Missing You

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/missing/”>Missing</a&gt;

I lie awake
An ache like toothache
Will not go away.
Nothing feels as empty as a double bed
With a single sleeper.
Nothing as empty as a solitary life
Where once there had been two.
I rise, dress, prepare to meet the blank day
Automatically
I set two places for breakfast.

Esme
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On Her Cataract

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John Milton wrote this sonnet “On His Blindness”. He had daughters to whom he dictated his poems – I sometimes wonder how they felt about spending their time acting as unpaid amanuensis to their father.

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg’d with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide;
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But Patience to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.”

th-10

After I had a cataract removal operation I couldn’t resist wrting, not exactly a parody, but a sonnet in the style of Milton about my own experience. I had was plenty of friends telling me what an easy and painless operation it was . (I need larger print!)

On Her Cataract Op

When I consider how much time I’ve spent
Of my allotted three score years and ten
Waiting in hospitals and wondering when
They’ll tell me the prognosis what it meant
In words I understand, so I’m not sent
Adrift in vagueness, neither screen nor pen
Of use. When will I see things clear again?
I ask in terror, life is brief and time but lent.
“Fret not, they tell me, you’ll be find indeed.
Relax, this surgeon is among the best.
The op takes only minutes, there’s no wait
Admittedly, at first it’s hard to read
But soon your eyes will pass the hardest test
Trust me, this new perspective’s really great!”

ESME

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Clum…seey! Me?

Clumsy

I am clumsy. I’ve only recently come to admit it, but I am clumsy. It’s partly age – after 65 you are bound to be less agile, less dexterous, less flexible – plain clumsy in other words. 

Add to age-related clumsiness, arthritis and subsequent joint replacement operations, plus incipient cataract – my optician says I need it removed – “a mere twenty-minute procedure, a routine op. The eye surgeon does dozens of them every day.” Maybe he does but I don’t!

Once I could sew and knit – not brilliantly but adequately, now I struggle to thread a needle. Once I could write if not beautiful copperplate at least a legible hand. Now I am profoundly grateful  for word processing and spellchecks. How would I have coped if I’d been born fifty years earlier?

I like to think I’ve reached the stage of “knowing my limitations” as our gym teacher used to say. I admire delicate things like Faberge eggs – but from a distance: I don’t pick them up lest I drop them.  I’ve been called “ambi-sinister” the reverse of ambidexterous- and it’s probably correct. 

ESME

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Licensed to Extort

Among many other curious customs we have in Britain, is the way we fund our public servth-7ice broadcasting, the B.B.C. (The British Broadcasting Corporation.) There is a levy, a tax if you like, on every household with a television. Yes, that’s right. A one-person household pays the same as a twenty-person household; you pay the same whether you watch B.B.C. programmes all the time or not at all. People who watch only independent television channels or even just use their set to play films and D.V.D.s  are still subject to the same charge. The levy takes no account of how many televisions receivers you have. Think of a family of two adults and two teenage children.  Gone are the days of the whole family clustering round the television in the sitting room to watch the same programme. The children will be likely to have their own tellies in their bedrooms; there may be a set in the kitchen and another in the main living room.

I’m not against public service broadcasting. I think the B.B.C. is a good idea. While I wouldn’t say it is perfect, some sort of news and information service, not directly controlled by the government is necessary. The B.B.C. is claimed to educate, inform and entertain and by and large that is what it does.  The only thing wrong is the archaic system of funding this service.Public service broadcasting should be just that – a public service, like the NHS or the schools, paid for from general taxation and free at the point of use.

The current TV licence costs £145. The collection of it is both costly and complicated with letters and queries to non-licence-payers and television detector-vans roaming the streets to catch the miscreants who haven’t paid their fee.

