Very regal. Actually sat on a round piece of slate, set as a tiny stool, because we were knacked. By the River Witham, Kirkstead Bridge, Woodhall Spa for your info. Very beautiful, wide open Lincolnshire spaces. Late afternoon sun.
Here comes Christmas again. And so it begins. The family, the children, the grannies. Who can blame them? I know what I do - I accept my lot. Go stand in the corner, be humble and bow and scrape. Ignore, shut up. It soon will pass. All the brouha.
I got to thinking about the terrific, disco crazy Christmas nights out back in the day. With friends who had kids, actually. Teen kids. Happy and sufficiently grown up to be left for a few hours. Parents wanted to let go and have a bloody good adult night out. Boy, did we though, but. Discos are no more. Somebody resurrect them for goodness sakes. I’d still go. If they'd let me in.
'Sits drifting into dreamlike trance with beatific half smile until….' Oops - apologies…fell into 80s' disco happy valley again.
As I said - ageing hippy. The old Spa Trail next to the amazing Iron Sculpture depicting flora and fauna of Lincolnshire. Lilley's never facing the camera is she? I've never had such a camera shy animal.
So here’s the thing. No wonder today's 'without children' adults begin their sorrowful, childless journey so early in life. Parents don’t let go nowadays do they? They couldn’t wait to, back then. Get themselves back on the social track. Loved their family, their kids but also loved their own life. Wanted it the way it used to be, for a night. So we all joined up for time out - without children folk, with children folk - having fun. We could forget our childless life because we were all as one. Today seems more divisive - do you see what I mean?
Families cling on today (or so it seems). Like glorious elephant groups where the kids take years to clear off so be it with the human variety.
Now then, think about this. Does it not reflect all the way, rippling across metaphorical social tracks and bridleways by creating the divides we all recognise? Them and us. We’re like multiple ‘chucked out of the gang’ rogue elephants. I am. Wandering about like a recalcitrant nomad.
Wondering what I’m going to do for Christmas but not actually wanting an invite (sorry so sorry). Just a ‘pop round for a glass of wine with us’ should be compulsory. You’d feel thought about, but you don’t have to suffer the family Christmas with a load of strangers. They'll feel the same about this, I don't doubt it. To be absolutely fair to families et al they probably don't want a childless 'no idea who she is' inadvertently sitting in Uncle Godfrey's armchair, do they?
But I'm talking a couple of hours at most. Contact, a small caring reach out that says you're not forgotten. What is so difficult to get? Make the invite very clear - for whatever reason you come up with - leave at 2pm on the dot if that is your wish. Come on - be a grown up about this.
An aside: I, like many more of my generation, had to - repeat - had to interact, converse with customers, clients, team mates etc. and so learnt the language of 'how to get out of an awkward situation'. (Public authorities are *hite at this aren't they? Have you noticed? Estate agents were adept, I'll give you that). 'It would be lovely to have you stay but Uncle Godfrey won't tolerate anyone but family round the table and he's my dad's favourite brother so ...and he's a stickler for dinner on time. So lovely to see you - shall I see you out?' Is it only old school estate agents, or sales people who can manage to (frankly lie) wriggle their way out? Do get a grip dear readers...
We were having a conversation on her magic seat. Sometimes it's what I call 'silent knowledge' whereby one of us knows what is being said. No? Just me and her, then. 😉
Just consider us - ok - In a small way it will be fine.
But it won’t happen I’ll tell you that. They will not open up their tight familial bubble. Will not.
My parents, my ex hubble and I, late partner - we never left someone on their own at Christmas. But, although my partner had his family who did used to invite us, we still wouldn't see someone on their own on 'the day'. My mother especially would have a hodge podge of random, stray elderlys sitting round the Christmas table.
But wait- we’re a caring society right? We know this because you keep telling us, you London liberals you.
People shared their families more in those years. (I must confess here to my dear mate Marie and her lovely children who do periodically put up with me. Thank you the W’s xxx).
I’m trying to get a handle on today's seeming obsession with families, kids. Those of us without children are in the back row of the choir. Creeping in through the servant's entrance and lurking like malingering 18th centruy orphans.
‘Give us a mention Mrs. We cast no shadow, see. We just, well, we’re just extras ‘angin’ about like persona non grata ‘til they want our dosh. Yer know like fer the child support shite. Then we can tek the stage. I counted out me monies fer them what’s got half dozen kids. It wer more than me pension so it were’.
