Category Archives: Life

Je ne regrette rien

1948: French singer Edith Piaf (1915 – 1963), affectionately known as the ‘Sparrow of Paris’; ‘Piaf’ translates as ‘sparrow’. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

I have long been enamoured of Edith Piaf, her life story and of course, her singing. I don’t remember how old I was when I first became aware of this wonderful, pitiful, strong, brave woman, the Little Sparrow starting life singing in the streets and living in a brothel. Not a great start in life for anyone and particularly a woman in Paris in 1915. War was raging; her father was fighting at the front and her mother had neither the money nor the inclination to look after a baby.

We are told that Edith was born under a street lamp in a doorway at 72 rue de Belleville in the 20th arrondissement on the 19th of December 1915. Above the worn out marble doorstep is a plaque that reads, dont la voix, plus tard, devait bouleverser le monde” translated as ‘whose voice later was to upset the world’. Edith did not just go on to move the world with her voice, but brought inspiration to many and continues to do so even today.

Her mother, known as Line Marsa, chose to call her baby daughter Edith after Edith Cavell, the celebrated British nurse who was celebrated for saving the lives of hundreds of soldiers from both sides. Cavell was later arrested by the Germans and shot by a firing squad just days before Piaf’s birth.

Shortly after the birth, Edith was packed off to live with her maternal grandmother. A bad decision that was overturned by her father on his return from the front. He sent his mother and aunt to bring her back. The aunt owned a thriving brothel in Paris and so Edith’s early days were spent surrounded by prostitutes and the men of class who came to visit them.

When I think of Piaf I think about her passion, her determination, the carefree spirit of her younger days and the spirit of constantly seeking greatness.

But why am I writing about Piaf on the 5th day of this New Year? Some years ago shortly after my husband died, I was playing companion to an elderly English woman. She was that particular type of woman, from her class. Peremptory, imperious, and brusque, so used to giving orders and being obeyed. But we got on very well and over the months and several returns to Chichester by me, we became friends. I remember her saying often, regret nothing; apologise for nothing. So no New Year resolutions for me – instead I am working on regretting nothing that I have done. Oh yes, some foolish decisions that would have been best left unmade but on the whole, I have enjoyed all the years of my life even when in amongst the good, the fantastic and the truly memorable, there have been a couple of hiccups when loved ones departed this world.

So onward into this New Year, with no regrets for what is past; it cannot be changed, but hopefully I can learn from it.

And now from my very favourite poet, from whom we haven’t heard for a while –

“Tell me,
what is it you plan to do 
with your one 
wild and precious life?” 
― Mary Oliver

Another Year Begins

“Don’t wait for a light to appear at the end of the tunnel,
stride down there and light the
bloody thing yourself.”
Sara Henderson – From Strength to Strength

Did you make resolutions on January 1?  I didn’t because I know that they won’t last even until the end of January. But I do like these resolutions from Bridget Jones Dairy.

“Resolution number one: Obviously will lose twenty pounds.
Number two:  Always put last night’s panties in the laundry basket.
Equally important will find a sensible boyfriend to go out with and not continue to form romantic attachments to any of the following:
alcoholics, workaholics, commitment phobic’s, peeping toms, megalomaniacs, emotional fuckwits or perverts. And especially will not fantasise about a particular person who embodies all these things”

I began to look back at the posts from January in past years. I started blogging in March 2011, so the first January was in 2012.  During that month I posted about reaching my first milestone of 100 followers. How excited I was on that day. I wrote about crop circles, Friday the thirteenth, the Madman who was actively engaged in compiling the Oxford English Dictionary. At that time I was posting a blog a day and so there are 31 posts in that January. “All I Need to Know” is probably my favourite post of that January.

By January 2013 I was no longer posting every day and so there are far fewer to choose from. In a meandering post, I took a trip down memory lane and wrote about growing up in the East End of London (again). And in that month I posed the question what would you do “If Today Were Your Last”?

January 2014 and I had just returned from my sojourn/adventure in Florence. That month saw only one post – The Kiwi Bach

January 2015  and I was enjoying life with my Late Love, The Architect and wrote about our peaceful corner of the world comparing it to the mayhem and confusion caused by terrorists in other parts of the world.

By January 2016, my life had changed again. Now The Architect was no longer alive and I was moving on alone. I like to think I was going from strength to strength following the path trod by Sara Henderson. Most of the month was taken up with my story about Sandy and the woman who claimed to be her daughter. Those posts were fun to write. Maybe, someday I’ll go back to them.

So to January 2017. By now I was used to living alone again and had completely recovered from my misadventure of the year before. How very glad I was to leave 2016 behind. I wrote about friendship and how much easier it is now to keep in touch through Skype, email and of course the blogosphere. And I compared myself to a vintage car. I too have to be maintained. I’m cleaned, polished and primped.  I have regular services from hairdressers, manicurists, dentists etc, So at my vast age I know I am vintage.

January 2018 found this aged mind taking off in a variety of directions. On the first, I looked back on the year that had just gone and looked ahead to the year about to start. I wrote about “Talking into the Future” with my friends Chris in Ontario and Joss in Cuenca and we marvelled at how lucky we are.

And that brings us to January 2019. Years have passed since I started this blogging journey/adventure. New friends have been made, some friends have died or moved on, Unfortunately, my Late Love was among those that died.  But what a great time I have had over these years. I have visited new places, have proved that you are never too old to dream another dream or set another goal and so I move into 2019 with a joyful, grateful heart. Best wishes to you all and thanks for being my friends.

Waterfall

“And as the water continues in its downhill rush over rocks
and the thoughts continue to tumble around in my brain
with no defined pattern or path,
they eventually find and settle into a safe place
and the void is suddenly filled
and my mind is active once again.”
Judith Baxter, survivor, blogger and friend

 

 

 

 

 

Someday and Somebody

 

I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that.
Then I realised, I was somebody.  –
Lily Tomlin American actress, comedian, writer, singer and producer. 1939 –

Just sitting here on a winter’s day thinking of all I could/should be doing and also about the things that appear to be way out of my control.

  • How many homeless people are there in this land of plenty?
  • How many children are hungry and ill-clothed for this weather?
  • How many people are dealing with a terminal illness?
  • How many people are getting on with their lives with long, if not terminal illness?

And I realise that there is little I can do about these problems. But there is something I can do for one or two of those forced to beg on the streets, or forced to go to the FoodBank to be able to feed their family. I can give small amounts of money to a couple of these people and can add to the FoodBank collection at our grocery store when doing my shopping. Small things, but if we all do something the small things add up.

And I can continue to volunteer at the hospice in the hope that some small thing I do can make the end of somebody’s life a little easier.

So what can you do today?

This rant was brought on after being in town yesterday. I parked beside the Ronald McDonald House and saw distraught parents, I saw two homeless guys begging and the FoodBank collection pod at the supermarket.

Yesterday’s foray into town brought home to me just how lucky I am. I have a warm, safe home in which I live, I have food in the larder and money in my pocket and am not suffering from any major illness or disease. Fortunate indeed!