Yes, we can learn new tricks!! I didn’t think that at age 88 Social Media were my thing but I’ve written nearly 70 posts on Facebook since last August and I regularly Zoom with the children and my Writing Circle.
Last week I started an online course at CityLit – ‘Extended History of Modern Art in 50 Works’ with an excellent young women tutor, Sarah Jaffray. There are 14 of us in the class – 10 women and 4 men. This is an unusual mix. Most Further Education classes I’ve been to have had 2 or 3 men to 25 or even 30 women. I think women generally are more likely to want to take up something new when we retire and we’re not too worried about showing our ignorance of a new subject or ‘losing face.’ Maybe that’s why we’re supposed to live longer than men after retirement.
I wonder when I will go through CityLit’s doors again. As an elderly, vulnerable, person I’ve been self-isolated for 10 weeks. Who know how many more?
When Josh and I got married in 1956, I had two dishes in my repertoire – a simple omelette and minestrone soup. My mother was a plain cook, with a very limited range of dishes – cold fried fish on Friday night, cholent on Saturday and braised or roast beef or boiled chicken on other days. Our main meal was at lunchtime – our dinner –-always a rushed meal, because my father and older sisters had only half an hour for lunch and I had to get back to school. For supper we had egg on toast or sardines on toast so I should add those to my range of expertise and of course from my student days baked beans on toast. Josh on the other hand came from a family of good cooks – his paternal grandfather had been a baker in Poland – and so Josh was a much better cook than I.
I gradually extended my range with the help of recipes in newspapers and magazines but then, when I finished my second post as a house physician and was five months pregnant with Simon, I decided to take a 6 week full time Good Housekeeping Cookery Course held in basement kitchens in Mayfair. It was an excellent course ranging from the simplest dishes – how to boil an egg or mash a potato – to Black Forest Gateaux and a range. of various loaves of bread.
When you have four children, and two of them are ravenous boys, you go more for quantity than variety. I got used to serving a three course meal and then having the boys ask for a ‘sarnie’ – or two. They were still ‘starving’.
After I retired in 1991, I took a wide range of courses at Further Education Colleges including cooking. The very best was Joyce’s course (sadly she’s no longer with us) at Morley College. It was a ‘Cook and Eat’ course. You paid a modest sum for the ingredients that Joyce lugged in each week, and then you paired off to cook a three course meal. I think I took the course three times – Joyce had a huge variety of tried and tested recipes.
I only remember one absolute disaster.
We had one student who was always ahead of herself. Her task was to whip the cream for our Blackberry and Apple crumble and she’d got the cream prepared long before we were ready to sit down for our meal. I had to rush off for my Spanish lesson at the Mary Ward Centre in Queens Square and so was the first to be served with my desert.
I took a spoonful and spat it out. I was sure it was poisoned. The salt and sugar – both white granules – were kept in glass jars and she hadn’t bothered to check the labels. She’d used salt instead of sugar and in that concentration the salted cream tasted vile. Probably a very primitive response to ingredients that – certainly in that quantity – are bad tor us.
I thank all those lovely people who wrote and commented on my memoir ‘Woman in White Coat’
‘Woman in White Coat – the memoir of girl growing up the East End making good.
Buy it on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99
Although I liked several of her surrealist paintings, I much preferred her later paintings, many from her stay at Sedonia, Arizona with Max Ernst – her abstracted ‘prismatic’ style. She wanted her pictures discovered slowly – ‘pictures that would shimmer and that you would discover something new every time you looked at them.’
One of my favourites is ‘Avalon’ – painted over 3 years from 1984-1987 . It is typical of her abstracted paintings, with parts of bodies and objects emerging from flower-like bursts of white and green.
I found her soft sculptures interesting though not particularly moving. The video at the end of the exhibition is excellent. Highly recommended.
Every time I go to an exhibition I think about taking up painting again – one of the many classes I took at Morley College and CityLit after I retired.
Read about my adventures at Further Education colleges in my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat.’
Buy Woman in a White Coat on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99
I was introduced by the Hellenic bookshop in London to ‘Streamlined Greek‘ by Bob Bass – an excellent workbook for beginners at Classical Greek from age 11 (children at school) to 87 – a retired pathologist like me. Unfortunately the shop didn’t have the essential Answer Book but I found both online and I am enjoying revision while on the Christmas break from my classical Greek class at CityLit.
I’d found our set books – the Oxford ‘Reading Greek’ series – very comprehensive but quite hard going, so Bob Bass’s book is a pleasant relief.
The flap of our letter box rattles. The post has arrived and with it the latest prospectus for Adult Education. I will definitely take Art History and Literature. Perhaps I will enrol for Classical Greek as well, and read the classics in the original.
I already have a small Greek vocabulary from when I was a dental student at St Margaret’s. I learned to say kallimera (good morning) and anoíxte to stóma sas (open your mouth) to patients from the local Greek Cypriot community. I have a larger Greek vocabulary derived from the many medical terms we had to learn. Maybe learning Greek will exercise my mind and grow some new brain cells to replace those I’ve lost over the years.
