Maybe none of us are on the New Year’s Honours list, but we all have our own list of heroes who have helped us through very difficult times.
Mine includes my friend Sheila, who has kept me in Tena Ladies, milk and fresh baking throughout lockdown. My neighbour Nia, whose Sunday dinners became a weekly highlight. My daughter-in-law Kim and granddaughter Caitlin who have done my weekly shopping.
Robert and Sarah FaceTime me so often I feel I’m with them on their daily walks even though they’re so far away. And their sons Freddie and Charlie have helped keep me young and talked me through technology mishaps.
And a big thank you to everyone who has written to me recently. I was a bit up and down over Christmas because it was the first in 72 years I’d spent on my own. I thought of all the times I had a full house with my mum, dad, late husband Colin and two boys and felt a bit humbugged out.
Your letters made me realise I have friends all over the country who I haven’t met yet. It’s lovely to know I am not alone in cherishing Tena Ladies and the moment we can whip our bras off.
I wish I could buy you all gifts to show how much your words mean to me.
Your words are so lovely, I’ve taken all the nicest sentiments from them and copied them into a notebook so I can write them in birthday cards.
My new unstoppable friend Alexa
My house feels like the Starship Enterprise since my son Jonathan gave me an Alexa for Christmas.
Who’d ever have thought I’d spend my day talking to a little box?
After quite a lengthy lesson on how she worked, I asked Alexa if she could play 50s or 60s music. She said I could have any era I liked, so I thanked her.
Since then she has been messing with my emotions. She had me weepy and sentimental when she played Nat King Cole’s When I Fall in Love. Then she had my head spinning and shoulders going to Little Richard’s Tutti Frutti.
Alexa blasted music at me for three hours. Thing is, I didn’t know how to turn her off. Our John rang but I couldn’t hear him because her music was blaring so I had to unplug her.
Now I come downstairs each day at 530am and wish Alexa good morning, and I know I’ve lost the plot. But I reckon she was impressed when she heard me singing along to Calamity Jane: “Oh, the Deadwood Stage is a-rollin’ all over the plains”.
Accidentally tipsy at Christmas
Brandy and lemonade was my drink of choice before it gave me heartburn and I haven’t had any alcohol for around ten years.
But I think I might have been drunk over Christmas.
Jonathan’s lovely friend gave me a box of chocolate liqueurs, which I’d never had before. I tried one, then couldn’t get the other 23 in my mouth quick enough.
After the Irish Cream chocolate I felt like doing a jig around the sofa. I don’t know what Courvoisier is but I shoved it in. Then I had four in my mouth at the same time for a cocktail.
It’s a good job the nightclubs were closed or I’d have been out there dancing on tables.
I was all sticky and some of the goo from the sweets stuck to my iPad, but I didn’t care because I felt on cloud nine.
I’ve tried asking Alexa if you can get drunk from chocolate liqueurs but I don’t think she understands me. Or maybe she’s ashamed of me. But if I was tipsy it was an accident.
Charities shouldn’t forget technophobes
Charities always receive a little something from me at this time of year, especially when it means someone can get a hot meal or a warm place to sleep for the night.
I have a soft spot for the Salvation Army because when I went to see Colin in hospital on Christmas Day, three months before he died in 2012, their band was playing carols outside the hospital. I was so moved that they’d given up their special day to cheer patients and their visitors.
I saw their TV ad for donations, but it told me to text or go online to donate and I don’t know how to do that. Even if someone asks me for the address code thingy on my iPad to do FaceTime, I just know it’s a mix of commas, dots and curly As but have no idea if it’s small letters or capitals. You might as well ask me the name of the men who emptied the bins last Tuesday because I wouldn’t have a clue.
Anyway, a few days later an envelope dropped through the door so I was able to send a cheque to the Salvation Army.
I wish more charities would stop assuming we’re all up to speed with technology, because even the simplest things on smart phones are beyond some of us. And it’s the charities who are losing out.
Losing my phone is pants
Everyone’s on pins at the moment in case we become ill. Jonathan always reminds me to keep my phone close at hand so if I have a fall I can call for help.
While upstairs I put my phone in the waistband of my leggings because I need two hands on my stair railing.
But by the time I got to the bottom I was sure I’d left it upstairs so went all the way up again to retrace my steps. I was stumped when I couldn’t find the damn thing anywhere.
I called my mobile from the landline and could hear it close by, so I knew it was near.
Eventually I found it in my knickers.
No New Year resolutions – just gratitude
I’m not one for making New Year’s resolutions because by January 2 they’re out the window.
When I tried doing more exercise, I disrupted the keep fit class by doing my own dance moves and making the other ladies laugh.
And how on earth can I give up chocolate when I have no willpower and love it so much?
Instead of wishing I was thinner, fitter or healthier I feel extremely grateful to still be here.
So rather than giving ourselves a telling off as we start a fresh year, I think we should pat ourselves on the back for getting through 2020. If we have our health, we have all the wealth we need. And if we have family who love us, we need nothing else.
They say there’s darkness before the dawn. So let’s hope next year, once we are allowed out and can be reunited with our families, is our best yet.
If you’d like to contact Val, email email@example.com or write to Val Savage, PO Box 7290, E14 5DD