Cousin P and I have little or nothing in common except some early shared family experiences and and our tertiary education. The former consisted of very jolly Xmas and family birthday-type parties. Our age differences meant that we had little in common at these and so remained distant.The latter consisted of Greats at Oxford and Modern Languages at Cambridge.
Our differences grew from then on – politics, philosophy, environment, economics and so on. It is true that we both worked for big companies – he at IBM and I at Shell Oil and both of us resigned, once we had got the hang of them and had had enough. Cousin P went on to work for Egon Ronay as a travel writer and as a restaurant reviewer. I went into academia and research.
Thrown together by chance in North London, he in Kentish Town and I, in Muswell Hill, we became social as well as family friends for a while. This did not last long. He is a story teller and I am analyst/critique. The two styles do not mix well (at all?), especially when accompanied by strength of views and an ability to hold one’s own (at the very least). Cousin P now lives in sheltered accommodation – GW for short.
I introduced Cousin P to the Blog and suggested that it might form a better basis for our relationship than memory lane or the fighting of old and now irrelevant battles. I though it might do something for us both. Proof of the pudding…….read on.
Life at GW by Cousin P.
GW 1 – Taking the GW Social Temperature
Life goes on at GW, though not for the two residents who died recently, both after short spells in hospital. Neither death came as much of a surprise, nor caused much reaction among the residents, for whom the philosophy mors certa, hora incerta holds sway. It is of great regret that serious conversation is not always easy here, but to my surprise acting as the brains or at least the short-term memories of a couple of friends here brings a fair modicum of satisfaction. I have also been genuinely touched to find two normally reticent residents taking me into their confidence and becoming almost chatty. These experiences, which have caused me to think in new and more patient and compassionate ways about my fellow man, could well generate some sort of article which might be of interest in your blog.
GW 2 – GW’s Great Day
Thoughts of a barbecue had long been in the minds of GW staff and residents; but it finally happened.
Managers L and M sent out the invitations and organised the shopping, while we have S to thank for so much of the success of the day. The first job was to put up the pop-up gazebo (not quite pop-up, as it took three of us more than an hour to get it in place). On the day before the barbecue a rare gust of wind turned it upside down, sending the construction team back to work. S was the foreman and the hardest worker, and with his team of helpers, including A, M, S, I, T and me, we soon had the barbecue ready and all the tables and chairs in place for the 30 or so residents and guests we expected to arrive.
Came the day, and S converted from site manager to master chef, cooking everything to perfection and avoiding all the traditional jokes about men with barbecues.
The choice provided by L was amazing: sausages, four kinds of burgers, chicken joints and sweetcorn, accompanied by chips from the oven and all sorts of bread and buns. There were dips and salads on the side, with ice cream, lollipops, cheesecake and carrot cake to round off a splendid meal. Ice from the corner shop kept the beer and wine and soft drinks cool. Thanks to those who brought contributions, especially M, who provided me with a cold G & T at just the right time.
At the end of it all we left a bit fatter, a lot hotter and very happy, with a determination that the Great Greenwood Barbecue should become a fixture in our calendar.
The day was a triumph for the organisers, but it was above all S’s day and we thank him sincerely and wish him all the best.
Peter @ 44
Suggestions are welcome for making the event even better. Longer notice would be helpful, especially for visitors, and somehow to organise a reminder on the morning for residents. For my part, I would love to see iced coffee, available from all the supermarkets. I love the stuff.
GW 3 – A Flicker of Socialbility
Thanks for your email; it was gratifying to find that we have a fair measure of agreement on the friend/cousin/?other debate.
The reason I suggested a meal is that I love to cook but have very little opportunity to entertain the denizens of GW. Most of them have no interest in cooking or in good food – nor, for that matter in good conversation or anything else that might occupy their minds and provide me with stimulation. But in some cases there is at least a flicker of sociability, and it’s that flicker that I try to nurture by organising coffee mornings twice a week and by representing them at the two-monthly meetings of reps from all C’s 23 sheltered schemes. I feel, and in fact I am very different from most of the other GWies, and I’m grateful that the managers have entrusted me with various of their minor responsibilities. Back to cooking: I agree that a full-scale meal might be a strain, and there’s no excuse for tempting the Devil – and I’m very happy with the idea of coffee and biscuits. I hope our next rendezvous could be in March – February finds the pages of my diary untypically well pencilled and also I’m not feeling too well.
GW 4 – Covid-19
With many of GW’s residents ignoring all safety advice, this is not the best place to be right now. A few of us are doing more than our bit to keep the place clean, the effort and worry of which is subverting all thoughts relating to your blogs and our notional biscuit-free rendezvous. Sorry. More news anon, but for the moment staying safe is the number one priority.
Regards to you and P.
GW 5 – More Covid-19
Greetings from a sleepy GW, where, inexplicably, I have almost sole use of the large, safe garden. Although a number of carers come and go at will to about six flats and some residents continue on their peregrinations as though nothing had happened, we are apparently mercifully untouched by the virus. The news in one of the Sunday rags that over-70s might be asked to observe lockdown for a year is too horrific to contemplate, so I won’t. I don’t stir far from my flat, but I pay regular visits to the nearby Turkish corner shop, where I am addressed as ‘uncle’.
Somewhat surprisingly, I am missing neither bridge nor horseracing, and my wonderful goddaughter brings me supplies from the Parliament Hill farmers’ market every Saturday so I am even sanguine about being deprived of restaurants. New chores such as laundry, mopping and hoovering help to fill the day, along with reading (Saki, Long Live Latin and Balzac currently on the go) and crossword puzzles, which I know from your blog you ‘abhor’ but to which I am addicted. Sad but true.
The excellent Camden podiatry service is not currently available, my special hose is wearing out (with the result that my lower limbs are a bit swollen) and I REALLY need a haircut, but otherwise my body is holding out and my brain is ticking over at its normal sedate pace.
Stay well and either pray or do what you do instead.