Tag Archives: time

I Won’t Grow Old Gracefully! Do You Hear me? I Refuse!

In 1985 my wife and I needed a joint temporary passport. I don’t remember why, but we did. Now, generally speaking, passport photos make the passport holder look like either a startled hare; a somnolent zombie; or the ugliest bastard in town. Not so we two, I feel…

I think I might have passed for the drummer in a Californian soft rock band; and she would have been our lead singer, no question.  But the years that followed had the same entropic effect upon me as it did everyone else. Eventually it became so bad that I felt compelled to post my first Tooty’s Fashion For Fogeys on this very site. In that opening salvo I displayed an uncanny ability to wear beige without appearing a doddery old fool who watches re-runs of Judge Judy, but doesn’t realise they’re re-runs and has to get up and go to the toilet every commercial break…

…even if I really do. By and large, I think I almost pulled off a perfect deception. Particularly when I added this sort of thing…

…in later blogs.

But, just thirteen months after posting the original T F for F, my son noted the clothes I’d put on in order to walk the dogs. They included those self-same beige trousers; an olive green jacket; and a pair of brown walking shoes. He said:

“You’re looking very…beige…today. Are you on your way out to buy a grey flat cap so that you can complete the uniform and look like an old fogey?”

I checked the mirror. A look of horror stared back at me. Without hesitation I proceeded to a local haberdashery, where I purchased an over-priced tub of colour dye. It accompanied the trousers into the washing machine…

And, several hours later, I’d shed that look of antiquity entirely. Well not entirely, perhaps: but at least I didn’t look like I had a Hyundai i10 or a Kia Picanto in the car port…

And look, matching socks…

And now, judging from the undoubted inelegance I display in this photo, you can see why my wife was the international dancer; and I spent the 1970s pissing about and freezing my bollocks off on motorbikes…

Note the bike: a Yamaha – naturally. Ostend, Belgium, December 1978. So cold that the butane in the gas heater froze and the damned thing exploded. Now that’s something you wouldn’t catch me doing at my age! Talking of which: check out this hair and beard from 1988…

Oh God, I’m so depressed! Where’s that Californian soft rock band when you most need them?

The Little Marks We Leave

At the time of this post, ten months have passed since my wife died – and there are still (it seems) a million and one ‘things’ of hers that need to be moved on. She liked to collect all manner of ‘things’. Whatever they were, there were (are) always too many of them to fit into our small ‘modern cottage’. Not only were the common areas of the house full-to-bursting, so was the attic too. And only towards the end of her life did she finally stop, sometimes, to ask herself: “Do I really need this?” Or, more often: “Tooty says the loft is full; do I have anywhere to put this?”

I can’t imagine how many items I have passed on to charity since then – but it’s lots. Multiple car-loads. And still it keeps coming. Most of her books are now sitting on complete stranger’s shelves; but a few – the oldest tomes – are still here. This is one of them…

It’s a slim volume that was first published in 1937. This is a later copy from 1949.  At 108 pages it’s hardly exhaustive, and wouldn’t really do as a proper reference book. But the flowers are beautifully drawn and painted, so really it’s an art book. On the inside cover this appears…

Clearly it was gift – from someone I will never meet, to someone else I will never meet (unless in the afterlife). In one of my often melancholy moods this made me feel a little sad. I wondered who these people were, and what happened to them. Then, as I turned the brittle pages – many of which are coming away from the dried-out spine – I found this…

One day, after receiving this gift, the recipient carried this book with (her?) and decided to collect specimens, which (she?) pressed between the relevant pages. Here is a sample of Chicory from rural Britain circa the early 1950s.

And here is some Corn-Cockle…

Lastly comes the Cuckoo Flower…

The absence of any more samples suggests that only one expedition was undertaken. But, perhaps for just one foray into the countryside, this book was precious to it’s owner. Precious enough for it to have survived and pass through any number of hands since that day. It certainly caught my wife’s eye and has survived her. So what do I do with it now? What we leave behind comes in many forms – not all of them with physical properties such as this book. They are little pieces of us: pieces that cannot die. For now I will keep this on my bookshelf. But it (the book) has nothing to do with my wife: she was only ever a custodian. Eventually (through charity shops or auction) I will probably pass it on to someone else that I will never meet: and they will wonder who the two names on the inside cover belonged to, and they will find the pressed flowers. And maybe they will add to them.