville monologue that appear to provide a steadying influence as effective as any Biblical verse.  One of the most commonly heard phrases on these ablutionary voyages is performed thus,

“Bugger, shit and damn!” said the Duchess, who had refrained from speaking owing to a false sense of modesty. “You’ve ruined my dress with your bloody plum jam!”

Grandma was, and is, a fine teacher of elocution, so most of her longer pieces are appropriate for schoolchildren.  I don’t know what the providence of this lonely snippet may be, but it is printed indelibly on my mind after countless aided toilet trips.  Now we recite it together, taking care to pompously roll the r in rrruined and summon our best petulant tones for bllloody plum jaaam!  It’s a mantra that provides an external framework for Grandma’s habitual swearing, which would otherwise occur in a bitter, self-directed way.  When she’s not narrating the woes of the Duchess, she’s cursing her age and how everything-is-in-a-mess-and-a-muddle, and how nobody helps her (as I hold her reassuringly at the waist), how They’re desperate to ship her off to a Home, oh God, and I must stop saying ‘oh God’, it gets on my goat, that’s what Lesley says.

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