The unwashed blouse

In January 1963 I was called for an interview you to a Northern university.

It was a Tuesday when I was usually at school. I only had one blouse apart from my school one.Forbeconomic reasons it was sleeveless.

Moreover I had worn it on Sunday so there was no way that I could wash and dry it it by 7 on Tuesday morning. I got dressed in this dirty blouse

And the cardigan my mother had made from old green and black wool that wasn’t her choice it was simply reduced price pure new wool if you could afford not afford a nice colour

Although she was very good at knitting she had put the button band on wrongly perhaps it was a little bit too short so she had to pull it which distorted the garment especially on the front.

I must have worn a skirt but I just don’t remember.

It was up terrible winter not long before Sylvia Plath committed suicide.

When I went into the interview room there were two men who look really old like 50 wearing suits really expensive suits.

And their hands were soft and white

Their fingernails were manicured and very clean

0 grandfather was a coal miner so I never really seen them with white hands soft white hands. Even my mother didn’t have soft white hands

I can only remember them asking me how old was the cathedral.

I have never seej it before that and it was a very cold day .I had not a lingered to look at it.

Furthermore we had not got a car and we did not drive around th e north of England looking at the cathedral or the castles. The interviews proceeded and then ask me

Why did I want to do mathematics, what did I plan to do?

I replied that I would like to do research

They burst out laughing and slapped their thighs. I had read about that in novels but I never seen his happening

I had already done a piece of original research but I had not told anybody.

I didn’t speak but I thought it was very weird so I left the room and went back to the station.

It was even colder. The only good thing about these men was that they gave more than half of the places to young women who were very talented. Even nowadays not many young women were going to an interview you and so they wanted to research mathematics I think that what I meant was I wanted to study something so well that I will begin to ask questions it would not have to be mathematics necessarily it could have been philosophy.

It didn’t cross my mind to say I wanted to be a writer.

I suppose that most of us there were going into teaching and that was what they expecting me to say and I have spent my life cheating (that should be teaching) in various higher educational universities or collegesb and I thought a lot of students from overseas from Brunei to Guyana from Malaysia and Hong Kong and it was a great privilege to do that I just regret the people in touch with the students but I do have the complete set of Brunei coins in a red velvet box which a young woman gave to me after she got a first class degree in economics specialising in econometrics and mathematical economics

Once I taught someone who had been to Eton and I got a place at Oxford but despite his expensive schooling he only got a third class degree and he’s probably in some high level job in the civil service turning a lot more money then I got for teaching him. I didn’t enjoy that teaching because the students always looked very afraid and it was a very competitive atmosphere. I prefer the more relaxed atmosphere in which I thought all these foreign students and British students as well and these people were from the lower social classes yes even ib higher education there is a class system in Britain.

I remember a student who was Egyptian. His father was a diplomat and have been sent to England to go to the boiler school which is probably expensive and he said to me there is a lot of racism now so he told his father not to send his younger brother to England to go to school because he’s obviously been unhappy and I sometimes wonder what happened to him in the Arab.


He gave new s collection of books about Islam and he gave me a wooden briefcase which could open and you can put some books it and when you fasten that you can put it on your knee and it was it was like the top of a small desk so you can write on some paper that you put on it and he said that was what was used as a lot of the schools because they didn’t have any desks in the classroom.

I still have that and I have slept with this on my knee writing a poem on a piece of paper and wishing that I kept in touch with this young man who will now be much older and I hope that they Arab Spring and all the wars have not destroyed his family life

Ok s in a class of 25 students and I recommended to the students to read Alice in Wonderland so that they could read Alice through the looking glass and learnt quite a lot of interesting and mathematical ideas.

Who was the only person who who read the books?

He was. I think I was so busy teaching and and carrying out my personal responsibilities I didn’t have enough time just think about how I would like to have in touch with some of the people who passed through

At least I taught them very very well. And they did very well overall.

I did do some research but it was not easy for a woman to do that in those days

I think it’s very important to be creative and that was one reason why I didn’t do English 0 for my degreebecause I didn’t believe I should be criticising Shakespeare when I never written anything original myself and now that I have written things myself I realise all the more what a great writer Shakespeare was and especially that he was very great poet.

Where I got my university Grant I was able to buy tu blouses with sleeves and I never wore as a dirty one again

I didn’t look very clean. That might have been in my favour because they may have thought someone so poor deserved a chance.

because they were both socialists.

