Retroladytyping …

The Special One

mixedWhen we are out walking and need to consult an ordnance survey map, I have an aversion to those areas which are designated as ‘plantation’. Those tall, thin regimented groups of evergreens seem incongruous in a natural environment.   So, if possible, we avoid them, preferring the  randomness of the fluffy clouds of deciduous woodland, with their wild undergrowth, twisted branches, hanging leaves and individual beauty.

Sometimes it has to be done. There is no feasible way round.   Occasionally, however, a fluffy cloud reveals itself amongst  the ranks of the plantation, the fluffiness a cover for its strength in standing alone amongst  the regularity of its surroundings.   It may be crooked; it may not have leaves; the branches may protrude at random angles; the trunk, instead of standing tall, may lean to one side, with broken branches having almost given up, but hanging on regardless of the controlled environment around it.

It is there: noticeable and special. It is strong enough to stand amongst the ordered ranks of those selected to be in the plantation.  It hasn’t needed controlling, nurturing or special consideration; it goes its own way and flourishes, ignored by all the others, but there and noticeable because it doesn’t conform. I saw a tree like this yesterday. I remember it, not standing as tall as the others, but an individual with  its differences displayed. It had escaped the pressures imposed by those who sought to cultivate what they saw as a worthwhile, valuable crop. If it is allowed to develop, it will become stronger, develop blossom, leaves and maybe fruit. The others will be cut down, sold and used. Their worth will be tangible and quantifiable. The individual, special one will not have a measurable worth, but will stand alone, proud and admired amongst all the blandness of the plantation.

Substitute the word academy for plantation, student for tree, exam results for crop, and maybe that is the future for our children’s education.   I hope not.


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Several days ago a “breakdown at the interface between attention and memory” (Schacter) caused a tsunami of stress, self-doubt, fear for mental health, paranoia and possible marital breakdown  in my house.

Wednesday evening.  It had been a long day:  difficult drive through  hailstorm, meeting,  too much cake,  too much coffee, traffic jam, in need of comfort break.  Home.  Throw bag in direction of stairs.  Remove coat. (Take comfort break). Cook meal.  Speak to husband.  Television.   Normal.

Thursday morning. Asda shop.  Boots on, coat on, pick up bag, find ‘green’ carrier bags,  open front door, left hand into handbag  …. no keys.  Calm and breathe, check bag pockets, check coat pockets.  Still calm. Remove old till receipts, bus tickets, out of date money-off vouchers, purse, credit card wallet, husband’s spare car keys (why have I got those?).  Calm.  Think.  Tip bag upside down and shake.  Silence. Hold breath.  Think.  Breathe.  Think…  Check yesterday’s coat pockets, check today’s coat pockets, check all coat pockets, check coats under stairs not worn for months, check husband’s coat pockets, check downstairs loo,medicine cabinet, cleaning products basket.   Logical thinking.  Retrace steps.

S-t-e-p-s … three, from front door  to telephone shelf where bag lives.    Upstairs.  Increasing  panic.  Breathe.   Check laundry basket (why?), bathroom, under bed, airing cupboard.  Downstairs, check fridge, washing machine, microwave (why?), cupboards, side of chairs, under chairs.

Rising panic.

Self doubt.




Must have opened front door.  Check door.   Check car.


Re-check door.

Search under hedge by front door.



Calm.  Phone husband.  Has he picked them up by mistake.  No.

Rant at husband to check his car, pockets, etc.  No.

PANIC.  Think.  Door hadn’t been opened overnight.  ‘Someone’ may be waiting till house is unoccupied.  Phone locksmith, arrange for locks to be changed – tomorrow.

Locksmith arrives.  Changes locks and reassures.  Not reassured.

Occupy self.  Washing. Hoovering.  Ironing.  Not thinking.

PANIC.   My car?    Arrange for man with computer to source and programme new car keys in three days time.

Check Alzheimer’s Society website – symptoms of dementia.  Read reassuring messages.  Not reassured.

Google “Memory lapses.  What is normal?”  Not reassured.

Shout at husband.

Buy new keyrings from Amazon.  Comfort shopping.

Normal life.

Saturday evening.  Husband, “Shall I check bag one more time?”  Me, “If you like, but they’re not there.”  Shrug.  Husband, “Are these the ones?”

The End… nearly …

The plus side:

  • I’m £200 better off, as no need for man with computer who sorts out car keys.
  • Front door lock which has been awkward for years now operates perfectly.


Thank you Tom Tidal for the phrase “Keygate.”



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