Note Number 44…Fitter Not Fatter…

It’s been a funny old year with plenty of ups and downs healthwise. Back in April I was diagnosed with Temporal Arteritis...no, I hadn’t heard of it either but I had a lot of headaches which wouldn’t ease with the taking of a paracetamol and I felt generally exhausted and unwell. When I went to the doctor and said that I had a headache but that also my scalp was very sore and I didn’t want to touch it…the alarm bells rang…blood samples were taken for tests and the next day the doctor rang urging me to go straight to the surgery whereupon she told me that the level of CRP (C-reactive protein levels, whatever that is) in my blood, was sky-high and that there was a strong possibility that I had TA. I was immediately prescribed steroids (prednisolone)  60 mg a day and booked in for a Temporal Artery Biopsy (they take a little bit of your artery out of the side of your head – yikes!). It was all very scary.

doctor

The result of the biopsy was inconclusive but when I saw the rheumatologist he decided that we (him and me I guess) should err on the side of caution. He said that it was at least 85% certain that I had TA and it can cause blindness which  seemed pretty serious.  The steroids were to be continued and gradually reduced over a period of time. It is now December and I’m down to 3 mg a day. The reason I’m telling you all this is because steroids can increase your weight, well,in the words of my son who is a nurse, ‘steroids make you feel hungry all the time mum they don’t actually make you put on the pounds. You just have to be strong!’ Thanks a bunch.
They make you want to eat as they give you this weird sensation in your mouth making it salivate  and giving you the constant feeling of needing to stuff your face.  ‘Eat a carrot or some celery!’ shouts the do-gooder…

It was all rather annoying as I had actually just lost ten pounds in Jan/Feb of 2017, and I tried hard not to eat but I’m afraid I did manage to pile those naughty pounds back on. You will have seen that I’ve cut down drastically on my alcohol intake and have enjoyed only the occasional G&T since the end of October and have expanded my cellar of non-alcoholic or de-alcholised wine. I’m coping with it well and last weekend when I took a sip of Sancerre, I actually found it too strong. Now my mother would be amazed that any of her children were not imbibing in some way. She had heart problems and I don’t want those as well as my TA so now that I’m on a reduced steroid dosage and I’m beginning to feel a bit like my old self,  I’ve put my mind to getting fitter and eating sensibly. .

As you know I’ve started the Laban Dance Class and I walk the dog every day for at least 2k and now, now –  ladies and gentlemen, I have begun the Yoga class. I thought it would be a doddle but let me tell you right now, IT IS NO SUCH THING.  There’s lots of breathing, stretching, bending all at the same time AND I will have to learn another new language – yoga-speak. I will never remember the names of all the different moves, poses and positions. But I did love doing it. Especially the relaxing meditation at the end of the class. I’m sure all my children will be delighted that in my late 60’s I’m finally going to be cool, calm and collected.    And breathe. . .

 

PS:  The yoga might have been easier had I not tripped over during the second Laban Dance Class and now have a sore wrist and a rather large bruise on my right knee. I must learn not to show off…

Note Number 42…List of Missing Blog Posts and Laban Dance…

It’s been a while since I blogged and it’s a pity because I have done many things in November and now the moment for writing about them has passed.

Here’s a quick list of activities…

French classes
Writing
Procrastinating (I’ve had great tips from The Man on how to do this)
London for the day (for lunch…as you do)
Bristol for two days
Writing meetings x 4
Writing workshop in Dorchester
Playing cards
World Cinema with the Bridport Film Society every other Tuesday
Meeting with friends for coffee
Meeting family for Sunday lunch
Meeting friends for Sunday lunch
Losing the dog (we found her again)
Poetry workshop (how to improve performance)
Halloween and Fireworks…with family
To Yeovil to see Steeleye Span…(I coveted Maddy Prior’s blue/silver velvet jacket…I want one!)All around my hat…etc.,
Washing, Ironing, Cooking and the rest…
Dog walking
Dieting
I’m still on the non alcoholic wines although I have had a couple of G&Ts.

If you would like to know more about any of the above, tough…Although some of them may raise their heads in the future…Now read on!

Group Best

Group Photo

Big day today…(Wednesday) I got up from my computer where I’d been sitting writing poems for Christmas and playing Lexulous, looking at Facebook and Internet shopping…(generally procrastinating as above) and I took myself along to the village hall in Salway Ash to join a Laban Dance class. I wasn’t sure what to expect so it was with slight trepidation that I donned my leggings and a baggy top, took a towel, a bottle of water, a basin full of courage and went off to the class. I was a dance teacher for over twenty-five years, ballet, tap, modern and creative dance…but I have had little experience with Contemporary dance. I LOVED it. It was liberating, energizing and so wonderful to get the old muscles and bones moving again. It’s all very well walking the dog each day but that’s not physically creative and you don’t stretch and move every part of your body. They say that swimming is good for you because you use all your muscles, well I don’t like swimming and for me dance is a far better option.