Perhaps it wasn’t so bad thatvI didn’t own more clothing

The kitten

The kitten bit our eyelids in the night.
My husband thought he did it out of spite

I think the cat was lonely when he came

He grew up and sometimes he was tame

later on he hunted in the night

He came back with the milkman at first light.

We took him out Essex for the day

I thought he would enjoy the meadows gay.

I love the fields of linseed in the sun.

A blue like ceanothus over run.

I wrapped him in my cardigan of wool.

¹ he looked out through the window saw the bull.

I do not think a bull would love to ride.

In my husband’s car with cat beside.

We met some on the Pennine way last year

Keep on going, cautious yet serene

Don’t let yourself get locked into their stare.

In life we cannot linger in the dreams.

When the goings hard we want to scream.

Your love is your wealth

The gate by Katherine

He told me he loved me but he didn’t share

Answering back I said I don’t care.

You’re mean and you’re stingy

Get out of my hair.

He looked rather puzzled said what was wrong?

When we go to the pictures it’s always James bond.

I’d liked to have seen those Scandinavian films.

But you seem to believe in imposing your will.

Thank God you refrained from sexual threats.

Get out of my life and pay your own debts.

I know we had chemistry, that’s not enough.

I may be a woman but I can be tough.

I care for myself but I don’t care for you.

I’d prefer to get married to a cat in the zoo.

A big cat a small cat as long as they’re warm.

No fierce and wild animal would do me such harm

You think that you’ll live by posing your will.

In the end it’s your own heart that you’re going to kill.

Be off with you man,control your own greed.

Don’t act like you’re a child besieged by your needs.

Remember King Henry he beheaded his wives

His body was gross and his eyes were like knives.

If you do good to others you feel better in yourself.

Be mutual, be thoughtful and find your own wealth

Pay with yourself

Tou want something for nothing but what does it mean?

You don’t want to pay for what you have been.

You’ve made use of people then dropped them like waste

They made you a meal but you don’t like the taste.

You befriended your colleagues for what they could do.

You took their ideas and they don’t have a clue

So then you got rich and you didn’t want to share.

You silenced them with your cute psychopath stare

In the long term you will lose more then you know.

Yourself and your truth and the trust you don’t grow.

Against sadness

July 31, 2016

Against sadness:no-one here can weep
Nor lounge about in111 melancholy deep.
Was Van Gogh senseless to permit his muse.
For his masterpieces ,was the price too steep?
We see the yellow chair but not his views
Nor his mind where technique made such leaps.
Nor was his journey broadcast on the news.
Against sadness.

Happiness or joy is hard to find
When we rest, the News preys on our minds
Yet some are cold towards the slaughtered priest
His nose a beak of bone in old face lined
Now Muslims go to Mass and join Christ’s feast
Against sadness.

What rages in the mind make men kill thus?
In Syrian wars the innocents fare worse.
But these are our near neighbours so we weep
And wonder how to end the frightening curse
The sins we once committed hold us deep
We hold our hands out wanting to be nursed
Against sadness

How would we like to dress?

Why should we want to wear a certain kind of clothing just because some famous person wears it?

Perhaps you don’t have any ideas of your own about what you’d like to wear. But these people may not have chosen the clothes themselves. They may be being paid to wear them by some firm or designer. They may not even like them

So stop looking at other people Do you not know what you like?

You may like to think about a few relevant possibilities.

For myself I like to wear colours that appeal to me I like blue. I used to like very bright colours and I still do up to a point. Does colour matter to you you?

Then wear muted colours such as grey especially if you are going out. Initial muted colour

Do you like to be inconspicuous in the street?

If it does not you could dress ini black or another neutral colour. Some people do this anyway because it makes life simpler. Other people wear just two or three colours like beige black and light cream.

Restricting the colours to two or three means that you will never have a problem matching clothes together

Similarly do you like prints and patterns or plain colours? It’s much easier if you leave out prints. You can get a scarf which has several colours in if you feel that would be fun to wear.

You need some shoes. You will probably already have got these but they should not clash with your clothing colours

Di you u fancy wearing bright red shoes and you know that’s what you want regardless of what other people wear ? Choose what you want

If you are are living on a small income you may not be able to wear exactly what you want but you can get near it.

If you have got clothes and you hate them, sell them on eBay or give them for charity

Save the money I’m sure you’ll find something you like later.

You don’t have to dress in avway that is dictated to you.

It’s better to enjoy your own choices f you have no interest in clothes just buy things in one colour and forget about it

Or go to charity shops and see if you can find something more interesting add to your very simple and plain outfits

We should try to enjoy as much of life as we can whether it is having good friends finding a job that we like or simply having fun bwith our clothing.