When, as a littl’un, I was feeling proper poorly and extremely sorry for myself, my dear Mum would suggest I should think of people worse off than myself which would miraculously make me feel better.
Those of my readers who grew up, like me, in the Forties and Fifties may well remember being told the same thing. Along with the exhortation to think of the “starving children
in Africa” when I left my tomatoes on my dinner plate and turned up my delicate nose at my daily “duty” Marmite sandwich.
Today, my third consecutive
day of feeling rubbish, I endeavoured to follow my mother’s advice. I do, after all, know several people who are far worse off than I, not to mention the legions of others unknown to me. Sadly, I have to report that obeying the maternal instruction didn't
work; I think it may have made me feel slightly worse if anything that I couldn't rise above my own self-pity. I am now wondering if it worked when I was a child but I can't remember.
What does penetrate my misery, however, is a photo from grandson Sam, Eldest of the (Not So Very Little) Welsh Boys. It shows something furry and whiskery: “Look how cute,” Sam has written. He has also, very helpfully,
added an emoji of a rabbit. The penny drops! That's when I notice for the first time the caption above the Whiskery One, written in gold, which reads: “Hi Little Bertie”.
I message back to agree that little Bertie (what I can see of him) is, indeed, very cute and ask my grandson how he is getting on at his new school. “I'm good, Nanna, school is amazing,” comes his speedy reply, “I
can't believe I've already had 125 lessons!” I can't believe he’s counting..
Granddaughter Hazel Bagel, like Sam, is facing new challenges at Arts
Ed, though she hasn't, as far as I know, counted how many lessons she has had thus far. She messages me to make sure I know how much she loves my weekly letters: “They are honestly the highlight of my day when I come home to find one on the side,”
she writes. I feel warm inside to think that my letters, with their not particularly exciting news, are helping her now that she is living away from home for the very first time. That's the thing about a letter, don't you think, you have to open up the envelope,
unfold the paper, and, once you've scanned the contents, you can read it again and again if you want to? It's rather like the Book versus Kindle debate.
is keen to be my pen-pal. I haven't had one of those since I was at school when I used to write to Michelle in France and Otmar in Germany. Writing those letters, it has to be said, was a major challenge to my French and German language skills. It is sad,
but perhaps not surprising, that those pen friendships didn't stand the Test Of Time.
Hazel promises she will be writing back to me: “As soon as I
have some stamps and have figured out where a letterbox is!” She is, indeed, a Child of her Time. I decide I will enclose some stamps in my next letter though I'm not sure what I can do about the location of the letter box.
Mr B says he wishes he was fit and well and so able to look after me. He does, however, suggest that we catch up on all the episodes of “Victoria” which we have recorded. Such a good idea,
we agree as we settle down companionably to go Back In Time.
Thanks to Sam, to Hazel and to Mr B, I think I might be feeling a little bit better.