Thursday, 12 August 2010

Let Me Eat Cake........

I'm tired, I feel tired, I look tired, I'm wearing my bags for life.......I need a holiday but instead I'm going somewhere slightly colder and wetter than London. I'm going north to Edinburgh, for work and play, and a chance to claim another husband (......but that's a whole other story). So, in an attempt to gird my loins before a week of what I hope will be fun-filled-festival-frolic's, I've been staying in and watching telly and I've seen the future. It's not good. But, depicted through the eyes of Jo Brand and her able cohorts, Getting On, is brilliant...... and horribly funny; shinning a light on the rubber-gummed chaos that is the spoon-fed world of the geriatric ward. I don't want to go there, who does? Do we start stock-piling the meds now, should the day come when our dignity is forcibly removed by some bloke in a white coat prescribing the drugs, drips and round the clock care that will ensure we can't shuffle off this mortal coil? Or indeed shuffle of to Switzerland, where dispatching the elderly and infirm is beginning to rival Toblerone and the cuckoo clock as tourist attractions.

But, while we are still breathing the ageing process does, inevitably, roll on. As it does for our parents. Having lost several (real and step) I still have a mother. One who has said, since I was a child, 'if I ever end up like that, put a pillow over my head'. And there have been times, since I was a child, when the thought, 'where's that pillow?' has crossed my ungrateful-bad-daughter mind. However, I now think I've found the perfect answer to the minefield that is the day-out-with-mum date. Yes, wisdom is finally catching up with age. Art galleries. I love going to galleries: London, Edinburgh, Switzerland...if they've got a gallery I'm going. Four years at art college not wasted. And so I took her to see the extraordinarily haunting images by Leah Gordon at Riflemaker and then on to The Haunch Of Venison (yes I know ..... it sounds more like we were on an oak-beamed-inglenook pub crawl) where we walked through Joana Vasconcelos' ethereal, fluorescent fairy garden, before bracing ourselves for the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition. Galleries by their very definition discourage prolonged conversation and therefore there is less chance of the caustic comments, criticisms and frustrations of a lifetime of misunderstood intentions and unfinished sentences, to bubble to the surface and overflow into an already swelled river of guilt, recrimination and self-doubt.

Having fed our souls it was time to feed our faces. So we went across the road to The Wolseley, a place of calm amidst the endless ebb and flow of mac-packed tourists: it looks beautiful, everyone treats you like something between a long lost friend and Dame Judi Dench and on a good day you might even see Rupert Everett. And they do a delicious tea. If the cinema is my place of comfort and the gallery is my place of worship, then the emporium of fine food is my spiritual home. And my Mum's. We shared moist, mouth-popping, apple & poppy-seed cake, chocolate eclairs and mini-macaroons of the French, rather than Thora Hird, variety, and drank endless cups of Earl Grey, poured from a silver teapot. Bliss. And you can't talk with your mouth full.

Top tip: Cake can solve almost anything, if not a family friend, take a friend out to tea.


  1. If you get the time, get through to Glasgow for the Glasgow Boys Exhibition in Kelvingrove Art Gallery.

    Not been yet myself, but looks wonderful.

    Have wonderful time in Edinburgh! If it's as hot there today (Sunday) as it is over on the West Coast (of Scotland, not USA) you'll be needing a cornetto!

    Ali x

  2. Your day sounds wonderful. You can't go wrong with art and a good tea.

    It's hard to know where to take parents. When we take my dad out, he comes out with such bizarre things I wonder if he's been taking acid. The Actor assures me there is absolutely nothing wrong with his mental faculties, he just does it to annoy me, which he finds hilarious xx

  3. Smoking and drinking will make us die young before we ever need to end up sat in our own pee in a geriatric home. Thats the way to go! I once went to the Edinburgh festival - the first year Jo Brand appeared (thats how long ago!!!) . I love Jo Brand - saw her recently on her book tour - sweet lovely lady. xxx

  4. I called into your blog after you kindly left a comment on mine. Your writing is marvellous, often poignant but funny and chimes with this dame in her sort of dotage. I wasn't going to linger but have found myself reading all sorts of stuff here.

    Incidentally, your post on the broken blender thing reminds me I have to renew my acquaintance with the lady oop north who has been trying to sort out my internet purchasing disaster of an office chair.