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My Giddy Aunt

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Edited by Geoff Cooper, Saturday, 5 Sep 2020, 17:42

It was my Auntie Bessie who used to say that: My giddy aunt. I'm not sure which of my many aunts was the giddy one. Auntie Bessie also said 'Blarowast' instead of 'Blast' when she wanted to swear. I was never sure what the difference was between ´blarowast' and 'blast' other than a narrow upbringing suddenly widened by the Second World War and her nursing career.

However, I am surprising myself by saying 'My giddy aunt!'. The exclamation mark is there to be noticed. My surprised exclamation is because I have just discovered that I am a published author. Only in a very small way, perhaps. But a piece of my writing has arrived in the world of print and is broadcast world-wide on the internet.

Some time ago, during the major lock-down in Spain, I wrote a daily diary - a ´Plague Diary´, if you like - sending it to a circle of friends and family. One of the recipients contacted me regarding a book that she, her brother and others were drawing together, asking if any of my writing could be used. So there, published in a book, is one of my entries, among the many contributions, from many people, from all over the world.

A Kindle version of the book is available through Amazon. It is called ´From Love Comes Hope´, published under the editorship of my friend´s brother, Peter Lihou and Acclaimed Books, with authorship attributed to my friend, Maureen Moss herself and a range of others. Below is my entry from the book.....

'As this lock-down progresses, we become more aware of the small things of life. There is more space and time to do that, now that the hubbub of traffic has largely faded away, now that we are not bombarded by the noisy posturing of so called celebrities who have done nothing in the world except be briefly famous, frequently notorious, making a great deal of money as a result. It is interesting that even the rowdiest of newspapers have to focus on real news and not have to invent stories about pop-singers, soccer players and soap actors and actresses. Although I notice that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are not to be allowed to live their lives in peace. Yesterday, I took Tilly the dog out for a short walk. No car was seen. I saw one other person on the other side of the road. Things were noticed that in a busier world would just have been passed over. There are noticeably more birds around. That can’t be a bad thing. Because the world is quieter, bird-song is more noticeable. I’ve always loved the evening ‘about to roost’ song of blackbirds. Until yesterday, I’d never really heard it in Spain. Tiny spring flowers in a multitude of colours spring up on all the waste ground. Tilly ignores them but she does love to chew a juicy blade of grass. 

 As the pavements are deserted, they begin to take on a different life. Because there is less foot-fall, ants are beginning to predominate. Between paving stones, small heaps of grounding sand are appearing, the sand that the workmen have used to level and secure the paving. The ants are totally unaware of the virus and continue to create their complex underground palaces. They have always been there, on the waste-ground margins, in gardens, sometimes a nuisance in houses but now they begin to take over the territory that man would normally call his own. A sign perhaps that when humankind has morphed into some other form of existence, ants will still be there, then at the top of the food chain. 

The men who were building a new house just opposite our house are no longer working. At the bottom of what will be a new street of houses, a children’s play park has been built. In Spain, it is usual to put in infrastructure first, planned buildings afterwards. When I first bought a brand new house in England, the other houses on the small estate were completed long before the builder put in the finished access road. Here, the services are put in and details added like facilities for children before building is finished. Interestingly, not far away from us, a new facility, yet to be built, for the ‘Third Age’ - in other words, we oldies, an old folks home - has all its infrastructure including a children’s play area! The new play area near our house holds a fascination for Tilly. Perhaps she has seen a cat there some time and remembers. She stands at its entrance almost transfixed. It remains pristine. Roped-off. There are no children.Tilly is also fascinated by an occasional gecko. She would dearly love to catch one but they are far too nimble even for Tilly. 

In the middle of being aware of new things to see, balmy evenings are remembered, sitting on the terrace of the local hotel with a sundowner. The hotel’s position is superb, at the top of the hill leading out of the village and only a few hundred yards from our house. The land falls away from the hotel terrace, giving a full and totally clear view of the mountains. In winter, the setting sun fades behind the closest, small local mountain, to the left. As midsummer approaches, the sun gradually moves to the right until at the height of summer, it is setting behind a much higher and more distant mountain, bathing the terrace in a warm rosy glow. And under terms of lock-down, the hotel is closed and no one can enjoy this privileged view. Yesterday, during a day of glorious sunshine, I was wondering if it was approaching time for shorts, and possibly the abandoning of winter vests. Not yet. Today is overcast, although my BBC Weather forecast for this area says zero chance of rain. The time for shorts will come. Shortly. I see others wearing them. But I have always been a coward. 

Stay safe. Stay well. Stay ‘virtually’ close.

Geoff Cooper, 2020

Lihou, Peter. With Love, Comes Hope: Stories & Inspiration during the 2020 Pandemic (p. 230). Acclaimed Books Limited. Kindle Edition. 

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