Now we’re told that from 1st September – less than a month away – we will be required to have a TV licence to look at BBC programmes on a mobile phone or an i-pad. This extra extortion will be impossible to police. How many people own portable pieces of computer equipment that can download broadcasts from BBC i-player? A hell of a lot. How can it make sense to try and check whether little Jimmy is plth-9aying an innocent computer game on his i-pad or breaking the law by watching a BBC news or sports broadcast? How about Mum on her mobile phone? Is she simply emailing a friend (legal) or watching Come Dancing or the Great British Bakeoff? (not allowed) Then there’s the thought that a TV licence as I understand it covers a building not an individual. We found this out when the TV licensing authority sent us a letter telling us in no uncertain terms the we should not allow any of our workforce to watch TV on their computers as we do not have a licence. Since we are two pensioners both retired we do not have a large number of employees. In fact we have none.

Since a TV licence is linked to a building rather than a person someone going into a friend’s house or visiting a pub with Wi-fi could presumably watch TV on a tablet or a laptop to their heart’s content. And the friend, pub or coffee shop owner need not even know.

Yes, of course the TV licence fee should be altered. It is an out-dated and archaic system. The best replacement would be a standard fee for each income-tax or council-tax payer. This should be easy enough to calculate and would remove the chance or people trying to dodge payment. If it is felt necessary the “free” TV licence for the over-75s could remain, as could the similar concession for blind people. (Isn’t it odd that we provide something like TV free for those least able to benefit from it? Deaf people don’t require a radio licence either!) This system would also remove the regular badgering of those of us eccentric enough not to own a television. Just imagine if we received a regular notice saying “our records show that you haven’t got a shotgun license” and demanding that we get one immediatley, even though we don’t own a gun!

I suggest £100 per annum would be a reasonable amount to charge each tax-payer for what is after all a very worth while service. This should be easy to administer. Even the most incompetent of governments should have such basic information as Total population, broken down into those paying income tax or council tax and charge them a fixed sum each. People over 75 could be exempt, if this is felt necessary, as could school-age children. Then all that needs to be done is to bill each individual or household for the appropriate amount.

This would actually cost me and my husband more as we don’t have a TV (or a licence). But the idea of paying for something you don’t immediatley want or need is nothing new.  All taxpayers contribute to the cost of the Health  and Education Services.  We all pay towards the upkeep of our roads, even someone who never leaves their home. Will the government adopt this obvious easy and sensible way to fund public service broadcasting in Britain? NO WAY!!

One extra thought: it seems unfair that the licence fee goes to the B.B.C. and the independent broadcasters get nothing.

ESME

 

 

 

Frail?

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/frail/”>Frail</a&gt;

“Frailty, thy name is woman”

Shakespeare, or rather Hamlet, lamenting the fact that his mother had married his uncle very soon after his father’s death. Today I think we’d call  Gertrude treacherous and wicked rather than frail. To me the term “frail” conjures up a person  man or woman, who is physically weak,  probably elderly and easily swayed by a stronger personality.

The term that goes most often with “frail” is “old lady”.  A doddery old woman tottering along with the help of a stick, speaking in a low croaky voice and generally overlooked and disregarded by those around her.

I’ve dealt with this situation in several pieces of fiction I’ve written where an old lady is being bossed about (usually by her daughter}. This “frail” character develops unsuspected strength and ingenuity when dealing with an unforeseen problem. The chararacter of the little old lady with  hidden depths is, I think, sadly overlooked in popular fiction.

Nowadays we have become used to strong women in postions of authority, Margaret Thatcher, for instance, and of course our new Prime Minister.  By no stretch of the imagination could either of these women be described as “frail”.

 

 

ESME

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Journey’s Start

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/a-journey/”>Journey</a&gt;

A frantic rush to get away from it all,
snap shut the suitcase lid,
close it down on the daily frustrations,
thinking to escape by keeping on,
moving on, searching for a new place,
new sights, new sounds, new feelings,
till the travel becomes an end in itself.
The journey becomes its own justification.
Its own metaphor for the journey through life.

The mad dash down the motorway,
tantalising wait in traffic jam,
the struggle to escape from thinking
by moving on
never realising – or never admitting –
that it can’t be done.

 
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       ESME