Mary Irvine’s Blog:Connect

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All Sorts of Connectons

The advent of technology, particularly the internet, has enabled many people to form all sorts of connections, allowing contact with friends and relatives all over the world. Facetime, zoom, viber, Jami, talky, cisco webEx, WeChat and whatsapp to name but a few. What none of these options do is allow us actual physical contact. Virtual hugging and miming are no substitute for touch.

Human Contact

To quote Aristotle: ‘Man is, by nature, a social animal…’ (He did write a lot more on the subject but this is the part of a sentence most people remember.)

Having recently had occasion to use a couple of the above ways of communication I am more conscious of the fact we use more than speech to communicate. As a one time Counsellor the importance of body language was paramount. Facial expressions, stance, the slightest movement; all contribute to understanding what a person is actually ‘saying’.


Let’s hear it for the Landline

So we may be connected but are we really communicating? I ‘connect’ quite frequently – a lot – using technology. When going out became hazardous I thought how fortuitous that most people had various ways of communicating. But I realised quite soon that the one that meant most to me was the landline. Yes, Zoom, facetime etc enabled seeing, almost being together, but the landline gave a perfect human voice. There was warmth, feeling. I could close my eyes and I was in their home, with them.

Now we are told that landlines are to be phased out. I don’t consider myself a dinosaur by any means but will be sad to say ‘Goodbye’ to my landline…

P.S. I also have a smart ‘phone – not seen. Well I had to take the photos…

‘You‘re never too old to learn.’

The beautifully hand-written note was shyly pushed into my hand. The writer? My friend, Cheng Kong, doctor of traditional Chinese medicine and bagua Master. As well as the acupuncture treatment for my migraines he had suggested taiji. Being nearer sixty than fifty I thought I was maybe too old to learn a new physical activity. Then I remembered I had been in my thirties when started judo and managed a couple of medals and a green belt. So I began with 32 form switching to 24 after moving to a different area. I subsequently acquired a car so was able to travel to classes and workshops, adding 32 and 42 Sword forms, Broadsword and my favourite, Kung Fu Fan. The weekend sessions were usually taken by visiting Chinese masters. I particularly enjoyed learning various forms of Qigong. This resulted in a trip to China arranged by Chinese contacts.  I was able to meet up with Dr Kong again, something we thought would never happen.

Physical ‘problems’ have meant all the jumping and kicking has ceased but there is so much that can be employed for overall well-being, especially in the present climate. Remember: ‘You‘re never too old to learn.’


Active – use it or lose it

I’m sure most people, on hearing the word ‘active’ will think of physical activity. Yes, as one grows older one does notice , to a greater or lesser degree, that one does become increasingly less able to do thing or it takes longer. I never could do the splits so I don’t worry too much in the direction. I have noticed that housework, never my strong point, does take longer than it used to. That doesn’t worry me too much either.

What does worry me is the brain activity becoming depleted/slowing down. I probably spend more time on retaining brain activity than physical. Lots of word ‘games’, in British or American English, strategy games (especially backgammon), writing in several genres and lots of research. As a child I was told by my father ‘If you don’t know, ask.’ I still do – ask – sometimes people but more often these days I ask ‘Google’. That begs more questions and more brain activity.

I do have two lists which exist side by side. One entitled ‘What is normal’, the other ‘Signs of Dementia’. I’m not precious about these lists but I’m still on the ‘What is normal’ side. So when I have the occasional ‘senior moment’ I don’t worry – too much.

Giving Back ‘Stolen’ Artefacts

elgin marbles

The Parthenon Marbles were ‘obtained’ by Lord Elgin during the early nineteenth century. He reportedly purchased them from the Ottoman authorities, then in power in Greece. The argument about the legality of the transaction or the legitimacy of that Government is on-going. He later sold them to the British Museum.

When I first saw the state of the ones left in situ, I believed the friezes, on display in the British Museum and in pristine condition, should remain there until such time as they could be displayed in Greece in a manner befitting their provenance. As I followed the progress of restoration and preservation of The Parthenon I felt the time may be near for a re-uniting.

A new Acropolis Museum was opened to the public in 2009. I visited it in 2010. The friezes are housed in a temperature and light controlled gallery. The beauty and craftsmanship belie description. My admiration was intermittently interrupted by plaster casts which broke the smooth lines of the originals. The legend too often repeated: ‘Original in the British Museum.’ It was then that I was finally convinced. The Parthenon Collection should be given back so they can be displayed as an entity.

Mary Irvine (May, 2021)

Eating well?

Oh dear, I feel a bout of guilt coming on. I do know how to eat well, hey hang on a minute. Eat well, mm. A lot? I used to hear, when young the expression ‘She’s a good eater’. I believe that it meant she ate a lot, not necessarily that she had a healthy diet. Remembering those times food was great. Homemade pies, stews, fresh vegetables – even the mushy peas were home-prepared – and the puddings! Milky rice, sago, tapioca, all cooked in the oven. Steamed puddings, jam roly-poly, spotted dick, treacle, all served with custard, made from powder (Bird’s, of course). Fruit was bought when ‘in season’ and the pleasure of it being spaced in this way made it more enjoyable. Was probably the healthiest I’ve ever been. Over the years the various healthy diets have come and gone, including many years of vegetarianism and a wheat-free diet in an attempt to control migraines. Now, in the autumn of my years, I do eat fruit every day, not always vegetables altho I do enjoy ‘greens’. I prefer savoury or spicy to sweet, fish to meat. I tend to eat when I’m hungry which works for me.  And if it works, don’t fix it!

Mary Irvine June 2021



Maybe the way my mind works, or the influence of my late partner, who was involved in the music industry, but my first thought was ‘Relax’ by ‘Frankie goes to Hollywood’. Released in 1983 it was widely banned because of the ‘explicit’ nature of the lyrics, thereby ensuring its ultimate success. Many people say they listen to music to relax but I would argue that, when listening to music you should be involved, with both the music and the lyrics (if present). The brain should definitely be engaged.                           I find it very difficult to relax. Once, sometimes twice, a month I have a Bowen treatment. I lie on the treatment table (in my own home) for an hour and let the therapist do her job. The feeling of well-being, physically and mentally is retained for several days, the length of time building up as the treatment is continued.                         What is relaxing?  Time out? Doing nothing? Someone who has a sedentary job may find a gym workout beneficial; a manual labourer may read a book.  There is no ‘one size fits all’ remedy. Relaxing is anything that lowers tension, reduces negativity and works for you.

W.C. 194 exc title

Mary Irvine

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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