The other members of the class were welcoming and it was a pleasure to work with them all. We danced independently, in pairs or in small groups. We choreographed small pieces guided by the inspiring dance teacher, Wendy. She helped and improved on our ideas without being pushy or demanding. She brought out the best in all of us so we all felt proud of our achievements.

pointing

Group Photo with Me…(centre front) 

Being a ‘newby’ I was anxious to do everything correctly, but of course, there is no correct or incorrect way, you work to the best of your ability and importantly enjoy it. I couldn’t believe how much energy there was in the room. Three hours fairly flew by…we did stop for tea, biscuits and a natter, for about twenty minutes during the afternoon.

I’m thinking now that perhaps I can bring a bit of Laban into the dog walking. After all I hardly see anyone when I’m out and I could develop my walking, running and general movement. Not sure what the dog would make of it though…I might have to lengthen her lead. Work with me here…

Teacher (Wendy) is centre back in top photo… I don’t know the names of the others taking part, but they were all lovely people! 

I’m looking forward to next week’s class, in fact I can’t wait. Why don’t you try it? Find out if there is a dance class for the more mature person, close to you. It might not be Laban but any dance is good. It keeps your body and mind active stimulating the old endomorphines…know what I mean? The feel good factor!

Note Number 27…We’re Spending the Kid’s Inheritance…

A little poem followed by what we did for Easter Weekend…

We’re spending the kid’s inheritance
And hoping that they won’t mind,
As we fulfil our dreams and ambitions
Keeping our bodies and minds alive
Because, until we reach the end of the road
And hear that inevitable knock on the door
We’re spending the kid’s inheritance,
And, we’re enjoying it, further more

We’re spending the kid’s inheritance
On doing as much as we’re able
Like, city breaks, beach holidays, classy hotels,
Sunshine, roses, champagne and those
Wonderful visits to London to see
The ballet, or theatre, or an art gallery
We’re spending the kid’s inheritance
We’re retired and at last we are free

Don’t worry, we’re not really selfish
And, there’s something I really should add
Most of our kids are now better off
Than their soon to be skint mum and dad!

Ninette Hartley © February 2017

Last Easter weekend we spent in London…a city break. We stayed at the Royal Overseas League in St. James’s where we are members. It’s a wonderful club, where they had a deal; four nights for the price of two. It’s perfectly situated for central London, shopping, theatres, museums etc., We packed in a lot of stuff…

nononobike

The Man Enjoying Window Shopping….(nooooo- not another bike!!) 

1. Friday train from Crewkerne to Waterloo. Lunch at the club. Evening a visit to the Dominion theatre to see An American in Paris. A new show, a stupendous show and well worth a visit. The dancing, mostly balletic, is wonderful, culminating in a fabulous pas de deux with the leading characters, Jerry Mulligan played by Robert Fairchild and Lise Dassin played by Leanne Cope. The Man said it was the best bit of ballet he’d ever watched.

american

2. Saturday we went to the Regent Street Cinema to watch an uncut version of Novecento (1900) directed by Bernardo Bertolucci and starring Robert De Niro and Gérard Depardieu. An epic five hours and twenty minutes of film plus a forty-five minute, interval. The story covers 1900 – 1945 showing the situation in Italy between the Socialist party and the Fascists, seen through the eyes of two boys, born on the same day, one a peasant, whose family live and work on the estate belonging to the family of the other. I wasn’t sure I could sit through such an epic but actually it was like reading a good story, settling in and not putting the book down until you had finished the whole thing. I loved it.

regent street cinema
3. Sunday we took ourselves off to the Imperial War Museum but only managed to cover three of the five floors in four hours. We’ll definitely be going back. The Holocaust Exhibition was particularly powerful with images, artefacts, interviews with survivors and a lot more. Disturbing, informative and thought provoking.

tulipsstjames

Beautiful Tulips in St James’s Park – We walked to the IWM 

4. Sunday evening we were treated to a musical concert at the club. Not something I would normally choose, a soprano, Sarah-Jane Lewis, and a piano, but I have to say, the singing was beautiful and the pianist, Simon Lepper, accomplished and not bad looking. The songs were short, diverse and Sarah sang in three different languages. We were given the programme with all the words translated so it was easy to follow. A glass of wine after the concert and a chance to thank the artists for their performance, rounded off the evening.

The Steinway….and The Programme

5. Monday, we were to meet a couple of our children for lunch at Dishoom in Carnaby. The Man had bought a couple of pairs of shoes on Saturday morning and I had said in a mad moment, ‘I’ve always wanted a pair of DMs.’ Well, we were early for our appointment so had a walk around and lo and behold there was the original Doc Martin shop in Carnaby Street. Had to be done!

dms

THE BOOTS…photograph credit Will Hartley 

In the evening we went to see The Wipers Times (so called because the British soldiers pronounced Ypres Wipers) a first world war play written by Ian Hislop and Nick Newman, at The Arts Theatre. A completely opposite venue to the Dominion it was an intimate theatre, more like a club, and the production was low key but splendid. Based on a true story about the 24th Division of the Sherwood Foresters who found an old printing press in the burned out ruins of Ypres and decided to print a satirical newspaper covering the war. The main men, Captain Fred Roberts and Lieutenant Jack Pearson, co-editors continued to produce the journal throughout the war. It was an instant hit with the troops but not so popular with the top brass. Spoof advertisements, agony aunts, musical hall jokes and routines and always taking a jibe at those higher up. If you can catch this play it’s a must.