These Rock cakes are so easy and low sugar – none in the dough mixture and just a sprinkle of demerara sugar on the top to make them crunchy. And they freeze well – if you have any left once the family has seen them.
You can read about the cookery classes I went to at Morley College with Joyce. Thanks to her teaching I’m happy to tackle most recipes. Such a shame she died so soon after retiring.
Read about cookery and further education in my memoir Woman in a White Coat. It makes an excellent Christmas present.
The paperback is available from Amazon at £9.99 or on Kindle at £2.99
I had wanted to learn Classical Greek and read the Greek masters in the original for some time and finally enrolled for a beginners’ class at CityLit starting in September 2016.
But it was not to be. On August 9th 2016 Death Came Knocking at My Door and i had a major heart attack.
When i recovered after having had two coronary stents and an intra-aortic balloon pump inserted and been on a ventilator, there was no way i could attend classes that semester and had to cancel.
I started a week’s intensive course in Classical Greek in the summer of 2017 but the beginners’ class the following September was in the evening – and i hate evening classes.
Finally I started the daytime Classical Greek Level 1 at CityLit this September. Unfortunately I’ve catching up to do – one session missed while we were visiting our daughter Louise in the Basque Country and another with a heavy cold caught out there, but I’ve bought some extra textbooks and hope to make up the missed classes.
Often I’ve felt overwhelmed at the Summer Exhibitions by the crowds and the works massed together higgledy-piggledy, but this year the exhibition is themed and great. It’s absolutely a ‘MUST GO’.
This fabulous exhibition made me feel I ought to get out my paints and pastels and start painting and drawing again. After I retired in 1991 I went to a wide variety of classes including drawing and painting.
Hear about the Art Class at the Mary Ward Centre in Queen Square I attended after I retired in 1991 in this excerpt from my memoir Woman in a White Coat’ – Chapter 26 pp 355-356 and pp 361-363
‘Woman in a White Coat’ is available on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99
Chapter 26 Woman in a White Coat
I enrolled for lots of classes, some at one Further Education college and some at another – painting, drawing, cooking, history of art, Spanish, creative writing, pottery, dressmaking, machine knitting, felt making – everything I hadn’t had time for when I was working. It wasn’t just that I hadn’t had the time, I hadn’t had the inclination. My mind was always so full of work. Even when I was at the theatre, I would find myself thinking about a difficult diagnosis or a hiccup in our research.
Note: There seem to be road works everywhere in Westminster so if you’re driving be persistent – there is a way through!!
Colen examines notions of identity and individuality, set against a portrait of contemporary America.
His works are said to be read as self-portraits. Colen (born 1979 in New Jersey) must have been feeling quite down when he made this big sad Scooby Doo (Haiku 2015-17).
There are a variety of fascinating shapes punched through the walls (Livin and Dyin) of Wile E. Coyote, Kool-Aid Man, Roger Rabbit and of Colen naked. The walls are around 1 foot thick. I wonder how they were originally knocked through and whether they will be made good completely or become a permanent display.
This mysterious painting Untitled (Me and You 2006-7) is one of my favourite works from this exhibition. It is one of a series of Colen’s paintings based stills from Disney’s Pinocchio showing a candle on the workbench of Pinocchio’s creator – Geppetto.
It’s that time again – enrolment for the Autumn term 2017.
It’s a great time for me – choosing which subjects I’m going to study though, with cuts in funding, courses are much more expensive than they used to be. When I first retired, I could afford to attend courses every day, sometime twice a day, but the cost is now prohibitive though still excellent value.
I took some Summer Courses this year including an excellent two-day ‘Getting to know your digital camera’ at Morley. I have a Canon Compact camera and feel most ashamed that I’ve been using it entirely on Automatic when it has so many facilities you only get with an SLR. Shame on me.
I use Photoshop CC for touching up my images but the course introduced me to Lightroom – a whole new ballpark. I’ve ordered a couple of manuals from my library and will see which I prefer – pros and cons!!
Amazing to think that John Field, an eighteenth century Irish composer, travelled all the way to Russia, braving all the hardships associated with long distance travel at that time, settled there, married and had an illegitimate son (Leon Leonov) later a famous tenor as well as a pianist son, Adrian, by his wife, Adelaide percheron, a French pianist and former pupil.
He had moved to London by 1793, where he became a pupil of Muzio Clementi (1752-1832) and travelled with him to Paris, Vienna and St Petersburg, where Clementi left, and Field settled in Moscow.
We tend to associate nocturnes with Chopin (1810-1849) and Liszt (1811-1886) but they had been very much influenced by Field’s work – his 18 nocturnes in particular.
As well as going back to Bach’s Prelude and Fugue No II, I have started to play Field’s delightful Nocturne No 5. Not difficult to play, but hard to play well.