That’ll be cut. Or I'll get letters.
Gorgeous Julie - looking serene and photo ready as per normal. Julie is without children but, unlike me, fills her life with interesting and fascinating groups of people. I may have tired of that route but Julie is a fine ambassador for going out there - 'just do'.
So some good advice from friend Julie G sent me a brilliant social idea being tried up North.
And it’s called Real Conversation. Getting communities together in a social situation like a community hall, say, to discuss what they want for themselves individually, collectively. Anyway, now that I've read it I’m going to have to try something round my way . Like I’ve not got enough on at my great age. It sounds like a brilliant tryout and am asking JG (who some of you have met on the Newsletter. What Newsletter? I hear you cry. Be quiet…) to keep me posted. Anyway, Real Conversation - look it up and see if it might be worth trying in your area.
OK back to the main theme - Christmas and Us.
I find I'm less hacked off this year and not because the ads are more inclusive - they're not - not because shops, decorations are less gaudy - ditto - not because 'the family' et al are not all over the media - they are. Are we not weary of the hype? Used to shutting up, putting up? We are.
Yet still I dread it. Not the day itself but the build up. My constant anger at the family presumption. And my jealousy, envy at the family closeness, belonging, exclusivity. The thought of the festive times a' coming. The festive times of long ago. On the day, not to generalise, we without children do sit watching Strictly/listening to Radio 4, having not changed out of the night attire since the night before. Willing it to be over with one more day to go. (New Years Eve lost its glitz years ago so there's another good night out down the flush pan).
Sorry about the white hump lump in the foreground. Bedevilled if she'd get in shot. By the River Witham but against the backdrop of the drains running into it. The gorgeous flatlands of Lincolnshire spreading out behind us.
Tell me how, sitting on one's own with not a soul to speak to especially at Christmas, is acceptable in today's so called giving, loving , caring society? Many have been opening your doors to strangers from Ukraine but couldn't give a flying f**t about the old, alone person on your doorstep? Can't boast about it to the neighbourhood? Not quite so glamorous sounding?
OK, well yahboo sucks, hopefully I'm off to a cottage in my favourite place North Norfolk. Justmeandlilley. I moan, I whine, I complain and I chastise but I tell you what - I'll love it. The two of us. As I lived there for a while I know a few folk but not too many and not too much.
As we wander like a cloud (apologies to Wordsworth fans) along Holkham beach. A bunch of Thelwell like ponies bolt into the sandy horizon with tiny, Thelwell kids hanging on for dear life. Me and her do refuel the engines.
And like the proverbial child - I won't want to go home -
Let me, and others without children, enjoy Christmas. Just for once without the overblown, overloaded kiddie, granny, mummy, cockerpoo sham. What is it a competition nowadays? See who's got the busiest, fullest, most crowded familyest fest?
Give the rest of us a chance, familes.. Enjoy your Christmas, do. But shut the whatsit up and let we aloners, childless/free take the stage. For once…
On the banks and almost in the shallows of the River Witham. Lilley had just crashed into the tripod in her dash for water. I'll say it again - she is the strangest, off-centre, fey creature I've ever had. But I love her so much it hurts 🥰
Hippying the cowgirl look. Man, I love these boots. I want to go be a hippy somewhere hot and mountainous. Thoughts on a postcard, please...clean, keep it clean.. Nobody say 'Manson' I dare you..
Had her bath with not a clue as to what just happened. You floppy, soppy little animal xxx
NEW LEGACY INSTITUTE RADIO
Now then, one more very important thing to tell you is this: this week I was very honoured to be asked to do a radio interview with the head of New Legacy Institute Radio, Christine Erikson, about being childless and the implications of such. Christine herself is childless. The marvellous, amazing Jody Day of Gateway Women, now Lighthouse Women, recommended me.
Christine, an American, is so fluent and articulate. You know what we Brits can be like - a tad stiff upper lip. I hope I wasn't. Otherwise I go the other way and become close to Tourette's. A fantastic woman and advocate for those of us without children. I was rather nervous, on the day, but she put me at ease very quickly and I so enjoyed it.
Something of a luddite and I can't manage to get the link on here but I will do. Otherwise it's on my FB page and Christine's New Legacy Institute page. Please take a listen - not just to my talk but to some amazing women on NLI.
You'll be glad you did.
Stay patient and I'll get the link on here, asap.