The Arts Theatre Bar – loved the light fitting… The Programme for The Wipers Arms

Back home to Dorset on Tuesday we felt we had crammed plenty of culture into our weekend away in London and hope it’s not too long before we can cram in another. In the meantime, we’re attending as many of the 22 films showing over the next five days at the Bridport Film Festival, From Page to Screen. We’ve already seen, In the Heat of the Night and Their Finest, both bloody brilliant and only a hop down the road.

I love being Retired…

feelingenergetic

Note Number 25…A Visit to the Ballet…

Programme ENB

I’m not a ballet critic nor a balletomane to the fullest extent but I do love a good, live ballet performance and it’s something I missed out on a great deal when living and sunning myself in the region of Le Marche Italy. I was a dance teacher in the UK for twenty-five years and during that time, for four years published a dance magazine called The Youngdancer,  a financial disaster but artistically and personally quite an achievement. I think I know a little bit about dance after that experience.

A trip to London last week and I booked tickets for Sadler’s Wells to see The English National Ballet’s triple bill. In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, Adagio Hammerklavier and Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring). I knew a little bit about all three ballets but was a bit worried about The Man, who is not a great lover of ballet but does appreciate the ability of the dancers and has grown to like it more, since he’s been hanging about with me. I had told him beforehand, ‘if you don’t like the dancing at least you can close your eyes and appreciate the music.’

In the Middle

In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated

Well, the first performance began with a blackout on stage and an almighty electronic crash that made my heart jump out of my chest and my nerves endings tingle with fear and that’s how the accompaniment  continued. I was regretting my comment immediately. I sat through the dance and for me the whole thing was overpowered by the loud discordant noise of the ‘music’. The dancers could not be faulted and the choreography ‘interesting’ though I’m not a fan the beautiful classical motif being abruptly finished, then a casual walk off stage completely out of character as though to grab a coffee and light up a fag. I’m sure that William Forsythe had his reasons but it’s just not for me. Thom Willems, I did try to like your music. So, basically, jury still out on this one for me, but The Man? He loved it, especially the music. Well, you never can tell…

Adagio Hammerklavier

Next was Adagio Hammerklavier, music by Ludwig van Beethoven. This time music I could not fault you, it was medicine to soothe my damaged drums and lull me back into the world of beauty. Choreography was slow and absorbing, though Hans Van Manen (choreographer) still managed to throw in an unessessary flexed foot every now and then. Why must they do that? Costumes, flowing and fitting. Dancers, technically and artistically striking, bodies working together with a unity and completeness that only comes from rehearsal and hard slog. A joy for me to watch.

Last in the triple bill was Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring) choreography by Pina Baush and this was the one I was looking forward to. My daughter had been raving about Pina Baush a couple of years ago and I had not had the opportunity to see any of her work so this was a treat.  Before the performance began, a team of stage assistants, (or they might have been dancers) came on in brown coats and spread the whole stage with peat. As I understand, from the programme, the idea of this was to ‘ground’ the dancers, it’s not a pretty classical dance but, it is to be danced as yourself, to give yourself up to the dance and the music.

rite of spring

The music is by Igor Stravinsky. Pina Baush said that the music was the dance and the dancers are the music. Jo Ann Endicott, who was the rehearsal director for this performance and had worked with Baush in 1996, said that if you weren’t exhausted at the end then you hadn’t danced properly. Well, I can assure you, I was exhausted at the end and I didn’t dance a single step but I was captured and on the edge of my seat for the whole time.  The women’s dance was frenzied, panicky, desperate. They danced in unison, sometimes repeating the same phrase over and over at a frenetic pace, moving huddled together in mesmerising rhythmic, earthy patterns, like animals cornered. They would split apart, running and moving everywhere, then return to the safety of the herd. The feeling of terror and desperation as each girl thought she might be picked out was tangible.  The costumes were simple and cream coloured and were soon covered in the peat from the floor. The men’s bare torsos, heaving and pumping with energy, were quickly dirty and smeared, rendering them, (the men that is) basic and primal.

Passing from one girl to the next was the terrifying, red dress. Though tiny and inert,  it seemed to be the most powerful presence on stage.    The young girl who finally became the ‘chosen’ one in said, red dress, danced herself to death with an outstanding performance. What a sacrifice.

The Man’s verdict on Rite of Spring? ‘Well, what was all that about?’ You just cannot tell what a person will enjoy when it comes to the arts can you? It’s all so subjective.

Next performance visit will be American in Paris  Watch this space.

All photographs used in this post are taken from the English National Ballet programme. Individual photographers were not credited so I cannot credit them here. I hope they don’t mind.